Baby Products – What Did I Really Need?

The baby industry is booming and it’s amazing all of the stuff that you can buy for your little one. I feel like it’s mainly targeted to new moms because in reality, by the time you’re ready for the second one, you know what you really need and it’s not much. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while because so many of my friends are having babies, so here is a list of the stuff I did and didn’t need.

What came in handy

1. Diapers – duh. That should be the first thing. I kind of screwed myself because I planned on doing cloth diapers and that didn’t happen, so what I wish I would’ve done was have a diaper baby shower. It may sound stupid to a new mom, but diapers are expensive, getting to the store is tough, and it’s nice to have a supply of all sizes of diapers. Newborn diapers are kind of useless unless you have a really tiny baby, but having lots of size 1 and size 2 diapers are great. Ellie went through approximately 90 diapers a week. Yes. Yes, she did. If you’re going to do cloth diapers, great, just have a lot because babies pee and poop a lot and they do NOT… well, let me back up and say Ellie peed and pooped a LOT and she did NOT like having a dirty diaper. So stock up on whatever you can pre-baby.

2. A group of friends to make you dinner. Even though I wanted to hide because I was 1) afraid Ellie would get sick and 2) I was breastfeeding all of the time and worried about people seeing me, food was nice because I was not able to cook myself. My mom stayed a week and cooked a lot which was awesome, but having people bring you food for the first couple of weeks is super important. Don’t be afraid to ask if no one offers! But people will. On a side note, you may be tempted to cook/clean while the baby is sleeping. DO NOT DO THAT. I REPEAT, DO NOT DO THAT. Sleep when the baby is sleeping. Seriously, you need it.

3. Boppy or Nursing Pillow – I held Ellie a whole whole lot, but it was nice to have a little prop for her to sit on too. She loved her boppy and we used it up until she was able to sit on her own.

Here's Ellie in her boppy as a newborn

Here’s Ellie in her boppy as a newborn

I also had a Rock n play which I really liked as well. I used both a bunch but I can’t say whether I would recommend buying both. I was given both of these and utilized them greatly. Would I go back and buy both if I had to, I’m not sure. I’d probably just stick with one. And if I’m just sticking with one, I’d pick the boppy 🙂

p.s. I didn’t use my nursing pillow as much because I had an overactive supply and had to lay on back to breastfeed. I ended up using a regular pillow a lot.

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4. A Wipes Warmer! This would be on some people’s no list, so it depends on your baby. I had one, took it back before she was born, then went back and got it because Ellie would cry every time I wiped her bottom and I figured out it was because she was cold. She didn’t like the cold wipes on her fanny. Once we used the warm ones, she didn’t cry anymore. well, at least about getting her bottom wiped.

5. Muslin blankets – Ellie is hot natured and sweats a lot so even in the winter, she used to muslin blankets a lot. They’re also easier to swaddle even though Ellie did NOT like to be swaddled. I personally like Swaddle Designs and Aden & Anais. I didn’t use these to swaddle as much as just lay them on her in her boppy and in her car seat.

6. Car Seat – another duh. The infant carseats are nice because you can take the seat out of the base and carry the baby, although it sucks to buy two carseats. If you’re trying to save money, they have lots of convertible car seats that start at 5 lbs all the way up to 45 lbs. If you do that, you will have to get the baby in and out a lot, which is annoying. Personally, we bought the Chicco series, they Keyfit 30 and the Nexfit. I really liked both of them and will recommend those, especially for small cars. (I have a prius). I would also recommend following The Car Seat Lady and Car Seat of Littles on facebook. They both have videos, tutorials and great info on installing carseats, what’s best for you, etc. If you message them, they will respond in a timely manner. It’s awesome.

7. A GREAT WRAP – I put that in all caps because my wraps, yes I had multiples, came in handy. I was lucky to be given several and I used ALL OF THEM. I had the Moby wrap, the Maya wrap, and an Ergocarrier.

  • The Moby wrap was awesome for Ellie all the way up to probably 6-7 months. I carried her in it a lot and there was actually a time when the only way I could get her to sleep was to wrap her in the Moby and walk her around. It was great and I would recommend for 6 months and under. Some people use it longer, but there came a point where Ellie flat out rejected being in it. Every baby is different and you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. There are other brands that are similar and they may be great, I have heard good things. I really liked my Moby
  • The Maya wrap was great for a side carry and what I liked most about it was how easy it was to get her in a out. If I wasn’t trying to get her to sleep, if we were downtown or walking around, or if I were cooking, something like that, I would put her in it. She could see, I could see, I had free hands and again, it was the easiest to get her in and out. I used this from probably 4 months – 10 months. I know people use it when they’re smaller but I really only liked it for side carry. You can get any ring sling, this is the one I was given and I really liked it.
  • The ergo has been great from 6 months on. I use it for hiking and later for getting her to go to sleep, when the moby just wasn’t working. I still use it now for hiking, although now that she can walk, she isn’t much of a hiker. I know others have Kelty’s and other brands that keep the baby off of the back but Ellie isn’t interested in that AT ALL. So the Ergo it is. I like it, I don’t love it. If I could possibly try a Tula or a Lillebaby, I’d love to do that, but since I bought the Ergo, that’s what I would stick with. I wish I had a more summer friendly one as well, but since Ellie wants to walk now, I’m not going to buy anything else.

If I could only buy one, I’d go with the Ergo and get the infant insert. If you think you’re going to wear your baby a lot, I would invest in at least 2. I’d do the moby and the ergo or a wrap and a soft structure carrier. Every baby is different, so you may want to wait and see what you like. Ellie doesn’t like to be in a stroller so I wear her almost all of the time. Now that she’s a year, I really just carry her or she walks, but I’ve worn her most of her life. Also, it took her a minute to get used to being worn, so you may have to introduce it slowly.

8. Lastly, I recommend the Baby Book by Dr Sears. I have read a lot of baby books and this one was the best by far.

What I didn’t use

1. My jogging stroller – very sad. It was expensive so it REALLY sucks but 1) I kept getting mastitis every time I ran so my body was telling me to take it easy and 2) Ellie didn’t like being in the stroller. I tried a bunch but it became more of a hassle. I’m going to try again with the next one, and maybe that baby will like it better, but she just never got used to it. Your baby could like it and it will come in handy, but for us, I could’ve saved that $350.

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p.s. I have friends who loved theirs, so it is a case by case thing

2. A swing – I was lucky that my sister in law let me use hers because we only really used it for a couple of months. If I had spent a lot of money on one, I would’ve been upset. The real reason is that Ellie grew out of it really quickly. She was at the weight limit at 5 months. It did help her sleep sometimes, but really, it wasn’t a necessity. Maybe if I had spent more time with her in the jogging stroller, haha.

3. A crib – this one is controversial and you just have to do what’s good for you and your baby. But for me, I could not sleep with her in another room. So she sleeps in our room. Still, and I don’t foresee that changing. There’s a lot of drama and controversy around it, so again, do what works for you. Here are some different resources for you in case you had the same challenge as me

http://cosleeping.nd.edu/safe-co-sleeping-guidelines/

https://www.isisonline.org.uk/

http://evolutionaryparenting.com/tag/co-sleeping/

4. A pack and play – I just didn’t use it. Really ever. My sister in law gave me one, thank goodness, because Ellie never went in it.

I’m sounding like a broken record here, but every baby is different. My child likes to be held. She isn’t one to lay quietly in a stroller,on the ground, anywhere. So, these are what have been handy for me. There’s other stuff that I used like a high chair, stuff like that, but these are what came to mind while writing. I hope it’s been helpful for you!

A Weekend Trip to Charleston

This weekend, we traveled to Charleston for a little mini vacation. My husband ran in the Cooper River Bridge Run so we drove down on Thursday. I love Charleston so much, it’s one of my favorite places to visit so I was a lot excited and a little nervous as Ellie is not a fan of the car. 3 and a half hours with a screaming 7 month old didn’t sound that great but we took the chance and made it through. She actually slept most of the time both ways, and while I had to pee the last 2 hours on the way there, I was not going to chance waking her up. I told James, “let’s utilize this time and just get there. I’ll pee later in life.”

 

our first day there – Ellie is enjoying the new scenery

 

 

Before we had a baby, our vacations were filled from morning to evening. We would walk around an entire city, eat at nice restaurants, take tours, etc. With a baby, it’s an entirely different story. Friday, we went to the grocery store – woohoo. We went shopping in Isle of Palms, went to the beach, and went out to eat. I had a big fear that Ellie wasn’t going to nap well, and she didn’t take any 2 hour naps, but she got in a couple of 45 minute – hour long naps, once on my chest while walking around, so that was also nice.

 

 

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it’s cold daddy

 

 

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on the way to the beach

 

 

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whoaaaaa

 

 

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WHAT IS THIS

 

 

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this is a little warmer

 

 

 

 

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toes in the sand

 

 

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daddy holding Ellie

 

 

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the water took her breath away

 

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it was windy

 

I know I’ve said this before, but the coolest thing about being parent is watching her experience new things. We take for granted the fact that we know what the ocean feels like. We know how the sand feels between our toes. We know what the texture of a fresh peach feels like in our mouth, the sweetness of the fruit, the juice running down our chin. We do things on a daily basis without any thought to how it feels. Babies are experiencing all of this and it’s so cool to witness. I love watching her smile as she digs her fingers into the grass, and then watch in terror as she puts it in her mouth. I struggle with that because I’m thinking, has a dog pooped in that grass, but I don’t want to constantly tell her no because I want her to experience things. I feel like I’m learning so much from her, and my goal for the future is to use my 5 senses to re-experience life with her.

 

 

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grandma had some cool clothes on

 

 

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Daddy ran fast!

 

 

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daddy loves to shop with us

 

We take our next trip in June and I’m super excited about that. A week there, and who knows what she’ll be like at 9 months!

Being a New Mommy (or heck, just being a mommy)

… is hard. Like, y’all, this stuff is hard. And people told me that before I had kids but one can NEVER know how hard it is until you’ve got a little baby screaming in your face and you have NO FRIGGIN’ IDEA WHAT TO DO. The funny thing is that I thought it would get easier as she gets older, but it just seems to get harder and harder. For different reasons, of course. I’m trying to be more thoughtful and more prayerful through this Lenten season and from doing so, I’ve discovered some of what makes this all so challenging.

 

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How cute is this face?

 

1) The crying is really hard but not for the reasons one would think

At first, I thought the crying would be hard because it’s loud. And before I had her, I thought, eh, even if it’s loud, it won’t be that big of a deal. No. It is not because it is loud. It is because my body has a full on, physical reaction that comes from the gut when she is upset. And depending on her cry, it gets exponentially worse. I want to help her as quickly as possible, but sometimes don’t know why it’s happening. Is she hungry? Is she tired? Is she teething? Does her stomach hurt? Is she developing mentally? Is she growing physically? Does she have a fever? WHY ARE YOU CRYING BABY I WANT TO HELP IF YOU JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED I SWEAR I WILL GIVE IT TO YOU!!!!!!! So sometimes, it’s just trial and error. And now, over the past month, she’s had those cries where she’s just pissed. Pissed that I put her on her back on the changing table, pissed that I laid her down, pissed that she can’t have my boiling lava hot cup of coffee. Either way, I have a visceral reaction to her cries like nothing I’ve ever felt.

2) I have no idea if the path I’m taking as a parent is a good one

There is an article that comes out daily on what mistakes I’m making as a parent. Kids that watch tv will have ADD. Your baby is not getting enough Vitamin D so you need to give them a supplement. Supplements are bad for your baby. You shouldn’t give your newborn the vitamin K shot because it’s bad. You are endangering your child by not giving them the Vitamin K shot because they could bleed to death. Ugh. I am destined to mess her up. How can I not?

 

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Her new rain coat! Thanks Peggy!

 

3) I’m very sensitive to the fact that I am parenting in a non that usual way and others are judging me

I know this is weird, but I am weird, so it makes sense. I’m following the Attachment Parenting model because honestly, it makes the most sense to me. It comes naturally to me. I found myself reading Dr Sears’s book and saying, yes that’s how I feel! It’s not for everyone and especially here in the South, it’s not for anyone. And when I’m by myself, just little Ellie and I, it’s no issue. It’s hard because I have to learn to be patient as she goes through different life stages, but I’m willing to do it because I just can’t put her in a room by herself to cry it out, I’m not going to deny her food if she’s hungry, and I don’t care about a schedule. When I become sensitive is when I’m in pubic and my velcro baby doesn’t want anyone but me. In reality, that’s exactly what attachment parenting is all about. A baby that is securely attached is one who “become[s] visibly upset when their caregivers leave, and are happy when their parents return”.    But to others, I’m seem like a crazy person. They want to hold her, but she isn’t having it. She wants mama. And so I get embarrassed because I somehow think they’re judging my parenting. My husband says, who cares and don’t worry about it, so I try to be that way, but it’s hard. How can I be confident that what I’m doing is right but still be worried that others are judging me, I have no idea. But I’m a little bit at a level of cray that my husband can’t understand anyway. So yeah…

 

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4) I have a hard time being uncomfortable

I was thinking about this yesterday. Part of what makes parenting so hard is that I can’t run from it. When I’m at my wits end, and I just think I can’t take anymore, there’s no where to go. In the past, I would do my usual things like make myself super busy so I don’t have to deal with the issue, ignore it, eat myself out of it, go for a run, whatever. I would use whatever vice was available at that time. But she needs me. She is 100% totally dependent on me. I brought her into the world and it’s my responsibility to make sure her every need is taken care of, so I can’t just run out. I have to sit with her crying, sit with her mad, be there even when there’s nothing I can do. I feel powerless. And that’s hard. I have to be present and be there for someone else.

 

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yeah, I need to do my hair and makeup – don’t judge me!

 

Suddenly though, there’s a day when she’s so happy. And she laughs at everything. And I get to see her pure joy as she discovers a whole new world and I know that it’s all worth it. Yesterday, we went down to the play area in our neighborhood. I had Ellie strapped into my Ergo and we sat in the swing together. I WISH I could’ve gotten a picture of her face. She was SO STINKIN’ HAPPY to be swinging. It was the coolest thing. Then we walked down to the creek and saw a beaver and again, she was amazed. Heck, I was even amazed by that. My point though is that I felt her pure joy and it made me so happy to have that moment with her. And I suddenly forget how hard it is and realize that I’m absolutely the luckiest person in the world to have her.

Week in Review

I am really trying hard to start posting more regularly. The biggest setback this week was having to change nannies. I was without a nanny for about a week, and let me tell you – stay at home moms should be commended. I work from home, but that time that I get at my desk, interacting with other adults via telephone is a welcomed break. The days that it’s just Ellie and I are cherished but I’m typically exhausted by bed time. Some days, I get some stuff done around the house, others, I’m lucky to brush my teeth. So as someone who has done both, staying at home is WAY HARDER than being a working mom in terms of being ragged. As a working mom, leaving my baby (even if it is just to go upstairs) is hard. I’m super grateful that my boss let’s me get the best of both worlds because I couldn’t imagine dropping Ellie off at a day care. I probably wouldn’t unless it was absolutely necessary.

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Ellie looking at the monkeys at the zoo

We went to the zoo together which was actually our second time going. This time, though, she was a little more alert and could respond to the animals. She really liked the monkeys, big cats, and elephants. We didn’t get to see the whole thing, because she was getting tired and fussy towards the end. It was a fun mommy/daughter date though.

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the future’s so bright

She absolutely HATES the sun being in her eyes, so luckily, I found these glasses that a friend gave us. I haven’t put them on her outside yet, but next zoo trip, we’re giving it a shot! In the meantime, she likes to eat them.

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Mommy got to take a shower!

We have discovered sesame Street (not the show because we don’t watch TV, or we TRY not to watch it), but another friend gave us these animals and she loves them. I actually took a shower at one point and she occupied herself. Ernie is her favorite so I play the rubber ducky song a lot. It’s surprising how much she likes him.

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eating peas – yum

I’m going to do a separate post on Baby led Weaning but after a little scare, I decided that I would give her a combination of puree foods and my food. This is her eating peas which she liked a lot.

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Mashed purple sweet potatoes

She didn’t like these as much, but they’re a little thick. This wasn’t a store-bought puree, this was my own recipe, water and mashed sweet potato. She still ate the whole thing, it just wasn’t as pleasing as the other stuff.

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she loved this

There really wasn’t any corn on it, it was basically the cob, but she likes anything she can chew on. And it was probably sweet.

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Her newest obsession

She’s going through a bit of a clingy phase, but she’s also going through a curious phase so she wants to grab and touch everything she sees…. from the comfort of my lap.

Lastly, this week was the beginning of Lent. Ellie and I went to mass on Wednesday evening and both got ashes on our head! While it was interesting having Ellie try to eat the pew, the hymnal, the missalette, my fingers, the laminated sheet of prayers and her outfit, she was relatively quiet and I got a lot out of what Father Pat said. He said don’t give up chocolate or something like that, give up something that separates you from Jesus. I really liked that and interestingly enough, I did that this year. I decided that for Lent, I am giving up

  1. being critical of others – For whatever reason, I’ve always had this “defect” of character. I think initially, it was a defense mechanism for low self-esteem. It made me feel good to see the faults in others, when what I was really doing was trying to convince myself that I was okay. And it may still be that a bit, as being a new mom really does shake one’s confidence. I’ve noticed that I get really nervous when I’m around others with Ellie. I was running with a mom the other day and Ellie was a bit fussy. I felt unsure of what to do because in reality, I always just respond to her cries, but I know in the mommy world, that’s not really accepted as much, so I didn’t want to appear “weak” to the other mommy, even though she’s not judgmental at all and has always been supportive, it’s just my own inner critic and the fear of not being liked. So maybe part if my being judgmental is me being defensive but I think the other part is me just being arrogant, plain and simple. It’s still coming from the same place, that place of separation and that’s not what God wants of us. Jesus always talked about us being one. Our struggles are one in the same, so what I should be doing is loving others and He loves me, warts (while they are my own perception so who knows if they’re even real) and all. This is going to be very hard and I’m really going to need prayer to help me stick to it.
  2. cussing – In reality, I don’t think that God cares that much if I cuss, but usually when I’m cussing, I’m either being critical (see above), or complaining in some way. I’m never just like, Oh good effin’ morning!! It’s usually like, that driver is an effin’ moron. The words are so aggressive and coming from a place that is absolutely separate from God.
  3. Be more prayerful – Being Catholic, I never have an excuse to not pray. There is a prayer for everything! So if I’m at a loss for words, I’ve got some I can say. But there’s also time for my own words too, so instead of turning to the things above, I can say a quick prayer instead. I can get up with Ellie in the morning, and we can pray together. Pray before meals, helping me have gratitude for the blessings in my life. Thanking God at the end of the day because there’s much to be thankful for. There’s a lot I can pray about and while I usually say one strong one in the evening, I feel I need to do much more than that.

What are you giving up for Lent?

How being a new mom made me a better stepmom

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot over the past couple of weeks. I want to write about those thoughts, but can’t seem to get them out without rambling. I want it to be honest, so I’m just starting stream of consciousness. Before I had Ellie, I married into a family of 3, a husband, and 2 little girls. One was 6 and the other was 8 years old. We’d a couple of times, but really didn’t have a relationship. James only got the girls every other Saturday and every Sunday, and I think I was also a little scared. I grew up an only child to a single mom and I always had jealousy issues with her boyfriends (though she didn’t have many because she was devoted to me). I didn’t want the girls to feel that way hence, the reason I was a little distant. I think it’s a very normal emotion to have as a child of a dating parent, but still no fun.

After we got married, I didn’t know how to build the relationship. I didn’t know how to be a stepmother. Am I supposed to tell them what to do, what are we supposed to do together, where does my place fit in with their father/daughter relationship and even their mother/daughter relationship? I was also scared. I’ve spent a lifetime building up little walls to protect myself, and kids are scary because they can see through them. Children represent such unconditional love and THAT IS TERRIFYING, to someone like me anyway. So it went very slowly. I think the easiest thing for me to do was be fun The more comfortable I felt, the more fun I could be. I started to feel more comfortable with them, and I think that overall, I’ve done a really good job of becoming a stepmom. I’ve got a good relationship with their mom, and I have a better understanding of my boundaries and where I need to assert myself.

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Christmas time years ago – I think around 2008, maybe 2009.

What has changed for me since having Ellie is my parenting philosophy. So maybe this isn’t a post that’s as much about how I changed as a stepparent as it is, how my parenting philosophy changed after actually having children. I am the typical “thought I knew everything there is to know about how to raise kids without actually having any” person. If you know me, I think I know everything about everything until I actually experience it. I think a lot of people are, but of course, I’m also super vocal about my thoughts so I get to be a hypocrite all of the time – isn’t that fun! Anyway, whatever you want to call it, I had lots of thoughts in my mind about how children should learn to be responsible. They must learn to make their beds, brush their teeth, eat what’s been put in front of them, blah blah blah. Every time we interacted, there must be a lesson that we’re learning. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that (if it’s done in the right way). Where I believe I went off into the weeds was that I wasn’t listening to them and their little personalities growing. I was listening to my own character defects reflected in them, and then trying to correct that. While I had good intentions, it was more me lecturing vs listening. How annoying that had to have been. They both are very loving towards me, so I’m not sure that it affected our relationship too much (I certainly hope not), but I feel like my time could’ve been better spent just loving them and validating their emotions.

I have never in my life learned a lesson from someone else. I’m so hard headed. My grandfather used to always tell me “a hard head makes a soft butt”. I never knew what he was talking about, and maybe still don’t, but I get that I’m hard headed, a know it all, gotta learn it the hard way. And I’m actually grateful for that because I believe that I have turned out to be a pretty good person. I’ve gone through a LOT of stuff in my life, and it could’ve been a lot smoother, but who wants easy, am I right? How that translates to parenthood is this – instead of constantly correcting their thoughts and emotions, why don’t I just listen to them? If they ask for my advice/suggestions, I’ll give it to them. But if they’re just venting about why they’re frustrated, I don’t have to fix it. I can just be that ear they need at the time. I think having Ellie opened me up to a certain level of compassion I didn’t’ have before. I see the girls as 2 humans, making their way through life, learning all of the things I had to learn. My function as a stepparent for them is to provide a safe place to return to after making a mistake. As a parent, I provide security, a home base, so that they can have freedom to learn as I did. Yes they’re going to make mistakes, yes, we could’ve probably helped them not to, but isn’t it more important for them to know that they will always be loved in spite of what happens and the mistakes they make?

I feel as though I’m beginning to ramble, so I’ll end with this – I’m not saying that we should just let kids go and do whatever they want without consequences at home. But what I am saying is that sometimes, when they’re telling me something about their feelings or emotions, I should listen and appreciate that it’s happening. If every time they come to me and tell me something, and I tell them they’re wrong for feeling that way, are they going to stop that emotion? Or are they going to stop coming to me? I’d rather them know that I am always available as a sounding board.

The last thing I want to say is that having Ellie has increase my capacity for love a million fold. I know I’ve said this so many times but one can never understand the love of a child until having one. It’s greater than anything I’ve ever felt. Having Ellie opened my heart enough to see the girls in a different light, and having the girls prepared me to feel that love. For that, I am grateful.