Im a mom now

34 years old; it ain’t the end, but it sure ain’t where I began…

The past two years I’ve written a post on my birthday and even though I guess I don’t write much anymore, I would feel remiss if I skipped this year.

I re-read both of my previous posts and wonder if I’ll be able to do them justice…they were just a perfect reflection of where I was at the time.   Funny how that works.  You can read 32 here and 33 here.

But I think the one that struck me the most was last years.  I had listed six thoughts about the coming year.  So I thought it would be fun to go back through them and see how things turned out.   Ready?  Ok.  (Hit it!)

1. 33 will undoubtedly be the hardest year of my adult life. I know this already because I’ve spent the last 10 weeks with a little taster of what’s in store for me.

I should probably just go ahead and buy a crystal ball to set up shop, because this prediction was dead ON.  Wow.  This past year has been hard.  Really hard.  I’ve struggled with a lot with things….big things like “who am I now?”, “what kind of mother do I want to be”, “can I handle this?”,  “am I happy?”  “do I want/need to work?”  and “how the hell do you get a kid to nap?”  to little things, like “what am I supposed to feed my kid?”, “should I really go to Target every week?”,  “where can I buy dry shampoo in bulk?”  and “can I really wear yoga pants every day?”

Let’s just say it’s been an adjustment.  Having kids is hard.  Do people talk about this?  Am I supposed to be talking about this or should I just gloss over all of the tough times?   I feel like it’s ok to talk about it, because yes, it’s hard.  It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do….but it’s also the most important.  To acknowledge that something is bigger than yourself, and LET it be bigger….is very humbling and surprisingly rewarding.

2. 33 will also undoubtedly be the most rewarding year of my adult life. As hard as it’s going to be, I believe that it’s the most important job I’ll ever do.

Yes.  Just, yes.

3. I want need to make sure I don’t lose myself in all of the changes happening in our lives. I still want to be me.

This has been harder.  I had really good intentions to make myself a priority, but it’s obviously easier said than done.  I think the resounding question regarding this is….WHEN?  When can I focus on myself?   At 5:00 a.m. before Abby gets up at 6:00?  During one of the ONE hour naps she’ll MAYBE take?  Or is it after she goes to bed at 7:00 when I’m utterly exhausted?   To be honest….none of those are appealing.  Obviously.  I think that’s why I’ve struggled with blogging.  I desperately want to.  And I guess if it were more of a priority I would MAKE time.  But there are so many other things I need to do that it unfortunately takes a back seat.

So, obviously I need to work on this.  And I think I’m doing better.  Now that I’m done nursing, Abby doesn’t physically need me.   She’ll always need me, but not in the same way (where I’m her main food supply).    I think this has helped me mentally as well.  The Hubs can feed her just as easily as I can now.

I didn’t expect it to take so long, but I’d say now (within the last month), I’m finally starting to feel like me.  To feel adjusted.  To feel normal.  So I joined the gym so I can return to Oula (you should really watch that video, it’s kinda hilarious).  I signed up for a training class to run a half marathon.  I’m getting back to me.  Slowly but surely.   This is something I’ll continue to work on….and hey.  Maybe soon I’ll get back to blogging (I mean, I’m dying to tell you about the awesome rug and play area in Abby’s room, my ombre kitchen stools and my banishment of all-things-red from the kitchen!).

4. I want to create an environment where Abby can learn and explore her passions.

I consciously make an effort towards this everyday.  I know Abby is still young, but I think if I start now it will help when she’s older and starts forming opinions.

I just really hope she likes to ski.  Please please like to ski!

5. Speaking of passions…I want to explore my own. Lately I’ve been feeling a little lost…as if I don’t really know what I’m passionate about anymore.

Still working on this one too.  But after a conversation with my step-mom about this, I think I’m re-defining my view of passion.  Just because I don’t feel passionately about things like hunting, running or rafting ….doesn’t mean I’m not passionate.   I’m passionate about family.   Being a mom.  Being a sister, daughter, aunt.  I like to make things with my hands….like healthy meals and (ok) cookies.   But I also (strangely) like to build things with wood, paint, decorate and refinish things.  I like the outdoors….hiking, skiing, walking and taking in the beauty of this wonderful place.

I have a lot of interests and maybe I don’t need to have strong passion for one thing. Maybe it’s ok have a little passion for a lot of things.

6. I want to slow down.   I want to refocus on what’s really important: Friends. Relationships. Family. Memories.

I actually think I’ve done ok with this.  I don’t over-extend myself often.  I’m learning to say no.

Of course there are times when things just get busy.   For instance, this is our first weekend home in three weeks.   But you know what?  We were spending them with friends and family having fun.  Making memories.   Is my house a disaster?  Of course.  But it can wait.   And I’m learning to be ok with that.    It’s not easy, but it’s important.

So yeah, I guess overall I’m doing ok.   I would still love to blog more.  But I’d also like a new house and a stylist (seriously, probably shouldn’t be wearing yoga pants and torn jeans all of the time).

For now, I’m just trying to be ok with the way things are.  My best friend here in town has always worked hard to be happy NOW.   Not “when “x” happens,” or “as soon as “y” happens.”   Be happy now.  Because life is short and you don’t know what tomorrow holds.  And you know what?  She is one of the most optimistic, happiest people I know….even though life isn’t perfect for her.    Heck, is it for anyone?

If I know anything, it’s that life is precious…and tomorrows aren’t guaranteed.  So hug your kids (hug yer wife!) and live for today.

(Please tell me someone got that little play on words??)

Anyhoo.  Guess I’m getting all sentimental this year.   I’m sure I’ll read this next year and wonder why I’m being such a sap.

OR, I’ll be running a very successful psychic shop and TELL you why I was being all sentimental last year.

As always, I’ve borrowed my title from one of my favorite Jewel songs, Stephenville, TX.   This year I thought I’d share it with you so you know what the heck I’m talking about.

abigail’s birth story

I can’t believe how long overdue this is. 

Funny, that’s pretty much exactly the same thing I was thinking at 41 weeks pregnant.  Ha!

I started writing this post in March.   Yeah, like 9 months ago.   I finally decided I needed to finish it because I really am forgetting the details (even though when I first wrote this I was begging someone to tell me WHEN I would forget the pains of labor!).

Brace yourself; it’s long.  (that’s what he said….booya!)

Like, really long.  But I figure it’s more for me than anyone so if you’re not into this sort of thing, come back in a few days (let’s be honest…weeks) and we’ll chat about something else! 

So here goes.  Here’s the story of my “easy birth” Erin Cherry!   (This is my girlfriend who just last week says to me, “well dude, you had an easy birth, right?”   I just looked at her and said:  “Erin.  Do not ever tell any woman that her labor was easy.”)  Sheesh.

Anyhoo…

My due date was Friday, January 27th.   A date that came and went without incident.  Not so much as a Braxton Hicks.  My OB was only comfortable with letting me go one week pas my due date, so at my last appointment she scheduled an induction for Monday, February 6.    This irritated me (like everything does when you’re 40 weeks pregnant).  Why you ask?  Because technically a week overdue would be Friday the 3rd.   And if my Dr. was soooooo worried about me going longer than 41 weeks, she should have scheduled my induction for Friday.   But my precious little OB “doesn’t work on Fridays and had a massage scheduled.” 

Priorities, right?

At least I know where she stands.   

So after I secretly rolled my eyes, I reminded myself that this was a good thing.     It gave me a few more days to let things happen on their own without having to be induced. 

Speaking of drugs…I didn’t really have a birth plan per se.   I didn’t feel strongly about how the birth should happen, mostly because I had no idea what to expect.  I just wanted a healthy mom and baby.  However, over the course of my pregnancy I did start to have some preferences.   These preferences were:

  • I’d prefer not to be induced.
  • I’d like to go without an IV.  I typically faint at the sight of needles.
  • I’d like to avoid an epidural.  This is a GIANT needle.
  • I’d like to not have a cesarean.  Knives are worse than needles.

I guess that means I was hoping for an a’la natural birth. 

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5 days past due.  Still rockin’ the heels!  My feet killed me that night. 

Ironically, exactly a week past my due date on Friday, February 3rd,  I woke up at 4 a.m. and said, “uh oh.”

I woke up with what felt like a combination of  menstrual cramps and Braxton Hicks (false labor contractions that I’d had since about week 26).   The Hubs was asleep, so I just figured I’d wait it out and see if this was the real deal.   As I sat in bed, I noticed the contractions were coming regularly and were increasingly more uncomfortable.

Over an hour later, I got out of bed to use the bathroom and nearly buckled over because of a contraction.  This time The Hubs woke up and said “what’s happening?!”  To which I replied…”um…I think I’m in labor!” 

Of course he was annoyed that I had sat there for over an hour and not woken him up.   Whoopsie.  

So immediately The Hubs grabs his phone and says “sweet!  I just downloaded an app yesterday to time your contractions.  Just tell me when one starts and one stops.”   Sounds great, right?  Except that the last (and I mean the last) thing a woman in labor wants to do is announce the coming and going of her contractions.  You’re just trying to make it through alive.  So I wasn’t really very helpful in that regard. 

He could usually tell when one was starting because I’d pause…..bend over…grab my knees and start breathing heavily.   But then dude….there was the Hubs, right beside me like a broken record:   “ok, is it over?   is it over?  are you done?” 

I was not enthused. 

At this point the contractions were uncomfortable, but bearable.  Kind of a “grit your teeth” sort of thing.   Oddly enough, the fancy little app he downloaded was saying my contractions were 3 minutes apart.   Which I thought HAD to be wrong because everything I read said “labor at home for as long as you can.  Put on a movie (really??) or do something to distract yourself.  Only go to the Hospital when your contractions are down to five minutes apart”  I’d only been laboring for an hour and a half at this point so I thought it was impossible that they were coming that fast.  Besides, according to the books I should be at the hospital by now.

So we got up and The Hubs gave me a glass of water and a granola bar and told me to walk up and down the stairs.  (what?)  But what do I know?  So I did it. 

Five minutes later I was in the bathroom puking, and the Hubs was grabbing my hospital bag.  Apparently vomiting was our cue to leave.

Side note:  something no one ever talks about is the ride to the Hospital and how absolutely awful it is!  There is NO comfortable position to sit and each and every bump makes you feel like your baby is about to come out.   This is not cool.  On top of it, February is not an ideal time to be speeding down the road….you know, snow and ice have a tendency to inhibit driving. 

We get to the Hospital and they confirm that I’m actually in labor (duh).   

I’m admitted at 6:00 a.m. 

Once admitted, they give you the standard-issue hospital gown to change into.  I wasn’t thrilled about this…but decided that I’d rather mess up their garments than mine.  

The next thing they do is start asking you a bunch of questions for their records.  Really important things like, “how old are you?” and  “Do you live in a house or an apartment?” 

Seriously. 

I kinda wanted to punch this nurse in the face.    I think the Hubs could sense this because he answered all of the questions while I continued to have contractions.    It’s nearly impossible to talk or think when you’re leading up to, experiencing, or recovering from a contraction.   I just had to “get in my zone” and stay there regardless of what was going on around me. 

It’s kind of weird to be in labor.  You always see TV shows and movies of people just laboring in bed. 

Let me tell you.  It is not like that.

You’re up, walking around.  Buckling over in pain.  Puking in the garbage can.  Running to the bathroom because sitting on the toilet seems like a good idea.   You’re groaning and moaning and making noises you think must be coming from someone else and when you realize they’re coming from you….you don’t give a sh*$.

At least that’s how it was for me. 

The nurse confirmed that my contractions were coming very quickly – now down to only 1 minute of rest in between.   And when she checked my progress I was dilated to 5 cm.   Wow – halfway there already and I had just gotten to the hospital!

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that an IV wasn’t standard procedure either.  So long as I didn’t request drugs I could remain needle-free. 

Now, speaking of drugs – it got to a point about five hours into it that I wasn’t sure I could do it anymore.  I started to doubt myself, because each contraction seemed worse than the one before.  And they hurt.    I don’t even know how to explain the pain, except that it’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced.     The worst part is that you don’t know how long you’ll have to endure it…it could be 2 more hours or 10.    So at one point I looked at the Hubs and said “I don’t know if I can do this.  I think I want an epidural.” 

And do you know what my kind, loving, supportive Husband said? 

“No.”

No.  As if he’s the one going through this or has any inkling of the intensity of the pain. 

I was quite surprised by this reaction, and if another contraction wasn’t coming I probably would have given him a piece of my mind.   Just cuz that’s how pregnant Janna rolls.

So I labored for another 30 minutes or so, and brought it up again….thisreallyreallyhurtsandithinkineedanepidural!     This time he says,  “No, no.  You aren’t going to do that.  You didn’t want one and you’ll be so much happier afterwards if you don’t do it.   It’s just going to be a motherf#%&@er of a day.” 

Yep. 

He just said that.

To the woman buckled over in pain, delivering his child. 

I was completely speechless.  And if looks could kill I may have just done so that day.

I think I was dilated to 7 cm at this point, and asked to sit in the birthing tub but just my luck, it’s out of order.    So I opted for a shower instead, which felt good on my back for awhile (I was having a lot of back pain).  But really I was probably only in there for 5 minutes when I decided that “nope, this isn’t working.  I need out.  NOW.”  

Once I got back to my room (now soaking wet), the nurse started encouraging me to “push a little bit” to try and get my water to break.  

I was skeeeeered. 

I remembered hearing that contractions are like 10 times worse once your water breaks.     But I wanted to move things along, so I did what she said.   And holy shit.  My water broke in the middle of a contraction as I was standing and leaning on the bed.   I’m pretty sure I was screaming blood murder.  I’m not sure why….it just seemed like a lot of water!

The nurse said my water was slightly green, which means that the baby had pooped into the amniotic fluid.  It’s pretty common among overdue babies, but it can be dangerous if they’ve swallowed any of the water.   So all of a sudden there’s a bunch of commotion in the room as other nurses prepare for that scenario.   I tried not to think about that or any bad outcomes.  I just tried to focus on what I could do – and that was getting this baby out. 

Luckily, by the time my water broke, I was dilated far enough to start pushing.  (And thank you baby Jesus because it’s true.  Contractions are quite different after that soft cushion is gone). 

Pushing is also weird. 

It’s like everyone thinks you should know how to do it.   When really you have no clue what you’re doing.  You just follow your natural instincts I guess, and the nurses are usually pretty good and guiding you along. 

So I’m on the bed.   I’m pushing with each contraction and it dawns on me that the Dr. has yet to show up.  Eric must be thinking the same thing because he says “Will the Dr. be joining us anytime soon??”

Apparently they show up just in time to catch your baby as it comes flying out, which I thought a bit strange.  I assumed she’d be there for more of it. 

(Oh wait, that’s right.  She doesn’t work on Friday’s and had a massage scheduled). 

Anyways….so back to pushing.  Again, weird.  It just feels like you’re taking a giant poo.  Sorry.  But it does.   And it’s exhausting.  And HURTS. 

I remember feeling sorry for any other pregnant women getting admitted to the Labor Wing while I was pushing.  Because I.  was.  screaming.  Like big time.  And I could’ve cared less who heard.   All I wanted was to get the baby out. 

I pushed for about 40 minutes, and at the end I distinctly remember the feeling of her coming down the birth canal, pausing there for a few pushes, and then crazy burning sensation of a head and shoulders coming out followed by the slippery torso and legs.  I tell you, it was amazing. 

And immediately afterwards? 

Peace.

The pain completely gone. 

Just pure joy and excitement to finally see this little one.  And at 10:30 a.m., exactly one week past my due date and 6.5 hours after my first contraction….we got to meet her. 

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I hope you have “one motherf%#)er of a day too someday sweetie! 

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Oh man.  Those cheeks.  I could kiss them all day.

Our hospital is really into coupling practices….so they basically plop your baby on your tummy right after she is born.  They don’t clean them or anything…just let you do skin-to-skin contact for as long as you like.   It really was amazing to hold her like that so soon.  I was very thankful!

I was also thankful for the nurse who was “cleaning me up” and said ….”oh, let me just get this poo off your leg.  I think the baby pooped on you.”  I’m no idiot, nurse.  But thank you for letting me think that it was the baby for .5 seconds. 

And that my friends is the reality of childbirth.  Glorious childbirth.

Anyhoo, we spent a couple of hours in the laboring room just enjoying Abby and spending some snuggle time together.  Around 1:00 we were moved to the post-partum wing (which was brand new and super nice!) where each of our parents were waiting for us.  My sisters were there with their families and several of our friends as well.  It was so nice to introduce little Abby to everyone!  

In the end….yes I am glad that I was able to make it through without drugs.  I give the Hubs a hard time for saying no (I HAVE to after what he said), but  I know he was just doing what he thought was best and what he thought I would want.  He really was very helpful during the labor….rubbing my back….reminding me to stay low and connected to the earth (that’s my interpretation, not what he was saying!  haha). 

Every birth is different.  Every story is different.  There are no easy labors (Erin Cherry).  They are all special and unique in their own way.  And amazingly enough you do start to forget and think hmmm.  Maybe someday I can do that again.

Maybe. 

Maybe someday I’ll be up for another motherf(*#%er of a day again. 

Until then, I’m going to kiss these awesome cheeks some more.

Can you believe she is getting so big?  At 42 weeks, she is officially outside of me longer than she was inside of me.  Kind of crazy. 

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And for those of you wondering….yes.  My Dr. made it to her massage that day.

survival guide: the first six months

I consider myself somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to baby gear.   We don’t have the space for a gazillion plastic things around the house and frankly I don’t want them.   I mean, people have been having babies for thousands of years and been fine without bumbo’s, boppies and baby Einstein.

However,  that being said.  I acknowledge that there are some items out there that sure make having a baby easier. 

Now that Abby’s seven months (and crawling!), I decided to take a look back and document what worked (and what didn’t) during the first few months.   If anything else it will be good reference for me if and when we do another newborn round.   Besides, I’ve noticed a distinct change in what a newborn needs vs. what an infant needs, and I’m finding myself packing up some of my old standby’s and relying on new distractions and soothing techniques.  

The items I’m reviewing today will be more for the newborn/early infant stage…and I’ll be back with another round for the post 6-month necessities.   Sound good?

First things first:  you’re going to need some sort of cage. 

Er….wait.  That sounds bad…let me rephrase. 

You’re going to need some sort of contraption that essentially “holds” them so you don’t have to all of the time.  I know, I know, I’m terrible for not wanting to hold my baby 24/7.   So maybe I won’t have amazing mom arms, but I’ll be showered, the laundry will be done (maybe) and I’ll most likely get to eat because of this little bouncy chair.  We’ve put Abby in it since Day 1 and she still sits in it in the mornings when I’m getting breakfast ready.  Granted she has very little patience for it anymore, but I’m milking it for every last minute I can use it. 

Fisher Price Bouncer

Around three months was the ideal age for the bouncer.  She had just found her feet and would sit in it for-ev-er just looking at her toes. 

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Now that you have your cage established, work on finding a way to make the baby think you’re holding them….even though you’re still not.

Say hello to your next best friend, the Sleepy Wrap carrier.  This thing was a life saver in the first few months.  After you get over the intimidation of putting the dang thing on (it’s just one long piece of fabric, seriously like 50 yards long), you will never go anywhere without it.  And trust me, it only took 2 or 3 times to get the process down.  It’s not nearly as intimidating as it looks!

The sleepy wrap is great for walks (Abby h.a.t.e.d her carseat when she was little, so the carseat adapter for our stroller was really a waste), shopping (you know, in your spare time) and just getting sh*t done around the house.  You just snuggle them right in and they pretty much fall asleep (am I sensing irony here?).

The funny thing is, when I had Abby in the sleepy wrap and she moved, it felt just like it did when she was in my belly.  It was kiiiiiiinda trippy.  Or maybe I had it on too tight.

Anyhoo….this is another item we’ve used since Day 1 with Abby and still do.  There are several additional positions you can wear it aside from the newborn picture shown below….outward facing, inward facing, on your hip, etc. 

It’s amazing how you take using both hands for granted until you’re carting around a kid.

Sleepy Wrap Classic Wrap Baby Carrier

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Next up, an item that I knew I would love even before Abby arrived…the Aden and Anais bamboo swaddlers.  I got these as a gift (thanks Liz!) and absolutely love them.  They are lightweight, soft and stretchy and are perfect for swaddling or just a cute blanket. 

In all honesty, I only swaddled Abby a handful of times in these….and yet they remain a favorite you say?  Well yes.  It’s so nice to have a lightweight blanket to use on hot days.  I use these ALL of the time in the stroller to protect her from the sun, in the carseat, or as a nursing cover.   These are one of my most favorite things.

You may have seen the Aden and Anais muslin swaddlers, and these are similar except much softer and cuter.  In my opinion.

Aden and Anais Bamboo Swaddle Blankets

aden + anais Swaddle Blanket, 3 Pack

You may be wondering what I DID use to swaddle Abs with, since the aforementioned swaddle blankets didn’t make the cut. 

These my friend, are da bomb:  Summer Infant Swaddle Me.  They have velcro to keep that swaddle nice ‘n tight.  I mean, just look at these little nuggets…they ain’t goin’ nowhere.  And when you’re talking about swaddling, that’s exactly the effect you’re looking for.

I bought the fleece ones since Abby was using them in the middle of winter, but the cotton ones look nice too and come in cuter designs.

Summer Infant SwaddleMe

Summer Infant 2 Pack Cotton Knit Swaddleme

I’m pretty sure all babies get cradle cap…I mean, wouldn’t your skin be a bit dry if you spent 9 months in a swimming pool and then decided to get out?

This shampoo worked wonders on Abbys cradle cap and smells sooooooo good.  Again, it was a gift (thanks Cassi!) and one I was a titch skeptical about at first.  But oh my.  How sweet it is.  I would totally splurge on this next time around – even though it is a bit more expensive than what I would normally buy.  Especially since I’m just now running out of the one an only bottle I had – seven months later.  So the little splurge is totally worth it.

Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns

I debated about including this next one (the Beco carrier).  I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite things…but I sure do use it a lot.  And I figured that since it’s one of the things that I find myself continually grabbing for and packing for trips…I had better include it.   

While similar in concept to the sleepy wrap, this carrier can be put on fairly quickly and is a bit more of a traditional carrier.  I looked at all (and I mean all) of the carriers before deciding on the Beco.  What won me over on this one was the fact that the baby can sit forwards, backwards OR on your back…all with the same carrier.  None of the others (the Ergo, bjorn, etc.) can do all three.

I imagine we will use this carrier for several more months, if not even longer.

As an added bonus, the Beco comes in some reallllly cool designs.  I went ahead and got the black one because I thought “oh, the Hubs will be more apt to wear it if it isn’t all trendy and cute.”  Whatever.  He’s worn it once.  So next time I’ll get the cute one like I wanted in the first place.

Beco Baby Carrier  Gemini

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I’m sure you’re wondering where all of the survival stuff for mom is, right?  Well I’m getting to it.  And ladies you are in for a reeeeeaaaal treat, because first up is a lovely nursing bra!

Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra

So glamorous.

So necessary.   I tried nursing with a sports bra and trust me,  you don’t want to do it.  It’s almost more annoying that the permanent mono-boob you’ll be sporting. 

Invest in a couple of good nursing bras because you’ll literally be wearing them morning, noon and night.   These Bravado Designs bras are suuuuuper comfortable.  There’s no underwire (which I was slightly nervous about, but read that they’re bad for milk production anyways) and they are actually fairly supportive.   This is important because we all know about nursing mothers and there ta ta’s.   Plus they come in some cute colors.  So you can kind of feel cute in it.   Kind of. 

But bra’s aren’t all I’m recommending for you mom…there’s also this:

Medela Freestyle Breastpump

Medela Freestyle Breast Pump

Again, so glamorous.   (p.s. you may as well forget about anything glamorous for at least the first 6 months to a year after your baby).   Sorry if I’m the one to break that to ya.

All I have to say about this, is that P-U-M-P spells F-R-E-E-D-O-M in my book.  You want it and you’ll need it.  

Buy a pump.  A good one.  This one is sweet because it’s small, portable and runs on batteries.   I can pump anywhere…in the car, at the mall, on the moon.  This is important.  You want other people to be able to feed your baby so you don’t have to be there every 3-4 hours. 

Now. 

Along with good things come bad things.   Here are a few of the duds I’ve come across in this journey.   Maybe you’ve had luck with some of these, and if you have….bravo.   I did not. 

First up, our carseat. 

Gah, I know.  Something as GD important as our carseat makes the crap list.   It’s not that it’s actual crap, per se.   It’s just that I don’t like it.  

Chico Keyfit 30

Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base

I don’t like how heavy it is (what is it made of?  cement?!).  I don’t like the sunshade (I wish it would tilt forward to shade the sun from the front.  I’m not always walking with her back to the sun for petes sake).   I don’t like that it’s expensive and it seems cheaply made.  And you’re on crack if you think I’m keeping her in there until she’s 30 lbs.

Oh, AND….it’s name is annoying.  Did you know you’re supposed to pronounce it “KEY-KO.”  Lame.  So if you pronounce it like it looks, “CHI-CO” you sound like an idiot.  Thanks.  Not only am I lugging around a 30 lb child in a 20 lb carseat, I also sound like an idiot talking about it.

On the other hand, installation is a cinch and it is rated one of the safest carseats out there.  So at least there’s that.

Next up on the dud list – our sound machine.  God I hate this thing.

First Years Sound Machine

The First Years Sounds For Silence Nursery Sound Machine

First of all, the “six special white noise” options are all pretty much crap.  Unless you think high-pitched screeching sounds are soothing.   Or freaking seagulls chirping during the “ocean” sound.  Really??  Water is soothing.  Seagulls are not. 

AND there are six “Mozart” melodies available, which are basically keyboard-eske melodies that will make moms want to poke their eyes out. 

I don’t recommend it. 

What you need is a sound machine that has good noises, that you can plug in, and that doesn’t have a timer.  You want that sucker to go all night long (that’s what she said).  hee hee.   Sorry. 

If you have a sound machine that you like (and fits the above noted criteria), please let me know.  We are currently getting by with the “heartbeat” sound because it’s the only halfway decent one on there.

Lastly (and I’ll probably get some flack for this one) the baby swing.

Fisher Price Cradle ‘n Swing

Fisher-Price Cradle 'N Swing

It’s not that I didn’t like it, or like the idea of it….it’s just that Abby never liked it.   She would scream bloody murder in it most of the time.   But I kept trying…Lordy I kept trying.  I probably got her to nap it in three times. 

And then I have friends who swear by this thing….it literally saved their lives

I guess I’m just saying….it wasn’t our gig.   And I kept thinking “oh yeah…I’ve got this swing in my back pocket man.  Whenever I think all hope is lost I’ll just pull my ‘ol swing card and peace will be restored.”   Except it never quite worked like that for us.    It usually made a bad situation worse.   So the swingo was a no-go for us.

So there you have it.   Our list of must-haves for those first terrifying precious months.    I acknowledge that every baby is different; and what worked for me may not work for you.   Here are my biggest pieces of advice: 

  • Don’t go crazy buying stuff the minute you see your two pink lines.  Hold off on buying every baby contraption out there…because you never know what’s going to work for you. 
  • It’s ok to buy stuff AFTER the baby arrives.  You’ll have a better idea of what might work for your munchkin.
  • Borrow what you can.  Many moms are ecstatic to have someone get more use out of their expensive baby items.   And bonus:  if it doesn’t work for you, you didn’t spend any money on it.     
  • Buy used.  I’ve seen soooooo many lightly-used baby items (in great shape) for sale at second-hand stores for kids.  I know this is a tough hurdle  to jump sometimes (you want everything that touches your baby to be sparkly new), but you can save a ton of money if you’re willing to get past it.

In the end?  I strongly believe that less is more when it comes to baby gadgets and the best comfort you can give your baby is her momma.  

Gotta work on those mom arms anyway, right?

a mother’s love

Somebody slept through the night last night – and it wasn’t me.   I am trying not to get too excited about it, but holy cow….through.  the.  night!   This is my biggest of wishes and wildest of dreams come true.   Yeah, it’s a pretty exciting life we live over here, where wishes and dreams are in the form of zzzzzz’s.

It’s been a week since I was on the brink of despair, decided something needed to change, and embarked on a sleep-training journey.   And oh.  my.  gawd.  I am tired.   So tired.  But maybe, just maybe last night is a sign that it’s working?  Who knows.  If it is, I’ll be back to share all of my sleep wizardry with you, so that your wishes and dreams may also come true.  

But that’s not what this is about (although sleep training must be the epitome of a mother’s love).   No, instead, I’m sticking my head up above water for a few minutes to deliver a very special treat for you today:  a guest post from my little sister Amy!

Ok, so she’s not so little anymore, but that’s how she’ll always be to me.  You wouldn’t necessarily know that we were sisters by looking at us – she is a big-eyed, dark-haired, olive-skinned beauty.  But we share the same roaring laugh, backwards-bending thumb, and sentimental heart.  It’s the latter trait that brings her here today, to share with all of us a special tradition she’s starting for her daughter. 

It brought a tear to my eye and instantly I began wondering how I could embark on something similar for Abby.  I think you’ll like it too, so without further ado, read on!

Hello TWSST readers. If you are like me you have desperately missed Janna’s blog posts. I understand she is a bit busy these days so I thought I would help her out and write one of my own as a guest. I’m her sister Amy, but if Janna were to introduce me she would introduce me as her little sister Amy (although I am in my thirties I am still considered little).

As you may or may not know, our mother passed away when we were young. It happened a couple weeks after my sixth birthday.  I have very few memories of my mother; so few that I can count them on one hand. Growing up I always thought about her. When my friends would talk about their mothers my own was never far from my thoughts. Some friends would complain that they were beginning to look like them or worry that they were actually becoming them.

What I wouldn’t give to share the same thoughts.

I would sit and quietly listen while they spoke of their mother. I always wished I knew more about mine; it wasn’t just the elaborate stuff I wanted to know, I wanted to know the simple things. What did her laugh sound like? What was her favorite flower? What was she like? Was she shy like me or was she outgoing?

It wasn’t until I became pregnant and a mother myself that I started to look at it differently. What if (god forbid) something happened to me? I am sure my daughter would have the same feelings. Would my daughter remember me, know who I really was? I sure hope so. But in a way to prevent that, I am taking action.

I plan to write in a journal for my daughter filling the pages with information about me, what I like and don’t like, the story of how her father and I fell in love, fill it with my favorite pictures, memories and quotes. My hope is someday that I will find the right time to give it to her and she will see the love that I have poured into it. I won’t stop at just one, I have way too much to share with her. I want her to know how much she is loved and how important she is. I want to encourage and inspire her with my words.

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I saved some of my favorite cards from Ella’s first birthday and included them in the journal.

In addition, I’ve filled it with things I want my daughter to know:

  • Her father and I listened to ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ a lot when we were falling in love
  • Her father gave her the nickname Bean when she was only one day old and it fits her perfectly

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This is one of my favorite pictures. It captures what I loved to do most with her when she was a newborn. I knew those days were short lived so I soaked up every minute I could get with her.

  • She was born to the song “Beautiful Day” by U2
  • My favorite color is pink but my favorite colors to decorate with are blue and white
  • I love Thai and Indian food
  • I don’t like meatloaf. Never have and probably never will
  • I won a perfect attendance award (more than once) and never went to the principal’s office
  • My sisters are my best friends. I laugh and cry with them. I confide in them without the worry of being judged.
  • I love to bake, especially on a rainy day
  • During a difficult part of my life I moved to Portland, Oregon with no job and nowhere to live. Crazy? Yes. However, it was the best thing I could have done for myself and I learned who I was. Never be scared to do something because of the unknown. Believe in yourself and go with confidence. I will always be right behind you being your biggest cheerleader.
  • One of my favorite places to travel is to Canon Beach, Oregon. I love to get up early and walk the beach with a cup of coffee in my hand searching for sand dollars.
  • Her father is terrible at taking directions. So much so that he took a four hour detour on our first date because he “knew where he was going,” yeah right. I should have known from the beginning that he was stubborn.
  • I will always be honest with her
  • It’s simple; treat others they way to you want to be treated
  • Don’t judge people, they may be having a bad day and need a little extra help
  • Always remember how much you are loved
  • At 19 months I already know her personality. Quiet and sweet. Always willing to share her favorite toys and give snuggles and kisses to her friends and family.
  • “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others: for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”
  • Call your Mother. Call me when you are happy, sad, sick or lonely. I will always be there wanting to go through those things with you.

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I hope my Bean and I will someday discuss the journals and create our own memories. I am sure she will laugh at my expense (perfect attendance mom, really?) and learn a thing or two about life. All I know is that I love my little girl more and more each day. I find comfort in knowing that my mom must have felt the same way about me and my sisters…right?

Now don’t feel sad for me or my sisters. We have been very lucky in life. We have been blessed with a wonderful ‘earth’ mother. I can’t imagine my life without her, but it also doesn’t stop my mind from thinking of my mother.

I just love what Amy is doing for Ella Bean.  It’s so thoughtful, loving and sweet.  Something that she will surely cherish for the rest of her life. 

Thank you Amy for sharing this wonderful, heartfelt idea!  As much as we want to hope and pray that we will be around to watch our children grow up…you never know where life will take you. 

We were certainly handed a bittersweet deck of cards, but it’s what has made us who we are today.  And in some ways we are very lucky to have two wonderful mothers in our lives.

It is indeed, a beautiful day.

i never did like cats.

That tends to happen when one jumps on your FACE while you’re sleeping.   Yep.  Happened.  During a middle school sleepover and I’ve been tarnished for life.  (Yes Shannon, it was Jasmine).

Ever since then I just don’t trust the things. 

This is exactly how it happened.  Me, peacefully sleeping in my best Audrey Hepburn outfit when an unsuspecting cat attacked.  Whoa, is that my eyeball popping out?  Eek. 

But I’ve recently discovered a new type of cat that trumps all face-jumping cats:  the cat nap.

By the way…yes, I’m just going to start a post and completely ignore the fact that I’ve neglected ya’ll for way too long.  That is, if there is anyone left out there….

Anyhoo.  Back to the crap cat naps.   As terrifying as a cat-to-the-face was, I fear that this type of cat will be the death of me. 

I am mentally, physically and utterly exhausted.   Let me summarize my days for you so you’ll understand why. 

Wake up. 

Feed baby.  30 min.

Play. 30 min.

Change Diaper.  5 min.

Play.  45 min. 

Bounce/sing/rock baby.  Oh…I don’t know.  AN HOUR?

Baby Sleeps.  20-30 min.

Meanwhile:  GetDressedBrushTeethRedoPonytailEatBreakfastDoLaundry….baby awake?  No?  Sweet!

CleanKitchenPickupToysFeedDog.  Go get baby.

Repeat. 

**Disclaimer!  All times may vary with the exception of the one labeled “Baby Sleeps.” 

Honestly, I should win an award for how much stuff I can get done in thirty minutes.  I may be wearing yesterdays mascara, but I can make a smoothie, unload the dishwasher and pick up the kitchen in about 3 minutes flat.  All at the same time.   How’s that for multi-tasking?   Because it turns out surfing the web and being on a conference call at the same time is for amateurs.

So yeah. 

That’s where I’ve been.  In a delirious zombie-like state of dealing with cat naps. 

I should mention however, that Abby seems to be doing fine with this new species of cat. She’s mostly content during the day unless she just gets over-tired. Which can happen when you’re only sleeping 20 minutes at a time. Go figure.

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Go to sleep?  Mother puhlease.  I’m going to bounce in this bouncer until I can’t hold my head up anymore.  And then I’ll bounce some more.  It’s how I roll, yo.

I just can’t help but think both of our lives would be better if there was a more regular nap schedule. 

Gah.  A schedule.  Now there’s another evil word.  And a topic for another day and another post that I probably won’t get to write. 

Anyhoo.  I’m just here to say hello from cat nap land.  It’s exhausting here.  And apparently making mommy a little cray-cray (that’s “crazy” for my non-teen readers).  But at least no animals jump on your face. 

The good news is, I’m working on it.  I’m trying to help her fall asleep on her own so that (1) I’m not rocking/bouncing/singing/swaying her for an hour and (b) she can put herself back to sleep when she wakes up.  

This isn’t an easy thing to teach and there are several controversial ways to do it.  I’m not really into the crying it out method, so we’re trying some alternatives for now.   And hopefully once we’ve got that down, the naps will gradually increase in time and momma will return to watching her stories and eating bon bons. 

So if when I figure out the magic formula for making babies sleep, I’ll be sure to share it.   Until then, just say no to cat naps.

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All baby animals are cute.  Do not be fooled by this darling little kitten.  He would jump on your face and pop your eyeball out if you would just fall asleep.

a year in pictures

Eventually.   At least that’s the plan. 

Being a sentimental sap, I knew I wanted to document Abby’s first year somehow.   I thought about different ways to do this, from taking her picture next to the same stuffed animal each month to see how she grows, to putting her in the nursery chair for the same effect, or just picking one of my favorites (from the many random pictures I take) each month.

In the end, I couldn’t get Clara’s photo project out of my head.  Clara is the cute little daughter of John and Sherry over at Young House Love…and of course those two creative geniuses had an idea that stole my heart. 

Each month they take a picture of Clara in a white onesie with a different fabric background.  They then edit the picture on their computer to put her age (in weeks) on the onesie.  It’s a really sweet tradition to start for their daughter, but also for them to look back and see how she grows and changes from week to week.  On Clara’s one year birthday, Sherry made a quilt for her using scraps from the fabric from each photo shoot.  How cute is that?

So, once again I find myself copying YHL on an idea.  Even though I don’t read their blog anymore, I am still inspired by their creativity!  

Instead of using fabric as my backgrounds though, I’ve been using blankets.  We got so many darling blankets for Abby that I thought it would be fun to use them for now.  When I run out of backdrops blankets, I’ll probably start using fabric and try to come up with something unique to do with them for Abby. 

So, each Friday morning Abby gets a bath, and then each Friday afternoon Abby and I have a photo shoot in her nursery.   It’s something I look forward to all week…and maybe someday she will too!

I’ve since learned that you can purchase weekly (or monthly) stickers for the onesies on Etsy (so you don’t have to edit the picture on your computer).  I’m kind of a geek and don’t mind doing it, but once she starts rolling around and not just laying flat on her back, it’s going to be hard for me to get the angles right.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.  Maybe #2 will have the fancy stickers.

Oh, and one last note.  I try to choose a picture that reflects what Abby was up to that week…if she was particularly fussy (uh hem, week 5), the picture will reflect that.  Or recently she started grabbing her feet, so I picked one of those for her weekly shot.  Hopefully this will help me remember her milestones a little better?   I shoot around 75-100 pics during each session and then pic my favorite and edit it while she snoozes or after she goes to bed.  

We’re 15 weeks in to our little project (how did that happen?!) and it’s already so much fun to look back on my little pumpkin.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe she’s changed so much in so few months…which is why it’s so important for me to document it!

Enjoy!

<confession:  I forgot to take her week 1 pic…so luckily I had snapped this one in a white onesie on my phone.  I’m still kicking myself for not doing an official photo, but what can you do.  I was a little out of it that first week.>

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Shooting that many pictures means we often have some funny ones, which turn out to be some of my favs. Here are a few outtakes from our sessions!

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Did your parents do something similar for you growing up?  Or have you found a creative unique way to capture your little one’s growing?

cloth diaper update

It’s been almost three weeks since I started using cloth diapers so I thought I’d pop in with a quick update on how things are going!

I have to say that the switch was waaaaay less scary than I thought it would be.  In fact, it’s actually been quite simple and I couldn’t be happier about it.  

Remember I chose the BumGenius Freetime All-in-One’s.  All in one just means that the liners are sewn directly into the diaper cover (if they’re not sewn in, you have to stuff them into each diaper before use). 

Why don’t I just show you what I mean.   Here’s one of the diapers

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The “flaps” on each side of the diaper are sewn on, so when I want to use it all I do is fold them in.  Like so:

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I love the all-in-ones and glad I don’t have to stuff diapers after washing them. 

Anyhoo, here’s the scoop.

I’m still using disposables at night, so when we put on Abby’s PJ’s, we put on a disposable.  She sleeps until around 4:00 or 5:00 when I nurse her and change her into another disposable.   I could probably change her into a cloth diaper at this point, and should probably start doing so.  But worse case scenario I’m using two disposables at night (which means two disposables total per day…yay)! 

When she wakes back up around 8:00 or 9:00, we get her dressed for the day and put on a cloth diaper.   The biggest change for me has been getting used to proactively changing her instead of reactively changing her.  For example, I try to change her every 2-3 hours instead of waiting for her diaper to be full enough to change (disposables can last an amazingly long time!).  The exception of course is if she poops when I’ll change it right away obviously.    The reason I try to proactively change her is because cloth diapers don’t hold as much as a disposable, and if you let it go too long they can leak.  And let me tell you, that happened once and it’s a royal pain to change an outfit due to a leaky diaper.  I try to avoid it!

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Changing her is just the same as it would be with a disposable.  I remove the dirty diaper, clean her up, and put on a new one.  But instead of tossing the diaper in the trash, I simply toss it in my wet bag which is kept right next to my laundry hamper. 

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Lesson learned:  Thanks to some comments on my last post, I learned that you don’t need to rinse the poo off when it’s just breastfeeding poo.  So I’m not even rinsing anything at this point.  Just put the whole poopy diaper in the wet bag and forget about it.   Revolutionary!

Then, at the end of the day (after I’ve put on her PJ’s and disposable), I grab the wet bag off the hamper and empty it out into the washer.  The wet bag goes directly in the wash with the diapers too.  I do a cold cycle (with no soap) and then a hot cycle (with Charlie’s Soap) and an extra rinse.  

Sometimes I throw the diapers in the dryer right away, but often I let them sit in the washer overnight after the spin cycle  because they’ll dry a bunch on their own this way and save dryer time.  If I do that, I just throw them in the dryer first thing in the morning so they’re ready for the day.   

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If I notice that any of the diapers have poop stains on them (and it does happen) I pull them out of the washer and let them dry outside.  This is called “sunning” and is frickin amazing.  Seriously.  Just letting them dry in the sun removes any sort of stain.  It makes me want to break out “HALLELUJHA” every time.

As for changing diapers on-the-go around town, I just keep two extra cloth diapers in my diaper bag and a smaller wet bag.   This takes up a lot of space so you need a gigantic diaper bag.  But I’m ok with that.   I also keep two disposable diapers in there just in case we need them.  You can never be too safe when it comes to poo.

What I like about cloth diapers:

  • It’s easy.  Like really really easy.  I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t.
  • I feel better about using them and reducing my waste
  • I know they’re better for the environment and my bebe’s bum too
  • There have been no blow outs since we switched.  There were several when we used disposables.  One that even required cutting an outfit off…but that’s a different story.

What I don’t like about cloth diapers:

  • The poo (even though I’m not having to deal with it too much yet), is still a little gross at times.   I just figure that I’m a mom now and poo will be miniscule on the scale of gross things I need to deal with. 
  • Having to do laundry in order to use them.  I can stretch my diaper supply out 1.5 days.  I’m not sick of doing laundry yet, but I wonder how I’ll feel 6 months down the line.    A lot of you recommended doubling my diaper supply so the laundry burden wasn’t quite so much.  I may consider this!
  • Not being able to wad up the wipes in the diaper.  I need a separate contraption to put the wipes in now. 

What would I/will I change about using cloth diapers?

  • I’m not sold on Charlie’s Soap.  I feel like it doesn’t do as well with the smell as I want it to.  Not that the diapers smell bad, it’s just that sometimes I think it could be better.  One of my friends recommended Rock in Green detergent and I think I’ll try that next time.
  • Several people have mentioned cloth wipes to me.  I’m not there yet, but am seriously considering it.  In fact, I’m started to get as annoyed about buying wipes as I was about buying diapers.  It seems like they’re always on my list. 
  • Eventually I’d like to start using cloth at night.  I’ve read about hemp inserts that you can use that are super absorbent and helpful for longer stretches.  I’m intrigued.  But not intrigued enough to try it yet. 

Also, we’re still using disposables when we travel.  For example, we went to Spokane for Bloomsday a few weekends ago and I brought disposables.  I just don’t have enough diapers to make it through 3 days without doing laundry.  Staying in a hotel is not conducive to doing laundry.  Plus, hauling around 15 cloth diapers takes up a lot of room!   We also used disposables when we went camping the other weekend (yes!  we went camping and it was great!).   

Now, if we were going somewhere (like to my parents house) where there was a washing machine available, I would totally do cloth.   I guess as long as they were ok with me washing poopy diapers there.  haha.

Overall?  Cloth has my seal of approval.  They are easy, functional and cute to boot.   If you’re thinking about switching, you should definitely give it some serious thought.  I think it’s been worth the investment so far, and these diapers are supposed to last until she’s potty-trained. 

Now, one last thing.  I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad for using disposables!  cough*ROB*cough.  Seriously.  Every parent chooses what is right for them and I would never judge them for that.  I really wanted to try cloth and it seems to work for me.  That doesn’t mean it works for everyone.  This is just my story and my experience.

I’m happy to answer any questions and am always open for suggestions and advice!  I’ll be back with an update in about 6 months and let you know how it’s going.  By then she’ll be on solid foods and it may change the game a little bit.

What do you think?  Are you intrigued about using cloth?  Anyone thinking about switching?   Do you think the laundry will drive me insane six months from now?