Thursday, April 30, 2015

top 5 uses for coconut oil for new moms

Coconut oil is all the rage these days. It cures cancer! It makes you skinny! It can help you learn Chinese! I'm not usually one to follow the fads (I haven't hopped on the essential oil bandwagon, and I am basically living on gluten), but coconut oil is one thing I have tried, and basically use every day. It's great for so many things, and it is a must-have for moms with babies.

Here is my list of the top five uses for coconut oil. Try it out!

1It is hands-down my favorite diaper rash "cream." As soon as my baby starts to have even the tiniest of diaper rashes, I whip out the coconut oil. I love it so much for this, that I keep a little jar of it at my changing table. If your baby's bum is starting to look a little red, get some coconut oil on your finger and apply it to the red area. Voila! Most of the time (as long as the rash isn't very bad), the rash is gone by the next diaper change. Also, it's fantastic for yeast rashes on baby bums. My lactation consultant told me that coconut oil actually kills the yeast organism. How awesome is that? It is seriously a miracle moisturizer! And it doesn't leave any weird milky residue like other creams I've used. And it doesn't smell like chemicals. Basically, it wins.

2Fantastic nipple soother! Got cracked and bleeding nipples? Baby's got Thrush? Never fear, coconut oil is here! This stuff seriously saved me in the first weeks of breastfeeding and then again when we developed a mild case of thrush. And it's safe for baby, so you don't have to wipe it or wash it off before the next feeding! I would just dry off the nipple after breastfeeding and apply the oil directly with my finger. I kept a jar of coconut oil on the table by my rocking chair where I nursed and used it after every single feeding session. Once again, coconut oil kills yeast, so it really helped when my nipples were painful and red from the thrush. I would just apply it and then let it air dry for a few minutes before putting on dry breast pads. I never bought another tube of nipple cream again!

3Coconut oil in capsule form is fantastic at helping boost a new mother's milk supply! My lactation consultant told me about this one, as well. At one point when my supply had dropped (from when I dropped my calorie intake a bit too low--I was trying to lose the baby weight... woops!) I started taking a few capsules of coconut oil a day. Wow! Totally amped up my supply. It was crazy. So if fenugreek isn't quite cutting it for you, and the power pumping sessions aren't helping, try coconut oil. Besides helping with milk supply, it's actually very good for the quality of your milk as well.

4Cures cradle cap! Well, if your baby has cradle cap, you know it's impossible to really cure until they grow out of it. Coconut oil, however, helps manage it beautifully! Simply rub the coconut oil with your fingers onto the baby's scalp and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then, scrub your baby's scalp gently with whatever baby shampoo you prefer. Do this daily until baby's cradle cap is gone. It sure has helped us! It's great, too, because my baby has tons of hair so when we put the oil on his head he looks like a little greasy-haired mohawk man (with the help of Husband's great hairstyling skills, of course). Too cute!

5Moisturizer for stretching skin during pregnancy and stretch marks after pregnancy. I haven't been great about remembering to apply the oil to my skin, but I definitely do notice a difference in the dryness of my skin when I use it. And for a mama with lots of other things to think about, it is so easy to use, and so much cheaper than the expensive lotions out there marketed for stretch marks.

The best thing about coconut oil is how easy it is to find and how inexpensive it is considering all of the many things it can be used for! I just picked mine up in the baking section at my local grocery store! For only a few dollars a jar, you've got a diaper rash cream, nipple cream, moisturizer, lip balm, cooking substitute, and much more.

There you have it! My top five uses for coconut oil since I've had my baby! Do you use it for anything else? Comment below!

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. Do not use this post as medical advice.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

life isn't fair

Yesterday I read a blog post about a woman who was diagnosed with cancer while she was in the hospital delivering her baby girl. Then a few months later after rounds of chemotherapy, she was finally cancer-free... and her baby girl died in her sleep.

I read the story with a sinking heart. I couldn't even begin to grasp how horrible that would be. Why isn't life fair? I resolved that I wouldn't complain about my stupid teeny tiny little problems anymore, because someone else out there has it way harder than I do.

And then last night I stumbled upon a blog post written by a woman whose baby died when she was around 37 weeks pregnant and how she had to deliver that stillborn baby. My eyes glazed over with tears as I read the story, making it difficult for me to get from word to word through my warped vision. And when I finished the story, I broke down into full on sobs.

Why do things like that happen to people?

I'd been planning to write a post about my postpartum feelings on my emergency csection soon. How difficult it is sometimes to look back on my experience and not feel like a failure. How I project judgmental feelings onto others, convincing myself that they think I'm less of a woman because I wasn't able to deliver my baby vaginally.

But then I read those stories. And now? My post is very different.

I am so incredibly full of gratitude for my experience, for my life, and for my baby.

My csection was beautiful because it brought to me my baby boy. And it doesn't matter one tiny speck of an ounce that he didn't come out "the normal way." The fact is, he came out. Alive. Thriving. Kicking and wiggling and peeing everywhere. His tiny fingers wrapped tight around mine. He latched right on to nurse. He snuggled into the comfort of my arms. His cheeks were warm and plump for me to cover in gentle kisses.

He's healthy. He's safe. He's growing and learning and getting more beautiful every day.

I am so insanely blessed. How he got here doesn't even matter. What matters is that he got here.

I've been giving him extra kisses, extra hugs, and extra "I love you"s today. I've been marveling over the intense blue of his eyes, loving the way his smile cuts through those chubby cheeks, and rejoicing in the way his little body moves.

Sometimes it takes someone else's tragedy to show us how much we have been blessed. I don't want to take anything for granted.

I'm just going to leave this post at that, because there's a healthy baby boy napping in his crib in the other room. And because of my csection, my beautiful surgery that saved us both from what could have happened, I can go see him and touch him and love him every single day for the rest of my life.

I couldn't be more grateful for that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

20 random things

1I seriously need to repaint my toenails. The last time they were painted was when I went with my sisters-in-law to get pedicures at Christmastime. So yes, it's more like the tips of my toes are pink and the rest of my toenails are bare. Not cute.
2I lurk the community posts on my myfitnesspal app for fun. Usually as I eat oreos or spoonfuls of peanut butter. I recognize the irony in this, and I am still not ashamed.
3I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually done my hair since my baby was born (ponytails and messy buns don't count).
4When I'm on a diet, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Pinterest looking at desserts. It's not really a mystery why I can't ever stick to my diets for longer than five days.
5I can't look to the left. It's true. The muscles on the left side of my left eye are weak from surgeries and things from when I was little. So if you're sitting to my left when we're having a conversation, I'm sorry. Now you know why eye contact is not something that's happening.
6I can go through a pack of gum in a day. It drives my husband nuts.
7Even though I know my baby isn't old enough yet to know what he means when he says "mama" all day, I still get stupidly excited every time he says it.
8My favorite ice cream is vanilla ice cream smothered in peanut butter sauce. Holy heaven, that stuff is amazing.
9When I was younger, I used to dip veggies in ketchup (i.e. cucumbers, carrots, etc). I still am not entirely sure why I stopped doing that, but whatever the reason, it was probably a wise choice.
10I hate talking on the phone. So much so that if I have to call someone, I usually try to trick my husband into doing it for me.
11I have probably only read one or two books since graduating from college two years ago. I do still love reading, but as an English major I had to read so stinking much in college... and I had to read so many books I didn't enjoy... I got burnt out in a big way. Now I get exhausted just thinking about reading a book and take a nap instead.
12On that same token, I am pretty sure I am the only English major ever to not like Jane Austen books. I'm sorry, but I can't pretend anymore.
13I own five pairs of shoes. Two pairs of flats for church, one pair of regular everyday shoes, one pair of tennis shoes, and one pair of flip-flops. It's not that I don't love shoes--I do. I get super envious of friends who have a pair of shoes to match every outfit they own. My problem is that I can't get over how expensive shoes are. They are seriously overpriced.
14I refuse to try cookie butter because of how bad my love for peanut butter is. I just don't need another delicious spread that is impossible to control myself around.
15I don't actually really like breastfeeding. I do it anyway, though, because I have the supply and the ability and I know how beneficial it is for both baby and mother. But I look forward to his first birthday when I can be done with it.
16Along with that, I also am ridiculously paranoid about losing my milk supply. I know that I should just chill out about it and that I'm probably only aggravating the issue by worrying, but I can't help it. Every single feeding I worry that he didn't get enough to eat. And just look at my chunky Michelin Man baby. I know I'm being ridiculous.
17It's painful for me to watch musicals because I want to be in one so bad. Like actual, physical pain in my heart. Maybe one day soon we'll work it out so I can do one.
18I'm super indecisive about my favorite color. For some reason I get worked up about it. "Purple! No, wait! Yellow! No... no, no... Green! No..."
19I hate being cold more than almost anything else in the world.
20I hate public restrooms and would almost rather go on the side of the road during a road trip than use a gas station toilet. Yuck.

There you have it. 20 completely pointless things about me. Anybody relate to any of these?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

surviving a puppp rash

I've had a few questions recently on whatever happened with that horrible pregnancy rash I had.

The short story?

It got really really really bad, I thought I was going to lose my mind (this is not even a little bit of an exaggeration. I really thought I was having some sort of nervous breakdown or something), and then it went away.

Key point? It. Went. Away.

That doesn't happen. Doctors know very little about PUPPP. They don't know what causes it, they don't know why it happens when it does, and they don't know squat about how to cure it. The only thing they do know is that the ONLY "cure" is delivery of the baby.

But mine went away about two or three weeks prior to my delivery.

I don't know if I was just infinitely lucky, majorly blessed, or if I found the right combination of creams and soaps that did the trick... but I'll share with you what I did in case you, like me, feel like you're going to lose your mind to the kind of itch that makes you want to cut your limbs off.

First off, if you're suffering with a PUPPP rash, my heart aches for you. That rash was one of the hardest trials of my life. There were nights I wanted to die, I itched so bad. I was on the verge of using a cheese grater on my skin. If you ask my husband about my time with the rash, he'll tell you about the nights I woke up screaming. He'll tell you about holding my hands in an iron-grip as my body shook and shivered like I had a fever because my need to scratch was so strong I couldn't control myself. He'll tell you (as he has told me) about the wild, crazed look in my eyes when my need to scratch hit a breaking point. He'll tell you about the times I lashed out and yelled at him when he tried to tell me not to scratch. And he'll also tell you how scared he was.

In some ways, I feel like my husband had the harder end of the deal. He had to watch, helplessly, as I tried to rip my skin off, crying in our bed at 2am. He had to help me in and out of countless oatmeal baths and had to help spread every cream you can imagine on my purple, raised skin. He had to be strong and fight my fingernails away from my raw flesh when I was so consumed by the itch I couldn't see the blood I was bringing to the surface. And he felt useless.

That itch was unimaginable. And I think that was what was the hardest thing for me about it. Others have no idea what an itch like that feels like. They dismiss it easily because they've had a mosquito bite before or they've had poison ivy or they've had chicken pox.

But if you're suffering from PUPPP, I want you to know. I know how you feel. I know that a PUPPP itch is unlike any itch anyone can imagine. I know that comparing PUPPP to a mosquito bite or the chicken pox is like comparing having your finger cut off to a papercut. I know it's bad. You're not alone.

Also, there is hope. My rash went away before I had my baby. It reduced to just a minor itch that was totally tolerable. Let me tell you what I did to get rid of it.

1Blazing hot water. I showered twice a day, and the first thing I did was turn the water to as hot as I could stand. I stood outside the stream of water and put each rashy part under it one at a time (except for my belly, since that kind of heat could probably be bad for the baby). Arms, shoulders, hands, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, calves, and then the tops and bottoms of my feet. When I would put the rashy skin under the scalding water, it almost felt like I was scratching like crazy, and it felt euphoric. The rash would turn an awful violet purple color, but it felt SO good.

2Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap. This stuff smells absolutely awful. It smells like you roasted an animal over a campfire and then sweat all over it. Man, it's horrible. But that soap was my miracle. I swear by it. You can find it on amazon here or you can find it at a natural foods store. I found mine at Good Earth Foods. After soaking my skin in the hot water, I worked up a thick lather of this stuff on all of the parts covered with the rash. I scrubbed it in with a rag (which also felt like a good scratch). Then I let it sit for a few minutes.

3Freezing water. Then I would turn the water to the coldest I could handle and rinse off the soap with it. I hated this part, but I think it was key to closing up the pores after that hot water.

4Repeating that often. I followed this routine 2-3 times a day. It would give me relief for up to 2 hours after the shower... long enough to fall asleep, finally!

5Oatmeal baths. When I wasn't showering and I wasn't at work, you could find me soaking in oatmeal baths. They didn't do much at curing my rash, but as long as I was sitting in the oatmeal water, I wasn't as itchy. So I spent a lot of time wrinkling up like a prune. I just used the Aveeno Oatmeal Bath mixture.

6Various lotions to help combat the itch when I couldn't be in the bath (like when I was at work or in the middle of the night or at the doctor's office). These ones worked for me:

Sarna Lotion
Sarna Original Lotion, 7.5-Ounce (222 mL) Bottle
This stuff has a really intense cooling effect. I couldn't really handle it all over my whole body because then I started shivering. But if one particular spot got really itchy, the Sarna was great. I used it on my arms a lot. I just picked it up in the pharmacy section at my local grocery store. It was great and cheap.

Caladryl Lotion

This stuff is crazy. It is super runny and turns your skin pink (and anything else it touches, so be careful around clothes and carpet). It kind of dries you out, but it is really good at reducing an itch. I would put this on after showers sometimes if I was having a particularly itchy day.

Gold Bond Anti-Itch or Rapid Relief Cream
Gold Bond Medicated Anti-Itch Lotion-5.5oz

I used both of these. The regular anti-itch lotion was great but was more slow-working but created a bit longer-lasting relief. The rapid relief worked as soon as I put it on, but didn't last as long. I carried tubes of the rapid relief in my purse and applied it dozens of times during work. I kept a tube by my bed as well so that when I woke up clawing at my skin I could put some cream on to reduce the itch enough to stop the crazy.

Benadryl Itch Stopping Cream
Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Cream
This is what I used prior to finding the Gold Bond, and it definitely helped. I just liked Gold Bond a bit better. But the Benadryl is comparable to the Gold Bond regular itch relief. Great for carrying around in a purse or keeping on the bedside table for relief when you just can't HANDLE it anymore.

things that didn't work:
Pretty much everything my doctor told me to do. She said to use allergy medication (Benadryl, Zyrtec). They did NOTHING. She also told me to take sleeping pills to help me "sleep through the itch" since I was so exhausted from only sleeping 20 min at a time. Obviously she underestimated the itch because it's impossible to sleep through. And the sleeping pills only made me MORE tired so that when I woke up from the itch, I was beside myself with exhaustion. Cue nighttime meltdowns.

Also, the number one thing my doctor kept saying was, "try not to scratch." Ha. Good one. I burst into tears when she said that because... well... sometimes the itch defies all reason and you can't not scratch.

I started to get itchy around 33 weeks on my belly in my stretch marks. Those stretch marks became raised red hives by 34 weeks and before I hit 35 weeks, you couldn't see my stretch marks anymore because the hives had all blended together to form one big ugly rash across my belly. Also at 35 weeks, the rash spread to my hips. Between week 35 and week 37 it spread down my legs to my feet (even the soles of my feet blistered up) and it popped up on my arms and hands (even my palms).

I started using the Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap twice a day with that showering routine I talked about earlier around 36 weeks. I didn't see much improvement for about 10 days but after that, it slowly started to recede. By 39 weeks, I was only mildly itchy and the rash was a shadow of what it had been. I was rash-free by the time I delivered my baby at nearly 42 weeks, and the splotchiness on my skin went away once the baby was born. It truly was a miracle.


The two previous photos were in the beginning when the rash first spread from my belly. It looks tame, but it was awful even then.

These three photos are from when it got bad. That middle photo is a (blurry) closeup of my upper thigh of the same leg pictured in the other two. I'm including pictures of the same leg throughout so you can see the progression.

This was from a few days after the Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap started working. Still soooo itchy but working its way toward relief...

Around 38 weeks I think. Starting to really fade. Getting less itchy but not quite cured yet.

This is my fat, swollen, full-term pregnant leg. Haha ready to have a baby (though I didn't know that I'd still be waiting a while for him to come...). Don't judge my cankles. ;) The itch was pretty much gone at this point, just normal-type itching (kind of like when you have dry skin). I was so scared that I'd have scars on my legs from this rash because it actually took quite a while for the splotchiness to go away, and everywhere I read said that the more you scratched the worse off your skin would be. But it went away eventually!

 Post-baby and PUPPP-free!

And that's my story. I know that PUPPP rashes are unique to each person who has them. I had a pretty severe case, but there are way worse cases out there for sure. Different things work for different people, but I really wanted to share what worked for me so that if someone out there is suffering the way I was they might be able to find relief.

Anybody else have anything that worked for them? Feel free to comment and let me know!

I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have about my experience with PUPPP. Or if you just need someone to commiserate with. You can email me at:
peanutbutterproblem [@] gmail [dot] com.

Want to read more about my pregnancy and birth?
You can find the story of my emergency c-section here.
Read about the things I miss about pregnancy here.
Read the letter I wrote to my c-section scar here (my most popular post of all time).
Check out my post on when I found out I was pregnant here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

name change?

Yep, I changed my blog name. And web address. You know, just to confuse everyone.

My old name, "What's in a Name?" just seemed so clunky and weird to me. It didn't really seem to fit what I blog about, and it no longer really seemed to fit me. I originally chose it because it was the title of one of my favorite songs I'd written, and I was aiming for this blog to be about my writing.

BUT that was a few years ago, and I don't write songs much anymore (though I'm hoping one day that'll change... maybe when a certain little boy can play/do things by himself a bit more and I can have a few minutes a day when I can strum around on my guitar...) And now, I mostly blog about my life as a mama and updates on my baby. And if there's one thing that's gotten me through the last year of pregnancy and postpartum craziness, it's my addiction to peanut butter. :)

It's a big problem. It really is. I don't think I'll ever be able to put into words quite how much I love/need/crave peanut butter. And I'm thinking that this motherhood thing is going to take quite a few more jars of Skippy to get through... Stay tuned for this blog to start sounding more and more like a mommy blog.

Because, let's be honest. That's basically what it's been for the last few months since Bug was born.