Five on Friday: My Baby Faves

When I was pregnant, I spent countless hours asking my friends what I needed for the baby and scouring Lucie’s List and Amazon for reviews on cribs, strollers, jumperoos, baby bathtubs, the works! I’ve learned mostly through trial and error what works for us and what doesn’t, but I thought I’d share some of my personal “must haves” for a first time mom.

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Fisher Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat. This thing is amazing. We started using it when Baby E turned three months, so that she wouldn’t have to constantly be on her back or tummy. She did ok with Tummy Time, but she really enjoyed being able to sit and play. I was able to put her in her “froggy chair” and wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, put the laundry away, etc. Of course as soon as I bought this one, they came out with one that has a tray so you can put other toys on it. Even so, this chair is a definite winner for us!

 

81cnwlz4uwl-_sx522_Boon Grass Drying Rack. I wasn’t planning on bottle-feeding, but it is what it is. I bought bottles before baby arrived as a backup, and it’s a good thing I did. On Amazon Prime Day last summer, I saw the Boon Grass Drying Rack available and I realized that if I did end up using bottles, I was going to need somewhere convenient to dry them. This thing is wonderful. It sits right next to our dish drainer on the counter, but it allows me to keep all of her bottle parts (thanks, Dr. Brown) together. Just lift the grass out, dump the excess water and wipe it all down.

 

41oemawsmklNoseFrida. I know, I know. It’s disgusting to even think of sucking snot out of your baby’s nose with your mouth. BUT, trust me, when your precious little peanut is having trouble breathing and the stupid bulb aspirator you got from the hospital just isn’t cutting it, you’ll try anything. One of my best friends bought me one and it is probably the single best baby gift anyone has given me. I’ll give one to every expecting mom from now on because it is THAT awesome. The boogers don’t come anywhere close to your mouth, by the way. There is no way possible that you could ever accidentally suck down some of your baby’s snot.

81e045uv26l-_sy679_Ergobaby Four Position Carrier. I know it’s expensive. I held out on buying one for that very reason. However, I’ve tried a K*tan, a Boba, an Infantino Unison, and the Ergo, and the Ergo far surpasses all of the others. The K*tan was frustrating because although it’s easy to put on, it’s not adjustable. The Boba is adjustable since you have to wrap it yourself, but I didn’t feel like it was secure enough once Baby E weighed over about 10 pounds. Plus, it was hard for me to get the fabric stretched quite right once I had to let her little legs dangle out. The Infantino Unison is pretty awesome since it’s a soft structured carrier – just put it on over your head, pop baby in, buckle, and go. Easy peasy, it’s adjustable, and it’s small enough to throw in the diaper bag. This was my favorite for a little while, but as Baby E got bigger, I couldn’t get the fabric to stay spread from knee-to-knee – I had to adjust it every few minutes. And although it says you can carry baby forward-facing, it’s not ergonomic for baby as their legs just dangle straight down – no hip support. The Ergo is pricey, it’s a little harder to put on (I can’t reach the between-the-shoulder-blades clasp by myself), but WOW is it comfy. It feels incredibly secure, Baby E seems comfy, and there’s no questioning whether baby is in it correctly.

41szcbn2t5lBaby Einstein Take Along Tunes. This was another gift, and it has been a lifesaver. Anything with lights and music is GREAT, but I like that this is small and easy for Baby E to hold by herself. She can press the button easily enough, and the lights keep her entertained when she’s starting to have a meltdown. I’ve been using it with her ever since she was a newborn, but now she’s finally old enough to play with it independently and she loves it. It follows us from room to room and she chews on it and has a great time.

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Unintentional Hiatus

So, I just realized that I haven’t posted since mid-December. Haha, oops. Every night when I lie down in bed, I go over in my mind all the things I want to write about and I keep telling myself I will start again tomorrow.

My absence has not been for lack of material, I assure you of that. New motherhood leaves no shortage of good blog material! I’m just so TIRED all the time, despite the fact that Baby E sleeps for 12 hours every night. The 24/7 responsibility for another person is just exhausting no matter how much rest you’re getting.

I’ve also been dealing with some PPD/PPA issues since October, and I fully intend to write about them once I get my thoughts in order. While I was ashamed at first, I know now that I have nothing to feel bad about. I believe that it’s important for me to share my experience so that other moms may read about it and realize they’re not alone or crazy or bad mothers. I am happy to report that I’m doing much better now thanks to medication and opening up to my friends and family.

Otherwise, my days are full of snuggles and smiles and dirty diapers. Baby E has started solids and is working on crawling. She has also mastered the fine art of screeching like a howler monkey, and she enjoys sharing this talent with the world at the most inopportune times, such as during Mass. She has moved into her crib and we have a convertible car seat sitting in the office just waiting to be installed. She loves to roll around and put everything in her mouth. She also drools like a faucet, so I spend a large chunk of time washing the 30+ bibs we have every couple of days.

She is growing up much too quickly, as babies tend to do. I’m doing my best to enjoy every second with her and to savor all of the sloppy kisses and nighttime hand-holding because I know that it will all be over before I know it.

Adventures with Santa

One of the things I most looked forward to while pregnant was Christmas and all of the traditions I planned on continuing from when I was little, as well as new traditions I wanted to implement for Baby E. I absolutely insisted to hubby that we had to take her for pictures with Santa.

I bought her a fancy Christmas dress and tights. I researched which mall had the best Santa. We got her dressed, packed her up, and headed out only to find massive lines that looked hours long. We tried three separate times on different days at different times and still no luck. I found out that some malls let you make a reservation to minimize the wait time, but you have to prepay for a package and it’s nonrefundable. One thing I’ve learned in my short time of being a mother is that infants are unpredictable and paying for anything in advance is a bad idea.

We decided to give it one last chance at a different mall near hubby’s job. I planned to meet him there in the afternoon. If it didn’t work out, then I would go on my own with the baby first thing on a weekday morning.

She woke up from her nap. I fed her. I asked her to please not poop until we got home. She smiled, which I took as agreement. I ended up having to buy her the same dress in a bigger size because she outgrew the other one in the short time we had it. I dressed her, putting a cloth diaper in between her disposable and her dress, just in case she had a poopsplosion in the car.

Everything was fine as we were driving. I could hear her in the back seat playing with her kitty. All of a sudden it got eerily quiet and for a brief second I thought I was fortunate enough that she had nodded off again. My excitement was short-lived, however, when I heard the first tell-tale grunt of a pooping baby. Not long after those brief strains did I hear the explosion of poop and I knew immediately that her outfit was ruined. And to add insult to injury we were stopped in traffic and the car was slowly filling with the stink of dirty diaper.

When we got to the mall, I had to take her out of her car seat and assess the damage in the car. I ended up having to strip her naked in the Macy’s parking lot and essentially bathe her with baby wipes. She had poop all the way up her back, on her legs, on her stomach, everywhere. Her white tights were ruined. The cloth diaper took the brunt of the damage, but her pretty dress was a close second. Luckily I had brought a backup dress with me, although it wasn’t nearly as festive.

Clean and dressed, we made our way to Santa and hubby. Luckily there were only about 5 families in line ahead of us. We waited about 15 minutes and then I had to hand her over to a stranger – what a bizarre feeling. I stood behind the photographer and called her name and waved and tried to get her to smile. Hubby tried the same on the other side. No luck. She refused to smile, but she didn’t cry either, so I’m calling it a win.

Let’s Talk About Labor and Delivery

Having never given birth before, I was unsure what to expect during labor and delivery, so I did what anyone would do and I hounded my mommy friends for details and scoured the Internet for information. Even then, I still felt unprepared, aside from expecting the worst pain of my life.

I was scared my water would break and I wouldn’t know it. As any pregnant woman knows, there is a lot going on, and coming out, down there all the time. I was terrified that I wouldn’t have a giant gush of fluid, but rather a slow leak that I wouldn’t even notice. At my last OB appointment I discussed this with my doctor and she assured me I would definitely know the difference between my water breaking and me peeing on myself. I still wasn’t convinced. My water never ended up breaking on its own, so it had to be broken for me in the hospital. I was so scared it was going to hurt – that hook thingy they use to rip it open does NOT look pleasant – but I didn’t feel a thing aside from a huge gush of warm liquid. It was then that I understood there is no mistaking leaking water for anything else.

I didn’t know what real contractions felt like, and I was worried I wouldn’t recognize them. I started having Braxton Hicks contractions on a regular basis around 20 weeks, and although everyone told me the real thing would be much different, I was still nervous that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and I would end up having the baby at home or in the car. While BH felt uncomfortable and tight, when I woke up with period-like cramps and waves of pain at 2:00am, I knew it was the real deal. Well, that’s not true – I was in denial for about an hour even while I was timing them and they were 3-4 minutes apart and getting progressively worse. I didn’t want to get to Labor and Delivery only to be sent home for false labor. It wasn’t, though – 14 hours later my little peanut was born.

Real labor is nothing like the movies. You know the screaming woman in a hospital gown trying to push a human out of her body? That is obviously only the end part of the whole process. There are hours and hours of not a lot going on before that. Hubby and I walked around the unit for awhile, I sat in the sun on the windowsill, and then we watched a whole lot of Food Network. My contractions weren’t that bad until the very end – and had I known it was the very end, I would have been able to cope with them a lot better. Also, there is no room for modesty in childbirth. I knew this to a point, but the movies make it seem like it’s just you and the doctor and maybe a nurse in the room. Not in my experience! I had a nurse, a resident, a student, and the nurse-midwife all down there inspecting my lady parts. I seriously felt like I was on display, but I couldn’t have cared less as long as someone got that baby out of me.

That being said, have a birth plan but realize it may get thrown out the window at any moment and you have to be OK with that. I wanted a natural childbirth – no IV drugs, no Pitocin, no epidural. I didn’t have it written down anywhere, but I had discussed it with my husband and let him know what my plans were. I also knew that if I or the baby were in any kind of distress or I just couldn’t do it, I would accept the epidural. I made it about 12 hours with absolutely nothing other than breathing and warm towels on my back before I caved and got the epidural. I really wanted them to check me and see how dilated I was first, because I felt like if I was close, I would just continue on. I knew that I had hit a wall and that most likely meant I was in transition and it would all be over soon, but I was so scared that I wouldn’t have the energy to push. I had only gotten about an hour of sleep the night before – not to mention I had no food in my system aside from a few saltines I scarfed down as we left the house – and I was already exhausted. I was told that they didn’t like to check for no reason because it can introduce bacteria and increase the risk of infection, so I told the nurse to go ahead and call the anesthesiologist. I was disappointed to find out shortly after the medicine took effect that I was already at 8cm. I briefly felt like I had failed, but then the resident came in and told me how shocked she was to learn that I hadn’t been given Pitocin at all – she was sure I had been just based on how quickly and well everything was progressing. She told me I should definitely consider it a “natural” childbirth because my body did everything on its own. Looking back, getting the epidural was a good decision for me – I had to push for close to an hour and I don’t think I would have made it if I didn’t get that half hour of pain-free rest beforehand.

Labor is hard work. My best advice to anyone who is pregnant is to get as much sleep as possible if you’re close to your due date. You never know when that baby will want out, and you’re going to need your energy. I made the mistake of staying up until midnight watching TV and then going upstairs to bed to read for another hour. That means I got about an hour of sleep before I was woken up by contractions. My labor lasted 14 hours, and then I had an hour of mandatory skin-to-skin with the baby, another hour of weights/measurements and moving to a new room, visitors, dinner, more visitors, and finally it was time for bed. But, it’s incredibly difficult to sleep with a newborn in the room. She was calm and not crying, but newborns make all kinds of weird noises and scary breathing sounds and it is impossible not to check on them every few minutes. Not to mention the fact that they were coming in every couple of hours to check my blood pressure because it was too high, then they needed to take blood, then I needed to take more medicine… basically it is impossible to get good sleep at the hospital and you won’t be sleeping once you get home, either.

Overall, I had a relatively easy and drama-free childbirth experience. The pain was worse than I was expecting, but it wasn’t completely unmanageable like everyone had me believe beforehand. I had great support from my husband and the medical team at the hospital, which I’m sure contributed to how well it went.

Bumpdate: She’s here!

I’ve been a little busy and haven’t had time to update, but my little peanut arrived on August 3rd at 3:54pm! She was 6 lbs 10 oz and 19.5 inches long and, well, perfect. Hubby and I are very private so we won’t be sharing any personal details or photos, but I am happy to discuss pregnancy/labor/delivery/newborn stuff once I can find some time to sit down and write.

Bumpdate: 39 weeks!

IMG_7202We made it! Nine weeks ago the little munchkin was all ready to make an appearance and now, not so much. I’m still having sporadic contractions every day (Braxton Hicks, as well as some more painful ones), as well as some other really gross labor symptoms I’ll spare you the details of, and s/he is SUPER low and in position, but still nothing.

I had another growth ultrasound last week and we are still measuring about 2 weeks behind, but everything looks good despite that. My doctor estimated a 7 pound 6 ounce baby – I was only 6 pounds 10 ounces when I was born, so she may be right on target. Baby is still swimming around and beating me up, mostly at night when I am not sleeping due to not being able to get comfortable/it being “too hot” no matter what the temperature is/the ever-present heartburn and acid reflux. I swear, if I never take another Tums, it will be too soon.

The past couple of weeks I was feeling like baby was definitely going to come before the end of the month, and then things kind of settled down and now I have no idea. My due date is August 5th and the doctor I saw yesterday said she thinks I will make it there or just after. As much as I am SO over all the pain and discomfort, I’m also bracing myself that I possibly have another two and a half weeks of this, since they won’t induce until 42 weeks. And that’s fine – I know baby will come when s/he is good and ready.

Well-meaning friends and family keep telling me to walk and move around to get things going faster, but they don’t understand just how painful it is to even get up from a sitting position. It literally requires mental preparation and a lot of old lady-like grunts and sighs. I managed to slowly limp around the grocery store with my husband today, and then I had to lie down on the couch for a few hours to recover. I wish I was being overly dramatic, but unfortunately I’m not. And I’m really good with pain! I’ve had three kidney stones and have battled through them like a champ, one time even staying at work and sitting in meetings all day even though everyone kept telling me to go to the ER. For what? All they were going to do was give me pain meds and wait for it to pass on its own.

I’m hoping for an all-natural birth, but I am not opposed to pain medication if it is necessary. If the baby or I are in distress and it would benefit either of us, then I’m all for it. If I can avoid having a giant needle thrust in my spinal area, that’s even better. Obviously I have no idea what I’m in for, and every birth experience is different, so we’ll sort of see how it goes. I have lots of support for going all-natural, although there have been a couple of friends tell me I’m nuts for even considering it. I keep reminding myself that my body was designed to do this, pain is temporary, and the pain has a purpose – unlike those blasted kidney stones that exist simply to torture and make you curl into the fetal position and cry.

Five on Friday

I feel like I do a lot of whining and complaining about being pregnant, and while it’s no picnic, I am incredibly grateful that it finally happened. I do know how blessed I am. I try to post as honestly as possible about what I’m feeling because those are the posts that I always appreciate reading – I don’t want some rainbows and sunshine smokescreen, I want to know the ugly truth about what something’s like! 

How about we do a Friday Five about what I’m looking forward to and excited about? 

1. Continuing family traditions and starting new ones. My parents, especially my mom, always went above and beyond to make holidays and birthdays special. The house was decked out from top to bottom, all kinds of goodies and treats were baked and/or bought, and presents were numerous, even if they were small or simple. I can’t wait to do this for my child. I want to give my son/daughter the same happy, loving memories that I have from my own childhood. 

2. Snuggling. I’ve never really been around babies, aside from my nieces and nephew, but I’ve seen and heard other parents with their snuggly, warm, sweet-smelling babies curled up together. There is a picture of me and my dad from when I was a few months old. I was asleep on his chest and he had his head back, passed out, in the chair he was sitting in. I want that. And I want a picture like that of my husband and the baby together.

3. Teaching him/her new things and watching him/her experience things for the first time. There is something so amazing about seeing a child understand a new concept for the very first time. I especially can’t wait to read books together.

4. Going on family vacations. I really, really can’t wait to take the baby to Disney as a family. Ideally, I would love to do this next summer, but I don’t know how that will play out. Even if we don’t get there, I’m super excited for family road trips and local adventures! My family went camping every weekend between May and September when I was growing up, and although it wasn’t anything fancy, those weekends are some of my best memories. 

5. Going for walks around the neighborhood. I have this vision in my head of bundling baby up and strapping him/her in the stroller for a walk. The crisp fall air, the crunchy leaves underfoot… I can’t wait! 

Team Green

I’ve recently learned that because we won’t be finding out the sex of our baby in advance of its birth, hubby and I are part of something the Internets have dubbed “Team Green.” I have received all kinds of reactions to this decision, ranging from people who insist that we HAVE to find out or else we won’t be able to buy anything (???), to those who forcefully state that we’re “doing the right thing” as if we’re fighting for some huge socio-economic cause. 


Mostly, I just want to be surprised. I want that movie moment where the doctor says happily, “It’s a ______!”

Growing up, I was constantly told by my mom that there is no such thing as “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys.” I cannot express to you the rage she felt when the Toys R Us Christmas catalog came out and was split into neat and tidy gender-specific categories. More than once I witnessed her cross out these headings or even complain in person to management that their store layout was sexist. Needless to say, this has stuck with me into adulthood.

I don’t believe that boys have to play with trucks and girls have to play with dolls. I don’t believe that boys have to wear blue and girls have to wear pink. What happened to all of the other colors in the rainbow?

I’ve started our registry, which aside from being completely stressful because I have no idea what a baby needs, is also frustrating when it comes to picking out cute outfits. All of the major retailers break their clothes sections into Boys, Girls, and Neutral. At first, I was only browsing the Neutral sections and I was getting increasingly depressed seeing only yellow, green, and beige options. And, oh, the ducks. Apparently ducks are the only non-gender-specific animal out there, although I did find a few bears sprinkled on some towels and washcloths. Bears are safe for bath time, but not for everyday wear?

It’s not just clothes either. Even things like mittens, socks, and washcloths are split up into categories. Does a baby girl really need a frilly pink washcloth? And does a baby boy only get to wear blue and green mittens? 

I eventually ventured into the specific Boys and Girls sections to see what the options were there. O.M.G. Apparently little girls are only allowed to wear pink and purple, with lots of bows, sparkles, and cats. Boys have dibs on blue and green, elephants, dinosaurs, and trucks. Even if I knew what we were having, I wouldn’t want my baby to ONLY wear those kinds of clothes. Not that I’m planning on putting a baby boy in a dress or anything, but why can’t he wear something besides blue onesies with elephants? And why do the boys get the adorable “forest friends” socks? 

If anyone were to look at my registry, they would think I am having a boy. I added a bunch of cute animal socks (blue), blue and white striped onesies, and multi-colored non-pastel bibs (apparently these are not for girls as they were only in the “boys'” section). I’m also strongly considering painting the nursery a shade of bluish-gray because I like it. I’m sure if we have a daughter, she’ll be just fine in that room as opposed to one decked out in pink and lace.

Five on Friday

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1. Today is the first day of Spring and we are expecting around 6 inches of snow this afternoon. It is cold and gray and generally yucky outside. I long for the day when I no longer need a bulky winter coat, a scarf, and gloves just to walk to my car.

2. I remember reading once that one of the best candy options in vending machines is Peanut M&Ms, because the peanuts will keep you fuller longer. I am using this to rationalize the giant Cadbury with Roasted Almonds bar sitting in my desk drawer. I figure the same principle must apply to the premium candy section at Walgreen’s, no?

3. I finished reading The Catcher in the Rye the other day, and it didn’t have quite the same charm I remember it having when I first read it in high school. At first, I really liked Holden – he is angry and bitter and generally grumpy. But as the book goes on and he keeps complaining about all the phonies in the world, it gets a little tiresome. Especially when he himself is quite the phony, calling up people he doesn’t even like just to have someone to hang out with!

4. I started You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs the other morning while I was waiting for my car to have an oil change, and I had to physically restrain myself from laughing out loud in the waiting area. I was eager to pick it up again at bedtime, expecting more hilarity, so I was in for quite a shock when it got really serious, really fast. I finished it last night, and overall I really enjoyed it, but the tone did feel a bit disjointed at times. I’m looking forward to reading his other books (I’ve already read Running with Scissors and really enjoyed that one.).

5. I received a lovely box of free samples from Amazon yesterday because I signed up for Amazon Mom and I started a registry as well. Included were some baby food samples, Burt’s Bees face wash for me, Baby Bees wash, a baby lotion, some wipes, a full size Playtex bottle, small bottles of shampoo and conditioner for me, and a breastfeeding guide. Not bad for free!

New Beginnings

Hello, friends! I thought it was about time that I look into updating my blog a bit, and because I am apparently technologically-challenged, I screwed up and accidentally created an entirely new one instead of just changing the name of my current one. Oops. Hopefully you will all update your subscriptions/follows/feeds (you know, all five of you).

So! Here is a brief explanation of how the new name came about (besides the fact that I was sitting at Panera during my lunch break and all the good names were already taken so I had to choose something before heading back to the office):

Read – Duh, I like reading. This has been my one consistent hobby throughout my entire life and I greatly enjoy getting lost in a good book (or any book, really). I read 50 books last year and hope to read many more this year, although I won’t be setting a goal. I felt a lot of pressure last year, constantly checking Goodreads to make sure I was “On track!” or “Ahead of schedule!” I’d like to get back to reading for pleasure without worrying about meeting a certain requirement.

Write – Well, I blog, so clearly I enjoy writing. I took that online creative writing class last year as an attempt to see if I would enjoy writing full-time, and while it was kind of a bust, I did learn that I need some practice. I’m toying around with the idea of going back to school (online) and getting my Master’s Degree in English, but I don’t know what I would do with it necessarily. I don’t really want to write a novel (despite the fact that my husband thinks this is my calling), but what else is there? Newspapers are virtually nonexistent these days, and I hear Editor jobs are few and far between (plus, I would have to work in the city and just the thought of the commute makes me want to cry). So, here I am, hopefully blogging more often!

W(h)ine – I like wine. I’m not a snob and I know very little about it, but I’ll drink pretty much any kind – whether it comes in a fancy bottle or a box. I had a wine tour a few years ago in Italy, and while I know the guide was fantastic and taught me and my coworker all of the differences between DOCGs and Supertuscans and Chianti and Bordeaux, all I can remember is that Chianti Classico is yummy. Also, a lot of things annoy me. I have a ton of pet peeves. I am not an easy-going, laid back kind of person. I am high strung and neurotic and stubborn. Hence, the w(h)ine portion of the title. This is especially going to come into play in the very near future as I will be blogging more about what it’s like being pregnant (alas, no wine). Yes, friends, that is my big pregnancy announcement (in case you can’t tell, I am also not much of an announcement person). It has been an, ahem, interesting journey so far, full of nausea and vomiting and various bodily fluids, which I am more than happy to share with you in case my experiences should come in handy for someone else.