Cats & babies can coexist!

What are you going to do about your cats? She asked with genuine concern upon hearing about my pregnancy. I won’t name her for the sake of our friendship. Nothing, I said. But, the cats might get jealous? she continued. We’ll make sure they get plenty of attention, I said calmly. But, they might get jealous and hurt the baby? A real panic set into her tone. I’ve heard of stories where a cat smothered a baby while the baby was sleeping. And, I’m sure you’ve heard of cat scratch disease, right? I could see that she was not going to let up. She was borderline paranoid and fearful. We won’t let them sleep together, I said with a chuckle. But… I cut her off before she could finish, we’re not getting rid of our cats. They are part of the family and we’ll help them adjust to our new baby!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation with friends and family members alike since I outed my pregnancy. It all ends the same way with me validating my beloved pets. So, I started wondering, why are so many people so afraid of cats? Where do all these cat myths about babies come from?

Pregnant women have a higher risk of toxoplasmosis from cats.

This one is actually not a myth, but the facts are skewed. Toxoplasmosis is a an actual disease caused by a parasite that can affect your cat if he eats prey that is already infected with the parasite. This disease can affect men and women but particularly in pregnant women, it has been know to cause abnormalities in babies. However, it is quite rare among indoor cats. Unless you are directly handling feces, i.e. picking up poop with your bare hands, ewww gross, or if your house is covered in cat feces, in which case you need serious help, then there is little to no risk presented. In our household, my partner has taken to cleaning the litter box and he vacuums regularly and generally handles all things related to the litter box. Did you know that you are more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from improper handling of raw meat or using the same cutting board for vegetables/fruit that you use for cutting meat? So before you rush to get rid of your cat, please take the time to educate yourself about this topic.

Cats will get jealous of a crying baby and try to harm them.

Where do I begin with this? Our cats typically run out of the room if I sneeze too loudly. They are skittish and even though they trust me with their lives, they don’t tolerate loud noises. That includes, loud singing, TV, music, arguing or simply talking. I’ll venture a grand guess that our cats will want nothing to do with our baby for the first few months of his life.

But, cats are naturally curious creatures and surely they will want to investigate this new being that’s taking up all your attention. Prepare your cat for what’s ahead. Some people have been known to play recordings of baby crying around the cats. I tried this the other day and  sure enough, both my cats raced out of the room. Beyond that, make sure to never leave the baby alone with the cat… I can’t believe I just typed that last sentence. Use your common sense, folks. Take precaution when playing with your cat near the baby. And for Pete’s sake, don’t ignore your cat just because you now have a baby. While your attention maybe divided, ignoring a loving cat will not only lead to unnecessary problems down the road, it’s also plain cruel.

Cats can smother babies in their sleep by stealing their breath.

I had to look this one up. I mean, where do these stories come from, right? It turns out this myth gets its roots from the early 1600’s. “In 1791 a jury at a coroner’s inquest in England rendered a verdict to the effect that a Plymouth child had met his death by a cat sucking out its breath. The superstition itself is older, with print sightings of it recorded from 1607 and 1708, so that 1791 verdict should be viewed with the realization that the jury was probably influenced by a snippet of “everybody knows” lore when it came time to explain a death for which there was no apparent cause. But, a news story emerging in December 2000 appeared at first blush to be an instance of this sort of accident when a woman said she found her six-week-old son dead in his crib with the family cat laying on the baby’s face. Further examination by pathologists laid this theory to rest — they attributed the 21 December 2000 death of 6-week-old Keiron Payne to sudden infant death syndrome.

C’mon folks, cats and babies should never ever sleep together. Cats are natural heat and warmth seekers. And, if your cats are anything like mine, they will cuddle up close to you at night or plop right on top of you. It will take a little bit of discipline, but training your cat over a period of weeks to months to stay out of your bedroom will not only ensure a smooth transition when you bring your baby home, it will also give you peace of mind. Get a gate or entice them with a brand new bed in another part of the house. If nothing else works, buy a net to go over the crib. The goal is to keep your cat out of the crib but certainly allow your cat to enjoy being close to your baby at other times. As your baby gets older, make sure there is adult supervision at all times and once again don’t leave your baby alone with a cat. Just. don’t.

In addition to these suggestions, here are some other tips to ensure a peaceful household…

Maintain your cat’s daily routine.

Cat’s are creatures of habit and it’s bad enough that they will have to share your affection, but neglecting their daily needs is just horrible. Play/ cuddle with them on a regular basis. Feed them regularly and keep their litter box clean as usual. Make them feel loved and part of the family. If you can’t handle the simple needs of your feline, how do you think you are going to handle the growing needs of a human being?

Prepare your cat for the changes ahead.

My girlfriend sent home a blanket from the hospital with the baby’s smell. Her cat lounged around in this blanket for a couple of days before they came home with the baby. I can’t tell you what effect this had on the cat, but I can tell you they’ve had no issues adjusting. We’re planning to set up the nursery well in advance and let our cats get used to the environment. While we can’t keep them out of the room all the time, nor do we want to, we are planning to train them to stay away at night by using a gate. Also, cats hate sticky surfaces. By setting up the crib and putting double sided tape on the inside, we hope to teach them that the crib is not a fun spot for napping. Others have suggested using tin foil as the noise is disturbing to cats… Keep trying until you get them to listen. Just think you have 9 months to prepare your cat for the arrival of your baby!

Teach your kids how to interact with your cat

As your child begins to grow, it becomes your responsibility to teach them how to pet and play with your cat. Take the time to teach them how animals need to be handled in general. Make sure your toddler never pulls the tail or tries to hug a cat. Model the behavior that you would like your child to learn. Kids are so perceptive and the sooner you can teach them how to love and care for an animal compassionately, the more likely they are to develop a life-long love of these precious companions.

Pets are a lifetime commitment! Kids who grow up with pets are less likely to have allergies and get sick less frequently. The next time someone tells you that you should get rid of your cat for the safety of your baby, please remember that with a little bit of common sense, patience and preparation, you can not only ensure the safety of your baby, but also foster a lifelong relationship between them.

He said… She said…

Random lady at a store who stopped me in the aisle. “Oh honey you look tired! Doesn’t she look tired?” Turning to her husband.

Clearly, she was trying to make me feel better.

Thanks lady.

Advice from a Child Life Specialist: Structure & Routine during the Holidays!

If long shopping lists, holiday parties, family gatherings, concerts, parades, pictures with Santa are some of the to-dos on your list, then, you’re not alone. ‘Tis the season to over-indulge with friends, family, coworkers and even strangers! But, if you’re wondering how you’re going to survive it all with your kid’s routines gone by the wayside, here are a few things to think about…

Why do kids need a routine?

Routines help your kids prioritize the world around them
It doesn’t have to be a strict, unchangeable, militant schedule but, a solid routine that helps your child move through the day knowing what’s ahead of them. It will help them feel less anxious and more confident throughout the day. This is especially true for younger children. Your child may want to play now, but by letting him know that he will have be able to play in the afternoon, after his nap, will help facilitate a healthy accommodation which takes his feelings into account as well.

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Routines give kids a sense of security
By taking cues from nature starting and ending their day the same way every day, you can maintain a sense of normalcy during chaotic days. A predictable routine can helps kids fall asleep more easily at night and wake up refreshed, no matter where they are. It is teaching them the lesson that their bodies are to be respected, food and sleep nurture their bodies. The better your kids sleep, the better you sleep, too. And, by connecting with your kids, whether it be snuggling with them in the morning, or tucking them to bed at night, you are reinforcing their trusting instincts as well as building their security.

Routines help parents avoid the “bad guy” trap
We are all too familiar with the daily power struggles with our kids. The holidays only seem to exacerbate these moments. By maintaining a normal schedule during this time of the year, you can greatly reduce the nagging and bickering that seems inevitable. The parent stops being the bad guy and the routine becomes something that you do at this time of the day. Remember, routine equals normalcy.

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Structure doesn’t always have to be oppressive. Sure, there are times when rules are meant to be broken, like staying up late to make cookies for Santa, or waking up early to open presents. And, let’s face it, sometimes kids just need to be… kids. As a parent, you are their best advocate and no one knows them better than you. But, when you see cranky, out of control behavior from your child, you know that their routine has been disrupted and you must get them back on track. By setting a routine for your young child you’re creating the foundation for them to learn to self regulate and create their own routines as they grow older.

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RalhiRakhi Kreymerman, is a child life specialist living in Cary, North Carolina with her husband and two kids. Her background includes working at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio and the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is also a yoga instructor for kids ages 2-12. For more information, email her at kidsyoganc@gmail.com or send her a message through the comments section of this post. 

‘Tis the season for giving

Hey everyone,

I’ve started a fundraising campaign for my mom, Chandra Kumar on gofundme.org. Please tap to donate- http://m.gofund.me/8fcjphfg?rcid=619bcaf4559b4b8dbcb229e48e0858ff

To learn more about my mom’s accident please visit: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/chandrakumar

To say that my parents have a big heart is an understatement! All my life, I’ve watched them give their shirts off their backs without hesitation. Now, it’s their turn to receive…

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Ever since my mom’s been home from the burn unit, we’ve exhausted every public transportation option. We have spent countless hours, in vain, calling the local transportation authorities trying to work out an arrangement. 😦 We cannot afford to compromise her progress due to a failing city’s infrastructure… It is an outrage that there are so few options provided by the State of NC for those who need it the most. Owning a wheelchair accessible van seems like the only permanent solution and even used vans are quite expensive. Add to that the burden of mounting hospital bills and it becomes quite obvious that we can’t do this alone…

Please donate whatever you can. Every dollar makes a difference. She can’t afford to miss any of her therapy sessions during this crucial stage in her recovery. Let’s get her walking again!

‘Chandra’s Transportation Fund’. Please tap to donate- http://m.gofund.me/8fcjphfg?rcid=619bcaf4559b4b8dbcb229e48e0858ff

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

Yes, you can talk about it…

If you’re reading this and you’re not pregnant, you might come to the wrong conclusion that I’m complaining. I’m okay with that. I was once like you. .. innocent NAIVE. Growing a human is amazing, complicated, challenging, exhilarating all at once. It’s the most worthwhile thing I’ve done with my body. But, I’m not going to pretend that it’s all champagne apple cider and roses. While I’m amazed at my body’s capabilities, I’m simultaneously grossed out by them too. Here’s a look at all that I’ve experienced so far.

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The struggle is real. I’ve never been more tired in my life. Period. Add to it a 2hr commute to the city each way and a full-time, demanding career. It’s exhausting. Most days I can barely keep my eyes open as soon as I get on the train. Being pregnant is draining on so many levels, yet, somehow I’ve made it half-way without any major issues. My secret, I totally unplug and unwind during the weekends. I take as many naps as I want and basically stay in bed the entire weekend. Try it!

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I’m at that stage in my pregnancy where my belly is officially bigger than my bum. I feel lopsided and my equilibrium is all wacky. Getting in and out of bed is now a 3 step maneuver. First I roll on my side, and push myself off with my right elbow and then practically climb out of bed. If the body pillow is in play, add an additional step to this routine. Now, try this 3 or 4 times a night, when you’re dead asleep. No biggie, right?! RIGHT!

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This happens every night, without fail. It’s bad enough getting in and out of bed, but having to be chained to the toilet is such a nuisance. I somehow manage to control it during the day, when I’m at work. But, at night… fuggettaboudit! Some days I don’t even open my eyes when I roll out of bed. I’m literally like a zombie who has to constantly pee.

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Pretty much starting from week 7 onwards, I’ve had breakouts. Not your occasional beauty pimple, I’m talking full-on-teenage-boy-like acne. Combine the designer bags I have under my eyes from the lack of sleep and extreme fatigue and I’m just a picture of maternal bliss. My advice, don’t use harsh cleaners with salicylic acid as it is harmful to the baby. Find a mild cleanser and invest in a good matte concealer. It can do wonders! Now that I’m in my second trimester, I keep waiting for that glow that everyone keeps talking about, but it’s not happening. No sweat, buy yourself a good blush and nude lip gloss. Keep your makeup au natural and just use mascara and skip the eyeliner. Voila! Suck it glow!

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Pregnancy hormones are a real thing. Google it. I almost lost my marbles when my partner ate the last blueberry muffin the other day. What’s crazy is that I didn’t even touch them when there was a whole box sitting on the counter. Just don’t eat the last of ANYTHING even if it is something that makes me vomit. I might, possibly, randomly have a craving. Why is that so hard to understand?

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This is what I’m talking about… no one talks about the gross stuff, but it happens to everybody. My body has been turned into a baby making factory and those noxious gases have to come out one way or another. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER MY BLADDER AND BOWELS ANYMORE. If anyone pretends otherwise, they’re lying to you. But, it’s okay… it’s part of the journey. It’s humbling. It’s liberating. There is no turning back now.

So, there you have it… an honest account of what happens during pregnancy. Take the good with the bad and find a moment to laugh at yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be normal again and all of this will become a distant, happy memory.
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Christmas comes but once a year!

It was around this time last year that we closed on our house. We spent the next two weeks frantically getting the house ready for move in, which was no easy task. There was so much work to be done. When the movers came on Christmas day, we were barely ready. We packed in a hurry, throwing things in garbage bags and whatever boxes we could find. We were excited to begin a new chapter and terrified at the same time.Those sleepless days and weeks leading up to the move are a blur and if I’m being honest, my partner bore the brunt of it. I remember looking around our new house with boxes surrounding us on Christmas day thinking wow, we did it! We are home owners and that feeling was the best gift we could ever give ourselves.

As Thanksgiving approached this year, I began feeling antsy. “Let’s put up a Christmas tree,” I told my partner. “Let’s deck the halls for the holidays this year.” But, I was met with a “meh. No need to rush, we have plenty of time” attitude. As my southern friends already know, the optimal time to decorate for the holidays is the day AFTER Thanksgiving. I wasn’t going to let a long weekend pass me by, so off I went tree shopping on my own. Walmart had by far the best deals on trees… but, before I go any further, let’s take a look at an age old conundrum about Real vs. Fake trees.
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There is no right or wrong choice. I think, ultimately, it comes down to individual preference, but I’d like to think that I’m reducing my carbon footprint a little by choosing a fake tree. Plus, it always made me feel sad the day after Christmas seeing all those discarded trees on the curb… if there is ever a verdict on the human condition, I hope it doesn’t come on the day after Christmas.

Back at Walmart, I spent an hour picking out what I needed. I’ve always wanted a white tree, so when I saw them on sale for $40, I simply couldn’t resist. I wanted to go for a woodland/nature inspired tree, so I carefully picked out ornaments that fit my theme… As a general rule of thumb, I place about 20 ornaments and 50 lights per foot of tree. I picked up a 6.5ft tree and 7 sets of 50 clear lights mixed with 1 set of twinkling lights. More twinkling lights are not always better… I watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to weave the lights and I’d say it took about 30 mins to string all of them. A quick word about buying lights, if you’re buying a white tree, please make sure to buy lights with white chords and not do what I did. It was a major pain to have to go back and return all of them and repurchase… Also, I prefer 50 lights to the jumbo ones, because you can always replace the set that’s not working instead of having to take out all of them.

Here’s our finished tree…
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All in all we spent around $75 for the entire tree. Not too shabby. An old toy sack doubled as a tree bag and my in laws brought over some decorations which blended in nicely with our theme. I had some left over burlap from another project that I strung like a ribbon to finish my look. Also, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on ornaments, I walked around my yard and picked up twigs and greenery to fill in the holes. You can even use scrap paper and pine cones if you like. Use what you have and improvise. Don’t limit yourself to only things that can be bought…
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Happy Holidays!

A Facebook rant in 7 memes

1. Proclaiming your undying love for your partner… C’mon no one, except your partner, needs to know how awesome they are. Try texting. Seriously!

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2. Stop spreading junk… No, Facebook is not going to give you free money and you won’t experience a miracle after reposting. Try praying instead.

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3. #Hashtags… I’m so guilty of this! #sorrynotsorry

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4. Wanting to dislike a post so badly… Ah, every.single.day!

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5. Attention seekers… You know who you are! Please stop.

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6. I do this everytime… I’m selfless like that! When all I want to say is, too bad your poor spelling ruined a perfectly witty post. Also, if you think you’re and your means the same, then you might need to retake 3rd grade english.

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7. Saving the best for last! I just can’t take the hate and bigotry disguised as patriotism in today’s politics. I know I should ignore them and save my sanity, but ignoring doesn’t make the ignorance go away.

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