Baby DIYs

My favorite things often have a story behind them and are usually handmade or discovered at a flea market.

– Amy Sedaris

Halloween just passed and though I was not motivated leading up to it, I decided to maintain my childhood custom of trick-or-treating by taking Baby J on his first trick-or-treat outing. This custom originated in my family around handmade costumes my mom and grandma would make us kids. In fact, my dad posted pictures Halloween morning of my sister and I, more than a decade apart in age, wearing the same handmade mouse costume (see photo above). This idea of creating something for our children is nothing new, but it may just be a tradition worth keeping around.

The key is to keep things simple when creating for your child. Here are a few projects I did recently that brought a lot of joy to my life.

  1. Baby romper and matching hat
  2. Diaper wreath / dreamcatcher for a baby shower
  3. Baby mobile – using weaving and macrame
  4. Incredible Hulk Halloween costume
  5. Crib shoes with silicone no-slip soles

Maybe your creative outlet isn’t sewing or weaving. Maybe you like to write or draw or dance or sing. Whatever it is, create something for your child. It will energize you as a parent, and it will make for a beautiful keepsake and memory for your child. Share with me what you decide to make.

A Solid Plan

Food is not just eating energy, It’s an experience.

– Guy Fieri

I couldn’t help but feel bad as Baby J writhed in pain after eating baby cereal for the first time. I had heard so many contradicting messages about when to start solids that I just went with my gut instead of Baby J’s. I thought that since he was interested in my food that he’d enjoy eating and that’s all there was to it, but I didn’t consider the possibility that his digestive system may not be ready. His gas pain could have been a fluke so a few weeks later I tried baby cereal again, but the same thing happened. Fortunately I had gas drops on hand. After these two incidents I decided that maybe four months was not the best time for my baby to start eating solids even though other babies might do great with that timeline. I also decided that baby cereal was not the best choice for him as a first food. Instead I opted for steamed vegetables and vegetable purees.

Because each child is different, and I’m not an expert, I will just share some of Baby J’s favorites and the approximate order I introduced them. Please consult with a doctor and/or nurse before making changes to your child’s diet.

First Foods (5-6 months)

  1. Pureed Baby Food – Favorite flavors were sweet potato, green bean, butternut squash and carrot. I started with single ingredient purees first to help identify any allergens. Prunes did not agree with Baby J.
  2. Hummus – Favorites are original, red pepper, pine nut, and black bean
  3. Baked Sweet Potato/Yam mashed or cut into spears for easy grabbing
  4. Apple Sauce plain with no sweetener
  5. Banana cut into spears
  6. Peaches very ripe and cut into spears
  7. Avocado cut into spears – Sometimes this is too slippery for small fists. Be patient. Your little one will eventually figure out how to get it to their mouth.

Second Foods (7-8 months)

  1. Dolmas – These rolls of rice wrapped in grape leaves are perfect for little fists. You can buy them fresh or in a can at most grocery stores.
  2. Celery sticks for teething dipped in hummus or peanut butter. If trying peanut butter or any other common allergen for the first time watch for hives or any other reaction. Contact a doctor for instructions on how to treat a possible reaction. A nurse told me to keep liquid benadryl on hand and that hives are the most common first reaction in infants. By the way, baby probably won’t be able to eat the celery but just its toppings.
  3. Oatmeal – Throw in quinoa, barley, cinnamon, banana, berries, etc. Try making it with water, milk, even formula.
  4. Eggs – Try scrambled, omelette, fried, boiled. Eggs are soft so they are ideal for babies with or without teeth.
  5. Banana spears dipped in peanut butter or yogurt
  6. Cucumber spears dipped in hummus
  7. Cottage cheese with our without apple sauce or chopped veggies added.
  8. Baby food pouches. By 7 months Baby J understood the concept of eating from a pouch. If he even spotted a pouch in our grocery cart he would start kicking.
  9. Almost anything from my plate! By seven months Baby J wanted to explore any and every plate of food. Why not make it easy on yourself and give them what they want! Just make sure that firmer foods are cut in small pieces or smashed into a mush and that soft foods are cut into shapes and sizes that are easier to handle. Shredded chicken, ground beef or turkey, meatballs are all fun to try at this time.

Third Foods (9-10 months)

  1. Toast cut into strips that are easy to handle. I like to top the toast with peanut butter, hummus, butter, or cream cheese for something a little extra.
  2. Baby puff snacks. Easy on-the-go snacking. Read the ingredients and don’t make them into entire meals, but they are good for keeping little hands and mouths busy in restaurants or airplanes.
  3. Bambas from Trader Joe’s are peanut buttery puffs that melt in your mouth. Baby J loves them. They were great on our vacation, but now I use them as a special treat for him.
  4. Raspberries – Baby J wasn’t into tart foods when he was younger, but now he explores the texture and tartness of the raspberries I give him with his morning oatmeal.
  5. Zucchini grilled in strips – Baby J sucked this down at a BBQ right after he turned 9 months old. We’d tried steamed before, but he wasn’t a fan.
  6. Shrimp – He loves holding a shrimp in one hand and toast in the other. It’s soft enough for him to bite off a little at a time with his two and a half teeth, but hard enough that he really has to work at it. I love this one because it’s not as messy as the rest.
  7. Really…if you haven’t just let them dig into your plate, you need to give them a chance. It will bring you both joy, if not now, sooner or later.

I hope you enjoy my suggestions. We’ve had a lot of fun watching Baby J try a number of different foods, even poke when we recently vacationed in Hawaii. Let me know what worked and what didn’t.

Ready for Take Off

Travel is a new experience that can transport you out of your everyday routine to create memories with the ones you love.

– Brian Chesky

Copying and pasting the same question over and over again in every parent Facebook group I could think of. The question: “Traveling with a nine-month-old. What do I do?!?” I was so nervous about traveling with my squirming little bundle of happiness, Baby J. I pictured him wiggling out of my arms and down the aisle of our filthy plane to Oahu. Instead he sat happily on my lap playing with his toys, eating tons of snacks, and napping for a few hours thanks to many, many, many suggestions from other moms.

Below I have compiled the air travel advice I found most helpful. Some of it may also be helpful for car travel.

  1. Don’t expect travel days to be “normal” days. Baby may sleep or eat less or more.
  2. To the best of your ability make sure that baby is well rested before you travel.
  3. Nurse or have baby use a pacifier during take off. This will help with ear pain and popping.
  4. Use pacifier tethers to tether sippy cups and toys. Imagine all the germs on the floor of the plane. Yuck!
  5. Bring toys your baby has never played with. I went by thrift stores before each flight, washed up the toys I bought, and didn’t care what happened to them after that. Baby J was more entertained by them because he’d never seen them before. I also made sure that the toys were soft and small so they could be squished into my carry-on and Baby J couldn’t be too loud banging them on the tray table.
  6. Bring lots of snacks, and don’t worry if baby eats less or more than usual. Baby J usually eats solid table foods, breastmilk and formula. I brought formula, Bambas from Trader Joe’s, fruit/veggie pouches, and organic puffs because they aren’t too messy. I also nursed him whenever he was interested. TSA is pretty lenient about formula and pureed packaged baby foods. Put the fruit pouches in with your liquids and the formula in a bin by itself when going through security.
  7. Wear your baby carrier and use your stroller to tote your luggage. When boarding and exiting the aircraft use your baby carrier to free up your hands. You will need to remove baby from the carrier before take off and during landing, but you may find it helpful to give your arms a rest during the flight and definitely while you navigate the airport. Keep in mind that your stroller will meet you at the gate when you arrive.

My last bit of encouragement is that the airplane changing table is not as bad as you imagined it. Because the restroom is quite small baby is protected by three walls along the edge of the changing table. Be sure to bring your changing pad so that baby doesn’t have to lie on the bare, hard surface of the changing table.

Good luck on your travels, and please share your suggestions below.

Honey, You’re Home!

Children reinvent your world for you.

– Susan Sarandon

After that first night in the hospital I thought we’d hit a home run. I had given birth to the first ever baby that sleeps all night and never cries! Thank God because I needed that 24 hours of rest after 22 hours of labor. Unfortunately the second night was not as dreamy. In fact, there would be no dreaming for some time thereafter. The days following our return home were a blur. Our first full day home was Christmas, which we didn’t even realize or acknowledge until well after noon. Not only were the days a blur, but they were a struggle. I felt like I needed to do it all, be the perfect mom, but my baby had a tongue tie which screwed up my milk supply. As a result he cried about 18 hours a day until a few weeks later he was able to figure out how to latch and we started supplementing with a formula that agreed with him. My point is, things won’t go perfectly. Those days won’t be like the movies or the videos they showed you in the hospital. Yes, they will be filled with joyful moments, but you may not feel joyful because crazy hormones are pulsing through your body or you may have had a traumatic birth experience. There may well be some really not joyful moments, moments of sad, disappointed tears, but help is out there for you, your baby, your family. So be easy on yourself from here on out because taking care of yourself and another precious person is not easy!

The following are some tips on those first days home…

You’ve made it home going well below the speed limit, and now you’re left in a sleep-deprived daze (because Lord knows that second night was a doozy) wondering what to do with baby now.

Work at keeping the baby fed. If you’ve chosen to breast feed, this may be a hard yet worthy pursuit, but don’t give up if you can manage to keep trying. Before I gave birth someone told me the best investment you can make in your baby and yourself is lactation consulting. If it were not for my lactation consultant we would have never discovered that for 10 days my son was not getting enough milk due to a tongue-tie, and that was the reason he was crying for, seriously, 18 hours a day!!! That’s a huge discovery that not a single doctor told us about. Once it was corrected his latch quickly improved, I stopped getting engorged breasts, and we all three got to rest more. Not only did she discover the tongue-tie, she also taught me how to properly breastfeed my son. Due to our rough start and my small nipples, there were certain postures and nursing positions that helped us both. Weekly or bi-weekly appointments for about a month helped tremendously. Remember, it may feel like there’s a million things to do and a million reasons your little one could be crying, but feeding him or her is your number one priority.

Also, it’s normal if your emotions, body temperature, and hair to be all over the place. You will lose a lot of hair, but, believe me, it’s not all falling out…it just feels like it. You will have night sweats and normal body temperature and maybe even chills, but it will even out over time. You may have crazy nightmares, crying spells, surges of joy and happiness. This is all probably normal. Have your partner or other close loved one keep an eye on your emotions for you, and let you know if they see something out of what your doctor described as ordinary. Medical professionals are getting much better at screening women for postpartum depression and anxiety, so be sure to answer their questions honestly and accept the help of others. Taking small burdens off yourself will help relieve your nerves, and relieving your nerves might just help your milk supply.

Items you will find useful when breastfeeding:

  • Nursing bra – buy some cheap ones at approximately the size you think you will be, and at least three weeks postpartum get fitted for one you can wear daily. I suggest buying at least two once you’re fitted, but keep in mind your size may change after six months. Ill-fitting or underwire bras may cause painful breast problems for nursing moms, so be sure to go with a bra that is appropriate for nursing in the early months. I like the Bravado brand. Many women like nursing camis too, but I never felt comfortable in them.
  • Nursing pads – disposable or reusable, they both do the trick, but I found the disposable ones were much more helpful with the amount of milk I spilled the first few months. Now that we’re both better at the whole breastfeeding thing I use the reusable pads. In a pinch a maxi pad or panty liner cut in half does the trick too.
  • Nursing pillow – try a variety if possible. The comfort of your nursing pillow will depend on your height and weight as well as your baby’s preference and the nursing positions you find most useful. I tried the My Brest Friend for a couple weeks, and then resorted to the original Boppy as my best option. If you have twins, there are also twin options.
  • Nursing stool – any stool will do the trick, but stools designed for nursing will be slightly angled to help with posture even more than your everyday stool. Many glider rockers now come with nursing stool options.
  • Nipple balm/ointment – choose a version that is safe for your little one so you aren’t constantly washing it off between feedings. I used the traditional lanolin kind, but switched to the Boob Ease organic nipple balm and coconut oil (good for a variety of uses, including postpartum vaginal dryness after your first 6 weeks).
  • Nipple gel pads – these little guys are reusable/washable and they provide so much relief for sore nipples. I used Medela Hydrogel pads
  • Nipple shields – thin silicone cone/nipple-shaped circles that fit over your nipple help to protect your nipple if your baby has injured you trying to latch like mine did. It will also help those who have inverted or flat nipples. There are a variety of other reasons they could be found useful. I used Medela nipple shields, but I think they all are very similar. Keep in mind that the size correlates with the size of your child’s mouth and not your nipple size, so consult with a lactation consultant or try a variety of sizes until you and baby are comfortable. I started with a 20 mm and worked my way up because Baby J had a lot of problems latching due to his tongue-tie at birth.
  • Breast hand pump – even if you’re not planning to pump to feed your baby, pump for comfort or you may feel the pains of engorgement between feedings, especially as your baby finds a rhythm of sleeping and waking. A woman from one of my amazing New Parent Support Groups advised me against the Medela brand because one of it’s pieces is quite fragile and not sold as a replacement part by the manufacturer, so I went with the Lansinoh manual pump. It’s easy to clean, easy to use, and easy to pack in a purse or diaper bag when you’re on the run. The advice I got is to keep it at bedside in those early months, so when you wake with that aching in your breasts you can just pump to comfort and go back to sleep. Another great thing about the hand pump is that it really isn’t a lot of work, and though the electric pumps have different settings, the hand pump pressure is literally controlled by your hand, so it’s totally customizable pressure.
  • Silicone breast pump – you may already have the electric breast pump, and I just advised you to get the hand pump, so why would I suggest yet another pump? The silicone version suctions onto the breast opposite the one your child is nursing at, catching all the milk that spills out as your little one eats on the other side. If not caught by a silicone breast pump or the shell-shaped nipple covers it simply spills into your nursing pad, so why not save it for a late-night feeding by your partner or a date night feeding? You might even want to save it to use on diaper rash or baby’s tiny scratches from their razor sharp nails. Breast milk makes a great “ointment” for all kinds of baby skin conditions. The best known silicone breast pump is the Haakaa, but I used another brand and it worked just as good.
  • Bibs – if you’re going to register for something, register for a million bibs. I never liked using burp cloths because they just end up sliding down your back along with the spit up, so opt for some bibs that you can flip onto your shoulder while you burp baby. I’d skip the burp cloths altogether or use cloth diaper inserts as burp cloths as they are much bigger and more absorbent than what they market as burp cloths.
  • GIANT water cup – you will be very thirsty breastfeeding, so have a few huge cups handy to keep near your “nursing station.” It’s important to stay hydrated for your health and milk production.
  • Baby Tracker App – track feedings, diapering, pumping, weight, height, etc. Use it to report back to your pediatrician trends in each area. Monitor temperature and manage medications here as well. This is a huge help when you are sleep-deprived and can’t remember when you last fed or changed baby.

If you’re planning to bottle feed, I would highly recommend having a variety of nipple types on hand so that you find the right “fit” for your child. Try getting free samples, so you’re not investing in bottles you don’t end up using. You may also want to try a variety of formulas to find the right one for you and your child. I tried many, and ended up going with Gerber Soothe containing probiotics because Baby J was colicky with other formulas.

Lastly, no matter how you end up feeding your child it can be challenging, so seek the support of your doctor, partner, and a breastfeeding or new parent support group. You don’t have to do it alone.

A Change is Gonna Come

Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your face, and then reach for the stars.

– Ben Stein

It’s 4 a.m., and I’m hovering over our new collapsible changing table, which we purchased after nearly breaking our backs changing Baby J on the couch or floor after a friend told us not to bother with a changing table. It’s the middle of winter, so even though there’s tons of hormones still pumping through my veins I’m bundled to the max according to California standards. Though I’ve just awoken to a crying baby who is hungry I smell something already brewing in his tiny newborn diaper. (Fortunately at this age diapers aren’t that stinky.) The last diaper I can remember changing before Baby J came along was at least 25 years ago, so I was by all standards an amateur. Completely unprepared I rip open the piping-hot-mess of a diaper, scramble for the wipes, and peeled back the front panel. I tugged at the wipes to get one instead of ten at a time out of the package, but just as I successfully retrieved one, a steady stream of, what my husband and I would later dub “Panang curry” for its color, came spraying out at me, down my blue pajama pants, splattering on the floor, and ricocheting onto the new shark-shaped rug. Even the curtains sustained injuries.

Needless to say this early diaper changing experience was the beginning of my diaper changing 101 lessons from other moms and medical professionals. A visitor reminded us to pull out the gathered fibers along the edge of disposable diapers. The pediatrician told us to point the penis down before closing the diaper. The lessons were endless, and we’re still learning. In fact, I got sprayed with urine just three hours ago.

Below is my comprehensive A-Z list of diapering tips to help prevent you from falling victim to the “Panang curry” volcano.

  1. Provide entertainment. We hung a musical, light-up stuffed octopus above the changing table to keep baby peaceful during diapering.
  2. Preparation is everything. Pull out a diaper changing pad or chucks pad, at least four wet baby wipes, one dry wipe, a clean postpartum perineal bottle filled with luke warm water, and a clean diaper (two if you are brand new to diaper changing).
  3. Place your diaper changing pad or chucks pad on a clean, safe surface.
  4. Place baby on the changing pad or chucks pad with baby’s feet closest to you. Once your baby is older, you might have to get much more creative than this as baby will want to crawl away from you and possibly attempt to dive to the floor.
  5. Unclothe baby as much as you feel necessary for your skill level. I recommend footie pajamas that unzip from the bottom and/or a zip up or velcro flap swaddle that makes minimal noise to access diaper. (If the clothing is soiled, be careful to not get the soiled part of the clothing on your baby’s face. You can actually take a one-piece bodysuit/”Onesie” off by pulling the neck of it open to remove arms and pushing it down and over the feet instead of going up and over the head.)
  6. Tuck the new diaper under the old diaper. Lift your baby’s bottom and push the back of the diaper underneath as if you are putting the clean diaper on over the old.
  7. Open the front of the soiled diaper just slightly to let some air in. Close it back up momentarily and open again. This is to allow time for baby to urinate if the cool air gives them the urge to do so.
  8. As you reopen the soiled diaper use the front panel to wipe down the front of baby toward their bottom. Fold the diaper under baby so that their bottom is resting on the clean outside front panel of the soiled diaper.
  9. Use your wet wipes to wipe baby’s bottom, making sure that they do not touch their soiled bottom or genitals with their hands. Be sure to wipe in all creases. If the diaper only contains urine there is no need to use wipes unless your pediatrician tells you otherwise.
  10. Remove the soiled diaper, rolling it into itself and enclosing the soiled wipes inside the rolled soiled diaper.
  11. Because babies can have especially sensitive skin use your perineal bottle to rinse baby’s bottom. If that seems to messy, wet a dry wipe with water from the perineal bottle and rinse using your dry wipe. After rinsing always be sure to dry your baby’s bottom by gently patting with the dry wipe. Tuck your soiled dry wipes into the rolled soiled diaper. Toss into appropriate receptacle once it is safe to do so without stepping away from baby on the changing table. Again, this step is only necessary if the diaper is poopy.
  12. Now you are ready to rediaper with the new, clean diaper that was under the soiled one this whole time. If baby is male tuck his penis down. Stretch the front panel wide across baby’s belly being sure to avoid the umbilical stump if baby still has one, and close the diaper with the two velcro closures. Run a finger along the leg holes to make sure you’ve pulled out the gathered fibers along the edge. This will help prevent leakage.

If your baby has diaper rash I recommend Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment. Even if your baby only suffers with occasional diaper rash, buy the big jar as it can be used on many baby skin conditions as well as your dry postpartum hands, elbows, etc. Some parents use Aquaphor or diaper cream on their baby’s bottoms all the time to prevent diaper rash. It’s simply not necessary.

I’ve linked many of my other favorite diapering products above.

I’m interested to hear your diapering tips. Please leave a comment or question. Thanks!

Clean Up on Aisle 5

To be prepared is half the victory.

– Miguel de Cervantes

Staggering through Walgreens wearing a homemade adult diaper was not my idea of fun after being discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve, but there I was barely holding my aching body up at the cash register, a pile of postpartum supplies teetering in my hands. These are the moments ne’er a soul tells you about, and Lord, I hope no one I know witnessed my moment in public postpartum haze.

My extremely frustrating time at the local Walgreens on the eve of Christmas inspired this post about assigning a loved one to take care of all your postpartum prescriptions and products as well as preparing as much as you can in advance.

Some things to stock up on before the trip to the hospital:

  • Tucks medicated wipes – these numbing hemorrhoid wipes really help with postpartum pain in the nether regions. Hold onto them longer than you think you need to because hemorrhoids might be a problem even after the first six weeks postpartum
  • Chucks/puppy pads – absorbent rectangular pads can be purchased either in the medical supplies department near the adult diapers or in the pet department. Use them as a bath mat near the shower and toilet as well as in your bed and rocker during postpartum recovery. These can also be used as changing pads for baby as you get used to baby’s careless urination.
  • Dermaplast Pain and Itch Spray – numbs and moisturizes between trips to the bathroom. Spray a little after you use the toilet for a little relief.
  • Huge pads! – you will want at least a 4-6 week supply of maxi pads, and about half of those should be huge. Different people will have different experiences, but I guarantee you will not want to be changing your pad every 20 minutes so the bigger the better. If you don’t use them all for bleeding use them as emergency night time nursing pads.
  • Ibuprofen – the moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived…the return of the magical ibuprofen. Have some on hand for those slightly more painful times.
  • Stool softener – look for one with natural ingredients and eat lots of fiber too. It may take a few days postpartum before you have your first bowel movement, so be patient, don’t panic, and use a stool softener daily until you have a bowel movement. Of course, consult with your doctor as well.
  • Iron supplements – these may contribute to constipation, but they may also be needed if you lose a lot of blood. If you know someone that has a bottle of over-the-counter iron ask for a handful to start with in case you end up not needing them. I ended up donating mine to someone who needed them because I didn’t.
  • Spray bottle – as I mentioned in “The Big Day” you will want your own spray bottle to use instead of toilet paper each time you use the toilet. Fill it with warm water if you can for the best experience.
  • Breastfeeding supplies (see my post “Honey, We’re Home”)
  • Sunflower Lecithin – this works great for those that are prone to breast problems while nursing. It keeps me from getting blocked ducts because it lubricates the passages for the milk to flow freely. Since I seem to be especially prone to this, I take it daily and take additional if I feel a blockage starting. If you don’t plan to breastfeed talk to your doctor about using this before you purchase it. It seems like it’s only sold in large quantities for some reason.

Make sure your hospital of choice has your current list of medications and preferred pharmacy on file, so they know where to send any postpartum prescriptions especially if your pharmacy is not in the same building. Check with your hospital to see if they can provide you with these prescriptions before discharge. My hospital did not, and well, my experience would have been much better had I known. Keep in mind that if you are prescribed any narcotic pain medications you will need to be present in-person to pick those up.

Lastly, if at all possible assign a support person to pick up any post-discharge supplies for you. I would suggest appointing someone who will be at the hospital with you at or near your time of discharge.

Hopefully this post makes for a better first day home for you. Please comment with your favorite postpartum products for those first few days. I look forward to hearing your input.

For the Biggest Day

There is power that comes to women when they give birth. They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it.

— Sheryl Feldman

Seriously. We just got a new couch the day before I went into labor. Fortunately our old couch was still sitting off to the side waiting for some poor soul to haul it down three flights of stairs. We’d decided that we needed something more inviting to lure in family to help us now and then with Baby J. So, just a few days before I gave birth we went to the furniture store and picked out a nice, plush sofa sleeper. Little did we know, it wouldn’t really lure anyone except ourselves when we got fed up with waking each other up or waking the baby. Our families found more delight in us visiting them as their homes have a bit more sound proofing than our own.

And so I was laboring on our old Ikea couch, towel beneath me in case my water broke, though I’d heard it doesn’t usually come gushing out like in the movies. Since I’d attended the childbirth class* at our hospital, I’d packed most of my labor and delivery items into our hospital bags, yes, multiple bags. There were still a few items I’d have my husband grab before we headed out the door.

Among my HELPFUL items were:

  • Empty spray bottle – I’d imagined this spray bottle being used to cool me off during sweat-provoking labor. Later I would find out that it was for cleaning myself after giving birth as wiping would have spread bacteria and been incredibly painful.
  • Comfy outfit to wear home – Don’t bother packing special clothing for the day of and day after you give birth. One of the most uncomfortable things that happens in the hours and days after giving birth is night sweats. You will not want to be wearing cozy flannel pajamas. For one thing, you may very well be bleeding quite a bit. You may as well make yourself comfortable in that backless hospital gown. Included with your outfit you will also want a cheap stretchy nursing bra and a couple sets of nursing pads (because you might leak A LOT).
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste for you and your birth coach – Your birth coach should practice some good oral hygiene before they start helping you breathe because any odd smell may send you hobbling to the toilet. And it may be a good 24 hours before you get your teeth brushed, but I guarantee it will make you feel like a new woman.
  • Medications in labeled medication bottles – Just because we are living in the digital age doesn’t mean your hospital has an accurate list of your medications. Bring a list or a medication bottle or both or you will be awoken what will feel like every five minutes by a nurse or pharmacist asking for clarification. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
  • Snacks – Our hospital provided 3 meals a day, but a lot of it wasn’t appetizing and the serving sizes were really small. I suggest bringing calorie dense snacks that you can eat with one hand because breastfeeding makes you ravenous, especially when you’re just getting started. Be sure there’s enough snacks for all of you because my cookies seemed to have disappeared while I was in labor.
  • 4 newborn diapers – Our hospital provided size 1 diapers which were too big for our little guy. Also, the newborn diapers have the cutout for the umbilical stump, which will come in handy with your new little guy or gal. Side note: When you leave take all the diapers and wipes in the room because they will throw away any baby product after you are discharged.
  • “Going home” outfit for baby – Though most hospitals give you a diaper, shirt, and flannel swaddling blanket, you will need something more substantial to take baby home in. Might I suggest a pair of zip from top or snap down one-piece pjs or a kimono shirt and elastic waist footed pants. This way you aren’t struggling to stretch a bodysuit over your little one’s pointy head right before the emotional discharge from the hospital. Also, the hospital will provide a very stretchy Snoop Dogg-esque hat that works perfectly well for the trip home.
  • Swaddle – I never could get the hang of swaddling let alone while I was on pain meds after giving birth. I resorted to using the SwaddleUp swaddle even at the hospital, and Baby J loved it. I think he thought he was back in the womb.
  • Large old towel – I wish I had brought this. The towel the hospital provided for after my first shower was practically the size of a hand towel. Bring something you don’t mind tossing afterward, but that’s going to bring you the comfort of home because that first shower brings you nearly as much joy as your new baby.

Things I brought that I wouldn’t bring again:

  • Yoga ball – On the way out of the house my husband decided to deflate the yoga ball to fit it into our suitcase. What he didn’t know is that it was a weighted one so it doesn’t roll away from you when you sit down, so all the sand came shooting out the air hole. He then decided to sweep the sand off of it with the same hand broom I use to clean our guinea pig’s cage. In between contractions I lectured him about how I might very well be sitting my bare butt on the thing and he better sanitize it. At that point I should have just given up on the yoga ball because I did not find it helpful at all. Some people do, but I had back labor and could barely move. Plus I got an epidural and couldn’t be on my feet or hands and knees after that.
  • Slippers – I bought these wonderful beige faux fur-lined moccasins thinking that was the way to go for post-partum foot comfort. Let me tell you, the hospital gives you skid-proof slipper socks, and believe me, you’d rather bleed on them than on your brand new moccasins.
  • Pads and undies – The hospital provided exactly what I needed afterward when it came to pads and undies. They seem to know what they are doing when it comes to this department. You get the most comfortable underwear on the planet. Covet these! Take as many as you can get! And they also provide huge, absorbent pads, chucks, ice pack pads, adult diaper things. It’s amazing! Leave yours at home. And while you’re at it go ahead and buy a container of Tucks medicated hemorrhoid pads for when you get home.

With all that said, keep in mind that every mother and birth coach is different, so your list may very well be longer or shorter than mine. Please comment with your recommendations or questions, so I can add to my own L&D must-have list.

*If you’re approaching your due date you have probably attended a childbirth and baby care class. If not, I highly recommend it. Many hospitals offer such classes for free or for a fair fee. If you have a Health Spending Account the fee may be reimbursable. Mine was.

First Things First

Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of Mother’s Love.

– Maureen Hawkins

It was early in the morning and Baby J’s father, my husband, had gone to the gym. Usually I would go, but something made me not want to on this particular morning. I’d missed my period, and I was hopeful that I was pregnant. I took the test, and sure enough it was positive. What a relief! It felt like a miracle in comparison to the nightmare we had just been through just a few months earlier when I miscarried. Cautiously hopeful we celebrated by sharing the news with our parents and downloading, once again, the What to Expect app.

The app is an abbreviated version of the best-selling pregnancy book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which, by the way, I totally recommend. If you do get the book, make sure you get the latest edition because things change all the time.

Here are the top reasons I loved the app:

  • It does exactly what it says; it tells you what to expect
  • See what’s going on inside. It tells you about each stage in your baby’s development on a weekly basis. The app even has videos showing you what’s going on inside. My husband is in the video industry, so we’d watch the videos over breakfast on a Saturday morning though they aren’t always appetite producing.
  • Check your symptoms with what is “normal” for this stage in your pregnancy, again on a weekly basis.
  • Talk to your peers in the forums available in the app Community. This includes forums for parents with similar due dates, health concerns, ages, locations, etc. Search within the forums for keywords or topics. Bookmark certain posts to check back for updates. It can get overwhelming, so I’d recommend only joining one or two and checking in on others as you wish.
  • Keep a weekly photo journal. This part of the app is not as user friendly and it doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles other photo apps have, but it’s nice if you want to only download one app. Another great app for milestone photos is the Baby Story app. Many of their “stickers” are free and it’s easy to use it to post to other social media accounts as well.
  • Links to other helpful articles and videos within What to Expect’s website. The app suggests relevant articles for each stage of your pregnancy. Many are quite helpful while others are more geared at selling products.

Aside from the above listed features there are also other features I didn’t find as helpful, but you can discover what works for you by downloading the app.

Other apps to download in preparation for baby:

  • A simple contractions timer for the last weeks of your pregnancy.
  • Babylist app to help consolidate your registry
  • If you’re married download Lasting, an app to help you nurture your marriage at any stage. Husbands can feel like they’re the last priority during this time, but this app will send you reminders to encourage your husband in the simplest of ways. It can also be used by husbands to help them encourage you!

And if you’re trying to get pregnant try the Period Tracker app or a similar app to track ovulation.

Please leave your questions and comments below. Thanks!

Who I am

Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother. – Lin Yutang

Here I sit, baby monitor on my right, cookbook and cell phone on my left. This is how my “alone” time looks. I’m alone, but not really. I have to be constantly aware of my sleeping baby because Baby J depends on me to comfort him when he cries, protect him from the shadows, and, most importantly, feed him when he’s hungry. This is who I am. I am the watch-woman of the night…and of the day. I swear my reflexes are twice as fast as they were pre-pregnancy.

Though I am a mom, I am also a wife, a Christ-follower, a daughter and sister, an aunt, a friend, one of heck of an Excel whiz, a crafter, a seamstress, a lover of pie <3, etc. Being a mom doesn’t wipe away the rest of my identity. In fact, if done right it highlights my strengths within my role as a mom, and it helps refine me in my other roles. I become more efficient, knowledgable, patient, and seasoned. It’s so easy to overlook how being a mom enhances the other components of my life. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s most often because I’m dwelling on my lack of sleep or the boogers all over my shirt.

Well before I became a mom I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to go to school for two years. Fifteen years later, here I am, and I’m so happy I am because this is where life happened. This is where I met my husband, said no to a second date, met him again, said yes to marrying him, and where we had our miscarriage followed by a second pregnancy that gave us Baby J. This has been where life happens, so it’s my happy place a lot of the time. When you’ve been somewhere fifteen years, it’s hard to not call it home. It’s seen my best days and my worst, and the Bay still loves me just the same.

I hope you will join me here as I share my first time mom secrets and tips. Some posts might apply more to those in the Bay Area, but many will be universal. Please enjoy!

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