Baby Favourites: Six Weeks In

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There are so many items one can be required/tempted to purchase before having a baby but you never really know how well these things work until you put them into action. I thought I’d share what we couldn’t do without so far:

Graco Click Connect Travel System – Aside from our cloth diapers this is probably the product I researched the most and it paid off. We are SO happy with this travel system. The click connect is crazy easy to use. The stroller is large but fast to break down and fits in my trunk well. We’ve taken it walking on all kinds of trails and roads and it rides super smooth. You can get it at Babies R Us but we got ours on sale at Target for $330 CAD when we went on our Minot trip. That’s a $300 savings! Something worth looking into.

Kidiway Leather Glider – So many moms told me to invest in a great rocker and they were right. Both Tommy and I have spent countless hours in this thing since Leo was born. It’s crazy comfortable and I love that it reclines, too. Ours is in our living room so I love that it doesn’t scream “nursery”.

Kushies Waterproof Change Pads – Nothing groundbreaking but these are super handy for a quick change anywhere and the patterns are so cute. We have two and I’d like more.

Onesies with Built-In Mitts – Those newborn mitts were constantly falling off of Leo’s little hands, especially because he always wanted to suck his fingers. Onesies with the mitt flaps were so helpful for those early newborn days to prevent scratches. Old Navy has awesome ones.

Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets – All moms seem to recommend these and I agree. These blankets are thin but cozy and have so many uses.

Fisher Price Soothing Seat – Still where Leo sleeps the most soundly. This seat uses rocking and swaying motions that mimic a parent’s movements. It also has music and vibration options and I love that it plugs into the wall.

Summer Infant Baby Bather – A friend kindly lent this to us and it has made kitchen sink baths a breeze. Leo is really relaxed in it!

Jamieson Baby Probiotic Drops – Our paediatrician recommended these for Leo’s often gassy stomach and he rarely has tummy pains anymore. We’ve noticed a huge difference since starting them when he was two weeks old.

Halo Sleep Sack – Once we got one of these, Leo started sleeping in 4-5 hour stretches overnight from being up every 2 hours. Highly recommend!

What are your favourite baby products?

 

 

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A Month of Motherhood

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Hello from newborn-land! I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last posted here. I’ll start with echoing some often-used phrases about being a mom that I now understand completely. This is by far the most challenging, and at the same time, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Just when I think I can’t get any more exhausted (see photo above), this boy wraps his tiny hand around my finger or starts snoring on my shoulder and my heart feels like it’s going to explode.

Some things we’ve learned about Leo:

He loves to eat. He eats every hour some days and I genuinely fear that I won’t be able to keep up with his demand.

He is a super light sleeper. He needs a lot of encouragement to nap and the right environment or else it doesn’t happen and he becomes desperately overtired. I’ve learned this the hard way.

He loves car rides and being carted around in his stroller. We took our first mini road trip and he did awesome, sleeping almost the entire way, which we were excited about.

He’s got a fiery personality. If he’s hungry, or hot, or needs a nap, he lets you KNOW. He also has the craziest range of facial expressions I’ve ever seen.

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To be completely honest, the first couple of weeks were rough on us. By the time we came home from the hospital we were running on about day five of no sleep. My parents left after our first day home and we were in complete survival mode. I’ll say it now, I have no idea how people do this without a supportive partner. We were as prepared as we could be, and our world was totally rocked by this little guy’s arrival. You always hear about babies not sleeping but living it yourself is a whole other thing. We slept in super short shifts for the first two weeks. I texted a friend about feeling overwhelmed by it all and she had said that becoming a new mother is so much obligation so fast, which resonated with me and made me feel a bit less incompetent. The good news is that I’ve learned to exist on very little sleep and now that it’s my new normal I’m in a much better place.

I had some super emotional moments here and there although I think sleep deprivation was as much to blame as hormones. I was tearing up at everything. One moment I’d be crying with gratitude over how healthy and perfect our baby was and the next it would be guilt over neglecting the dog or nostalgia because I missed quality time with Tommy and just our old life in general. I’m someone who’s never done well without sleep and of course everything felt harder without it.

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Physically I felt great right after giving birth except for my stitches. They took what felt like forever to heal and I feel like I’m finally reaching the home stretch with that. I often felt frustrated at how long this process was taking and Tommy was quick to remind me that he had watched the whole event and that, “it’s not going to heal overnight, trust me”.

Tommy just went back to work last week and I was petrified for him to go. Luckily it hasn’t been half as bad as I’d feared, although we miss him terribly. I’ve found to have a successful day that I need either a nap or a coffee, and fitting in an errand, a walk outside or something else productive is key to my feeling good. If I spend the day cooped up at home I never feel quite as happy so just packing the baby up and going out even when I have no idea what I’m doing has kept me sane.

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I’ve had some worries regarding my capability as a mom. Leo has had a few really awful fussy days with terrible gas pain and I have never felt so helpless in my life, watching my little baby scream in pain, and feeling like nothing I did was helping. “I should be better at this”, I’d think as I tried desperately to console him. I’d wanted to be a mom my whole life. I’m the oldest child, the oldest of all of my cousins, a babysitter as soon as I was old enough, and the “maternal one” in many friend groups throughout my life. But my own baby, the one I grew in my body, was a mystery to me, like a code I had to crack. I’ve really had to learn to read him and not always just knowing instinctively what he needs caught me off guard a bit. I’m trying to manage my expectations, and to give myself some grace in this area.

We’ve been meeting friends and family often and Leo got a new cousin when he was two weeks old, my niece Harper. Now that the babies are here safe and sound there is so much joy in our family. I can’t wait to watch the cousins grow up like best friends.

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I’ve been trying to savour these days as much as I can and I keep reminding myself in the harder moments that the days are long but the years are short. I don’t want to miss a moment with Leo. I totally understand what parents mean when they say that the love hurts. It is intense!

I do have lots to share blog wise and am hoping to get into the groove with that soon. Until then, thanks for reading! I appreciate your support so much.

 

 

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Leo’s Birth Story

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It’s taken me awhile but I’m finally ready to share the details of Leo’s birthday. I still can’t believe this is the same little baby who lived in my belly these last several months! I love reading birth stories so I decided to share mine here.

Some back story. Originally I was given a due date of June 8th but both my family doctor and obstetrician flipped it a couple of times, going back and forth between the 6th and 10th as well. I stuck to June 8th as the date because it was in the middle of the two and I knew it was really just a guess anyway.

I spent a lot of time preparing myself to give birth. I said a lot of affirmations (my favourite was “the pain has a purpose”) and tried to stay as active and busy as possible to keep myself from overthinking everything. I tried to trust that my body could do the work and I just wanted to go into my labour and delivery with an open mind. I know there are so many depends in these situations and many things would be out of my control. I have yet to talk to anyone whose experience went according to “plan”. In terms of pain medication, I wanted to try to go without anything but certainly wouldn’t deny myself if I felt I had reached my limits. I often said that this was a “game day” decision and my husband encouraged me to do what I felt was right for us.

I gave June 8th as my last day of work because I wanted to avoid sitting at home for weeks on end in case I went overdue. I was also feeling pretty well and so I saw no reason not to continue. The last couple of weeks before I was done were stressful though. The dog got terribly sick and required a couple of vet visits and being up with him often for several nights made the cold I’d been dealing with rebound into something AWFUL. I literally couldn’t breathe for a week, which made sleeping impossible, which made everything worse. I couldn’t take anything for it and was petrified I’d go into labour in this condition. It took several days for me to start feeling better and baby prep was at a bit of a standstill because of it.

I got my membranes swept on the Monday before my due date. My mucous plug had started to come out a few days prior. The doctor was very excited to tell me that I was already 3 cm. dilated and 75% thinned out at that appointment and I was super encouraged by that because discomfort had been minimal. After the sweep I had some cramping and then contractions on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights that were strong enough to wake me up but they’d always go away and I’d wake up the next morning with no action.

Thursday, June 8th, my last day of work came. It was bittersweet and I was sent off with lots of well wishes. I left feeling emotional and mostly in disbelief that my maternity leave had come. Tom got me a beautiful bouquet of peonies to celebrate the occasion and we went out to dinner and ran some errands. We went to bed around 10 pm and I was awoken around midnight by contractions.

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Now, this had been my normal the last couple of nights so I wasn’t overly concerned but I did eventually notice that the contractions were coming in intervals. I downloaded an app to track them at around 1 am and warned Tom around 3 am that I thought this was the real deal. I used our bathtub and a heating pad for relief. Once the contractions were about 3 minutes apart we grabbed our bag and headed out. It was around 8 am and I’d already been labouring since midnight.

A couple of comical moments: we were waiting for the elevator and a neighbour joined us. I was in the middle of a contraction and Tom explained that I was in labour. The guy proceeded to jump in with us anyway and took his sweet time riding the elevator down to the main floor while I was hunched over in pain, delaying our trip down to the parkade. I considered punching him. Then we ran into construction near the hospital and had to detour. By the time we got in, they hurried me through and I was so grateful.

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Once at labour and delivery I had to wait behind two other women to get checked. I was contracting very often now and waiting was torture. When I was finally checked I was told I was around 7 cm. dilated. The staff were excited and so were we. It seemed the baby was closer than we thought. The resident did ask if I wanted an epidural at this point and said that I would have to decide quickly as I was already so far along. I felt I was managing ok at this point and declined. After I got into my room I overheard some staff outside discussing my progress and I felt so excited. I was on my way to meeting my baby soon and so far didn’t feel the need for intervention of any kind.

By this point, the only way I felt comfortable during contractions was either on the birthing ball or standing, leaned over while Tom pressed on my lower back. The poor guy, I’m sure his hands are still numb. We walked and were upright pretty much the whole time. I was admitted at 9 am and laboured until about 2:30 pm when I was checked again. The contractions were super strong, right on top of each other and I was sweaty, shaky and nauseous. It felt like I was in transition. I started to question having the energy to push because that last hour especially had really drained my energy.

When I was checked they told me I hadn’t progressed. At all. I was still around 7 cm. after labouring from 9 am to 2:30 pm. I was devastated. Beyond this, they told me that all of my contractions with no progress were starting to affect the baby and his heart rate wasn’t recovering as quickly after each one. They said that I would need medication to speed things up and progress my labour faster. She left to give us a minute to discuss the epidural.

I was so frustrated at this development that I started to cry as soon as she left because I knew in my heart that I needed the help. I’d been labouring over fourteen hours already on two hours sleep and with little else to fuel me. My contractions were already so intense that I couldn’t imagine dealing with several more hours of stronger ones, plus pushing the baby out. I had reached my limit. The nurse came back in, and I told her I would get the epidural.

I had a spinal tap when I was four years old. Because of this I still hate needles and the thought of one in my back terrifies me. I was dreading this part of things and it was even worse than I imagined. It took him three tries to get the epidural in and it was so uncomfortable. I was contracting the entire time and was petrified about moving too much. It was stressful to say the least, but once it was placed, almost instant relief. I was finally able to lie down, rest and recharge for the work ahead. I could still feel my now amped up contractions through the epidural so I can’t imagine how they would have felt without it. This quickly affirmed my decision. My nurse also pointedly told me, “I’ve had two epidurals. You don’t get a hero cookie for going without.” I loved her for that.

I laboured for a couple additional hours after the epidural. Then I was checked and told I was fully dilated around 5:30 pm. Hallelujah! The baby started moving down quickly and more staff started coming in to assist. There was still concern about his heart rate and even mention of a c-section should things get really dire so I knew I needed to get in the game and push him out quickly.

Pushing was a wonderful experience. I was shaky but I had feeling in spite of the epidural and I felt very alert and in control. The team was also incredible and very positive and encouraging while I pushed. The pressure was intense, particularly when his head was coming out. Tommy had been unsure of whether he would watch the baby come out but when the time came he held my leg and watched the whole time. It was motivating to see his reactions also. He was so excited and that gave me the energy I needed.

I only pushed for a few minutes and the baby flew out quickly. I had been so scared to get the head and shoulders out but it happened so fast and before I knew it he was on my chest, wailing and wide eyed.

Leo Thomas Erwin
June 9, 2017
5:56 pm
6 lb. 9 oz.
18.5 in.

I couldn’t believe he was ours. He had so much hair and the biggest hands. After he was out, my placenta was delivered with a quick push. I had some tearing and that was stitched up while I held Leo on my chest skin to skin. I barely felt a thing.

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Our parents arrived soon after, just before we were moved to the mother baby unit. I was starving and we begged my in-laws to bring some food. I was pushed to our new room in a wheelchair, shoving pizza into my mouth, and feeling like I was on top of the world. We spent two nights in the hospital which felt so long. We weren’t sleeping there and couldn’t wait to be home. Breastfeeding is going well, which I’m so grateful for. This boy eats constantly and still has his days and nights mixed up but he is the sweetest thing in the world.

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Thank you so much for all of your support and well wishes, it truly means the world to us. Also, a special thank you to my husband. I knew he would be the perfect “coach” and he truly was. I could not have made it through this experience without him.

What a blessing to have a healthy baby! We don’t take it for granted for a second how fortunate we are to have this little guy join our family.

 

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Cloth Diapering: Our Setup

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Super excited to be sharing our cloth diaper setup today. This is something I’ve been looking into pretty much since I found out I was pregnant and I love hearing other’s experiences and tips so I thought I would share what we plan to use for our baby.

Cloth diapering is a somewhat controversial topic and I’ve definitely received much skepticism and discouraging opinions on it. I understand that cloth won’t work for everyone but for us it feels feasible to at least give it a try. In the condo we have main floor laundry so I don’t think an extra load every other day or so is a big deal. If we were using disposables we’d be taking a load of garbage down to the main floor and then across our building to the dumpster room every day which is way more of a production than a load of laundry inside our suite, in my opinion.  I’ll be honest that cost savings is my biggest motivator. We stand to save easily a couple thousand dollars cloth diapering from birth to potty trained and even more if we use that same cloth diaper stash on more than one child.

The amount of research I did before deciding on what brand to go with was outrageous. I probably seriously considered at least four brands and every type before deciding on Planet Baby’s All-In-Two package. I liked that the company is Canadian and they sell on Amazon so I was able to read a lot of reviews from verified purchasers on there. I know that some people like to try a mix of styles and brands but my goal was to choose well from the beginning and really get comfortable with one style rather than have a mix of items and potentially only a few that I liked. The diapers look and feel great, so I’m excited to see how they work.

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What sold me on Planet Baby:

  • Ability to purchase a full diaper package
  • Reasonable price (plus free shipping and coupon codes)
  • Cute prints
  • Bamboo inserts
  • The features: double leg gussets, snaps, one size (fits 8-35 lbs.)
  • Close to disposables for ease of use

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A list of everything we have to get started:

From Planet Baby:

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From Well.ca:

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Miscellaneous:

  • Coconut Oil (in lieu of traditional diaper rash cream)
  • Cloth Wipes
  • Spray Bottle (to spray cloth wipes)
  • Dryer Balls
  • Country Save Liquid Detergent

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We are going to wait at least a couple of weeks after the baby is born until the meconium passes and we get our bearings before we start using cloth. It will also depend on how well they fit him as a newborn.

In terms of prepping, I just prepped the diaper covers by washing and drying once. For all of the inserts, I washed them three times, dried once and then repeated this process, with everything on high heat. This is necessary to maximize the absorbency of natural fiber inserts and prevent leaks. You also have to be careful to avoid the softeners, fragrances and dyes in traditional detergents and fabric softeners with cloth diapers. I chose Country Save detergent, because it came highly recommended for cloth diapers in many of my readings and I can get it from the London Drugs in our neighborhood. We’ve also switched from dryer sheets to dryer balls to avoid extra chemicals.

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That’s all I have so far. This is going to be a learning experience for us so I’m excited to get started and will let you know how we make out!

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