Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The New Normal

Well, this is my third week back to work. As I suspected, the 8 hours a day that I'm at my job are the easy part. The insane amount of work and running around packed into my other waking hours? Not so much. Here's a peek at a typical day:

12:30 am: Cole is fussing. Pat him back to sleep.
12:45 am: No dice. Offer binky. Binky outrages him. Spend 20 minutes shushing and walking him back to sleep.
2:30 am: Cole poops. Loudly. Change diaper, nurse him back to sleep.
4:00 am: Cole hates his current swaddle. Switch from SwaddleMe to Woombie or vice versa. Pat back to sleep.
5:00 am: Alarm goes off. Nurse Cole and put him back in his bed.
5:15 am: Shower and make-up.
5:45 am: Wake Hubs. Head to the kitchen to finish making lunches I started making last night - add fresh fruit, beverages, etc. Fix Cole's bottles for the day.
6:10 am: Cole is crying. Attempt to get him back to sleep. He's all smiles. Guess he's up for the day. Change his diaper and set him up in the swing.
6:30 am: Get dressed and finish packing daycare bag.
6:45 am: Jake is up. He requests cereal, juice and a show to watch. 
7:00 am: Make myself a smoothie for my commute.
7:05 am: Throw in a load of diapers for their cold soak cycle.
7:10 am: Pack my pumping bag, lunch bag and work tote with my essentials for the day.
7:15 am: Load our 37 bags into the car.
7:25 am: Coats on kids, kids in car seats.
7:30 am: Drop off kids at sitter's house. Lament how tired I am. Goodbye kisses and hugs.
7:35 am: Enjoy smoothie and 25 minutes of quiet on the way to work.
8:00 am: Arrive at work. First pumping session of the day.
8:30 am: Work day officially starts.
9:00 am: The parent who scheduled an appointment with me is late, and when she does arrive, the meeting takes much longer than expected, which makes me late for my 10:00 meeting with the student support team.
10:20 am: Roll in to student support team meeting 20 minutes late. This meeting also runs over.
11:00 am: Eye the clock. Need to pump again but meeting hasn't concluded.
11:40 am: Meeting adjourns and I'm making a dash to my office when one of our agency partners tracks me down. A student of hers has procrastinated on a needed letter of recommendation. Can I write one by the end of the day? Sure, you got it.
11:50 am: Second pumping session of the day. Check email and voicemail.
12:15 pm: Phone call from main office. A child protective services caseworker is here and needs to meet with a student. Find the student and meet with the caseworker.
12:45 pm: STARVING. Going to grab lunch when colleague calls with a question about AP testing. Take my lunch to her office to discuss.
1:00 pm: Meet with a student about the financial aid award letters she has received from the schools she applied to. Track down our resident financial aid guru to answer some additional questions.
1:20 pm: Write requested letter of recommendation, return phone calls, follow up on loose ends for the day.
2:00 pm: Conduct pre-administration session with an AP class. Stay to hear their oral presentations on mad cow disease.
2:45 pm: Cell phone duty.
3:00 pm: Work day concludes.
3:15 pm: Pump as I drive home. Yes, it can be done and yes, both my hands are on the wheel.
3:30 pm: Stop at town recreation department to sign Jake up for preschool summer playground program.
3:50 pm: Make a quick stop at home to unload my bags, wash my pump parts and tidy up the disaster I left in my wake that morning.
4:00 pm: Pick up the kids. Lament how tired I am.
4:15: General chaos as we arrive home for the day. Unpack bags, play with Jake, nurse Cole, start diaper laundry on its hot wash cycle.
5:00 pm: Heat up defrosted freezer meal. Throw diapers in the dryer.
5:20 pm: Eat dinner with Jake while jiggling tired baby on my lap.
5:40 pm: Clean up from dinner.
6:00 pm: Bathe the boys and wrestle them into their jammies.
6:30 pm: Pace around with very tired baby and wish husband was home.
7:00 pm: Hubs arrives home.
7:05 pm: Nurse Cole before bed.
7:30 pm: Cole is sleeping. Iron outfit for tomorrow.
7:45 pm: Join the big boys for bedtime stories and songs.
8:00 pm: Jake is in bed. Finish cleaning up in kitchen and get a head start on packing lunches for tomorrow.
8:30 pm: Collapse on the couch with a brownie sundae and stare mindlessly at the TV for awhile.
8:45 pm: Fold and stuff clean diapers.
9:00 pm: Cole is crying. Do the old binky and patting routine to get him back to sleep.
9:15 pm: Wash face, brush teeth, pjs.
9:30 pm: Last pumping session of the day.
10:00 pm: Fall into bed. Surf Facebook for 3 minutes before passing out.
10:45 pm: Cole is crying. Shush, shush, pat, pat. OMG so tired.

Rinse and repeat 4 times. Is it Friday yet? 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dear Baby Boy,

One of our most special times together has come to an end. It seems like just yesterday you were kicking me from the inside and I was longing to meet you, and now you're here and I can't imagine my life without you. These last 3 months have flown by far too fast. I knew they would, but somehow it still surprised me. 

I have loved every gurgle, every smile, every changing table chat. Every frigid morning snuggled up and playing with Big Brother. Every errand we ran together, every time we sat down to nurse, even in the middle of the night. In fact, maybe I loved it the most in the middle of night, just you and me in the big quiet world, with snow falling softly outside your bedroom window. And it was almost always snowing since you were born, little man! You came into the world during the coldest, snowiest, longest winter I can remember. We didn't go many places on our little baby vacation, but that's ok, because hibernating with you and your brother was more special than any place we could have gone. Spring is coming (I hope!) and lots of adventures await us.

Mommy is going to miss you so much, my little sidekick. Thank you for a wonderful first 3 months. Always know that even when we're not together, I'm thinking of you and full of love for you!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Back to the Grind

In two weeks, I head back to work after 14 weeks of maternity leave. It's a very bittersweet feeling, and that is saying a lot. The first time I went back to work after having Jake, I was a complete wreck and I would have told you there was nothing I wanted to do less in the world. However, having done it and lived to tell the tale once, I can see the positive side of working. It's not that I mind the working part itself; I like my job, I like the adult contact during the day, I like having a reason to put on some make-up and a pair of heels, and I really like sitting down for lunch, chatting with colleagues and eating my meal with both hands ;-) It's the little things, after all. It also provides me with a 25 minute commute each way - that's a total of 50 minutes a day where I'm peacefully, blissfully alone - to listen to music, chat on the phone (hands free, of course) or just sit quietly and decompress. As an introvert through and through, those 50 minutes are really valuable to me and they power me through the crazy times!

But then, there's this...

...my hearts. My loves. They fill my days with snuggles and belly laughs and make-believe. Stories, and hugs and "I love you Mommy's." Made-up songs, and shared snacks, and sometimes tears and chaos. I welcome all of those things. But leaving them behind each day is hard. It's hard to ask my big guy "how was your day?" instead of being there to experience it. It's hard to kiss sweet cheeks and walk out the door. It's really hard when they're sick and I have to choose - do I call in for the 47th time this year or go to work and worry about them all day? Being a working mom is a challenge, no doubt about it.

But you know what I detest most of all? What I call The Grind. The daily routines that take up my precious minutes during the day - the ones that if I don't do them, will cause me to fail big time at working mommy-hood. That's what I'm dreading about going back to work. Meal planning and grocery shopping on the weekend when the stores are at their most crowded. Unpacking and repacking endless bags - mine and theirs. Making lunches at 9:00 at night. Ironing my outfit for the next day after that. It seems like my days are just a never-ending series of tasks to set us up for success for the one after that. Sleep, and repeat. I hate that these things take time away from being with my family. I hate that Monday - Friday feels like all work and no fun. I really hate that my husband doesn't get home from work until 7 pm, and our evenings feel like a dash to bed time. So for now, I'll soak up every (relatively) relaxed minute of these last two weeks. Read some extra stories. Savor every morning that the three of us sleep in past eight o'clock. Log some extra snuggles and play some extra games. Maybe those things will give me the stamina to get me to summer vacation!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Perfect Pancakes

Even though I really enjoy cooking and baking (or at least, I do when I don't have two hungry, crabby kids to contend with at dinner time), for the longest time Hubs and I laughed about the fact that I was really terrible at making pancakes. It was comical and frustrating at the same time - no matter what mix or recipe I tried, I turned out overcooked, undercooked, burned, limp, tasteless flapjacks that were consistently either too thin or too thick. I just couldn't get it right. I was tempted to give up, but I couldn't let a bowl of batter get the better of me. After MUCH trial and error, I believe I've discovered the perfect homemade pancake mix. It's adapted from this recipe and it makes totally scrumptious pancakes and waffles! I personally love mine with butter and strawberry jam, and I have been known to make them for dinner ;) I hope your family loves them too!

Delicious Whole Wheat Pancakes
*This recipe makes a large amount of dry mix; simply store in an airtight container. It will make several batches of pancakes or waffles.

3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt

To make the batter, you will need:
1 cup pancake mix
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (I rarely have real buttermilk on hand. However, I do create a convincing substitute by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of regular milk. It works great and adds a bright, fresh flavor to the finished product.)
1 tablespoon oil (vegetable, canola, peanut, etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Combine with the dry mix and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Preheat a griddle or pan over medium heat. I used to use butter in the pan to prevent sticking, but I've found that non-stick cooking spray works much better. Use 1/3 cup batter per pancake. Turns out my major mistake was cooking them at too high a heat - turn that burner down to medium low! Cooking them low and slow is the key to perfect pancakes, people! Perfect pancakes people - there's some alliteration for your Thursday ;) Flip only once, when small bubbles form on the surface. Serve with your favorite toppings - in our house that includes real maple syrup, Nutella, jam, and Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter. Not all at once of course!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cole's Nursery: Finishing Touches

Cole's nursery (or "mommy's room," as Jake calls it, since I'm still sleeping up there) is finally finished! It was basically ready for him when he arrived, but was missing all the final touches that I didn't quite get to. I was still mulling them over when he was due, anyway! I'm so pleased with how it turned out:

The view when you walk in the door

The tree branches and birds are new. Now before you go saying "those branches aren't level" - I know. I was going for realism, since real tree branches don't generally come out at 90 degree angles. But to me they just kind of look crooked and I'm not sure I can live with that.

But how cute are those little birdies??? In case you're interested, they're by a company called "Wallies" and I got them on Amazon. They have many different themes and they're great - no paint or wall damage at all.

Nursing nook. We've already spent many hours together in that glider :)

Changing area...which I almost never use. We have a changing station downstairs in our bedroom that I use pretty much all the time. And when I do change him upstairs I frequently do so on the floor next to the changing table, since I've whacked my head on the slanted ceiling more than once.

I made this print on Picmonkey. If you don't use it, you should!

I finally got around to having this photo printed. Cole's birthday...seems like so long ago now!

My daybed cover also finally came in!

A little storage behind the door, and his activity mat from Grandma G. He talks to the little hanging frog and beaver every morning while I tidy up his room.

This letter C was the result of me getting my craft on - felt so good to be creative! I just Mod-Podged some scrapbook paper onto a store-bought monogram. Wonderful stuff, Mod-Podge.

All for this little man! Love him so much!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

For Comparison's Sake

Though I occasionally see an expression or facial  feature that bears some resemblance to each other, by and large I feel our boys look very different:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Breastfeeding High and a Breastfeeding Low

High: In the 12 months that I nursed Jake, I did so in a lot of random places - airports, restaurants, planes, doctor's offices, even a wedding reception. Never once did I draw attention - positive or negative - from anyone. So imagine my surprise when, only a month into nursing Cole, I drew some attention from a very unlikely source. My mom and I were out and about and stopped to grab lunch at Wendy's. Cole has some sort of freaky baby radar that lets him know whenever Mommy is about to enjoy a meal, so that he can start squawking for food too. As he employed his baby radar that day, I hastily tossed my pashmina over us to cover him as he nursed while I kept munching my french fries. And then I heard this: "Excuse me, ma'am!" At first, I didn't pay any attention, because I figured whoever was speaking wasn't addressing me. Then the voice persisted: "With the baby?" It was a male voice, and when he said that, I had a momentary inner freak out. This guy is totally going to ask me to go to the restroom or my car to feed my baby, I thought. I was still considering what an appropriate response would be when I nervously looked up. And what I saw was a total surprise. An elderly man flashed me a toothy grin and a big thumbs-up. "Good for you! Glad to see it!" he called across the restaurant (which in turn made everybody look. Hello, fellow Frosty lovers. Nothing to see here.). After glancing down to make sure that the "it" he was referring to wasn't a part of my anatomy I'd rather not display, I squeaked out a thank you and he went on his way. It was so unexpected and from such an unlikely source that I'm still thinking about it!

Low: The beast that is yeast. Cole and I are suffering a bout of thrush. I never had to deal with this while nursing Jake and man is it a pain (literally - it is making nursing uncomfortable). Everything that comes in contact with us needs to be sterilized on daily basis until we're done being treated. There's conflicting opinions about whether my sizable freezer stash of pumped milk should be tossed or not. I'm siding with those who feel it's ok to keep and use it  because I don't think I'm strong enough to throw away a good 80 - 100 ounces of breastmilk. Ready to put this part of nursing behind us!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

New Mama Survival Tips

As I sit down to write this, I am experiencing one of the great triumphs of motherhood: overlapping nap time. Two kids, in two beds, one mama, with two free hands. At times like this, I reflect on the fact that my days staying home with my babies are a series of decisions. They're both napping? What to tackle first? Or should I lay down too? Planning a trip to the library - morning or afternoon? When will the baby need to eat next? What can I accomplish before that? Today I decided to blog. My topic is one I've also been mulling over lately - little things that make my days as a new mom of two go a bit smoother. If you're an expecting or new mother yourself, I hope a few of these resonate with you as well!

Make the most of your moments. Being a mom, no matter how many children you have, is basically a giant juggling act. Housework, childcare, perhaps your job outside the home, meal prep, relationship management - it's enough to overwhelm anyone quickly. But there are always moments in your day that you can take advantage of in order to stay afloat. If one of your kids sleeps longer than the other in the morning, use those moments to dress and prepare the other for the day. If both your kids sleep longer than you, throw a ticker tape parade! No, don't! That would wake them. This occasionally happens in my house and I use those moments to wash my face, grab a bowl of cereal and get dressed. Perhaps the baby's content in the bouncer or swing and your other child is engrossed in PBS - load those dishes in the dishwasher or throw a load of laundry in. These types of things only take a few moments, but accomplishing several of them throughout the day makes a huge difference!

Think ahead. Just when I had figured out how to get out the door in a timely fashion with one kid, we went and had another. Getting two of them ready to leave the house is a whole new ballgame. Anything, anything you can do in advance is to your advantage. I keep the diaper bag packed with diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and my wallet, and just before leaving throw in anything else I might need - my phone, a nursing cover, the K'Tan wrap, etc. Anything you can put in the car the night before you're planning to go somewhere is a huge help (because chances are if you wait until you're trying to leave, you will forget it). When I head back to work, I make a habit of packing daycare bags and lunches the night before so they're ready to grab in the morning. Is it fun making PB&J at 9 pm? Nope, but it's a lot more fun than trying to explain to my boss why my sorry butt is never at work on time.

Don't neglect yourself. Listen, I know how easy it is to let the day slide by without taking a shower or eating something nutrious. And people feel perfectly free to tell you how normal this is. But dude, even something as simple as a hot shower can totally change your outlook on the day. Take - no, make - some time for yourself. This life is not all about your kids. You have needs and rights too, so exercise them. My time is usually after they are both in bed. I take a long hot shower and afterwards, Hubs and I usually eat dessert and debrief the day. He has also been known to watch The Bachelor with me ;-)

Moisturize. Nowhere will all those sleep-interupted nights show up faster than on your face. I'm not saying you need to do your whole make-up routine everyday (heck, I sure don't! To impress who? The UPS man?), but make a point to slap some moisturizer on your face on a daily basis. I made this a priority about a week after Cole was born when I looked in the bathroom mirror and realized I resembled an inmate. Seriously, moisturize.

Freeze your food. I didn't do any freezer meal prep when I had Jake, so I didn't know what a complete lifesaver it is until recently. I froze somewhere between 15 and 20 meals at the end of my pregnancy and they have saved dinnertime in our house lately. Cole's fussy time of day is right around the dinner hour, so being able to simply throw a complete meal in the oven or dump it in the crockpot in the morning is amazing. I plan to continue freezing meals through the remainder of my maternity leave for when I go back to work.

When all else fails, put on a clean pair of underwear and call it a day. Sometimes you have one of those days where nothing goes right, the kids are crabby, no one naps, the baby's been through five outfits by noon, your husband is running late, and you realize you forgot to defrost the meal you were supposed to put in the oven that night. That's ok. But the clean undies really are a must.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cole's Favorite Things: Newborn Edition

How, how, can it be that my brand new baby is already a month old? Slow down, time! He has changed so much in the last four weeks, and it must be obvious, because my three year old said to me this week "isn't Baby Cole getting so big, Mommy?" Yes, yes, sweetie he is. Now excuse me while I try not to let you see me cry (because then you'll ask me a million and one questions about why I'm crying and I don't have it in me to explain postpartum hormones to you).

At a month old, Cole is still a man with simple wants. Give him a snuggle and a boob and he's a pretty happy fellow (this is true of most men, no?). But there are a few other things he finds pretty special, so in honor of his one month birthday, here they are:

The Summer Infant Swaddlepod. Words cannot express what a wonderful invention this is. Like his big brother, Cole is not a fan of the swaddle wraps that pin his arms to his sides. But like most newborns, he has zero control over his little arms and will startle himself awake faster than you can say "moro reflex." The Swaddlepod is made of a snug-fitting, stretchy cotton blend that allows him to move his arms around inside and get all comfy, but prevents him from waving his arms aimlessly or startling. My only complaint is that it only comes in one size - newborn. After Jake outgrew it, we moved on to the Woombie, which is exactly the same idea at three times the price. Slightly annoying, but I personally will shell out big bucks if it brings us good sleep.

It turns out that newborn Cole and newborn Jake have quite a bit in common. They both also refuse every pacifier but the big, ugly, hospital grade Soothie. I should add that Cole actually has a love-hate relationship with the Soothie. When he needs to suck, and you offer it to him, he chomps down on it with a look on his face that says "Oh, Bink, I love you, please don't ever leave me." 7 seconds later when it falls out, he gets so angry he silent cries, followed by ear-splitting screams of outrage that Bink did, in fact, leave him. When you replace it for him, he's instantly in love again, but when it inevitably falls out again, he's a hater. Rinse and repeat. 47 times. 

The Baby K'Tan wrap. This thing has been a lifesaver. I think if Cole had his way, he would spend the entire day snuggled up in here, snoozing away next to Mama. It is the only way I accomplish anything during his fussy time, which (not so) conveniently coincides with the dinner hour. There are times I put him in it and want him to stay awake for a little while, but alas, he is powerless against the warmth, the snugness and the smell of Mommy and he conks out every.time. One more word on the K'Tan - while cruising Google for an image of it for this post, I came across this:

Because my husband frequently takes our son for a walk shirtless and wearing a baby carrier. 

And last but certainly not least, Big Brother. I could watch Cole watching Jake all day. He clearly is the most fascinating thing in this house to Cole. I would be willing to bet that his first smile will go to Jake. When I hear Jake chattering to "Colie Bug" or see Cole kicking enthusiastically in response to Jake's voice, I wonder how I ever worried that they wouldn't love each other!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Newborn Cloth Diaper Update

Find me the person who doesn't think a tiny newborn tush is the cutest thing ever. Now wrap that tush in a teeny, fluffy cloth diaper and prepare for cutepocalypse. I didn't start cloth diapering Jake until he was 10 months old, so dabbling in newborn fluff has been an experiment that is working out beautifully for us. I slowly purchased our newborn stash over the months of my pregnancy, accumulating a little of this and a little of that until I had a taste of many of the most popular diapering systems out there. I didn't want to purchase too many of one thing, because different diapers fit different shapes of babies better, and luckily for me, all of our diapers fit Cole. He's a pretty average size, but he's got just enough chunk to his thighs without being too chunky - so nothing is too tight nor too loose on him. Here he is modeling one of each type of diaper in our newborn collection.

Pocket diapers are my very favorite because I love that you can adjust the absorbency to suit your needs. The one on the left is a Happy Heiny's Mini - a newborn version of their popular one-size pocket diaper. It's awesome, and I love that because of its three-step rise, it will fit Cole much longer than the newborn diapers without an adjustable rise. Plus, the leopard print? So cute! The one on the right is not technically a newborn diaper - it is the first diaper in our one-size stash to fit on him. It's a Rumparooz sized all the way down to its smallest setting. Definitely more bulky than the true newborn dipes, but it gets the job done!

Three more newborn pockets, from left to right: 
Alva Baby newborn: LOVE. It also has an adjustable rise, ensuring a good fit for a relatively long time. The adorable owl print is my favorite and the super soft waistband is so gentle on his skin.
Blueberry Mini Deluxe: moms rave about these, so I got one to see what all the fuss was about. It was my priciest NB diaper purchase and while it's super cute, very adjustable and works well, I wouldn't say it outperforms any of our other pockets to justify the higher cost.
Fuzzibunz Extra Small: I'm not usually a fan of this brand for fit reasons, but it came with a couple of others I bought, so I took it for a test drive. It works well, but I don't love the snaps - it's tough to get a precise fit at the waist and I still dislike the sticky PUL coating on the inside of the shell.

All-in-One diapers make life so easy - no pockets to stuff, all your absorbency is built right in. Just fasten it on your baby like you would any disposable. We have a bunch of these and most work very well, but I miss the ability to add absorbency, like in a pocket diaper, and they take absolutely forever to dry, because they're all one piece. From left to right:
Random, work-at-home-mom made AIO: this one has a special place in my heart not only because it's so.darn.tiny but because it was the first diaper to fit Cole. He's like 2 days old in that picture - and he makes that teeny dipe look big! 
Bumgenius Newborn: Bumgenius pockets are far and away my favorite one-size diapers, so I had to try their newborn size. I found them kind of average. They're not the most absorbent of my all-in-ones, and I think they're going to be the first ones he grows out of. It's already hard to fasten them at the waist - I'm running out of velcro closure.
Imagine Bamboo Newborn: Love this one! A great AIO at a great price point - very absorbent and super cute too! Even without an adjustable rise, I think it will fit him for a decent amount of time.

The last of our all-in-ones, from left to right:
Thirsties Duo AIO: I adore this diaper not only for its adjustable rise, but because it's an all-in-one that you can stuff with extra inserts if needed! It has a channel design inside that allows you to add absorbency - I've stuffed a hemp insert in there to beef it up for nighttime.
Little Joey's knock-off: Little Joeys are probably the leader in newborn diapers. But they're pretty expensive given their short lifespan in a diaper rotation, and there are many off-brand knock-offs with the same exact design at a much more reasonable price. This one happens to be by Hip Kiddo. Is the cow print not adorable? These diapers are pretty tiny and their claim to fame is the umbilical cord snap-down that allows the stump to heal without irritation (I don't have it snapped down in this photo because Cole's stump fell off a long time ago). At a month old and somewhere between 9 and 10 pounds, he's on the verge of outgrowing these as well.
Tots Bots Tiny Fit: my favorite AIO. Suuuuuuuuuper soft minky fabric inside, and tons of absorbency in a tiny package. Superb fit and washes and wears so well! I'll be sad to pack this one away.

Prefolds are what most people envision when they hear "cloth diapers." Classic cotton diapers, pinned on and covered with those old school rubber pants. Well, the old stand by has come a long way, friends! While the cotton prefolds themselves may not have changed that much, with the exception of coming in every variation under the sun - bleached, unbleached, organic, bamboo, hemp, etc. - the thing that makes these so user-friendly now are the wrap-style covers that go over the top. I purchased a dozen newborn prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers because I heard they were the best and I have ZERO complaints! They live up to the hype! So soft, so absorbent, and perfectly sized for a newbie. No more pinning - these can simply be trifolded (as pictured in the middle photo above) and laid in a cover, then fastened on your baby. These are the only diapers in our newborn stash that have never leaked on us - they contain everything! The only downside is that while all of the pockets and all-in-ones feature stay-dry interiors, with the 100% cotton prefolds, your baby is going to feel the wetness, resulting in more frequent changes. I personally don't mind this, given the affordability and performance of these diapers. The two covers I chose were:
Thirsties Extra-Small (on the left): Absolutely perfect over the top of these prefolds. A great fit and superior performance! The double leg gussets keep everything in, even runny breastfed poo!
Bummis Super Brite Newborn (on the right): These are TINY. They would probably fit a preemie really well. I had a hard time getting these newborn prefolds in there! But they did work great in the early days when Cole was itty bitty. No leaks with these either.

One other thing that's made cloth diapering really easy - those short-sleeved shirts he's wearing in nearly every photo. They're by Rabbit Skins and I'm mildly obsessed with them. It's so easy to change a diaper without messing with any snaps down there, they come in every color of the rainbow, they're perfect for layering, and they're tiny and adorable. Something to think about if you're thinking about cloth yourself!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Products I Love for Baby #2

 It's no secret that having a baby quickly fills up not only your heart, but your house as well. Babies come with stuff. A LOT of stuff. Some of it neccessary, some of it completely frivolous, some of it ridiculously named (c'mon, Pee-Pee Tee-Pees?). My BFF M and I have an ongoing joke that we're going to found a company called "Crap for Kids" that features only vitally neccessary, mimimally-named well, crap for kids. For example: you need diapers? Crap for Kids carries those! Only they're called Crap Catchers, and they come in one color: white. No stupid cartoons or tooty fruity designs. But newborns actually need very little, so following is my list of essential items that I would not have made it through the first few weeks without!

I'm very conscious of what I put on and in my kids' little bodies, and whenever possible, I opt for natural products. The Earth Mama Angel Baby line is 100% natural. I discovered it with their Third Trimester Tea (yummy!) and went on to order these two products, both of which are wonderful. The bottom balm is cloth diaper safe, which is neccessary for us, smells divine, and works beautifully - a thin coating between diaper changes keeps Cole's teeny bum healthy and rash free. The nipple butter blows any other product I've tried out of the water - waaaay better than the lanolin-based creams I used the first time around, and being all natural (and vegan, to boot!), you don't have to worry about wiping it off before nursing, or about baby ingesting any of the ingredients. 

Speaking of natural products - the California Baby line is another of my absolute favorites. Cole is having some skin issues, which are common for newborns as their hormones get all adjusted post-birth. He's got some crazy combination skin happening - oily and dry all at the same time. The calendula bodywash is super gentle and non-irritating, and the cream is soothing and hydrating on all his dry patches. I use both of these products on myself and Jake as well and love them!

Even if you're breastfeeding, odds are you'll need a pump of some sort - to relieve engorgement, or pump when you're away from baby, build up a freezer stash, etc. I have a double electric pump that I purchased when I returned to work after having my first, and it will be my go-to again this time for use at work. But here at home, I find myself reaching for my manual pump almost every time. It's so quick and easy to use, and I'm finding I actually pump more with it than my electric. It's quiet and not dependent on batteries or a wall charger. I love it, and for the price (retails around $35-$40 depending on where you purchase it), you can't beat it.

And speaking of nursing - another must have are breast pads. Especially in the early days, there's a lot of leakage happening and no one needs that. Last time, I used disposable nursing pads, but along with my transition to cloth diapers and wipes, I opted for the reusable route this time. These Bamboobies pads are amazing - the daytime ones are super soft and thin but still get the job done, and the nighttime ones are so absorbent and feel wonderful next to your skin.

Ok, ok, one more nursing must-have! Good nursing bras are a breastfeeding mama's best friend. This is my new favorite - it's the "Stella" by Bravado for Target. Smooth, seamless, soft, stretchy and supportive, plus easy to use. It's a winner all around!

My first baby was born in the summer - a whole different ball game than a winter baby! Around here it's been cold, and by cold, I mean absolutely ARCTIC in the weeks since Cole was born. That's why fleece sleepers are at the top of my newborn must-have list. They are so easy to get on and off, so plush and cozy, and keep baby warm from head (well, neck, technically) to toe. I wish I had a million of them, because there's no real end to this Alaskan weather in sight.

 And last but not least, a treat for mama and baby - a glider and ottoman set. I had an upholstered rocking chair in Jake's nursery, and it was a very pretty chair, but it was not cut out for nursing. No lumbar support, the back wasn't high enough to rest my head on, and it moved all over the place when you rocked it. My parents gifted me with this set for Christmas, and it's like a little vacation every night when I nurse the baby before he goes to bed. It's likely the first time I've been able to put my feet up all day, and the nursery is quiet and dark and we're snuggled up together...I'm not going to lie, I often doze a bit myself while he finishes up his bedtime snack :)

So there's all the "Crap for Kids" that has propelled me through the newborn haze. The list of essentials will surely change as he grows so stay tuned for an update!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pregnancy Progression

Here they are - all 39 weeks worth of belly shots on the road to baby #2! Allow me to say that something got wonky with my point and shoot digital camera along the way, resulting in some blurry photos. You can definitely tell when we upgraded to a DSLR around 37 weeks!

And, I know I was done with pregnancy at the end, but watching this totally makes me miss that belly!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why natural childbirth is like Splash Mountain

It's no secret that I LOVE Disney World - it's probably my favorite vacation destination. That place is so magical, and everyone gets to be a kid, and don't even get me started on how I can't wait to take our own kids there and see it through their eyes. I'll cry for sure! But, when it comes to thrill-seeking, I am admittedly and unapologetically vanilla. Space Mountain? Never been on it. The Tower of Terror? Terrified! But somehow, my mom always manages to drag me onto Splash Mountain - the log flume ride that ends with a 53 foot drop into the brier patch below. Thrill rides. Not a fan. But I got to thinking about it the other day and I realized that natural childbirth is pretty much the most intense thrill ride you can go on. Check it out:

If you're anything like me, perhaps you begin by thinking, "hm, do I really even want to go on this ride?" There you are, standing in front of the viewing area, watching log after log of shrieking riders go plummeting to their doom, and wondering, just why, exactly you would choose this particular ride over, say, the air-conditioned Hall of Presidents. The first time you rode the ride, you really didn't know what to expect, so, sure, you were game! You naively climbed into your hollowed-out log and off you went. But, faced with riding a second time, you remembered - ""hey, that was kind of scary," (or in laborland, "hey, that hurt like a son-of-a-pup") and I'm not totally sure I want to do that again." 

Regardless of why, you find yourself in a hollowed-out log again. And the ride starts and you think "this isn't so bad, look at all the cute little singing bunnies!" You encounter the first set of mini-rapids and you're all "I can totally handle this! Look ma, no hands!" But then Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear show up and the mood gets a little darker - uh oh! The Slippin' Falls are up ahead! That more daring drop-off rocks your confidence a bit, but you press onward, because there's no getting off the ride now. And then, then, you begin your ascent to the final descent, and again, if you're anything like me, you're starting to panic. Perhaps you curse your traveling companion* who got you on this ride in the first place as your log click-click-clicks its way up the huge hill. And your mind, and in all likelihood, your mouth as well, is screaming "I don't want to do this anymore! I want to get off, get me off this ride!" Your log crests the hill, with a dazzling view of the entire theme park - perhaps the person you rode with is saying something unintelligible like "Look, isn't it pretty? Look, I can see the carousel!" "OH MY GOD, GET ME OUT OF HERE, WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS ANYWAY???" but there's nothing left to do but shut your eyes, duck and yell your head off as you careen down a 53 foot drop in a matter of seconds. 

Then...you cautiously open one eye, then the other. You survived! You're a bit wet from the giant splash, but otherwise fine. 

And your first thought is: "I have GOT to do that again!"

*To my credit at no point did I curse my husband in the delivery room. Or my mom on Splash Mountain, for that matter.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Baby G2 has arrived!

Baby G2 made his grand entrance to the world on Saturday, January 4th, 2014 at 8:15am. His birth, just like that of his big brother, was absolute perfection. Interestingly, both of my labors were nearly mirror-images of each other, with this most recent one being about 3 hours shorter. Details below!

If you've been reading along through the last few weeks of my pregnancy, you know I'd been getting increasingly impatient to meet Baby G. On Thursday the 2nd, I saw Dr. H, the OB who practices with my midwives, for my 39 week appointment. Before I could even ask her to strip my membranes and get the party started, she suggested it. She told me I was a good 2 cm dilated at that point and that she suspected the membrane sweep would move things along. A snow storm was predicted to begin that evening and she asked me how far we were from the hospital. I told her not to worry, we have all wheel drive, we'll be fine, ha ha! But I wasn't laughing later that evening when I was feeling all contracty and the roads were nearly impassable. Luckily, it wasn't the real thing that night!

Friday, January 3rd. A quiet day at home with my big boy. We had an awesome time playing Legos and keeping warm in front of the woodstove. I had started spotting a bit and was contracting regularly but didn't want to get my hopes up. So instead I forced myself to make a grocery run. This sucked big time. It was all of 4 degrees outside and I had to drag my 3 year old to the store while having contractions and feeling increasingly more uncomfortable. In hindsight, perhaps not the smartest move, but I wanted a full fridge and pantry in case this was it. I purchased a whole fresh pineapple, because I had read that it was rumored to jump start labor and I was prepared to eat the whole darn thing! By the time we got home I was exhausted and threw a couple of frozen pizzas in for dinner. I didn't have much of an appetite though and only picked at it. Later that evening, I lost my mucus plug, which is every bit as appetizing as it sounds, but was a real indicator that things were moving along. We had a dear friend who also happens to be our neighbor and Sweets' sitter, lined up to be our labor support person, so I was keeping her informed of the goings-on as well. After putting Sweets to bed I was wiped out and crashed on the couch for a bit, noticing that the contractions seemed to be picking up. When I got into bed around 10 pm to try and get some rest, they suddenly started coming very regularly. Hubs had fallen asleep out on the couch so I texted him to let him know what was up. Yep, I sure did text him when he was two rooms away ;) By 12:30 am I knew this was for real, so we called my parents, who were coming to stay with Sweets, the midwife on call, who told me to head over to the hospital, and our friend L, to let her know we would be on our way shortly. The contractions were anywhere from 2-5 minutes apart but totally manageable. Just like with my first labor, I was thinking "these need to get so much worse" before we went to the hospital, but all of my people were gently suggesting that it was probably time. They were right!

After peeking in on my sleeping boy and bursting into tears at leaving him, knowing he wouldn't be my only when we returned, we were on our way. We arrived in triage around 2:30 am. My babies love these middle of the night labors! I was checked and pronounced a solid 4 cm and 100% effaced. While they readied my room, Hubs and I walked the halls for an hour or so. This definitely helped the contractions pick up even more, but I was feeling great in between. Around 5 am, I got into the whirlpool tub and let me tell you, it was blissful. As a great lover of hot baths, I was in heaven. It was a huge tub with lots of jets and I just labored away one contraction at a time, occasionally having a nurse check on the baby with a Doppler. I was also starving, which surprised me. Hubs was feeding me graham crackers and water and L was keeping me supplied with cool washcloths, and the three of us were having a merry old time in the dark tub room! I think it was around 7 am when a resident came in and said my midwife had asked her to check my progress, so I climbed out and we all trooped back to my room, where she proclaimed me 8 cm. I couldn't believe it! I was feeling awesome - how could I be at 8 already? She asked if I wanted to do some more walking and I agreed. A half lap around the floor later I was doubled over telling Hubs I couldn't do it - transition time! Back in my room the contractions got evil for that last centimeter or so. Hubs and L were praising me and telling me how great I was doing and my only response was "I can't, I can't!" I remember L saying "that means we're going to have a baby soon!" She was right! Around 8 am my water broke and with the next contraction I screeched that I had to push. No, like now. RIGHT.NOW. So I did. I could have cared less that my midwife wasn't in the room yet. I was getting that baby out! She arrived moments later and L tells me she said "oh look, there's the head!" Um, yeah, I know, I can feel it! ;) Five super intense minutes later, G2 appeared squalling and pink and I asked Hubs to tell me what we had. I'll always remember his voice cracking as he cried "it's a boy!" They handed him right to me and just like that, we were a family of four and my heart grew about a thousand times over.

It's all fun and games in triage ;)
My mama made me a couple of snazzy delivery gowns and they were a huge hit! 
Thanks, Mom, for ensuring that I labored in style! 

A gorgeous sunrise outside our window

After getting out of the tub


...the last centimeter was no fun

It's a boy!!! 

Getting acquainted...

Shhhh, sweet baby

Daddy cuts him loose!

Welcome to the family!

No one said being born was easy ;)

I didn't ask for this, people!

Ten tiny toes

Nursing for the first time - he did great!

Pure outrage

"The decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." -Elizabeth Stone

Cole Brian, 8 pounds, 5 oz and 19 inches long. We've been waiting for you and loving you for nine long months, sweet baby. Welcome to our family. And thanks for not making me eat a whole pineapple ;)