Friday, December 23, 2011
My first reaction was nearly crying. Not again, not again, not again. Suddenly, the reality of repeating my previous labor experience seemed intensely real. Then, as quickly as the sadness of that had descended over me came, it left as I realized that this time I was in labor. I was having strong contractions. This time would be different.
I woke my husband. The second time in his life to be roused from sleep with the words, "my water broke!". The poor man! He asked what to do, and I told him to call our doula. This time, I saw no reason to get our midwives involved before it was absolutely necessary. I think a part of me wanted to be sure that labor was progressing before starting that stop watch. Even the midwives have limits when safety is a concern.
Our doula, after a week of worrying about me and knowing that I was frustrated and ready to go, was happy to hear that this was finally happening. She instructed us to time them and call her back.
While my husband timed them, I was in and out of the shower, bath, and back upstairs to our bedroom with the birthing ball. Eventually, he called the midwives. They said we didn't have to come in until we wanted to and I wasn't ready so we stayed home. The pains got stronger and I knew I wanted our doula with us soon so she showered and came over at around 5 in the morning. I had no conept of time - I know the timeline only because she kept track and wrote us a lovely birth story and noted in it the timeline.
By the time she got here, I had been having a lot of bloody show and mucus and the like and I somehow believed that this was indicative of being around 3cm. I was somewhat scared that if this was 3cm, I might not be able to handle 8 or 9. But after an hour, we were all in agreement that it was time to head to the midwifery. I was not fearful, but I was concerned that I was not as far along as we thought. I think this stems from being told repeatedly during Jack's labor that I was not in labor, was not progressing, that my contractions were not real.
The midwifery is a special place. When you arrive there, the walls are covered floor to ceiling in the tiny blue and pink footprints of every baby born there in the last 12 years. They are running out of room on the walls. They have three labor rooms - each with a queen size bed and a jacuzzi tub, and the feeling is homelike. One of my biggest fears throughout my pregnancy was that the rooms would be full and I would not be able to labor there. When I realized that it was Thanksgiving day, I was convinced this would be so. But we arrived and were ushered into a room with pink walls.
The downside of laboring at home for so long is that a 20 minute car ride to the hospital at 6 in the morning is the longest 20 minutes of your life. And possibly the most painful. Every time my husband stopped at a light, it took all of my willpower not to open the door and get out. Once we arrived at the midwifery, I had to be lying on the bed with the monitors for 20 minutes. This was almost as painful as the car ride, made worse by the monitor dropping off of my daughter during contractions, which meant more like 45 minutes of monitoring to be sure she was healthy enough to labor there. She was!
When we finally got unstrapped, I got into the shower. The tub was not warm enough and they were working hard to get it ready for me, but I needed something to help with the pains. At that point, I had already begun to feel the urge to push but was convinced that it wasn't time because when they checked me, I was only 6cm. I say "only" but in reality, I was thrilled to hear that. I had been terrified that I would only be 2 or 3cm. My husband got into the shower with me and during my contractions, he supported all of my weight while I dangled from his arms and tried to relax my muscles. Our doula coached from outside the shower, applying counter pressure to my lower back during surges.
When I finally couldn't ignore the urges, I told my husband I wanted to push. The next thing I knew, I had to get out of the shower because they wouldn't allow me to deliver in there (no room) but the tub wasn't quite ready. I remember asking over and over why I couldn't get in the tub and never hearing anyone answer, although I'm sure they did. I know now that they needed the temperature higher first. When it was ready, I was in there as fast as I could get in and my husband climbed right in there after me, a first for our doula after attending hundreds of births. I started out sitting but when I said I wanted to push, someone suggested I turn over onto all fours, with my arms on the built in seat. This gave me the leverage I needed and kept my head mostly above water (I do remember breathing out several times and discovering that my mouth was in the water). It took about 15 minutes of pushing. I remember feeling her descending. I'm certain that I could feel her head go through my cervix and travel down the birth canal. Despite the pain, it was an amazing thing to witness!
And then...and then she was here. My husband caught her, which means so very much to me. During my first pregnancy, I read about a couple who had a homebirth in a tub, and the father caught his baby. It struck a cord with me and became a part of the ideal birth in my head. Within moments, everyone was helping me turn over and she was in my arms. I felt instantly that I recognized her as my daughter and felt that she was the most amazing thing in the world. I felt that all of my work had been shared with her, that we were a team and she had wanted me as badly as I wanted her.
I am amazed with my body and even more amazed that moments after delivering her, I stood up while holding her to my chest, climbed out of the tub, and walked to the bed. Obviously, I was assisted but I had no idea that I could do that. The midwives prefer to deliver the placenta on the bed, and with her still connected to me, we looked into each others eyes. I was thrilled that there was no rush to cut her cord, but when offered, my husband declined (again - but Jack's was wrapped around his neck and had to be cut before the rest of his body could come out) and the next thing I knew, the midwife was handing me the scissors and telling me where to cut. I think it speaks volumes that the midwives would offer such an option. I've never heard of a mother cutting the cord (but then, most fathers are more into doing it themselves).
I should mention here that last night, my husband informed me that the scariest part of labor was when I stood up from the tub because blood was gushing out of me. I never noticed, possibly because I was totally enamoured of my new little baby girl.
No one tried to take her from me. She lay on my chest for a long time. She peed on me, and when I encouraged her toward my nipple, she refused it, preferring to find it on her own and nurse contendedly for a while. She was loud, screaming for much of her first hour of life outside my womb. At first, we were worried that something was wrong. Then we realized that it was good, healthy, normal for her to scream. It just seemed abnormal after our son was born medicated and quiet.
Somewhere in there, our doula asked eagerly for her name. We had kept it a secret and were pleased to introduce Paisley Evelyn to her and her midwives, who had been caring so lovingly for both her and her mother for so long. We made phone calls, took pictures, and she had her footprints taken. My husband had one put on his arm, and later had it tattooed on there.
Eventually, she was weighed and measured and my little chunky butterball baby was 8lb 9oz (a whole pound bigger than Jack was as birth!) and 20 inches (and an inch and a half shorter!). We have had no real issues with nursing and she is for the most part a happy baby. She sleeps well and is growing fast!
I cannot imagine a better birth story. Labor isn't easy and for the most part, it isn't fun. I learned the hard way that no matter how badly you want to, it isn't wise to push through the ring of fire and somewhere where I can't easily see, I'll have a scar to show for it. But that aside, everything went exactly as I had hoped it would. The most wonderful thing was not having to worry about my needs as a woman being met. I needed to be present, participating in my labor and dictating how I labored with support from women who knew what to expect. In fact, the midwife and the nurse were barely there in my memories of her birth. They were in the room, quiet and in the background, ready for her arrival but not intervening or invading my space. When I believed I could not possibly survive another second, my doula and my husband both reassured me that I was 100% capable. I felt safe there.
In a couple of weeks, Paisley's footprints will be added to the walls of the midwifery. For some reason, this means the world to me. It represents a journey that for me, was so essential. I once read that for as long as a woman lives, she will remember how she was made to feel while in labor. Since Paisley's birth, the pain of Jack's labor has dulled. I don't dwell on it anymore. It doesn't make me quite so sad. I'll never forget, but stronger now is the memory of how empowered, respected, and safe I was made to feel in my second labor and delivery.
I wish every woman could labor and deliver at such a magical place.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Basically, Jack was the only good thing that happened the day he was born.
I hate to even say that, but the fact is that the 24 hours leading up to his birth were awful for me. I was treated like a bystander...worse, a bystander who knew nothing about anything. I was treated with little or no respect and nurses were rude and impatient with me for wanting a natural childbirth. They made it clear that this was, in their estimation, not going to happen. The OB we were working with was subtly threatning me every time he came in the room. He looked at his watch constantly, counted down the hours until we would have no choices (as though we ever really had any). He flat-out lied to us several times.
You see, my water had broken before my labor really started. For that hospital and that doctor, that meant I had exactly 12 hours to produce my son before they would be hooking me up to everything they could and getting him out as fast as possible.
They knew from my birth plan that c-section was the last option for me, and they used that to threaten me into pitocin. When the pitocin kicked in and hit me like a ton of bricks, I had an epidural before I knew what was happening (and, incidentally, I believe I had started to handle the contractions pretty well by the time the anestesiologist showed up so I wish I had put my foot down and said no).
Once the epidural was in place, magically the nurses stopped coming in every 20 minutes. Suddenly, I didn't need so many cervical checks (or, as it turns out, any). Did I mention that when the pitocin kicked in good, one nurse forcably checked my cervix in the middle of my contraction? She solicited consent from my husband by scaring him. She told him if I was in that much pain, I must be ready to push. Then she told us that no, I was not dilated at all and informed my husband that I couldn't handle natural birth. Nice, huh?
I spent the next few hours crying quietly in my hospital bed. Sleep? Forget it. The numb feeling from the epidural drove me crazy. I wanted to cut my legs off. And someone came in every so often and turned me over, increased the medications, and took my blood pressure. Not sure who could sleep through that. I was also freezing cold. When I started feeling contractions again, they informed me that I was almost ready to push. My husband woke up and before I knew it, I was pushing with my husband on one side, a nurse on the other, and the absolute terror that the OB wouldn't get there in time.
The nurse informed me that all the nurses had delivered babies, so I shouldn't worry. That just made me wonder why I needed an OB at all. But he did show up, just in time to catch Jack, deliver the placenta, and stitch me up.
And Jack was beautiful. He was quiet - didn't even cry for his bath. I recall holding him on my belly, and then having him taken away for apgar, bath, etc. So important to get his weight and length as soon as possible...then, suddenly, my husband had him. He was all swaddled and pink and they looked so beautiful together that it took me a while to realize that I was supposed to want to hold him.
I was supposed to. It isn't that I didn't want to hold him. I just felt no connection to what was going on around me. When I asked for him back, my husband handed him over and I remember being so amazed that he was really here. There really had been a baby boy inside me all those months and now I was finally holding him in my arms and yet...something was missing. I felt no rush of love. I knew, intellectually, that I loved my son. I had loved him from the moment I saw two blue lines and through all the morning sickness that had me dry heaving at night and left me almost 15 lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight before I could eat again and began to gain. I loved feeling him kick and tumble around, a little acrobat in my belly constantly reminding me of his presence. But I felt like an outsider in that delivery room.
Then they took him away, claimed his heartrate was too high and he needed monitoring. Well, no wonder. He was drugged up on pitocin and the epidural. It was hours before I saw him again. And the next two weeks were a blur of pumping milk for my newborn, who wouldn't latch, crying, nipple shields, more crying, and feeling completely inept at this whole parenting thing. I thought it must have been a mistake. That we shouldn't have been given this lovely little being if we couldn't decode his cries and what kind of mother can't find a way to get her son to latch on and drink her milk?
We did get the whole nursing thing sorted out and it didn't take me long after that to feel so completely head over heels in love with my son that I could barely remember that detachment I felt the moment of his bith. But not a day has gone by in his 2.5 years that I didn't think about his birth with sadness. Yes, my son was healthy and I should be greatful. But I kind of find that line of thought demeaning to women. Yes, I am eternally greatful to have a healthy baby, especially when I hear stories of less fortunate parents and children. But that doesn't take away my need to have a safe, healthy birth and be treated with respect.
So when I found out last spring that I was pregnant, I knew I needed something different. We had just moved and I was pleased to learn about a group of midwives and a speacial place inside the labor and delivery unit of a nearby hospital where these midwives assisted with natural, normal childbirth. I knew I wanted to welcome this child into the world at the midwifery, in the peaceful and loving atmosphere where women's bodies are respected for all that they can do, and labor is considered something a woman does, not something that happens to her.
I made an appointment that day, before I even told my husband I was pregnant. I also started looking for doulas. I was leaving nothing to chance. I knew that my husband, scared and overwhelmed at our first labor and birth, would be more confident. But I also knew I wanted someone who had a lot of experience with natural birth to be there for us, help guide us on a journey that would be very different from our previous experience. We found and hired an amazing doula, took a real childbirth class, and eagerly awaited the arrival of our little girl.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Things to do with the little jar of apple pie spice you bought for Thanksgiving and won't use the rest of the year...
That said, I have since been looking for other uses for this little jar of tastiness and have come up with a few uses that my toddler loves. He even came up with a recipe on his own!
So here is my list of ways to use up apple pie spice. Because you know it won't be fresh enough next year, right? RIGHT?
Apple Pie Scented Playdough (recipe below)
Mix with a little bit of sugar instead of cinnamon to sprinkle on toast
Jack's recipe for Apple Spiced Granola and Peanut Butter sandwich (recipe below!)
Add to applesauce or pearsauce instead of cinnamon (basically, use instead of cinnamon anytime you want!)
Keep cooking that applesauce until it turns into apple butter
Dust over vanilla ice cream
Chop up an apple (peeled, if desired), and saute in a pan with a little butter, apple juice, and apple pie spice until soft
Add to oatmeal along with some chopped, cooked apples or apple sauce
Add to pancake or waffle batter (add diced pieces of apple as well for bonus points); top with apple butter instead of maple syrup
I have found that frequently, Jack will happily try something if I let him add spices to it himself. So when I am cooking, I will let him add pinches of whatever herbs and spices I am using to the dish. The tiny amounts he adds don't make much difference and they let him feel like part of the process. Since he was very young, he has loved to taste spices - even dry mustard or crushed red pepper MUST be tasted! He is more interested in trying foods when he has tasted everything that goes into them (usually, he wants to try all the other ingredients, too).
Apple Spice Scented Playdough
1 c flour
1/2 c salt
2 t cream of tartar
2 t apple pie spice
1/2 t cinnamon
1 T vegetable oil
1 c water
red food coloring
In med. nonstick saucepan blend dry ingredients. Mix in wet ingredients until smooth. Add food coloring. Put pan on medium heat and stir until it makes a large ball. Remove from heat and place on parchment. Allow to cool. Knead until consistancy is right. Store in ziplock baggies up to 2 weeks.
Jack's Apple Pie Spiced Granola and Peanut Butter Sandwich
1 Nature Valley Granola bar, crushed into small pieces
2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
2-3 T natural peanut butter
sprinkle of apple pie spice
Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread. Sprinkle granola bar and apple pie spice over peanut butter and top with second slice of bread. Cut into fun shapes and serve :)
Saturday, July 9, 2011
So here's the math, according to the Huggies website:
1 in 3 American families struggle to provide enough diapers for their child.
Again, according to their own website, as many as 1 in 20 mothers have been forced to clean out soiled diapers and reuse them. I have heard of mothers letting wet diapers dry and reusing them, but this is the first I have heard of a parent removing feces from a disposable diaper, presumably wiping it out or maybe rinsing it (?) and reusing it.
Basically, we have people who are using disposable diapers the same way they could be using cloth diapers. Only, inexpensive prefolds can be washed thoroughly and reused safely.
So, what's the solution?
Apparently, YOU should buy more Huggies!
I noticed that on many, if not all, packs of Huggies have a banner on them for the Every Little Bottom program, stating that your purchase = a donation. But I searched the pack (we use Huggies at night, mostly because coupons are usually readily available so they are cheaper and work a lot better than the eco-friendly options we would ideally prefer) and couldn't find any details. So what kind of donation is made? According to their website…wait, I can't find it there, either.
If you can find it, please let me know. But I read a blog that is affiliated with the program and according to that blog (which I won't name because they are sponsored by this program), if you purchase a pack of the demin print diapers, Huggies will donate ONE diaper to the cause.
I have only ever see the Huggies denim print diapers in cases, never in jumbo packs, so that means that for something like 50-60 diapers purchased, ONE is donated. SO generous, Huggies. You are making such a difference for those 1 in 3 families.
They are also peddling donations on their website, and one way to add to their donations for FREE is to upload a picture of your child…in a Huggies denim diaper. Every facebook like also adds to the count. So far, they claim to have donated 7,670 diapers through this aspect of their program. Not too shabby, but when you see that they have a banner on their website that says they have donated 22.5 MILLION diapers so far, you have to wonder. Digging deeper, their website says they will donate 22.5 million diapers in 2010. Uhm. That was last year? We are more than halfway through 2011, so I can't help but wonder why they haven't updated that.
Another way to donate? Buy a pack and donate it to a local diaper bank. They'll even help you find one…if you register on the website.
I'm not fundamentally opposed to donating disposable diapers to those in need. Not even a little. I'm not naïve enough to believe that cloth diaper education can make enough of a difference for people who are struggling, although in an ideal world, it would be a lot easier for anyone to walk into a store and buy good quality cloth diapering supplies. I'd be happy to see Indian or Chinese prefolds and some decent covers are Babies R Us, but that's not likely to happen any time real soon. I get asked all the time whether I use the "gerber kind" of cloth diapers, so I know most people have no idea that there are so many better options out there. And, honestly, if I didn't own my own washer and dryer, I would likely not be able to use cloth diapers. So I have to assume that cloth isn't a viable option for at least some of those who are having trouble buying enough diapers.
I am fundamentally opposed to telling mothers a sob story in order to sell a product. This is exactly what Huggies is doing. They know that women who have children in diapers will instantly feel for an imaginary mom out there, scooping poo out of a diaper and reusing it. They know that most moms out there would be heartbroken to feel they are unable to change their child's wet diaper as often as they would like and will feel a great deal of compassion for the 1 in 3 women who have no choice.
I wonder if Huggies is also making donations of Pull-ups. That's probably a good way to keep children whose families can't afford enough diapers in diapers for as long as possible.
The saddest thing to me is that is was not Huggies' idea. They didn't come up with it. Diaper drives have been going on for several years and Huggies was donating a ton of diapers to many drives around the country. I liked that about Huggies. Then they decided to not only embrace this concept, but claim it as their own and in all likelihood they aren't donating any more than they were before. But I bet business is boomin'.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I recently saw an episode of "19 Kids and Counting" where Anna (the oldest Duggar son's newish wife) waxes poetic about how it's okay that she is currently driving a Hummer H2 because her baby is wearing a cloth diaper in the backseat.
Uh, sorry. No.
I could care less what she is driving, but since when do the good Christian family the Duggars brag and boast that their parenting decisions are better than everyone else's? Frankly, the momma driving the Prius next to her in traffic is probably using cloth diapers, too and she is getting like 60 miles per gallon, not 3.
Jack is past diapers mostly, so I get fewer inquisitions in public than I used to. But I was always fond of telling people that I don't care about the environment. I'm just frugal.
No, frugal. Let's go with frugal. I bought cloth diapers for our son before we knew he was a son because I have known for many years that for me, they are just the better choice. They are less expensive (unless you want to spend more, in which case there are still a lot of options for cloth that breaks the bank). End of story.
I also read some compelling research about how disposable diapers affect male fertility and that made a difference. But the decision was already made, and as an intellectual human I cannot believe there is enough evidence since disposables have only been the "norm" for most of my life, and many of my peers are not even attempting to procreate just yet. Are they also great for the environment? Well, sure, maybe. Depends on who you ask. But frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. I also happen to think they are cuter and in some ways easier.
Cloth is cheaper. For me. But maybe not for you, if you have the time and energy to chase the deals. A dear friend of mine just gave birth to a lovely little boy (he is a week old today!) and she has about 3 or 4 months' worth of diapers in her son's closet that she has been stockpiling throughout her pregnancy. Friends also gave her their leftover diapers when they switched sizes mid-pack and I found an amazing deal last fall on a case of Pampers that made them all but free and had them shipped her way. She has probably not come close to the cost of cloth diapering and she probably won't ever hit what I have spent, and will continue to spend, on cloth diapers.
The thing of it is, I bought an entire set of diapers before I knew all that much about them, and they turned out to not be what I thought they would be. We had to invest in more, and had to buy new covers along the way when Jack outgrew them because the ones we bought before he was born didn't fit him well. And many of those covers can be re-used with our new little bean when s/he arrives come November, but many are worn out and will have to be replaced. I intend to invest in nicer covers when I need to, but the cost is still up there. And since many of the diapers we used for my son are not re-usable anymore, we'll probably invest in more prefolds (which, shocklingly, I turned out to like better anyway) If I have a 3rd, I'm pretty confident that I'll spend less in the long run. But I couldn't say we won't spend more than my friend will over her diapering years.
And, guess what? We also used disposables, and now that we are down to 2 diapers a day (nap and night), we use no cloth diapers. I cannot justify washing 2 or 3 diapers at a time. We have yeast rash issues if we use cloth at night, so we have been buying disposables since Jack was 6 months old. Thirty disposables a month isn't the end of the world, but it does add to the cost. Now we use about twice that many.
At the end of the day, we all do what we believe is best for our families. It is true that many parents have no idea that cloth is a viable option and therefor don't make a "decision" concerning diapering. But you will never catch me telling someone that I can waste other natural resources because my child wore cloth diapers. You will never hear me claim that not only is cloth better, but that I'm better for using it. I'm a stay at home mom, like Anna Duggar, and I have time to wash diapers. I'm sure there are many other moms out there who make other decisions that will turn out to be better in the long run, whether they diaper with Pampers or Thirsties.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Jack is still the most amazing creature I have ever laid eyes on, just as he was that first day.
He blew through milestones that first year, crawling, standing, taking steps. He now has all 20 of his baby teeth and can and does eat just about anything. He no longer walks, but runs, and talks to us in full sentences.
Having a conversation with someone you literally created is fantastic, mind blowing, every time.
For the record, Jack says he wants a sister. But he also insists alternately that the baby is in either HIS belly, or Daddy's.
Happy birthday, little man. I hope this year will be just as full of discoveries and happiness as your first two have been.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
My son LOVES fruit. There is nothing I can do to make him eat less fruit, short of not buying it. He sees bananas, pears, apples, on the counter and asks for them. Grapes or pineapple in the fridge = demands when he sees the door open. The mrere existance of kiwi sents in himto a tailspin.
Dairy is also not a problem. He loves cheese (so he is definitly mine), and ate yogurt daily for the first 6 months or so of his foray into solids. Now he eats it often, usually in fruit smoothies. We like greek yogurt for the protien content. He is even now thankfully drinking milk, mostly without complaint. I give him 2% because...well...it's what I always buy. Whole milk grosses me out, is more expensive, and would end up getting throw away since he is unlikely to drink the entire bottle before it goes bad.
Meat, however, is another issue entirely. I gave him beans and rice, tofu, eggs, but no meat until about 10 months. I think in general we eat too much meat so I thought I was doing him a favor by not making it normal early on. Then we could all enjoy meatless meals without complaint or feeling like something is missing. I wanted him to like inexpensive protiens as well.
What meat does he like? Chicken nuggets. Yes, my son is one of those toddlers who only wants chicken nuggets. This was the entire basis for my "make-all-the-baby-food-lots-of-veggies-nothing-processed" mentality. I didn't want the kid that only eats food that is breaded/battered and fried. Especially since high-quality chicken nuggets are not only hard to find (impossible, in our new town) but also rather pricey. I have tried making my own with no sucess.
He also loves meatballs. But meat as nature made it is hard for him to chew. Why? He has almost all this teeth (last time he let me look, only 4 were missing).
So the answer simply must be my delayed introduction.
So I guess this post is mostly a confession that I didn't do everything right, like I thought I did. At the time it made sense, but next baby will get a more well-rounded diet. For now, I'm going to get bean cakes back into our meal plans and keep on serving up those little cut up pieces of chicken off the grill and not the Tyson bag and hope for the best.
Meanwhile, I have decided that in reality, it isn't the end of the world if my son eats chicken nuggets every now and then. It didn't kill me, and it won't kill him.
Friday, March 11, 2011
I suspect this may be due to my lack of male parts.
This seems pretty normal, though. He is, overall, doing pretty well. It seems to be, of course, dependant on my memory. Sometimes when we are running around doing things or even at home if I get involved in unpacking/organizing something and lose track of time a bit, I forget to prompt him frequently. He does usually tell me he needs to go, but not always.
I am pleased to report that his fear of public potties had passed, at least temporarily. We have had no trouble using the fold up potty seat or even being held up over the toilet. I have been employing the potty-in-the-car less frequently, but I think I will bring it with us today for a trip to the zoo, as the drive is a bit long and we may have to wait a bit before getting inside.
Speaking of today's outting, this is more or less the first recreational (for both of us - Lowe's doesn't count for him, even if I do enjoy a good trip to the hardware store) event I have planned for us. We are meeting a new playgroup there - one that focuses on learning as its primary goal. I hope we will find some new friends and have a good time!
Monday, March 7, 2011
We closed on our new house at the end of February, so we are still unpacking some. We blew through a large percentage of boxes as fast as we could and now everything for the kitchen, dining room, living room, and Jack's room is unpacked/assembled. Our room is lovely with its new bedroom furniture after a really big trip to Ikea. I'll work on some before and after posts as we get things finished up, or at least more progress. I'd like to get my sewing machine set up, but I've pledged to wait until everything else is done, to motivate myself.
But today I wanted to share a product review. It seems my son is quite fond of green animals, namely turtles and alligators. He has two rather long stuffed alligators that he sleeps with every night, and now he is the proud owner of a Cloud B Twilight Turtle. I have had my eye on this toy for a long time, but I wasn't sure if it would help him sleep, or keep him awake. Then a representative from CSNstores.com contacted me a couple of months ago, asking me if I would like to do a product review for their site. I had heard of CSN stores, but had never shopped there. When they offered me $25 off any item I would like to review, I knew I would pick something for Jack because, well, I'm a mom. It's what we do, right? So I took my time, browsing the site for a couple of weeks before realizing that time and time again, I went back to the Cloud B Twilight Turtle.
Some things I love about this toy:
- It speaks to my toddler's need to make choices. He can pick the color of his starry sky every night and the buttons are easy to use, so it is very child-friendly. He knows which one turns it on (took about three seconds to figure that out once the batteries were in), and while most nights he wants green, sometimes he goes with blue.
- There are 8 actual constellations hidden in the sky. While Jack is a bit young to "get" the concept, I look forward to teaching him some basic constellations by pointing them out at bedtime.
- Auto shut-off! I love that after 45 minutes, the Turtle turns off. Jack is still in his crib (although he did climb out not long ago….) but when we take the side off for full-on toddler freedom, he can easily turn it back on if he needs to in the middle of the night. But unlike many nightlights, this one doesn't stay on all night. Battery-operated, it is also safe for him to play with, unlike a light that plugs in.
- The light is subtle, as opposed to a blaring plug-in nightlight. The room is just light enough to see that there is nothing to be afraid of, while not suppressing melatonin.
- It isn't ugly. So many nightlights for kids are appealing to kids, and not so much to their parents, who can't stand the light-up sesame street faces and the like. This turtle is soft and plush, with a soft plastic shell, and looks adorable and innocent sitting on Jack's new LACK bedside table. The zoo print material I made his duvet from has turtles and I plan to include turtles in his room décor, so it's the perfect addition.
- Not into turtles? This little guy can be had in the form of a ladybug as well!
There is literally nothing I don't like about this toy. I love that it's safe for him to play with. I love that it arrived in time for his first night in his new home, and I believe that it helped distract him from being in a strange room. It has become a lovely addition to our bedtime routine. There's nothing like telling your 21 month old that its bedtime and have him run in his room to turn on his nightlight.
I would happily recommend the Cloud B Twilight Turtle to friends looking for a safe, fun, and even a little bit educational nightlight for their child. I this this toy would make an excellent addition to a new baby's nursery, helping to create a good sleep atmosphere and fun bedtime routine. The retail price of $30 is not too bad, either, when you consider that this nightlight will fit nicely into a child's bedtime routine for many, many years. You might find yourself switching from Bob the Builder sheets to Batman, but the nightlight can stay.
If you shop at CSNstores.com, you'll find a huge selection of quality products, in addition to Cloud B toys and gifts. While I was perusing the stores, I didn't see a single item I wouldn't buy or consider buying. Brands like Boon, OXO tot, Chicco, Plan Toys, and more. All the brands I know and trust, with competitive prices and many ship free! We are currently looking for a deal on a playhouse for Jack's birthday, and this site has an incredible selection.
CSNstores.com also carries products for your home, kitchen, bathroom, furniture, and more. Check them out next time you are comparison shopping!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
If you have read any of my potty training posts, you know that we neglected to buy any pull-up disposable training pants for our son. Oops. It wasn't an accident, of course. I started my potty training plans with big intentions toward cloth training pants, since we used cloth diapers, and spent a fair bit of time poking around my favorite cloth diaper shops online and looking at the training pants offerings. I wasn't surprised at how many options there are, nor that many are pretty expensive. With all the cloth diapering options out there, it stands to reason that there would be a lot in training pants as well.
Months ago I bought a three pack of Gerber training pants, thinking we would try them out and see if we really needed to unload so much cash to get our son potty trained in a eco- friendly way. However, by the time we really embarked on our first full-on potty training week, I had determined that the best course of action was to stick him in big boy underpants and skip any kind of training pant. We bought 10 pairs of character undies and used a few Gerber pants when we ran low. As an aside, I don't recommend the character undies. They were falling apart after a few washes. I have since purchased some from Carters and they are much higher quality. Cuter, too.
Yes, I did a lot of laundry that week, and for another week or so the loads were still more frequent that I would like. Now, we do maybe an extra load but the loads are a bit smaller. He does have accidents and I don't like to leave pee-soaked clothes sitting, but really he doesn't go through enough extra clothing that it's a burden.
But our trash? The same.
When I wander around one of those big club stores and see the giant cases of training pants, I can't help but wonder why people would spend that kind of money on something they are going to HOPE their child won't pee or poo in and so they can throw it away, essentially unused. Best case scenario, you are wasting your money. Worst case, you may as wekk just stay in diapers.
Then I see that they go up to a size 5T.
Now, come on, people! Okay, I get it. I do! I know that when both parents work, potty training the way we did it is not easy. Probably pretty difficult, in fact. Disposable trainers do make it easier by avoiding the mess. But they may just drag it out over months or even years, costing you time, money, and more than a little frustration.
Huggies offers the following training pants features:
- "easy open sides", which basically means you can continue to lie your child down to change him, which only confirms his suspicions that he is wearing a diaper. Call it whatever you want, it's still a diaper.
- Nighttime absorbancy. DIAPER. The goal is not for you child to sleep comfortably through nighttime urination.
- "cool alert". In what universe does it make sense for a child to feel coldness as a result of peeing? This seems confusing and ultimately, since they have already begun to urinate, probably not terribly effective.
- Character designs that fade away when wet. Presumably, your child is also wearing pants so I'm not sure what the point is, except that they'll be excited to get their diaper changed…
- Claim they hold 25% more than Huggies training pants. Do I need to say it?
- Claim to help make potty training "make sense". There is no further explanation. I have no idea what this means.
- "feel and learn" liner. They say that children feel wetness, helping them learn to stay dry. BUT I would argue that this is likely temporary, and not terribly uncomfortable, as the diaper itself absorbs most if not all of the liquid, so the discomfort does not compare to being naked or in just underpants, which leads to pee running down the leg, which leads to self-awareness and an understanding of where the pee comes from. But of course I have never peed in one so I wouldn't know.
- When you click on "Helpful Hints" under the product description, it explains the basics of…changing diapers.
- Pampers trainers also have designs that fade when wet. They are located below the cool Diego design that kids like so much. Diego doesn't fade. I think girls get Dora.
The first review that came up when I clicked on the tab at the Pampers site stated that the writer loves the product, thinks it is awesome, and wishes they came in a size 7. The second reviewer only bought them because a coupon made them cheaper than diapers and she recommends skipping them and going right into underpants because her child would rather use the training pant than the potty. She also says they look and feel and work just like a diaper, only with tear apart sides instead of tabs.
At the Huggies website, a rather annoying song plays that repeats itself in my head while I try to go to sleep at night. You know the one.
Yes, potty training is messy and messier if you skip these products. But it's cheaper and faster if you just grin and bear it, and the earth will thank you. Kimberly-Clark and Proctor & Gamble probably prefer if you keep your child in diapers until they outgrow the biggest size. Can you blame them? The price per diaper for training pants is much higher.
Both sites have long lists of things to look for for potty training "readiness". Ignore these. Your child does not have to be able to do the entire potty process without any assistance before he can be potty trained. You will be wiping bums for a while, so you may as well help pull clothes up and down, too. It isn't as gross as changing diapers, I promise. Especially when the tradeoff is getting rid of a stinky diaper pail.
Not a stay at home parent? Consider taking a week of vacation, and if you have a partner, have him or her take a second week following yours, and potty train with just underpants. Use whatever method makes sense to you, but be consistent. Then stick with undies as much as possible, using disposable pants only if your daycare requires it. Make sure to ask. It's possible that yours expects it, but understands that they prolong the process and they may be happy to skip them, too. If not, consider a greener option. Seventh Generation makes training pants, or your daycare may be willing to work with waterproof cloth trainers. Cloth trainers have excellent resale value!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I thought it might be interesting to share how our potty training has been going. It only took Jack about a week to really catch on and he was even starting to tell us when he needed to go by the middle of the second week.
Being cautious, I was skeptical that this would really stick so quickly, so…well…easily. But he has really been doing great. Yes, we do have accidents but he is at about 85-90% accuracy and almost always lets someone know when he needs to go. We have to closely monitor Yo Gabba Gabba time because frankly, he would rather pee himself than pause it for two minutes to use the potty. But can you blame him?
So things were going great after the first two weeks. He was even using public toilets like a champ!
And then we went into a bathroom at the mall, armed with a cushy fold up potty seat, and dared my happily-peeing-in-public-potties toddler to get through two rather harrowing experiences. The first was incidental. The second was entirely my fault.
See, there was a young mother in there changing her tiny daughter's diaper. On the counter, obviously, because there was no changing table. She had, of course, every possibly piece of baby gear with her and since the bathroom was small, it took up most of the room and blocked us in. I watched in horror as she not only changed the baby without a changing pad under her, but also piled up used wipes on the counter. All the while, she apologized and told us indignantly that, "there's no changing table! So I had no choice," and not moving a muscle. I admire her commitment to changing that diaper in a timely fashion, but that's about it.
Now, new mommas out there, I GET IT. I have been there. I have needed to change a poopie diaper and been unable to locate a bathroom with a changing table. In such cases, I have:
- Gone back out to our car and changed him on the seat.
- Continued to look for a family restroom (which, by the way, was only about a two minute walk away from this one).
- Used the stroller, though this is awkward.
So I implore, please consider these options first. Now, I digress. Back to my story.
So while we tentatively waited for New Mommy to make some kind of attempt to move something out of the way, Jack backed up and stood under the automatic hand dryer.
Yes, the automatic hand dryer.
Those of you with toddlers know what happened next, but I'll indulge those without. The dryer turned itself on and scared the bejeezus out of my son, who all but leapt out of his pants. After seemingly soothing my little guy, I quickly told New Mommy that my son needs the potty, can I move her things? She suddenly seemed to realize that we had come into the bathroom in order to use it's facilities, rather than in search of an adorable little 10 week old baby girl to oogle. Though, admittedly, she was pretty cute. But what baby isn't? She said something along the lines of, "omg, of course!"
So I shoved her stroller, topped with an infant seat and with at least one shopping bag from every store in the mall strapped, tied, and piled on top of it out of our way. Immediately upon entering the stall, I noticed (as any over-read mother would) that the toilet had an automatic flush. I deftly placed the fold up seat on the potty, pulled down my son's now-too-big pants and undies, scooped him up, and threw one hand over the sensor while placing him delicately on his throne, where he kicked his feet around contentedly and wondered why I had responded to his repeatedly saying, "potty? Momma, potty?" by taking him to a potty. Silly Momma.
Before I continue (and, again, at least the novice moms out there know where this is going), I should mention that only the day before I had purchased, for this very occasion, a roll of black electric tape. I, over-read that I clearly am on relevant parenting topics and most recently on potty training, knew that savvy mommas carry a roll in their diaper bag to cover the sensor so the automatic toilet does not flush and scare the living poopie out of their skeptical-about-public-potties-already toddlers. But you see, my toddler was already using public toilets like a pro, #1, #2, whatever. He was golden. So I figured, since my own mom was there wielding the somehow heavier diaper bag, that I should go ahead and have her dig out the tape for me so I can tempt fate a little and free my numb finger from its rather uncomfortable and weird angle. Because, you see, that's what I was supposed to do.
While reciting, by heart, "Hippos go berserk!" to keep my son entertained, I used my teeth and free left (aka useless) hand to rip off a piece of electrical tape, which I then slipped in place, sliding my finger out of the way.
Oops. Turns out I'm not so deft. It flushed, Jack cried out and flew off the potty. And he has not used a public toilet since.
Okay, so it's only been a few weeks. But I should mention that, again, being waay over-read, I knew that some savvy moms also keep a spare potty in their car and just let their kids use the potty before going in the store or before getting buckled back in. I have no idea where I read this, but some clever mom out there paved the way and now I barely even look around to see if anyone is watching before I dump pee on the parking lot and sing our new favourite song, "Pee Pee in the Potty," which literally goes:
Pee Pee in the Potty!
Pee Pee in the Potty!
Pee Pee in the Potty!
So I didn't exactly invent the wheel there, but since I'm not a fan of pre-sliced bread, I will go ahead and pat myself on the back for my potty training prowess and pretend that whole ugly mall incident wasn't my fault.
Monday, January 31, 2011
With having our own yard looming in the near future, I cannot help but dream of filling it with amazing kid attractions. I always wanted a swing set in my yard when I was a kid and I kind of want Jack to have one. But with the garden, adding a fence, and planing some fruit trees, I'm not sure we will have room. If we are to get one (probably as a bithday gift), I want to be sure it will last for many years, and be something we can move with us again when we relocate. I want quality, but I don't want to spend a ton of money. Another option we have been considering is a nice playhouse. I can't decide which ill get more love and use over the years.
I was looking for wooden playhouses and swing sets online just now and discovered that there are about three million options out there. Wooden? Plastic? Metal? Small and understated, or massive enough to make your yard cooler than the playground? I was actually kind of surprised that you can even buy really nice swing sets and playhouses online, let alone get free shipping, but CSN Stores offer a huge selection of both, plus bikes, trikes, trampolines, and even play kitchen sets. Suddenly, my son's birthday wish list is growing and growing... And I don't think he even really knows what his birthday is yet, let alone that it's in about 3 months and that he can ask for something he wants.
Of course, if I ask him what he want's he will probably just ask to watch an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba.
I'd love to go bundle my little guy up and take him to the park, but it's just flat out too cold. So for now, I'm going to have to settle for some online day dream shopping... If I start now, maybe I can narrow it all down by the time we are ready to plan his birthday!
Friday, January 28, 2011
I think it is a combination of the newfound freedom that is not wearing a diaper and the fact that, let's face it, he is a boy. He wants access to his favourite body parts all the time and I actually think being able to play with himself has been a bit of a motivating factor in this whole potty training business. Sit on the potty? You mean like NAKED? I can touch my pee pee?!?! OKAY!!!!
He has said goodbye to the days of trying in vain to shove his little fingers down into a snug cloth diaper and cover and hello to the world of sitting around with his hands in his pants. I don't get it, but I think it may be instinctive.
I'm not even joking about that, though. I mean, think about it. If you are, say, a caveman competing in the original Survivor - not to out wit, or out play, but just to out last - you probably need to reassure yourself that you'll be man enough to reproduce. I'm sure there is some science about this but I don't care enough to look it up. But I do think men do this unconsciously most of the time, and I'm not sure he realizes he is walking around the kitchen in socks, long sleeves, and Thomas the Tank Engine underpants in the smallest size they make with his little hand just hanging out in there, keeping tabs on the boys.
Suvival of the fittest, toddler style.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I don't know about anyone else, but I hate bra shopping. I despise it. I remember fondly the days when I found it enjoyable and wish I still felt that way. But the day I got the unlucky news that, at about 16 weeks pregnant, I would be requiring a 32H already, I was disheartened. I soon found out that I had been buying the wrong size for years, foolishly believing that I was a mere DDD cup. After I had Jack, I was a 30H and for 18 months of nursing, I had exactly 2 bras that fit well and a third that I wore only when I had nothing else clean. I lived in Glamour Mom tanks – the first and only built-in-bra tank that has ever fit me – at night. I love those tanks so much, I still wear them at night (and day).
Now that Jack is all grown up and doesn't need Momma's milk anymore, I have been trucking along in one regular non-nursing bra. I have gone down a whopping one cup size to a 30G. Have you ever tried to find a 30G in a store?
I had to drive to Nordstrom, which is in another city (although only about 45 minutes away) to buy the one and only bra they carry in that size. I love it, but it was $65. I had to give it a few weeks at least to be sure I loved it before buying more at that price. And since it comes in only one color – "nude" – I really wanted to find at least one or two other options.
Enter Barenecessities.com. This is, incidentally, where I finally found a strapless bra that fit for my wedding. Little did I know then how ill-fitting it actually was! I ordered 4 new bras, expecting to exchange at least half of them for duplicates of the ones that did fit. Three different brands seemed to be tempting fate. I LOVE that Bare Necessities has a really liberal return policy. I think it is actually about 90 days. Obviously, you cannot have worn anything for longer than it takes to try it on, but if you order something for a special occasion, and then end up not needing it a month down the line, you can get your money or store credit back. But guess what! ALL of them fit and perfectly at that.
Make no mistake. They have not contacted me in the least and I am writing this out of the goodness of my heart…or breasts…whichever. Both are happier now that I have not 1, but 5 pretty, functional bras that fit fantastically. My back is happier, too. And since they had emailed me a coupon code for 25% off, they averaged to about $40 a pop. Much more reasonable than $65.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I had inteded to go full speed ahead at 18 months, but right around then we found out my husband had his new position secured and we would be moving. So I put it off a bit, hoping to do it as soon as we got settled.
But then I started thinking, about 2 weeks or so ago, that if we wait much longer, he may decide he isn't interested so we decided that Operation Big Boy should go ahead, full steam, and see where it goes. I figure if I can get him pretty well trained to at least not have too many accidents and be used to sitting on the potty regularly, then at least that is something I can maintain through the craziness of a move...I think.
I decided to do the following:
1) Regular potty sits. We started with about every 30 minutes, but that was not working so we now do them every 20 and will grdually increase to 30 or more. Sometimes he sits for a few seconds, pees, and we have a little party. Sometimes he sits for 30 minutes. Once, he sat for an hour and a half, of his own accord, and refused to get up until he had peed. I do not force him to sit for any length of time, and most of the time he happily sits for a few stories at least.
2) We read, play with toys, etc. to make it fun.
3) We have "Big Boy Wipes" (Pampers Kandoo, for example) that can ONLY be used when he uses his potty. Somehow, having this limitation seems to make them more exciting, as does getting to get his own wipe out instead of getting one handed to him. We decorated the container with fun stickers, too. They are more or less the same as baby wipes, just flushable, so I intend to replace them with whatever flushable is cheapest at the store.
4) We DO have rewards, but they are not for every sucessful potty visit and they are things he normally gets anyway. For example, might tell him a few times between one potty sit and the next that if he puts pee pee it the potty, he can watch an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba in Papa's chair. Because we have been confined to the non-carpeted floors for a week now, this is super exciting since he gets to go in the living room. I put a big, triple layer of his comforted under him to be safe! He also once in a while gets a temporary tattoo (yeah I know...but its super cute and he loves it) or similar. And at each opportuniy for a reward, he gets only one shot to get it. This keeps him from insisting on Yo Gabba Gabba every time he pees int he potty.
5) When he is sucessful, it is a BIG deal! The best rewards for him have been getting to use a big boy wipe, carry his potty insert to the big potty, dump it, flush it, and WASH HIS HANDS. He loves to wash his hands, so this is a big motivator.
6) I keep track of how many times he uses the potty and how many times he has an accident, for my own record so I can see clearly how we are going.
7) It's big boy undies or bust. We are still in a cloth diaper for nap and a disposable at night, but otherwise there are no diapers. We have not left the house yet, but when we do, it will be with several extra sets of clothes and I may make a small "cover" out of PUL for him to wear to keep from having to clean up pee in the middle of Target.
8) "Pee pee goes in the potty." I read once that kids do not understand, "Tell momma when you need to go," or, "it's okay, accidents happen." The only thing that matters is that you reinforce what you want. So I repeat this mantra, as well as the #2 variation, many times a day, between potty trips and durring, and he is now repeating it himself.
It has been one week and Sunday was his best day so far - 4 hits and only 2 misses. But Monday he literally peed twice as many times and only had about half in the potty. Today, he is doing well with the same stats as Sunday, and it is only naptime. I have been regulating his beverage intake and encouraging more fluids, but I didn't find that getting him to drink almost constantly was working. There was no predictability to when he would need to pee and he had far more accidents than anything else. On the first day, we went though 10 pairs of undies. But since then, we have gone down to as few as 2 or as many as 4.
Since my husband will have been out of town with business trips and work for over 2 weeks when we see him again Saturday, I think he will be pleased to see that his little boy is in big boy pants! And having him gone has actually, while making it a bit more stressful, encouraged me to keep going, trucking along, cleaning up pee pee day after day, because it gives me something to focus on.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it isn't for everyone. If I were working outside the home, I would have to take a month of vacation to do this. But I strongly believe that pull-ups are just diapers in bigger sizes and that they delay full training sucess. Diaper companies want nothing more than for your child to wear diapers until a month before kindergarten. I also believe that the sooner you start, the better your sucess will be. Many children will do fine and train quickly at any age, but I know my headstrong boy is going to do better now than if I waited even 6 months.
And one final note...I wish I could post this...I got a nice picture of him sitting in Papa's chair, watching Yo Gabba Gabba this morning...with his hand in his pants. He is such. a. boy.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
I am actually a fan of the New Year's Resolution blog post. However, I am not a fan of New Year's Resolutions in general. They tend to be far-reaching. Where I thought I would be now at this time last year is very different from where I actually am. So, in observance of the general tradition and in the spirit of not making things terribly difficult for myself, I offer the following 2011 Resolutions:
- Buy our first house. This shouldn't be terribly difficult as we put an offer in on Jan. 1st and may close as early as Jan. 31st. But the endeavor is not a small one, and we are looking forward to the excitement and stress and I am in particular looking forward to sewing curtains and buying our son his big boy bed.
- Keep the kid in his crib as long as possible. No, seriously.
- More handmade. Not all handmade, not mostly handmade. Just more. I can do that.
- Buy more organic, natural, and healthy food and household products for my family. This is an on-going goal that never really changes.
- Bake most of our bread. This was something I intended to perfect this year, but our current circumstances have made that difficult to say the least. I look forward to having my own space, my own kitchen, and a more adequately baby-proofed house in order to make this feasible.