Archive for July, 2012

July 31, 2012

Crunchy or Creamy?

No, I’m not talking about peanut butter, but what kind of mother I’ll be. I knew that I may have an idea of what kind of mother I would want to be before Nicki gets here, but she would also have her own personality and preferences which may be at odds with mine. I’m also a firm believer in “whatever works” and that you never know what will work until you’re actually in the situation, so I tried not to get too hung up on any one ideal. Now that we’re almost a month into things, I’m getting more comfortable in this mom-gig thing. I’m recognizing her cues more, and able to respond to her needs sooner. I can say I’m not crunchy or creamy, but somewhere in the middle.

Sleeping – We co-sleep. Nicki sleeps next to me in her Rock n’ Play. We also have a crib in the nursery that we’ll use when she’s too big for the Rock n’ Play, but for this stage I really love having her close. Being able to look down and see my baby as she sleeps is pretty awesome. Rocking her back to sleep when she stirs in the middle of the night without getting out of bed is pretty great too.

I did also consider bed sharing when we arrived home from the hospital. In those early days it seemed like we would all get more sleep that way. But we didn’t have a specialty bassinet for bed sharing, and our bed didn’t seem safe without one.

Feeding – My goal was to breastfeed, but breastfeeding at the hospital was a big fat failure. We decided to focus first on whether Nicki was getting enough, then about what she was eating (formula or breastmilk) and finally how she was eating (bottle or breast). Luckily for me, Nicki’s preferences are matching mine. She prefers breastmilk over formula, and from the tap over bottled. By the end of the first week we were off formula completely, and by three weeks we were successfully nursing on a regular basis.

We still drink expressed breastmilk from a bottle for some feedings throughout the day. I’m cool with that. It gives Domingo an additional chance to bond with her and provides a break for me. I’d be cool with formula, too, if that’s what we ended up with. Formula is guaranteed to have all the right vitamins. Our health care provider finds most breastfeed babies don’t get enough vitamins, and recommends vitamin drops to breastfeed babies. I am pro-breastmilk for my family primarily for the antibodies, and plan to continue breastfeeding/pumping at least until her immune system kicks in more fully – somewhere between six months to one year. We’ll decide where to go from there once we get there. Some of that will depend on Nicki, and whether she is still interested in nursing/breastmilk.

Diapering – The cheapskate in me loved the idea of cloth diapering. (Not buying new diapers at 35 cents a pop for 10+ changes a day for two years? Sign me up!) But after doing some research I realized disposable diapers may actually have a slightly smaller carbon footprint than cloth. That’s because of the water, energy and detergent needed to clean them. We’re living in a very arid environment, prone to droughts, so I have to believe that’s even more true here. Of course, water, energy and detergent cost something too. So, for us, we decided to stick with disposable diapers.

Baby Wearing – I love it, and, more importantly, she loves it! I wrap Nicki up in the Moby, and she settles down instantly most of the time. She even sleeps in it. It frees up my hands so I can get chores done around the house. We also have an Ergo Baby Carrier for when she gets bigger.

So that’s me. Nicki’s mom. Every day I’m a little better at being Nicki’s mom than the day before.

July 28, 2012

Christmas in July

Hello my name is Sarah and I’m addicted to ornaments.

We weren’t able to make the Hallmark Ornament Premier this year. In fact until today I’ve only left the house twice since Nicki arrived, and that was only for quick errands (under thirty minutes)! My parents are still in town, and offered to watch Nicole while Domingo and I ran out to the store. After we resupplied diapers and wipes, I checked in with my mom. Everyone was doing fine. So we decided to swing by Hallmark and do some fun shopping.

I purchased Cookie Cutter Christmas and Postal Penguins. I felt pretty confident I would not be able to get either one in an after Christmas sale, and they were both so darn cute. Postal Penguins was one I was considering waiting on, but it ended up being nicer than it was in the dream book.

I considered Making Mother-Daughter Memories, since I have Merry Kitchen Magic and King of the Grill aprons, but I don’t like it nearly as much. I think for this one I’ll hold off on for an after Christmas sale. If it’s still available, cool. If not, I won’t be disappointed. I’m also considering A visit from Santa. I do like the ornament, and I like the series, but I don’t feel very attached to any one ornament from the series. I’m perfectly happy with a subset of the series, and not the full series and was able to find the 2010 and 2011 ornaments in an after Christmas sale. I’m sure they will continue to make nice ones that I will be just as happy with if I don’t get this one. I’m definitely not getting the 2012 Season’s Treatings, even in an after Christmas sale. I didn’t like it at all.

I’m still thinking about the The Merry Is in the Making and Baby Makes Three, but there not available until October. I’m not sold on either. Whether I get them will really depend on how they look in person. Of course, I will be getting Deer-ly Loved Cookie. I love the gumdrops!

So it looks like I will wrap up this hallmark season with 3 full priced ornaments, and 2 to 4 half priced ornaments. I got to use my rewards points, so that saved me $3. (I would have saved $5 if I had gone to the premier, but I was having too much fun cooing at my baby girl!)

I’m still on the hunt for a good “Baby’s first Christmas” ornament. I previously thought I’d get the American Greetings 2012 Baby’s first Christmas. Well scratch that, it’s so not my style. Which leaves me with a bit of a dilemma – what should I do for Nikki’s first Christmas? The hunt is on!

While I was searching for the Baby’s first ornament I found the American Greetings “New Home” ornament dated the year we moved in to our first house together. It matches our “First Christmas Together” bride and groom bear, so I promptly purchased it. Nearly half a decade after the fact. Why? Because I’m addicted to ornaments!

July 27, 2012

DIY Newborn Photography

There’s truth in what they say, that the first two weeks are a bit of a blur. I hadn’t made up my mind about newborn photography – whether I would do it myself or higher a professional – but the next thing I knew Nicki was two and a half weeks old and we hadn’t even looked at photographers, let alone booked one! Playing to my fears that we had waited to long, the internet said three weeks is ‘old man age’ for newborns. Newborn photos are easiest for babies 8 to 10 day and younger, when they are the most sleepy. I panicked. Had we missed our opportunity?

I was a bit intimidated. I liked the maternity photos I took, but that was over a period of 40 weeks. I had plenty of time to learn what works. Normally I take hundreds of photos to get a few I really like. Newborns are not exactly known for their patience. I was worried I had waited too long and Nicki was no longer in her sleepy newborn phase. I knew I’d have only a brief window to try.

DIY newborn photography turned out to be not as difficult as I thought. Being behind the camera rather than in front of it, like for DIY Maternity Photography makes a world of difference. Still, I see areas I can improve.

I started with the advice I had read on the internet:
(1) Turn off the A/C and up the heat. Warm babies are happy babies, but naked babies need more heat to be warm! We let the temperature rise to 76 degrees in the house.
(2) Feed baby. Babies with full tummies of warm milk tend to be sleepy, and sleepy babies are more manageable. I stripped Nicki down to her diaper to feed her. I then removed her diaper, wrapped her up in a towel (just in case!) and rocked her to sleep.

I used the love seat for my photo setup. The seat offered me a variety of angles to choose from. I could crotch down to baby’s level or stand up if I wanted to take any looking down at her, shoot with her directly in front of me, or angle to the side. I turned the love seat around so it faced the window and the good light. I also removed the back cushions so the backdrop fabric would drap nicely. The seat cushions were fairly firm, and good for resting baby on. I did try and angle the cushions slightly for a better view of baby by placing a rolled up towel under them the back corner of the cushions. I then put a plastic cover over the couch (we had one pee incident during filming!) and a nice white linen over top to act as the backdrop. Once setup, I was ready to feed and prep the baby.

Nicki still cooperated with me, and I was able to get a sleepy ‘newborn’ photo. Belly full of warm milk, some rocking and she was asleep and pliable (though maybe not as flexible as in her younger weeks. I kid, I kid.)



Nicki did cry the first couple of times I put her on the couch. Since we use the Rock N’ Play she wasn’t used to lying flat on her back (or on her tummy!). But after a few minutes, she calmed down and decided she liked the position. It also helped that we picked early morning, when she’s usually her happiest go-lucky self. Another great aspect of the DIY approach, you can shoot multiple times or multiple days. If baby is fussy and not cooperating one day it’s no problem; just try again tomorrow. The photos I shared were over a couple different iterations. I snap as many photos as I can before she gets fussy and look at them afterwards when she’s down for her nap.

One word of caution: have a spotter/baby calmer. I had my mom help who is a bit of a baby whisperer. She made sure Nicki stayed far from the edge of the couch cushion, so I didn’t have to worry about accidents. She also talked to the baby while I snapped away to help keep baby’s interest and direct baby’s attention. It also made for this hilarious outtake.

Outtake 1: My mom’s hand as she pats the fussy baby.

And, of course, sometimes you strike gold by accident.

Outtake 2: I dub this one “You wish you were as cool as I am”

I knew I wouldn’t get the baby gear 100% right the first try. As a first time mom, I was bound to overlook something, and each baby is unique. What works for one may not work for another. What I didn’t expect was how much my personality would change. Domingo was sure my days of price checking and discount shopping would be over once the baby came. I didn’t believe him. Yet here I am, not only paying full price for a few baby items, but expedited shipping to get it here as quickly as possible too! I even signed up for my first (paid) subscription to Amazon Prime, something I thought I would never do. Waiting to get things on sale is just not always an option anymore.

New Stuff I can’t Live Without:

Moby Wrap
My original intention was to go to the store with Nicki and try on the Moby Wrap and K’tan to see which wrap worked better for me. Then Nicki started getting colicy and I started getting desperate. I sent Domingo out to the nearest store to purchase the Moby in whatever color they had. I didn’t even want to wait the 24 hours to get it at a discount from Amazon! And you know what? Worth. Every. Penny. I can reliably get Nicki to sleep when she’s over tired by wearing her. It’s great for baby and great for mommy too.

My only complaint is the Moby takes some time to get wrapped into. We’ve had a few instances were Nicole was not particularly patient with how long it was taking Mommy. The K’Tan is better in this regard (or at least so I’m told) but since it’s not a one-size-fits-all, I couldn’t send Domingo to the store to purchase one for me. I will get faster with the wrapping. Mommy promises!

Dr. Brown’s Bottle Warmer
If you had asked me about bottle warmers before Nicki was born, I would have said it was a big waste of money. Now I just have two words: life savor. Warming up bottles under the sink certaintly works, but when you’re waking up every two to three hours to (1) pump, (2) change baby, (3) feed baby, (4) clean pumping equipment – having one less thing to think about is invaluable. Now if only they made auto cleaning breast pumps… And auto-cleaning babies…

On a happy side note, breastfeeding is getting easier!

Less Useful than I would have Predicted:

Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Wrap
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these blankets, they’re just much less useful for us then I was hoping. It seems like I’m the only person in the universe who doesn’t love them. We were told to skip the cheap 43′ x 43′ size ones and go straight to the 47′ x 47′. But the 47′ squares were a bit too big for swaddling Nicki initially, and she stopped liking being swaddled before she reached two weeks old! I still do like these blankets as general receiving blankets. They are great for our house which tends to be on the warm side, especially in summer. I just wish I had ordered the slightly smaller (and much cheaper) ones instead. The small blankets woulds would surely last us until winter.

Just watch, my next baby will want to be swaddled until 2 years old and I’ll wish they came in 55′ square versions!

Where my Expectations were off:

Remember how I thought 18 onesies were enough so I wouldn’t have to do laundry more than once a week? Turns out babies poop a lot, and poop stains! We also can shoot through five outfits on a given day, not just two or three. We go through our wardrobe about once every 5 days (and that’s with the new onesies Grandma brought!) but we’re doing laundry daily.

Along a similar vein, 10 burp clothes is not enough. They disappear too easily. We’re now up to 20. I originally wasn’t overly found of the Gerber Trifold Diapers since they’re a bit bland and not cute. I thought about getting some cute burp clothes for when we go out. Well I’m a total convert. They work great!

In terms of diaper bags, I thought we could get by with just a generic tote bag since we had the Skip Hop Pronto Changing Pad. I still think that would have worked, had we not been introducing the bottle. I now want something with an insulated pocket to hold the bottle. I’m still not much of a bag person, and certainty not a fashionable bag person, so I went with a nice black inexpensive bag. I ordered the Graco Optimo Duffle Bag for $36 including tax and shipping. We’ll see how I like it when it arrives.

I also want to mention that having the same brand breast pump as the hospital uses went from nice to awesome when I accidently dropped breastsheild connectors on the hard tile floor and cracked it. Luckily I got one in my accessories kit from the hospital, so I didn’t have to run out to the store!

We’re still sleep deprived, but things are getting easier. We’re more in a routine now, which helps immensely. We’ve also got a little more of a handle on which baby gear works for us.

Motorola Video Baby Monitor
This thing is awesome! Domingo said if it died tomorrow it will still be worth every penny. I’m not sure I would go that far as we’ve only used it for a few days, but there’s no arguing that it’s one of our favorite, most useful pieces of baby gear so far.

I love having the ability to spy on Nicole as she’s sleeping. Nicki is not a very sound sleeper most of the time. She also likes to “talk” in her sleep. She makes this loud “harrum” as she settles back down. It’s nice to be able to see if she’s truly awake or just stirring. Without the video ability I’m sure I’d accidently wake her up by checking on her. I also love zooming in on her face. So cute.

Nicki on the Monitor

The monitor also shows the temperature, which is handy for us. Our AC sometimes has a hard time combating the summer heat and I’m constantly worried if Nicki is too hot or too cold. I read a review online that the temperature was inaccurate, but that does not appear to be the case for us. We have another temperature gauge in the master bedroom because of the heat fluctuations, and so far the two devices haven’t differed by more than 2 degrees.

I previously thought a video monitor splurg, and that we didn’t even need an audio monitor given the size of our house. Turns out that was only mostly true. We can hear the baby pretty well without the monitor – unless the dishwasher, or laundry machine is running. Then we can’t hear her until she reaches utter meltdown decibels. With a newborn, the laundry machine is always running!

If I have to nitpick, my only complaint is that the device turns off the display if not plugged in for some period of time. It does this to conserve power, and you can always turn it back on, but it would be nice if there was a way to set the display to remain on indefinitely. If I’m eating dinner at the table, I don’t want to move the power adapter, but it would be nice to see the baby during the whole meal.

Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump
At the time I bought the Medela Pump in Style I was indifferent between it and the Ameda Purely Yours pump. I went with the Medela because it was the one on sale, and I’m glad I did.

Medela is also the brand our hospital uses. I had some initial issues breastfeeding Nicki right away, so I ended up using the hospital’s pump while I was admitted. The hospital pump I borrowed came with a bag of sterile accessories – accessories they wouldn’t reuse regardless of whether I used them or not. I got to take them home with me when I was discharged. Since I had a Medela at home, I now have quite a nice set of accessories! I’m sure the bottles would have also worked with the Ameda, but I’m a matchy-matchy kind of person, so it was nice to have the same brand pump as the hospital, and duplicates of a few items.

I also love Medela’s customer service. The second day Nicki was home, the spoke the tubing plugs into snapped off. It was only the third time I had used the pump! I was near tears thinking I would have to buy a brand new pump to the tune of a couple hundred dollars because it was a piece on the pump itself that had broken. (Postpartum hormones?) I knew I could probably send it somewhere to be repaired, but that could take weeks, and I had a four day old Baby who needed to be fed! Medela customer support overnighted me a new face plate for my pump. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottles
Despite the difficulties, it is still my goal to breastfeed. I had purchased the Dr. Brown bottles as they are supposed to be similar to breastfeeding, and I knew Nicole would need bottles once she started day care.

Are Dr. Brown’s bottles better than other bottles? They seem to, at least for us. The lactation specialist gave us a standard bottle to try with Nicole as we work on breastfeeding. When I started using the Dr. Browns, Nicki did seem much less gasy. I still have a fear that Nicole will think the bottle is easier, and have a hard time transitioning back to the breast. So far, they don’t seem to be hurting. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Snugabunny Rock n’ Play
I was a little worried about the height of the rock n’ play being too low, but it’s actually the perfect height. I love having Nicki close to us. I love being able to reach her without getting out of bed. I love rolling over and seeing her face. As a “co-sleeper” it’s been great. One advantage of the Rock n’ play over the Pack n’ play? Rocking a stirring baby back to sleep without getting out of bed!

That said, it’s not as portable as I anticipated. Part of the problem is I don’t have another spot to place Zippy. If I want to take her downstairs I can’t carry both her and the rocker at the same time easily. This may change once she has better head control, but the rocker will become less useful as she gets older.

A Comfortable Nursing Chair
I am so glad we went with a fully upholstered rocker/recliner rather than a glider or rocking chair. I was pretty sore after giving birth (still am actually) and having the support is great. I also spend a lot of time in it, rocking the baby to get her to go to sleep. It’s definitely worth the splurge in my book.

Okay, it’s not baby gear, but it’s made my life so much easier! I loved being ‘connected’ at the hospital, and the iphone is so useful when feeding Nicki, or pumping, or rocking. Have I mentioned I spend a lot of time in the nursing chair? I use it to snap photos (Nicki doesn’t like the sound of my DSLR shutter), to browse the internet, to look up things. In fact, the first five days we were home, I didn’t even turn on my laptop!

I did not end up purchasing the baby connect app. So far we’ve just been using pen and paper. Whatever works, right?

(Wow, I think I typed ‘Zippy’ and not ‘Nicki’ a dozen times in this post!)

July 13, 2012

Zippy’s Here!

Or should I say Nicki? Introducing Baby Nicole!

Our little bundle of joy decided to be fashionably late. So much for my mother’s intuition that I would go early! In fact, Nicki chose the day I was scheduled for induction as her birth date, and sure enough my contractions started on their own at around 2 am that morning. A little over 29 hours later, I had my baby girl!

I could be bias, but I think she’s perfect.

Holding my baby for the first time

We are home now and adjusting to our new life together!