"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure." Psalm 71:14-15

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The YEAST monster

I've been a little behind on blogging, and I've been putting off writing this post for some unknown reason. But several weeks ago, heck it may have been a couple of months now, Levi and our diapers had YEAST! We were visiting the pediatrician for something totally different and he very nonchalantly said, oh and this is a yeast rash on his bottom, just get some whatchamacallit cream and it's no problem. He said basically any diaper rash that lasts more than a couple of days is yeast. 

Yeast rashes can be a REAL problem when using cloth diapers. First, you can't use any of the tried and true creams that really knock out the yeast rash with cloth. Second, it can be a real ordeal to get the yeast out of the diapers so that baby and diapers don't keep passing it back and forth.

My first priority was getting Levi some relief. So we ran out for a pack of disposables (BOO) and started using the cloth safe cream we had. I also ready here that disposable wipes (which is what they use at daycare) can feed yeast.  They were great about me bringing cloth wipes to school until the rash was gone.  The cream we had didn't work after a few days, so I started scouring the internet for other yeast solutions. But our friend Meghan stumbled upon this blog and suggested coconut oil.

Coconut oil is a miracle worker!!  It has anti-fungal properties and cleared Levi's rash up in less than 24 hours.  Plus it's cloth safe, so we can continue to use it in the future!  I bought a big jar at our local organic grocery store for $7.  I scooped some out and sent a small container to school, put a small container in the diaper bag, put a small jar in the nursery, and still have about half the jar in the kitchen!  We've also had a problem with a yeast rash around his mouth on his face from his lala, coconut oil is safe to use there too (I had been using my nipple cream, which is much more expensive).

Next was the diapers.  I was afraid to put the diapers back on Levi until our whole stash had been washed a couple of times with the yeast regimen.  I continued to use the yeast washing regimen for 2 weeks after his rash was gone on his bum to make sure it was gone from the diapers too.  I pulled from several articles and blog posts online and came up with the following routine:

1. Cold rinse with 20 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract dissolved in 2 oz of filtered water
2. HOT wash (turned water heater up to 130 degrees from 120) with regular cloth detergent and OxoBrite oxygen cleaner
3. Extra cold rinse
4. Dry on high in dryer (most recommend sun but my laundry line is still in the box, hopefully we can put it out next spring)

This is what worked for us.  I will forever sing the praises of coconut oil because I saw how quickly it brought Levi relief... and it's super CHEAP compared to other diaper creams!  I hope your baby never gets a yeast rash, but if they do, I hope this blog helps you!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Levi you are 8 months old!

Levi you are 8 months old. You weigh 17lbs and 3.5oz. You still insist on doing the army crawl and show no interest in being on all fours. You are pulling up on lots of things and love standing in your crib. You babble an awful lot, and I think you've said "bye bye" a couple of times on purpose, but I can't prove it! You love to clap your hands...

But this is your latest trick! You show no signs of understanding any of the baby sign language we've tried to teach you, but you can do touchdown! We are still breastfeeding part-time, and you have bitten me with your ONE tooth once that actually injured me. THAT wasn't fun. You are eating more solids at night, and though you don't like every food the same, the only thing you absolutely refuse to eat is bananas. You have had a pretty nasty cold for the last couple of weeks. You had a cough settle in to your chest and you've been taking breathing treatments in the morning and before bed. I think you've almost kicked it though!

Your First Thanksgiving

Pulling up!

Sweet boy

Monday, November 21, 2011

Levi you are 7 1/2 months old... and your mommy is a slacker!

Levi is doing all kinds of fun things these days. He has perfected the Army crawl that looks more like the butterfly stroke on dry land. Whatever it is, it works to get him where he wants to go... which is usually the power strip where the keyboard is plugged in or straight to the dog water bowl! Yek! He started clapping his hands on Halloween. I put him on the floor so that I could put my costume on and when I looked down at him, he was sitting there clapping! :)

Since I blogged last about Levi, he's gone on 2 big trips (one on a plane), had his first big fever :(, had 3 haircuts, gone to 1 wedding, 2 funerals :(, and 1 football game. We lost our sweet GP in September, he will be sorely missed. He did get to meet and love on his great-grandson though. Matt's friend from high school's step father also died. I was working, so Matt dressed Levi up and took him to the funeral solo. Here's a pic of Levi and GP:

Levi went with us to a wedding in Maryland, his first plane trip, where he promptly got a horrible fever as soon as we arrived. His fever lasted about 24 hrs and at times was over 104. We didn't know that until after we got a thermometer though! **PS Don't get a flu shot within a week of anything important. The pediatrician said that side effects can appear up to 1 week after (about the time Levi got his fever).

Yes, Levi has had 3 haircuts! I know it's bad luck, but the kid's hair was out of control! I had to cut it before his 6 month pictures with Melody Hood b/c there was a really long piece hanging in front of his ear. Then once I cut it, I've had to keep it trimmed because it grows like crazy. Oh well, he's much better groomed!!

Here are some 6 month pics (notice his hair trimmed around his ears):

Hilary came to visit for Halloween:

cutest little Piglet ever!

And 7 month pics:

Whew! Now I'm all caught up and ready for the holiday season!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Mompetition

Two very dear friends of mine, whom have been out of touch in recent months, used the very same phrase in our first reconnecting conversations with each other. They mentioned that they "didn't have it together." One friend in particular admitted that she hadn't called me because she was having a hard time staying on top of things and that I appeared to have adjusted to motherhood without missing a beat and seemed to have it all together. [HA!]

First of all, if that were true my last post before this one wouldn't be about my son being 5 months old when he is now 7 months old! If I had it all together, my blog would be up to date!

But seriously, these conversations have troubled me deeply and brought me to a very serious realization. Two of my dearest friends (who do not know each other at all) were each going through some very difficult times ALONE. One friend I know was too intimidated by her perception of others that she didn't feel as if she could reach out when she needed someone.

We women are relational creatures, and part of being relational creatures is comparing ourselves with others. This can be very dangerous to our emotional health if we are in a vulnerable place. She works full time and teaches Sunday School, I should be able to do that. She works out 3 times a week and is in the best shape of her life after having a baby, I should be able to do that. She doesn't feed her family fast food at all, I should be able to prepare a healthy meal for every meal we eat. She cloth diapers full time, I should be able to do that. She has quiet time every day with God for 30-60 minutes, I should be able to do that. She makes all her own baby food, I should be able to do that. She continued to breastfeed after going back to work, I should be able to do that. Her house is always so clean, I should be able to do that. She grows her own vegetables and composts, I should be able to do that. The problem is that when we do this comparison, these women are never the same person!! The one who finds time to work out, probably has a dirty house. The one who teaches Sunday School, may feed her baby jar food. The one who prepares healthy meals for her family, may use disposable diapers. But for some crazy reason, we feel like we should be able to do it ALL. Hence, the mompetition.

We expect to be able to do it all, even though no one ever could. And because of our feelings of inadequacy when we can't do it all, we withdraw from one another and feel isolated. When really, the mom that you compare yourself with, the one you think has it all together, feels like a complete failure. And funniest of all, she looks at you and thinks you have it all together too.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Levi you are FIVE months old!

I can't believe my baby is 5 months old! You are turning into such a sweet, cool little person. You are very happy all the time. You love people and will let anyone hold you (which I appreciate when it's time to drop you off at school). This weekend was your first Labor Day Party and Grandma and Grandad's house and you were the star of the show. You let Grandma take you all over the place and meet lots of new people and you never cried once about being away from us. You really are an easy baby!

The Labor Day Party was also our first game day!! We lost this one by 1 point, but we've got lots to build on.

You loved the music!

You love the animals, and Einstein loves you back... not sure about the girls. Isis did love on you the other day until you pulled her tail! Hurley is STILL mad that you took away her Mama and every time you try to pet her, she steps out of your reach.

Your new trick is sitting up! You aren't very good at staying up for a long time, but you can sit up for 20-30 seconds at a time, sometimes longer if you prop yourself up on your arms. You are scooting all over your crib, inchworm style. You don't use your arms, you push with your legs and use your forehead to hold you up. It's SO funny.

Sitting up like a big boy!

We started giving you cereal and you really seem to like it this time. You try to take the spoon away from us! We tried giving it to you a few times when you were 4 months old and you were not ready. You got MAD actually :) I think we are going to try solids soon once you get the hang of cereal.

I measured you about a week ago and you were 26" long! We are looking at big boy car seats, because you will probably outgrow the infant seat in length long before you reach the weight limit. I weighed you about a week ago and you weighed 15lbs 1oz.

Here you are eating your "5 months" sign...

That sweet face melts my heart!

You are a very sweet and cuddly baby boy! You remind me of another little boy that's not so little anymore... SNIFF

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The End is Near

No I'm not talking about the East Coast Earthquake, hurricane Irene or any other of the natural disasters that have folks beating down the doors of their local church for fear of the Apocalypse. I'm talking about my breastfeeding journey. My heart is absolutely breaking into pieces as I write this.

As I've said before, breastfeeding was by far the most important thing for me to do for my baby and the one part of being a mother that I looked forward to most. As my 4 regular readers know, it has been anything but an easy journey. Hell, it hasn't even been a bumpy road. It's been an all out mud-crawling-military-obstacle-course-fit-for-a-movie (think Officer and a Gentlemen). After trying everything under the sun to get a full milk supply to come in, I finally came to peace with the fact that I would be a part-time breastfeeder. We had a schedule that worked for us and I really was happy with it, if I couldn't breastfeed exclusively. I had enough to feed Levi any middle of the night feedings, and 2 early morning feedings (around 6 and 8am). These are the least convenient times of day for me to deal with bottles, so really I couldn't complain. He had a supplemental bottle for his 11:30, 3:00 and 6:00 feedings after I breastfed him. And I pumped once after he went to bed, before I retired. This schedule worked for us for a good 2.5 months or so.

I started noticing last week a slight decrease in what I was pumping during the day at work. I had been pumping around 2 oz each session, meaning I was making between 2 and 3 oz per feeding. Levi started pulling off and throwing his head back and whining and fussing during recent feedings, I now know it's because I'm not producing as much milk as I used to. On Tuesday my monthly visitor returned. This is bad news. It means that since going back to work, the breast pump is not doing a good enough job getting milk out to keep my prolactin hormone levels high enough to keep my period away. The more the prolactin levels fall, the less milk I make and the more likely that my visitor will stay. In just two short days my production has plummeted. I don't even think I have enough to get him full in the morning without a bottle now. I barely have anything to give him and he is getting frustrated with the process.

I'm not greedy. Sure I wanted to breastfeed exclusively, but I gave up on that months ago. I just wanted to keep going as we were as long as he and I still wanted to, at least a year. This is all happening so fast. It's so sudden, so early, I'm just not ready for it. My heart is absolutely breaking. I'm hurting in a deeper place than I ever knew my soul to go. I can't feed my baby. My body was made to do this and it continues to fail me at every turn. I try to remind myself that I am grateful. I'm grateful for the medical advancements of the last century. 100 years ago, I wouldn't have a son now. He would have died months ago of starvation. I know that. But it still doesn't take away the pain I feel in this very deep place. I just want to feed my baby. I JUST WANT TO FEED MY BABY!! I want to feed my baby and I can't and I feel like I'm being punished for something I didn't do. This feels so unfair.

Well-meaning friends and medical professionals tell me it will be better next time, my next breastfeeding experience will be a breeze, it will be better with the next baby. That's great, but I'm not trying to feed the next baby. I'm not holding and consoling the next baby. I'm not looking into the frustrated hungry face of the next baby who just wants to nurse and get milk. Nope, I just want to feed THIS baby. We'll worry about the next one when s/he gets here.

I realize I'm a control freak, but why did it have to be this. Why was THIS the avenue to teach me some stupid lesson about letting go, blah blah blah. There's nothing I can do to MAKE my body make milk. And that's just the end of it. Just like that. It's gone and I can't do anything to get it back.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Levi you are 4 months old!!

My sweet GROWING boy! You started rolling over from back to belly regularly on July 28th, just one week before your 4 month birthday. You've rolled over a couple of times from belly to back, but not with any consistency. For now, you roll over onto your belly in your crib, then you get mad about being on your belly so you cry! Most nights you settle down and sleep on your belly, but it depends.

To wean you off the swaddle (which you LOVED and worked like a charm to keep you asleep for the first 3 months), we introduced a "lovie". It's a little animal/blanket that is a grey and white dalmatian. You LOVE sleeping with your lovie. You tuck it under your arm or lay on top of it when you are on your belly. Sometimes you even put it over your face to block out the light so that you can sleep. It's really sweet how much you cuddle with it to go to sleep.

You started school this month. You love your teacher Miss Debbie and all the babies in the class. I can tell you enjoy school and being with the other babies. You even have a little girl friend. She's 8 months old, the little minx, and her name is Delilah. She loves to give you hugs! I appreciate that your school is so close to my office. I try to come to the school and feed you myself about once a week.

You are still very interested in the animals and love to watch them. They were playing the other day and got a little too loud so you yelled at them! They froze in their tracks; it was hilarious! You still love to read books and you help turn the pages. Your favorite game is pat-a-cake. You seem to enjoy bath time sitting in your Bumbo seat (this is not an approved use of the Bumbo, but it works!). I use the little hand held shower attachment on you and you love watching the water spray out and touching it. You even tried to put it in your mouth the other evening and were surprised when you got sprayed in the face. You did this repeatedly and I was cracking up at you!

You are still growing like a weed. This post is a bit late, but you currently weigh 14lbs 10 oz. I think you were around 14lbs 2 oz at exactly 4 mos. I'm so bad for not keeping closer track! You are still very long. We started looking at convertible car seats this week because you are quickly outgrowing your infant carrier. The limit is 30" in length and we are sure you will be there way before you hit the 22lb weight limit!!

We tried feeding you cereal 3 times (one evening, the next morning and evening). You cried a lot so we assumed you weren't ready yet. We will try again soon.

I love you my sweet little boy! I eat your cheeks up daily and get sad thinking about the arrival of the day you won't want my kisses!

always smiling!

I love your fluffy little bum!

haha!! Your funny faces crack me up!


1st bath picture. You love the water!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Levi you are 3 months old!

OK, so you are 3 and 1/2 months old! You actually had your 4 month check-up with Dr. Coffman a little early. You weigh 14lbs 1oz, your head is 16.5" around, and you are 25.5" head to heal! That puts you in the 70th percentile in weight, the 75th in head circumference and the 90th in length!! We have no idea why you are so LONG, Mommy and Daddy (at 5'2" and 5'9") are not tall people!

Things you have been doing for a while now include smiling (since you were 3.5 weeks), babbling and cooing (since you were 6 weeks), laughing at things you think are funny, holding your head up and watching things move around the room, supported sitting, and supported standing. Recently you have noticed our dogs more and you love to watch them. Mommy helps you pet them and it is so sweet. You are kicking your legs during diaper changes and scooting around your crib in your sleep. You have been turning to sleep on your side some and you are really close to rolling over from back to belly. As for belly to back, we may never know, you HATE tummy time! Last week you started putting things in your mouth, and just in the last few days you have discovered your FEET!

Dr. Coffman recommends starting solids at 4-6 months, starting with rice cereal. I think we will wait until you can look more straight ahead while sitting in your Bumbo instead of down. We may have to force some tummy time on you to help with that! You are growing up too fast and we want to punch rewind a little! What a sweet and precious boy you are, we love you so much!

You're getting SO BIG!!

What a looker you are! Mommy calls you a "lady killer"! :)

You are such a happy boy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I'm so glad I didn't quit

I'm so glad that I didn't give up on breastfeeding. I still don't have a full supply, and Levi takes a supplemental formula bottle after most feedings. I still have to pump AND wash bottles (the most inconvenient parts of each type of feeding). But I'm still glad I didn't quit.

The time I have with Levi when he is breastfeeding is so precious. I love it. It's time that I have him and no one else can give him what I give him. Yes, it comes with it's challenges. Yes, he gets distracted and goes through phases of "playing" with his food that doesn't feel very good. But each phase of difficulty has passed and it's still enjoyable most of the time.

I wish more people would embrace that feeding doesn't have to be one or the other. Breast is definitely best, but when it doesn't work out as a full-time option, I wish that more moms felt ok about doing it part-time. I think the reason that women feel they have to give it up altogether if they can't do it full-time is absolutely the fault of the breastfeeding advocacy community. I've always been a HUGE breastfeeding advocate, and a bit snobish about it (remember). But I think this is where the breastfeeding community gets in its own way. There is so much pressure to breastfeed, that every other form or combination of feeding is shunned. Even with as hard as I tried to make full-time breastfeeding work, knowing that I have NOTHING to be ashamed of, I would still never pull out a formula bottle at a Le Leche League meeting for fear of being burned at the stake. I think that's incredibly unfortunate. Imagine how many more babies could be getting good milk from their mommies, if only their mommies felt ok about breastfeeding part-time!

No, I can't breastfeed exclusively. I deal with feelings of inadequacy and failure almost daily. And I have a hard time referring to myself as a breastfeeding mom without adding, "but I don't make enough milk, so I have to give him a bottle too." I wish none of these things were true. But I keep reminding myself that what he gets from me, no matter how little, is still good for him. And that if I were more narrow-minded about feeding Levi (breast or bottle, one or the other), that I would be missing out on a wonderful experience with my son. I hope that by sharing our journey that more advocates will open their minds and hearts when talking about breastfeeding to moms and moms-to-be. And I hope those who have had similar experiences are encouraged to do what feels right to them, no matter the pressures around them. But remember, feeding is not an all-or-nothing thing. You can do BOTH.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Levi, Levi God Claims You!

If you've never heard this sweet baptism song, you're missing out. I think it's so precious. I sing it to Levi every day as I get him up in the morning and from naps. He just smiles! I've tried to tell him that we are not morning people around here, but he keeps smiling! Even though we didn't sing this song at his baptism, I still love it.

Levi, Levi God claims you.
God helps you, protects you and loves you too.

We this day do all agree,
a child of God you'll always be.

Levi, Levi God claims you.
God helps you, protects you and loves you too.

We your family love you so.
We vow to help your faith to grow.

Levi, Levi God claims you.
God helps you, protects you and loves you too.

Levi was baptized on Sunday in The Vine contemporary service at First Centenary. Lots of family came from out of town, and it was wonderful to share the day with them. I have to brag a little, I made his gown.

It was a proud day for our family

With Hilary, Levi's Godmother

The Needhams

The Blacks

The Trousdales

4 Generations

3 Generations of Black men! :)

Brian told Matt to ask me out, he married us, and now he's baptized our son! He's pretty special to us.

My favorite pic of the day, Levi and Grandad.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's not about how hard you try

There are many things that I wanted to give my child before I actually became a parent. I wanted a drug-free, natural labor. I ended up with a C-section. I wanted to use cloth diapers, and that's actually going very well. But more than anything, I wanted to breastfeed my baby. In my mind, breastfeeding had to be the best part of being a mom. All the women in my family breastfed their babies. My mom always talked about how much she loved breastfeeding me, and how much she cried when I weened myself at 6 months. As much as I ached to have a baby, I looked forward to breastfeeding more than any other part of the experience.

I admit, I was a bit of a breastfeeding snob. I found myself judging women I saw in public bottle-feeding their babies. Wondering why they would settle for second best for their babies. When people had problems breastfeeding and chose to switch to formula, I just thought they didn't try hard enough to make it work. I assumed that there were things you could take for milk supply problems, techniques to try for lazy eaters, etc. If you were willing to try hard enough, anyone could make it work. Boy was I wrong.

From the moment Levi was born, I loved breastfeeding. It was everything that I thought it would be. We had a great first feeding, even after all the commotion of Matt's seizure. After that he was much lazier. He was in that newborn comatose sleep for a few days. There was 12 hours or so when he didn't have a wet diaper in the hospital (day 2 or 3, I can't remember), and that's when we first started supplementing. I cried so much. I hated giving him formula; it made him puke. The day I was discharged, my milk started to come in and I don't think we even brought any formula samples home with us. I was done with it, I thought.

At Levi's 1 week check-up he was not back up to birth weight, but the doctor wasn't too worried. He wanted to see us back for a 2 week to make sure he was gaining. In between those visits, the damage and pain from breastfeeding had really set in. It was difficult to let him feed as long as he needed to. I had also read a book that suggested single-side feeding, which I was doing to try to help myself heal. So he was only eating from one side each time, and I am not a large breasted woman so there isn't much storage space. Looking back, it was my fault he wasn't gaining weight. I was starving him, but I didn't know that. He was still losing weight at his 2 week appointment, he lost down to 7 lbs 2 oz from 7 lbs 15 oz at birth. I did nothing but nurse him and cry from the pain for the next 4 days. I saw a lactation consultant who did pre and post-feeding weights on him and said that it was "fine" for him to only get 1.6 oz in a 40 min feeding (we'll get back to that). When we went back on Friday (his weekly appointments were on Mondays), he had only maintained his 7 lbs 2 oz. Levi's pediatrician had me begin supplementing with formula or fortified breast milk. Each feeding I would nurse him as long as I could (25-40 min), then give him a bottle, then pump for 15 minutes. By the time I washed bottles and pump parts it took nearly 2 hours and he was eating every 3! The pediatrician said we not only wanted Levi to gain weight, but we wanted him to learn the difference between full and hungry so that he would be a more vigorous eater. I followed this routine from Friday to Tuesday and Levi gained a whole pound! I was a zombie though.

We decided to back off to supplementing every other feeding for the next week (I pretty much gave up the pumping though), and he continued to gain. I was still in a lot of pain. Everyone had told me that the pain goes away by week 3 or 4 and it hadn't. My husband was telling me to give up because he hated seeing me in so much pain. I've told everyone, I had more pain from breastfeeding than I did from the surgery. I called and made an appointment with another lactation consultant. She gave me some pointers on how to deal with the pain (nipple shields really help when you know how to use them!). She also did a pre and post-feeding weight and said that I had a low milk supply and that I would have to start supplementing with every feeding because Levi wasn't getting enough calories from me. At this point, Levi was 5 weeks old and I had seen the first LC at 2.5 weeks. I was so frustrated because I felt like I could have dealt with this issue a long time ago if she hadn't told me it was "fine." I was put on a strict breast-bottle-pump schedule every 3 hours to stimulate my supply. I was also on an Rx to help with milk production, one that my LC said she had only seen not work on 2 women in 15 years (both had PCOS, which I don't have).

Over the next few days I saw my milk supply plummet. I guess it was the increased supplementing. I panicked. I waited a few days for the Rx to kick in, nothing. I went back after a week with no improvement. She said give it another week, I did. I began to hate the breast pump. I loved nursing Levi, and I didn't mind as much giving him a bottle, but I always had to put him down right away to hurry off and pump. I hated it. I did this ridiculous routine every 3 hours, even trying to wake up in the middle of the night to pump while my baby slept, for nearly 3 weeks. I cried, and mourned and generally felt mad at the world. I was mad because my body was failing to do what it was made to do. I can't make enough milk to feed my son. It doesn't matter what I try, because I've tried it all (herbal tea, oatmeal, fenugreek, power pumping, Rx).

I finally decided that I needed to accept that I was a "formula mom" (something I NEVER wanted to be). I decided that I was done with the pump. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything because I was tied to a breast pump. I could nurse my son and give him a bottle while I was out, but I can't pump just anywhere. I only pump like a normal person, 3 times a day. I nurse Levi and he gets all I have to offer, but the bottle makes sure he gets enough food. Yes, I'm disappointed, mad, jealous of moms who can feed their babies. But I've made peace with the fact that I tried everything, for a long time, and nothing worked to bring my milk up to a full supply. I know I did everything I could to give my baby the best, and maybe next time it will be different. Some people may think I'm nuts for not giving up completely and just bottle feeding. But just because I can't feed him a whole meal doesn't mean I can't feed him anything. Anything he gets from me is good for him. And as long as we both enjoy it, who cares what other people think?

I have learned not to be so judgmental of those "formula moms," because I don't want someone to judge me. They don't know my story or how hard I tried to make it work. Maybe this post will help someone who was like me to be more understanding when their friends give up on breastfeeding. Because sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you try, or how bad you want it, it just doesn't work the way it's supposed to.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Top 10 Things We Can't Live Without

Babies come with a lot of STUFF. And unless you have done it, making a registry for the STUFF you will need is really intimidating for a first time mom. Giant box stores that make a killing off of this STUFF make you feel like you have to have EVERYTHING or you are a bad parent. You should see the enormity of their "suggested registry." Below I've put together my own little Top 10 list of things we love, things we need and things we can't live without around here. Now keep in mind, our son is only (almost) 6 weeks old. I'm sure there are other products we will need/fall in love with as he grows. But for now, here is our Top 10.

10. koala baby hooded towel - I had to give a shout out to Koala Baby. This is by far the best hooded towel set we have. It is so thick and plush, I know we will be able to use it into the toddler years. We also love these wash cloths by BRU, definitely invest in the nice wash cloths with binding around the edges! If they just have serged edges, they will curl after being washed and are so flimsy. The ones we received I ended up using to make our cloth wipes.

9. the boppy - Everyone loves the Boppy for its many uses, propping up, supported sitting, etc. This is definitely a necessity for every parent.

8. the diaper caddy - This is one of my favorite things I received from our registry. I love it! It has a place for everything I need to change Levi's diaper and groom him. It makes everything so convenient, especially since he is in a bassinet in our room right now. I was also able to easily convert it from disposables after the first few weeks, to cloth now. It goes from room to room, wherever you need it. I think if I had a 2 story house I would want one on each floor!

7. the snap-n-go - I LOVE LOVE LOVE this stroller! It is by far the best piece of "gear" we purchased. I had an unplanned C-Section and had lifting restrictions for several weeks. I had to make a few trips to the hospital for tests and things and this stroller saved me from carting his heavy carrier all over our enormous hospital (I only made one trip without it before it went in my trunk). It's great because it's lightweight, easy and you don't have to wake baby to move him from car seat to stroller, the seat snaps right on! We have a jogging stroller for when he's older, but you can't beat the convenience of a snap-n-go when they are small.

6. organic cotton breast pads - These are a necessity for any breastfeeding mama. They are luxurious, soft and the only thing my lactation consultant recommends wearing (as opposed to disposable pads or plastic anything). I have 6 pairs of them so that I'm not constantly doing laundry and I can have fresh ones each day. They are heavenly.

5. the LaLa - Levi, like his daddy once did, loves his LaLa. We couldn't live without it, judge me if you will.

4. sleep sheep - It plays a heartbeat sound to comfort baby and remind them of being in the womb. I swaddle Levi, put his LaLa in his mouth, turn on the sheep and he's out in no time. Since he is sleeping in a bassinet in our room, I get to fall asleep to the sheep too. I think I'll miss it when he's in his crib!

3. bouncy seat - Call me a bad parent if you will, but this is the only way I get to take a shower or eat a meal. Levi is still too small to enjoy the toy bar, plus it seems to overstimulate him, so I use the seat without it now. The kicker, it vibrates. He loves it, sue me.

2. cloth diapers - Even with many things not going well or as planned, this is one thing that makes me really feel good as a parent. The link is to a post describing our extensive cloth diaper stash, and all the other necessities to get started for interested parties. I've loved knowing that I'm not putting chemical laden diapers on my baby's bum on a regular basis. The fact that it's good for the environment is just the cherry on top of the sundae!

1. aden and anais swaddle blankets - Not every baby likes to be swaddled, but Levi loves it. When he gets really worked up it's the only thing that will calm him down instantly. It helps him sleep longer stretches too! These are by far the best blankets for swaddling out there. The muslin material makes them stretchy and not too hot for warm weather months. And unlike other "receiving blankets" they are big enough to grow with baby for months. We have 4 of these, and when we are down to 1 clean one I know it's time to do laundry.

**Honorable Mentions:
  • Born Free glass bottles (BPA and all other nasty plastic free) - Even if you plan to breastfeed, you may want a feeding or two off.
  • bottle drying rack - I didn't know if this was one of those "need" things or not, but I've used it so much more than I thought I would. It's great for drying all those little parts of the breast pump too!
  • Burts Bees Baby Bee buttermilk lotion - It just smells heavenly. Period. And you know it's made from good, natural stuff because it's Burts Bees. Available at your local Target store.
  • video monitor - This was on the recommendation of one of our friends who is a parent. Get a video monitor because you will want to know whether or not to go in at nap time when they are older (if they could sleep longer or are ready to get up).
  • bassinet pads - They keep the sheets clean from accidents... LESS laundry!

So there you have it! These are my recommendations for all those Moms-to-be out there of the things we love and can't live without!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Levi is one month old!

Is it me, or is this the most precious face you've ever seen?!

I just love the dimple!

He started smiling at 3 weeks

The Needham Feet :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Adventure in Cloth Begins...

I celebrated Earth Day this year by embarking on our cloth diaper adventure. I've been stocking up on fluff since before I was pregnant. I've known for several years that I wanted to use cloth when the time came, and as the time got closer I just started stocking up when good bargains came my way.

I took the advice of other cloth diapering mamas given via online forum and invested in the old school diapers for our newborn stash. I've been using prefolds & covers mostly. I have several "convenience" diapers, like mini pocket diapers or small size AIOs (all-in-ones) described previously, but the only leaks we've experienced since Levi arrived have been from the "convenience" diapers. Changing the soaked outfit along with the diaper when you are away from home is not very convenient! From what I can tell, these diapers are leaking because my little man has skinny little chicken legs. He will probably outgrow them in other areas before his legs are fat enough for them not to leak. I must say I'm disappointed. I really wanted to love my Happy Heiny's MINI one size diapers, but because they leaked I don't. I wish that instead of the smaller "convenience" diapers that we got I had invested in more fitteds like the Kissaluvs Size 0 or Sandys Newborn Fitteds (I have 2 and love them), just to have something easier than a prefold to reach for. I can tell that I'm going to love moving up to the regular one size pocket diapers once Levi is big enough. The ease and convenience of the pocket diaper design is awesome in comparison to prefolds and covers.

That being said, I am not loving the prefolds and covers. My little man hates diaper changes. He wiggles and kicks the whole time, which makes maneuvering the prefold and snappi a challenge. Diaper changes take a lot longer than I would like. I knew prefolds and covers would be kind of a pain, but I thought it wouldn't be bad for a little while. I thought we would move into the pocket diapers after a couple of months. But seeing what a skinny boy I have, we may be in prefolds longer than I planned! I just hope we can move to the pocket diapers before I go back to work and he starts daycare. I know they won't use the old school diapers and I don't want to have to buy disposables!

We have a pretty good stock of one size pocket diapers to move up to when the time comes. We have a couple of diapers in several different styles and brands to see what works best for us before buying our big stash. Our pocket diaper stash includes the One Size versions in snap and aplix closure of bumGenius, FuzziBunz, Rumparooz, Happy Heinys, and Kawaii. Like I said before, I can't wait to dive in and try them on little Levi!

Even though there are things I would do differently, different diapers I would buy, I still don't regret our decision to cloth diaper. It's one of the things I feel best about as a mom. Even though it's not very convenient, it's still not as much of a pain as people make it out to be. And once we grow into our pocket diapers, it's going to be so much easier!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Levi James is here... and how he got here

I woke up early Sunday morning, April 3rd, around 2am, for my usual trip to the bathroom. I noticed when I got back to bed that I was having contractions. I observed them for an hour while lying down to make sure they didn’t go away. I woke Matt up at around 4am. I was hungry, so I had some cereal and we talked about our game plan for the birth. We tried to get some more rest, but I couldn’t sleep through the contractions. We labored together at home all morning and into the afternoon. We walked up and down Dayton Blvd, stopping to relax along the way. The exercise ball brought me lots of comfort throughout my labor as well.

We decided to go to the hospital around 5pm. When we arrived, the nurse said that I was 5 or 6cm dilated. We were happy and felt confident that we had not arrived too early at the hospital.I started to experience some back labor while we were still at home, which continued and intensified at the hospital. Meg, our midwife, let us labor for a while before she even came to the hospital. She checked me around 7:30 or 8pm and I was still at 5cm. She advised us that breaking my water could help move things along, so we did. I dilated to 6.5cm in about ½ hour after that. Matt and I continued to labor together through the ever increasing back labor pain. I was not aware of how much time was actually passing. But my labor seemed to stall out around 7 or 8cm after 7 hours of laboring at the hospital. Meg sat us down and said that she thought I was in too much pain to continue naturally and that the only way I would be able to relax and dilate the rest of the way would be to get an epidural. I was exhausted at that point and I knew she was right. I couldn’t relax any more than I already was, and I felt like it was only getting worse.When my labor started, my contractions were lasting about 1 minute and 15 seconds. By the end, they were lasting 3 minutes each and coming one right after the other. I got the epidural around 1am after nearly 24 hours of natural labor, 13 of which included intense back labor.

The epidural did what it was intended to do, I was able to relax, get some rest, and finish dilating to 10cm. I did not regret the decision to get it and I was proud that the drugs did not enter my baby's system for hours on end, but only at the end of labor. After I was fully dilated, Meg let me rest for an hour before we started pushing. Once we started pushing, I got frustrated because my contractions started to space out and I wasn’t getting enough opportunities to push. They had to give me pitocin to ensure that my contractions continued regularly. I pushed for 2 hours, 4 or 5 pushes per contraction, but the baby was not coming through my pelvis. After 2 hours, the baby was still at Zero station, and I was exhausted. Meg told me that it was time to call Dr. Collins to do a Cesarean Section. She reassured us that we did all we could to avoid surgery and get our baby here the natural way, but that it just didn’t work out. It was pretty cool to have my midwife and the L&D nurse tell me individually how cool it was to watch Matt and I labor together. The nurse said that they could have made a video for future Bradley classes... for what it's worth I guess!

They took us in to surgery, and Levi James was born via Cesarean Section at 6:10am on April 4, 2011; weighing 7lbs 15oz and measuring 20.5 inches long. Dr. Collins did the surgery and Meg, our midwife was there too. When they pulled the baby out, we both asked what the baby was (boy or girl), but the doctors would not say anything. They told Daddy to go look, so he walked around where he could see. He started crying and told me that he owed me $20! He was so excited; he kept scurrying back and forth between Levi and me. Levi was not happy to be out of his warm and cozy home, and he let everyone in the delivery room know it! He was crying at the top of his lungs and showing them off.

Most birth stories would end here, but not ours!! They wheeled me into the recovery area, Levi and Matt followed. We were there waiting for the nurse to give Levi a bath when I saw Matt start to fall while he was holding Levi. I thought he was passing out, but he was starting to have a seizure. He realized what was happening and was trying to hand the baby off to a nurse. I could see Levi's face and he looked so scared, like he realized he was falling. One nurse ran to catch Matt, while another nurse took the baby from his arms. They lowered Matt to the floor while he had a seizure. I’ve never been so scared in all my life. Because we were at a women’s center for the birth, they couldn’t treat Matt for his seizure there. So, less than an hour after Levi was born, Matt was in an ambulance on his way to another hospital across town. My mother came to be with me and Matt's mother met him at the other hospital. He was gone for 6 long hours. He was a bit dazed when he returned, but very happy to be back with us.

Levi and Mommy's first picture

After his first bath

Daddy is happy to be back with Levi and Mommy

First family photo

We are continuing to adjust to life with a newborn, and all that entails. But we are also adjusting to life with Matt having a diagnosed seizure disorder. That means no driving for 6 months. The stupid ER doctor actually wrote on Matt's discharge orders that he shouldn't drive or hold the baby for 6 months. Yeah right. "I'm sorry sir, I know your son was just born today, but if you could just refrain from holding him until October that would be great." Whatever.