Red Hot Mama!

redhotmama

Wendy Davis Shoes/Weights/Jogger

Ok, so I have to be totally honest.  I used to be hot.  Like really hot.  Before and during my pregnancy I practically lived at the gym, and I didn’t appreciate the fruits of my labor at all.  Sad.  The good news is the fruit of my loins has done a lot to really help me appreciate my body and pregnancy/parenting has actually cleared up a lot of my body issues.  I mean, my body grew a whole person…from scratch…then fed that person for over a year.  Plus, I don’t have time to worry about it.  Even so, after over a year of relying on breastfeeding to maintain my weight and being too freaking tired to work out it’s time for me to get back to it.  Actually, it’s been time, but now it’s really really time.  Of course I’ve dabbled in working out since I had the baby.  I was actually doing OK while I was on maternity leave.  Then I came back to work and was so exhausted and sad that I just couldn’t make myself do it.  I did finally buy a jogging stroller and now it’s too hot to use it.  It’s really not about looking good anymore (I’m lying) but I really want to feel healthy again (that’s true).  I miss feeling strong and I miss the mental health benefits of being in shape.  Also my knees hurt all the time and I don’t want to buy all new pants.   So with that I’m making a public declaration that I’m going to try harder and I’m asking for tips.  Anyone have any?  I literally cannot figure out when to fit exercise into my working mom schedule, so if you do it please tell me how!  Thanks!

Summer of Safety!

summer of safety

I hereby announce my next series (and a bit of a style revamp)!  We have some major projects going on right now, and they’re all in the interest of making sure our home is super safe and super fancy.  Right now it is neither.  Now that Dubs is walking and fearless we decided it was high time that we tackle some summer projects to improve our home for the whole family.  I hope I don’t bore you to actual death!

See you Monday with the details of our first project!  Have a great (and safe) weekend!

Baby!

A survival guide.

So you have a brand new baby.  Congratulations!  Brand new babies are hands down the greatest things on the planet.  They’re so sweet and tiny and totally dependent on you…which is terrifying and exhausting.  The good news is they’re tougher than you think, and you’re tougher than you think and you can totally do this!

When I was pregnant I was totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of baby supplies out there.  I had a lot of experience with babies so I had a pretty good idea of what I didn’t need, but even so getting what I did needed was daunting.  I did TONS of research, and came up with a registry that has served me pretty well.  A lot of the blogs I came across that talked about baby gear were written by people who live in NYC, and their lists were great, but their needs are totally different than mine.  While they were all about saving space and travelling by foot/subway/cab, I needed info for living in a two story house in a city where you drive everywhere.  I never did find that, but now I can make one for you (plus everything else you’ll need regardless of your location)!

What to register for:

Gear – From travel systems to baby carriers to diaper bags.

  • Stroller/Car Seat – I had a checklist of things I wanted in a stroller.  Super safe (duh), cup holders for mom and dad, an extendable handle (we’re tall), soft cushioning for baby, gender neutral color, big basket underneath, room to grow, ability to stand when folded, and it had to be a travel system.  Graco is probably the most popular travel system brand, but we went with the Maxi Cosi Piazzo Travel System.  I love it.  I have two issues with it.  It’s kind of bulky, and you can’t remove the cover to wash it (it’s spot clean only…that’s not something you want to find out after a diaper blowout).  Overall we have been really happy with this travel system, and we would definitely recommend it.
  • Baby carriers – We registered for the Moby Wrap, and an Ergo and we got a Heavenly Bundle sling as a gift.  I know most people LOVE the Moby, but it didn’t work well for us.  My baby didn’t like being so restricted, and I live in Texas…it’s really hot being all wrapped up in a giant piece of fabric.  When she turned four months old we started using the Ergo and she and I both love it.  It’s really comfortable, and she feels secure without feeing trapped.  The other sling we have is also great, and we’ve used it quite a bit (most notably for my sister’s wedding reception) but the Ergo is the way to go for day to day because it evenly distributes the weight of the baby and leaves you completely hands free.  I cannot recommend it enough.  There is also an infant insert so you can use it before four months.  I will definitely order it before I have my next baby.
  • Diaper Bag – We wanted a bag that was gender neutral so my husband and I could both use it without switching everything between bags.  We also wanted one that was both a backpack and a messenger bag so we could wear it on our backs when we were wearing the baby (it’s a really cool look), or so we could hang it on the stroller, or use it as a shoulder back when necessary.  We got this one, and it’s awesome.
  • Car sear mirror – Someone got this for me even though it wasn’t on my registry, and I’m so glad they did!  Because babies have to sit rear facing in the back seat you can’t see them without a mirror.  Having one has made things so much easier.  It’s so nice to see your baby’s face in your rear view mirror, and it really gives you peace of mind to be able to see what she’s doing back there.
  • Sun Shades – as I mentioned before, I live in Texas and the summer sun is brutal.  They don’t provide perfect coverage, but roller shades for your windows really help.  I also recommend a windshield shade for the times you have to park outside.  I’ve had one forever and never really used it until I had the baby, but it’s amazing how much cooler your car will be if you use it.  In fact, get one even if you don’t have a baby!
  • Boppy – I was flabbergasted when a friend said she never used her Boppy.  I use mine ALL THE TIME.  It’s great for nursing and holding your baby while she is tiny, but unlike other nursing pillows you can use it for other things.  When baby is learning to sit it provides some cushion and support (especially if you stack them…the Boppies, not babies).  You can use it to prop them up for tummy time.  They even make a good stand in for a high chair.  I definitely prefer them to Bumbo seats because they are more versatile, and they’re safer.

Sleep – You won’t get a lot of it, but these things will make those long nights more bearable

  • Bassinet – I would have liked a co-sleeper, but they don’t make one that works with my crappy Ikea bed, so we got this cradle instead.  I liked it better than a bassinet because I could see through the slats, and it was big enough for her to sleep in for a while.  You could also just set up your baby’s crib in your room if it will fit.  One thing I know for sure is you won’t want to walk to the nursery every hour or two.  Babies who sleep in their parents’ rooms are also less likely to be victims of SIDS, which is obviously a big deal.
  • Pack n’ Play – We set ours up in our living room downstairs so we would have a place for baby to nap when she was very young (now she naps in her crib).  I would consider Pack n’ Plays to be necessary for anyone who travels.  You can throw it in your car and take it to a friend’s house if you’re going to be there late, you can take it to the beach, you can fly with it.  Get one.  It also doubled as a downstairs changing table, which my husband loved.
  • Gowns – If you only take one piece of advice take this one.  Register for baby gowns.  At 3:00 in the morning, when you’ve woken up for the fourth time to feed and change your baby the last thing you want to do is deal with snaps.  Gowns are the BEST.  On a related note…footie pajamas for newborns are the devil.  Don’t even bother even though they’re super cute.  Wait until your baby can go longer than five minutes between diaper changes.
  • Night stand changing station – A few weeks before the baby was born I cleaned out my nightstand and filled it with diapers, wipes, and changing pads so I could change her on my bed in the middle of the night.  Do this.  Especially the part about the changing pad…I had to change my sheets in the middle of the night a couple of times because I got lazy.

  • Swaddling Blankets – They’ll teach you how to make a baby burrito in the hospital using receiving blankets, but swaddlers are so much easier, and much more secure.  In the beginning I would use the Miracle Blanket.  It’s easy and comfy, and it doesn’t use Velcro, which is loud and jarring in the middle of the night.  When your baby gets stronger and can escape from the Miracle blanket they stop being safe.  At a certain point my baby could pull her arms out really easily, but couldn’t sleep unswaddled so we switched to Swaddle Me blankets, which do use Velcro and were better able to contain her Hulk arms.  Also, if she did escape there wasn’t tons of fabric floating around in her cradle.
  • Sleep sacks – Blankets aren’t safe, but babies get cold.  When your little one outgrows swaddlers, get a sleep sack.
  • Pampers Baby Dry – When my baby was brand new she would cry if she was wet.  Even if it was a tiny trickle she would LOSE HER MIND until we changed her.  It was ok during the day, but torturous at night.  Pampers Baby Dry made all the difference.
  • Video Monitor – When we finally did move the baby to her own room, I started relying heavily on a video monitor.  We have this one.  It’s a bare-bones, cheap one but it serves its purpose.  There’s nothing wrong with audio monitors, but it’s nice to see if she’s fussing because she’s just woken up on her own (so we can leave her for a bit to see if she’ll go back to sleep) or if she’s got her arm stuck between the bars on her crib (and she needs to be rescued).  It’s so nice to have.
  • The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  I  love this book.

Food — I already covered a lot in my breastfeeding post, but here are a few other tips.

  • Bottles – Resist the temptation to buy a full set of bottles right away.  You never know if your baby is going to like the ones you pick, or if you will for that matter.  I originally bought Breastflow bottles, but I didn’t like the two nipple system.  Now we use Tommee Tippee and we’re both happy, but every baby is different, so buy one or two bottles and go from there.
  • Bottle Drying Rack – This might seem like an extra, or a gimmick, but it’s really nice to have a place to put wet bottles.  Otherwise they will take over your kitchen.
  • Microwave – If you have a microwave you don’t need a bottle warmer.  You’re not supposed to microwave formula or breastmilk, but you can microwave water in a bowl to warm a bottle in.  Of course, if someone buys you a bottle warmer, there are worse things.  Electric tea pots are also a handy alternative.
  • Dishwasher – If you have a dishwasher you can use it to sanitize your bottles, nipples, pacifiers, and breast pump flanges (and even some baby toys).  If not, you can buy a microwave steamer.  If you don’t have a microwave you can boil them.  Or you can stop being such a germaphobe!
  • Immersion Blender – If you want to make your own baby food an immersion blender is the way to go.  That way you don’t have to clean out your whole food processer or blender in between purees. I have this one (in orange) and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it’s my best friend.
  • Ice Cube Trays – Use them to freeze cubes of breastmilk/formula to mix with baby cereal, and to freeze single servings of baby food purees.
  • Other – I probably don’t have to tell you about bibs, tiny spoons, etc.

Bath

  • Baby tub – I have this one.
  • Baby Wash Cloths – Not necessary, but I do have some.  Mostly because they were cute.
  • Hooded Towel – Again, you can use a regular towel, but our baby towels are really soft and really cute.
  • Baby Wash/Lotion – I use Burt’s Bees Baby Bee.  It smells AMAZING.  They also make an unscented version if your baby has sensitive skin.
  • Safflower Oil – If you do baby massage Safflower Oil (it’s with the vegetable oil at the grocery store) is super cheap and really gentle on baby’s skin.  Mom’s skin too.

First Aid

Remember!  I’m not a doctor!

  • Acetaminophine (Tylenol) – Babies can’t take anything else for the first six months.  Ask your doctor, of course, and make sure you have the new formula (but you probably will because they don’t sell the old one anymore).  The old concentration was 80 mg per 0.8 ml, and the new is 160 mg per 5 ml.  The old one is 3X stronger than the new…so make sure you check (even though they don’t actually sell the old concentration anymore)!
  • Rectal Thermometer – I know…gross…but it’s the most accurate way to take your baby’s temp and your pediatrician will want that temperature if your baby gets sick.  I have the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer, and I really like it (as much as one can like one of those) because its shape prevents over-insertion (sorry guys…babies are kind of gross).
  • First Aid Kit – The First Years American Red Cross First Aid Kit is handy to have around.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2667190
  • Nasal Aspirator and Saline – They’ll send one home with you if you have a hospital birth, but the ones they use don’t work very well unless you’re a nurse…props to you guys, I don’t know how you manage to get those flimsy things to do anything!  The one that came in our Red Cross First Aid Kit is my favorite, but I know a lot of people who swear by this one http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3946499.  I haven’t tried it, because it makes my stomach turn, but I hear it’s really the best.  A drop of saline before snot-sucking helps loosen things up.
  • Sunscreen – We use California Baby.  I balked at the price at first, but I forgot that tiny babies only use a tiny bit of sunscreen.  A small tube has lasted us for a while.

Diapers

  • Pampers – I know cloth diapers are awesome for many reasons, and I think it’s great if you use them.  I really do!  I feel guilty about how many diapers we throw into landfills, but I also don’t have time to wash diapers on top of all the other laundry my tiny baby generates.  Pampers really are the best.  Huggies leak like crazy.  We use Pampers Baby Dry at night, to help keep her skin dry.  Also, don’t bother with newborn size diapers.  You can fold down the front of size one Pampers until the cord stump falls off, and if you have a big baby the newborn diapers won’t fit anyway.
  • Diaper Cream – We have been lucky not to have a problem with diaper rash, but we use Boudreaux’s Butt Paste if we feel like we need something.  I like that it doesn’t leave a sticky mess in her diaper like some of the others do.
  • Diaper Trash Can – We have the Diaper Dekor.  I prefer it over the diaper Genie because you don’t have to do anything but throw the diapers in the top.  No twisting required.  It can also be used as a regular trash can when you’re finished with the diaper phase.

Grooming

  • A set of grooming supplies – we just got this because it has everything you need.  Brush, nail clippers, etc.
  • Tooth brush – Dental care starts early…even before the first tooth arrives.  My sister is a dental assistant, and she gave us this set.

What you don’t need:

  • Bumbos – They’re all the rage.  They’re also dangerous (they’ve just been recalled for a second time) and bad for baby’s hips and spine.  Don’t use them.
  • Swings/Bouncy Seats – Some people will tell you I’m crazy, but we don’t have either.  I don’t like that babies are cooped up in a seat that limits their movement, so we just put a pallet on the floor and let our baby hang out there, or we wear her when we need to do things around the house.  That said, I have a really easy baby, so if you need one go ahead and get one, but I wouldn’t go out and get a swing and bouncy seat unless you find you need one after the baby is born.
  • Wipe Warmers – I just don’t think they’re necessary.
  • Crib Bumpers – They’re a SIDS risk.
  • Most other things – Really all you absolutely have to have in the beginning is a boob, a sling, a carseat, diapers, and a place for baby to sleep.  If something doesn’t sound 100% necessary it probably isn’t, and it’s best to figure out what you need as you go instead of filling your house with a lot of junk you won’t use.  Even a lot of things I listed aren’t necessary, they’re just things that I really liked and I thought made my life easier.

I hope this makes your life easier!

Love,

Mel

Breastfeeding!

Maybe I should have split this into multiple posts.  Sorry in advance for the world’s longest blog post!

Don’t worry.  This isn’t going to be a preachy post about how breast is best.  This is just about what it is actually like to breastfeed.  I’ve had a really positive experience, and I’m so glad I decided to nurse my little girl.  I want you to enjoy it and be successful too if you choose to breastfeed (your boobs, your baby, your choice).  It also seems like a lot of blog posts about nursing only talk about the positives (breast milk is magic! Your baby will sprout wings and fly and live to a thousand years old and be a super model/genius!), but they rarely talk about the challenges and I think breastfeeding is more likely to be successful if you know what to expect.

What I love about nursing:

Health benefits – I promise, I’m not preaching, but there really are tons of benefits for both baby and mom.  I won’t list them out, but it’s worth looking into.

Weight Control – I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but nursing really helped me get my weight back down.  It also helps your uterus to go back to its original size (or close to it).

Cost – Yes, there are some upfront costs with the breast pump, and nursing bras, but it’s still MUCH cheaper than formula.

Convenience – Everything is pre-packaged and the right temperature.  You don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to make a bottle.  Just pick up the baby, feed her, and put her back down.  You also don’t have to deal with warming up bottles when you’re out, and airport security is much easier (but not as easy as if you didn’t have a baby.  Ha.), you don’t have to deal with the dreaded liquids policy (but breast milk and formula are allowed through security, just FYI).

Less Baby Sharing – When your baby gets hungry, people have to give her back to you!  This was huge for me.  When your baby is brand new, you just want to hold her ALL-THE-TIME.  Unfortunately everyone else wants to hold her too.  If you breastfeed you get the baby back without protest!

Bonding – I don’t want to suggest that moms who use formula don’t bond with their babies, because that’s ridiculous.  I don’t know any adults who aren’t close to their moms just because they weren’t breastfeed.  BUT, I do really really love curling up with my baby to nurse.  It’s such sweet time that we share together, and I love that it’s something she does with me, and only me.  When your baby looks up at you and smiles while she nurses, you die a little inside from the awesomeness.

Ego Boost – You can’t help but feel good about yourself when your baby thrives on your milk alone.

What I find challenging about nursing:

Lack of Convenience – When my baby was a newborn, I couldn’t really do anything.  I was nursing CONSTANTLY!  Taking a shower was nearly impossible.  I would feed her, jump up, run to the shower, and she’d be hungry again before I got out (any single, breastfeeding moms out there care to explain how you showered?  I’m legitimately curious!).  Fortunately that phase is really brief, but if you choose not to supplement, you still have to deal with the inconvenience of being her only food source.  You have to pump enough milk to feed her if you are apart.  On one occasion she was sick and her dad stayed home with her, and I had to leave work to nurse because she refused the bottle.  I also have to point out that while I don’t have to mix bottles in the middle of the night, I am the only one who does night feedings.  That was really hard, especially when I started back at work.  Now she’s down to one feeding at 4 a.m. so I’m doing much better, but there are no words for how tired I was when she was younger.  There were a few nights that I literally didn’t sleep one minute…but again, that phase is brief.

Lack of Caffeine – You can have some caffeine when you’re nursing, but you can’t go crazy with it.  It’s really hard to be up all night feeding and then not be able to drink gallons of coffee the next day.

Lack of Wine – Again, you can have some, but you can’t drink a lot and nurse your baby.  I take solace in the fact that someday I will have two glasses of wine IN A ROW!

Pumping – If you go back to work, you have to pump at work.  It’s kind of a pain.  It’s time consuming, it can be stressful, and it makes you feel like a cow.  Plus my office is really cold.  I definitely see why a lot of moms wean or supplement when they go back to work.  I have the best possible circumstances…a desk job, a private office with a door that locks, a sink nearby, and a supportive company…and it’s still hard.

Nursing in Public – I do it.  I do it a lot.  I’ve never had a problem, and everyone has been really supportive, but I still sometimes get nervous about it.  I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

What I think you need to know:

  • I think the most important thing to note is that if you’re planning to breastfeed you need to take the option of formula off the table.  I just think it’s the only way to stick with it in the first week or so, and when you go back to work.
  • Brand new babies eat ALL THE TIME.  After my baby was born a friend emailed me to complain that no one tells you that!  She was right, and it’s really important information!  I think a lot of women assume they aren’t making enough milk because they hear that babies are supposed to eat every three hours.  That’s not the case for breastfed babies.  Their tummies are really tiny, like blow your mind tiny.  They’re only eating drops in the beginning and breast milk is really easy to digest.  In the first few days they can eat every hour.  That means that a feeding begins one hour after the start of the last feeding, and when they’re learning they might eat for 45 minutes.  That’s right.  That means a 15 minute break between feedings.  Don’t worry.  It gets better.  The best judge of whether your baby is getting enough milk is diaper output and weight gain, not frequency of meals.
  • Your milk doesn’t come in right away, but that doesn’t mean your baby isn’t getting nutrients.  Colostrum, or pre-milk, comes in immediately.  It’s super high in protein, and your baby only needs the tiniest bit (on day one your baby’s stomach is the size of an almond and it doesn’t stretch!).  This is the point when a lot of people decide to give formula until their milk comes in, but it’s during this time that your baby nurses a lot…and that’s what stimulates your milk supply.  Don’t worry.  Your baby isn’t starving.
  • Breastfeeding class is worth it.  GO!  Take your partner with you.
  • Breastfeeding hurts, but just in the beginning.  Any lactation consultant will tell you that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, and they’re right.  It shouldn’t, and it won’t…once you get the hang of it.  You have to remember that you and your baby are both new at it.  It might be painful at first, which sucks because babies eat a lot then, but it doesn’t last long.
  • I feel like my attempt to be honest is making breastfeeding sound awful, but it’s not.  It’s awesome.  It just takes a bit of time to get the hang of it.
  • You have the right to nurse in public (at least in most states, you can check your state’s laws here).  If someone is mean to you, let me know!  I’ll happily put them in their place!
  • If you’re having a hard time pumping enough for your baby when you go back to work, go on a pumping binge.  I pumped every hour for a day (not the most fun day, but hey whatchagonnado?), and I haven’t had trouble since.  Nursing is all about supply and demand.
  • Pacifiers are OK.  I would wait a week or two so you can establish nursing, but some babies need to suck a lot, and you don’t want to be a human pacifier.
  • Nursing makes you hungry and thirsty!  Your baby is literally sucking calories and water out of your body.  I’m starving all the time!  Keep granola bars and water by your bed so you have something to eat in the middle of the night.
  • If you decide you want to skip nursing altogether, or give up at some point, or supplement with formula, don’t feel guilty.  Formula isn’t poison.

What you need to have on hand:

Lanolin Lanolin is a nursing mom’s best friend forever and ever…or at least in the beginning.  Apply it after every feeding in the first few weeks.  Your nips are going to take a lot of abuse at first, and you need to take care of them.  The last thing you want is for them to crack, and lanolin will really help prevent that.

Breast Pads – Second best friend.  First of all, it’s hard to get lanolin out of your shirt, but more importantly when your milk comes in you could end up being a leaky mess.  Keep it under control.  I started out using these (because who has time to do laundry when a brand new baby?) but have switched to these.  The washable pads are less itchy, and they breathe much better.  The instructions say to hand wash them, which I find hilarious.  Throw them in the washer and dryer.  Mine are still going strong after several months, and even if they do fall apart they’re cheaper than disposables.  I don’t remember the brand I bought, but I got them at Target for something like $3.00 for a box of six.

Nursing Bras – Because, duh.  I got mine at Asos.

Breastfeeding Book – I got The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and I found it to be pretty helpful.

Burp Cloths – because sometimes what goes down comes back up.  I bought these and I use them for EVERYTHING.  Don’t be fooled by the thinness.  They’re super absorbent.

Breast Pump – You might not need it immediately, but go ahead and get one before you give birth.  I have the Medela Pump in Style Advanced.  It’s a lifesaver if you go back to work, but you’ll need one even if you stay home.  Start pumping two months before you go back to work to build up a freezer stash.  You’ll be so glad you have it!  Also get the car adapter.  It’s worth it.

What to wear:

My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I said that the worst part about breastfeeding was finding clothes that are cute but allow for boob access, but I don’t care!  I stand by that statement!  Here’s what worked for me.

Robe – I mentioned this in my “Birth” post, but the first couple of weeks I found it easiest to just live in a robe and nursing bra.  It was comfy, easy access, best nursing outfit ever.

Shirts – I realize that you can’t live in robes forever (in fact I eventually got to the point where I hated that robe).  I bought a couple of nursing tanks, but they’re not as convenient as I thought they would be.  Instead I wear a lot of stretchy tank tops that can be pulled down, and when I need to look nice I wear button up shirts, which work well but are slightly less convenient.  A cardigan/tank combo has served me well.  I’ve been able to nurse in public without people even knowing (not that it matters if they do!).

Dresses – dresses are harder, but wrap dresses and shirt dresses both work.  Or you can always just wear a skirt with your button up/stretchy top.

Other:

To see my breastfeeding pinboard go here.

An interesting/important post about weaning.

She finds the most beautiful breastfeeding art.

Ok, sorry again for throwing so much at you!  I actually feel like I left a lot of info out, so feel free to ask questions or add info in the comments section!

Birth!

…A short story and a list.

When I was pregnant with my little girl, I loved reading birth stories.  Partly out of curiosity, and partly to assuage my concerns because most of the birth stories I found on the internet were beautiful accounts of fearless births.  Births where the mama never got scared and her baby emerged into a cocoon of love in a pool in the middle of her parents’ living room (and no one cared that they were covered in gore).  They were sweet!  The mom felt so powerful after forgoing drugs!  Ricki Lake was a genius!  They really started to mess with my head.  I suddenly became an earthy, hippie mama who was going to have an all-natural home birth with a midwife and a doula, which is awesome if that’s you, but (as my husband rightfully pointed out) that’s not me.  I felt like good moms, and cool moms; moms with art degrees (like me!) gave birth this way.  Still, the idea made me uneasy.  Fortunately my husband, who has known me for more than a decade and who hadn’t spent hours and hours and hours reading home birth stories, reminded me that I’m not particularly warm and fuzzy and I like to be left alone when I’m in pain.  A doula (or any extra person) would have driven me bonkers.  Also I know that when home birth is safe, it’s great, but when it’s not it’s really really not (especially since this charity is dear to my heart).  I was scared.  I knew a lot could go wrong.  I knew that I wanted a hospital birth.  I knew that I wanted the possibility of an epidural (and boy did I jump on that when I got the chance!).  I also, finally, knew that I needed to do what was right for me and my baby and that I shouldn’t feel guilty for it.

I’m not going to share my whole birth story with you because it was such an emotional event in my life and I’d like to keep it for myself and my family (plus I haven’t finished writing it and it’s already 8 pages long).  Maybe I will share it in the future, but it still feels very raw and personal.  I will, however, share a few key details.

Even though I knew I wanted a hospital birth, it never occurred to me that I might have a c-section.  Even though my husband and my mom both thought I would end up having one, I was adamant that I wouldn’t “fail.”  I could do this!  I’m tough!  Well, ten hours after being induced, I was having really intense contractions (thanks pitocin!).  I never dilated past a centimeter, and the baby’s heart rate was dropping dangerously low with every passing wave (and at this point I was constantly contracting, so “passing” is probably an inaccurate word).  The on-call doctor was called, I was whisked into the OR, and a few minutes later, my baby was born…with her cord wrapped once around her neck, once around her torso, and once around her leg.  Baby girl had been twirling!  Home birth would have been a disaster!  So that’s my very abridged story about why I’m personally opposed to home births.  There.  I said it.  I feel better.*

So anyway, what do you need to have with you if you decide to have a hospital birth?  Here’s my list (scroll past list for details):

For Mom

  • Insurance Card
  • Photo ID
  • Hospital Paperwork
  • Birth plan (if you have one)
  • Contacts and solution/glasses
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Face wash or face wipes (I think I just ended up using baby wipes)
  • Lotion
  • Brush
  • Bobby pins/hair ties/headband
  • Razor
  • Chapstick
  • Flip flops (for shower, and walking around hospital)
  • Maternity Leggings
  • Robe (or two), preferably short
  • Underwear for trip home (get big gross high wasted granny panties in case of a c-section.  You don’t want elastic on that incision).
  • Nursing Bras
  • Nipple Cream
  • Breast Pads
  • Breastfeeding Book
  • Pillow

For Mom’s Partner:

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Any toiletries that are different from mom’s
  • Contacts and solution/glasses
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • 2 outfit changes
  • Sweatshirt (I tried to get my husband to bring one…he didn’t…he was cold)
  • Laptop
  • Gum
  • Pillow

For Baby:

  • Going home outfit
  • Bigger backup going home outfit (in case you have a big baby!)
  • Receiving Blanket (you don’t have to bring one, but I was glad I did)
  • Newborn Care Book

Other:

  • Cash and Change
  • Snacks

Most of the list is pretty self-explanatory, but I will break down a few of the items.  If you’re like me you will probably want your own toiletries.  It might be a while before you get a shower, and when you finally do take one, it’s amazing what smelling like yourself can do for your wellbeing.  I did bring a hair dryer, but I didn’t use it.  I’ll explain the breastfeeding supplies in my upcoming breastfeeding post, but the best thing I can tell you is to get a pretty robe or two and don’t even bother with nursing shirts and real clothes.  A robe provides easy access for breastfeeding, and a short one also allows doctors and nurses to check you without dealing with a lot of fabric.  Then you can wear your maternity leggings underneath for strolls around the halls.  Maternity leggings are the best because you have no idea what size you will be when you leave the hospital (all I can tell you for sure is it’s not the size you were when you got pregnant!) and they go up high enough to avoid the problem of elastic on your incision if you do end up having surgery.  I even wore the robe/leggings combo home, and I slept in my robe for weeks after the baby was born.  It was just the easiest thing to wear.

I would suggest getting travel sized versions of your favorite toiletries, and getting your bag packed well in advance.  You really don’t want to forget anything.  Then put that bad boy in your car and leave it there.  Or do what I did, and go home and finish packing when you’re 8 days past your due date and your doctor has just told you she’s going to induce.  No, wait.  Don’t do that.

My final piece of advice is for pet owners.  Give a trusted friend or neighbor a copy of your house key and detailed instructions for pet care and put them on standby.  You won’t think about your pet when you’re soaking in your delicious new baby, so you really want to have that set up.

Again, I hope you find this helpful!

Love,

Mel

*Yes, I’m aware that induced labors are more likely to end in c-sections, but I’m also aware that you weren’t there and I’m not sharing some important details so I don’t want to hear about it.

Pregnancy!

Welcome to baby week!  I hope you find this helpful!

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So you’ve just taken 5 pregnancy tests and are now 100% sure you are pregnant (or if you’re like me you’ve had five positive tests, and still don’t really believe it until you go to the doctor and even then you’re not sure and then in the future you have a four month old and you think “do I really have a baby?!?”)  Congratulations!  You have fun times ahead!  Below are the things that got me through nine months of ups and downs.

For your tummy and your aches and pains:

Ginger Ale - In real life I try to avoid HFCS, but when you can’t keep food down you’ll try anything.  Ginger Ale was one of the only things that helped me at all.  The other beverage that helped was decaf black tea.  It got me through a lot of work when I could no longer look Ginger Ale in the eye.  Watch out for herbal teas though.  Some can be dangerous.

Preggie Pops – These actually made me feel worse, but I have friends who swear by them so I guess I’ll go ahead and include them.

Water and Coconut Water- I was so thirsty all the time when I was pregnant, and these really helped me.  (Ok, I realize drinking water when you’re thirsty isn’t exactly a “tip” but really…stay hydrated).

Tums and Zantac – I’m not a doctor, so I would ask one before you start taking meds, but mine said both of these antacids were fine, and in the end I couldn’t have survived without Zantac.

The Gym – Seriously.  I was pretty into weightlifting when I got pregnant, and I continued lifting weights (heavy ones!) until two weeks before the baby made her debut.  Again, ask your doctor, but lifting weights gave me so much energy, and really helped strengthen my back so I was able to completely avoid back pain.  There are tons of benefits when it comes to pre-natal workouts, and studies show that exercise leads to calmer babies and easier births.  I only have the one, so I can’t speak for all babies, but mine is really easy (I did have a c-section but my baby was quite tangled in her cord, it had nothing to do with my body).  Cardio can also lead to a lower resting heart rate in babies, which I think is really cool.  Another thing to consider:  the less weight you gain, the less you have to lose in the end.

Plastic bags –Keep one (or more) in your purse at all times just in case you’re caught somewhere and you get sick.  You’ll be glad you have it, even if you never use it.  I also kept a trash bag wrapped in a beach towel in my car in case my water broke…but fortunately didn’t need to use it!

For your wardrobe needs:

Bella Band – I’ve heard some people say they didn’t like the Bella Band and that it didn’t work for them, but I was able to wear my non-maternity pants until the very end thanks to that stretchy bit of goodness.  I also was able to wear regular pants in my I-still-look-pregnant-but-I’m-not phase which was also my I-had-a-c-section-and-pants-really-hurt phase.  I highly recommend getting at least one.  It’s even helpful over maternity pants when you get so big that even your maternity shirts don’t cover your whole belly.

Cardigans/Jackets – I was able to stretch (har har) a few cheap, non-maternity dresses from Target until the end (they were all that fit the last two weeks…and I even wore one to a gala!) and I would wear the same two dresses with different jackets/cardigans over them every day.  They also work great with maternity tanks (I had two white ones and a navy one) and your non-maternity pants that you’re wearing with your trusty Bella Band.  I hardly bought any maternity clothes thanks to cardigans and the Bella Band.

Maternity Jeans and Leggings – The exception.  You’re big and swollen and you don’t want a hard waistband digging into your belly.  Suck it up and buy the maternity jeans.  The leggings are just super comfy and you deserve that.  Also, the leggings come into play later when you’re in the hospital.  More on that soon.

Resources – My favorite place to buy necessities was Target.  Liz Lange tank tops and leggings were the best, and I got my Bella Band there as well.  When I actually needed cute clothes I shopped at Asos.  They were trendy enough to still feel like myself (hello, red maternity jeans!) but reasonably priced (I’m looking at you A Pea in the Pod).  One last thing…don’t wear a white dress.  You’ll look like a giant marshmallow.  Trust me.  I know from experience.

Flats – It will probably be readily apparent to you, but give your feet a break.  They’re going through a lot.

Information:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting- I loved following week by week.  Especially in the beginning when it tells you things like “your baby has kidneys!” or “your baby no longer has a tail!”  It’s less exciting in the end when it just keeps telling you your baby is bigger.  This book gets a lot of hate, but I loved it!  It was good for me because I wasn’t feeling warm and fuzzy about being pregnant, and this book is very to the point.

BabyCenter iPhone App – you get “texts” about your baby.  It’s pretty cool.  If you don’t have an iPhone you can sign up to BabyCenter and get weekly emails.  I’m actually a big fan of BabyCenter in general.  Parenting.com also has a good weekly pregnancy tracker.

Other things that I liked:

Perrier – because you can’t have a cocktail and sometimes you want to feel fancy.

Pillows – I didn’t buy a fancy pregnancy pillow, but I had five pillows on my bed so I could wedge them wherever I needed one or so I could sleep sitting up if needed (thanks, heartburn).  They’re also nice to have around to put behind your back or sit on if you do get achy.

Lotion – It might not actually help with stretch marks, but stretching skin gets itchy.  Lotion feels gooooood.  I liked Mama Bee Belly Butter for my belly.

Pictures – Take lots of pictures, even when you feel gross.  They’re fun to look back on and your baby will love them someday too.  We took pictures every week and I wrote a note to the baby for each one.  I love having them because you forget the feelings you have along the way.

Things no one tells you:

Everyone warns you about morning sickness.  No one warns you about being tired.  I was EXHAUSTED.  I would sleep the second I got home from work, wake up to eat dinner (then fail to keep it down), and then sleep until the next day in the very beginning.

You might feel differently than you expected.  I’m generally really big on personal space, but when I was pregnant I loved it when people rubbed my belly.  Important to note: not all pregnant women feel this way!  NEVER rub a lady’s belly without asking (and don’t even ask if you’re a stranger)!  You also might feel sad and that’s ok, having a baby is life changing and you’re allowed to mourn your old life.

Food aversions and cravings are really real.  Ok, so people will tell you about them, but they’re amazingly strong.  I normally have what I thought was an undying love for garlic, but I couldn’t even be in the same room as my husband if he had eaten garlic earlier that day.  I also usually love cinnamon and mint and hated both.  On the other hand I couldn’t get enough beef…which I don’t usually eat a lot of.  I also loved Brussels sprouts, clementines, and chocolate chip cookies.  Oh and I had urgent, crazy, non-negotiable cravings for Flaming Hot Cheetos and Fettuccine Alfredo exactly one time each.

Every lady you meet will tell you her birth story.  Don’t listen.  Everyone’s birth is different, so there’s no need to internalize horror stories.  This is especially true of anyone who gave birth before the 1990’s.  Apparently doctors were horrible misogynistic torture mongers when our mothers were giving birth.  These days you can choose a doctor or midwife who will be nice to you and make your pregnancy/birth as pleasant as possible.  If you’re not happy with your care find a new caregiver!  Also everyone’s ideal birth is different.  Educate yourself and choose the best option for you and shut out other people’s opinions (but do remember that things don’t always go as expected).  Some people will try to make you feel guilty for your choices, but remember…it’s none of their damn business.

Toward the end of your pregnancy you’ll get lots of attention, and people will ask you the same questions one billion times.  Instead of punching them, send them this :) (via: A Cup of Jo)

I hope you found this helpful!  Feel free to ask any questions or add any tips of your own in the comments section!  These are just my own personal hints for things that worked for me, but hopefully you can take away something that makes your pregnancy easier.

Love,

Mel

Hello Darlings!

Miss me?  I took a break from blogging because, frankly, I started to be a little squicked out by putting my life out into the blogosphere.  I also had a baby.  Do you have a baby?  They’re all-consuming and way more fun than the internet, so even when I decided I missed blogging I didn’t have the time or inclination to get back to it.  I do miss blogging though, so I’m going to try to get back into posting.  I don’t think I’ll be here daily, but hopefully I’ll be able to let you in on the progress we’ve made in putting our home togther, and keep you abreast of future design adventures.

Before I get into the design aspect of the blog, I want to take a week to focus on pregnancy/new babies. It’s obnoxious to go around spouting advice, but when I was pregnant I loved reading tips on blogs about everything from breast feeding to baby gear, and it feels more passive to post my advice here instead of badgering the people I know.  Hopefully those of you who are expecting, plan to be soon, or have a new baby will find this series helpful, and if you don’t care about surviving babies wait a week and read about pretty houses!