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Archive for May, 2012
I’ve made a big point in my blog about wanting the best for our baby, but at the best price possible. While I’m sure we’ll never be “done” with baby purchases, I used our registry completion code to finish getting everything that’s a top priority.
What We Have
1. The teething toys we bought look identical to these, but they’re the bright starts brand. Our requirement for water/gel filled teethes is they need to be freezer safe. I don’t want to have to remember which ones can freeze when I’m sleep deprived and dealing with a cranky baby! I don’t believe the ones I linked to are freezer safe.
2. We purchased the blue & white hair brush and nail clippers in store, not the orange and white that I linked to.
3. We purchased two baby gates in white, not black.
We were also very fortunate to get baby blankets, board books and a nursing cover from friends and family. Thank you again for your generosity!
What We Still Need Or Are Still Considering
Three Wheeled Stroller – Like I said, we’re probably going to wait until the 2013 models come out to look for a deal on the 2012 models. We won’t need it until then anyway. I’ve been watching the sale fliers that come my way, if I see a good deal I may get one early.
Car Seat for Domingo’s Car – We’re going to get this for Domingo’s car once my maternity leave ends. We won’t need it until then. Our plan is to get a convertible car seat, rather than a second infant base. At the end of my maternity leave, we’ll have some experience with the infant seat to know whether that’s a good idea or not.
Mattress & Crib Sheets – I’ve been holding off on these until the crib is assembled, so I can be sure I’m getting the right size. I also want to feel the mattress firmness in person. The AAP suggests a firm mattress, and some mattresses that are labeled as “firm” don’t feel very firm to me. I’m also very picky about textures in sheets. I have a coupon for 20% off Babies R Us and it looks like I can apply it to mattresses, so there’s no harm in waiting.
Baby Bath Tub – Since I’m still undecided about this one, we’re passing in favor of sponge baths for now. I really like the folding, space saver tubs, but they’re a little steep for me price wise.
An infant carrier – I’m leaning towards a Moby Wrap, but the criticism of them is they can be warm. We’re heading into one of the warmest summers on record for our area (California) and expecting a June/July baby.
As you can see, we didn’t get a ton of baby gear. We decided if there was any question about whether we would use something, we would hold off on purchasing it. I’d rather get nicer things that we know we need, then baby gear that sits in a box for a year before being donated! Some items may seem like a really good idea, but be impractical in practice. (I mentioned in a couple of previous posts that some popular baby gear wouldn’t be practical for us given where we live and our current life style here and here.)
I’m pretty happy with what we got, and the prices we paid. I was able to find many sales for between 20-30% off, and I did score few things for over 40% off! Those big sales added up, which was great because some items are very hard to find on sale! Overall, I saved over 19%!
Sure, I could have done better. There were a couple of times I’d purchase something at the lowest price I’ve ever seen it, only to see it dip slightly lower a few months later. I estimated I overspent by about $50. But it would have required premonition to spend perfectly. And we are working against a clock. I didn’t want to hold off on a great deal on the possibility there’d be an awesome deal that never comes and find myself needing to paying retail.
The big question now, though, is did we get the right gear? Only time will tell.
Best advice I have:
* Start as early as possible. Our first purchase was on black Friday. (Well, actually we did buy a few onesies as soon as we found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t help myself!) Starting early meant we could spread out our purchases and wait for good deals, like on the breast pump. Some stores have annual or semi annual sales on certain categories of products. Babies R’ Us had a two day sale on activity gyms at one point, and I snagged the Lamaze Space Symphony Motion Gym for only $44 + $6 for shipping! (I could have saved myself that shipping charge if I was willing to drive 2 hours round trip to the nearest store that had the gyms in stock, but even I’m not that crazy.) If you give yourself enough time and can wait, you can snag a great deal. In fact, our average savings on items that retail for over $100? 21%!
* Once you know what you want, keep track of prices so you know when a deal is actually a deal. I got the skip hop pronto changing pad from Amazon Warehouse for $17.66. It was technically marked as opened box/damaged box, but still had the tags attached. A month later I noticed Amazon Warehouse selling another used one for $22.32, a 26% increase! And it’s not like it could have been in better condition.
* Shop around. I found the best prices for items under $10 was usually Target. Even Target’s regular price typically beat everyone else’s price with a registry completion discount. Amazon had really good every day prices on big ticket items, but you can usually beat them with a 20% off coupon at Buy Buy Baby. (Of course, you only get so many Buy Buy Baby coupons in a year!)
What tactics weren’t as useful for getting great deals:
* The google alerts seemed like such a good idea, but they never triggered. It may be my fault. Maybe I didn’t include the right words to trigger on. Still, I was disappointed.
* I didn’t end up doing as much second hand shopping as I initially expected. Even the onesies (which half came from the clearance rack!) ended up all being brand new. I think I prefer outlet/clearance shopping to consignment/second hand, anyway. I did shop the Amazon Warehouse, since they had a great return policy, but I didn’t buy much from them. Their items were so gently used that most of their prices are typically only discounted 10-15%, but they occasional have some really great deals. Be sure to check the item condition before making a purchase!
* Don’t wait too long on items that are trending. Once something becomes popular, expect the price to go up and stay up. There were a couple toys I was considering, like the Ocean Wonders Soothe or Sophie the Giraffe, but the price kept creeping up. Once I know I missed a good deal, I get frustrated and no longer want to purchase the product. I plan to keep my price watch active, in case the price dips again. There’s always this year’s Black Friday!
* Registration completion discounts kindda suck. Not only was the discount low in comparison (only 10% compared to those 20-30% deals), but if you return anything you lose the entire discount! Actually, this isn’t uncommon with this type of coupon that applies to your entire cart, but it’s still annoying. You need to be absolutely sure you are only purchasing what you want. This means if you’re ordering crib sheets you need to be sure they will fit your mattress, and if you’re ordering a mattress you need to be sure it will fit your crib. I still love lists, and the registry was worth it to keep me organized! In the future, though, I won’t rely on the completion discount as much.
Domingo: It’s our last three day weekend before the baby comes, do you want to do something fun?
Sarah (excited): Let’s organize the filing cabinet!
Okay, so my definition of “fun” may not be the conventional one.
I finished my paper at about 2:45 am (due at 3:00 am!) Saturday morning. Actually, it wasn’t done, done. I wasn’t able to do as much during the past couple of weeks as I would have liked, so I had more ideas I never got a chance to try. It’s just something I have to accept, I guess. My energy level just isn’t the same as other graduate students.
Even though it was a late night, I still got up early Saturday morning (thanks Zippy!). I was so tired I took a three hour nap in the middle of the day. Sunday wasn’t much better. I was able to sleep a bit more Saturday night, but didn’t feel like going out until the end of the day Sunday. Then I was only able to shop for a couple of hours before heading home for an early bedtime.
Still, despite feeling a bit like zombie, we did manage to accomplish a fair amount. On Sunday night we went clothes shopping. We only had a couple onesies for Zippy, and needed more. Babies R Us was having a 50% off select brands, so it’s perfect timing. Every book I read said not to overload on newborn clothes, usually sized for 5-8 lbs, or 0-3 months, usually 8-11 lbs. Some babies are born at 10+ lbs, and skip those sizes. In fact, the two most recent babies in my circle of friends were both over 9 lbs!
While we’re not expecting a big baby, anything is possible. I bought a couple packages of newborn size onesies, so we now have 18 in total. Even with 2 or 3 changes a day, that should last us a week before running out of clean clothes. (I’m sure it’s optimistic/naïve to think we could go a full week without running a load of laundry since babies aren’t notoriously known for being clean!) The packs came with a lot of butterflies, hearts and flowers patterns, which aren’t really my style. But they are decent and I don’t want to spend too much time or money fixating on a size she may never wear. There were a couple of really adorable onesies that were my style, so I got those in 0-3 months and 3-6 months sizes. I’d hate for zippy to only be able to wear them once or twice before outgrowing them. I also figure keeping a couple on hand for growth spurts will be useful.
I have cut the tags off and will wash nine of the newborn onesies. I plan on keeping the receipt for the other nine (a five pack and a four pack), just in case. If Zippy is close to the size cutoff, I’ll try and make do with the first nine and return the last. If Zippy is too big for them right away, the washed onesies will go straight to charity. If she’s on the small side and I need more, I can always head back to the store!
While we were out, we also got burp clothes. Or rather cloth diaper tri-fold inserts to use as burp clothes. They’re kind of boring (plain white) but everyone online and my mom swears by them. After I opened the package I could see why, they’re large and super thick. I don’t have to worry about excess spittle seeping through! I’d go for functionality over appearance any day. The question in my mind now is “how many to get?”.
We also needed wipes and diapers. This one was harder for me, only because I like to buy in bulk to save. But we don’t know how big she’ll be, what will fit her, or what her skin sensitivity will be. I went with a three pack of wipes (to last two to three weeks) and a small pack of newborn diapers from three different brands. That way we can try the different brands, and go with the one that fits her best. I’m hoping to go the first two weeks without needing to go to the store for anything – clothes, wipes, diapers, etc. When we know what works for us, we’ll stock up!
Monday morning we made a couple of freezer meals (meat sauce for spaghetti, and chili). We’ve been freezing the spaghetti sauce in single servings throughout the pregnancy, since it’s been one of the things I’ve been able to consistently eat well, and with zippy sometimes compressing my stomach, it’s hard to predict when I’m hungry enough for a meal. I love the flexibility that single servings brings. It’s just as easy to thaw two as it is to thaw one! Our plan is to spend an hour or two each weekend before Zippy comes making more freezer meals. We’ll also stock up on frozen fish, chicken and vegetables.
Oh, and we also organized the filing cabinet! Good times.
I’m 35 weeks pregnant today, which means there’s only 35 days until my due date. I’m working towards a 3AM Saturday paper deadline, but I wanted to post some quick random thoughts for having a bun in my oven that’s 87.5% baked.
My current favorite maternity photo. I’ve improved, no?
Zippy’s movements have really changed the past couple of weeks. I know longer feel the flurry of kicks, but rather her flipping around and stretching. Sometimes it feels like she’s using my abdomen as a bench press. I love being able to make out her little feet!
Zippy has been surprisingly good to my figure. Yes, I have stretch marks and varicose veins, but I haven’t been this happy with the shape of my figure in a long time. I can still fit into, button and sit in my pre-pregnancy jeans without the use of belly bands! Not that I would be comfortable wearing them out in public, but the point is I could.
My belly button reminds me of the bad spot in fruit. I’m still an innie, and my belly has gotten nice and hard lately, except for the belly button which is soft and squishy.
Infant car seats are ridiculously hard to install. Yes, I can write statistical models that predict when I will go into labor, but apparently I can’t install a car seat in a way that feels secure to me. Luckily, our local police department is happy to give it a quick look over (for free!). I’ll make an appointment next week.
It feels like forever since I’ve taken any photos or videos. Yes, we took a few photos on Mother’s day, but I was cold so it wasn’t very many. I also haven’t taken a classic bump style photo in quite a while. So happy a three day weekend is coming up!
When we were sorting through the office to make it a comfortable sleep spot for my parents, I couldn’t get over how much stuff we had and didn’t use. Given how hard it is for me to part with things that in working order (hey, I paid good money for that doodad, maybe I’ll use it some day!) I am determine to not stock up on things we’ll rarely, if ever, use. As we continue to gear up for baby, and the day of our registry completion code nears, I’ve run across a few more popular baby gear items that I think we’ll pass on. At least initially.
Baby Care Timers – I’m thinking specifically about the little electronic devices that keep track of how long it’s been since the last feeding/changing/nap. They typically run around $25, but you can get them for as low as $17 if you shop around. They aren’t really necessary (a pen and paper will do) but they can make life easier, especially when you’re sleep deprived. Still, Domingo and I are leaning towards using a mobile app instead. At one of our baby classes the instructor said she really liked Baby Connect App for it’s ease of use. It’s cross platform, so I should be able to use my iPhone and Domingo can use his droid and we can both update information on the same baby. The cost of two Baby Connect apps for two different phones? $10. We’re also likely to have our mobile phones with us at all times, and I could see my absent minded self forgetting the baby care timer at home. It’s also one less item to lose!
Baby Detergent – Okay, this is technically not “gear”, but it is something many new parents consider purchasing. Domingo and I discussed it, but after reading that most detergents are fine for baby (and confirming it at our pregnancy/newborn care classes), it seems a bit excessive. Domingo and I already use the perfume and dye free detergents anyway, which is what our doctor recommends switching to if our baby has sensitive skin.
Swings/Bouncers – I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone back and forth on these. At first I thought I would get a swing and skip the bouncer. Then I thought I would get both. Now I’m thinking of just getting a bouncer. The big question in my mind is ‘do they provide something extra that baby will want?’ Yes, there’s a motorized component to the swing which gives mama a break. And there’s toys to distract and entertain baby. But I keep coming back to the fact that neither my sister nor I liked the swing. (We didn’t take pacifiers either, my weirdness clearly started in infantdome.) Unlike a pacifier, though, swings are awfully expensive waste if the baby doesn’t take to them. So I pretty much change my mind every couple of days. Given the indecisiveness I think I will hold off on purchases for now. The daycare Zippy will go to has swings, so I can find out from them whether she likes it.
By the way, when undecided about a baby item I general ponder two points:
* What else I could buy for the same money. Sure that diaper wipe warmer is only $20, but for that same $20 I could also get 2 Dr. Suess books. Which would I rather have for baby?
* Is there something I can use instead and would I miss it. Wipes can easily be warmed by holding them in your hand for a few seconds, so I probably wouldn’t miss the wipe warmer.
One question I have on my mind a lot lately, as I’m sure every pregnant woman starts asking, is “what are the odds of my baby coming today?” or “in the next couple of days?”. The trouble is, it’s really hard to find any kind of answer to that question online. Some babies come early, some come late. Any that come between 37 weeks and 42 are considered ‘right on time’. Well, the math nerd in me wasn’t satisfied with that answer.
I previously found this chart online, which uses a normal distribution of mean 40 weeks (or 280 days) and standard deviation of 10 days to estimate the probability of going into labor. Or
A skewed normal and normal distribution are very similar when you’re close to the middle (ie close to the due date.) The two distributions are less similar when you get further from the middle (ie further from the due date.) I was really interested in knowing how likely labor was TODAY, approximately 6 weeks before my due date, so the normal distribution wasn’t going to cut it.
I wanted to estimate a skewed distribution, but how to do that without any data? Fortunately spacefem.com cites several studies which indicates the true likelihood is approximately normal, so I need a skewed normal distribution that is close to
Five hours later…
I wanted to create my model using excel, rather than Matlab or R, two programs especially designed for statistics. I haven’t touched either in a while, and didn’t want to re-learn them. Excel has support for doing normal distributions, but nothing for skewed normal. That meant I had to implement the functions on my own, and my calculus skills are only slightly less rusty than my Matlab or R skills. At some point I probably should have given up and switched over to Matlab, but I was stubborn and determined to get it! It was a matter of pride.
In the end I came up with a skewed normal with location 295, scale 21 and shape -4. This distribution shows approximately 10% of babies will be premature, half of all pregnancies will be early while half will be late, and the squared error between the two distributions is less than
My model (blue) as compared to the normal distribution (red). I plotted them both assuming ’0 days’ as the due date instead of 280 to make it easier to read.
Interesting side note: while the model shows half of women go into labor before their due date, the day with the highest probability of spontaneous labor is 7 days after her due date, which matches conventional wisdom!
So what does this mean for me? Given that zippy isn’t here yet, I have a 0.1% chance of going into labor today and a 1.36% chance of going into labor in the next seven days! That’s 30 times higher than the prediction I was getting with the normal distribution! She also has a probability of 27% of being a Gemini.
Of course this is just an estimate, and all meant to be in good fun. Without data, my model is only a guesstimate. Nevertheless, my math nerd itch has been scratched.
You can try the tool out for yourself here.
My parents visit this week has kicked my butt into high gear because I was embarrassed by the state of our house, and because they were coming explicitly to help. Extra hands make for light work.
In the past three days we:
Called a Hauler. We needed to get rid of all the old, broken down furniture, including the stuff that had piled up in order to make more space for the baby. I’ve been dreading it, especially once I hit seven months pregnant and my mobility and energy were greatly reduced. Domingo and my dad were able to gather up everything that needed to go, so all I had to do was call around and find a good company and schedule a time for them to come out.
Purchased a Car Seat. I kept going back and forth on which one I wanted. I was pretty settled on a brand since Baby Bargains recommended it, but there are so many different choices – Snugride 35 or the Snugride 30? And they come in so many different colors and quality of fabric. But with only !!6!! weeks left until my due date, we had to make a decision. We ended up with the 30. From what I’ve read online, we’re much more likely to out grow it height wise than weight wise anyway, and since both Domingo and I are short, I’m hopeful it will last for a full year. It’s slightly lighter, which will make it nicer for lugging around, and ended up being $30 cheaper than the 35 before coupon.
Purchased a Breast Pump. Despite the Medela Pump in Style recommendations I have been getting from seemingly everyone, I was leaning towards the Ameda Purely Yours since Baby Bargins said the two brands were comparable, and the Purely Yours was much cheaper online than the Pump in Style. That is, until I noticed Babies R Us had a 15% off coupon, and reduced the Pump In Style’s price by $30 online! With coupon, the final price ended up being $229 – about $10 cheaper than the current best Ameda price I could find. I’ve been watching the prices of both pumps for quite a while, and $229 is about as low as I could hope for. Since we will need a pump soon, I decided to purchase now, rather than wait for a possibly better deal.
Picked out a crib. Kind of. The crib has become more of a necessity now that I’m starting to question the safety of sleeping in the rock n’ play. (The warning label says not to leave the baby in it unattended, and isn’t night time sleeping considered unattended?) I want to have the option to use the crib, if I change my mind about the rock n’ play. We went around to Babies R’ Us, BuyBuyBaby, and Target. Babies R’ Us and BuyBuyBaby had really heavy cribs that were big and bulky. They’re great if you like that really heavy look and feel, but I didn’t really want that. Target had cribs I liked and in my price range, but nothing in stock. I hate paying shipping for something that was supposed to be in stock, so I was pretty grumpy. Then it occurred to me that Amazon might have have a few that qualify for free shipping, and sure enough they do! I picked out four that I liked and added them to the registry. We’re about 10 days away from our registry completion discount code, so I will wait until then and get which ever one is in stock and ready to be shipped.
So what’s left? In terms of expensive items, there’s the crib (obviously), stroller, swing and Ergo. The Ergo and swing I think are low priority. I plan to use the rock n’ play initially instead of the swing, and possibly the Moby instead of the ergo for the first couple of months. I’ve read the newborn insert for the Ergo can be very hot, and it’s already predicted to be one of the hottest summers on record for our area, so we’ll stick with a lighter carrier for the first couple of months.
But that’s it. We’ll need diapers, wipes and clothes. We have no diapers! We do have seven newborn onsies, but I’d like to get a couple sleepers. Everything else is optional, or not needed right away. Boy does it feel good to have some major things crossed off our list!
Happy Mothers day to all the moms out there – whether you’re babies be in your arms, in your bellies, or in your dreams!
We are still knee deep in an insane to-do list, but I wanted at least one good outdoor family photo. It was my only request for my first mother’s day!
We had one of our last pregnancy classes today: Newborn Care. I had previously watched a lot of video’s on youtube and been reading my baby care books, but it’s nice to practice in front of an instructor whom you can ask questions as well. She also had some good tips she shared which I hadn’t heard before.
Good Advice We Learned:
Our health care provider (and others) feels rectal temperatures are more precise for infants. I’ve read that before, but I’m still very nervous about the idea of using a rectal thermometer on a squirmy baby. I don’t want to risk hurting her! The instructor suggested using a regular thermometer for under the arm. If it appears like baby has a fever (or is close to having a fever), you can follow up with a rectal temperature for a more accurate temperature reading. That way you’re only taking it when it’s necessary.
She also suggested always assuming you’re baby has mastered more milestones than you are aware of. Just because baby has yet to roll over, doesn’t mean today won’t be the day. After all, he or she will eventually reach the milestone, and there’s a first time for everything. You wouldn’t want to learn baby can roll over when he/she falls off the changing table!
Our Current Thinking:
We’ve been thinking of employing a zone-defense strategy when zippy comes. Since Domingo doesn’t have the necessary equipment to nurse, and zippy will need to eat every 2 to 3 hours initially, I’ll have to be the one to be up with her. I jokingly told Domingo if it’s my responsibility to feed Zippy, it’s his responsibility to feed me. I’m going to do my best to ensure Domingo gets some sleep when there’s no reason for us both to be up, and he’ll take over most of the chores and errands while I’m a feeding/napping zombie.
Of course, once zippy is here, our strategy may go completely out the window. I know it’s worked for some of my friends and not others. One thing the newborn care class stressed – it’s on the job learning. Every baby is different, so we need to be flexible and adapt to whatever Zippy throws at is.
It’s time for a new game plan to get ready for zippy. Now that I’m in my 8th month of pregnancy, my energy and mobility are both greatly diminished. So the new game plan is to focus on the nursery first. We set a goal to have it finished before we get to 37 weeks/full term. I also want to have purchased all the new born essentials we need (including a car seat, we can’t leave the hospital without one!) by then as well. Everything else will move to the nice to have done list. The office is set up well enough for Domingo to work in there, but we will need to organize it a bit better. It would be great to have freezer meals done, but there’s always take out if we need it.
Yesterday we had the nursing chair delivered, which meant moving the old queen sized mattress out of the way to make room. Domingo did most of the heavy lifting, but I did help! I still like the chair, but I’m not loving it as much as last week. It’s not broken in, so to speak, so it’s a little stiffer than the one in the store. I’m sure it’ll soften up over time! I would put the odds at 3-to-1 that Domingo will find me asleep in it when he comes home from work tomorrow.
We followed that up with another trip to the store, where I used coupons to get an Avent Soothie Pacifier for only 79 cents. Next it was off to another store to pick up the new baby gate.
While out shopping also picked out a convertible car seat for Domingo’s car, though we won’t be buying it until the end of my maternity leave. We opted to go with a second car seat over the second base for the infant car seat. My car is a little bigger, newer, and more comfortable, so the plan is to use my car for family outings and for going to and from the hospital. I’ll also be in charge of day care drop-offs and pick-ups. We aren’t planning on using Domingo’s car at all, except that I could be 2 hours away, and could be cut off in the event of an earthquake. Domingo needs the ability to pick Zippy up in an emergency.
A second base for the infant car seat would be half the cost of this convertible car seat we picked out. If we went with the second base, we would still be left needing a second car seat when she out grows the infant seat, anyway. Sure, a convertible car seat is less convenient than an infant car seat, but since she’ll rarely be in Domingo’s car, that doesn’t matter. We’ll also bring the second car seat to check for air travel, which can be notoriously rough on car seats.
Saturday was super productive. As a result, I’m just dead on my feet today. I was only up for a couple hours, before declaring it nap time. The most productive thing I’ve done today is this blog post.