All posts by Kathryn

11/14/17: This is Not Goodbye

But it has to be a “talk to you later”- Writing this blog has saved me in so many ways. It has stopped me from losing my mind when nothing seemed to make sense in the world of newborns. It has re-connected me with friends I have not been in contact with for years. And it has helped me get to know some people I either never met or barely knew.  Parenthood has a way of doing that.  Being a parent crosses many barriers.  No matter if you are a father, mother, foster parent, grandparent, or if you’re raising your kids in the US or overseas, we can all relate to one another.  That is what I love about this new club I’m blessed to be a part of.  I love writing about it, and I don’t think I’ll ever truly stop, but yesterday I got some exciting, and somewhat stressful news, that is making me take a look at my priorities right now.

My top priority is of course my husband and son. After that comes some combination of work.  In 2014 I took a chance on conducting research in my field.  I didn’t know if it would ever go anywhere, or when it would go somewhere, but 3 years later, we are finally getting close to publishing.  I’ve had an amazing team working by my side and when I got the notes back from the editor last night I got excited and stressed all in one breath.  It seems with some edits, we may actually be considered for publication.  It took me entirely too long to even get to this point, and now that I have a real deadline, I am motivated to hit it.  This research was meant to help show the efficacy of hippotherapy and hopeful add to the existing body of research in support of hippotherapy so that one day insurance companies would cover it as a form of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. I wanted to do it to help increase access to kids who could benefit from it and I need to see that through.

The time is running out on my amazing maternity leave.  Bekytt is a joy to be with and it seems every waking minute is consumed by something and every sleepless night just gets me closer to not getting things done I had planned on.  The fireplace project my husband has been so patient with.  Finishing the setup of our bedroom, the office, the garage, Bekytt’s room.  We have lived here for 4 months now and we are still not moved in. I am still working from home and trying to do better at connecting with friends and family. I am trying to still work out, which is few and far between.  I love writing, but it is another thing I am putting on my daily list of “to dos.” As I learn how to take my own advice and say “no” to some things so I can say “yes” to others, I am choosing to say a “talk to you later” to my blog and I will see what else I can put on hold so I can say “yes” to finishing the suggested edits for our research proposal and possibly finishing the house projects before I go back to work, while still getting my quality time in with the B man.

I’ve had some requests for instructional videos that I will still work on when the time is right and I am still here as a resource if anyone ever has pediatric physical therapy related questions.  And I know I will be back. But for now, thank you for reading and sharing your comments and thoughts on my blogs with myself and the community.  I would not have gotten through some days without your words and support.  I will try and post picture updates when I can, but in the meantime if anyone in WI ever wants to come over and help snuggle the little man or play with him while I work, message me! I would gladly take the company and help! Happy early Thanksgiving and I hope to be back after the holidays! –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

11/12/17: Planning Makes Perfect

Apparently I was worried– I have been lucky enough these past few nights to be able to sleep long enough to dream.  I have had random short dreams now and again since Bekytt was born, but nothing like I did when I was pregnant.  Was it just me or is it normal to have the craziest dreams when you are pregnant? My dreams made no sense back then. I could never figure out a rhyme or reason why a high school boyfriend would randomly show up and not even play a significant role in the dream.  I won’t even try to explain them, just know they were crazy.  However, the other night I must have had one long dream because I woke up in a panic that I missed Thanksgiving.  At least this dream could be interpreted.

This year I decided to visit my family in Ohio in October instead of over the holidays because we didn’t want to have to travel with Bekytt when the weather was bad.  We decided we would have the holidays at our place and anyone who could make it was welcome.  We love our new condo and I love entertaining, so it was a perfect way for us to celebrate.  I have been wanting to sit down and come up with the menu, make a grocery list, and set up a plan for the days leading up to Turkey Day (or Tofurkey Day for those vegans out there), but our days have been busy and we just hadn’t gotten to it yet.  In my dream, my dad wanted to know why he wasn’t invited and I realized at 3 pm on Thanksgiving that I had not prepared a single thing.  I freaked out and went to the grocery store in a panic thinking “this can’t be right. Today is Wednesday.” Lorali Gilmore was there to hug me as tears streamed down my face and I desperately tried to find what was left in the store.  In real life, my husband has been telling me to pick up our turkey Tuesday for this exact reason.  I guess you can pre-order a turkey and the store still may run out and not have one for you? This doesn’t seem right, but I’m sure it could happen.  So the dream made sense to me from the standpoint I was already worried about ruining Thanksgiving.  

For those of you who have known me a while, I am fairly new to the whole meat eating thing.  I was a strict vegetarian for a long time.  My main reason was I couldn’t help but think about what I was eating while eating it and I felt so guilty that even though I knew I could never kill an animal for food, I was eating it anyway.  It was like I didn’t deserve to eat something I was against in my heart.  If I did not believe strong enough to pull the trigger of a gun and kill an animal for my benefit, than I thought I didn’t deserve to eat meat.  If I cared that much about an animal’s life, how could I possibly be eating the meat another prepared for me? So I chose not to eat it.  Then when I went away for Army training (LDAC at the time) at Ft. Lewis, I had almost no choice but to eat the chicken. I distinctly remember training harder than I ever had before and eating very little.  The Army doesn’t care much to make alternative protein sources for those who choose not to eat meat, so I found myself living on salads and potatoes before we entered field training.  Once we did and we were living on MRE’s, the calories were more dense, but vegetarian meals were hard to find and still lacked protein.  I remember losing so much weight I could see my first three ribs.  Gross. So gross.  So my awesome battle buddies convinced me that the chicken in an MRE wasn’t real anyway and that I could eat it.  They never once ridiculed or made fun of me, they just supported me the entire way through it. I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have such an awesome squad that year, but they saved me from what felt like starvation.

From then on I was able to eat some chicken, turkey and fish back and forth, and for some reason felt ok with this decision for the most part, but it wasn’t until meeting Kyle that I started to eat more varieties.  Then came Bekytt and I just knew I had to eat meat for him.  I don’t know what shifted in me, but all of a sudden it was like I was eating to sustain his health and well being and my preferences didn’t matter any more.  I have always believed that humans were made to eat a variety of meats, vegetables and fruits. As Greg Glassman states “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”   I do believe that meat is the best source of protein for us, but it doesn’t mean it is easy for me to consume if I think about it too much.  Yet, I have enjoyed eating meat these past few months and I believe it is helping give Bekytt what he needs from my milk.  However, cooking a turkey? That is a different story.

I have done this one time in my life. It was when I was in MN and I was part of a CSA that raised turkeys.  I knew they were treated and killed humanely and I knew they were antibiotic free, so I decided to give it a try.  I hosted a Friendsgiving, drank plenty of Bailey’s and coffee that morning, invited my partner at the time over, and decided we could do it.  And we did. We used a recipe from a case of Leinenkugel’s and it somehow turned out amazing.  We had so many friends and neighbors come over throughout the day and they were all well fed.  This year, our Thanksgiving menu is gluten and dairy free so I had to forgo the beer brine, but I did find something that should be rather simple and delicious from Family Circle.  I have hopes it will turn out well and I am thankful that Millers in Verona sells the Bailey’s Almande so I can still sip that while sticking my hand inside of a turkey.  Everything is planned, Woodman’s is prepping our grocery order that we will simply just pick up. Whole foods WILL have our turkey and cooking/food prep will start Wednesday just to be sure, and Bekytt will be attached to me likely the entire time.  I always thought as a mom I’d magically turn into a good planner.  I may still be a work in progress, but hopefully tonight I won’t have Lorali Gilmore comfort me as I cry into her arms about missing Thanksgiving. –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

11/10/17: A Heartfelt Thank You

To all veterans who have ever served– Veterans Day is tomorrow and I always feel undeserving when someone says “Happy Veterans Day.”  To me, the holiday was always meant to honor those who have served overseas and fought on foreign land, and that I have never done. I always think of my grandpa and great uncles and the older gentleman proudly wearing his Vet hat sitting at the local VFW.  The men and women who have gone to war and my fellow soldiers who have deployed to the Middle East and experienced some crazy $!&@.  Those are the people I’m drawn to say Thank You to and never think of myself.

I have never had the chance to deploy and have always remained on US soil while in uniform.  I’ve loved my time in the military and I am proud to serve in the WI Army National Guard, but until this year I never knew Veterans Day was originally called “Armistice Day,” and that Nov 11 was chosen to commemorate the signing of the armistice with Germany that ended hostilities during World War.  The history is more extensive than this with some debate on when World War 1 “ended” for the United States, but eventually the holiday became a day to celebrate all who have or are currently serving. Unlike Memorial Day when we pay our respects to those who have lost their lives, this day is a day for true celebration…and free food.

It sounds awful in a way, but really if we didn’t take our families out to celebrate at an establishment offering a free meal to Vets, we would be denying that restaurant the ability to say Thank You. Even if you are not a Vet, if you go out Saturday night to one of these places you will likely see Vets of all types and you will be able to say a genuine Thank You and maybe hear some incredible first hand stories from the ones who may be sitting alone.

I say all of this because Veterans Day as a mom feels very different.  I have been in the military for nearly 12 years now and I thought I’d stay for 20. Before being a mom, drill was exciting, annual training couldn’t come soon enough, and the chance of deployment was what I signed up for.  I am lucky enough to be the only physical therapist in the WI Guard and I love my job.  I get to work with and treat all types of soldiers. I never like when they get hurt, but I love treating them. Soldiers are different than your average civilian, and figuring out how to treat when all you have is a tent in the middle of a field, your hands, knowledge and some ace bandages is very different too. But I like this different.

Soldiers who get hurt, usually pretend they aren’t for as long as they can. They are bred to tough it out. No one wants to go to sick call or be sent to C Med, but when they do finally get to me, they usually are ready to listen, trust what I say and what I am asking of them, and they are willing to do it because they want to rejoin their unit. I only get a glimpse of what deployment would be like when I am at annual training and it’s exciting. I love helping someone overcome an injury and not need to be sent home. The last few years I’ve even been blessed with some amazing equipment so the rate of return to the field is even higher. I get to see things I’ve never treated and order X-rays to be completed immediately. I work right beside our PA and it’s my favorite part of being in the Army.  At least it was.

Annual training now means leaving my child for 2-3 weeks during the best part of the year. Drill weekends apparently just mean driving back and forth to Racine because he won’t take a bottle. The Army now means time away from my family and it’s hard. I can’t even imagine a year long deployment now, or even a 2 month deployment. It makes me be even more grateful for all the Vets who have or are serving year after year and have kids at home.  It makes me see the sacrifice much more clearly.  Sacrificing a weekend, month or year as a single soldier never felt like a sacrifice, but now it truly is. Now being in the Army means you choose some days to be serving your country over being there with your family. It means you may be risking your life one day and leaving your family behind. This is real and our Vets have done this for centuries. Moms and dads have left their kids to serve and some have never come home.  I cannot imagine having to make that decision.

Most of us serve because we felt a calling or wanted to do something bigger than ourselves. We felt a desire to give back to our country or we just plain wanted the experience and needed the college assistance. But no matter if someone joined for the money or joined because they had no other choice, they still joined and said yes to serving their country. For this huge reason, we should all be thanking our Vets for everything we have become as a nation over of the years.  Freedom wasn’t free for many and I can’t imagine not having the choice now to stay or retire. I can’t imagine being told I have no choice but to serve. I am thankful I had the freedom to choose to join and I am incredibly thankful that now that I have a child I can also choose to retire.  I can only hope my time and service impacted at least one soldier over the years and that even though I may never deploy, I can still hold my head up and be proud to be considered a Veteran on Veterans Day. Thank you to all my fellow soldiers in the 132nd and beyond, thank you Grandpa, Dad, and all my Great Uncles who have served. Thank you to those I may not even know who’s husbands or wives or kids have served. It’s an incredible sacrifice for both the Vet and their family and you all should be recognized. See you at Starbucks, Denny’s, Applebee’s, Bar Louie, Buffalo Wild Wings, etc etc 🙂 Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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11/9/17-Imagining the Future

Nothing is certain-Lately, I have had the luxury of being able to study my son pretty much 24 hours a day. I think it’s fair to say I’m tying to analyze his movements to see if he is on track with his developmental age and decide his personality all at once. He is still in the stage where almost every day he is completely different, but It is so fun to see as he develops his likes and dislikes and is starting to tell us consistently what those things are.  I know he loves to be diaper free, he loves to float during bath time, he loves to move and explore his surroundings with his vision,  and he definitely loves to eat. I watch him reciprocally kick his little arms and legs all over the place during bath time and I love it.  He is just so happy when he gets to move. But then he does these crazy movements while eating and I wonder what this may be telling me.

Bekytt has always been a noisy nurser. The noise used to worry me though because it sounded like he was drowning in my milk. Since he has learned to release and reattach frequently throughout his nursing session, I am no longer worried about him choking and gagging on my milk. I think he actually developed a great strategy for controlling the fast flow, but his whole body moves all around when nursing and he makes the cutest noises that seem to tell me he is happy to be eating. I do wonder if all this movement means we will have a messy eater on hand and a crawler we cannot catch. Will we have the boy of all boys who is just full of energy and chaos? Or will he learn to control these movements and be more gentle and sensitive? As I start to read the book The Scientist in the Crib lent to us by a friend, I am starting to realize nurture can only shape a child so much. There are going to be some things in Bekytt we just cannot control. His personality will be his and it may not have anything to do with how we raised him.

Before I had him and I was living in Minnesota, I attended Eaglebrook Church pretty regularly. I loved it there. It was the first church I got excited to go to and even watched online when I couldn’t attend. I was baptized there as an adult and it was a huge turning point in my life. Minnesota was the first place I feel like I truly grew up and really discovered who I was. I guess this is why I miss it so much sometimes. I went through a lot when I first moved there and ended up working through it instead of avoiding it and I came out on top. It signifies independence to me and the friends I made there I know will be friends for life. The lessons I learned at Eaglebrook are some I’ll never forget, but I especially remember the series How to Raise Amazing Kids. I remember it because I knew I wanted to do that one day. Raise amazing kids.  I purchased the series on DVD to help my dad out as well though. During that time he was raising my little brother and my step brother and they were going through some tough behavior times. I felt the series would help my dad create some structure and sanity and help him get through those rough days. I’m not sure if they helped or if he was able to have time to even watch the entire series, but I find myself wondering if I can do the things it suggests as Bekytt grows. Create boundaries, structure, be consistent.

I see my brother doing an amazing job with his kids.  I am truly impressed with his skills as a father and I believe he and his wife are indeed raising amazing kids, but there is not always consistency there. Sometimes my nephew is asked to just give the toy he is playing with to his younger sister so they don’t have to deal with a meltdown. Sometimes the younger sister is told to wait her turn and that her brother had it first.  Not at all a big deal in terms of what you need to stay consistent with, but how does he know when one strategy will work over another? How can we know if the decisions we make in the moments of parenting will help create amazing kids or kids who resent their parents?

I am interested in decoding Bekytt. I’m interested in learning his cues and recognizing if he may indeed be a highly sensitive child just like his mom is an HSP. I want to parent to his needs and not just what is taught to parents as a general lesson. I feel my brother knows each of his child’s traits and personalities well enough to know that what is fair is not always equal. Each child needs the rules to be slightly different now and again to be able to succeed in making good choices, because each child is completely different.  I am excited to be learning about Bekytt and anxious for his future. I imagine these next 4 months will bring about way more change than the first 4 months and I couldn’t be more ready for them! We just have to baby proof the house first!

-Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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11/8/17: These Are the Best Days of Our Lives

It sounds like a high school graduation speech– I remember people telling me this in high school. “Hang on to these moments, one day you will look back and say these were the best days of your life/” Now, I did have a great high school experience and was very lucky for that, but I think many would say the opposite.  I think a lot of people hated the drama, the cliques, the judgement and nearly everything that went along with high school.  Then I went to college, they said the same thing.  At least this time it made more sense because college was pretty amazing. Then it was said to me before I was married and was just dating. It was said to me when I was married and without a child, and now it is said to me even more that I am married and have a baby.  What I have gathered from this is that every day at every phase of our lives, can be  the best days of our lives. We need to cherish every single day here on Earth because you never know when it is going to be our last.

We have all lost someone in our lives too soon.  A friend, a child, a parent.  Someone who didn’t deserve to die.  Someone we loved so much.  Someone who we thought would be with us for a lot longer.  Someone we did or didn’t know was going to pass.  If you’re like me, in the days that follow a loved one passing, you question “why” too much and think you should have done something different.  Yesterday I realized I was lucky to know my mom was going to pass.  I was lucky to consciously cherish my days with her.  I was blessed to be able to ask her what she wanted to do with those days and live them with her.  She didn’t want anything grandiose, most people don’t.  All she wanted was to spend time with her kids and sure maybe jump out of an airplane, but chose not to once she realized her bones likely wouldn’t handle it so well.  I say all of this because yesterday was a great day for no particular reason at all.  Yesterday was great because I decided to be present with all that I did and I lived my day with intention.

I woke up early, blessed to have my husband join me.  I was nursing Bekytt while sitting on the floor in our living room, because it happened to be where I sat down to type when he woke.  Kyle ever so sweetly came and sat back to back with me so I’d have some support behind me, both literally and figuratively.  I almost cried it was so sweet. He continued to spend the morning with us and I was able to shower and get ready for the day and I embraced every minute of it.  All it takes to enjoy every moment you are in is awareness you are in it.  Being mindful and simply breathing as you notice your surroundings can feel so calming. So refreshing.  I realized I had a pretty big to do list though as well, so I put on my Moby wrap and never took it off.

For most of the day at home I wore Bekytt and he loved it.  I was able to work standing next to my husband for a few hours with Bekytt just hanging out exploring the world with his vision. I was able to bring him to Happy Bambino and be reassured how well he is doing.  Adria seems to make all feeding issues better and she is extremely knowledgeable.  I loved my time there soaking up all she had to teach in her calm voice.  I was given a feeding tube contraction to try the next time Bekytt refuses a bottle and was reassured in his weight gain and volume of feedings.  I walked away feeling very at ease with how Bekytt is doing.  Since baby wearing was going so good yesterday, I even wrapped him in and went for a walk to get a latte at Crema Cafe and shop at the Madison Crafts and Gift Shops, which is amazing, while he slept after his longest feeding yet.

The day continued to be great as I thought this would truly be the year I buy everyone’s Christmas gifts from a local store.  This store. This store is home to 185 vendors with unique and useful items.  It’s a one stop shop in my mind.  The mittens I bought from the Mitten Farm vendor are made from recycled wool sweaters.  These alone made my day.  I may be partially obsessed with them They are warm and cozy and only $24. Love them.  I finished my day by driving way out of the way to pick up our CSA.  I had to stop to feed Bekytt on part of the Ice Age Trail I went so far, but it was a very peaceful adventure.  Fall days in WI are gorgeous and we have plenty of farms to drive by.  

I say all of this because I truly believe every stage of our lives can be the best days of our lives.  I was instructed early on never to wish my days away.  Never to say “I can’t wait for summer” to my 10th grade English teacher.  Saying something like this would prompt her to tell us wishing and waiting for the future makes us miss something today and so many great things are happening now.  We need to open our eyes and pay attention before we wish all of our days away.  And she was right.  Bekytt is sleeping in my arms right now as I type and I couldn’t feel more blessed. I want to remember how lucky I am to have him and my husband and our family and friends every day.  If I were to lose any one of them tomorrow, I don’t want to be wishing I paid more attention today.-Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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11/7/17: How Times Change


Literally, how time changes- For a long time in my life I never knew why or understood time change. Once I finally understood Daylight Savings, I wondered who decided on falling back and springing forward and why to have this in the first place.  Daylight Savings still almost always falls on a drill weekend for me, but it no longer means having an extra hour at bar time or sleeping in for a little longer.  Especially when you have an infant.  

Even though Bekytt wakes frequently in the night, I have been almost guaranteed that his last stretch of sleep would last until at least 7:30 am.  I was starting to believe he knew the difference between night and day.  That he knew if it was dark he was to eat and go right back to sleep, and when it was light it was definitely time to be awake.  Daylight Savings quickly pushed up his awake time to 6:30 am.  Yay! I mean who isn’t excited about waking up “earlier” and making the day feel crazy long after a night of waking up 5 times the night before? I sure loved it and finally knew Bekytt was indeed waking up to the sun rising.  Don’t get me wrong, I have still enjoyed our morning hours as these are the times we get to spend the most time with dad and Bekytt has the most smiles. I swear he is close to laughing and it’s amazing.  I am also blessed to have a husband who makes me breakfast and coffee every single morning.  Even when I left at 4:30 am the other day, coffee was made and I had food in a bag to go.  He is simply amazing that way.  But as the days have progressed since the time changed Saturday night, I am not quite sure what to do about his bedtime.

My goal for bedtime has been 7:30 pm.  Ever since my aunt told me this is what my cousin set for his son from the beginning, I have been determined to get this to work for us as well.  She said her grandson has had this bedtime from the start.  That his parents started the routine when their son was an infant and has stuck to it.  Now that he is consistently asleep by 7:30 pm, the parents get to have their adult time be kid free! It’s just like I read about in Bringing Up Bebe! I was very excited to hear my own family was making time for adult time at night and I wanted it too.  I have also found that if I wait any later than this, then we will have an overtired, irritable baby on our hands making everything harder.  To get to this 7:30 pm bedtime, bath time would have to start about 6:30 pm.  But now with the time change, does that mean I should start this at 5:30 pm and hope for a 6:30 pm bedtime? Bekytt doesn’t know the time changed and he did in theory wake up an hour earlier so wouldn’t he be tired earlier? Why did this time change all of a sudden become so confusing and not so exciting?  

Yesterday, I decided I would start recording his feeding, wake and sleep times again. I am still a believer in many of the Montessori philosophies so I do want to follow the natural rhythm of our baby’s wake and sleep cycles, but I also want to try and persuade it a bit to our schedules.  What I found was that Bekytt still does eat roughly every 2 hours, naps for 1-2 hours three times a day, and did seem to be tired earlier than usual  I started bedtime routine at 6:30 pm though as he was sleeping until this point, and he didn’t actually go down until about 9 pm.  I say all of this just to get it out and wonder is this still normal for a 4 month old? Or are we still needing to adjust for his prematurity when it comes to sleeping and eating frequency?  I know it shouldn’t matter if he gains weight, but Bekytt did fall of his growth curve for the first time this month, so I am definitely hyper aware of his eating.  The longest he ate for yesterday was 12 minutes.  Most ended after 5 minutes and he stopped because he had to burp and wouldn’t return, not because he seemed done eating.  Is this ok? Is he still getting enough food? Lord knows I am not going to try the bottle again if he is already struggling to eat in general.  Maybe it is because he is still not feeling well after his shots? He is a little congested? Thank God for it being Tuesday and Happy Bambino’s existence.  I think we will go fo a before and after weight again and see what Bekytt is actually consuming.  

It may sound like I am a dramatic parent, but all I am doing is writing down the thoughts that go through my head.  Most of the time I ask a lot of questions because I like information.  I want to know as much as I can about things of interest.  Ask my husband! By the time he finishes frying some eggs, I am usually 25 questions in. It is not that I am stressed about them, it’s just that I am a very curious person and I am very curious about Bekytt. I’m curious why babies do what they do and how they communicate with us.  I want to crack the code and learn to speak baby and I want to know what age Bekytt really is.  I see him as a 10 week old in every sense.  His size and gross motor movements follow that timeline and I would think his feeding and sleeping schedule would too? Which would mean his schedule can’t be set yet?  All I can do is record everything for a few days in a row and see if there is a trend.  Afterall, soon enough I will be going back to work and I can’t just expect him to take a bottle or the nanny to immediately know his hunger cues because I don’t always see them myself! I sure would prefer him to be on a schedule, but I also understand that is not for me to decide.  Especially when Daylight Savings has to mess it all up.  –Kathryn Kraft,MPT

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11/6/17: Nipple Confusion is Real

I didn’t even realize the stress this could cause- Last week when Bekytt and I came home from Ohio, I knew I had to find a way back to the gym.  It was a great trip, amazing actually, but that combined with having a hard time getting to my gym at home added up to over 3 weeks without training.  My knees were feeling it.  Everything was feeling achy and sore and I felt as if I had aged 20 years over night.  Thankfully, there are wonderful people at our gym and one particular coach who is always willing to watch Bekytt when she can. This would be the first time I’d be back, so I made a bottle so I could actually make it through the entire workout without stopping to breastfeed. Everything went very smoothly. She was able to feed him (after a slight bottle mishap, sorry about that), Bekytt drank just as he always would.  I got my workout in and everything was going great! So when we came up with a plan for the upcoming weekend, I felt comfortable going to drill and was excited my husband would be able to stay home and be with Bekytt.  I never even thought feeding would be an issue.

I woke up just before 4 am to feed Bekytt one last time before I’d have to head out.  He is definitely still a snacker at night, wakes up acting starving, but only eats a small amount (I’d guess an ounce) and then falls back asleep.  We do this maybe 4-5 times over the course of the night and it is actually pretty easy these days.  He eats calm, doesn’t wake crying or screaming, and falls back asleep very easily.  It still takes a bit before I can lie him down on his back, but I am happy with this routine.  However, I know that by the time 5:30 or 6am rolls around he will be hungry and awake enough for a full feeding.  The bottles were all in the fridge and ready to go, so this wouldn’t be an issue either.  I kissed my husband and baby boy goodbye and was out the door.  

I never did like driving in the dark, especially when it’s raining, but I had delicious coffee brewed for me by my husband, a good book on Audible, and felt excited to see my Army friends and have some adult time to actually use my brain.  I was excited for Kyle to have his quality time with Bekytt, but of course a little sad I would be missing it too. By the time I got to first formation at 7:30am, Bekytt was still not taking a bottle. He showed all the hunger signs and was definitely wanting to eat, but as my husband put it, “it’s like he forgot how to drink from a bottle.”  I was still fairly calm at this point, it had only been a little over 3 hours, he’d take it eventually, but just as a precaution, I called the nurse line to see how long we could go without him eating before we’d have to bring him in or I’d just have to come home.  If I was closer than a 2 hour drive, I would have just went home quick to feed him, but another 2 hours would mean he wouldn’t have eaten for 5 and a half hours.  When I talked to the nurse, she said at the 6 hour point we should bring him in for difficulty feeding. She gave us a few tips that my husband had already tried.  The obvious ones like try a different bottle, different position, and possibly a different batch of breastmilk.  I don’t know why, but this frustrated me.

Even though I know better, I still fall into the group of people who wants to listen to the advice of a doctor before doing something else.  I say I know better because I know experts in the field of feeding and other areas, enough to know doctors and nurses can be generalists.  A jack of all trades so to speak, but a sometimes a master of something other than what you need help with.  I then decided to put a post on La Leche Facebook group, call my sister in law who reminded me of my amazing friend who saved her when going through a similar issue with my youngest niece, and then called that amazing friend (who I really should be calling more often!)  Using those three avenues, here are some tips we received:

  • Try feeding in a completely different position than nursing, like propping in a Boppy, so it does not feel like nursing.
  • Put him in front of the tv so he is distracted enough to just eat and not think about the difference.  
  • Make it more like nursing and have my husband baby wear him and feed him while walking around.  
  • Wrap a shirt around him that smells like me.  
  • Try a Mam bottle or Lansinoh. One that has a nipple that looks like mine half way through a feeding.  A sippy cup.
  • And if all else fails, use a medicine dropper to at least get him some milk.  

My husband had tried nearly all of these before I decided I had to leave. How was I supposed to just stay put and let my husband possibly have to bring him to urgent care of the ER when I knew he would nurse from me.  It didn’t matter what else I was supposed to be doing that day, it mattered that my son got fed.  So I got in the car and started driving.

Since by this point it was going to be another 2 hours home, my husband started driving to me so we could meet in the middle.  This relieved some nerves for sure.  We met at a little cafe my husband found and Bekytt did nurse well.  It was just over 6 hours since his last feeding and while I felt relieved, I also realized how stressed I had been.  I felt ok driving to him and ok with our plan.  I had hoped he would eat from me and as my friend said, kids go longer without eating on purpose as they prepare for surgery.  Still, the wave of emotions that came out of me once I was there with him let me know just how worried I was.

Bekytt has quickly become my world. It is my job to make sure he has the food and nutrition he needs.  I never want to experience what it feels like to not be able to give that to him again.  He has still yet to take a bottle. We have tried a few times since I have been home.  He never took one from me, but he always did from others.  I am not sure if this is going to be a new thing or just a fluke thing, but for now, Bekytt will be with me wherever I go.  -Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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11/3/17: To Immunize or Not to Immunize

At least we are given a choice- I had the “pleasure” of taking our son to the doctor yesterday for his 4 month Well Child visit. As most parents know, this means his second round of shots since he was born.  He did pretty good for the 2 month shots, definitely some crying, but he was still very little then and calmed easily.  He is more alert these days. More interactive and definitely more aware of his surroundings.  He was such a good boy today and even gave the nurse about to inject him, the biggest, cutest smile ever(see above before picture).  I tried to explain to him what was about to happen and said “be brave little Bekytt.” I tried to tell him what was going to happen and that yes it would hurt, but that we were not only trying to protect him, but others as well, from viruses we know can cause death.  I am not in a position to have a debate on whether we should vaccinate, or when or how to vaccinate or anything of the sort.  While I have researched some information, I simply do not know enough of the specifics to have a good solid debate or stance on the matter.  We have chosen to vaccinate on the schedule our pediatrician has recommended, but it doesn’t mean we like the idea of them.

Shots just plain hurt. Even as an adult when we know what to expect.  So for an infant, I can only imagine. I have never liked when people say “at least they won’t remember it.”  Sure I don’t remember my shots as a child, but I’m sure I didn’t like them at the time.  Pain is not something we want our kids to go through, yet I voluntarily put him up on that table and said go ahead! Strap his legs down and stick a long needle in him 3 times and inject something that likely stings going in and then remains sore and oh ya, is a dead version of a virus that can kill you.  I know what the flu shot feels like, so it can’t be any better to such a small child. And his cry. That cry that starts out silent as he holds his breath and his face turns red and you just want him to breathe and scream, but then when he does it just breaks your heart.  The saddest face you’ve ever seen with huge, real tears of pain.  Ugh.  Being a parent is tough in those moments.  You try everything to calm them and then when they finally do you don’t want to move them.  I swear I held him in the same position for 30 minutes before I left the doctor’s office.  Thank goodness he was sound asleep when I put him in the car.  I even drove circles around my neighborhood for an extra 20 minutes when we got home because he was still sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him. I knew when he woke up he’d remember he was in pain and I didn’t want to see him in pain any more.

I finally took him in and was very thankful my husband was home to help because Bekytt sure did cry.   In those moments where you’d do anything to take your child’s pain away, I swear you lose your mind a little.  I’m sure my husband looks at me sometimes and just wants to say “what the hell?” I know I make no sense half the time. Should we give him a bath to soothe him or skip it again so we don’t have to move his legs? Do you hold him at your shoulder? Put him down and let him be free? Rub his legs? Don’t touch his legs? Give him Tylenol? Read the after care sheet? That one I would advise against.  The things those 6 pages or more say about the shots… you probably never want to know.  Reading it just makes you more mad that you decided to get him vaccinated, especially in that moment when he is still in obvious pain.  While I know it is what we decided and for good reason, those sheets make you feel like you just risked your child’s life.  And I’m sure we did! Ugh.  I wanted to stay calm and just hold and rock him so he was calm, but I honestly felt like I lost my mind a little. Again, thank God for my husband who doesn’t tell me I’m crazy and lets us sit in the steam room I created in our bathroom as he brings Bekytt’s clothes and diapers to us.  I swore the steam room would make him happy.  He liked it once, he’ll like it again! If only things with babies went that way.  If only they were consistent.

Thankfully we were able to get him to calm, eventually eat, and fall asleep peacefully.  I’d like to say we learned a few things so that his 6 month shots will go better, but I’m sure it will suck again and I’ll have no idea what to do to make it better.  And I am sure the day he has surgery for his PDA will suck even more and be even scarier, but he is one tough little man and I believe in him, his doctor’s, and his resiliency even at such a young age. I believe all of this will make him tougher one day and that his health will be better for it.  I do believe we are doing the best we can about making decisions for him with the information we have, it just sucks to be a parent sometimes and have to make these decisions.  All we can do is be there to comfort him through it.  Let him cry and try to soothe him while hoping Bob Marley is right…everything’s gonna be alright. –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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11/2/17: The Oregon Trail Generation

Stuck in the middle and I like it– One of the things that came up at dinner one night with friends in Ohio, is that being born between 1981-1983 has put us in a generation that is not quite Generation X, but not quite the Millennials either. Wikipedia says it is sometimes referred to as Xennials or Generation Catalano. These are the cusp years that are supposedly the late 70s and early 80s. The name Oregon Trail came from the much beloved Apple II computer game. I still remember going to the computer lab and logging in to the old green screen computers and typing in a code to log onto them. It was cool back then, but I wouldn’t have the patience for them now. Our cusp generation was born before computers, tablets and phones overtook life, but still in years where we learned how to use computers. I actually didn’t get a cell phone until I was in college and even then I shared it with a friend because it was cheaper to call home that way than to use a calling card. I didn’t have a phone attached to my hip or wifi at home, and I still know how to use all devices easily and strike up a conversation that does not involve any of them.

As we continued to talk that night, we talked about the good and the bad about the Millennials and how we feel thankful to have made it into this world without the expectation that you would be available 24/7. If you wanted to call someone, you’d have to memorize their number and call them when they were at home. If you missed them, they’d call when they had time or got your message. We are a generation that is said to “remember a time before the digital age, but barely.” It allows us to have both traits of Gen X and the Millennials. Anna Garvey says “both a healthy portion of the Gen X grunge cynicism, and a dash of the unbridled optimism of Millennials.” I definitely remember AOL, but I never had Facebook or texting to distract me or share the latest new with. Or thankfully, I never experienced Facebook shaming. The only problem with where I fall, is I take offense to people who are constantly on their phone.

I really try not to do this. I try to understand that it is acceptable by most to have their phones out at dinner. That people aren’t trying to be rude by checking their phone while you are talking to them, but it definitely strikes a chord in me when it happens. I have also gotten used to needing to be available. For work, for family or friends. I am used to checking my phone for email or to look at Pinterest or ThredUp to entertain me. Especially since I have been staying home, when there is a quiet moment, I will reach for my phone before a book or turning music on. It has also become a part of me. As confessed before, I would even respond to texts in the car. So how can I use my phone so much and still be offended when others pull it out? I think it is because I am stuck in the middle. I’m also torn within myself where I belong. I want the days to go back to how they were, but I was almost addicted to ThredUp there for a minute as well.

I am thinking of all of this today as I try to bridge the gap myself and wonder how Bekytt is going to be raised. What will he need to know for school and to be successful, and what can we hold back on. I think it is hard to predict what will come out in the next 10 years, heck even 5 years, so it isn’t even a conversation that may be valid for me and my husband. We may decide something today, but then as technology and expectations change, we may think otherwise. I would love to say I’d be comfortable with my son riding bikes as much as I did growing up. My bike was my escape with my friends. I’d tell my mom generally where I was going, but there was no way for her to know for sure. It’s already hard for me to work out when I don’t have eyes or ears on him, how could I even let him go without having GPS on him? I’d like to say I can and I’ll trust him and the world to be safe, but the world is so unexpected these days. Even sending him to school will be scary. Thank God we have a nanny that I trust!

I can’t imagine the gap in understanding between my grandparents and Bekytt. My grandparents lives were so different and I always love hearing about life back then. How did they come to understand and thrive with the way things are now? I don’t even like the difference. Yet they all seem to handle it just fine. Thankfully I’ll still have those stories for my son. The “remember when” days when I can talk about rolling car windows up and down, dial up internet, and Oregon Trail. I do wonder what stories will be different for Bekytt though once he has kids. I wonder if we’ll really have hover boards like Back to the Future or live in the sky like the Jetsons. I’d like to think we can teach Bekytt a healthy in between world of knowing how and when to put his phone down, but also how to use technology to his advantage, but who the hell knows! –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

11/1/17: What an Infant Can Teach You About Traveling

Who knew the bond could get even stronger– As most of you know, I spent the past 10 days traveling back and forth to Northeast Ohio.  I decided  to travel for many reasons and most looked at me like I was crazy.  Without a baby on the board, the drive typically takes at least 10 hours going through Chicago.  With baby on board, it ended up taking about 17 hours.  

I tried to look up articles on tips and tricks for driving a baby solo that long, but nothing seemed relevant to my situation.  Maybe no one had been crazy enough or adventurous enough to do it with a 4 month old and write about.  I figure since I am a little of both, I will share what I learned so you too can experience the fun of traveling solo with a baby!

First, expect the unexpected.  When planning your route, it pays to know a little about the highway. While you cannot plan exactly what rest stop or exit you will need to get off at, make sure there are plenty of safe options.  For me, I didn’t want to get caught in downtown Chicago, or worse, a not so good suburb before or after, so I went around the city.  Knowing I couldn’t avoid the traffic no matter what time of day I tried to go, I at least wanted a safe escape plan when needed.  Under no circumstance would I pull over on the shoulder of the highway and I didn’t want to let Bekytt go more than 5 minutes crying, if at all possible, at this age.  Usually his cries means hunger or in need of a diaper change, and I wanted to provide what he needed without stressing behind the wheel.  We used the 3 minute rule and it worked out great.  Once he was crying for 3 minutes, I would know it was usually going to last and I would start looking for the next exit.  Sometimes before the 3 minutes he’d fall back asleep.  If he hit the 3 minute mark, it typically wasn’t going to stop unless I stopped and released him from his car seat.

Second, don’t expect to drive more than 4 of 5 true driving hours a day.  Babies need to get out of the car seat every 90 minutes, you can sometimes push 2 hours but doctors won’t recommend it.  Stopping to change him, feed him, and interact with him takes at least 30-45 minutes each time.  I also really wanted to have fun with him and not make him hate traveling, so I would spend some time playing with him as well.  He likes to sit on my leg these days and rock back and forth as he looks at people or lights or fans.  He is working on his head and body control and it is a lot of fun to see his progress. I didn’t want my timeline to interfere with his development.  Add these breaks in with only 90 minutes of driving while he slept in between, and you don’t really get too far.  Knowing this ahead of time and not having a specific time of arrival set will help you enjoy the experience more and get there safely.  Items needed for these stops are the same as anything you’d normally pack in your diaper bag-changing pad, diapers, wipes, new diapers, extra clothes just in case, Moby wrap, blanket, and one small toy.

Third, have a CD of songs your baby likes in que.  I know, none of us listen to CDs anymore, this is why this is perfect.  You can have the radio or your phone set to whatever you’d like while he is happy, but as soon as you need a distraction, you can just switch your audio input over to disc! For us, this was his kids classical music.  We got a set of 6 CDs from one of his aunts that has sweet lullabyes on them, but the classical music is what he calms to the most.  He is part Minasian, so that must be why he has good taste in music! At times my philosophy was the louder the better.  Not just to drown out his cries, I’d never do that! But because sometimes that is what it took to shift his attention and really start listening.  The right song helps in those moments you know you have to pull over, but when a safe exit is more than just a few minutes away.  Staying calm while driving is a must.

Fourth, be ready to tune in to your child.  I knew I was asking a lot of Bekytt to come to Ohio and then travel even more once we were there.  Most of my family and friends live within a 30 minute car ride, but this meant every day we were there we’d have to get up and get in the car again.  The only way he was going to do this is if I made his experience fun and followed his lead on when we could go, how long we could stay for, and when the right time to get back in the car was.  What I learned from Bekytt was that he liked to wake up happy at about 8am.  We would FaceTime with dad during these happy awake moments and slowly get up for the day. At about 9 or 9:30am, he’d need another feeding and a nap.  During this nap, I was able to get ready and pack the car for the day.  (Side note, I would recommend bring your baby monitor with you because you will need it to do things like this if no one else is there with you).  He would wake to eat again before we headed out and then he’d nap on the way.  If we did this routine, we could usually get somewhere by 11am and he’d stay happy.  Any earlier would have been asking too much of him and he wouldn’t be so happy.  Once we arrived at our destination, I’d continue to read his cues and tune into him no matter how many people I was visiting with. If I was sure to take care of his needs before it turned into a screaming fest, things usually went pretty smoothly. I’d never leave unless he was napping and this also turned out to work very well for us.  It was also interesting to see the more background noise he was around, the longer he’d sleep.

Fifth, expect to bond even more than you knew possible.  While I had help at home that I am thankful for, 99% of his care fell solely on me.  Which I knew of course would happen, but I also did not have housework, laundry, cooking, or any other thing to distract me with. I was not working from home and the eating I did was simple and easy thank you to the many family and friends who provided meals or a kitchen for me! I was able to heat and eat basically and it was so nice.  I learned so much from Bekytt on this trip. I am finally starting to see a schedule develop, recognize his cries, and expect what he will need almost before he needs it.  He has shown me endless smiles and is even starting to laugh.  He truly seemed to grow up on this trip.  We no longer have the nighttime screaming hours for no reason and I feel extremely connected to him and I love it.  Routine is now something that I don’t want to mess with.  I never thought I’d get that way, but when I let him go off of it, even for Halloween, things are not as fun.  

I became a parent to experience what it was like to raise another human being and teach him how to be a great person, but what Bekytt is teaching me everyday is so much more than I ever imagined.  He is teaching me patience, love, understanding, language without words, and I’m soaking it all up.  This road trip was needed for us to see family, but after doing it, I can’t wait to take him on another road trip just to experience the road trip, but with his dad this time too. Travel is good for the soul and while coming home has been amazing, I already miss the not having to clean or having other house chores to attend to.  

My last bit of advice is that if you can ever pull over for a break at a Culver’s, it’s definitely worth it!  They are clean, they have their changing area in the bathroom stall so you can actually put your baby down safely and go to the bathroom baby free.  They have big booths to feed in, they have great gluten free and quality food, and their staff is always super friendly. I was sad that they were only in WI as no other stop, besides maybe the OH toll plazas, could compare to what a mom needed while traveling.  

So before the snow hits, head out on a road trip either by yourself or with your little one! Don’t forget the baby monitor and some type of pack and play so he can sleep anywhere without getting trampled on.  You will discover things you may not have known before and may go into winter with a better frame of mind. –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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