Friday, August 31, 2012

Breastfeeding your child Part 3: 3-12 months

If you've made it to three months breastfeeding, congratulations!!!

Setting small goals (get to the end of the day, get to the end of the week, get to 1 month, then 3 months, then 6 months) can be extremely helpful in making breastfeeding work, and is exactly what kept me going until the three month mark.  I promised myself that I would trust in my body and give myself small, attainable goals.
Once you make it through the first few months of breastfeeding though, things can be just as tricky as they were in the start.  Let's talk about a few problems that can trip up a nursing mama and cause her to stop breastfeeding.

(If you are a working mama, a lot of this will pertain to you!)

Many women return to work around three months after their baby is born.  To be able to continue to breastfeed while working requires a significant amount of work to coordinate/plan pumping your breastmilk in your workplace.  I would HIGHLY recommend having a discussion with your boss or manager prior to returning to work about your needs regarding pumping space and time.  This can be tricky, but you are covered by law to have a place to pump your milk and time to do so.  

I had the luxury and the curse of wonderful and terrible pumping accommodations in my various (current) jobs.  Two out of the three jobs at which I currently work have amazing pumping facilities.  Private (or semi-private) rooms with comfortable chairs, hospital grade (multi-user) pumps supplied, and even a television in one of the pumping rooms!  My third job?  Not so great.  To be able to work at my third job, I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've pumped in offices (locking and non-locking, one office actually that the door didn't even fully shut all the way, and I had to push the back of my chair against the door), empty patient rooms, staff break rooms, and yes, even bathrooms.  These were not ideal and definitely not optimal situations, but I need/needed that job and tried to make it work for me.  When I return to work after my next maternity leave, I will be requesting better pumping conditions fromemployer #3, and I highly recommend for you to do so if you are a first or second time mama that anticipates less than optimal situations.

Once you are actually at work, many women find it difficult to tear themselves away from their work to actually have time to pump.  Before I went back to work, I promised myself that time wouldn't be a reason why I quit breastfeeding.  I promised myself that even if there were 10 patients waiting to be seen after, that I wouldn't let those people become more important than what my son needed from me.  Because I viewed it like this, I had an easier time sticking to it.  And, to be totally honest, it became a time in my day that I enjoyed.  In the beginning, I would get three breaks a day (I work extended hour shifts) where I pumped, but I also spent time doing catch up charting, talked with our daycare provider, and (gasp!) just relaxed sometimes!  Seriously though, if breastfeeding is important to you and your family, just allow yourself the freedom to have that time without worrying about work.  It will still be there waiting for you when you're done pumping, ready for you to pick right back up where you left off!

The next problem I had was clogged ducts, which eventually led to mastitis.  A key part about breastfeeding is that demand helps to determine supply.  If you and your baby are lucky enough to stay at home together, your body is only producing just as much as your baby needs.  However, any time you add in the pump, to either replace a feeding your child misses while you are away or for other reasons (increase your supply, decrease the firmness of the breast before baby nurses, build a freezer stash, etc.), you run the risk of changing the message you're giving to your body. 

The message I gave my body was produce, produce, PRODUCE more milk!

By a few months in to pumping, I had pumped my way into a significant oversupply.  Since I left for work much earlier than little man had to wake in the morning for DH to take him to daycare, I pumped first thing in the morning every day.  Some days, I was able to pump up to 16 ounces total, in one pump session.  I would also pump three more times additionally at work, and then come home and nurse my son 1-2 times before bed.  I could pump 30-40+ ounces per day, when he would only be taking 20-30 some days at daycare.  Our freezer was always full of bags of milk (in my favorite Lansinoh bags!), however, so were my breasts, especially on days when I didn't work. I began to have clogged ducts- hard, uncomfortable sore spots on my breasts- at least every week or two.  Between months 3-7ish I don't think I made it through a month without having at least two clogged ducts per month.  

The problem is, though, that #1- almost no mother can ever ALWAYS be at home with their child.  #2- There are multiple other things that can lead to clogged ducts as well, such as growth spurts, initiation of solid foods, incorrect or inadequate massage to the breasts, wearing too tight of clothing or bras, nursing strikes, and many other reasons as well.  My main cause was overpumping, but again, clogged ducts can come from many different starting points- and are equally frustrating and painful no matter the cause.

I tried everything I could scour on the internet, hot packs before nursing, cold packs after, nursing in different positions and holds, pumping to release the clog, hand expressing (typically hanging upside down like a contortionist in a hot shower), vitamins/supplements, etc.  You name it, I tried it.  Looking back, instead of trying to fix the problem, I really should have just pumped less, and eliminated the oversupply by decreasing the demand, but at the time I really didn't get it.

Then came the clogs that I had a really difficult time clearing, one of which led to mastitis.  I was caring for my son, at home from work on one of my days off, when all of a sudden I had a significant fever (at the first feeling of discomfort, I took my temperature and am pretty sure it was at least 102 degrees) and just felt so unbelievably horrible all at once.  It was so difficult taking care of my son during that time, as he and I were the only two at home that day, but we made it through, and thankfully my Ob called in prescription medications for me to get me through it.  It took a few days of significant medications, but we kept nursing through it (per their recommendations) and when I felt better, we were right back on track.

If you are dealing with an oversupply, clogged ducts, or mastitis, I highly recommend to you to take a look at your pumping routine.  Look at how often/how long your baby is nursing and try to use that as a guide.  I know it is really tempting to take all the extra you make and stash it in the freezer for later, but if you are making more each day than your baby is taking, you may want to either decrease pumping session length or number.  Or, if you really want that freezer stash, make sure you pump once a day or so on the weekends (based on how much extra you are making) to maintain that consistent amount your body is producing every day, instead of only a few days a week pumping SO much more out.  Again, it is all a demand vs. supply issue here!

During the time I had mastitis, I am pretty sure I said to DH several times, "This is it!  I'm done!!!"  But then the fact that I'm really, really cheap came to mind, and I said, okay, just until the end of this week.  When I got through the mastitis and the end of that week, I said to myself, okay, just another week more.  And so on.  Those really small goals got me through so many hard times during the middle of our breastfeeding journey, and I am so thankful for it.  My supply eventually evened out, I stopped having clogged ducts, discomfort, and pain, and things became normal, and dare I say, easy!  

Once you're able to get through the first 3-6 months of breastfeeding, a lot of women have told me that it gets to be simple, easy, and good.  I experienced just that.  We were able to stick it out that long, and at that point, it became very comforting to both of us, very sweet, and a routine thing.

Well, until my son became a toddler.  :)  But that is for the next post on Sunday! :)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Breastfeeding your child Part 2: Infancy

Earlier this week we talked about the very beginnings and basics of starting to breastfeed your baby, from birth to the first few days of life.  In today's post, I'll talk through some of my very early days of breastfeeding my son through infancy, picking up right where we left off last post, when I stopped after discussing your milk coming in.

One of the first few things that surprised me SO much about breastfeeding a newborn/infant was just how often babies actually nurse.  My son nursed  It is recommended to nurse at LEAST 10-12 times per day, however, we were often way over that mark.  I kept track of all of the early feedings on my phone and just looking back on those numbers now, I see there were days where he even nursed 14-16 times per day.  

Babies nurse so much in the early stages!  And, at this stage in the game, a pitfall to avoid is being made to feel guilty or ashamed of how often your child needs to nurse.  Our society seems to value independence so much, and there were many people who expressed to me that (they felt) I was letting him breastfeed too much- that he shouldn't need to be physically connected to me for that much time per day.

I have a few things to say to that.

Most importantly, if my child was hungry, I would feed him.  I don't see anything shameful or bad about that. Also, in the early stages, when your child nurses, they are beginning to establish your milk supply.  How are you supposed to establish the supply your baby needs if they are constantly trying to nurse more, and you are cutting them off?  This period of time is CRITICAL to establishing your supply and every time they are at the breast, whether they are nursing due to hunger OR comfort, they are teaching your body what they need.  We experienced quite a bit of cluster feeding even in the very beginning with my son, where he would want to nurse pretty much from after dinner until bedtime, on and off.  The only thing that he wanted was to nurse during those times, it was the only thing that made him happy.  Was it tough initially?  Yes.  I felt like most nights, feeding him was all that I did.  But as time passed, the more time he spent feeding prior to going to bed at night, the longer my child slept at night.  Yes, we were nursing on and off for what seemed like hours before he went to bed, but if that meant I was able to get 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep after that, that was just fine by me!  He knew what he needed, and he was telling me exactly that.

Additionally, there are some schools of thought that believe there is a period of time after their birth that the baby is just trying to adjust and learn their new world.  Makes sense, right?  Well, these little creatures who have known nothing but you for the past 9 months desperately want to be in your arms, to feel your heartbeat, to cuddle into you and see your face.  They are not little creatures that just pop out and, boom, are all of a sudden independent.  That may not happen for YEARS to come.  (Mom- I put may not because you better believe I'm not fully independent from needing you even now!)  These are babies.  If "comfort" nursing provides them comfort, then why wouldn't you give them that comfort?  To me, to not fulfill their needs is like saying, "Well, I know what you want/need, and I know you're a baby that needs me to provide what you want/need, but my independence from you is more important than your needs right now."  It just doesn't make sense to me.  So, comfort nursing or hunger nursing, we nursed.  And my supply developed and became available to him.  Even in those times where he cluster fed at night, and I was left wondering if there was really even anything in there for him to drink, it still met his need at that time.

Breastfeeding at this stage is very personal.  It is easy to get bogged down by the details.  Some of my concerns in the beginning were: Do I feed from both sides every time or just one?  Do I let him nurse to sleep?  Do I nurse him to sleep as a means of getting him to sleep on purpose?  How long do I let him nurse on each side?  How long is normal to nurse on each side/total?  

A lot of those details really just depend on you and your baby.  Because nursing is all about supply and demand, if your baby is telling your body that both breasts need to be emptied of 2 ounces each every 3 hours, then it will produce as much as you need.  If your baby is telling your body that one breast needs to be emptied of 4 ounces every six hours (the difference between nursing one side or both sides at each feeding), then your body will produce as much as your baby needs in that instance as well in most situations.  We also had a very specific routine for nursing.  We changed my son's diaper right when he woke up, and then immediately fed him after each time.  I have several friends who would feed their children first, and then change the diaper.  I have one friend who would nurse one side, then stop and change the diaper to keep her daughter awake, and then nurse the other side after.  As for nursing our child to sleep, we did it ALL the time.  Initially, it was the only thing that would put him to sleep.  It was quick, reliable, and easy, so we stuck with it, and have suffered no ill-effects from it, as he is a great sleeper now.  It really just depends on you, your partner, and your baby, and what your family's preferences may be.  

A sleepy little man after nursing into a nap.  This was from the very early days, he still had brown hair back then.
I mentioned above that in most situations, your body will produce as much as your baby needs.  Well, sometimes that is not the case.  If you do have a supply problem, and you are not producing as much as your baby needs (this can be determined by your lactation consultant and yourself- again, please don't self diagnose!  If your baby is having wet and dirty diapers and does begin to gain weight, you are probably just fine!), there are some things that you may do to increase your supply.  Again, this is pretty personal based on your body, but some of the things that helped increase my supply are as follows: drinking a TON of water, eating oatmeal every morning, taking supplements to increase your milk supply (such as Fenugreek, which I purchased at our local GNC), or drinking things such as mother's milk tea.  I have never made lactation cookies, but there are some great recipes on Pinterest as well to increase your supply.  However, if you are concerned about your supply, my number one recommendation would be to nurse as much as possible, add in pumping sessions after the baby is finished nursing or during long stretches of sleep, and avoid bottle feeding until your supply has increased or leveled out.  Demand determines supply in most cases!

One of the last points I'll add into the infancy stage of breastfeeding is the topic of taking your baby out.  As a new parent, there is a HUGE adjustment you must come to terms with in regards to just how easy it was before to pop out of the house and grab a coffee to how tough and time consuming it is to leave the house with a newborn.  Some parents find it to be easy as some newborns sleep really well in a carseat or don't mind being carried around in their sleep.  For us, I know it was a huge accomplishment to plan our trip around his nap times, have him up, changed, nursed, ready, and out the door, complete our errand/task, and then get back to the house by the time he was ready to nap again.  And there were frequent times when our schedule just wouldn't work out the way I hoped it would because he would need to eat right in the middle of a doctor's appointment or errand.

In those cases, you have to figure out your comfort zone with breastfeeding.  Initially, I was really concerned to breastfeed in public, covered or not covered.  I had a hard time coordinating getting my son positioned right, myself not overly exposed, the nipple shield on and working (while we used it), and everything in the right place without a lot of fuss in the beginning.  So, because of that, there were several times I nursed my son in the car, because that was my comfort zone.  As he grew a little older, I became more comfortable with nursing him in public, at a restaurant or etc.  I always wore a nursing cover only because that is what fit my comfort zone.  I have seen plenty of women in my area nursing in public without a cover, and I applaud them for their comfort in doing so.  The most common idea I've heard while talking to other nursing mothers about nursing in public is that, while it commands a lot of buzz and hubub, it really is just about providing your child what they need when they need it, and there is not a single person who should be able to fault you for that.  

The issues I've talked about in our infancy post seem to be the main problems/pitfalls that I've pushed through in the first few months of my son's life.  What were some of your problems breastfeeding in the first few months?

My next post will delve into some of the more specific pitfalls you can go through while breastfeeding- such as clogged ducts, mastitis, etc.- as well as talk about the transition to being a working mother and pumping in the workplace.  Check out the blog on Friday for that post!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

How to avoid the pitfalls of breastfeeding as a new mother- the early days

Let's be totally honest here for a minute.  

Being a first time mom is scary.  

There are so many new things that you have to learn so quickly when you have a baby.  How to feed your child is one of those things you have to learn, whether you choose to use a bottle or a breast.  If you do decide to breastfeed your child, the path can seem a bit more nerve-wracking.  

I remember that when my son was just a tiny newborn I was so afraid that my milk wasn't going to be enough for him.  I remember watching the numbers on the scale so nervously hoping they would rise when we visited the pediatrician.  I remember wondering and obsessing over just how many ounces he was really getting when he nursed.

From many other women with whom I've spoken, these fears seem to be common, almost normal thoughts for a first time breastfeeding mother.  As a mother who was able to successfully breastfeed my child, and continues to do so at 18 months old while pregnant with my second baby, I want to share some of the pitfalls I've found to be common in the early nursing days.  Questions I had, fears I've heard from many other mothers, and logistics of nursing that have been common issues and reasons why women stop breastfeeding. Maybe if I share a few of these here, it may help a few more first time mamas not to share some of the same struggles we did in the beginning.  

Let's start out with the early days.  

When you first have your child, it is recommended by many breastfeeding advocates that you opt for skin to skin contact and try to breastfeed within one hour of birth.  Now, that isn't to say if you don't have a vaginal delivery or non-complicated birth in which you are unable to do either of these things, that you can't breastfeed your child.  I've known MANY women who didn't get to see their children until sometimes hours  (or even days) after birth and were still able to breastfeed.  I had a vaginal delivery with no complications which allowed me to do skin-to-skin and to breastfeed after birth, I believe it was a half hour or 45 minutes after.  However, I still found it to be confusing as a first time mom.  I'm pretty sure I asked one of the nurses, "Am I supposed to feed him now?"  To which my young nurse casually replied, "Well, if you want to, I guess you can go ahead."  

Not a ton of support there, obviously, to a first time mom who initially found the whole bit of breastfeeding to be a bit odd and a little awkward.  I think it would have been really helpful to have someone tell me, that yes, I should try to feed him at that point.  

(The most recent research I've read suggests trying to breastfeed within an hour of birth as baby has a period of increased awareness after birth in which the drive to nurse and the sucking reflex is at a high point.)

So, what about the actual breastfeeding?

Well, right away, for me, it didn't hurt.  

And then it did.

A day or two after my son was born, it really started to hurt initially when he latched on.  We had a lactation consultant come in several times to check on us, and we had a few latch problems mainly on my end with my anatomy, his part was just fine.  She recommended a nipple shield, told me that it shouldn't hurt, and that we'd probably have to use the shield for all the time I breastfed because of my anatomy.  Yikes.  On day 2-3 she was able to give this prediction?  Okay, well, I didn't know any better, so we began to use the shield and moved on.  

It took me a period of about two-three weeks of pain during the initial latch when nursing my son (in the beginning, and then again a few months down the line when I wised up and finally ditched the nipple shield, which we've done just fine without) before it didn't hurt to nurse him.  I've heard over and over from healthcare professionals that "If it hurts, something is wrong."  However, from MANY mamas with whom I've spoken, my experience has been similar to theirs, in that there is an adjustment period for a few weeks until your body gets used to breastfeeding, and that can be normal for some women.  Most of what I have heard, like what I experienced, is that the pain should stop a minute or so after the initial latch.  My lactation consultant friend Kelly also mentioned to me that she wants mamas to watch for pain lasting longer than a few minutes, misshapen nipples, bruised, cracked, or blistered nipples, if baby is falling off the breast frequently, or if you hear a clicking sound while baby is nursing, and if so, contact a lactation consultant!

Then comes the scary part- is the baby getting enough?

You may have already seen charts like this around, but here is the approximate size of baby's stomach in the early days.

It is really, really small.  

The first few days of baby's life are filled with weight loss, and then typically- hopefully- weight gain.  You are nursing so frequently in the beginning (at LEAST 10-12 times per day in the beginning) because baby's stomach is so small, and they are taking, just as they should, really small amounts at the start.  We nursed a TON in the beginning, sometimes 14 times per day and up, and I was still really nervous about my son actually gaining weight at his first pediatrician appointment after we left the hospital.  I'm pretty sure we were seen just shy of one week old, and they wanted him back at his birth weight again.  I believe we made it, or were really close, at that time.  However, I have heard more recently that it can take almost two weeks for some babies to gain back their birth weight, and that isn't a completely abnormal thing.  

The main thing at that point is to keep going in for checks of birth weight and really watch the amount of wet and dirty diapers you are getting.  My hospital gave me a paper chart to take home to track everything down.  This is also where I break my never-wake-a-sleeping-baby rule, if they aren't gaining weight like my medical staff would like them to, I wake the baby to feed them.  

If your babe does have trouble gaining weight in the beginning, and you are committed to breastfeeding, I would try a weighted feeding prior to supplementing with formula.  A weighed feeding is where you change baby's diaper, weigh them before a feeding, nurse them, and then weigh them immediately after feeding them.  The purpose of this is to see exactly how much they are taking at each feeding.  This is something you can do with a lactation consultant in their office or your home, by yourself, or with any other support persons you have for birthing/post partum care.  (My doula offered this service to us.)  A word of caution though if you are doing a weighed feeding on your own- use a scale that is really exact.  We are talking about ounces here, so unless your scale is VERY precise, you may want to pick up a baby scale to have at home.  We have one we purchased specifically for babies that proved to be very helpful in our breastfeeding journey.

Also, a word to the wise about weighed feedings- most times, I've found that my mama friends were doing these at night, or later in the day.  After being up all night, no one wants to schedule early morning appointments, and sometimes your lactation consultant or doula coming to your home happens to be later at night.  We did weighed feedings some nights when my husband came home from work.  The problem with this is, for many women, your body produces the most milk in the morning and the least milk at night.  If you do a weighed evening feeding, you are probably going to see a really small number of ounces that they are taking in, and that is normal.  Try to do a morning weighed feeding for your first nurse of the day if it is possible, as again, this is the time your body is producing the most milk.  

So, how about when your milk comes in?

I'm one of those women who didn't know when their milk came in.  Most of the women I know were acutely aware of when this happened to them, but for me, there were never any signs or anything to show me that it did.  I never felt let-down, I never felt that crazy engorgement when my milk came in.  It just did, silently in the background as I was feeding my son.  I actually had my doula come over to our house and look at bottles of milk I had pumped because I couldn't tell the difference between colostrum and milk.  This was where a support person- lactation consultant or doula, etc.- was really important.  Again, this was one of those times in the early breastfeeding days that I really just needed someone to tell me, "Yes, your milk has come in, and yes, it is all your baby needs right now."  Thankfully, my doula did just that.  She was able to look at it and immediately tell me it was breastmilk and not colostrum, and she pointed out the separating of the foremilk and fatty hindmilk in the bottle.  

For those women who do feel/know when your milk comes in, some advice from a lactation consultant friend of mine is to not be scared.  Things change rapidly in the look and feel of your breasts, you may leak, feel pain, feel tightness, and baby may have a harder time latching initially when your milk comes in.  She mentioned that it is okay to pump sometimes in the beginning of the feed just for a bit to soften the breast and allow for an easier latch.

If your milk doesn't come in right away, again, refer to the chart above.  In those first few days, your baby needs SO little at a time as their stomachs are so small.  We can gulp down in one swallow an incredibly larger amount than your baby takes during an entire feeding during their first few days.  If it goes past the first few days and your milk still has not come in, I HIGHLY recommend seeing your lactation consultant as often as you need to help you get through that period of time, just like breast milk, a good lactation consultant is worth their weight in gold.  

These are just a few tips for the very early days of breastfeeding from my trip along the way.  I'll be posting a few more topics about breastfeeding for the first few months, breastfeeding in toddlerhood, and breastfeeding through the more troublesome moments (clogged ducts, mastitis, teething, etc.).  Check back this week to read more!

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

So let's talk about the things that I didn't use

The other day, I posted here for a link up about the baby items that I could not live without.  

However, there are a TON of items that we did not use, or didn't use enough to justify the purchase.  Here are some of those items: 

1.  Pacifiers.
We were given several pacifiers at the hospital (the Soothie pacifiers as seen above) and we purchased some of our own Soothies, a wubanub (the soothie pacifier attached to a beanie baby), and some Nuk pacifiers.  Initially, as we were planning on breastfeeding, we weren't going to offer a pacifier.  However, we changed our minds around day two in the hospital.  :)  Although we decided to offer it, whether he would take it was another story.  I believe little man just mildly tolerated the pacifier until he found his thumb, and that was that for pacifiers.  Completely not worth the money.

2. Boob cream.  
Not that I didn't use the cream in the beginning, I certainly did.  But we just purchased WAY too much of it and in WAY too many brands.  I had some from Medela, Lansinoh, Earth Mama Angel Baby, and a few other brands.  And I had multiples of each brand.  Looking back, I wish we would have purchased 1-2 tubes (one for the first floor, one for our second floor) and left it at that.  I have tubes of boob cream stashed away all over our house and I have a sneaking suspicion I am going to be finding it for years to come.

3.  Our infant bathtub, sadly.
While I can't find a picture of our exact bathtub, we registered and were given something that looked just like this one.  I had high expectations of fun bath times with little man splashing around playing.  At first, he LOVED being in the bath in this thing, but after I did a few post-partum herbal baths (for both my and his healing) and he woke up a little more, he wanted to ditch the tub and never go back.  So, basically, since that point, I've been in the tub with him each time, and if I'm not, he screams and cries throughout the entire bath. We've tried it in different bathrooms with different tubs, using different bath seats/foam pads on the bathtub bottom, different water levels, me in the room, me not in the room... nada.  He loves his bath, but only if I'm in there with him.  We'll try again with this tub when little lady comes and see if she prefers it more than he did.

4. Soothe and Glow Seahorse/Sleep Aids
As a new parent desperate for sleep, I was ready to buy any product that would help little man to do so.  We purchased the Soothe & Glow Seahorse, the Sleep Sheep, the Take Along Projector Soother, and even had a CD player with a disc of calming baby/sleep music in his room (thank you sister!).  But really, none of these things are going to make a baby sleep when said baby doesn't want to sleep.  Like, oh, dear child of mine- you're fussy and just want to be held?  Here's a plush toy that lights up and makes noises, that should help!  ...Ahem... not so much.  While some people swear by this stuff (and little man mildly will play with the sleep sheep at times only recently), for our family it really was just a huge waste of cash.

5.  Baby health care kit
Again, I could not find the exact kit we purchased, but we bought a healthcare kit for little man before he was born.  Well, let me tell you.  The thermometer on it was terrible, the nose bulb from the hospital far surpasses any we've purchased so far, and we've had no need for a comb because little man has little to no hair.  I also clipped his fingernails ONE time using the clippers and will never go back because I cut his skin. Poor DH, that evening when he came home I was a wreck thinking I broke our child because I made him bleed.  (FYI, they don't make bandaids for babes that little either).  At that point, I switched to using only the nail file, and to be completely honest, the files that come in those kits are pretty worthless as well and I have gotten by wonderfully just filing his nails with one of my emery boards.  The healthcare kit was probably my biggest waste of money, as we didn't even remotely use ANY of it.

What were your least used/loved items with your children?  If you don't have children yet, do you have any items already that you anticipate you won't use?

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Song Share Link Up 8/23

This Thursday's Song Share Link Up comes to you from the same band that has the popular song "We Are Young"- most notably from some car commercial and then gained popularity.  

This is the second hit I've heard of theirs on the radio and I really, really love it.  It may have something to do with the fact that DH loves Queen music, and this song completely reminds me of Freddie Mercury's voice in many ways.  As I said, I initially heard this on the radio, but got a completely different take when I watched the video and saw the song in a whole new angle.  Check it out and see what you think!

(The music actually starts right around 1 minute into the video)

* FYI- This song does have 1-2 words in it that may not be appropriate for little ones *

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just a little sneak peak

At little man's soon to be little big man room :)

Here is a little look at what is going on in there!

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Nighttime cuddles

We've had a few rough sleep nights the past few weeks.

Little man has been waking up more than normal, a few times on his own accord, but mainly in response to all the thunderstorms we've had recently at night (but thank goodness for the rain!) and because of a few other nighttime noise problems we've had as well.  We've fixed the second problem, but I don't think you can 'fix' thunder just to go away :)

The thought of your toddler waking up and needing you to get back to sleep while you are halfway through a pregnancy probably doesn't sound too appealing.  However, it has been such a sweet reminder of all those tender little moments we've shared cuddling in the night when he was a teeny babe.  

Every time he has woken recently, as soon as I go into his room and pick him up, little man lays his little head on my shoulder, quiets immediately, and cuddles in to fall back to sleep.  A few times, all I had to do was hold him for a minute or so, rocking only because it made me happy to rock him, and then tuck him back into bed with a kiss.  There are a few times as well these past few weeks, that I've brought him back to bed to cuddle for a little bit longer.  

While holding his small, content, sleepy body next to mine, I've been thinking about just how much he has changed since he was born.  I've been thinking about just how much I have changed since he has been born. And I've been thinking about just how much things are going to change when his little sister is born.  At first, I felt very, very emotional about it.  I wondered if I'd be able to have these special moments with him, if I'd be able to appreciate these special moments with him, when we have a new baby in the house.  I did what probably every other pregnant mama-of-one does, and wondered just how much I'll be shaking up his happy little world by bringing another baby into the home.  I wondered if he'd lose out because of it, if our relationship would change too much or suffer from it.  

But then I kind of sat back, and re-framed it for a minute.

It was like 2 in the morning on a work night, when I'd have to wake at 5:00a.  And there I was, snuggling little man not because he needed it, but because I wanted that closeness to him.  And I realized, if I'm nuts enough to enjoy being woken up at 2a, and actually prolong the amount of time before I get back to sleep at 2a, to spend time with this child with whom I'm so enamored, it's not going to change as much as I think.  I'm sure there are going to be moments where I have to tend to little lady first, and for a while she is going to need more than he does.  But my love for little man isn't going to change negatively because of this life event, it is only going to become stronger.  And, knowing me, I'm going to seek out those moments with him just to feel that closeness, even if I can't be as present as frequently as I have been so far.

So for the time being, I'm welcoming those middle of the night wakings with open arms, and am thankful for every little snuggle I am given.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

My favorite baby items

So baby items.  

You can spend a TON of money on baby stuff that really ends up being just stuff, sitting in a closet, collecting dust.  While each baby is different, there are a few things that REALLY worked for our child and were completely worth the cash.  Today I'm linking up with Growing Up Geeky to share my top, most favorite baby items.  

1.  Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets:

These things were/are awesome.  After swaddling with these blankets, I rarely use anything else for a swaddle.  These seemed to be the only blankets that were large enough but stretchy enough (without losing their shape) to hold little man in a swaddle all night.  Not only that, but we still use them.  On a cooler summer day I'll throw one of these over little man outside or during his nap when it is warmer but I still think he needs something to cover him up.  

2.  Moby Wrap:

Little man LOVES being worn, and as a newborn he functioned similarly.  There were days where my back would hurt so badly from carrying him around all day, until I realized I should have been using the Moby all along.  Once I learned that the Moby Wrap was perfect for, well, most anything I needed my hands for during his first few months, my back felt much better and he was so much happier than if I were constantly trying to set him down.  

3.  Prefold diapers used as burp cloths

We purchased several packs of prefold diapers specifically to use as burp cloths.  Because little man had reflux and was CONSTANTLY spitting up (some days I wonder how he even gained weight), we were always in need of a burp cloth.  Prefold diapers (we went cheap with just the Gerber brand from Target, not what I'd use on his bum, though) were the perfect absorbency for the many, many spit ups he had in a day, as they could clean more than one spit up, and I wasn't washing 345,658,237 burp rags per day.

4.  Footed Sleepers

Little man pretty much lived in footed sleepers for the first few months of his life.  No mess with matching clothing items, no constantly having to find/replace discarded socks, and constant snuggly warmth.  Some of our nicer footed sleepers even have fold over cuffs for the hands, so that at night we were able to keep his hands warm without worrying that his mittens would never actually stay on his hands.  Plus, to be honest, while he was a really small babe, I didn't do a lot outside of the home, and I was in my pj's too :)

These are the top 4 items we used the most during little man's first few months with us.  There are plenty other things we also used, but these were the things that I'd say we couldn't have lived without, and that we really got our money's worth in terms of use.  

What baby items did you LOVE?  Are any of them on this list?

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

20 week bumpdate! (a little late)

We made it to 20 weeks!  Yay!!!  Here's what's going on with us lately:

Right now, as I type this, I'm 20 weeks and two days.  It will be a few days before this post comes up on the blog, so I may be a few days behind.  I'm not going to actually post my weight or weight gain like some bloggers do, because that's my business :) but I will say that it is less than I had gained with little man at 20 weeks.  

I have a ton of stretchmarks from last pregnancy, but surprisingly, they are looking more and more faded as my belly gets bigger.  I actually notice them much less on my pregnant belly than I did on my post-partum belly.

As you read previously, we officially found out that we're having a girl a week or two ago!  DH is completely overwhelmed by the amount of pink that has entered our home in that short time period, but I am getting really excited about all the adorable baby dresses and shoes that girl clothing allows for.  I didn't know what I was missing last time around dressing little man, but goodness are baby girl clothes so much cuter!!!

I have been having crazy cravings this time around.  I've actually continued to eat much more meat than I ever would my previous pregnancy or prior to being pregnant with little man.  But the random, odd cravings that hit me in the middle of the day or at night are funny.  One night recently, I REALLY wanted Doritos.  The next night I wanted DH to drive to the movie theater to get me some popcorn.  Since it was almost 10p and our local movie theater is at least a half hour drive away, he didn't go, but man the cravings have been odd!

We've been asked several times since finding out if we are having a girl what we will name her.  DH and I go back and forth on this one, because we have a terrible time agreeing on baby names.  With little man we were really undecided until very close to the end.  We know for sure that this babe's middle name is going to be Elisabeth.  We're just not sure about the first name yet.  My favorites at the moment are Ana, Anna, and Mae.  I'm sure that will change about 1,249 times before I deliver.

I am actually feeling a bit more prepared than I did a few weeks ago, thankfully to a lot of leg work on my part.  You saw my post on the JBF sale and my newly growing collection of baby girl clothing, so I'm feeling like I'll actually have something for her to wear when she gets here.  I also have been working a TON on little man's toddler room, which I will be doing a post on in the future not only to share all the projects I've been working on, but also to highlight a few of the products I've purchased for his new room.

Overall, I'm feeling MUCH better than I did during the first trimester, although my blood pressure has been pretty low lately, (I think my last check was 100/60, and the one before that was 90/60) and I've been feeling somewhat dizzy at times.  If I plan well, move slowly, and eat well, I tend to feel less of those symptoms.  I have noticed with all this heat that I've been swelling quite a bit.  At the end of the day my already cankles turn into thigh-looking-ankles.  I've also had to retire my wedding rings.  This seems so soon to me, and I'm hoping once it cools down a bit more that I will get them back on for a month or two more.

My next ultrasound with the MFM department (maybe my last with them?) will be in 6 weeks, so I will likely update again then!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Song Share- 8/16/12

Recently I've been loving on the Shazam app on my iPhone.  

If you're not familiar, you can press one simple button, and it will identify the song that is playing in the background.  My favorite part about the app?  It saves all those songs you shazam in a list, so that you can go back to them at a later date/time to download or youtube directly through the app. 

The song I chose for this week's song share is Ho Hey by the Lumineers, a song I heard on my favorite naptown radio station and shazamed while I was sitting at a stoplight.  If you actually were to Youtube this video, one of the first comments posted is, "There was a big problem with this's about 5 minutes too short."  

I completely agree.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Consignment heaven!

This week was the big consignment sale I'd been looking forward to from Just Between Friends.  And, in most ways, it did not disappoint.  Little man & I went with some friends of ours to the sale on Thursday, and then I stopped back in quickly on Saturday, which was half price day.  

The main items I wanted to purchase at this sale were as follows:  sleepers for little man, sleepers for new baby, fall and winter shirts for little man, as well as a take home outfit for new baby since we found out we're having a girl.  I'll explain why I mainly needed sleepers for new baby after my consignment sale finds below.

I lucked out in all but one of those areas- the take home outfit.  I was able to get a TON of sleepers for both little man and new baby for what I considered to be great prices.  In the end, with both days included, I ended up spending an average of $2.50 an item.  Not as great as some of my past garage sale finds, but really good for the amount of items I was able to amass in just a few days.  Here are some pictures of my loot below:

I purchased at least 3 more sleepers (maybe more?) but they've already been washed and are currently in use.  We needed little man sleepers that much! :)
S'cuse my toes :)
The zip-up bear suit!!!
I was able to get a whole bunch of sleepers for both babes, shirts for little man, shoes for little man, and my favorite outfit of the group- the little pink bear suit for new baby.  This did cost a little more than I had wanted to spend, I think around $6-8, but it pulled at my heart strings enough that I didn't even bother looking at the cost.  We have the exact same little fleece bear suit in brown that little man came home in from Old Navy, and I know I paid at least $20 for that, so I'm still taking it as a win.  I just kept thinking of little man coming home in the hospital all wrapped up in his little fleece zip-up bear suit and got a bit misty eyed in the aisle.  Into the bag it went!

I also really lucked out with little man, finding a whole bunch of Gap sweatshirts, button-up shirts, and even a henley for around $1.50 each on half price day.  After looking those up online, I found that most of the shirts similar to the consignment sale finds (and even one shirt still available on their site) run anywhere from $20.00-30.00 a shirt, so that was a huge bargain as well.

I also was thankful to find a few pairs of shoes.  I bought a pair of dressier shoes that little man will likely wear for our family pictures coming up this fall as well as a pair of Stride Rite brown shoes to go with anything.  I was initially questioning the Stride Rite shoes, because I think they were $5-6.00, and, my garage sale self was thinking that was really expensive for a pair of toddler shoes.  However, thankfully, I said, "What the heck?" and put them in my bag anyway, because when I got home and looked it up I found that exact same pair of shoes listed for $40.00.

This leads to a thrifty mama question- how do you clean pre-owned shoes?  I took some dapple baby wipes, got them extra wet with water, and washed both pairs of shoes down with the wipes.  Neither pair was dirty at all, as the wipes were just as white when they started as when I finished cleaning it, even after cleaning the soles of the shoes.  But I'm wondering if that is enough?  Neither pair looks machine washable.

As mentioned above, I was really only looking for sleepers for the new babe.  Mainly, this is because I connected with an awesome mama friend of mine who has two baby girls at home and she is willing to pass along her daughters' clothing to us after they are finished.  Here are just a few examples of the cute we've amassed from their family so far:

Basically, this little lady is going to be one stylish girl on a serious budget.  :)

All-in-all, the Just Between Friends Consignment Sale was a great sale and I'm glad I went.  I did have to scour a little more for things for little man to wear, as it seems his size range (2T ish- I know, he's huge!) was fairly limited in variety.  But they did have much more than a typical consignment store, so I came out happy.  This is definitely a sale I'll hit again!
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dear Obamacare,

There are a lot of things people say about politics on both sides.  I really, really try to stay out of the whole discussion typically, because even in my 'wise' old years of the late twenties, I've learned that people are going to believe what they want to believe, and that is their prerogative.  Nothing is going to change that no matter how much you argue about it.

However, there is one thing I will say when something directly affects me and my family because of something a politician has done, in a good way.

I say thank you.

I recently heard that as of a week or two ago, things that were previously not covered for women's reproductive and sexual health are now being taken a bit more seriously and being covered.  As a pregnant woman, I heard some interesting rumors, and I called my insurance company to confirm.  Turns out, there are a TON of things covered for this pregnancy that were not covered during my last pregnancy.  I'll delve into those in just a moment.

Last time around, I had heard rumors of some insurance companies covering breast pumps.  I called our insurance at that time and was told no, it did not, at least in full.  I was told that my insurance may pay a portion of a manual pump.  However, as I have carpal tunnel, it makes pumping manually- while not impossible- generally a bit more difficult. I also returned to work on the weekends after two months at home with little man and then during the weekdays as well part time after three months maternity leave.  A manual pump did not cut it to get me in and out of the pump room (or office, or storage room, or yes, I've even pumped in a bathroom) in the time/space I was given to do so.  As a working mama, it just took too much time.  So, we took the hit of buying a $260 electric, dual breast pump out of pocket, not to mention bottles, tubing, adapters, etc.

This time?  It will be completely different.  Based on what my insurance representative told me, here is what would be covered:

(I've added some of the more technical information as it interests me, because I work with insurance and billing for my career as a SLP, hope it helps!)

- Breastfeeding and counseling support: a total of three visits are covered, whether they be as an inpatient, outpatient (at a lactation consultant's office), at your doctor's office (if they have a LC), or in  your home.  Be sure that they are coded as 99401-99404 with the modifier TH using the diagnosis code VQ4.1

- Breast pump: a manual OR electric rental pump is covered for 10 months of rentals, at which point the representative told me I would own that pump.  (So, they call it a rental, but if you rent it long enough and/or are still breastfeeding after 10 months, you can keep it.)  For this, you'll need to use the codes for an E0602 or E0603 rental.  I was told that to be 100% covered with no co-pay, I'd need to use a PPO provider that is in-network.  The representative gave me 5 different companies (home medical equipment or hospital based women's boutiques) that I may use.  I'd check with your insurance to find out where you can get your pump. What makes me REALLY happy about this one, is that if it is a rental pump, it is MUCH higher quality than many of the pumps commercially available to mothers nowadays.  In my humble opinion, most ANY pump that is a single-user model has flaws, as that means it is not hygienic for other users, which says to me there is milk transfer into the pump.  To me, that implies old milk in the pump... um, yep.  That's pretty nasty.  Which is not something I want to mess with, especially seeing as it is something I used with little man for over a year.    Again, if you are using a RENTAL pump, even if it eventually becomes yours, that HAS to be a multi-user product, which means it is more hygenic for both you and your baby.

- Breast pump supplies: I was told by the representative that they also cover tubing, adapter replacements, locking rings, polycarbonate bottles, and caps for those bottles.  When I asked how many they would cover of each, the rep had to put me on hold and ask her supervisor, but when she returned I was told that it was unlimited based on medical need.  She said that I could have my Ob write a letter that since I'd be returning to work 10 hour shifts, I would need three sets of bottles/caps (6 bottles and 6 caps) per work day to be able to adequately pump, and that they would cover that.  It also sounded like they would replace any bottles, caps, tubing or adapters later on as needed so long as I had a note of medical need from my Ob.

I am completely shocked at how awesome this is.  This takes the cost of breastfeeding/pumping down by leaps and bounds and puts it in reach for so many more women than could afford it previously.  It is a landmark for our government to actually care for mothers in such a way, and from the bottom of my heart, I am so very thankful.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday Song Share Link Up

I've always been a music person.  

But not the kind you're thinking.  

(*I'm acknowledging this right now... I was in the marching band.  That shows just how cool I am!)

I'm not the kind that is super snobby about my music, who will only listen to certain types of music.  I actually had someone say to me once, "Oh, you know ___ band?  I hate when other people like my bands."  I'm, um, not that person.  I listen to the radio, like some pop music, will slightly dip my toes into pop country before I run away with my hands over my ears, and have also been known in my day to listen to rap and hard rock.  I don't typically discriminate, so long as it's good.  And, by good, I mean it strikes a chord with me personally and I like it, not that a music critic likes it.

Lately, I've been in sort of a rut.

My musical selections have been the toddler station or the Jewel children's music stations on Pandora, or whatever is on the radio currently.  To be totally honest, I'm not a huge fan of One Direction or hearing 4 different versions of Monkeys Jumping on the Bed in an hour.  

So, let's link up.  

Every Thursday, I will post a song share link-up.  I will post a song that I really like, and try to either link it into my post or have a Youtube video or the links in my post so you can hear it right from my page.

Then, it's your turn.  You write your own post after picking a song you've really liked recently, and then come here and link up by clicking the "add your link" tab below.  You can then add in your blog post with a picture tab displayed on my page so that my readers can click, head on over to your blog, and check out your songs.  It can be any kind of song, as I said, I need some new material!  

As this is the first link-up, we'll work our way through and I'll try to address any technical issues as we go.  If all goes well, I'll try to post a link-up each week!  

So, here I go with my first song share.  This one is called Kick Drum Heart by the Avett Brothers.  I've been listening to this in the mornings on the way to work, trying to psych myself up for the day :)  My favorite quote from this song is, "It's not the chase that I love, its me following you."

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just Between Friends

A little while ago, a friend of mine (Nicole @ The Kavanaugh Report) introduced me to Just Between Friends.  Just Between Friends is a nationwide consignment sale organizer, and by consignment sale, I mean to say HUGE consignment sale.  
I'm a huge fan of gently used- better for the environment, better on my wallet.
As just an FYI for everyone who hasn't heard about it yet, Just Between Friends hosts really large consignment sales that include items such as children's clothes, baby clothes, maternity wear, cribs, high chairs, baby carriers, and pretty much anything child or maternity related.  This fall will be my first stop in to the JBF consignment sale, but their site proclaims the ability to get a 50-90% discount on all of the above items, and I've had a few friends who've attended these events and can vouch for the great prices.

One of the main reasons that I am so excited is that I love consignment stores.  But, my problem with consignment stores is that there never seems to be enough supply in the types of things I am specifically looking for.  For example, I went to about 5 different consignment stores around the Naptown area looking for summer shorts for little man large enough to fit his cloth diapers before DH and I ended up at Old Navy buying new, because we just couldn't find plain khaki shorts.  But the JBF sale is HUGE, so you get to go to only one place, instead of 3-5 and the chance of finding exactly what you are looking for is much, much higher.  While I saw on the site that JBF provides IKEA bags for shopping, they actually recommend bringing a laundry bucket with a belt tied to it so that you may drag purchases around that become too heavy for you to carry.  

Finding too much at great prices that you have to drag it in a bin behind you?  Sounds like my kind of shopping!

Naptown mamas, check out the Just Between Friends Consignment Sale schedules here, as there is one sale running August 8th-11th (it starts tomorrow!), and then a sale a bit further north running later on in September.  I'll be checking out the sale at the end of this week.

For non-Naptown mamas, you can go to the same link and punch in your area code/area information and check to see when there is a sale near you, because they do have a really wide area (over 20+ states when I looked last) and might be in an area near you!

I know a lot of my local mamas are thrifty and looking for some great bargains and this sale is such good timing- the week after we've found out we're having a girl and need to get some pink clothes!!! 

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

An, um, interesting shopping trip at IKEA.

I'm a big fan of IKEA.  
It seems to me that IKEA tends to be somewhat polarizing.  I've found that either people love it or they hate it- there doesn't seem to be very much in between.  I am one of those people who love the store.  We have entire rooms full of furniture from IKEA, including our dining room, which you can see in the two pictures below.
Chairs, sideboard, table, and glass-front cabinet at far right all from IKEA.

Sideboard from IKEA, mirrors from Crate & Barrel

I tend to change my mind, a LOT.  I'll start off with one style in mind, and then want to switch it up later.  IKEA's prices allow me to do just that.  Also, we're a growing family.  I'm not looking for heirloom quality furniture right now.  I'm looking for the 'let's get us through a couple of rowdy kids' type of furniture- items that I won't cry over or mind too much if they get knicked, dinged, or damaged in any way.  I'm looking for things that are easy to install, easy to use, and easy to clean.  For example: the parsons chairs you see above all have chair covers that velcro to the bottom of the chair.  Someone spills something offensive on the chair? Off comes the cover and into the wash it goes.  It's that easy.

However, more recently, IKEA and I had a little run in.  

My pregnant self, my toddler, my pregnant friend (due in September), and her toddler drove up to IKEA the last time I was visiting their family.  (The nearest IKEA to me is 3+ hours away)  The main goal was to get toddler room furniture for little man as it just recently dawned on me that I am almost halfway through this pregnancy.  (Really??? Already!?!?  Okay, deep breaths, I still have time to get ready.)  I was specifically looking for a toddler bed, dresser, and table/chairs set for his toddler room.  

There were several issues with our trip.  The first was that we were not able to find anyone to help us move the boxes from the warehouse area down onto our cart.  We actually had to have another customer help us reach items we couldn't.  Because, you know, it's normal to have two pregnant women with their older babies just climbing up into the racks to reach things.  

The next issue was that while their website listed the toddler bed as being in stock, when we reached that aisle, it was not, in fact, in stock.  There were two boxes to the set, and only one of the boxes was left.  My pregnant mama friend took the cart and her ready-to-be-done toddler up to the front to wait in the long line while I checked with the salesperson about finding out if they had any in the back.  They did not.  I asked if they could ship the item to me for free since I had driven 3+ hours to get to their store when it said the item was in stock and he said no.  

While all that was happening, my friend did reach the front of the line with my items.  She proceeded to ask the male clerk at the register to please either scan the items in the cart or help her unload them, so that her very pregnant self (again with toddler present) would not have to lift all of the heavy boxes in and out of the cart.  

He refused.  

Unknowingly to me, while I was speaking with the salesperson, the clerk was making my extremely pregnant friend lift every single item out of the cart onto the belt and then put them all back in the cart by herself while he watched and refused to help her.  

Wait, what?

By the time I reached the front of the store, she had already finished the transaction of the items I did buy and we were out to the car.  Where there was again, NO ONE to help us move the items to my car.  And, actually, several IKEA workers passed us while both of us (obviously pregnant) were loading my car and did not stop or offer to help.  

I was pretty much appalled by the treatment of two pregnant women with their children, especially since IKEA claims to be a very young-family friendly store.  So, after talking to the salesperson at the store who would do nothing for us, I went home and called their customer service.

I spent over ONE HOUR just waiting on the line to speak with a representative.  (Mamas, can you imagine, out of all the stuff we have to do in our day, spending a full hour away from cleaning, making meals, reading stories, doing laundry, etc. sitting on hold on the phone?  Ugh.)  Once I finally was connected to a person, while she apologized for our treatment, the only consolation she offered was an apology.  At this point, after spending an hour waiting, I was steaming mad and not willing to take a measly "I'm sorry" and walk away.  I asked to speak to her manager.

She in turn connected me with a 'senior advisor' in their 'escalations' department.  (The third IKEA representative I'd spoken with thus far.)  This representative was much more willing to listen than the previous two and passed along my information to the store manager at the store where the problems took place.  This woman was to call me within 72 hours.  

A week passed.

I emailed back again to the escalations advisor I'd spoken with previously.  She did not respond back, but then a day or two later I received a phone call from the manager of the specific store.

Thankfully, this woman was EXTREMELY apologetic about the entire situation, discussed what was being done to remedy the problems we had while we were there, and discussed what she could do personally for me to make up for the poor experience we had there.  She reported that she was unable to ship the item to me for free as they do only their own local shipping, but that she would send me a $150 store credit for whenever I returned or if I'd like my friend to go back and pick up a few items for me.  

I am thankful that I finally got through to someone, and that they did respond with some service recovery.  I do really like IKEA products, and wanted so much NOT to have to swear off their store/brand forever.  I think the moral of this story is, for me, don't give up.  If I would have walked away from the situation after 1) having the problem, 2) talking to the in-store salesperson, 3) sitting on hold for an hour, 4) speaking with the telephone customer service rep, 5) speaking with the escalations advisor, or 6) never hearing back during well past the specified time range, I'd have just sworn off the store and the terrible customer service and poor service recovery I'd experienced up to that point.  Toward the end of the ordeal, I didn't care if I had to talk to the CEO, someone was going to hear me and respond regarding the situation that occurred.  

Thankfully, they finally did.  And we'll be going back up sometime soon to pick up that toddler bed.  And maybe a toy or two to make little man feel better for the long drive.  And maybe some meatballs.

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