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Need Help From The Other Moms Out There!


janiedelite
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My hubby and I are trying to adopt through the foster care system, and are caring for a 21 m/o bundle of energy for the last 5 months :P . We are mostly interested in children from infancy to 24 months, and we just had a preemie for the last 3 weeks (born at 34 weeks). I was managing pretty well with just the toddler because she sleeps all night, and I get a good 3-hour rest period in the afternoons. But getting up every 3-4 hours with a newborn was so difficult knowing that as soon as the toddler woke up I had to be fully functional.

The little preemie has gone on to another home (where she can also live with her teenage mom), and now we are ready to take another one in if another highly adoptable infant becomes available.

I don't want to give up on fostering/adopting an infant. Can the POTSy mom's out there give me some tips on managing symptoms while caring for a newborn as well as a toddler? Any advice is appreciated. B)

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Good for you!

I have two children 20 months apart and I was very sick (bed rest) while pregnant and then after they were born sicker...even sent to NIH.. Misdiagnosed with pheo. we really thought I was dying.

I was undiagnosed for 10-11 years... anyway... you can get though it and it is worth it. My children don't recall me being sick when they were small...

make sure you have a play pen. It is so important that they have a safe place. Put fun toys in the pen that they don't play with outside of the "pen".

Don't be too hard on yourself. I think all moms have "mommy guilt".

Nap when you can. Eat right. Enjoy this stage of your life! Now I find that my children being so close in age is a blessing. They are only 1 yr apart in school and like many of the same things. I did have 2 in diapers for a short time but I think things are harder when there is a big age difference. My two even have the same bed time.

Focus on what you can offer your children and not what you think you "should" do. My children are very fun, kind, and mature for their age because of what our family has had to deal with. Also on weekend my husband would get up and feed the baby to give me a break. It really did help. best wishes

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Kayjay,

Thank you so much for you encouragement and reassurance. I've tried a playpen for the toddler, but I think she might have been left in a playpen for long periods of time in previous foster homes. She just hates it. Instead, I've worked to really childproof our family room where there is a futon I can lay on as needed. For days when I'm really depleted, I play certain videos that she loves. Thank you for telling me to focus on the blessings we are passing onto these kids and for reminding me to take care of myself!

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There are many moms out there that are just doing the best they can with little ones so don't feel bad about needing to make compromises for your POTS.

I worked nights when my kids were little so I would nap off and on while they entertained themselves and we still had many quality times and they really didn't know the difference.

At first it was hard for me to close my eyes at all I worried about what they would get into or if they would go outside but I don't know something happened the more children I have had and maybe it is the temperament of the child. I have afforded myself short naps and nothing horrible has happened the kids have been just fine.

I think that you can find ways to make it work and there will be times that you are exhausted but that is normal for any parent.

They will get older and things will change.

How exciting for you-I hope this all works out.

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There are also things you can do so that your sleep is not horribly disrupted at night.

For me I coslept and nursed so all I had to do when baby woke up was roll over and give him the breast. We both fell back to sleep that way. I almost had to do this to be able to get up and go into work then at 6:30 am.

But there are some tricks you can do while bottle feeding.

You can still sleep with the baby in the room if that is an option for you or cosleep.

They have little beds that fit right up to your so that the baby does not have to actually be in your bed.

The other things would be having bottles made up and possibly in a little cooler with a bottle warmer right in your bedroom so that you don't have to go to the kitchen and make bottles during the night.

Whatever works for you.

A friend started sleeping on a pull out because it was closer to the kitchen and that way she didn't have to go downstairs to make bottles at night and she felt she got more sleep that way.

I think it is possible to work out your own system that works for you.

For me I hate getting up-it wrecks my sleep and makes it difficult for me to fall back to sleep once I have gotten up and walked around.

I was lucky that there wasn't too much crying with a nursing baby.

When it came to teething there is often crying into the night even when they aren't hungry and that gets tough but those times pass.

I think you can negotiate with your husband too to help you out.

Where one husband might say no to cosleeping-he maybe willing to let you go to bed early and stay up with baby and do a night feeding and change diaper and get baby snuggled down in bed and alternate getting up with baby in the night with you to help you out.

There really are a lot of things you can do.

I would recommend joining a birth board dealing with new infants and you'll get a lot of ideas from other moms and can share success stories.

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Thanks, Lieze! I'm totally going to get a bottle warmer and keep a cooler of bottles in the room. You're right, it's the getting up and walking around that's rough. I'll still have to change their diaper every few hours, but it would be great to avoid walking to the kitchen and back for a bottle. I'm definitely checking with other moms to get hints as well. Unfortunately, I really can't sleep once the toddler is up because she is rather hyperactive and because I'd get into real trouble as her foster parent.

I tried keeping the bassinet right by the bed, but the baby made so many little baby noises that I couldn't sleep. But thankfully our house is small, and it's just a few steps to the baby's room. I think by using a bottle warmer at my bedside, once I change the baby I can lie down and feed him/her in our bed.

I really appreciate your help. We had 4 hours from the time we got the call a baby was available to the time we had to pick her up from the hospital. We hadn't bought any baby supplies because we didn't even know if we'd get a call. That's how it is in foster care... there's usually not a lot of warning when they need to place an infant. I think the stress of needing to get so many baby supplies immediately also contributed to my POTS flaring up. Since that baby was placed in our home, I did hit some great garage sales and have supplies and clothes for boys and girls ages 0-24 mos.

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The diaper changing just varies too.

With cloth diapers which I used some those definately have to be changed often and I usually changed them often when they were little just because their skin was so sensitive.

So long as they were clean and dry when I laid them down the disposable diapers do a great job (unless they soak or soil) of wicking the wetness away from the skin. You can even use something on the skin and get by with less changes during the night.

Now with a newborn I changed like crazy like I said probably 3 times per night and sometimes it was an outfit change too.

You'll get a feel for it but as the baby gets a little older they often do fine with less changes and have no skin breakdown.

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I haven't been on this site in quite some time just due to the day to day demands of life, but I logged on today to say "Need Help from Moms." So imagine my surprise when I saw your post!

Maybe we can trade some secrets - as you can see I certainly don't have it figured out.

I have an 11 mos old daughter. We were not planning on having children (because frankly, I had NO idea how I could care for a newborn/infant while managing my POTS). Life, it would seem, had a different plan for us and SURPRISE - the fever-less flu I had for a week was not the flu according to three home pregnancy tests.

I've made it through 11 mos and am still sane and breathing, so that was a step beyond what I thought I could do! Here are my tricks so far (but I need more):

- We coslept (you do hear every peep, but you also know the baby is safe if you have made every precaution. this might not be advisable with a foster child though, since it is frowned upon by the medical community in general).

- We also kept and still keep pre-mixed bottles in a small cooler right by the bed.

- We keep a diaper "basket" right by the bed with diapers, wipes, vaseline,and everything we need to change her right there on the bed (yes, we have had a few wet sheets when we mis-timed a changing :))

- We traded nights or time zones for the night depending on our working circumstances, such as:

- I took 7 PM to midnight; my husband took midnight to morning (newborn months with multiple wake-ups)

- We trade nights now that she only wakes up once or twice

- We rotate who gets up with her at the break of dawn (although my husband does the lion's share of this), allowing the other person to sleep.

- Have a diaper changing "station" set up in the main living area where you spend your days (we use a small night stand - includes diapers, lotions, medicines, changes of clothes, etc. - Anything to minimize moving around - and I change her on our 3' x 3' ottoman)

- Baby Proof the main living area of your home and block it off from anything dangerous so the little one can crawl/cruise/run around safely while you interact from a stationary position when necessary (there's is nothing more exhausting than protecting a baby from him/herself :))

- Play with the baby in bed so that you can lie down. My daughter loves this time we spend together. She crawls all over me, there's enough space for her to crawl around, but she's close enough for me to keep her safe. We "read" (this would be her opening and closing the book while chewing on it), clap, play pat-a-cake, "talk" (ba ba ba, ga ga ga), and she seems to enjoy the downtime.

- Invest in swings, jumpers, bouncers, play-gyms - anything that keeps a baby engaged while keeping him/her safe.

- Invest in a baby-carrier and use it early - my little one wouldn't go for this because I tried it too late, but the ability to do other things (such as chase a toddler in your circumstances) with hands free while keeping the baby with you... priceless.

- If you have two floors - duplicate everything upstairs and down - two hampers, two changing areas, two sleeping areas, two places to store clothes... everything.

- Don't forget to take your medication... ever. My worst days are when I miss a dose.

Finally - the last thing I can think of - if your insurance will cover it...Provigil, Provigil, Provigil! It's a horribly expensive drug, but it is the only thing that helps me stay awake (most of the time) during the day.

We haven't figured out everything though... my house is in shambles with the exceptions of where the baby plays, sleeps, and eats. Just getting groceries is enough to knock me out for the day. My husband handles most of the household chores that do get done. I'm barely able to work (from home, reclined) - 40 hours is a huge challenge for me now, and my workplace expects 50 hour weeks on a light week (and they are pushing for me to work in-office :(). Meals are anything but gourmet (we even reduced ourselves to hamburger helper the other night - I now remember why I stopped eating that in my 20s... yuck.)

I wish you the very best of luck - it is possible, and the exhaustion is so worth all the blessings my daughter brings to my life!

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Thanks so much Deucykub! I'm definitely going to use these hints:

- We also kept and still keep pre-mixed bottles in a small cooler right by the bed.

- We keep a diaper "basket" right by the bed with diapers, wipes, vaseline,and everything we need to change her right there on the bed (yes, we have had a few wet sheets when we mis-timed a changing :))

- We traded nights or time zones for the night depending on our working circumstances, such as:

- I took 7 PM to midnight; my husband took midnight to morning (newborn months with multiple wake-ups)

- We trade nights now that she only wakes up once or twice

- We rotate who gets up with her at the break of dawn (although my husband does the lion's share of this), allowing the other person to sleep.

- Have a diaper changing "station" set up in the main living area where you spend your days (we use a small night stand - includes diapers, lotions, medicines, changes of clothes, etc. - Anything to minimize moving around - and I change her on our 3' x 3' ottoman)

- Baby Proof the main living area of your home and block it off from anything dangerous so the little one can crawl/cruise/run around safely while you interact from a stationary position when necessary (there's is nothing more exhausting than protecting a baby from him/herself :))

- Play with the baby in bed so that you can lie down. My daughter loves this time we spend together. She crawls all over me, there's enough space for her to crawl around, but she's close enough for me to keep her safe. We "read" (this would be her opening and closing the book while chewing on it), clap, play pat-a-cake, "talk" (ba ba ba, ga ga ga), and she seems to enjoy the downtime.

- Invest in swings, jumpers, bouncers, play-gyms - anything that keeps a baby engaged while keeping him/her safe.

- Invest in a baby-carrier and use it early - my little one wouldn't go for this because I tried it too late, but the ability to do other things (such as chase a toddler in your circumstances) with hands free while keeping the baby with you... priceless.

- Don't forget to take your medication... ever. My worst days are when I miss a dose.

Wow, it's amazing how we learn to deal with life's surprises. Good for you for pushing hard and providing a caring, loving home for your daughter WHILE working and having dysautonomia. I simply can't imagine doing both right now. I am really interested in the provigil, except that I'm trying to use the least amount of meds possible right now... it just looks better when we are being considered for adoption.

Other tricks I've learned while caring for a toddler:

- Take her with you when you buy new toys. She'll show you what she's really interested in and it's those toys that will hold her interest the longest at home. We hit a lot of garage sales, and sometimes craigslist or consignment will help your budget.

- When I'm cooking for dinner, I'll try to make enough for 2-3 meals and I'll freeze the rest (or just keep it in the fridge for tomorrow).

- Even when she doesn't fall asleep for her afternoon nap, I still put her down. She really does need the quiet time, and so do I.

- Keep on a schedule. Toddlers love routine and are less likely to be fussy when they know what to except.

- Enlist all of the help you can (sounds like you're already doing this!)

- Play on the floor with her. She'll love the attention, and you'll be right there if you she needs you.

- I can't spend time in the park much, especially in the summer. We have a sliding glass door and fenced in back yard and bought a second-hand Step 2 climber. I can sit inside the door and watch her play (this might be an option once your daughter is older).

- In the mornings, I usually don't feel well enough to bathe before she wakes up. So I'll wait until her snack time sometimes and put her in her high chair and wheel it to our bathroom so I can watch her while I bathe. Or I just wait til nap time.

I know there are lots of things I do throughout the day in order to accomodate my symptoms while caring for her. I try to post them as I think of them (or I'll PM you). Thanks again!!!

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Hi, Thankful!

Thank you so much! Those are great suggestions!

I particularly like the ideas about cooking a big meal and freezing it and checking out garage sales for pre-owned stuff. We don't know a lot of people where we are, so all of my daughter's things have been new (and pricey). It never once occurred to me to check out garage sales, lol.

The idea about bringing her with me to pick out toys is fantastic, too. She should be getting to the age where she can show us what she likes. How cool!

You're are so right - somehow we do figure out how to deal with the surprises life hands us. Big and small! I'm impressed that you are taking two little ones into your home. What a wonderful gift to those children and to yourself as well. I can see your point re: the Provigil. Your attorney might have some advice. For me, it was a life changing addition to my regimen. I wish you the very best of luck with your adoption. Sounds like you will make a great Mom!!!

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Sounds like you are doing very well. I cannot imagine caring for a toddler and preemie at once. At least, based on how sick I was when my daughter was born. Sleep is so key for many POTS patients unfortunately. I find myself to feel much more poorly when I am sleep-deprived. What helped me was having help! Hopefully you have friends, neighbors and family who can give you help so you can rest. Co-sleeping was a must for me--it was the only way I was able to successfully breastfeed. Although by co-sleeping I mean that my daughter slept in our room, next to the bed. I don't think it is recommended to put young infants in the parents' bed b/c of risk of suffocation.

You need to eat healthy (make that a priority) and keep fluids going.

I wish you the best!

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Thank you for your well-wishes! I don't know how I would cope without help. My husband helps when he is able, but my mom is a great help and was at our house 4-5 hours a day during the first week we had the baby. Once another baby is placed with us, I'll probably schedule one or two mornings a week that she can come over and watch the toddler so I can sleep in. Great ideas!

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The only way we made it through me being bedridden at that point in time was rotating shifts, so that I'd get a few hours of straight sleep inbetween two feedings. She typically ate every two hours for the first 4 months so I'd feed her at 10 pm, and they my husband would feed her at midnight, and then I would feed her at 2 am, and he'd feed her at 4 am, and so on. It was the only way we could do it since she ate so frequently. As for the toddler, the big thing for us was child-proofing the entire house. I give you credit for doing foster care as we had looked into that before we adopted and the amount of effort and energy that goes into taking care of a child without any return is amazing, especially for someone like us who struggle to even take care of ourselves somedays. I knew that adoption was the only option for us after learning how many babies foster families typically take care of before one goes up for adoption and it would be too hard to watch all those little ones leave. Blessiings for all you do and having a heart strong enough to love them and let them go.

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Thank you so much, Tammy. We were fortunate that the little preemie could go 3, sometimes 4 hours between feedings. But if it were any more frequent I would certainly have needed hubby to take a feeding or two a night. As it was, I did the weekday feedings and he did the weekend feedings.

We've wanted to be parents for so long. Taking care of a second child was extremely taxing on my health, but I also love being a mother and we both feel blessed to be able to help these precious kids while trying to build our family. These past months, I've gained a lot of encouragement from prior posts on childraising while being ill with POTS. Thanks to everyone who's posted on this topic in the past!

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Love hearing from other moms out there!! I'm a mom of 4 my kids are 8,6,3,2. I developed POTS after baby 4 so I had a 15mo old and newborn along with my older 2. Things I've learned ... I cherish my house cleaner, she comes every other week and worth every penny if you can swing it. I've learned to accept and recruit help. I've gotten over the guilt of asking friends for help if I need a break or hiring a babsitter or moms helper if needed.

I'm exhausted all the time and nap whenever I can. I love my kids dearly and they are what keeps me going. They get me up out of bed each day. I will say as they grow older there are different challenges but overall it got easier for me. The sleeping through the night was huge for me and now what seems to me to be my last toddler obstacle is potty training the final one. Time goes so fast and I really try to just enjoy the time I have with them. They love to just sit with me. As soon as I sit I usually have 4 kids competing for the prime lap spot, even my 8 y.o. is with them. They know there are things I can't do but I'm able to care for them, meet their needs, and they are all happy and healthy! Best wishes to you. It's a challenge having kids but worth every ounce of energy!!

Brye

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Newborns are hard work, but they are so precious!

Here's how we have made it work when we had newborns:

We had a cradle in our bedroom that the baby slept in. Once the baby was no longer eating throughout the night, he/she was moved across the hall to his/her own bedroom. It was much more convenient to have the baby right there for feedings. When my son was a baby I was able to do 1/3 to 1/2 of the midnight feedings. With my daughter I did about 1/2 of the midnight feedings for the first 3 or 4 weeks, but after that I couldn't do anymore, and my husbad did all of the midnight feedings.

We kept all bottle making stuff in our bedroom. The night before we would put the scoops of formula in the bottles, and we would put water in a separate water bottle. When the baby was hungry, we would pour the water into the bottle with the formula powder, stir or gently shake, and it is ready to go. I like this method because you don't have to warm up the bottle at all. It's so quick.

We also kept all diaper changing items in a basket in our bedroom, plus extra baby clothes. I think you said that you can't sleep with the baby in your room. But wherever the baby is, that is where you'll want to keep your bottles, burping cloths, diapers, wipes, baby clothes, and anything else you need for midnight feedings and changings. As long as it is in one place, and as close to you as possible, your work in the night will be kept to a minimum.

I hope that it goes well for you and that you will have a baby placed with you soon!

Rachel

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Thank you Brye and Rachel!!! :D I love your tips!

Brye, I do think it will be essential to have occasional help cleaning the house if we have an infant placed with us. What a great idea! It will be so nice to not stress over cleaning. It might be a little stressful financially, but I'll gladly cut back in another area to accommodate that expense while I'm having to get up frequently at night.

Rachel, what a GREAT idea to just have the water and formula in separate bottles! I love it! I'm going to re-try sleeping with the baby next to me in bassinet. I do think it will help me not to have to get up. I can have some changing supplies right there, along with formula.

I'm so thankful for all of your advice. I feel much better equipped with your helpful tips. And it's so encouraging to know that other moms with "gravity issues" are enjoying motherhood, even with the extra challenges our illness imposes. You guys are great!

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