Saturday, February 15, 2014

Baby Product Top Picks

Before baby K arrived, I did a lot of research on the best rated and most popular baby products out there.  I really wanted to make sure I had the necessities without going overboard.  I'm not sure that I succeeded in the "keep it simple" department, since we do have a few items that really serve the same purpose.  It's so hard to not get wrapped up in all the cuteness!  Live and learn...

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of our favorite baby items so far.  So here goes, in no particular order:

1)  California Baby: Calendula Cream - This stuff is so rich!  I'll admit that K's skin hasn't become so dry that she needs this cream yet, but after her first real bath I did lather her up with this stuff.  It definitely doesn't have that signature "baby" scent, but that's not a deal breaker for me.  And here's the kicker... I have had terrible eczema on the tops of my hands, which started to spread to my wrists.  My hands were dry and red, and embarrassing for the longest time.  I used this cream after each hand washing for three days straight, and it totally cleared everything up.  I'm sold!

2) Angelcare Bath Support - I love this because it's so simple.  It does it's job and that's that.  You just place this support in your tub and fill the water to the marked fill line.  It's all plastic with lots of air vents, and has hanging tab for drying/storage.  I'm not concerned about this becoming moldy like baby baths that have fabric. 

3) Avent Soothie Pacifiers - Nate and I really wanted to avoid using a pacifier if we could, but one of the first lessons we've learned as parents is that things don't always go the way you want.  Miss K was not the best eater while we were still at the hospital, so the nurses suggested we give her a pacifier so she could teach herself how to suck.  The good news is that their suggestion seemed to work.  The bad news is that now she just wants the pacifier sometimes.  We tried giving her the ones that match the Tommee Tippee bottles we have, but she wasn't interested at all.  Now these Soothies are all she wants, and she really seemed to like the vanilla scented one from the hospital.

4) Cloud B Sleep Sheep - This is not something that we use all the time, but it does come in handy at times.  K's swing ( #11 on our list) is in her room and also has a sound setting, so sometimes we just use that.  The point is that her room happens to be against the same wall as our TV (which we keep at a pretty low volume anyway) and our front door, and it faces the road.  If she's napping in her room or having trouble falling asleep, sometimes I'll turn on her sleep sheep.  She likes the ocean sound (or the river sound in her swing), and normally it relaxes her enough to doze off.  It also blocks out enough noise to keep her sleeping.

5) JJ Cole Diaper Clutch - We use this all the time! For some reason I have always had an easier time changing diapers on the floor.  We planned on putting a changing pad on the shorter of K's two dressers.  However, once her furniture arrived we discovered that the shorter dresser is still too tall for me to use as a changing table.  We don't have a lot of extra space in her room, so we opted to not get a changing table.  I just keep this diaper clutch unfolded on her floor and change her there.  I can wipe it down with disinfecting wipes, and fold it up when I "clean" her room (not that it's ever really messy).  Plus it folds up neatly enough to fit right in the front pocket of our diaper bag, and I love the colors/pattern!

6) Gerber Side Snap Onesies - We received one of these onesies in a box of hand me downs from Nate's sister in size 0 - 3 months.  I couldn't wait for K to grow into it so I could try it on her!  I don't know what it is, but I think she is so cute in these!  I love the colors they come in, and I think the snaps down the side give them a little feminine touch.  I put her in these with a comfy pair of matching pants and she is good to go!

7) Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Microwave Steam Sterilizer - I'm not sure that a bottle sterilizer is really required, especially if you're washing your bottles in the dishwasher.  However, this is something we use all the time.  We didn't want to stockpile bottles, just in case K didn't like the bottles we picked.  Luckily she had no problem with the Tommee Tippee bottles, and we haven't had a problem only keeping a minimum number on hand.  We normally just hand wash them and sterilize.  Then we can keep them stored on the counter in the sterilizer until we need them.  It doesn't take up that much space, and we keep the formula right next to it so we can make bottles quickly.

8) Summer Infant Swaddle Me - I read a lot of conflicting articles about swaddling, and was really confused about what was best.  I had decided to wait and see what kind of a sleeper K would be before I tried swaddling.  It turned out that she had a little case of the jitters in her first few days, and was really comforted by being swaddled.  My swaddling skills became pretty strong while we were at the hospital, but once we got home I decided to try out these swaddles.  They are so much easier than trying to use a receiving blanket, and I'm not worried about them coming loose and suffocating K while she sleeps.  K tends to sleep a few hours longer at night, while she is swaddled.  Plus, the prints are pretty cute, too!

9) Baby Gap Bodysuits and Pants - What I love about the clothes from Baby Gap is that they are adorable and soft, but the prints aren't too baby-ish.  I recently bough these two outfits for baby K, but they can also be mixed and matched with other things she already has.  Gap has some really cute things I've got my eye on for Spring, too!

10) Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor - I am so happy that we got a video monitor!  I don't know why, but I have always been paranoid about what babies are up to when they are sleeping.  I knew I wouldn't be able to keep going into her room to check on K without waking her up, so this was the solution.  The screen is clear enough that I can zoom in to make sure she is breathing OK, and the monitor pans the whole room!  I can adjust the position if she's napping in her swing or view any other part of the room if I want.

11) Ingenuity Automatic Bouncer and Cradle & Sway Swing (in Shiloh) - Other than in our arms, these are two of K's favorite places to be.  During the day she naps in her bouncer a lot.  The bouncer is great because it bounces on it's own, in two different patterns.  It also has several different music and "nature" sound settings, which match the sound settings on her swing.  I don't normally put her in the swing to sleep, but she usually ends up falling asleep if she's in it.  She likes to watch the ceiling fan while listening to music.  It also has a vibration setting, which sometimes helps calm her down a little.  The swing also adjusts to rock side to side or front to back.  The only regret I have about these items is that they could have been combined to save space by getting the 4moms mamaRoo, instead.  The swing is very wide, so it can't be moved room to room very easily.

12) Fisher-Price Snugabunny Musical Gym - I really didn't think we would use this until K got a little older, but I decided to give it a try one day and she loved it!  She's been playing on her play mat since she was only a few days old.  She likes to lay and look at the lights, and we use it for tummy time, too.  I tried to get a lot of our bigger items in neutral colors, so this turned out to be perfect.  Plus it matches her swing, bouncer and pack and play pretty well too.  I'm kind of a matchy-matchy type of person...

13) Precious Firsts Bodysuits - I like to put a lightweight bodysuit on baby K underneath her sleepers, and these are perfect.  They are so soft and I love the prints.  I found these ones by Carter's at Target and plan to keep getting them in her size as she grows.

This list is definitely longer than I expected it to be, but there were also some items I thought about including and changed my mind.  Like I said, we could definitely live without a lot of these products but they have made life a lot easier and have become some of our favorites!  I'm thinking about doing a follow-up to this post on products we thought we had to have, which ended up being returned.  We'll see!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Month Old!

How is it that Nate and I have a one month old daughter already?!  It feels like we were just sitting at the hospital waiting for her to arrive, last week...

We were at her one month pediatrician checkup today, so I thought I would do an update on what she's up to!

Weight: 9 lbs 2.7 oz (48%) {up from 6 lbs 10.3 oz (16%) at birth}
Height: 20.5 in (21%) {up from 20 in (74%) at birth}
Head Circumference: 14.17 in (34%) {up from 13.27 (31%) in at birth}

Loves: Cuddling with mommy & daddy, naps in her bouncer, watching the ceiling fan from her swing, ocean and river sounds on her Sleep Sheep or swing/bouncer, looking out/at the windows and the lights on her playtime mat, bath time, being swaddled at night time.

Doesn't Love: Being hungry (at all), having her face wiped after eating, putting lotion on, getting dressed after bath time, getting into her car seat (although she is fine once she's actually in it), Gerber Good Start Gentle Formula.

She's kind of in between on her size right now.  She has officially outgrown most of her newborn clothes, and her newborn diapers are too tight.  But... most of her 0-3 month clothes are baggy and the size 1 diapers are definitely too big.  We just call her "Urkel" most of the time, but she's the cutest Urkel I've ever seen!  She's normally a happy baby and gives us lots of smiles and little giggles - even in her sleep.  It's too cute!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weeks Three & Four

Wow! How is it’s the end of week four already? In three short days baby K will be a month old already!

I know I missed my weekly post for week three, so I’m combining it with my week four post. There really isn’t a ton to update on, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something to share!

Since my week two post, K has met a few more family members. My sister came back down for a visit during the first weekend of February, and she brought her husband and our mom. Here are some photos of K meeting her Grandma and “Uncie”:

We were finally able to give K the much anticipated first bath this week, too! The rest of her umbilical cord fell off Tuesday night, and she was in the tub on Wednesday. She seemed to enjoy it, and even fell asleep right before we took her out.

On Thursday we had our second home visit, which was basically the same as our last one. We just sat and talked with our social worker and updated her on K’s new formula, sleep and potty habits, likes and dislikes. Not much has changed since our visit a few weeks ago, so it was a pretty quick visit! It’s really hard to believe that we only have four more visits until we can finalize!

On Friday afternoon we got a visit from our sister-in-law and niece, and decided to get dressed up for the occasion:

K also met another Uncle on Friday evening – Nate’s older sister’s husband. They brought dinner for us and played with the baby while we ate! Their girls (age 1 and 3) are so cute with K, and couldn’t get enough “holding” (with adult help) and cuddling!

Yesterday and today have been “lounge” days for the most part. It’s the first weekend we have had to ourselves since K’s arrival. While we’ve really enjoyed having people over to meet K and spend time together, it’s also been fantastic to just be home alone. Yesterday morning Nate was able to help me get caught up on the laundry, dishes and cleaning (its way easier with him here, than trying to do it while he’s at work!) and then we just watched Netflix (I’ve become a big fan of the show Pretty Little Liars. Nate has not.) and relaxed all day. It was SO nice for some down time, and I even busted out my Solly Baby Wrap so I could work on the blog while cuddling K!

Overall weeks three and four have been pretty mellow. Even though Nate is back to work, it’s been really nice being home with K and figuring out her little personality. She’s still a pretty easy baby and really only cries when she is hungry, when she needs to be changed and when she starts getting tired. She’s staying awake longer in between feedings and she loves to be held tummy to chest. I like to think it’s because she can hear our hearts that way. Who knows! Usually she falls right to sleep that way, but doesn’t always stay asleep when she moves from that position. She also likes to stay awake from 1:00 to 4:00 in the morning, and we’re trying to figure out how to get her to sleep at night and be awake during the day! She is almost too big for her newborn clothes now, so I washed all of her 0-3 month clothes and reorganized her drawers to make room for everything. We tried moving up to size one diapers this week, but they are a tad too big still.

I think that about sums it up for weeks three and four!


Friday, February 7, 2014

"Just" Adopt

It goes without saying that I am becoming an adoption advocate, as a result of the journey we have been on since October, 2012.  That does NOT mean that I think everyone should "just" adopt as soon as they decide that they are ready to start a family.  What it does mean is that I am happy to share our experience openly.  It means that I am willing to listen when someone else opens up about their family building story.  I share resources and always, always, always recommend research and soul searching before jumping in to anything as emotional as starting a family - no matter how that is done.

It also goes without saying that Nate and I have had a pretty excellent adoption experience (credit goes to a great agency and an amazing birth mom).  I'm not saying this to brag, people.  I'm saying it because having a good experience doesn't mean that it's been easy.  Adoption is the hardest thing I have done in my life... hands down.  It's scary and emotional and messy and expensive - just like fertility treatment and just like starting a family naturally.  And the result, little Miss K is completely worth it.  Now that she is here, I know without a doubt in my mind that adoption was the right path for us.

Again.  I believe wholeheartedly that this does not mean that adoption is the right path for everyone. Whether someone has just been diagnosed with infertility, they are on their last round of IVF, or just feels called to adoption.  What I want people to learn from our experience is that, yes adoptions in the US can happen quickly and smoothly.  There are brave birth families out there who want the best for their children, and can admit that they aren't able to provide that.  If you have an open mind and an open heart, they can become a big part of your life... huge.  There are agencies and attorneys and facilitators and social workers hard at work to connect birth families with waiting adoptive families.  However, adoption can also take years.  There are such things as birth mothers (rightfully) deciding to parent and failed matches and prenatal drug exposure and adoption scams... etc.  I don't want people to look at our adoption experience and decide (or advise someone else) to "just" do the easy thing and adopt.  It's not easy.  End of story.

Take this article by Julie Robichaux, for example.  In it she says:

" [...] adoption doesn't – mustn't – produce children for the convenience of waiting parents. There are others involved, after all, full-fledged people with complicated needs: birth families and children, who aren't simply a 'hungry mouth.' I couldn't ignore the fact that even the most open, straightforward, ethical adoptions – adoptions that are successful by anyone's definition -- can still entail a tremendous sense of loss. That concerned me deeply. And that's just one example of adoption's numberless complexities. There really is no 'just adopt,' and we're not all equipped to take the issues on. That doesn't make us unworthy of parenthood, but it can mean that adoption isn't right for us."

At the end of the day you have to decide which emotional and stressful and difficult path you are most comfortable with and take that path.  You may change your mind along the way, and that's OK.  Just make sure you do your research, ask for help and pray.  And above all, please don't tell others to "just" adopt.