Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Must Haves for the First Month - Baby Edition

While I was pregnant I searched high and low for a list of things that I would need when
I brought baby home. I found lots of lists that were fairly generic: You need a pack n play,
diapers, breast pump, receiving blankets, etc. What I really wanted was a list of things that
real moms used. Here is my list of things I couldn't live without during the first month.


Let's face it. Bringing a baby home is freaking hard. 
All of a sudden it is just you, your man and the google. 
Thank god for the google!

This list doesn't include diapers because frankly the man and I don't agree on which
diapers are better so I thought I would leave that up to each parent. These items are
my favorite things, some of them we didn't get until month two but I sooo wish I had
had them during month one!!!

1. Pack n Play : Some people think you don't need these. I happen to think I would have killed myself without one. I don't think brand really matters, all that matters is that is has a changing station. We keep ours in our bedroom and it is a lifesaver for night time changes. We keep a small, low light lamp next to it so we can see what we are doing without turning on the room light and waking up both the baby and your partner. Also, just go ahead and lay down a changing pad. Even if your pack n play has a changing pad that comes off the changing station just use a removable changing pad.

2. Luna Premium Waterproof Mattress Protector : If you are breastfeeding you seriously need a mattress protector. The first couple of weeks I leaked all over our bed. I'd wake up sticky in a cold, wet spot on our sheets. We bought a cheapo RE protector from Target and I hate it. I haven't used this particular brand protector but it has awesome reviews. Seriously, just spend the money, otherwise you are going to have a stinky bed to replace when you could have saved it with a $30 mattress protector.

3. Petroleum Jelly : No need to get the crazy expensive kind, and no need to get diaper rash cream. They do the same thing. Petroleum jelly is an amazing product that we use on the butt and in the creases of our little rolly polly. The boy's neck got a crazy shade of red (like a lobster!) because the creases would never dry. We slathered on some jelly and within hours that horrid red was gone! Now we just put it on after every bath!

4. Johnson's Pink Baby Lotion & Johnson's Head to Toe Baby Wash : I love this set! Everyone has their favorite baby scents and this one is mine. The baby wash is super gentle. Not that I would recommend it but I have accidentally gotten it in the boy's eyes and he doesn't squawk. The pink lotion works well and it smells like you think a baby should. This is completely my opinion but that pink lotion is what makes the boy smell nice lol

5. Carter's Wrap Me Up Receiving Blanket - Duck (Set of 4) : These are BY FAR the BEST receiving blankets I have used. I have about twenty receiving blankets that I never use because I just keep using these four over and over. They are thick, large, and sturdy. Beware - Carter's does different items for different price ranges. These blankets are of the "Wrap Me Up" line. If it doesn't say "Wrap Me Up" then you are probably getting regular, tiny, flimsy receiving blankets.

6. Boppy Bare Naked Pillow : I am a little hesitant to recommend the Boppy brand specifically. It tends to slip away from your body a bit if you don't hold it to you. That is the only problem I have with it! The My Breast Friend looks awfully amazing but you can't use it as many ways as you can the Boppy. With the Boppy you can use it for nursing, tummy time and sitting up. With the My Breast Friend you can pretty much just use it for nursing. If the Boppy would just put a tie on the ends I would be soooo happy. If you are going to get the Boppy you will also need to get the Boppy Protective Cover and some sort of outside cover (some Boppies come with a cover). I use the Heirloom Slipcovers just because they are a little more soft than the regular covers. Do spend the extra ten bucks for the protective cover. My little man has spit up on the Boppy more times than I care to remember and it is so nice not having to worry about the pillow getting icky.

7. Evenflo Simply Go Single Electric Breast Pump : This breast pump is like the little train that could. We needed the pump because I was having a spaz attack about breastfeeding (more on that in a later post) and we had very little money. This cost us around $40 and it has worked beautifully for us. I would definitely recommend using this is you have a forceful let down. If you're having trouble with your baby getting enough milk this product probably isn't for you. The product information sheet says it is good for only occasional (maybe twice a week) pumping but we use it nearly every day and it works great for  me. In general, having a breast pump is a good idea and it is a good idea to start pumping and storing early. I wish I had started storing breast milk early rather than waiting till the boy was two months old.

8. Carter's Hooded Frog Towel : I love this freaking towel. I have the frog one and the blue dog one. They were gifts to us and I am so grateful for them. We could not have afforded spending the money on towels and these are the best, most absorbent, thickest towels that I've been able to find. A lot of baby towels are made of thin, slick sort of material that isn't very absorbent. These towels are large and soft and I adore them. As I said before, Carter's makes items for every budget so these may be better to buy in the store rather than take a chance online.

9. Summer Infant Mother's Touch Comfort Bath Support : This is shown as being used in a bath tub but we have found it fits quite nicely in our sink. It allows the boy to sit up and it does exactly what it is supposed to. Nothing fancy, it just works. I really like the ability to wash him in the sink and I like that it is cushy so he doesn't bang his head on anything. The boy really likes to squirm.

10. Sleep n Plays : We brought Baby Bear home in this outfit! :D This particular sleep n play is from Target. I really love the Target sleep n plays because they seem a little sturdier and thicker. They are like little one piece pajamas and I just adore them! I like the zip up ones but some people prefer the button ups. As I said before, the boy likes to squirm so trying to button a million little buttons never goes well for us.

11. BATTERIES! Everything baby requires batteries. If you're buying a gift for a parent throw in a set of batteries. We use everything from AAA to Ds and we can never have too many!

12. Fisher Price Newborn Rock n' Play Sleeper : This is the BEST and MOST USED item we received from our baby showers. When we brought the boy home we realized that we had missed a very crucial item in our baby registry: a place for the boy lay down during the day. We keep our pack n play in our bedroom, the crib is in the nursery, we can't just lay him on a couch. Then I remembered a friend had bought us this sleeper and we began using it immediately. Also, it is the ONLY thing the boy will sleep in. We tried everything and this is what he wants and he still sleeps in it at two months old. He loves that he is snuggled into it, he loves that he is sitting up (he has acid reflux) and he loves that he can be rocked in it. It sits just high enough so that I can slip an arm out of the bed and rock it with my finger without having to sit up or get out of bed. I also love that it is made for newborns to sleep in. Every parent worries about SIDS and knowing that my boy is in a rocker made for sleeping newborns just makes me feel a whole lot better. 



13. HALO SleepSack Swaddle Wearable Blanket : I love these things! You may think that you are up to the challenge of swaddling your baby but I swear to you that when your baby has come loose of the swaddle for the fourth time at three in the morning you are going to want this wonder of modern technology. I like this brand in particular because you can swaddle your child with its arms at its sides or out. Barry didn't like his arms being bound so it was perfect for us. Also, when you unzip you unzip from the bottom so you can easily check for a wet diaper without having to disturb the swaddle. 


So that was a TON of information but I hope it will help you with your decisions on
what to buy or at least give you some ideas to think about. 

:)

-Ri


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Birth Story



I know this has been a loooong time coming, but hey!

Better late than never!! 

:)

My Birth Story.

Well...not my birth story, hehe, its the story of my little Baby Bear's birthday. 
His birth day story actually starts almost three days before he was actually born.

I went in for one of my weekly 9th month check ups. There was a bit of trepidation
on my part since the boy hadn't been moving around a whole lot and lets face it...
I wanted that baby OUT! Every. Single. Tactic was used to 
coerce him to eject himself and it just wasn't working.

Dr. Espana took a look via ultrasound and was concerned the the boy
wasn't really moving. His heartbeat was fine, but he wasn't moving. 
I think my heart stopped at that point, I had wanted to be told that I was in labor
 (did I mention that I wanted the baby out?) but I hadn't counted on there
actually being something wrong that would cause us to induce. 

Ok, so I was freakin' huge. No judging lol

We were admitted to the hospital Tuesday night.  We decided that we had time to
 show the nurses our birth plan later so the nurses tried a gel
that was supposed to open my cervix. After a slightly uncomfortable
night of trying to sleep and instead talking of how excited we were, 
Barry and I woke up to find that I hadn't dilated AT ALL!
The doctor decided to wait the day to see if a little pitocin would help.

Round Two!

I finally got to eat wednesday night. Best. Sandwich. Ever.

Wednesday night the doctor inserted a Cervical Ripening Balloon. 
It works JUST like you think it would. There is this balloon, that 
goes...ahem. They fill the balloon with saline, leaving you incredibly 
uncomfortable, say good luck and expect you to just go to sleep. 

There was no sleeping. 

Thursday morning (super early) it seemed that I had done well overnight and 
they upped my pitocin. I was dilated 4 cm. so technically I was in active labor.
Finally.

At 4am my labor (in my eyes) started. The contractions were getting
harder to where I was actually noticing them but I wasn't noticing them in
the front but rather in my back. After four hours of this I realized I was having
back labor and that was when the shit really hit the fan.

I swear to you, I only felt a single contraction in my uterus. Every single other
contraction was a knife in my back. Thursday day and Thursday night seemed to 
fly by in a flurry of contractions and downtime. I'm kidding. It only seems like it 
flew by because I can't really remember what happened lol.


Friday morning it was announced that I was a whole five freaking centimeters 
dilated. Dr. Espana decided to go ahead and break my water. In the beginning, I was completely
against any sort of induction, breaking of water, epidurals, etc. At this point I had
been in labor a full day and I began to see that if I didn't get this show on the road I'd 
end up getting a C Section. I consented to the breaking of the waters.

Holy. Freaking. Cow.

My labor started in earnest and it was still freaking BACK LABOR!!! Dr. Espana
asked me to get an epidural after five hours of that nonsense. I needed to rest so that
when it came to the pushing part I would have the strength to actually push. 
Best thing ever, I tell ya! For a minute.

My epidural wore off within three hours of received it. During that time I dilated
from five cm to seven. Then...poof! It just went away. Unfortunately, during that
time the anesthesiologist was in the middle of a surgery and couldn't help me. 

I felt every single minute of seven cm to ten cm. 

Finally the anesthesiologist came by and gave me a double dose of 
God-Only-Knows-What and it was amazing! Just as the epidural started working
again the doctor was like "Oh, you can start pushing now." ;) Silly doctors.

I think I only pushed for around twenty minutes before I got to meet little Barry.

Seriously, that alien head threw me off lol

I'd like to get all teary eyed and tell you how beautiful of a moment it was but
in the spirit of full disclosure, I was vomiting in a tiny blue bag when I saw him. 
I was stitched up and Barry's family literally flew into the room to oh and ah over the baby.

Barry's dad with the boy.
I was still throwing up. Not fun. 

With my mommy, shortly after my vomiting fit.

The next thing I really remember clearly is seeing my son for the first time (not vomiting)
and the first thing I said was "He's PINK!" See, the first first time I saw him he
was covered in slime and blood and I swear to God he was purple. The next time
I saw him he was a cute little pink baby! lol 

It was finally quiet in our room and I got to hold my son (finally) and we were whisked
away to our recovery room where the boy was given a bath and I slept like a log!

Things I Learned:

1. Show your nurses the birth plan, otherwise family will burst into the delivery room
while you're still vomiting and bleeding and you have no one to blame but yourself.

2. Have all the paperwork signed and ready for the epidural even if you don't think you
want it. We did and not waiting that extra ten minutes while having contractions is a 
beautiful thing.

There will be more "What I Learned" but that will be a different post.

:)

I will say that it is hard for me to look back on Barry's birth with joy in my heart.
Every single thing we planned went wrong. I was in labor 41 hours and I had
people barging into my room before I was ready. I can easily say I was in complete
shock over what happened and short of my mother...no one noticed. I was in the middle
of a break down and everyone was too busy oohing and aahing over the baby to notice
that I was in shock. I had to get nine stitches, the doctors were worried that I was bleeding
too much and I was vomiting all over my mother and no one noticed.

No one tells you what happens when it all goes wrong.
No one tells you that it is perfectly normal to have a mental break down
when your baby is born.

I think it is important to tell women that sometimes birth doesn't go well and it is important
to not feel guilty if you look back on your baby's birth and you feel violated. It is ok,
there is nothing wrong with you and feeling this way does not mean you love your baby
ANY LESS!

Sometimes it is just hard and there is nothing you can do about it but accept it and
move on. Love your baby, do the best you can and just ignore all the posts you
see on Facebook about everyone and their perfect lives.



All in all, I can't wait to have another baby and give natural birth another go.
I truly feel that if we had not induced I would not have had back labor and
I would not have been in labor for so long. We shall see.

This was not the perfect birth and this has not been the perfect adventure
that I thought it would be but I am happy. I love my family and I can't wait
to see what kind of trouble we can get in to.




:D

Love,

Maria



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Menu Planning Monday: Chicken Stock/Soup



In case you didn't know...

I love Pinterest. 

Pinterest has single-handedly saved my hubby and me from eating the same
six meals every week. In honor of that I've come up with 
Menu Planning Monday!

Each week I will post one new recipe that I have actually tried. Some
will be awesome...and some will be horrid. :)

*******

This past week I made one of my most favorite dishes to make
for the hubs. He ADORES it and I rarely ever get the chance to freeze the
leftovers. He's a hog.

The recipe I follow is from Skinny Taste and it is amazeballs. 

Yeah. I said it. 


Recipe can be found: here

I decided to change mine up a bit:

Ingredients: 

1-5lb. Young Chicken
(You can also use regular chicken breast)
1-Yellow Onion, Quartered
1.5-Cup of Chopped Baby Carrots
1.5-Cup of Chopped Celery Stalks 
(I left the leaves on)
1-Cloves of Minced Garlic
1-tsp. Sesame Oil
1-Cup of Chicken Broth (or Bullion)
Fresh Parsley
Bay Leaves
Thyme
Black Pepper

Directions:

1. Place the giblets (all the stuff that comes in the chicken) in a cheesecloth and tie it up.
I actually used a leftover corn husk from when we made tamales. You can be creative.

2. Place the chicken and giblets in your crockpot with all the other ingredients and 
fill with water until there is an inch left to the top. 

3. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or you can simmer in a stock pot for 4 hours. Your goal
is to cook the chicken thoroughly and slowly. Each stove and crock pot is different.

4. Separate the stock from the chicken and veggies using a strainer. 

5. Once the chicken is cool to the touch (but not cold, it is easier to pull apart warm),
 pull apart the chicken and tear the meat into bite sized pieces. 
Discard or use the giblets as you see fit. Let the chicken and veggies
sit in the fridge over night.

6. Let the broth sit in the fridge over night. This will allow the fat to come to the top and
harden making it easier to skim. Instruction #4 is very important, I left the veggies in the
broth once overnight and I had to try and skim the fat from the veggies. No fun.

6. Skim the fat.

At this point you can either use the chicken and veggies in another dish and save
the stock for later use or you can return the chicken and veggies to the stock and
have a pretty amazing chicken soup. Add rice or noodles to your liking.

I truly love making chicken soup this way because you really get all the good stuff
in the stock. I think broth tends to be a bit thin while stock, being made from
the WHOLE chicken and some veggies, is heartier and better for you. 

Hope you enjoy!

-Ri 


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