Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola: Okay, Now I'm Worried.

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I consider myself to be a generally level headed person.  As a new mother, I was concerned but didn't call the doctor daily or weekly when my baby got the sniffles or was miserable.  I am not a hypochondriac and tend to roll my eyes when people freak out over the virus of the moment.

But Ebola.  Seriously.  I am starting to get concerned.  Well, more than starting to actually.  I am concerned.  

I was concerned upon reading about the epidemic in West Africa.  I seek to be educated on current events, so I made sure to read articles from reputable news organizations.  At the time, though slightly concerned, I was able to comfort myself by saying that the virus was limited to West Africa, and I had no plans to travel to that part of the world ever, let alone anytime soon.  I was increasingly concerned when the missionaries infected in Africa were brought back to the US for treatment.  That was bringing the virus onto American soil.  But I tried to think with compassion and reason.  I would want the same opportunity if that were one of my loved ones.  The CDC is trained to handle the worst of epidemics, so surely they wouldn't allow them to enter the US without believing that the virus could be contained while still treating the individual.  The missionaries got well.  Both of them, at least that I am aware of.  My level of concern actually decreased at that point.  It was a noble effort to treat them and I'm sure their families were eternally grateful.  It was a happy ending for all.

Then one afternoon, at home with my family, a tweet from NBC News caused my stomach to churn.  Someone in the US had tested positive for Ebola.  Not a US Citizen, but someone visiting family in the Dallas area.  Right, wrong, or indifferent, my first reaction was "Who the heck let that guy into the US?!"  I desperately try to avoid political discussions.  I am not apathetic, I just believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I do not seek to sway others to think the same way I do.  But in the middle of a global epidemic, located in one area of the globe, how were we not taking precautions with individuals traveling from those areas?  I'd read the articles, the ones that said that the US, and the world for that matter, wasn't taking the Ebola threat seriously enough.  I hoped it was just the media sensationalizing a story to get ratings.  Clearly, that wasn't the case.  Clearly they were right, we were not taking it seriously, and now here it was, on our soil, in our hospitals.

I knew the guy was going to die.  I just did.  I can't explain it, I just had a gut feeling, and unfortunately that gut feeling came to pass last week.  Someone died from Ebola.  In our country.  I am sure that there will be steep penalties to pay for the hospital administration that allowed the patient to go back into the public and potentially infect dozens more individuals than if it had been caught earlier.  I am not a nurse or a doctor, but I do not understand how a patient says that they have been Africa, comes in with flu-like symptoms and a temperature of 103, and is told to go home and take Tylenol.  I just do not get it.  I am not judging those workers or that hospital, because I think the US as a whole is inadequately prepared to deal with Ebola.  I think that same situation could have happened at scores of other hospitals across the country.  I do not blame Dallas.

And then yesterday, it happened again.  Another blip of social media told me that another person had tested positive for Ebola, a woman who had cared for Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas.  My heart sank.  Weren't there precautions taken?  How did this happen?  Was it someone who cared for him in the Emergency Department, before he was diagnosed? It doesn't sound like it.  From what I've read so far, this woman wasn't even one being monitored for potentially being exposed.  The CDC has said that there was a "breach in protocol".  Obviously.  I don't care for that wording at all- it makes it sound like it's the nurse's fault that she got Ebola, when in reality she was just doing her job, a job that entailed a great deal of risk.  The nursing assistant in Spain that contracted Ebola from one of her patient's said she may have brushed her face with her glove.  Probably something that took mere seconds to occur, yet it changed her life and so many others for good.  These are humans that are caring for these patients.  They are not perfect or infallible.  I work in a hospital.  Not directly in patient care, thankfully, but I do interact with patient care staff on a regular basis.  These nurses and nursing assistants have incredibly hard jobs on any given day, but I feel as though caring for patients with Ebola is a task that is asking them to go above and beyond.  Those individuals see the scariest of sights, probably think the scariest of thoughts, and yet have to go to work and do what is asked of them if they want a paycheck. If it was me, and I was in Dallas as a healthcare worker?  I'd be seriously considering quitting my job and working at Target or one of the many other retailers looking to hire seasonal workers.  I'm sure I'm not alone.

There is no simple solution to this crisis, and I certainly am not blogging about this topic because I have any answers.  The honest truth is I am scared.  Scared for those in Dallas, scared that this horrible virus is just a plane ride or car ride away, scared that we won't be able to get this under control before many more lives are lost.  My younger brother is a nurse, thankfully currently in school to be a CRNA.  But before that, guess where he worked? The Emergency Room.  He would have been on the front lines of patient care in the moderately large city of Pittsburgh.  Is it so out of the question that Ebola could end up there, or even where I live now in small town New York State?  I think we all have to face the fact that nothing is really out of the question anymore.  

I am not suggesting we live in fear.  Rather, I am begging the population to educate themselves about the Ebola virus.  I am asking that the government seriously consider alternative options to allowing those traveling from West Africa to enter the US, particularly if they are not a citizen.  I do not say this to seek to punish anyone from that region of the world, not at all in fact.  But we have to take precautions, ones that probably should have been taken in the past.  We have to protect our citizens, especially the elderly and the young, who would not have the strength to fight this deadly virus.  On behalf of my nearly 1 year old daughter, I beg someone to take a stand, to not worry about politics or poll numbers, and do what is right.  Come together and find a way to protect US Citizens.  If that means turning away flights from the affected regions or coming up with an alternative way of having those individuals safely enter the US, then so be it.  It may not be politically correct or convenient, but I think the time has already passed to do something that some may consider drastic.  It doesn't mean it's forever, just long enough that there can be some reasonable sense of safety and security that the bulk of the threat has subsided.

Finally, I sincerely hope that hospitals will wake up to the reality of Ebola on US soil and take the time to train their staff on how to treat these most critical and contagious patients.  How to treat them with dignity and compassion, but also how to treat them so that they do not put themselves or others at risk of contracting Ebola from a "breach of protocol" as the CDC so delicately put it.  If we were in their shoes, could we say with 100% certainty that we would not make a mistake, something as simple as touching our gloved hand to our face?  I don't think so.

Please, speak up.  It is up to us to demand some form of action and prevention.  Our healthcare workers deserve it, our children deserve it, we all deserve it.  God bless those affected and their families, and I hope we can all stop worrying about all of this very, very soon.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why I'm In No Hurry for Baby #2

My daughter is nearly 1 year old now.  She is the light of my life and I could never fully explain the joy that she brings me.  I am happily planning her first birthday party, enjoying this new phase of her being more independent, more toddler like.

But guess what?  I'm exhausted.  Not like "lack of sleep" exhausted (things have been getting better in that regard), but rather exhausted from the busyness of life with a 1 year old.  In addition to my mommy responsibilities, I work full time, which mostly entails me running from one meeting to another, sometimes in a different building altogether, answering endless emails, and just generally running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  

So when people ask me "So when are you guys having another one?" I do my best not to either laugh hysterically or smack them in the back of the head (a la Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS).  Do not get me wrong, I want to have another child.  My husband would do it tomorrow if I were on board.  But quite honestly,  I'm just not there yet.

There are many reasons why I'm in no hurry for Baby # 2.  Baby # 2 for me is child # 3 for our family, since Chris has a 15 year old daughter from his first marriage.  As I've written about before, life with a teenager and a toddler has its challenges.  Chris's daughter is with us full time now, so that means we are responsible for most of the transportation that goes along with having an involved, intelligent, responsible teenage daughter.  Swim practice every day, religious education every Sunday, outings with friends, high school football games, swim meets... The list goes on and on.  Factor into this equation having a toddler, one who gets cranky in the late afternoon and goes to bed by 6:30 every night like clockwork.  Bedtime every night is a three ring circus of my husband and myself giving her a bath, drying her, brushing and combing her hair, putting her PJ's on, and finally putting her in her sleep sack, all the while trying to keep her shrieking to a minimum (bath time is okay, everything else is torture) and praying that she will lay on the changing table long enough to get her diaper on before she starts flipping over, grabbing for us to hold her, etc.  By the time she goes into her crib at 6:30, we are exhausted!

Selfishly on my part, I also want more time with just my Sabrina.  I want to shower her with love and attention and let her continue to be the center of my world.  She is getting to such a fun age, one where we can really start doing things with her more, taking her places and allowing her to begin to explore the world beyond her house and her Nana's.  We plan to take her to Disney World next October, when she will be almost 2, which I am absolutely ecstatic about and cannot wait for.  I want to give her that time, with just us and her grandparents, to feel like she is the center of it all.. because she is!

Recently Buckingham Palace announced that Duchess Kate is expecting again.  Kate and I were pregnant at the same time for our first pregnancies; Prince Georgie was born in July, Sabrina in November.  It was really neat to watch her pregnancy unfold in the press, all the while my own pregnancy was unfolding.  But when I heard that she was pregnant again, my knee jerk reaction was "What was she thinking?!"  Then I remembered that she is a Duchess, has a staff likely at her disposal, although I do think she is a very involved mother to her son.. and then I realized why she would want to do it all again so soon.

Kate, you and I differ on this one.  I am so eternally grateful to have my daughter, to be a mother, and I can't imagine my life without her.  But I am not yet ready to do it all again. I did not love being pregnant the first time, and I anticipate that would not change with pregnancy number 2.  And I didn't even have morning sickness!  But the constant exhaustion, the GI issues, the shortness of breath, the muscle weakness...  While some people glow and love every minute of it, for me it was a means to an end.  (A wonderful, lively, smart, strong-willed end that I love with all my heart.)

But more than any of that, I am terrified of having postpartum depression again.  I haven't yet researched statistics on the re-occurrence of postpartum depression with baby # 2 when the mother had it with baby # 1.  I don't want to know, quite honestly.  I am so scared that I will bring another life into this world, and spend the first months of his or her life falling down the rabbit hole of depression yet again.  Because this time, I wouldn't only be affecting one child, but two.  It was hard enough to get through the first time, but I can't even imagine how hard it would be with two children to care for instead of one.

One thing I know for sure, that I'm sure people will judge me for, is that I will not even attempt breastfeeding with baby # 2, whenever the time comes.  I can't do it again.  I can't face the pain, the exhaustion, the uncertainty, the waiting...  I can't face hooking myself up to a breast pump, I can't face taking on the sole responsibility of providing food for my child.  I just can't do it.  I don't think breastfeeding caused my postpartum depression, but I think it sure as heck didn't help anything.  I was exhausted, beating myself up for my lack of success with breastfeeding, my baby was miserable and hungry... it just was a recipe for disaster.  I can't put myself in a potentially harmful situation again.  While I agree that breastfeeding is absolutely best, for me it's just not worth the risks.

So I'm going to take my time and enjoy life with my darling daughter for awhile longer, before we give her a brother or sister to love.  (And fight with.)  I know that when the time is right, Baby # 2 will come into our world and we won't remember what life was like without them.  I look forward to that day, but for now, I'm happy with life the way it is.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The 10 Baby Products I Could Not Live Without!

As a mommy to be, my husband and I spent hours wandering the aisles of Babies R Us, Target, and Burlington, trying to select only the best items for our registry for our baby girl. Once she arrived, reality set in. So much of that registry I wouldn't use, or not anytime soon at least. Yet so many of the things I really needed I didn't necessarily have.

So I decided to put together my own personal Top 10 list of the baby products that I found I truly couldn't live without. Whether you are expecting, know someone who is, or need ideas for a gift, I hope this list helps you as you wade through the endless baby items that the little one may or may not actually need. So put back that wipe warmer, and read on!

10. Avent BPA Free Freeflow Pacifier

Starting the list off with one of the basics. The bink. Oh how I love the bink, and oh how I stressed over giving Sabrina the stupid thing early in her life. I made it a whopping one night home before shoving the Avent Soothie in her mouth, praying for calm to wash over her. Newsflash- it didn't. Luckily we registered for multiple kinds of binks, and the Freeflow Pacifier did the trick. Sabrina didn't love it from the start, but she sure does love it now, and so does mommy and daddy. (Stay tuned for a future blog post about our woes of Sabrina giving up her bink...)

9. Graco DuoDiner High Chair
We are a Graco family. Sabrina's stroller and infant car seat were Graco, along with our pack and play and many other items. We wanted to have Sabrina sit with us at the dinner table, since we do sit at the table and eat as a family most nights, but we needed a 5 point harness and a reclining high chair initially, since she was still too small to sit up without support. This high chair more than fits the bill. She was comfortable in it from 3 months old when we started using it, and she continues to be comfortable (if inconvenienced by being restrained) at 10 months. It has several heights as well, so it will grow with her. 

8. Angelcare Baby Bath Support Seat

I was and still am horribly terrified of giving Sabrina a bath. All I can hear in my head is "Babies can drown in just a few inches of water!". Geez, nothing like traumatizing us new moms (and dads). Were it not for this bath seat, I probably still would never have given her a bath myself. The Angelcare Baby Bath Support Seat does just that- supports. From the age of 2 weeks, and still today, she has used this seat for every bath she's taken. It has a fill line so you know how full you want the tub to be, and it's design does not retain hardly any of the bath water. But most importantly, Sabrina is safe and comfortable and enjoys her baths, and I am marginally less anxious because of that.

7. The Woombie

We didn't use this product for long, but it was the best money we have ever spent. If you've followed my blog, you know that we had a terrible time getting Sabrina to sleep flat, in a pack and play, crib, or anywhere else. After sleeping in her rock and play for the first 4 or 5 months of her life, she wanted to part of laying flat in her crib. She also hated, I mean HATED, to be swaddled. Thankfully my husband does his research, and found the Woombie online. It gave the feeling of being swaddled while still allowing her limited movement of her arms and legs. (as my mom called it, a strait-jacket) It also has an arms in option as well as an arms out option, for once they begin to start rolling over in their sleep. This product got her sleeping in her crib, after some pain and suffering on everyone's part. When baby #2 comes along for me and my hubby, Woombie's in every size will be on order.

6. Fisher Price Discover 'n Grow Twinkling Lights Mobile

I have a confession to make. The minute Sabrina could stand on her own, I heard others' cries of "Take down the mobile!". Guess what? I haven't yet. It is not the old fashioned mobile with actual string so I don't feel she is at risk for strangling herself. She absolutely loves this thing. The best part is, when she wakes up in the middle of the night or I put her to bed and she isn't ready to sleep yet, she presses that magical red button and the lights start dancing and singing to her. It does a great job of soothing her or distracting her when she needs to calm down. One negative to this product- it has a remote that you as the parent can allegedly use to turn it on from outside the baby's room, but that's a bunch of bologna. We never got it to work via the remote. Still worth it though.

5. Fisher Price Rock and Play (Honorable Mention: Fisher Price Cradle and Swing)

Oh my love/hate relationship with the Fisher Price Rock and Play. Love because it gave us our first real decent nights of sleep after Sabrina's arrival. Love because it kept her head elevated to alleviate her acid reflux symptoms. Hate because she loved it to the point of literally outgrowing it but refusing to sleep elsewhere. So I add this to the list with a word of caution. Use it to help baby learn to sleep, to keep baby nearby, but don't don't don't let baby become too attached to it, or you will find yourself in the same predicament we did, and let me tell you, it ain't pretty!

4. Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottles (and Dishwasher Baskets!)

We originally registered for Tommy Tippee bottles because we thought I'd be breastfeeding and we wanted something that closely resembled the breast for when I was at work. Once we moved to formula, we just weren't happy with the TT bottles and opted to try Dr. Brown's, since everyone spoke highly of them. While the many parts were a little annoying, the dishwasher baskets made cleaning the bottles a breeze! Everything fits nicely into the basket and comes up spic and span every time. We had an issue with the smaller size bottles leaking once Sabrina started drinking 4 oz, so the company's customer service department replaced them all with the taller bottles. Tip to mothers to be- just register for the big size. You can fill them at little or as much as you need to and you won't have to buy all new ones when they start drinking more.

3. Britax Marathon Car Seat

Car accidents happen all too often, especially in these times of distracted driving. I did my homework about car seat safety, talked to some friends for recommendations, and decided that while the Britax brand is a little on the pricey side, it's worth every penny for my daughter's safety. She enjoys her seat (except on 6 hour trips to Pittsburgh) and often falls asleep in there, which tells this mommy that she is comfy and safe, a win win combination. Even better, she can stay in this seat until she is 49 inches or 65 pounds, so the investment will pay off in the end.

2. NoseFrida

I know, I know. The idea of sucking snot out of your child's nose is disgusting, appalling, horrific, whatever adjective you'd like to use. In theory, I absolutely agree. But I dare any parent of a stuffy baby to use this product and walk away with the same feelings of disgust as they arrived at. The truth is, while disgusting in principle, this product is actually genius. Bulb syringes are completely worthless. I don't think I ever once got anything substantial out of Sabrina's nose with that thing. I registered for the NoseFrida on a whim, mostly because it was in front of me and the packaging caught my eye. At the time, I don't think I realized what the product actually entailed. Fast forward to a November baby with nasal issues as a result of being in forced hot air all winter long, and you better believe we were sucking snot out of her nose like it was our job. The filter easily stops any nose goo from getting anywhere near your mouth, so you can stifle your gag reflex. At first she HATED it and screamed like we were murdering her, but eventually she got used to it and even would giggle a little. It really, really, really helps, and to my knowledge there is no other product out there that is anywhere near as effective. Combine it with saline spray and a good humidifier and your little one will thank you for it. And yes, I know, it still sounds disgusting.

The moment has come! My #1 Baby Product that I Couldn't Live Without!

1. ErgoBaby Original

I love this thing. I love it like it was a person. After struggling with that dang Moby wrap and it's 20 feet of fabric, on this tiny 5'3" frame, I was ready to scream. I watched videos, diagrams, talked to friends, and I still never got the hang of that Moby. I did some homework online and we splurged and purchased the ErgoBaby. I was intimidated by it at first, but I watched the how-to video on their website and practiced a lot with the hubby nearby to help. The Ergo made everything easier- walks, grocery shopping, trips to the mall, Target, you name it. She loved being snuggled close to mommy and would often fall asleep in it while I went about my business. Now that she's older, we don't get to use it as much, but do still use it grocery shopping. The Original Ergo does have a back position, so someday soon I will try to master that one. The Ergo was so comfortable to wear, never really bothered my back, and took all the weight off of my shoulders and back. I never used the infant insert, as Sabrina was past the weight limit when we got this, so I can't speak to that. If the MobyWrap isn't your thing, I highly suggest the Ergo. It was a life saver for me!

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