Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Join the Movement: Expose Yourself

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I want to encourage you to expose yourself.  No, not in the illegal way, expose your infertility. You'll be surprised how great it will feel.

I was too chicken to say anything about infertility on Facebook until I got pregnant.  And as soon as I did, I immediately got two messages from different friends who were also struggling.  It was nice to feel like I gave a couple of old friends some comfort and hope.

While dealing with infertility, I reached out quite a bit both in person and on the internet.  That support was invaluable in keeping me mostly sane throughout the process.  When I had a really bad day, I came here to vent and felt a little bit better.

When I went through IVF, I "knew" dozens of other people who had done the same and it wasn't so scary.

If you are dealing with infertility yourself, reach out.  It will definitely benefit you and it will also benefit some people you didn't even know were hurting.

If fertility has not been an issue for you, but you'd like to show support, post this:

1 in 8 women deal with infertility in their lifetime. If you are currently struggling, I want you to know that I support you, that I understand how difficult and alienating it is, and that you can talk to me and I won't just tell you to adopt or say "it'll happen." I'll just listen. #NIAW #resolve.org

Can you hash tag a website? I'm not twitter-savvy yet...those were officially my first two hash tags.

Post this message or just say it to a friend you know is struggling or post your own.

Expose yourself or offer to listen. It will ease the pain.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nursery Art

I have always loved art.  In high school, I was in the AP track and also did band and played soccer, so I didn't have anywhere to squeeze art into my schedule.  So my senior year, I begged the art teacher to take me after soccer ended which was part-way into the second semester.  Eventually, she let me.

Going into college, my potential majors were: Psychology, English, Music, Graphic Design, and Biology.  I know...these aren't even in the same schools!  I settled on Psychology and English.  I was in the marching band and symphonic band at UCLA which was awesome so I still got my music fix, but not art.

So I decided to create at least some of Dylan's nursery art.

I googled "How to paint acrylic on canvas" and looked for diy acrylic art on Pinterest and eventually came across this post:

Grr...why is it that I don't pin the sites I actually use?  I can't find the original and it doesn't make sense to show a different one.  Moving on...

I would say this is pretty easy on the scale of DIY, so you could attempt your own even if you are not artistic in the slightest!  The hardest part for me was the stripes, and then spray painting. Well...and being a perfectionist. That makes everything harder.

To briefly summarize the process, you paint the canvas however you like, then stick vinyl letters on.  Spray paint the entire thing.  Then peel the letters off to reveal what is underneath.  If you want the letters to be white, you can do the opposite.

Here's what I did.

Step 1: Buy materials

Canvas - I got an 18 x 24 gallery wrap. It's quite big, but I needed "dinosaur" to fit.
Acrylic paint - I used the primary nursery colors of gray, aqua, orange and lime and added red, green and yellow, to make it a little different.
A Palette, and
Vinyl Letters - I got 3 inch Helvetica and 4 inch Nueva (I think 2 inch would have been better).

I got everything at Michaels.

Step 2: Plan

I cut out all of my letters (and found I was short 1 O, 1 N, and 1 U) and then played around with different arrangements on the canvas.  This took days before I was happy! (I used zeros to substitute for 2 of the O's and pieced together an N and U from other pieces which was a little difficult, but worked.)

I also had to decide what color I wanted each of the words to be.  I put some splotches of pain on some cardboard and laid it next to the canvas, but mostly I just visualized it.

Step 3: Paint

I made pencil marks around the edges of the words so I knew where to paint to.

Then I painted.  This was the easy part!  Until I got to the stripes at the top.  That was a bitch.  Half way through I hated it and so I quit working on it for like two weeks.  Eventually I got my motivation back and was happy with the end product.

Notes about painting: Based on my googling, I thought that acrylic would cover different colors of acrylic easily.  It doesn't.  And it didn't depend on the color.  The red would not cover the light green, but other colors covered the red pretty easily.  I ended up having to slather on paint to make corrections so the top is textured which I don't really mind. I also used a dry brush and washed after each color because I was scared of the wet brush, but I think it would work damp just fine.

Step 4: Stick letters on

I just eye-balled the letter placement, but it would be better to use a ruler.  The most important thing is that the letters are close enough together to look like normal text.

I thought it looked pretty cool like this, but I don't want black in his room...

Step 5: Spray Paint

I don't believe I have ever spray painted in my life, despite watching it done millions of times on HGTV, so this wasn't as easy as I wanted it to be.

I spray painted on the grass outside.  I probably scared the neighbors by cursing at the top of my lungs when my lovely dog decided to dig a rapid hole on the edge of where I was painting and send tiny bits of dirt flying onto wet paint.  I also got a few bugs.

The instructions tell you to stay 10-12 inches above the painting and this is important.  I got a couple of pools of paint, but it's not terribly noticeable.  

The hardest part is that the force of the spray caused the edges of the letters to fly up.  Then end result is kind of a shaded effect which actually looks kind of cool, but it's not what I intended.  Also, I ran out of paint so I had to do a 3rd coat after it had dried completely and all of the letters curled.  I pushed them back down as best I could, but was terrified to spray over them at that point.  I just did the parts that really needed it and was as careful as possible.

I didn't take a picture of this step.  Imagine "all white with textured letters underneath!" :)

Step 6: Peel letters

This was the fun part.  It was super easy to peel the letters off and this is the end result.

We have a bit of a dinosaur theme in our nursery (which I am planning to reveal once I get all of the art up...hopefully before Dylan is 1!) and I wanted the phrase "Rawr means I love you in dinosaur" somewhere because it's so adorable.  I'm putting the newborn picture of Dylan as a dinosaur from the last post up next to this.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I think my developing parenting philosophy can be termed informed moderation.  I do research, most of which comes from sources I already read like the NYTimes or my friends and family who I also believe are pretty informed.  Sometimes I google a specific issue, but it's very hard to find anything of quality in a google search beyond milestones.  I also participate in a few internet forums.

Before I tell you about my sleep philosophy, I want to say that my experience listening to others has shown me that most of this comes down to luck.  Some babies are sleepers, some are not.  But I do believe parents can nudge their baby in one direction or another - just maybe not as far as they may like.

I have no idea what effect the NICU had on Dylan's sleep.  He was in a crib for nearly 5 months (always at an incline).  Nurses would attend to him if he cried (or I would when I was there), but sometimes this took a short while.  That being said - Dylan is not really a crier and especially wasn't during his NICU time.  In the NICU he was woken up every three hours with a diaper change, vitals check, and a feeding.  Initially that feeding was 100% by tube, and after awhile it was by mouth.

Dylan is 3 months adjusted now - meaning 3 months past his due date - and he's been home for almost 2 months.  I would consider him an excellent sleeper and I'm sure I have very little to do with it (besides genetics and loving sleep myself).

I have not tried to impose any sleep schedule upon him, but I have woken him up to eat (although I don't really "wake" him up - he sometimes eats half asleep or almost entirely asleep).  Newborns need to eat every 3 hours.  You start the time from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next.  After your baby has been proven to be gaining weight consistently, you can begin to follow the baby's schedule, especially at night. Most of the babies of the moms in my month group eat every 2 to 2 1/2 hours during the day and most are sleeping through the night.  We feed Dylan every 2 to 2 1/2 during the day and let him go 4 hours at night for a total of 10 feedings a day (approximately).

Recently I haven't had to wake Dylan up much, he wakes up for me.

For the first month home I didn't log sleep on Baby Connect because he was pretty much always sleeping.  But I started logging it a couple of weeks ago so that I could start to see his patterns and he really does have them!  We are definitely not on a 3 nap schedule yet, but he's getting close.

Mr. GG is out of town, so I was single-parenting last night and it was a pretty typical night.  I fed Dylan at 11:00 pm.  He woke up at 3:30 then at 6:00 am.  He's woken up at 6:00 pretty much on the dot for the last week or so.  Crazy!  He usually falls back to sleep during that feeding and sleeps until 8:30 or so.  Then he's up through the next feeding and goes to sleep around 10:30.  Throughout the day he sleep in stretches anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours and has quite a bit of awake time.  He gets fussy in the evening around 7 and usually falls asleep around 8 or 8:30.

During the day Dylan has slept in his Boppy (supervised), swing, car seat, bouncer, crib and on me.  I knew that having him sleep 100% on me was not a good idea because of dependency and it also makes it hard to get things done.  So when I feel like I need snuggle time - he sleeps on me.  Otherwise I put him down.  I also try to avoid long stretches in the swing or car seat because I'm paranoid about head shape.  It seems like rotating sleep spots is working well. We have also tried to put him in his crib as much as possible now so that he'll be more used to it later.  It started out as about once a week.  But this week he's been sleeping in his crib about twice a day.  (Our room is upstairs on the opposite side of the house as the nursery so it will be quite a while before he sleeps overnight in his room.  We will be transitioning from the Rock and Play to the Pack and Play soon.)

How do I get him to sleep in his crib? I put him down asleep or almost asleep.  If he fusses, I stay next to him and shush him without touching him.  If he's sleepy, but awake, I put on his mobile which he is mesmerized by.  Sometimes I'll stay and sit in the glider until he falls asleep.  I also swaddle him when he's in his crib even though he doesn't need it in the RnP.  If he were to really cry, I would take him out and try something else.

Dylan does not seem to mind the crib at all.  I put him in there frequently when I need to go to the bathroom and he's never had a crying fit in it.  And I know that we are no where near the hardest sleep age.  But I'm trying to get him comfortable and used to things now.

I'm not opposed to "Cry it out." I may try it when we get there, but I'm hoping by familiarizing Dylan with sleeping in his crib in a positive way that we can avoid it.  My sister read a ton about sleep (my nephew is 9 months now) and decided that she did not like not being able to rock her son to sleep.  So she did, then put him in his crib, then gently woke him up so that he was able to fall asleep on his own and know that he was in a safe place.  That worked well for her when he was little.  Now he naps twice a day and she does a Modified CIO.  She lets him cry for a specified number of minutes and then goes back in if he hasn't stopped when she hits that time.  After the first couple of days of this, he almost always stops crying (and falls asleep) before the first limit is reached.  (The limits are something like 5 minutes or 8 minutes.  I can ask her if you'd like.)

I don't think there is any magic philosophy and what works for one of your children may not work for the next (so I've heard).

My personal keys are to:
1) follow your baby's lead
2) listen to your gut
3) be flexible

I'll be curious to see how much things change in the next few months.  I'll keep you updated!

And if you are being driven insane by your lo's sleep habits, I'm sorry!  Hang in there and don't believe for a second that I don't know that I'm just lucky - not specially skilled.  I hate when people preach about what you should do to make x happen when really their kid was just born that way.

Have I shown you this one yet?  It's from our newborn session.  I love it : )

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Exclusive Pumping: Quantified

Exclusive Pumping is no joke.  It takes a ton of time and dedication.  There are many different reasons that lead a mom into exclusively pumping, but few do it by choice.

Let's let the pictures do the talking on this one.

The first is all of my pump and bottle parts in the sink.  I have enough "stuff" to go almost 2 days between washes.  I had 8 sets of pump parts - then got my sister's when she was done.  Now that I only pump 3x a day, I'm totally set.

But you also need a vehicle to get the milk into the baby's mouth!  Ideally, he'd eat directly from the Medela bottle, but you know my baby is special, so he gets his Dr. Brown's bottles and accompanying parts.  I have 2 - 2 ounce bottles, 6 - 4 ounce, and 5 - 8 ounce.  I use the 8 ounce bottles for mixed formula.

The last picture is my favorite.  It takes some skill to get all of that mess to fit on a rack!  I love my First Years drying rack.  The one on the left is actually the inside racks from my sterilizer (which I obviously don't use much...whoops!).

The point here is really just to show the reality behind exclusively pumping.  It's not glamorous and it's not just the hours stuck to the pump that are a bitch.  And I don't want to leave out your WOHMs who are having to pump now that you are going back to work.  In many ways I think it would be even harder if you didn't "have" to do it.

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More about pumping:

I just came across a thread on a forum bemoaning low supply.  She mentioned that she is 11 weeks post-partum and pumps 6 times a day.  RED FLAG!!!!  If you are going to exclusively pump, do a little bit of research (or read some of my pumping posts)!

But here are the basics:

  • Pump at least 8x a day for at least 12 weeks (you need to simulate a baby's feeding schedule in order to produce enough milk for said baby)
  • Pump for 5 minutes after the last drop while building supply (I've never pumped less than 30 minutes)

Actually, those two facts are the basics.  Here is some more advanced info:

  • Try all different sizes of flanges - I use two different sizes - not because one nipple is bigger than the other, just because it feels better (one nipple would always angle and hit the side which hurt, so I use a bigger flange on that side).  You can also check out Pumpin' Pals.  Some people swear by them.  I hated them.
  • Drop pumps slowly.  You might think your supply has actually increased after you drop a pump.  But it takes about a week to really see the full picture.
  • You can lubricate with lanolin or olive oil.  I preferred olive oil.  You probably won't need anything after the first couple of months.  And lanolin stain shirts.  I learned this one the hard way...and learned slowly so I have quite a few tanks with unsightly spots.
  • Pump on the lowest speed that produces milk.  I turn my pump on to the very slightest spot where it's actually on.  I still don't find it comfortable, but at least I don't have blisters (I did the first week.  Lesson learned.)
  • At least once a day, do breast compressions while pumping.  Pumping is not as efficient as a baby and I find that if I don't "help the pump out" occasionally, I get plugged ducts or just don't empty well enough.  I basically squeeze the spots that don't feel empty.  I'll usually get a stream of milk while squeezing until that spot is empty, then I move on.
Last, if you EP, you WILL want to quit some day.  My advice is not to quit immediately when you're feeling desperate, because you'll probably feel better the next day.  If you don't...quit then.

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And now for some reader questions re: pumping.  Feel free to ask me any questions you want, but please remember that I am not a doctor nor lactation consultant.  I am speaking merely from my experience as well as my own research.  The best information I have gotten has been from kellymom.com and the Exclusive Pumpers threads on iVillage and BabyCenter.

Speaking of pumps...any advice? I know you pump exclusively and I'm really struggling to pump. I feed baby great off the breast but when I go to pump I can only pump 1.5 oz on average per breast. I need to pump so I can leave a bottle with the baby sitter when I go back to work. Any advice you have would be wonderful. 

  1. Actually if you could email me as well, I have noticed my supply falling somewhat as the weeks at work progress. 

JB - Since I exclusively pump, I'm not sure if I can help, but I will try.  It would be easiest if I could get some additional information.  How many times a day are you currently feeding?  How many hours have passed between your last feeding and your pumping session.  How many times a day are you pumping?

For reference, when I was pumping 8x a day, I got 3-4 ounces per session (I would call myself a moderate producer...not high, not low).  Now at 3x a day, I get 7 or 8 ounces.  Increasingly supply means pumping more times per day and it might take a few days for your body to catch up.  You can also try pumping for more minutes and DEFINITELY pump 5 minutes past the point of milk coming out to boost supply.

When you go back to work, you'll be pumping at work too...so just make sure you can build up enough for a day or two, then you should be close to even with what you are currently producing.

Megan - Are you pumping the same number of times for the same amount of time?  Supply does ebb and flow a bit, but consistency is key to keeping supply steady overall.  I had supply drops only when dropping pumps.  At my peak, I was producing about 33 ounces.  Now I'm getting about 22 (but that's plenty for me since Dylan eats about 8 a day of breast milk so I wasn't extremely careful).

You can also look into oatmeal and lactation cookies and fenugreek and all of that - I never needed to.  My sister took every supplement under the sun include Domperidone and never significantly improved her supply.  They work for some people, but it's not a magic cure.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Splurge or Save? Baby Registry Advice - The Splurges

I did a lot of research for my baby registry, but it was really hard to find good info. So now I'm kind of obsessed with telling people about the products I love. I think of lists in my head practically every day.

I've definitely got my own opinions, but I thought this would be an excellent time to team up with all of the awesome mama bloggers (all IFers) whom I have come to know over the past couple of years.

You will find information from myself (MGG), Her Royal Fabulousness (HRF) at Waiting for Little Feet, Alicia at Queen of the Slip Stream, TheRedHead at Musings by a Redhead, and Karaleen from CA (a reader).

Rachel at A Sarti Party posted her own version here.

If you read this and think "but they forgot x!"  Write it up and send it to me and I'll do another list in the future.

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The Splurges!

Let's start with the fun stuff first, shall we?  I'll post the Saves next week.

Some of these are true splurges - things that are not essential, but are nice to have.  Others are expensive items that are worth the extra price.  Whereas a few are simply "must haves" according to the contributors, but are in the average price range.

Digital Video Monitor

This is the only item recommended by every single contributor!  This one is nearly $200, but a great one to look for on Cyber Monday.

We got the Motorola video monitor because we like to watch Max before we go in to him. This way we can decide when he really needs us or when we should let him self-soothe. Much better than audio alone. We didn't dig the ones that have a heart rate alarm - they freak me out.

We got the Summer Infant Secure Sight™ Handheld Color Video Monitor.  The digital technology doesn't interfere w/ our WIFI like most non-digital types would. The video quality is great - even in the dark. And the video + audio is great for being able to check on the little guy without going into his room and risking waking him up with our creaky door :) It also has great range - we will be able to take it in the yard when it is finally gardening time. Pricey but definitely worth the splurge!

Don’t be cheap…get the really, really good one with the two way communication, night vision and a big monitor screen.  My oldest is 5 and my youngest is 2 ½.  I would never have slept without this (especially since I am not one to co-sleep and I usually kick my babies out of my room by 6-8 weeks because they make too much noise at night).  Anyway….It was awesome when we first moved baby because I could just open my eyes…look to see baby was in a good position and listen for breathing.  No need to go in and check and wake them or get out of bed.  Then…when baby did wake…I could watch and listen to see if he/she (I have one of each) was just having a restless moment or really did need a feeding.  I could watch and ensure he/she was fine in there, no legs stuck in crib bars or blankets on faces.  It allowed me to just let baby work it out and learn to put himself back to sleep.

As they got even older and we had a 2nd baby…we bought a 2nd camera for the same monitor and I could still monitor Mr. 2-year-old who liked to get out of bed and play when he should be in bed sleeping.  That is when the two-way communication really comes in handy…I just press the button and speak into the monitor and it transmits thru his camera.  It makes him jump a bit…but he gets back in bed.  Seriously…he is 5 now and I am still using it….and also still use it for 2 ½ year old daughter who has just NEVER been a good sleeper.  She is still in a crib but very tall….so I can watch and see if she is attempting to climb out or just rolling around in there protesting.  Seriously…best invention EVER!!!!  I would have been a worrying, up all night mess if it had not been for this thing (and sadly….I am on number three because I did not know this and did not take my own advise the first time…seriously…just fork over the money and buy one)!!!

I also have the Motorola.  I did tons of research and it was consistently the highest rated.  Dylan is still sleeping in our room, but I put him down for naps in his crib occasionally and I’m fixed to his monitor (it’s still new people!).  The battery life of the device itself is also great.

Stroller: Baby Jogger City Mini GT

No surprise here that a stroller is a splurge, but I still want to tell you how much I love mine.  I did TONS of research and I narrowed down strollers to the BOB and the City Mini GT (the front single swivel wheel is essential).  I could not decide.  All of my friends had the City Mini...but the BOB was “the BOB” and everyone talked about how awesome it was.  So I went to BRU and tried to fold each one and lift it up.  I seriously could not lift the BOB (well I could if my life depended on it, but I'm trying not to curse in front of the baby).  The City Mini folds so easily (one hand) and I can get it into the back of my car (a RAV4) without too much trouble (definitely needs two hands).  I also like that it's narrower than the BOB.  That being said, I will probably look for a used BOB when I can start jogging.  I'll just leave it open in the garage.  The City Mini is not designed for actual jogging, but is all-terrain and is pretty smooth.

When I was researching, I watched this video review by Baby Gizmodo.  I believe there is one for every stroller.  Watch it!  They are excellent and go through every feature as well as how it compares to other models and other years.

Remember that you'll need an adapter if you want to use it with your infant seat.

We got the City Mini GT by Baby Jogger - it's super popular and has an AWESOME one pull fold feature which means I can fold it with 1 hand - I love it. Some people do Travel Systems but I find them too bulky. A Snap and Go is also an option while you use an infant car seat.

Car Seat: Chicco KeyFit (Magic)

The key is "Magic."  I have not tried any other car seats but there are a couple big differences between the regular KeyFit and the Magic.  1) The shade.  The shade on the Magic has a zipper that opens to allow the shade to expand forward, almost touching the actual seat.  The regular doesn't move much at all.   The fabric inside the zipper is mesh so it creates nice airflow.  2) The infant padding is also mesh and a better shape to cradle baby's head.  It’s also rated for babies as small as 4 pounds which is great for preemie moms.  It's also one of the lighter seats on the market which was essential for me.  I do not have great upper body strength.

Did I mention that Dylan threw up on his the very first time he sat in it? Ha. 

We love the Chicco Keyfit because it slides into the base so easily and releases so easily. Trust me, this is key. Get an extra base for hubby's car. KEY splurge!

Fisher Price Rock and Play

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing we own: The Fisher Price Rock and Play. Max sleeps in it constantly because he has reflux but even if he didn't, it's awesome. You can fold it for travel, move it from room to room easily, and it is the perfect height to rock from bed or the couch.

A rock 'n play sleeper is great for use instead of a bassinet when they are really little. The design keeps them at a slight angle, which is more comfortable for some newborns, and it keeps them held nice and cozy. It's portable and lightweight, so you can move from room to room easily throughout the day/night. 

Dylan sleeps in this every night.  He has severe reflux and must sleep at an incline.  There have been some safety concerns raised about this product, but I feel comfortable using it under supervision.  There is nothing like it that is small and at an incline that I know of (except the Nap Nanny maybe, but that also has some safety issues.)


I recommend that every new mama have a baby swing.  We bought a Fisher Price one that swings side to side and front to back from Wal-Mart.  It was a $200 purchase as well, but this novel invention allows me to put baby down and indulge in such luxuries as a shower and a quick meal for myself!  Our baby loves the swing both when she is awake and when she is sleeping.

We got the Snugabunny ones from Fisher Price. LOVE them and use them every single day. I thought we wouldn't need both but we do because Max needs lots of options.

Boppy/My Brest Friend

People have strong feelings about the Boppy. I love it so much that I wish I had another one so I didn't have to carry it up and down the stairs. D loves to lay in the Boppy.

I frequently feed him in this position because it gives him enough incline that his reflux doesn't bother him too much. I also use it when I'm holding him on my chest so that my arms can rest. In the morning we put him in it in the bed...during that time when we are awake and he is awake, but we aren't quite awake enough to get up yet. He sleeps in it too, usually on his tummy (kind of hanging over the side), but always under supervision since Boppy is not safe for sleep. We pretty much use it all the time.

The splurgiest part for me is the cover I registered for. It's plush, has a cool design and has a toy attached. We don't use the toy much...but I'm so glad I got the cover I really love since I look at it for hours on end every day.

Get both a Boppy and a Brest Friend pillow - I liked having both for different places to nurse (couch, bed, chairs)…


How cute is he?  This is the one thing you really need to know about and it’s definitely a splurge at $13-$15.  But it's definitely one of my favorites! Pacifiers are such a pain since they never stay in the baby’s mouth! (Well…my baby at least.) Dylan still can’t completely hold onto objects, but I can lay his arm over his Wubbanub and it’ll stay a little bit better.  When he’s older, it’s going to be even more awesome.  And it’s totally machine-washable. Our giraffe has been puked on multiple times.  Stella ate the puppy : (. Also it's a Soothie paci which is what my hospital uses. One piece pacis are safest.

HALO Sleepsack 

This adds a layer of warmth for winter months, and the design lets you "swaddle" their arms in or out. Works great if your baby doesn't do a blanket swaddle very well, but you still want to wrap them to minimize the chance of them waking up due to the startle reflex. 

The HALO Sleepsack is the one recommended by my hospital and that means a lot to me.  It’s a lot of material and you have to wrap it really tightly to avoid having it come up and potentially over baby’s chin, but I still like it.  I suggest getting two of each size, one in the microfiber and one in the thinner material (or just the thinner material if LO will be in that size only during warm months).  I personally do not like the SwaddleMe.  It’s too easy to get hands down underneath the wrap.

When baby is older, you can buy a version that has armholes, but no "blanket."

The Miracle Blanket 

THIS IS CRUCIAL. Get The Miracle Blanket. Max was a ninja and got his little hands out of every receiving blanket swaddle fold we tried. So we went for the big guns.

Aden & Anais 

Every mom I know has and recommends these blankets.  I have a ton, but I think 4 would be plenty.  *Hint* The Swaddle Plus is thicker than the other version.  I think Target only sells the thinner one which is why it's cheaper.  The thin is nice too, especially for summer, but makes sure you know that they are different! So maybe you need 4 thin and 4 thick.

These blankets are also very popular, versatile, and soft.

I also really recommend their Burpy Bibs (now called Dribble I think).  They are super soft and absorbent, are shaped to fit on your shoulder and have a snap to attach it around baby's neck. They aren't cheap, so definitely a splurge.  Put it on your registry!

(I think you can skip the towel and washcloth, but I'll write about that next time.)


This is an extremely necessary thing, but one you'll have to try a bunch of different ones to decide: For me, I love the Moby (all stretchy fabric that Max LOVES because it's so soft and cuddly - plus I can sit in it), K'Tan (very Moby-like but much easier), and the Beco (for when I need more security to be hands free). I hated the ring sling types (some people love them). Sometimes the ones you'll THINK you'll like the baby won't - so try them out in the store, once the baby is here? Or keep receipts?

My favourite item that I splurged on was our Ergo Baby Carrier - it was $220 with the infant insert, but so far I've been able to leave the house with a content baby who is snuggled up right next to me and kept warm.  She loves the motions of me walking.  I bought one in an army green colour so my husband can wear it as well and he also loves it.  We wear it both in the home (to free our hands) and when we're out and about.

I like the K’tan for home and short times out.  It's pretty easy to use since it just has two loops that you pull up over your shoulders.  I especially like that I can sit in it. I can’t sit in the Ergo (unless I’m doing something wrong).  It’s really easy to put on, but it’s not for long stretches.  I’m 5’4, 130ish and have an extra small.

Diaper Bag


Get the Petunia Picklebottom diaper bag (I got another first and regretted it).

I also have a PPB Boxy Bag and I like it.  I’m not sure if it’s love though.  The Velcro that holds the flap down is super thick which makes it hard to open and potentially baby-waking.  The shape is great though for fitting on the floor of the car between the car seat and front seat and it hangs on the stroller nicely. (Just be careful about tipping when you hang a diaper bag from a stroller.)

Mine is vinyl which is awesome for spills, but they also have other fabrics and velcro-free options.

*Helpful Hint: Buy yours at Nordstrom Rack or during the Anniversary Sale and you'll save up to $50!

Skip Hop Bag

An insulated bag for storing bottles in your diaper bag is an absolute must.  This adorable Skip Hop bag is not.  I first used a Lansinoh bag that came free with a box of milk freezer bags, but the zipper broke and I finally got my dream bag. Just kidding, but only a little bit.  I'd been eyeing these bags since I started my registry and the only reason I didn't already have one is that every single one is so freaking adorable that I literally could not make up my mind which one I wanted!  First world problems, right?  I finally decided on the hippo and I love it.  It fits three 6 ounce bottles easily, but is still rather small so it fits in the diaper bag nicely.  And every time I see it I smile : ).



As a bottle feeding mama, I would also highly recommend investing in good quality bottles that minimize gassiness and have a nice flow.  We purchased Dr. Brown's bottles (which are more pricey than the Playtex ones we also bought), but we have actually ditched the cheaper ones (even though they are more convenient) b/c they have resulted in some pretty gassy nights (not fun for any of us!).

I also use Dr. Brown's.  I can't say they are definitely better because I haven't use much else, but when Dylan was having feeding issues, I went out and bought these to try.  Since they worked, I didn't switch.  The main knock on them is that they have lots of parts to clean.  Honestly, with pumping and having bottles...there are parts and parts and parts anyway so it doesn't bother me.  The idea is that the air goes through that blue tube in the middle up to the top of the bottle.  I like that they start out with a "preemie" flow nipple and that they have 2 ounce bottles.  That made it seem less weird when Dylan was eating less than 60 mls per feeding.


NoseFrida (trust me, you'll need it)

I’ll admit that I registered for Nose Frida because it was kind of trendy.  Everyone online was talking about it.  Then…I found out you have to use your mouth to suction. Ew!  So I didn’t use it.  But the bulb syringes are opaque and can only suction whatever air it can hold.  With the Nose Frida you can see whether you’ve sucked up the booger and you can keep sucking until that happens which means less total time on the nose which is good since Dylan HATES being suctioned.  The tube is really long so you’ll never suck up a booger…it’s just weird.  The best thing is that the tube detaches and you can clean it when you clean bottles and you can see that it is clean.  I have a hang-up that boogers will stay stuck inside the bulb even though that’s probably crazy.

Nursing Cover

You'll also want a nursing cover (I like the Bebe Au Lait ones) for public nursing

I’ve already written about the Bebe Au Lait.  Think of this as clothing.  You want it to be something you actually want to wear.  I have never worn it in “public” since I pump.  But often you have to pump with people around and this cover is great.

Gel Pads

Some kind of gel pad with witch hazel for the early days of breastfeeding. Our nurse gave us some hospital grade ones, and then I bought Soothies by Lansinoh when we got home. They're a little expensive, but they really helped soothe my sore, cracked nipples. And you only need them for the first couple of weeks, so it isn't an on-going expense. They're especially great if you store them in the fridge and put them on right after nursing.

*     *     *     *     *

To attest to the usefulness of some of these products, I am currently pumping (as in right this moment) using the Medela PISA, Medela parts and Medela Hands-free pumping bra.  Dylan is laying in his Boppy and I am feeding him with my left hand with a Dr. Brown's 4 ounce bottle as I type with my right hand.  Dylan has an Aden and Anais Dribble bib around his neck and I have an Aden and Anais Swaddle blanket over my lap because I'm kind of cold.
I hope you found this post helpful!

Next up are the items to Save money on.

You might also be interested in Must Have Items for the NICU.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I'm not a complete domestic failure!

I've been contemplating new names for this blog and one theme that kept popping up in my head revolved around not being domestic.  I've never (well until very recently) aspired to be domestic and household things including cooking really stress me out.  I'd love to be naturally neat and tidy and good in the kitchen, but I'm not.  Although I'm much better than I used to be.

Right around the time I started this blog, I also created a blog titled "Sarah Tries to Cook."  I kept it secret (i.e. not public) and posted a total of 4 times before quitting.  But I REALLY DO want to be able to cook for Dylan (and hubs) so I'm trying.

This is one thing that has been wonderful about maternity leave.  Even though it took me over a month of having Dylan home to attempt my first meal, it's so much easier to get things done around the house when you are home all the time!

Anyway.  It's Tuesday evening and so far this week I have done two loads of laundry and have cooked two excellent meals!

One reader asked what I made, so I thought I'd do an actual cooking post!

Both of these recipes are from Pinterest.

Monday Night: Asian Noodle Salad from The Pioneer Woman

This is actually the third time I've made this dish.  Hubs loves it!  It's a little expensive and a little time intensive the way I've done it, but you could make it with leftover produce and use a food processor to make it much easier.

I left D with hubs and went to Whole Foods and got:
local cabbage (not sure what type, but it was green), purple cabbage, bean sprouts, red, yellow and orange peppers, baby spinach, cilantro, scallions, ginger, garlic, lime, and whole wheat linguine.  I already had olive oil, sesame oil, brown sugar, and soy sauce.  I also had hubs pick up a rotisserie chicken.  I add chicken so that he will eat it.  If it had no meat, he wouldn't even try it.  I've cooked the chicken myself in the past, but adding shredded rotisserie was so much easier!

By the way, does your Whole Foods have a bar?  Mine apparently does now.  That place blows my mind.

It takes awhile to chop everything, but the end result is healthy deliciousness!  The most annoying part is that the recipe calls for half a head of the cabbages.  I just make the whole thing because I know they would be wasted otherwise, but it makes a HUGE salad.  I have to give it away to friends to hope to eat it all.

I didn't take a picture of this one, but here is the original.

This is my first meal from The Pioneer Woman, but I love her step by step pictures and how she even explains how to chop the produce.  Making this salad has seriously improved my knife skills.

Tuesday Night: Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas from Stacey Makes Cents

I saved half of my peppers and made my first Crockpot meal ever.  I am a convert!  Dinner was basically done at 10:30 am.

I sent hubs the this text:

He was as shocked as I was : ).

I can't believe that you literally just put the chicken in the pot!  I suck at cooking chicken.  This is the best chicken I have ever made and I barely did a thing.

She mentions in the recipe that it doesn't look great right at the end (it's the spices cooked on the top), but just like she said, it was perfectly cooked and delicious!  


After: (halfway shredded)

Even though I have explained how rare this is for me, I almost feel like a poser posting pictures of me cooking!  People might think I provide regular meals for my husband.  He actually cooks more than I do.

But this week was a start.  Maybe I'm growing a little bit domestically. (And I'm really proud of myself!)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Quick Updates

I'm going to wait until next week to post the Splurge or Save because I want it to look nice and just haven't found the time to edit!  So if you still want to participate, send me your list categorized in either "Splurge" or "Save" with an explanation.

Some random stuff:

  • SUPER BIG SHOUT OUT to Jag on the birth of her daughter Georgia Elizabeth!  She's in the Special Care Nursery since she was born at 36 weeks, but doing well.  Go and give them some love!

  • I am finally doing my laundry!  Somehow I can get his done but not mine.  


  • I'm going to cook today and tomorrow!  Alert the presses!  I haven't actually started yet, but all of the ingredients are purchased and ready to go.
Big things are happening around these parts.

And here is potentially my favorite picture of all time: