Welcome to Parenthood

Nicole Keller, D.O.

Nicole Keller, D.O.

On September 11, 2014 at 9:14 p.m. my life as I knew it changed forever. After 40 weeks and 5 days of waiting, I welcomed my first child, a son who we named Leo. Just like that, I was a parent. It has been almost 4 weeks since that day and this blog post is dedicated to the adventure that the last 4 weeks have been…..thanks to you, my son, Leo.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, everyone asked me if I was ready for parenthood. I would always respond, “I’m as ready as I’m going to be!” While this statement is still true for me, being “ready for parenthood” is something that I have learned is just not possible! I talk to new moms all the time as part of my job. New babies and their parents are some of my favorite patients. I tell them about sleeping, feeding, peeing and pooping and walk out of the exam room feeling pretty good about my advice. Even though I know all the answers to the “is this normal” questions, having my own baby at home showed me that even though I have had my questions answered, I still constantly question myself with every whimper, spit-up and muscle twitch. To explain, let me tell you a story…

Leo 1About day 4 after birth, Leo seemed to be crying anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour after eating. My husband, my mom, and I would rock him, shush him, sway, swaddle and do anything else we thought would work with little to no change. We kept saying, “He can’t be hungry – he just ate 40 min ago!” Then it hit me – cluster feeding!! I let him nurse and the crying stopped. It was like magic. And then he cluster fed for the next 2 weeks for what seemed like all day and all night. Then one night in between one of these feeds as I was changing a diaper, he wet his outfit. So I changed the outfit and the diaper again. Then as I was finishing that new outfit and diaper, he pooped all over…this went on for 5 outfit changes. Of course during this time Leo was ravenous again and was screaming for food. I yelled for my husband to come help as I was at my wits end! There was nothing me as a pediatrician could have done/known to make that night any better. This was Leo’s show and I was just the food supply and the maid.

leo 3While that was one of the hardest nights, they have since gotten better – for the most part. I am still exhausted every time he wakes me to feed. Nursing still is painful on occasion, although it has improved greatly, thank goodness. But through the pain, the exhaustion, the dirty diapers and costume changes I have continued to learn about being a parent – and I have experienced the love for a child that is unparalleled and worth every ounce of anguish.

I want my newborn parents to know that it is OK to question yourself all the time. It is what makes you a parent – and a good parent at that! I also want you to know that you WILL cry (lack of sleep, hormones, breastfeeding soreness, etc), you WILL have moments of doubt (why won’t you stop crying?! What am I doing wrong?!) and you WILL wonder if you are ever going to sleep again (after the longest 4-6 months of your life, you will get better sleep again, I promise). Along with these feelings, though, you WILL succeed and you will be a great parent to your little bundle of poop…I mean joy!!

With that said, I’m here to offer my story as a way to tell you that you are not alone at that 3 a.m. feed or when your baby won’t stop crying or when you’ve changed 5 diapers in a row because the poops just don’t stop coming! I feel you. WE feel you as your pediatricians, fellow parents, families and friends and we are here for you! Make sure as a parent of a newborn you have support when you need it. Support can be a person to hand off a crying baby to, a person to talk to, or a person that will let you shower while they hold your little one. Make sure to ask your partner for help when you need it as well – they may not know when or how to help, so, vocalizing your need for their support is important. As a new parent you also need to make time for YOU. Whether that be a date night with your partner, time to go grocery shopping, or just an hour to nap (and yes you NEED to sleep when your baby sleeps whenever possible)! While you can’t predict your baby, you can make your life easier by having these support systems in place to get you through the tough times. Remember that it is always darkest before the dawn (literally – I have seen this dark hour nightly for the last 4 weeks!) but the sun will rise and you will be a great parent to your great newborn.leo 4

Cheers from the land of parenthood! Thanks for reading.



Tis the Season for Flu

It’s flu season!  That means runny noses, body aches, fevers/chills, cough for seven to 10 days…ick!  Lucky for you, influenza shots are now available so you can be armed and ready for the next few months.  A lot of people wonder whether or not they should get the flu shot.  Well, let me share some statistics with […]

Continue Reading.

Boys to Men

Happy back to school!  Many schools have a program or a “talk” on puberty for both boys and girls.  However, many families still have a lot of questions. Puberty starts at 12 years old on average. It can start as early as age nine. T here are differences among ethnic groups, with African American males […]

Continue Reading.

All Ears

One of the more common childhood complaints we get in clinic has to do with ear pain. In fact, when I was little and dreamed about being a pediatrician, I always pictured myself treating children’s ear infections! That dream worked out pretty well for me!   At some point of your child’s life, there’s a […]

Continue Reading.

The Scoop on Poop

Before you became a parent, you probably never thought that you would fixate on the quality of another individual’s poop. Yet, here you are: My child’s poop is blue. My baby has loose, like diarrhea, poops. My toddler is passing poop that looks like balls. Is this ok? A newborn’s poop is called “meconium”: it […]

Continue Reading.
Vrinda Kumar, M.D.

Vrinda Kumar, M.D.

Teething: Can you handle the tooth?

The teething process generally begins between four to eight months of age.  Some babies will start earlier, and some babies won’t get their first tooth until after a year old. Usually (but not always), the two bottom middle teeth come first, then the two upper middle teeth, then the teeth to the side of those, and then finally the teeth in the back. By the age of two, most kids will have all 20 of their baby teeth!

It is normal for the teeth to not come in straight, and it is normal for those first few teeth to have wide gaps in between them.  Don’t worry!  They usually straighten themselves out as the other teeth start coming in.

Symptoms of teething:

  • drooling
  • gum swelling/redness
  • fussiness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • solid food aversion
  • biting and chewing everything in sight!

Some babies may also have:

  • low grade fevers (<101 degrees F)
  • loose stools (they can be green and slimy from all that extra drool making its way through the gut)
  • diaper rash (from all those loose stools)
  • ear pain (it is normal for teething babies to pull on their ears because in babies, tooth pain is felt in the ears)

If your child has high fevers >101 F, signs of dehydration (not a lot of wet diapers, not a lot of drooling, no tears when crying), or other symptoms that are persistent, you should call your doctor.

Things you can try to help your teething baby deal with the pain:

  • give your child something clean and safe to chew on (firm teething toys or a cold clean washcloth, for example)
  • try giving your baby cold foods if he/she is eating solidsteething
  • Orajel naturals (The active ingredient Benzocaine in regular Orajel has some rare but serious side effects: the benzocaine, if swallowed, can numb a child’s airway cause them to potentially choke on their saliva, and it can also affect the hemoglobin in your child’s red blood cells, a condition called methemoglobinemia)
  • teething tablets and teething gels are available, and are generally safe if used as directed
  • for those nights where nothing else seems to help, an occasional dose of Tylenol

Teething necklaces with amber beads are available as alternative to medication. Even though some parents say they work, it makes me very nervous to have a choking hazard hanging around a child’s neck, and I do not generally recommend it.

I hope this helps. And remember your child won’t teethe forever, so hang in there!

Dispelling Vaccine Myths

As pediatricians, one of the common topics of discussion we face is in regards to vaccinations. As a group, Dr. Ababio, Dr. Kumar, Dr. Alessia, Dr. Granoff and I whole-heartedly believe in the necessity, safety and effectiveness of vaccines. We want you as parents to have reliable, scientific, unbiased and ACCURATE information about how to […]

Continue Reading.