Baby Registry Favorites

Now that Declan is almost 6 months new (seriously, whoa) I’ve had plenty of time to put to use all the items I registered for.  Here’s a roundup of products we’ve gotten a lot of use out of these past few months:

Stick Girl JAM Baby Registry Favorites 1

 

1. Aden+Anais swaddling blankets are on everyone’s list and for good reason too. They’re soft from the get go and large enough to make swaddling simple. Yes, they’re expensive blankets. Get them anyway. Sevenly sometimes has them in stock, which is neat because $7 from your purchase will benefit a worthy cause.

2. Puj Tub — What a great design! Folds flat for easy storage, has magnets so it can stay hidden propped up between a shower curtain and liner (sneaky!) or if you prefer, it’s got a hole to be hung by a hook on the wall, and it conforms shape inside a sink to cushion your little babe for bath time.  Declan has now outgrown this but we used it exclusively for bath time up until a few weeks ago. If you have a larger sink, you’ll get longer use out of it. Now we sometimes use it underneath our knees as a cushion while we bathe him in the tub in this Primo EuroBath.

3. Even if you plan on breastfeeding, sometimes you need to give your babe a bottle. This was definitely the case for us and we were happy we had some on hand in advance. A lot of people like the convenience of the Playtex drop-ins but it also means you have to keep buying the drop-in liners since they’re a one-time use and throw away type of deal. Like the k-cups of the baby bottle world, if you will. We use Born Free glass bottles and really like them and we also have a few Dr. Brown’s plastic since we didn’t know if our daycare provider would allow for glass (she does).  I also still really love these Lifefactory glass bottles that can transition to a sippy cup top, but keep in mind that glass is heavier for littles to handle (hence the silicone sleeve to protect if dropped).

4. Wubbanub. It’s so fun to say. And a clever little thing too. It’s a small little stuffed animal attached to a soothie pacifier, which helps little ones hold on to it so you’re not constantly fishing it off the floor or the creases of the car seat. 

5. Zippered Wet Bag. This is one of those items I didn’t register for but purchased for my diaper bag after he was born so we could put dirty diapers and soiled clothes in it while on-the-go.  It’s either this or buy dog poop bags and keep a roll in your diaper bag and car. (But note that if you buy the ones specifically marketed as disposable dirty diaper baggies, they’re like 5 times more expensive than dog poop bags. You’re welcome. Check out Arm & Hammer, PoopBags.com (for real, that’s a legit website) or any generic brand.  If you’re like me and shop a lot on diapers.com/soap.com just click on the wag.com tab and buy them there and save yourself some money.) I have this wet bag and we love it. We also bought this multi-compartment wet bag for daycare so they could send home dirty clothes in a separate compartment than the clean ones.

 

Stick Girl JAM baby registry favorites 2

6. I have a pretty floral nursing cover, aptly titled (and embroidered on the cover for all to see) Hooter Hiders that stays in my diaper bag. I love it because it has a wire open top to allow some air flow for the little guy. I also adore the Dria Cover, which stays in my pumping bag for work.  I have the Oslo style, though they’re all quite lovely and I wore it multiple times while pregnant. In addition to allowing you to nurse discreetly, both do triple duty as a car seat cover or blanket (but the Dria is much softer and more breathable fabric).

7.  The NoseFrida. Yes, the snotsucker. I know, I know. Sounds gross but it works. And no, you don’t get boogers in your mouth. Promise. Plus, it’s oddly gratifying to see that you’re actually getting gunk out of your kid’s nose. Especially since they’re screaming and wailing all the while.

8. Alba Botanica Multi-Purpose Un-Petroleum Jelly has become a magic elixir in our house. We use it to combat the tiny red bumps and chapped skin Declan gets from all the drooling and hand-slobbering, and to prevent diaper rash.  Even Mumbles and I keep one on our bathroom sink to use for cuticles (if your nail beds suck), parched lips, and dry skin patches.

9. Speaking of snot, Declan’s full of it. Poor kid has had a rough time getting rid of congestion so we run this cool mist humidifier almost every night to keep the air moist so it’s easier for him to sleep soundly and breeeeeaaathe. The machine is very quiet but it does provide a bit of peaceful ambient noise.

10. A Sound Machine. The rule in our house is that baby doesn’t go to sleep without some noise going on.  Because, if he’s put to bed with total silence, the smallest thing like a spoon scraping the first glorious bite of ice cream out of the bowl will wake him up. Not cool, bro.  We’ve got the cute Sleep Sheep from Pottery Barn and it does the job well, though it automatically shuts off after a while. Baaaaaa!

11. Halo Sleep Sack. Since blankets in the crib are a no-no, a wearable blanket is a must. We actually learned about the Halo from a daycare center we interviewed and it’s worked out really well for us.  We might need to get a lighter fabric for summertime, but it helps keep Declan’s feet corralled so he’s not kicking and flailing in his sleep. His arms are another story, however.  We gave the Woombie a try but once he was done with the swaddle phase, he really wanted his arms free.  If you’re looking for a swaddle/straight-jacket experience for baby, give the Woombie a go.

Stick Girl JAM baby registry favorites 3

 

12. Dressing up your kid is probably one of the most fun parts but the honest side of having a newborn is that you get really sick of changing diapers and outfits two minutes after you got your wiggle worm into the last clean one.  Enter zippered pajamas, aka the best things ever invented.  The most superb ones zip closed from the neck down so in the middle of the night when your baby is all snugly and warm, you can just unzip from the foot to belly and get that diaper changed quick. Genius!

13. I don’t know about your baby, but Declan is a spitty kiddy. I never registered for bibs because I associated them with eating food, but Mumbles and I had quite the “aha!” moment when we realized he should be wearing them for the constant drool and aforementioned spit up. Luckily one of my girlfriends gifted us this one from Cotton On, which quickly became the one we reach for first because of it’s large square size.

14. If you’re doing daycare, a backpack or tote bag (with or without your kid’s name on it) is necessary. The bag will carry extra sets of clothes, pacifier, teething ring, burp cloth, socks, diaper cream, lotion, sunscreen, etc. and if it is big enough, would also carry a cooler with bottles for the day. Throw in an empty wet bag so nanny can put soiled clothes in the wet bag and keep everything else clean. Here’s how we do it: we have this cooler lunch tote from Kipling with Declan’s name on it (so the bottles don’t get mixed up), and a wet/dry bag which has two zippered pockets – one for soiled clothes that’s empty at the beginning of the day and another pocket where we put his clean outfits).

15. Burp Cloths. Sure, there’s lots of fancy ones out there and some of our friends and family even made us some really adorable ones. Buuuut, my favorite go-to burp cloths to keep on hand are old school ones like these Gerber cloth diapers. Super cheap, absorbent and big enough to actually catch projectile grossness coming out of your baby’s face and onto the clean shirt you just put on.

 

3 Things I could live without and notes on other items:

My one big baby splurge was this Graham Glider from West Elm. I love it. It’s in our living room. It’s beautiful.  That said, if I was tight on space, I could probably do without it. Declan’s nursery is quite large so we had room to keep our full daybed in there to act like a couch/sleeping space for nights when little man needs some extra cuddle time.  It’s the perfect spot to nurse and do story time for us.  Speaking of nursing, I don’t use the My Brest Friend as often as I should. I should. I really should. And, I’d recommend you use one or the Boppy…or something.  I’ve gotten in the habit of just propping up my arm with pillows but what I can tell you is that my posture is total crap now. And my neck hurts from hunching down.  Lastly, everyone said that I must get a wipe warmer and while it’s a nice spa-like luxury on baby’s bum, truth is, Declan could really care less. When we’re on-the-go or at Grammie’s house, he’s not getting warmed wipes and he is just as smiley so I don’t recommend that one unless you find that your baby absolutely hates being changed and you need something to make the experience more enjoyable.

More…

Of course there’s a zillion things I didn’t mention like video monitors, diapers, wipes, cribs, bedding, changing pads + covers, toys, books, diaper pails, baby carriers, car seats, strollers…geesh! Little babies need lots of stuff!  If you want to pour over more baby registry roundups (I read blog posts and product reviews for hours on end!), clear your afternoon schedule to check out some of my favorites from Lucie’s List, The Wise Baby, Young House Love, 100 Layer CakeletA Cup of JoBubby and Bean, Oh So Beautiful Paper, and Mint Arrow.

 

 

What No One Tells You About Having A Baby

I want to preface this post by saying that these seven things are based solely on my own pregnancy, labor and postpartum experiences. Everyone has a different story to tell and deals with it all in their own unique way.  That’s the main take-away from it all — everyone is different — but here are some of the things that surprised me or what I wish someone would have told me:

1. “You don’t get a medal for a natural birth.” Actually, my mom did tell me this and I was so thankful to hear it. It really took the pressure off of me to feel like I had to have the same birth experience as anyone else or that one way was better than any other of one million scenarios I might be faced with. What a relief! Because Declan’s birth definitely didn’t go the way I had envisioned. The best way to give birth is the way that keeps you healthy and happy. After laboring for almost 12 hours, that epidural was a welcome part of my labor experience and I was beyond grateful for it. And when the doctor said we might need to have a cesarean, my first thought was of who would be disappointed if that happened, when instead it should have been how I felt about it. The unsolicited advice is sure to flood in while you’re pregnant and it doesn’t stop after you give birth either. No ma’am. But you’re the mom now, you make the decisions. The point here isn’t about a natural or medicated birth, cesarean or vaginal deliveries – it’s to say that it’s your body, your baby, your family, your health. You can thank anyone who gives you their opinion/advice or you can tell them to shove it. Do what’s best for you. And when it’s all over, give yourself a hug and a high five from me.

2. Everything is annoying. I had someone coaching me through labor with breathing, which was encouraging and helpful, but at a certain point the heavy breath sound they made sounded like a loud “shhh” and let me tell you: the last thing you want to hear while you’re sweating and groaning, enduring primal pain is someone telling you to shhh. No, you shhh.

Okay, so maybe it isn’t that specific thing that annoys you, but it will be something. Or everything. The smell of someone’s perfume or food during labor (which is a really jerk move if mama is not allowed to eat anything but ice chips and all she wants is a bacon cheeseburger), random strangers touching your belly while you’re pregnant (eww. and it’s almost illegal in some places.), the fact that your feet are so swollen you don’t fit into your own shoes anymore…let’s just say it’s okay to be cranky for a long while. You birthed a human. You get a pass.

3. You’ll be sore. Like really, really sore. In places you didn’t think you would be. While pregnant, I could feel some of my bones moving and making room. Ouch. But the most surprising for me was my arms a few days after giving birth. “Why the heck are my arms tired?” I wondered. Oh, you wanna know why? Because I was holding my legs spread open for three hours while I was pushing a human out of me. Also, every centimeter of my neck was sore from curling into myself and straining at the start of each push.  So, word to the pregnant/wise: work out. Like, just a little. Do some stretching or yoga…maybe get some of those resistance bands. Because not only was I sore after delivering, when our little babe started packing on the pounds, this mama was getting quite the workout from all the bending and lifting. (On the plus side, I think I’ll have hot mom arms in no time.)

4. For the first few weeks at home, your boobs are out all the time. All. The. Time. Invest in a good robe, lots of nursing tops or good curtains. We moved to a new neighborhood just before Declan was born so I’m not sure if we have nosy neighbors. If we do, I think I’m probably going to be a popular lady on our block.

5. Just when you figure out one thing, something else. For us, we had latch problems at the get-go so Declan lost too much weight. We supplemented with formula for one day until my milk came in (my goodness is that uncomfortable!) and then I nursed and pumped to supplement with breast milk for a week and he gained two pounds so they told us to stop. Oi. Then his frenulum was just a bit too tight so we had it snipped. And all this with cracked, sore nipples, bleeding so much you’re practically in diapers yourself, not showering, not sleeping, hardly enough time to eat a decent meal, and trying to recover from major trauma to your lady parts while riding an emotional roller coaster. It’s rough. Which leads me to…

6. It’s okay to cry a lot. I was so relieved the first time one of my mom friends humored and comforted me in solidarity that the first few weeks with a newborn are pretty miserable. Why don’t you ever hear this? No one tells you. Of course you love your baby. Of course. But it cries all the time (which is enough to drive you crazy), it’s hungry all the time (so your boobs are super sore), it only sleeps in short spurts (so if you weren’t crazy before, you are now), and you hardly have time for teeth brushing, showering, eating, full sentences. What is there to love about all that? Yet I was bombarded with texts and Facebook messages asking me if motherhood was “total bliss” or if I was “in love with being a mommy.” Those first few weeks? No. The answer is no. Sometimes you’ve fed, burped, changed, held, snuggled, and changed that diaper (for the fourth time) and yet he’s still crying?  WHY?!?!?  Ahhhh!!!

Giving birth is hard. Having a baby is hard. Breast feeding is hard. Sacrificing the life you had in order to care for a helpless little human that relies on you for absolutely everything and cries loudly and spits up on the shirt you just found the energy to change into is not fun, nor is it glamorous. It’s okay to have feelings that aren’t rosy and it’s more than okay to ask for help. Please do. Other moms have been through it. They get it and they’ll help you get through it with a bit of humor and sanity too. (Let’s not forget that post-partum depression is real and affects a lot of women. It’s important to identify your emotions and talk openly with your partner and doctor. This article outlining varying thoughts and feelings you might experience was a great read for me and helped me to understand my various states of emotion.) If you’ve had a baby and it’s been all bunnies and sunshine and roses, that’s so great for you. Congratulations. Please share your secrets. But, for the rest of us: it’s okay. You’re a good mom. It’ll get better and easier (which is what all my mom friends encouraged me with…and it is, day by day).

7. You’ll love your dog more. So, so many people warned us while we were expecting that as soon as the baby arrived, Baxter wouldn’t get as much love or attention. On the contrary, having a newborn has given us a whole new level of appreciation for our fur baby. He seems so easy now; he entertains himself, eats and relieves himself without crying and, heck, he even burps himself! When Declan goes down for a nap, the first thing Mumbles and I do is curl up with Baxter on the couch for some quality cuddle time. Love that little guy! (Oh, and don’t believe anyone that says having a dog is a good introduction to having a baby — lies, LIES I tell you!)

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What are some things you wish people had told you about giving birth or having a baby? I’d love to hear your stories!!

 

Read more “what you don’t expect when you’re expecting” stories via CNN here.

Declan’s Birth Story

In honor of my birthday today, I decided to share Declan’s birth story. I contemplated whether or not to write about it – wondering if it’s too personal? Too much information? Who really cares? He’s here, he’s healthy, the details shouldn’t matter much at this point, right? Well, I had a pretty frustrating and tough labor experience and it was definitely not what I had planned for. I don’t think I could have done anything differently to make it any smoother or quicker or easier. It’s definitely the most trying and difficult experience of my life. Not to mention excruciating and emotional and exhausting. So, more for my sake than anyone else’s, here it is if you’re interested in reading the full thing. If not, just skip to the bottom to see the photo and leave a comment to tell me what a cute baby Mumbles and I made. Thanks!

My attitude about my entire birth plan was very “we’ll see how it goes.” Natural or medicated? I decided to go all natural for as long as I could but I definitely wasn’t opposed to medications and drugs if I felt I needed them to cope. Position? I planned to try all the ones I knew I liked to see what worked best. In the birthing classes, I most enjoyed the “birthing ball” so we brought an exercise ball from home for me to sit on, lean on and hang over.

Mumbles’s aunt used to be a midwife and she flew down from Washington a few weeks before Declan’s due date to help us with the labor experience. We all thought he might come a bit early so you can imagine our surprise when his due date came and went with contractions on and off but nothing serious to report. I’d been at 2 cm dilated for about two weeks when nine days after his due date we were scheduled at the hospital for a non-stress test. Full well thinking we’d have the test and Mumbles would kiss me goodbye and head off to work and I’d go pick up our custom order of grout at Lowe’s (who decides to buy a new house and completely renovate it while expecting a baby? we did.), Mumbles and I dressed for the day and drove separate cars to the hospital, leaving my hospital and baby bag at home. Oops. Declan and I failed that test, boy did we ever. According to the nurse (my first of many), my placenta was getting old (for some reason I was offended to hear this) and there was not enough amniotic fluid to provide nutrients for the little guy if he decided to stay inside any longer. Apparently failing that one aspect of the test alone was reason enough to admit me right away, but Declan’s heart rate was also dropping sporadically after contractions, and that, too, was serious cause for concern. The non-stress test began at 8:10 a.m. and by 10:30 I was in a labor and delivery room talking with a doctor about our options for induction.

During our birthing classes we had learned about different types of induction and interventions but having expected my labor to start naturally, we hadn’t put much thought into what we’d prefer. We decided to start with a balloon induction, which I’d never heard of but sounded like a more mild start to labor than pitocin. Who doesn’t love balloons, right?  Well, this one comes with a small catheter.  The balloon is on the end of the catheter and after the catheter is inserted, the balloon inflated at the opening of the cervix to coax it to open up to 4-5 cm, at which point it would simply fall out and hopefully encourage contractions for further opening of the cervix. By the afternoon the balloon had done its job but I wasn’t making any more progress despite contractions growing in intensity…so they started the pitocin. Declan’s heart rate was still not handling contractions well, which escalated any time the dose of pitocin was increased so instead of gradually increasing my dosage to encourage stronger contractions, the nurses had to decrease it to keep us both safe. I’m not sure how long they all stayed, but my brother, dad, sister, niece, sisters-in-law and their other halves all made waiting room appearances and took turns escorting me during my walking laps around the labor and delivery ward.

At around 9 p.m. I declared I could no longer endure the contractions knowing they weren’t productive – I was no more dilated than I’d been early that afternoon and I still had 5 more cm to go before the pushing even began. Wah wah wah…

Thank the Lord for that epidural! I was so relieved to relax a bit and I even got some small spurts of sleep that night, which I desperately needed to continue laboring the following day. I was so grateful for the epidural but I could have done without the anesthesiologist telling me I had a slight case of scoliosis. “Just a few centimeters, did you know?” No, I didn’t, but right now is really not the best time to mention that, jerk. Thanks.

Poor Mumbles, his mom and my mom were all in the delivery room with me and didn’t get a wink of sleep. Around 3 or 4 a.m. the doctor (at this point I’d seen about a dozen nurses, doctors and midwives through shift changes – I wish I would’ve had someone keep a tally) reported that I’d made no progress and was still at 5 cm. Completely defeated, Mumbles and I were even more discouraged when the doctor advised that she’d be asking the nurse to make the preparations for a cesarean. We agreed at that point that we wanted to do whatever was safest for the baby and me, and to be honest at that point I didn’t see how I could go on much longer. In the back of my mind, though, I was wondering if I’d regret not being able to deliver him vaginally. I remember asking over and over if Mumbles would be sad or disappointed and feeling comforted by his response as he continued to thank me and praise me for lovingly carrying our son all these months and working so hard for so long already to bring him into the world. As we agreed to discuss the cesarean plan with the nurse and doctor, the nurse kindly let us know that she hadn’t fully increased the pitocin dosage and, if the doctor would agree to wait a few hours, it might be worth a shot. We agreed. Before long, the doctor returned to check my progress and I was at 7 cm! Yahoo! But, alas, still 3 more to go…she told us we could wait just a few more hours and by 10:30 a.m. — 24 hours after I’d been admitted — I finally reached 10 cm. And then it was time to push.

Pushing is a very odd thing. After all that laboring, I really figured it would be easier. The actual act of pushing provides some relief to the inexplicable combination of pressure and pain of a human head trying to exit your body through a small canal. But when you’re not pushing and that head is just there, pressing pressing pressing and not moving, gosh does that hurt. And easy it was not. For some women, you hear they pushed a few times and the babe just slid on out. I was not that woman. My legs up in the air, calves resting on stirrups so my shins were parallel to the floor, I was urged to curl my chin down into my chest, roll my head forward and push push push while holding my breath instead of breathing through each contraction.  To get better traction, the nurse encouraged me to grab hold of handlebars on the bed or grab the insides of my own thighs as leverage to push harder. I remember someone saying at one point that an hour and a half had gone by and that the doctors wouldn’t let me push for more than three or four hours before requiring an emergency c-section. And at that point I almost wanted to beg for the cesarean just so it would end and I wouldn’t feel it any more. I kept trying to think about the millions of women who’d done this before me (wondering why…why do they do it? It hurts so bad!) and reminding myself that if I could push better he’d be out quicker and it would be over. And the doctor wouldn’t have to keep checking around up in there, wouldn’t need to get out forceps and we wouldn’t need a vacuum to get Declan out.  So, that became my goal: for it to be over.

And then, three hours after I’d started pushing, a total of 27 hours after I’d been admitted, it was.

Amazing.
Painful.
Intense.
Emotional.
Physical.
Mental.
Miraculous.

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Declan Vincent was born at 1:27 p.m. at 7 lbs. 7 oz and 21 inches long.

Pregnancy Predictors

Getting the “are you pregnant?” question is not a good one if you aren’t. See this young house love post on the topic (aptly titled “State of the Uterus” and also, watch the movie Two Weeks Notice).  Since finding out we’re expecting, I’ve had a few run-ins which have surprised and stunned me.

Days before I even took a test, I was having crazy, vivid dreams. I went to lunch with Mumbles, his mom and sister and I was telling them all about a funny dream I’d had where I popped out a baby not knowing I was expecting.  In the dream, Mumbles’s older brother and his wife were very angry with us and our lack of preparation.  “But I didn’t know I was pregnant!” I kept exclaiming a la Ross Gellar and “We were on a break!”  It was a funny little episode, my dream, in that I kept saying things like, “Well, we’ll just head to the store and get baby stuff…you can help. Come on, grab the babe.” and then his brother would get furious and remind me we couldn’t just put the baby in the car because I wasn’t prepared with a car seat.  Oh, right.  Well, you can see it was quite an elaborate and comedic dream. When I finished telling the story, my sister-in-law flatly said “I bet you’ll get pregnant in like 3 weeks.”  Oh, you!   And then the next day I had a positive pregnancy test in my hands.

Just after I’d found out, I had a meeting with a client who asked me in a sweet, polite way if we were trying/expecting and though I hadn’t told anyone I couldn’t hide my grin. It was so uncanny that she’d sensed it so early on. I thought for sure I must have a glob of pizza sauce on the side of my face, having just scarfed down a slice before she arrived. But, no, apparently it was my demure glow. (At least that’s what I’m going with).

In late March, I was out to lunch with all my coworkers (none of whom I’d told at this point) when the owner of the shop started telling me all about the space I could reserve for my baby shower. I nervously wondered if I was showing (my pants were totally unbuttoned but I thought I layered over them well). I dusted it off to assume he saw my wedding rings and just figured I was young enough to have a baby shower somewhere in my future.

Do you have a funny “are you pregnant story?” or ever think someone knew before you actually told them?