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Breastfeeding Milestone 1

In my mind, I have set three big goals for breastfeeding at six, nine and 12 months. At each goal point I am to re-evaluate how breastfeeding is going and decide for myself if I want to continue. So here we go… Time to work this one out!

How is it going? Well, as I see it and in my situation there are three main facets to this. First, there’s actually breastfeeding. This constitutes the time that I’m with Baby2, baby to breast, the good old fashioned natural stuff. Second, there’s actually pumping which is the time spent with my trusty pumping machine. Third is breast pump maintenance: time spent on cleaning, boiling, transporting and whatever else involves my pump except for the act of and time spent pumping. Let’s look at each category…

Actually breastfeeding: OMG I love you. Convenience, bonding, no cost, limited clean-up (just bottles for when I’m at work), etc. Breastfeeding is the most wonderful of wonderfuls.

Physically pumping: I can stand you. We’re okay. Cordial but not over-friendly (seems odd to be saying that about something as intimate as a breast pump though). Getting some engorgement relief is great; if I go past like 10 am without pumping (even on the weekends when I’m home) I’m a-hurtin’ so thank you Veronica for some sweet relief. (Hmm, that’s an odd sentence fragment.) Also, knowing that not only my baby but other babies out there benefit from my pumping makes pumping with it. AND it doesn’t hurt at all for me. So score there.

Pump maintenance: I FUCKING HATE YOU PUMP MAINTENANCE!!!!! Lugging that god damn pump bag back and forth through the work parking lot and through the building every day is inconvenient at best. Washing and boiling the pump parts every damn day is time-consuming (and I have already reduced my boiling times to once a week AND I don’t even wash my pump at work I just store it in the lactation room fridge between my two pumping sessions). Also, worrying that the god damn thing is going to break on me again is giving me grey hairs.

So to recap, I love breastfeeding and pumping is worth it but I hate pump maintenance. Therefore, it’s worth at least another three months of FUCKING PUMP MAINTENANCE.

But I’m having trouble staying motivated. Pump maintenance is really dragging me down you guys. So here’s a list of the 10 things I love most about everything breastfeeding. I shall refer to the list when I am cursing while cleaning my pump for the fifth time this week.

10. Helping the other babies. Did you know there are babies out there that literally cannot process formula? On our Arizona trip I donated milk to a mama of an adopted baby girl who had seizures, SEIZURES, after eating any kind of formula (she listed off some types that I had never even heard of) but when she started a consistent breastmilk diet all that changed. No seizures, started gaining weight regularly, meeting developmental milestones, etc. AMAZING what some boob juice can do.
9. Baby2’s comfort. I know that sometimes she isn’t hungry she’s just pissed or in pain (teething, shots, that one time that I let he fall on the floor while practicing sitting up) or tired but she stops crying or starts sleeping when put to the breast.
8. Health benefits for Baby2. You know, like she’s less likely of having diabetes and junk. We’ve all heard the enormous benefits before, no need to repeat them here. My fingers are tired from all this typing already.
7. Health benefits for me. Less chance of breast cancer, etc. Plus I’m burning more calories which is awesome.
6. It’s free. Well, I did have to buy the pump and some nursing bras but that’s it. Certainly better than spending hundreds of dollars on formula each month.
5. Breastfed baby poops don’t stink… too bad. They really do smell a little bit sweet. They dissolve nicely in the washing machine. Of course, now that Baby2 has started solids we’re in new poop territory, but we’re still seeing the benefits of breastfed baby poops. (Wow that would sound weird out of context.)
4. I have provided all the nutrients she needs with my boobs ALONE. That’s pretty cool. And empowering. Even now that she’s eating some solids she still gets the vast majority of her nutrients from me. It’s like a pseudo pregnancy and that’s absolutely wonderful. Because I love being pregnant and I love providing for my baby’s needs.
3. There is nothing more convenient! No bottles to fill, warm, wash and store (well, except for the one or two bottles Mr. Handsome uses during the week while I’m at work). No need to remember to bring a bottle when we go out, no need to keep track of it. No warming bottles in the middle of the night. No waste from the formula manufacturing or packaging. Nothing going into my baby that I don’t control. No recalls!
2. Did I mention the cost savings? I like saving money. A lot.
1. Bonding. Even when I’m pumping, I feel connected to my baby. And let me tell you, this week I really need any connection I can get. I’ve been working late a few nights. Sometimes I get home just before or right after Baby2 goes to bed. Some days I only get sleepy feedings in the middle of the night, no good daytime ones. And that sucks. A few times I’ve felt like she’s pushing the breast away, like she’s rather have a bottle. And then just thinking about all the time we’ve spent trying to get her to take the bottle and all and then to think that she might prefer that? Ugh. Luckily I know that’s not the case, but still, the mind wanders.

And everything, EVERYTHING, that I hate about pump maintenance is completely forgotten when I’m nursing Baby2 and she looks up at me with those dark blue eyes and she smiles, then goes right back to nursing. Or when she can tell that the boob is about to come out and her little arms shake with excitement and she opens her mouth and roots into anything – my hand, her hand, my shirt, etc, and makes the cutest rooting noises that I can’t even describe but I hope I remember for all time. How could I possibly give these things up because I have to clean my pump every night and carry it to work and back every day?

Yes, at least three more months of all this is just fine with me.

The Day My Breast Pump Died

Slightly amusing if you sing this post’s title to the American Pie tune… But otherwise this situation is not amusing at all.

Yesterday I hurried into what I call “my office” for my second of three daily pumping sessions. I got all set up and comfy, flipped the power switch on Matilda (yes I named my pump – we spend a lot of time together!), pushed the power lever and… heard the saddest screeching sound coming from the heart of the motor. Matilda was stuck – no suction, nothing but a high-pitch, very loud, constant noise.

Fuuuuuuck.

I desperately needed to pump but I couldn’t. I’m the kind who just looking at my pump triggers let down. I felt like a high school boy in the backseat on a third date with a freshman who won’t put out. You know what I mean…

So after gathering my thoughts for a moment, putting my big girl brain to work, if you will, I figured I had two options (sort of): leave work and drive the 15 miles home to my baby (the best pump in the whole world) OR find a suitable replacement STAT.

Leaving work wasn’t an option. It takes almost 45 minutes to drive home and I would HAVE to come back because I had deadlines yesterday (four projects due 11/1, no getting out of it because, “Um, yeah, boss man, my boobie juicer is stuck so I’m taking off for the day.” Right…).

On to finding a replacement. Luckily there’s a dive-sort of K-Mart around the corner (with a dive bar attached to it!) so during my lunch break I 1) stopped at the Halloween store to take advantage of the 50% deals, 2) got myself some grub and 3) picked up a $30 manual breast pump.

Side note – I tried to call K-Mart ahead to see if they had my pump in stock. I held on the phone for over five minutes, twice, and no one in the Infants department picked up. Very poor customer service. Although if I were to judge this K-Mart by looks alone, the level of service I received (or didn’t receive) is not too surprising. But, they did have one single Avent manual pump in stock (might as well get one that matches all the parts I already have, right?). Victory!

Anyway, I had to dump everything I pumped yesterday because the new pump wasn’t washed or sterilized, but I made it through the day. I got home, washed and boiled all my pieces and I am set for today. But I’m stuck with one-sided, manual pumping. On a positive note, it reminds me of when I pumped milk nine years ago for Kiddo1 and used a manual pump at work because we were too poor to buy an electric one. Ah, memories.

On a positive customer service note, I have called Avent and they were fantastic. Very apologetic about the malfunction and a brand-new pump is being sent to me as we speak. As long as I get it by Tuesday (they promised Monday) I will be a happy camper.

Another positive is that I had planned on buying a manual pump for our holiday travels anyway, so I’m not really bitter about needing to buy one already. I wish I could have planned the purchase to find a discount instead of paying the full $30, but in the emergency that was yesterday I probably would have paid twice that to avoid missing all my work deadlines.

Such is the give-and-take of working outside the home I suppose! But now the big question – what do I name my new pump?!

The Great Stroller-Free Experiment, Volume 1

While I was pregnant with Baby2, I wondered if we actually needed a stroller. Just how much baby mobility can be successfully accomplished without using a stroller? Would forgoing the stroller make transit with an infant easier? Faster? More or less of a pain in the ass? In this series of posts I’ll talk about my challenge to forgo the stroller as much as possible.

For the first six weeks of Baby2’s life, Mr. Handsome and I have used our Moby wrap for all baby transit outside of her car seat. We’ve tried the Ergo a couple times but Baby2 isn’t quite big enough (I’m currently scouting out an infant insert on Craig’s List) so this post is focused completely on the Moby wrap.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI usually do the baby wearing but that’s mostly because I’m quick at getting the Moby on. Mr. Handsome can do it but he needs a little help still (hence the search for an Ergo infant insert). I caught on to the wrapping of the Moby pretty well but it is kind of a dance to get it put on. Once it’s on properly it is super comfortable. The fabric is soft and stretchy and it’s all wrapped around me in a big hug. A hug with my baby in it! What could be better?!

We wore Baby2 literally everywhere, as the only other option we had for the first six weeks was carrying her car seat around (those things are too big and clumsy for me!). With visitors in town we went to a lot of busy/touristy places. It was/is super easy to get through crowds with Baby2 strapped to my chest and no big ol’ stroller in taking up space in front of me. We could move through swarms of people with ease in all the packed places we visited this summer, including street fairs, museums, the zoo and amusement parks. Plus, we would never have made it through to Kiddo1’s classroom when we dropped him off on the first day of school. It was a huge mass of people, a chaos of excited children. I’ll keep my baby close-in, thankyouverymuch.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppNow whilst in these crowds of people there’s bound to be a sweet old lady or someone who loves babies and wants to get thisclose to Baby2 and touch her face and hands and breathe stranger breath all over my sweet little healthy darling. The Moby helps keep Hands Off because Baby2 is all in my personal bubble, see, so people tend to feel less free to touch, touch, touch. I can also pull a little fabric up over her face if things get really loud and crazy. Or if I’m walking in the sun and need a little shade on Baby2’s porcelain face.

Speaking of sun, you know what travels through sand on the beach real easy? Bare feet. You know what doesn’t? Stroller wheels. Boom.

You know what keeps Baby2 super duper happy and allows me to get stuff done around the house? Baby wearing. Sometimes there’s just no soothing this baby who loves me so much that I must hold her always. But mama needs to get stuff done! Baby wearing to the rescue! Sure, moving laundry from washer to dryer is a little difficult, but folding clothes is fine. Washing dishes can get messy but putting them away is easy. Etcetera, etcetera…

Of course there are a few setbacks to exclusive baby wearing. I wear Baby2 when we go out to eat and I have to hunch over a bit so I don’t get crumbs all over her sweet little head. But not having a stroller in a restaurant is great because squeezing a stroller through a labyrinth of tables and chairs is pretty much impossible, not to mention the space it takes up at a table. So we break even on that one.

A bigger con, especially during the summer, is that the wrap can get warm. It’s wonderful in the chilly morning dropping Kiddo1 off at school (at least for the next couple days while I’m still on maternity leave!). Baby2 can soak in my body heat, I get a warm bundle of joy on my chest and everyone wins. But when it’s 90 degrees in direct sunlight and Baby2’s face is melting into my chest it’s just not the most comfortable situation.

A final negative for exclusive baby wearing, one that I could work around but just came up in the last week, is that walking around wearing a wrap without a baby in it is kind of weird. See, the 15 meters of fabric you wrap around yourself can drag on the ground a bit while you’re wrapping so it’s best to wrap yourself up before leaving the house. But then sometimes you’re walking around without a baby in the wrap, like if you get out of the car to pay for gas (leaving your husband and older child with the baby, of course!) or when the baby needs to come out of the wrap and be held by daddy because she’s melting into your chest at a street fair in early August and you’re walking around said street fair looking like you’re trying to lead a new scarf-tying trend.

Anyway. Back to the positives. The coolest thing about wearing my baby is that she’s close to me. We gaze into each others’ eyes. She nuzzles into my chest (probably looking for a nipple). She falls asleep and I can feel her breath on my skin. I feel connected to her. I really like having her so close and protected. It’s really nice. Plus I can move through crowds with ease AND I’ve got a whole extra person attached to me! Smiley face.

Next time, some interesting challenges test my exclusive baby wearing commitment. Will I cave to the stroller?! Tune in to find out.

Breastfeeding Progress and Recovery Update

Where the hell is time going? Baby2 is already three weeks old as of yesterday and Kiddo1 just turned nine and a half earlier this week! I can’t believe Kiddo1 has half a year until he’s ten. That’s just insane.

Anyway, since we’re going strong on National Breastfeeding Month, I thought I’d post about how Baby2 and I are doing with our own nursing efforts.

At my last update I noted that Baby2 was only eating in five minute increments. That hasn’t changed. Sometimes she’ll eat for ten or fifteen minutes, but most of the time I get five minutes. She doesn’t fall asleep or anything, she’s just… done, I guess. I tried stretching out her feedings to see if she’d eat more, but no luck (and sometimes waiting three hours just isn’t possible!). I change her diaper after five minutes and sometimes she’ll eat more but usually not. I can try to change sides, wait 20 minutes and try again, all kinds of stuff but, still, I only get five minutes.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI was worried and spoke to the pediatrician about it at Baby2’s two week checkup. The thing is, Baby2 is perfectly… normal. Her weight gain is fantastic – she gained back to her birth weight by one week (a full week earlier than needed) AND she gained another half pound by two weeks of age. So no need to worry. And I wasn’t worried until this week when she stopped pooping – we haven’t seen a poop since Saturday (which happened to be a massive one at the movie theatre!).

Our pediatrician tells us that breastfed babies can poop five times a day or once every two weeks. Both are normal. But this lack of poo is still freaking me out! Where the hell is it? Her body is not big. Where is she keeping the poo?! Fingers crossed for a big load soon.

Ah, the things a parents thinks about.

Anyway. I’ve been pumping every day, too, and the more I thought about my pumping quantities the better I felt about Baby2’s short meals. I can usually get 2-3 ounces from one breast in less than five minutes (I have a double electric Avent pump so I’m getting four to six ounces per session). I’m thinking about donating some of the milk I’ve saved up (I have almost 100 ounces already!). Initially I wanted to have a business month’s worth of milk reserved – 20 12-ounce days or 240 ounces. But why do I need that much? I’m sure I could part with my whole current stash and still be okay when I go back to work. So I’m looking in to that. I’ll post an update!

We haven’t yet used a pacifier. I’d like to see if we can get away without ever using one, but I won’t be sad if we do. We do have two that have been sterilized and are ready for us, just in case!

My Recovery

As far as my postpartum recovery, I feel pretty damn good, almost back to normal. The only time of day that I don’t feel pretty great is when I’m getting dressed – maternity clothes are too big but non-maternity clothes don’t quite fit right. Dresses are my go-to right now but I’m honestly getting a little tired of them. I miss pants! The time will come, though.

To expand on things that don’t fit:

  • My regular jeans don’t fit. Lame. I can wear the last two pair of non-maternity jeans that fit throughout pregnancy, but they feel tighter. What’s that all about? So I wear a lot of dresses.
  • My boobs are seriously huge and I have to structure outfits around their accessibility, which still feels odd. There are a few pre-pregnancy shirts I would love to wear but I can’t get to the feed bags so I don’t wear them. I’m starting to experiment with layering shirts so I can wear more normal stuff, but it’s still touch-and-go.
  • My shoes feel a little snug. Anything but sandals straight up did not fit after about 39 weeks of pregnancy but still three weeks out they don’t feel normal. I’ve gotten by but I’m going to need to wear my regular shoes soon. Fingers crossed that they will fit. As awesome as shoe shopping sounds I don’t want to have to replace my beloved shoes!

Some regular things that make me feel normal:

  • My midwife cleared me to exercise but because it has been So Damn Hot I haven’t actually done anything yet.
  • My wedding rings don’t feel tight at all.
  • The postpartum bleeding has stopped! I think I’m going to swim soon!
  • I haven’t wanted to mention this until now, for fear that I might jinx myself, but here goes… I didn’t get any stretch marks! I have a couple from my first pregnancy but none this time! Yay!!

Some not-so-normal things:

  • I’ve lost 14-16 pounds so far. I’m sure the other 20 pounds are in my boobs, right?
  • My linea negra is still around. Can’t I just scrub it off? (No, I’ve tried.)
  • I find myself telling myself to calm the hell down sometimes. I’ll get all antsy and impatient about things, especially if it involves Baby2’s eating or not eating or anything involving eating. I can calm myself, but I have to tell myself to be calm. I don’t remember being this uptight, but maybe that comes with the hormones?

Lots is happening in the next week or so. I’ll probably post another update around Baby2’s one month birthday!

Bra Switch-a-roo

Nursing bras are a fundamental part of successful breastfeeding. I’m lucky to have a few that I love but often it is a real struggle to find the right fit! If only some of the regular bras that we have come to know and love could be nursing bras, right?

Well, word on “the street” (meaning, the internet) is that Nordstrom will convert any bra, even a non-Nordstrom-purchased bra, into a nursing bra for a flat $10 fee. Amazing! I read about this initially on Science & Sensibility’s blog – here’s the post: http://www.scienceandsensibility.org/?p=5100.

Happy last day of World Breastfeeding Week! Yesterday also marked the start of National Breastfeeding Month’s “20 Actions in 20 Days” campaign, an initiative to bring awareness, support and all kinds of good attention to breastfeeding. I hope to touch on at least a few of these topics in the coming weeks. Here’s the calendar from the USBC’s site:

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Baby Gear Obsessions: Home

This is the last post in a series about baby gear that I’m, well, obsessing over a bit. I’ve covered transportation and feeding items, now for the home stuff: crib, changing accommodations, bathing, play and cozy stuff. We only have about half of the items covered in this post and we haven’t actually used any of them yet so, again, these aren’t really reviews or anything, just stuff I’m lusting after!

Crib

A good crib is important to me but not THAT important. I’ll explain. First, the crib is important because that’s where my baby will sleep most of the time. I’ll save my opinions on sleep for another post so I don’t get all off topic, but it is important to me for baby to learn to fall asleep in her own bed.

On the flip side, I don’t think cribs are that big of a deal. First, I don’t like cribs all that much – they look like little baby jail cells and they kind of freak me out. Second, I don’t like to keep them around all that long. Once that baby can climb out of the crib… what are they going to hurt themselves on more? The fall from the top of the crib three or four feet high or the fall from a toddler bed a foot off the ground? Kiddo1 was in a toddler bed at around 18 months I believe, which I guess they say is pretty early. I know this crib won’t be used for too long so I don’t want to put too much of an investment into it. We don’t need anything fancy here! I also tend to stay away from convertible cribs because I figure we’ll just end up getting a new bed in a year or two anyway.

Since it is advised that new cribs are preferred by the experts over a used crib (with the whole drop-down side controversy and all that going on), I’m looking for something:

  • Inexpensive
  • Yet safe
  • Simple design (we can dress it up with bedding)
  • Variable mattress heights (to discourage the aforementioned climbing out thing)

PhotobucketThe IKEA cribs did it for me. Less than $100, solid wood where it counts (I like to have solid wood where pieces connect/screw into each other because it makes for a stronger connection), a choice of very simple designs and the mattress has two height settings.

We got this crib from IKEA which isn’t the cheapest $69 crib but is the close second (we spent as much on the crib as we did the crib mattress! Which is okay with me because the mattress will stick around to be used with the toddler bed too).

This particular style does convert to a toddler bed but we’ll see if we end up using that option or not. I liked the white finish because it goes with anything! I thought about painting it when we first got it but I don’t want another project (although, after we finished the dresser Mr. Handsome thought we should paint everything bright colors!).

Changing Table

With the exception of a crib, I like furniture that I can keep for awhile. We’ve had our couch for almost nine years and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon! So the idea of getting a traditional changing table just doesn’t work for me because I don’t know what we’d do with it once diapers go away.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Here’s our set-up with cloth diapers and wipes in a drawer.

A dresser, on the other hand, is an item that we can use for a while. We all have dressers for our clothes and stuff right? (Well, Mr. Handsome and I use shelves for our own clothes, but Kiddo1 has a dresser.)

So I wanted to use a dresser as a changing table just like we did for Kiddo1. Just put one of those contoured changing pads on there and you’re good to go. I like to add a small lamp for midnight changings and a mirror to entertain a squirmy baby. When diapers are no longer used you still have a very functional piece of furniture. Score!

Bath

fisherpricetubAre those little baby-sized tubs really needed? I don’t know. We used one with Kiddo1 and I did like some things about it.

  • I don’t have to fill the whole tub with water
  • Less water means less splashing
  • The tub is raised up a little which saves my/Mr. Handsome’s back
  • Baby sits at a nice and comfy reclined position and has head support
  • My hands are free to grab soap, fill a cup with extra water, distract with a toy, etc. (of course never take your eyes off a baby in a bath!)

Although some people say bathing with your baby or using the sink is just as good. I would think bathing with your baby would be hard because they get so slippery! Would it take longer? And the sink is only so big and offers no support for babies who can not yet sit up. I’m willing to try these things… but we did register for a baby tub anyway.

Not one of those crazy baby spas with the jets and all that though! Those things crack me up! I’m okay with the $20 plastic version.

Play

PhotobucketWe registered for (and my mom already bought) what I think is a pretty kick-ass play mat. We didn’t do any research on this one, we just picked whatever what was at Target and not COMPLETELY covered in pink. That ended up being this Little Einsteins Ocean Play set. This thing looks even more awesome now that it’s in my house. I want to bust it out and turn on all the lights and music and just zone out.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI’m also a little obsessed with all these wooden toys that have come out lately (I make it sound like simple toys are a Brand New Invention, don’t I?). I very much disliked all the battery-powered plastic toys that Kiddo1 received. These wooden toys don’t have the plastic chemicals and I think they foster more creativity too.

I’m loving toys by Moby, Haba and Manhattan. The adorable carrot and strawberry are by Under the Nile – they’re for teething mostly (for chewing, not eating! Hehehe).

Bouncy Seat

PhotobucketI have some requirements for a good seat:

  • Distraction Factor: I like if it has several “distraction” settings like music, varying intensities of vibration, a toy bar, etc.
  • Versatility: It’d be awesome if the seat can rock and bounce and maybe achieve world piece. Do it all seat!
  • Sun shade: In the summer I’ll want to take it outside so baby has a nice place to sit while we watch the older kids play or read books or so I can just generally sun myself and baby can be protected.

I like this bouncer/rocker combo by Maclaren. It vibrates, plays music, bounces, rocks, has a toy bar and plays music. Can I get an adult-sized one of these?

Cozy Stuff!

I could go on and on about diapers, clothes, pacifiers, all those good things, but this post would be like 5,000 words if I did that. So instead I will focus on my current accessory obsession: blankets.

I have two kinds I’m loving: the Aden + Anais lightweight cotton or bamboo sets and the heavier Moby wrap blankets.

adenanaisI love the softness and weight of A+A: perfect for a summer baby. I can not stop hearing good things about this brand too. I have a three-pack of bamboo blankets and am registered for a bunch more. You can never have too many blankets right? Oh and the prints are adorable!

When I went to a local boutique to spend a coupon I was dead-set on getting a wrap but these blankets kept calling out to me. Of course, the sales lady said they were their most popular item (she’s got to say that, right?) but she also mentioned they get softer each time you wash them. I was sold. I’ve heard good things about them on a few blogs that I read too. All these people can’t be wrong, I’m sure of it.

I put my three-pack of blankets through the wash last weekend. A whole lot of fuzz came off but the blankets seemed to actually fluff up a bit and, get this, they actually did seem softer! Maybe the sales lady at that boutique was on to something…

PhotobucketThe Moby blankets are great for nighttime swaddling when the temp dips a bit. I think they’re great floor blankets too because they’re relatively thick and good sized. Also, I love the bold colors! I’m not a fan of pastels and it is SO unbelievably difficult to find bold-colored baby blankets (especially for girls). These Moby ones look awesome and will fit in well with my bold-colored nursery.

One more thing about the Moby blankets… they come with a matching newborn hat! Instant outfit, right? I want three: Eggplant, Pacific (pictured) and Natural.

Wow! Lots of stuff for baby! Hopefully I’ll get to review a few of these items after we’ve used them for awhile – assuming I 1) buy them and 2) have the time to review once Baby2 arrives!

I Sewed!

My medium is typically paper, not fabric, so sewing is a little daunting to me. Fabric stretches and moves around too much! Perhaps that’s why I’ve put off my sewing projects for so long! But this weekend I swallowed my pride, took out the machine and got some stuff done!

I finished four projects and seven items this weekend (that’s the great thing about sewing – it does go fairly quickly once you actually get going!): two changing pad covers, three throw pillows, a crib sheet and a Boppy pillow cover (I finished the crib skirt over spring break). I feel such a sense of relief getting these projects behind me! I get so into the whole “project mode” thing that I take on too much and I’m too stubborn to back down. Another thing: I understand that this nursery isn’t necessarily for Baby2. It is and it isn’t. Yeah, it’s for her in that she needs a place to sleep and all that, but she can’t appreciate the colors and fabrics and what not: all that is for me, let’s face it.

With that disclaimer aside, on to the finished project pictures! I can’t figure out why they’re coming out a little blurry, but you get the picture (haha). The red also looks really bright in these pictures but it’s actually a pretty deep red…

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppUploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppUploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

The dresser was finished last weekend and we hung a mirror on the wall over it because babies like to look at themselves (and hopefully this will distract her and keep her from wiggling too much!).

Since it makes me happy to review lists, here’s what I planned, what I’ve done and what’s left to do in the nursery:

  • DONE: Make matching pillows out of the crib skirt fabric (three 12″ square pillows and one bolster-type long, round pillow).
  • DONE: crib sheets (although I only made one crib sheet instead of three because fabric is almost more expensive than just buying sheets but I really wanted a red one to match everything. I’ll buy two white ones to use a back-ups).
  • DONE: Attach wheels to the bottom of the crib to make it easier to move around the tiny nursery space.
  • DONE: Find and refinish a dresser to use as a changing table.
  • TO DO: I bought a lamp from a thrift store that I’m fixing up a bit (a small lamp for the changing table so we don’t have to turn on the overhead light during nighttime changes/feedings).
  • TO DO: I’m in the midst of hanging the paper lanterns (some bought some made) for the giant mobile piece.

While I can’t wait to finish, I also wonder what will occupy my time and thoughts once I’m done and have no baby yet! I guess I’ll just have to relax or something!

I Think I Have a Problem, Part 2

Back in mid-second tri, I had admitted my addiction to buying maternity clothes. I kept buying maternity clothes since then but have slowed WAY down in the past couple months. I did buy a pair of shorts and a skirt a couple weeks ago, but I remind myself that I only have a few weeks left to go so there’s really no point in buying anything else now… unless I can wear it after pregnancy too!

My addictions don’t really go away, they just get transferred to something else. For example, I used to bite my nails real, real bad. I don’t bite anymore but I am seriously addicted to nail polish and painting my nails. I probably own two dozen colors, no joke. I paint my nails almost every Sunday (I say almost because I have totally slacked in the last month, but before that I hadn’t missed a week in almost a year).

Now that I’m not buying maternity clothes, my addiction has transferred to the benefit of my daughter-to-be: she is super duper well-stocked with cloth diapers.

I’ve talked a little bit about my desire to cloth diaper this baby. I’ve read a great book (Changing Diapers by Kelly Wels) and attended a class at a local boutique. I subscribe to some cloth diaper blogs and follow feeds on Facebook. I have absorbed myself in the cloth diaper culture.

Early in this pregnancy, I told myself that I would only buy a couple diapers, see what works for us, and THEN stock up on our favorite brands and styles. Well, that plan quickly went out the window as my addiction to the fluff grew and grew.

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My AIO and pocket stash – some diapers were free so I do have doubles of the zoo animals and the yellow one. I got the flame wet bag for Mr. Handsome when he’s out on the town with Baby2.

First I was buying All-In-Ones (AIOs) and pocket diapers because they are the most similar to disposables. I think in the long run these will be great for us – Mr. Handsome stays home during the day so I want something quick and easy for him. Not because he couldn’t handle anything more complicated but because he has enough going on during the day – one less step in diapering is the least I can do for him. I’m already making him use cloth wipes as well so I don’t want to add any more complications!

The AIOs and pockets that I’ve gotten are pretty much all one-size diapers, meaning they have lots of rows of snaps so they can grow with your baby (most fit from approximately 10 to 35 pounds!). But they’re HUGE and super fluffy even when snapped to the smallest setting. I want to cloth diaper right from the get-go, mostly because we have a very limited capacity for garbage in our current living arrangement. These one-sizers aren’t going to fit a 7-ish pound newborn (Kiddo1 was 7 pounds 2 ounces at birth, so I anticipate something similar even though I know I could be WAY off).

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My covers and newborn stash (including a free newborn pocket I got with my last order! Who cares if it’s brown!), including snappis and a few cloth wipes. The prefolds aren’t pictured.

What’s a mama to do? Well, I chose to buy more diapers, of course! I’ve heard prefolds are a great way to go for newborns, so I got me 12 unbleached cotton prefolds, 2 hemp prefolds (for heavy wetting) a three pack of snappis to secure the prefolds and four newborn/small size covers (plus four more one-size covers!). I’m even thinking about taking these to the hospital with us so Baby2 is cloth diapered from the get-go.

So that’s my latest addiction. Hi. My blog name is Mother Mary. And I am addicted to cloth diapers. And my baby isn’t even born yet!

Scones and Dresser

In Friday’s update post I promised to post about some scones I made, so I’m finally getting to that now! It’s been a busy weekend… but, first – the scones!

I found this receipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog and I have reposted it here. It is mostly a verbatim repost but I did modify it slightly after perusing the comments.

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Whole Wheat Raspberry Scones

1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/2 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar*
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter
2 tbsp vanilla
2 cup (136 grams or 4 3/4 ounces) fresh raspberries
3/4 cup (189 grams) greek yogurt (6 oz)*
1/3 cup (79 ml) heavy cream

* parts that I changed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.

With a pastry blender: Add the butter (no need to chop it first) and use the blender to both cut the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Toss in raspberries and use the blender again to break them into halves and quarter berry sized chunks.

Without a pastry blender: Cut the butter into small pieces with a knife and work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Roughly chop the raspberries on a cutting board and stir them into the butter-flour mixture. (Mine turned very pink by adding the raspberries this early. In my next batch I’ll probably add them later so the dough is more marbley like the photos on Smitten Kitchen’s post.)

Both methods: Add the ricotta and heavy cream together and stir them in to form a dough with a flexible spatula. Using your hands, gently knead dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl. Don’t fret if the raspberries get muddled and smudge up the dough. This is a pretty thing.

With as few movements as possible, transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 7-inch square about 1-inch tall. With a large knife, divide the dough into 9 even squares. Transfer the scones to prepared baking sheet with a spatula. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. It’s best to cool them about halfway before eating them, so they can set a bit more. I know, way to be a big meanie, right?

Do ahead (I took this route so they could be fresh-baked in the morning): Scones are always best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them. If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the frozen, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time.

I also added the lemon icing for some more sweetness, because even though I doubled the sugar in the original recipe these scones still weren’t sweet enough for me! This is my own recipe:

Lemon Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon milk

Adjust the milk-to-powdered sugar ratio to achieve the desired consistency. I wanted more of a glaze than a fluffy frosting so I used a teeny bit more milk. Just stir and stir until the lumps smooth out and it is ready to go!

……..

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppIn other news, this dresser that I have been working on forEVER is finally finished! I’ve been sanding this thing sporadically over the last month or so (this picture was taken after I had sanded half of the drawers). My goal was to get it all painted by this weekend because the baby stuff we’re accumulating needs a home!

It took some serious perseverance and carefully watching of the weather but it all got done. The weather this weekend was so unpredictable. It looked like it was going to rain but aside from an intense thunderstorm on Saturday night we stayed mostly dry. I started painting on Saturday around 2 and brought everything in around 7:30, about 30 minutes before the storm started. Whew!

Anyway, here it is! I added some glass-like pulls that I thought we a bit more girly and, as a last-minute addition, I painted the insides of the drawers hot pink. The pink doesn’t really go with the rest of the color scheme but I think it’s a nice surprise when you open the drawers.

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On Sunday I applied a coat of sealer so the paint won’t scratch too easily and I let it sit outside to air out for awhile. As a result of all that work I rested a ton today, taking a nice long nap on the couch and generally neglecting all my duties and other projects. This week I’ll be sewing so hopefully I’ll have a post in a week about more accomplishments!

Baby Gear Obsessions: Eating

Welcome to the second post in a series about my baby gear obsessions. The last post covered transportation gear: car seat, wraps/carriers, diaper bags and bike accessories. The next post will cover home items include our top crib choices, changing table, diaper stuff, bouncy seats, and play accessories like mats.

This one is all about eating, because that takes up a good portion of a new baby’s time and, even if you’re breastfeeding, there’s a surprising amount of gear associated with the task! Breast pumps, bottles, support pillows and high chairs will be covered here.

Disclaimer: I haven’t purchased/used all of these products so these posts are not reviews but rather an overview of research I’ve done.

Breast Pumps

Ah, breast pumps. The Holy Grail of working mothers (and SAHMs who need a break sometimes!) is a good, reliable, comfortable and quick breast pump. I’ve done the most research about this product than I have any other baby item I think. A close second would probably be the wraps for all the babywearing I have planned. I digress…

I started doing my research way back in the early second trimester after I had a weird dream about my baby’s birth, memory lapses, loss of time and pumping (it was a weird dream). But it prompted me to research pumps, including Avent, Medela and Lansinoh. Check out that post if you want the full run-down, but for this post I’ll just focus on the one I’ve picked (and have purchased already, just not used so again, this is not a review).

What’s important to me in a breast pump? To reiterate the dream post:

  • It must be fast, a double-pump is required.
  • It must be electric and preferably has a battery-operated option (I can only plug-in if I walk all the way over to the “quiet room” at work).
  • It must be relatively compact so that I can lug it back and forth to work each day.
  • It must be comfortable.
  • It should be quiet. Everyone (well, all the ladies in the bathroom) will know that I’m pumping and I’m cool with that, but I would still like to keep the noise to a minimum.
  • And adding from the last post, it should be easy to take apart and clean.

I’ve chosen the Avent Isis Double Electric pump.

PhotobucketWhy?

  • I used the single-pump manual option with my first round of breastfeeding (for Kiddo1). We didn’t have enough money for an electric version, but the Avent was still awesome. It was fast (even for a manual pump), compact, comfortable and easy to take apart to clean.
  • As far as the double electric option is concerned, it is apparently lightening fast – reviewers consistently state they’ve been able to pump 5-6 oz in 10 minutes from one breast. One breast! In 10 minutes! That means I can get up to 12 ounces in one pumping session which is approximately two feedings for a four-month-old baby.
  • Powerful (one reviewer favorably compared it to a hospital-grade pump). And it’s got to be to get that much volume right?!
  • It comes in a nice black shoulder bag that doubles as a cooler. It’s discrete and not too huge. It’d probably fit in my large Big Buddha bag just fine.
  • Customizable pace with memory and speed controls right on the neck of the pump: this is super cool because you set the pace manually for the first session and the pump remembers that pace for future sessions. So you can go slow at first to encourage let-down and then speed up once things are flowing (literally). And you can change the rhythm any time you want to. And the machine will remember again! Genius!
  • Quiet: people say it is a quiet electric pump, which is great. I imagine I’ll be using the dedicated room for pumping at work most often so quiet isn’t a huge issue anymore, however some discretion is still preferred.
  • Pump right into the same bottles you can use for feeding (although I’m interested in trying glass bottles this time, see below).
  • Like I said above, the manual option was quick and easy to clean. The electric option looks almost exactly like I remember but with the added suction tubes and motor. The suction tubes have this anti-back-fill feature or something so they don’t get milk in them and therefore don’t have to be cleaned. Easy peasy.

I’m very excited to start using this pump. It will be such an upgrade from what I had last time!

PhotobucketOne more thing about pumping… I found this little device on Amazon and I’m hoping beyond hope that it lives up to its promises. That’s right, it’s a bra with holes for your pump so that you can pump hands-free! That takes electric pumping to the next level right?!

You just strap it on – there’s a zipper closure in the front – stick the pumps in the convenient little holes there, turn your machine on and then get your Angry Birds on! (Or whatever it is that you’d rather be doing than sitting there holding your pumps in place which you try to somehow distract your mind from the boredom.) I think it’s genius. It had better work!

Bottles

If you’re going to pump breastmilk then you’ve got to have a way to feed it to the baby, so everyone needs bottles even if they’re breastfeeding. I’m quite interested in these glass bottles by Kinetic, for a few reasons:

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  • We’re trying to eliminate the plastic food storage at our house and go all glass. We’ve gotten to an almost 100% switch so why would I start bring in plastic now?
  • These particular bottles have a wide neck which makes them easier to clean. There are glass bottles that look more like standard baby bottles but we wouldn’t be able to fit our scrub brush in them. Since we don’t have a dishwasher we need bottles that are easy to clean!
  • These look a lot like the Avent bottles. I’m hoping (fingers crossed) that these might even be compatible with the Avent breastpump so I can pump and store right into the glass. However, if that doesn’t work out I can still just put the milk in the bottles when I’m done pumping. Then I won’t need to use so many plastic bags!
  • What would be really cool is if I could use the glass mason jars that I have instead of bottles! But I suppose these would be the next best thing!

Support Pillow

I don’t have so many requirements for a support pillow. It’s a pillow, how hard can it be, right? Last time we used a Boppy Pillow. I know there are a whole lot more options out there for pillows now (including some that have pockets, but I’m not sure what you’d keep in there). I still like the Boppy because we could use it for more than just breastfeeding support for my arms. It was helpful for assisting Kiddo1 when he was learning to sit up. It’s good for tummy time too! And we took each monthly photo with Kiddo1 sitting in the pillow so we had something to compare his growth too. It worked out pretty well!

I thought for sure we had kept our old Boppy around but Mr. Handsome doesn’t think so. I can’t find it anywhere so I suppose I’ll get another one! This time I’m making a removable cover for it so I can clean it up. I never had any problems with it getting too dirty last time but you never know!

High Chairs

I like a chair that can be pulled up to the table so that baby can be close to the family during meals. We had a regular “stand-alone” high chair for Kiddo1 and has always felt so far away. Plus I think it’s more difficult to turn around and help them out. You could always pull the chair up to the table but then the tray sometimes gets in the way, maybe it doesn’t adjust to the right height, blah, blah, blah. I think the following two options are better in that they facilitate family dinner time with all members of the family, no matter how small. A high chair also has to be:

  • Safe
  • Versatile
  • Comfortable
  • Good-looking
  • Economical

The Platinum: Stokke Chair

PhotobucketHonestly, I wish I could get one of these for every member of my family. Seriously! Look at how they work: the horizontal piece for the seat can move to any height using the cool slots on the inside of the “Z” pieces, making it fully adjustable and customizable. Mr. Handsome can have a low seat, Kiddo1’s medium and Baby2 can have a nice high seat so we’re all looking at each other at about the same height. Genius!

stokkebaby

  • The chair has an attachment (sold separately) so baby can get all strapped in and safe. Of course baby needs to be able to sit up, but this milestone usually coordinates nicely with the introduction of solids, so no worries there.
  • See above versatility – this chair literally grows with you!
  • Okay so it’s all wood which accounts for the optional seat pad, but the back is curved so reviews say it is pretty comfortable. And it’s not like it’s a lounge chair or anything. Dinner only lasts so long!
  • I love modern furniture so this is a great looking chair in my book!
  • All this awesomeness aside, these chairs aren’t cheap. They run $200 each on the low end, so getting one for each member of my family probably isn’t going to happen at this time. We could get one now and one every, I don’t know, year or so until we have four. That’s quite a commitment to chairs, though.

The Basic: Fisher-Price Table Time Turtle Booster
turtlebooster

  • Reviews describe it as safe because it has non-slip rubber on the bottom and straps on to the chair securely plus there’s a harness to strap the little one into the booster itself. I wonder if a baby just starting out on solids (six months or so) could handle such a minimalist seat, but we can always see how it goes.
  • It could be used for any table activity, such as a game or art project, because it can be pulled right up to the table.
  • It doesn’t look like the most comfortable seat in the world since it’s made of hard plastic, but reviews say it’s a snap to clean, just wipe it down. Plus the same could be said of this chair as the Stokke: you don’t spend a whole lot of time at the dinner table! At least not in one sitting.
  • I think the little turtle is adorable and what child wouldn’t like it? One who doesn’t like turtles I suppose… Sure it isn’t the most grown-up thing in the kitchen but it’s little so it can be put away if needed.
  • It costs less than $15. Nuff said I think!

The only problem with this option is that we don’t really have kitchen chairs. We use stools because they’re stackable, lightweight and they won’t break. We used to have real chairs, but they were clearance from IKEA and they broke. All three of them (no, actually two of them broke, while we were sitting in them, so the third is condemned to the basement because we’re too frugal to actually get rid of it. “Oh I’m sure we can use it for something!” I’m not really sure why we think this).

So in order to make this option work we’d need to buy real chairs. Which does make “The Platinum” option more feasible. We’ll see!

Whew! All that just for eating?! Next post will be about Home gear. I think that actually might be a two-part post… Stay tuned!