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Skip the high chair

5 Apr

Now that Baby E is in the groove of eating big fat mushy meals a couple of times a day, we’ve decided to be adventurous and go out for dinner a couple of times. Doing this made me realize that my baby really likes to dine al fresco and people watch while scarfing down sweet potatoes and sipping water from a shot glass (seriously – it’s the perfect size for baby mouths).

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The other thing it made me realize is how much I love our Fisher Price booster seat. We use it in lieu of a high chair at home and it works great. E is comfortable, it’s easy to clean, and it straps in well to our bar stools. But I especially love how well it travels. I was able to easily take it along to restaurants, strap it onto different chairs, and avoid the germiness of restaurant high chairs (really, I’ve worked in restaurants and those things never get more than wiped down with a dirty rag).

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I am now so thankful that we didn’t waste our money on a big high chair. I can’t imagine I would be happier with one, and I know we don’t have the room for it. The only flaw I’ve found is that E can pull the removable top of the tray off, but that hasn’t caused too many problems thus far. I’ll probably just remove it when he starts eating finger food. All in all, it was an excellent buy.

Adventures in Cloth Diapering

8 Jan

When I was pregnant with Baby E, I started researching cloth diapers as an alternative to using disposables. I was looking for something affordable and fairly easy to use, and I like the idea of being a little more environmentally friendly. I was also interested in health benefits. I’d read a good bit about chemicals used in disposables, and while I don’t think they’re a huge threat, my goal is to limit unnecessary chemical exposure whenever I can. So I embarked on my mission to bone up on cloth diapering.

Holy cow! There are a ton of options when it comes to cloth diapering, and a whole vocabulary to learn! It was a little intimidating at first, but fortunately my favorite local baby store, Natural Baby, holds Cloth Diapering 101 classes, and that was the crash course I needed to get things going. If you live in Upstate SC and are curious about cloth, I suggest you go.

I found my cloth diapering solution through Cotton Babies, a great company which offers a variety of cloth diaper systems and tons of cute colors and patterns. I decided to go with Flip Diapers and Econobum because I was looking for a combination of cheap, effective and easy. I mostly use Flip, which is a hybrid system. Flips have one-size waterproof covers with snaps that allow you to adjust the size as your baby grows. They offer two kinds of absorbent inserts – a flat stay-dry insert and a folded organic cotton insert. They also offer a disposable insert for extra convenience. Econobum is a prefold/cover system that’s super-affordable. They’re just a simple one-size waterproof cover with an organic insert. I can mix and match between the two brands to meet my needs. I like to use the organic inserts at night because they hold more pee and the stay-dry during the day because they’re thinner.

Over all, it’s been a great experience. I am saving ridiculous amounts of money. My stash consists of seven Flip covers, two Econobum covers, 14 stay-dry inserts and seven organic cotton inserts. Since they’re adjustable, one-size diapers, I’ll use these same diapers until Baby E is potty trained. And if we decide to have another kiddo, the diapers are great quality and will last a second round. I spent a total of about $200 on my diaper stash. Not too shabby, considering Babycenter’s Cost Calculator estimates disposable diapers dinging you at $864 per year. And I think that’s a conservative estimate. Pretty major savings, especially over about three years!

I don’t feel like washing adds too much to the cost. We have an HE front-loader and I wash diapers three times a week. You do need to wash cloth diapers with special, additive-free detergent. I bought a bag of Rocking Green cloth diaper detergent for $12, I’ve been using it for five months and still have half a bag left.

When it comes to convenience, I find cloth to be comparable to disposable. I have very few leaks or blow-outs. Baby E stays pretty dry, even overnight, and we haven’t had any diaper rash so far. Smell hasn’t been an issue, either – I use a trashcan with an antibacterial wet-bag liner. When it’s time to wash, I just throw the wet bag and contents in the machine. Since Baby E is breastfed, rinsing diapers by hand isn’t necessary. And when he starts solids, I’ll use flushable, biodegradable liners for easy poop cleanup.

The last thing I love about cloth is that they’re way cuter than disposable. Here’s a pic of Baby E in his Flip at one month old. Pretty cute, right?
Flip Diapers
If you’re interested in learning more about cloth diapering, here are a few resources I found helpful:

FYI – I haven’t been compensated for this post and all views expressed are my own. However, I am entering it into a contest. The contest prize is a set of 12 bumGenius diapers for me and a set for one lucky commenter. So get to commenting and keep your fingers crossed that I win!

Crazy Paranoid Lady

6 Jan

Seems like there’s a crime spree going on in Greenville. This week, one of my dear friends was robbed mid-day while she was at work. The bastards destroyed her house, took a ton of stuff and lots of jewelry with sentimental value and left her feeling quite violated. Then, the little old lady who lives across the street from us was burglarized at night while she slept. She’s hard of hearing and apparently didn’t hear when they kicked in the door. Guess it’s a good thing she didn’t wake up – who knows what might’ve happened if she had woken. Fortunately, she wasn’t harmed.

Normally, I’m not too paranoid, and I’ve always felt pretty safe in our neighborhood. But The Hubs may go out of town for a couple of days in the near future, and I’m a little skeeved out. When I woke up for Baby E’s mid-night feeding last night, I couldn’t help but think about what I would do if someone tried to kick in my door in the middle of the night.

These thoughts crossed my mind a few years ago when The Hubs was an auditor and would travel for weeks at a time. Basically, my plan would be to hide in one of my carefully selected hiding places or quietly squeeze out the window and run like hell while calling 911.

But what would I do with a baby? Well that just throws a wrench in my crazy lady plans. Hiding obviously wouldn’t work, as Baby E usually isn’t quiet when I need him to be. I guess we would go out the window, but getting the baby out along with myself would add time to my escape. So I was sitting there in the dark planning window-escape logistics. If I heard someone trying to break in through one of the doors, I could hop up and lock the bedroom door. Then I would slip on shoes thoughtfully placed by the side of the bed, open the window, bust out the screen and grab the baby. But I don’t know if I could safely get the baby and myself out of the window at the same time. It’s not a very high window, but it’s old and doesn’t open all the way and I don’t know if both of us could fit through at the same time. So maybe I would need a large blanket or sheet so I could lower Baby E out then hop out myself. See…Crazy. Paranoid. Lady.

But what if there wasn’t enough time for all of that? The Hubs suggested barricading the bedroom door with a dresser and wedging it with the closet door. He also has a set of samurai swords. So, you know, I could go all Kill Bill on somebody’s ass. Which I guess would be fine as long as a gun wasn’t involved. I just don’t know if I’d be fast enough to deflect bullets with my samurai sword.

Beware, would-be robbers!

Aside from doing some rush training in martial arts, I guess I’ll just do the logical thing and triple-check door and window locks and make sure that the alarm system is fully armed when I go to bed. I haven’t been doing this because it involves motion sensors that I’m sure I’ll forget about when I stumble down the hall for a 4 a.m. diaper change. To my neighbors, I sincerely apologize in advance.

Training for Birth

28 Dec

One of the things that I found most interesting and empowering about midwifery care was the amount of participation that was expected of me and The Hubs through the whole process. Of course, all women participate in their pregnancies and births, but I really feel that under standard OB care, you just don’t learn as much about the whole process. For the most part, I think that American women are victims of pregnancy – that it happens to you, you don’t have much control, the doctors are the bosses, and things end up how they end up. With our midwife, I felt that I was in charge, that I played a major role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy – and I learned that what you do can make a HUGE difference in how you feel and the total outcome of the whole ordeal.

I have to say, I had an awesome pregnancy and felt pretty great the entire time. Not too much sickness, not too much tiredness after the first trimester, no swelling, healthy weight gain, and while my third trimester belly inspired comments like “do you need to use a wench to get out of bed in the morning?” (no joke, a guy said this to me around week 37), I was active and pretty much pain-free down to the very end. For all of this, I feel very blessed. I know a lot of women have a much harder time, through no fault of their own. But I do feel that my actions contributed to my wonderful experience. Here’s what I think made the difference:

  • Diet: My midwife recommended the Brewer Pregnancy Diet, which basically recommends eating a s%!t ton of protein every day, getting plenty of calories, and NOT restricting salt intake. Okay, I’m paraphrasing it a bit – here’s a link to its daily recommendations. I tried to follow this as closely as possible and I drank a ton of water. While it’s challenging to eat 70-100 grams of protein each day, it’s worth the effort. The diet is filled with healthy, satisfying foods that give your spawn the nutrients it needs to grow, it helps you maintain your energy, and it helps prevent conditions like pre-eclampsia. I started my morning every day with two eggs, wheat toast with butter, orange juice and some fresh fruit. I snacked on a lot of almonds and tried to add spinach to pretty much everything. And I did not restrict my salt intake at all. My blood pressure stayed low for the whole pregnancy and I had no swelling. Now, the blood pressure thing isn’t that big of a deal to me, as I’ve never had any issues with it, but the swelling thing was huge. My non-pregnant, birth-control-taking self would plump right up for any old reason. If it was hot out, my fingers and feet would swell. If I was on my feet a good bit, my ankles would get huge. I just KNEW I would have cankles by the third month and my rings would have to be cut off of my enormously fat fingers. My baby was due in August, after all. To my shock and delight, none of that happened. Thank you, Brewer diet!

    This is what I thought I'd look like at 9 months.

  • Exercise: I’m not a fitness-ey person. I don’t do things like run or have a gym membership. But I did make sure that I stayed active during my pregnancy by walking a lot. My midwife and our childbirth educator emphasized the importance of doing some simple exercises to prepare your body for birth. Do a lot of Kegels – squeeze and hold for extended periods and do short bursts. And do them a lot. They help strengthen the pelvic floor, keeping your uterus and stuff in, helping you push that baby out, and possibly preventing incontinence when it’s all over with. To counter Kegels, do a crazy amount of squats. Short, repetitive squats and loooong deep squats. These can help prevent tears. If that’s not worth it, I don’t know what is.
  • Chiropractic: I saw a fabulous chiropractor every two weeks throughout my pregnancy. He uses the activator method, which is extremely gentle and doesn’t involve any weird positions or loud cracking of things. He helped keep my neck, back, hips and pelvis loose, aligned and feeling good. And he has this fabulous massage device that he runs over your back at the end of each visit. Absolutely heavenly.
  • Education: Being mentally and emotionally prepared for pregnancy and birth is just as important as being physical prepared. Unfortunately, they just don’t teach you much in school about how pregnancy and childbirth work, and a shocking amount of American women know squat about childbirth options. The Hubs and I took a wonderful class with Mary Kury where we got to learn in-depth about pregnancy, how to stay healthy, what to expect during childbirth and tips and techniques for pain management. I cannot emphasize how important this info was for a natural, normal childbirth. Plus, it was just so darn interesting. Being pregnant is kind of like having your body taken over by aliens. It’s just weird. I was dying to know every little thing that was going on in there.

While my birth experience didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned it, I do feel like I was extremely prepared and in control the whole time. I made it through a 36-hour labor, pushed out a 7 lb – 13 oz baby with no tearing and had a really quick physical recovery. Absolutely worth every scrambled egg, deep squat and Kegel!

Decisions, Baby! Installment 2

12 Dec

Baby is the new black.

Babies can become rather inconvenient once they pop out into the world. Not that they’re not all cute and amazing, but they do make handling mundane tasks like going to the bathroom a major challenge.

I know some people have babies you can just plop in a bouncy seat and they can sit there all content and maybe even catch some z’s. Not so much for Baby E. At four months old, he’s just beginning to realize the fun of sitting on something besides me. So it was quite lucky that I had considered baby wearing before E was born.

If you’re not familiar with baby wearing, here are but some of the benefits. Once you dig in, you might find it a little cultish and a bit confusing. There are tons of carrier types and even more options within each style. If you’re simply thinking Baby Bjorn, you have no idea (serious BWs won’t touch that one – apparently it puts all of baby’s weight on his crotch and no one wants to be carried by their crotch).

I spent a ton of time researching carriers and reading reviews. I even visited a local baby wearing group where I could try on different styles and ask questions. Here’s what I learned:

  • Wraps. These are basically just long pieces of fabric that you can tie and wear in a million different ways.
    • Stretchy: Some wraps are stretchy like t-shirt fabric. These are good for newborns and small babies and are super snuggly and warm. The Moby is a popular knit wrap. These are generally great, but can be hot in warm climates.
    • Woven: For bigger babies, choose a woven wrap which will hold its shape and support baby weight better. You can tie these in a million ways and wear baby on front facing in or out, on your hip or back. These come in pretty prints and cooler materials like gauze. As a bonus, you can nurse in a wrap if you’ve got mad skillz like that.
    • Other: there are other wrap-like contraptions that aren’t quite wraps. I have a Baby K’tan that a dear friend gave me. She didn’t care for it, but I LOVE it. It’s cozy like a stretchy wrap, but it’s two loops of fabric joined by a fabric band. You can wear it like six different ways, and there’s no tying or having wrap tails dragging on the parking lot pavement. Watch the sizing, though.  I have an old one that’s a small, but they changed the fabric and the small now is way too tight for me. They said it will stretch, but I don’t know…Mom's-eye-view of Baby E in the K'tan. Quite cozy!
  • Slings.  These go over one shoulder and secure with a knot or a ring and work for little babies and bigger ones as well. Pros- quick and easy, pretty, and you can nurse in them. Cons- not completely hands-free, doesn’t distribute weight evenly and can hurt a little if you wear it for a long time.
  • Mei Tai. These are Asian-style carriers that are squares of fabric with straps at top and bottom. Not as good for newborns, awesome for ones with moderate head control and up. Pros- cute and comfortable, wear front, back, side. Holds the baby securely. Cons- takes a little practice to learn to tie it quickly, especially for a back carry. I have a Babyhawk and really like it. I’ve also tried on an Ellaroo and liked it, too.Babyhawk
  • Structured Carriers. These carriers have straps, snaps, buckles, and, well…structure. I have a Bjorn that The Hubs uses from time to time. I have heard from those who know that the Ergo is the schiz. If someone wants to buy one for me, I will gladly take it!

And that brings us to price, which is always a big factor in my world. Carriers are expensive, y’all! I found my Babyhawk on eBay  at about 50% of retail. Thebabywearer.com has a for-sale-or-trade section on their forum. You have to register to participate. I did, but found the forum a little intimidating. Lastly, I found paxbaby.com, where you can rent carriers to try them before you buy.  $9 for two weeks, and if you decide to buy, they deduct the rental fee from the sales price. Pretty good deal!

So there you have it – a crash course in baby wearing from a novice. If you’re new to the game and have any questions, shout at me in the comments. I’d love to help if I can!

BTW, all of this is strictly my opinion. I am in no way paid to promote anything I mentioned here.

Decisions, Baby! Installment 1

8 Dec

How should I get this baby out of me?

Seems like it should be pretty straight-forward, right? Oh no, not for the Indecisive Momma.

Once we got past the giddiness of the news that I was growing a human it was time to get down to business and find a care provider. I had had a falling out with my OBGYN a couple of years before (she prescribed me Clomid the day I told her I’d stopped taking birth control because we were thinking of trying for a baby) and I hadn’t found a replacement yet.

I’d never given childbirth that much thought before, I assumed I’d have a regular old hospital birth, just like everyone else I knew. Then one of my good friends delivered her baby with the assistance of a midwife in a local birth center and I was intrigued. She delivered her perfect, healthy baby and four hours later was picking up Chick-fil-a on her way home with her bundle of joy. Anything that ends in Chick-fil-a seems like a pretty good deal to me.

But really, my decision wasn’t that easy. I knew that I wanted a vaginal birth if at all possible, and I knew that my local hospital cesarean rates were kind of high. Nationally, the rates sit at about one-third of all births, which I think is just ridiculous. This belief was reinforced the closer I got to my due date and I repeatedly had strangers tell me their birth stories and they all seemed to end with “they said the baby was too big and I needed a c-section.” Then many told me their babies ended up being only 6 or 7 pounds. But I digress…

I initially decided that a hospital setting would be good, but only with a provider who was supportive of natural childbirth. I found Dr. Stafford, a family physician who also offered obstetrics and was rumored to let you deliver in whatever position you fancy. I saw Dr, Stafford for my first few prenatal visits and he was fabulous. Even better, once he delivers the baby, he’s your pediatrician and family doctor – a one-stop-shop who knows your whole family! Unfortunately, he didn’t accept my crappy insurance, so we were left looking for another alternative that would work within our budget and give us a good chance at a natural birth. Since I was lucky enough to have a fabulous, low-risk pregnancy, we decided to go with a midwife.

Let me tell you a little something about midwifery care…these ladies know what’s up. The care I received was far above and beyond any physician I’d ever been to. Each of my prenatal visits were so relaxed and informative. Each time I had at least half an hour to ask questions and just talk about my pregnancy. They assigned reading, recommended classes, and kept me on top of my diet and exercise to make sure I stayed in the low-risk category and was in tip-top shape for natural birth. And thanks to their advice (some of which I’ll share in a later post), I maintained a healthy weight gain, low blood pressure and had no swelling. Now, my feet normally look like little sausages stuffed in my sandals in the summertime, and I was 9 months pregnant in August in South Carolina with no swelling. THAT is a freaking miracle. Of course, my midwife was incredible during my actual birth (a long story for another post) and provided exceptional postpartum care in my home. Really couldn’t ask for more!

Me: Decisively Pregnant

Me. August. 40 weeks pregnant. Miraculously un-swollen.

Indecisive Momma’s advice for getting a baby out: decide what you value most and find a care provider that shares your values. Don’t be afraid to look into less traditional options. Ask a lot of questions, learn about the childbirth process and don’t be afraid to make changes no matter how far along you are. A great birth experience is worth the preparation!

Decisions, Baby!

7 Dec

Having a baby requires a lot of decisions beyond “should we have a baby?” About 2,994,760, by my estimation.

Each of these seemingly inconsequential decisions turn into monsters when you realize they affect YOUR baby. It’s amazing the number of ways you can ruin your kid.

So for the past 13 months I’ve been on decision overload, reading and researching and gathering advice from across the Internet and from a few close friends. I want to share what I’ve learned and the resources I’ve found in hopes that I can prevent some other poor soul from spending days researching the pros and cons of a variety of nipple creams. Because believe me – that’s not how you want to spend your time. Look for this and other exciting and fascinating topics in future installments of Decisions, Baby!