22 January 2015

NESTING 6-12 Months


In honor of my daughter's first birthday we are taking a look at some of the things that made her first year a little easier. Today I am sharing my list of favorite items for 6-12 month old little ones. (Check out my Newborn and 0-6 Month Old lists for more recommendations.)

FEEDING  Magic Bullet and Booster. As you and baby start to explore the world of solid foods, a magic bullet is a great way to make homemade purees to freeze. A booster seat is a good space saving option over a full high chair.

CLOTHING  Robeez. My baby hates socks. The best way I've found to keep her feet covered in the winter is to put on a pair of Robeez. They are also great for new walkers as they don't confine baby's feet.

SAFETY  Baby Gate and Outlet Covers. I've found that you actually need fewer baby proofing gadgets then you think, but two of the most useful are a good baby gate and some outlet covers. A little piece of mind goes a long way.

BOOKS Board books are great for little hands to explore. A few of our favorites are Swing, The Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

SIGNING Baby Signing Time This short video can help teach you and baby some signs to cut down on baby's frustration.

POTTY Baby Bjorn Potty Chair This little potty chair is easy to clean and great for even the smallest babies (if you are doing Elimination Communication.)

SIPPY CUPS Lifefactory Sippy Cups/Bottles Babies can learn how to drink out of regular cups rather quickly, but if you need sippy cup this glass one has been great. We just switched out the bottle nipples for a sippy lid.

21 January 2015

NESTING 0-6 Months

In honor of my daughter's first birthday I am sharing a few of the items that made her first year a little easier. Yesterday we talked about my recommendations about what baby items to use for a newborn. Today let's take a look at a few of my favorite items for 0-6 month old babes.

BABYWEARING  Ergo. An Ergo is my favorite carrier to use when baby grows out of the Moby wrap. (Also, I joined my local chapter of Babywearing International to learn how to safely babywear. You can attend any meeting for free to learn, try out carriers, and ask questions. OR you can join for the year for $30 and borrow one carrier a month from the lending library to see what carriers you like best before you invest the money.)

HYGIENE  Nosefrida and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. Babies get sniffles and bulb aspirators are breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. The Nosefrida is the most effective tool I've used for clearing baby noses. I also love Dr. Bronner's Baby-Mild Magic Soap for my babies. There are tons of bad ingredients in traditional baby products and this is an alternative that I trust.

SAFETY  Convertible Carseat and Bouncer. We've used this car seat from newborn to 50 pounds, both rear and front facing. A simple bouncer is great for keeping baby safe when you need your hands free. I used mine mainly when getting dressed and brushing my teeth. We used an inexpensive, light one that I carried room to room as needed.

BREASTFEEDING  Nursing bra and tank tops. A good nursing bra is a great investment that you will use every day. Tank tops layered under your shirt help keep you covered when you are out and about.

ADVICE  Every new mama wants to keep her baby's new baby book updated, but the newborn fog is relentless. I hang a blank calendar to jot notes on each evening about new milestones. I transfer all of these dates to the baby book when my head is clear, but I never miss a milestone.

WHAT TO CONSIDER  These items aren't essential, but can make your life a little easier.
Stroller  We used this one. It folds up small enough to fit in a tiny trunk and is more durable than an umbrella stroller.
Swing  A simple swing was my son's favorite place to be, but my youngest had no interest in it. Consider borrowing a friend's first to see if your baby would like it.
Pump  When I was working this pump was my best friend, but I have not used one as frequently since becoming a stay at home mom. Your insurance may cover one so give them a call.
Boppy  Either you'll love or hate a nursing pillow, like the Boppy. It can be a godsend for an exhausted mama's arms, but look around for the best brand for you.

WHAT TO SKIP
Tub  Bring baby into the bath or shower with you
Crib Bedding  If baby sleeps in the crib, all you need is a fitted sheet. Avoid the fancy bedding to keep baby safe. We like sleep sacks to keep baby warm.
Changing Table  I lay a blanket on the floor. It takes up less space and prevents any falls.
Bumbo  Many babies don't like them and you can use a bouncer or high chair to do the same thing.
Bucket Car Seat  Wear your baby and save your back. Those things are heavy and you will only end up buying another carseat when baby grows out of it.
Travel System Stroller  If you are not using a bucket car seat this stroller is just a big, bulky hinderances. Skip it.

20 January 2015

NESTING Newborn


Since my baby is turned 1 year old this weekend, I thought I would share a few of the items that have made her first year a little easier. Today we'll start with newborn preparations and check in later this week for 0-6 months and 6-12 months.

BABYWEARING  Moby wrap. For newborns I like to use a Moby wrap. It takes a little practice, but babies love to be close to Mama and it keeps my hands free.

CLOTHING  Basics. I recommend buying mostly onesies and footed sleepers (or twosies, as my husband calls them) with a few sleep sacks. Newborns want to be comfortable and warm.

HYGIENE  Socks (As mittens). Did you know that babies can be born with long fingernails? I didn't and my firstborn gave herself a scratch on her cheek during her first night. I've found that the mittens they sell pop right off, so instead I use newborn socks. Bonus tip: Skip the baby nail clippers and use a nail file. It's much less scary! This is the glass one I use.

CLOTH DIAPERING  Covers and prefolds. Rumparooz, Imagine and Thirsties covers are my favorites for Newborns. I recommend this book. It is everything I spend hours on the internet figuring out in one cute, quick, little package. I chose to go the most economical route use mainly prefolds/flats and covers, but look around because there are lots of options.

BREASTFEEDING  Accessories. Cloth nursing pads are great to have on hand to catch that unpredictable newborn baby milk and a good pump comes in handy as you are establishing your milk supply. I've used this one in the past (better for working, pumping mamas) and this one (covered by my insurance and works fine for me when needed). A little lanolin can go a long way for soreness while nursing and a glass water bottle will keep you hydrated. I like to use a bracelet that I switch from wrist to wrist to know on which side to start nursing when I am running on little sleep. Also, grab a good book for those long nursing sessions.

SLEEPING  Aden and Anais Swaddle and Pack and Play. Aden and Anais Swaddle blankets are so soft and are perfect for swaddling babies who like to feel confined. They also make great nursing covers since they are so large. When baby is sleeping in your room, an inexpensive pack and play is a great option. We used the bassinet for our newborns and use the pack and play when travelling until around age two. This is similar to the one we used for all three babies.

MAMA  Leggings and Maternity Shirts. If you are like me, you won't realize how much and yet how little your body changes once baby is born. Buy some stretchy, cute, comfortable clothes you can wear before and after baby is born. Shirts with easy access for breastfeeding are ideal. The last thing you need when caring for your newborn is pressure to fit into your clothes.

ADVICE  Find one thing that makes you feel like you. For me, it is a shower. If I can shower, I can handle just about anything. Whenever I have a newborn I make sure to shower every day and I let myself relax for that time, even if it is only 5 minutes. As long as baby is in a safe place, like a crib or in someone's arms, she can cry because I can't be a good mama if I don't take care of myself. Find that one thing that does that for you.

19 January 2015

The Tapestry of Birth


One year ago the tapestry of my life changed forever. I gave birth to my third baby, my love child. She is my reminder that year five of my marriage was a good one. However, she is also a reminder that year six was tough. Morning sickness sapped the strength from the bones of our marriage. Thirty three weeks of nausea will do that. I spent a lot of time laying on the couch or on the bathroom floor feeling sick, sad, lonely and discouraged, but those times also gave me the chance to think and pray.

At first I prayed for healing and relief, but slowly the Lord worked in my heart. I began to pray for those suffering incurable illness, infertility and despair. I prayed for those getting married and those losing loved ones. When morning sickness threatened to pull me into depression, talking to God kept my perspective in check. It was a crucible of illness. By the grace of God, after the fire of trial I was left with a sense of greater love and gratefulness instead of a burnt residue of bitterness and bile.


It was in this state of physical weakness juxtaposed with spiritual strength that I entered childbirth. On a bitterly cold January night my beautiful baby was born into the hands of a sweet midwife after not quite 2 hours of labor. We drove home later that night and I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning staring at the baby who had changed me quite profoundly.

I couldn't have put the transformation into words that night, but my little girl changed the way I looked at birth, motherhood and, most importantly, myself. You see, I was looking forward to this birth in a way I never had before. This was to be my first natural labor and I felt able to embrace the hard work ahead because I was well informed this time*. I'd read about hormones and inner strength, bonding and the intoxicating smell of a baby to her mother. So that night when I opened my eyes and fell deeply in love with my very own brown eyed girl, everything clicked into place.
The birth was hard and empowering and exhausting and victorious. I had a goal and I accomplished it through prayer and support. After a couple of weeks of contemplation I finally found the words to best describe the transformation I felt.

I was a tapestry and birth had changed the very fabric of my being. This birth stretched me physically, emotionally and spiritually to my maximum, but it was a blessing. Because I gave birth in an environment filled with love, kindness and gentleness I was not scared as I neared the edges of my ability to cope and maintain self control. As my body expanded and opened it felt as if the tiny holes between the warp and weft of my body and soul were exposed. While I was stretched so thin, the warp of self control and independence was pulled taught against the weft of gratitude and encouragement. It was only then that there was space in my tapestry for a new thread to be added, the thread of my baby. With the fabric of my being pulled to the extreme, my love for her was woven into my very being that night.
Even now, I feel bonded to her in a way that I never quite experienced with my first two children and I believe it is because of her birth. It has nothing to do with how much I love her, but instead it has everything to do with how free (or I might even say compelled) I feel to listen to my instincts and nurture her as I should. This little girl and I were able to experience the full benefits of birth that God gave to mother and child and for that I am grateful.
This birth nourished not only my physical and mental health, but my spiritual as well. For the duration of my pregnancy I desperately prayed one request over and over. I prayed that I would be open to a quick and easy delivery. My second birth was 18.5 hours long, so when my labor was progressing rather quickly I started praying. I had barely registered that my water had broken and I was already pushing. To maintain my composure the only thing I could do was pray. The Lord was so near to me as I labored and called on his name. It is a night I will never forget.
Tonight I am sitting beside a joyful little one year old with wispy curls and eyes full of mischief. She plays peek-a-boo with gusto and hardly ever leaves my side. She is secure in her place in the world and I am secure in mine. Because of the night we met, I am a better mother to her and her siblings. I am proud of my body and what it can do. I am more in love with my Savior and his mercy on me.

The tapestry of my life is one shade richer because of my baby. Happy Birthday, Honey B.


*Here are a few books I recommend to begin reading about natural labor and the importance of midwives. Start here and they will lead you down a delightful rabbit trail:  Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Birth Matters and Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding all by Ina May Gaskin.