Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My unborn is on a sugar high

As is her mother. Oh my gosh, why is it when you eat handfuls (or is it handsful?) of Jelly Bellies, you have a zillion good thoughts at once but they zoom through your head so quickly that you can't capture them or write them down or put them to any kind of good use?

Curses on you, Jelly Bellies. I mean, blessings on you, Jelly Bellies. Heck, I don't know what I mean. Can't capture my own thought. :)

Packing for the hospital

My purpose in writing this post is two-fold: First, I want to share about a "blog friend" of mine, Sarah. She doesn't know I'm writing this! I don't remember how or when I stumbled upon her blog (it must have been at least a year or two ago), but I do remember being attracted by her blog's name "This Girl's Life" because I used to have a blog by that title. So, I visited her blog and haven't stopped visiting since. Sarah struggled with the loss of a baby and then a time of infertility, and she shared her heart in her posts as she worked -- with GOD -- through it all, all the feelings of heartache and pain and empty arms. Her faith has inspired and blessed me so many times, especially when God answered her prayers...Sarah is now pregnant with twin girls due in June!!! I remember reading her posts leading up to the point when she conceived, and really feeling her heartache along with her. The Lord so laid her upon my heart that I prayed for her to conceive and kept her in my prayers, so when I read her good news, I was simply overjoyed! This is one of my favorite things about the blog-world: we really can make a difference in each other's lives, especially through the power of prayer. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to participate with many others praying for this special blessing upon her life.

Which brings me to my second purpose in writing this post. Sarah has asked that I help her come up with a list of things to pack for the hospital when she delivers the girls. I remember asking Kate for this very list, and actually following it religiously! Kate had the foresight to also include items that I would need should I go through a C-section, and I'm glad I also followed that portion of the list. You can't be too prepared going into the delivery of a baby/babies!

So, to this end, here is my list of necessaries to go in the hospital bag (I actually packed a whole suitcase and used EVERYthing in it, so I definitely didn't over-pack!). I would love it if everyone who reads this post who's delivered a baby could also contribute and possibly point out items I may have missed. Let's give Sarah a great send-off to meeting her precious daughters!

To pack for Mama (NOTE: there is lots of TMI here for the fellas, so read on only if you're prepared):
  • at least 2-3 pairs of very comfortable nursing pajamas (or just plain jammies if you're not going to nurse). You will want OUT of that hospital gown as soon as you're allowed.
  • a sweatpants/t-shirt outfit (or two) when you're tired of jammies. Again, think as comfortable as possible.
  • a robe for wearing over jammies when you want to take a walk. Marty and I walked down to the cafeteria about 36 hours after Will was born and it felt great to stretch my legs, but I was soooooo not ready to be out of jammies yet, so I just slipped on some flip-flops and my robe and didn't care what anybody thought!
  • the aforementioned flip-flops, or comfortable (washable!) house slippers. You might want both.
  • socks, socks, socks. I packed the fuzzy-wuzzy kind and used every pair I brought.
  • nursing bras, nursing pads, and older panties (if you're going to wear your own; this is not the time to break open some new pretties). Personally, I used the hospital stretch panties until I dressed to go home. They're disposable and you really need them and the way they fit pads until your bleeding has slowed some.
  • pads to use (NO tampons!) when you don't need the industrial-strength hospital ones anymore. Sorry to be so frank, but it helps to be prepared for exactly what will go down. You don't want to be surprised by the after-effects of giving birth!
  • elastic hairbands or anything you use to keep your hair out of your face. They will come in handy during labor and then later when nursing.
  • a birth plan. There seems to be lots of controversy over this, but I don't think it hurts to at least have a general idea of how you want things to go. My nurse, Shannon, asked me lots of questions as soon as she came on-duty and she stayed with me throughout her shift and did a GREAT job of following through on my expressed desires. For example, she helped me hold off on the epidural as long as I could, but then was ready with it when I said the word. I think any great nurse will be happy to do this very thing for you!
  • something to do during slow times. I had my labor induced and didn't feel any pain for several hours, so it got to be a bit boring. Take sudoku or crossword puzzles, DVDs (most rooms have players now), or whatever keeps your mind occupied, because you will end up doing a lot of this:

    Watching the monitors and just ticking off the hours!

  • makeup bag and any/all toiletries you'll need for a 2- to 4-day stay (vaginal delivery vs. C-section).
  • camera/camcorder. We got a great picture of Will sleeping as his first sunrise began to light on his face. Beautiful. We also did some late-night, post-feeding videoing, which we really enjoy watching again now.
  • a list of phone numbers for who to call when Baby has arrived (and a designated person to do the calling if you're not up to it -- I wasn't for the first full day).
  • your baby's memory book (again, you might not feel up to writing but you can also use this opportunity to have a nurse make the handprints/footprints directly into the book).
  • a going-home outfit for yourself. Get dolled-up before leaving because you will feel so much better!

Some important advice:

  • Go in looking cute and take pictures. This is the last time you'll look cute for a few days (if not a few weeks!). Be prepared to look like a train wreck. It just happens.

Above: The morning of delivery.
Below: About an hour after giving birth.

  • Leave your dignity at the door. You won't just have to endure the poking and prodding by various strangers (oh heavens, having your water broken...), but you'll need help getting to the bathroom, undressing/dressing, taking a shower, etc., especially if you have a C-section. I needed major help the first 48 hours or so, and there just is no place for uber-modesty.
  • Help the Daddy prepare, as well, and encourage him to pack anything that will increase his own comfort during the hospital stay, like snacks or a pillow from home (those fold-out chair thingeys are super-uncomfortable).

To pack for Baby:

  • hand mittens or onesies/sleepers that have the fold-over flaps to cover Baby's hands so he won't scratch up his little face!
  • sleepers/sleeping gowns. Just as with Mama, you will want your baby out of the hospital-issue clothing as soon as possible.
  • swaddling/receiving blankets. One word of advice: make sure if your baby goes into the nursery wrapped in one of your blankets, that he/she comes out of the nursery with that blanket! I lost a cute receiving blanket this way because a nurse changed it out and didn't return it to me.
  • a couple of hats to keep Baby's temperature controlled (infants don't maintain their body temperature very well at all; that's why it's important to cover them head to toe, but don't smother them either!).
  • socks. You will especially need these when using the sleeping gowns, as they have elastic bottoms for ease of diaper-changing but they will not keep Baby's feet warm.
  • a special outfit for the official hospital pictures. I bought this monogrammed sleeping gown for Will:
  • a going-home outfit that's cute and comfy and decently warm with full coverage (lightweight cotton) even if it's summer. This was Will's:

  • your Boppy pillow. Because breastfed newborns will nurse on demand every 2 hours or so, I kept my pillow close at hand and often also used it to make a nest for me and Will where we stayed between feedings, too. I love, love, love my Boppy!

  • your infant carseat. A nurse will check to make sure that you strap the baby in correctly, and also check that you have the base installed correctly in your car.

Some important advice:

  • You will NOT need to pack any diapers, wipes, or any sort of baby hygiene/personal care products. The hospital will give you loads of freebies.
  • Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy this time as much as possible. Try not to fret about the learning process of caring for an infant -- it all comes with time and experience, and nurses and parents and friends are great resources, so ask any/all questions that you might have. Don't be afraid to sound ignorant -- we all are new at this once!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Big money, big money!

Yeah, that's right, I'm quoting Wheel of Fortune. And yes, you'd be correct in assuming that there are nights on which the "Wheel and Jeopardy" hour are viewed in my household. No, we are not senior citizens. But yes, I also knit and drive slowly (when my child is in the car with me).

Anyway -- on the subject of big money, I'm actually going to talk about little bits of money that you can save. If you've never visited the Mommy $aves Big Printable Coupons site, let me please point you in that direction! The site offers an array of coupons for major department stores and some smaller stores, and even some major name brands (sometimes I can get a $5 off coupon on Enfamil cans of formula!). Right now there's a couple of great coupons for Macy's, SteinMart, and Barnes & Noble. Speaking of B&N, let me also encourage y'all, if you're big book readers like me and Marty, to get the B&N membership card. It's a one-time cost of $25 and it pays for itself almost immediately, and then you start reaping in all kinds of savings. I even get a couple dollars off lattes in the coffee shop! This especially comes in handy around Christmas-time, when I seem to be haunting the aisles of B&N for nearly every person on my list.

And I can't forget to mention one of my favorite sites for saving money: RetailMeNot.com. They offer mostly online coupon codes, but I love to do some of my shopping online (Bath and Body Works and Drugstore.com are probably my two faves).

The greatest thing about these sites is that you can easily find a coupon, print it off (or copy the code), and save some money. None of that buying a newspaper just to clip coupons just to save money on Cocoa Puffs that you'll never eat. I hate clipping coupons, but my mom does it religiously and saves boatloads of dollars, so I'm envious of anyone who has that kind of patience.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The windows are wide open...

...and I'm simply drunk on fresh spring air. Right now we have a CD playing the gentle pan flute sounds of "Sedona Spa" (one of those random Target purchases, next to the greeting cards!) and even though the sun finally set an hour or so ago, it's still warm enough in our loft to have the 7-foot French-door "windows" open wide and the array of ceiling fans a-whirling. Ahhh. Spring is definitely on her way in, if not here to stay.

Wanted to post some pictures from yesterday. We visited a new pediatrician, Dr. Estes, who I really, really like. We told her about our problems with the last office, namely the attending physician in charge of Dr. Terry (who we just loved!). The attending physician and I did not see eye-to-eye (that's putting it mildly) on the issue of vaccinations. I'm so very hesitant to over-vaccinate, especially considering that my nephew has autism. After Ethan's diagnosis, my sister became extremely careful with vaccinations and I think it's absolutely reasonable that I follow suit. There is still a debate raging (mainly parents versus physicians) as to whether autism and vaccinations are linked, but until they can prove what actually does cause autism (and nobody knows for sure), then by golly, I'm going to be careful about one of the prime suspects!

Anyway, Dr. Estes listened to all my concerns and expressed that she totally understands my position as a parent (she has 3 children, one of them with Down's Syndrome) and wants to help us make decisions we're all comfortable with. She did recommend that I read Dr. Sears' The Vaccination Book, which she says is basically informative (not opinionated) so that I know which vaccinations I really am okay with and which ones I simply want to forego. I was almost blown away by that -- actual partnering with a doctor. This is what it's supposed to be like! So that is a huge relief for me and Marty. We just were so on edge about our recent experiences with pediatricians and Dr. Estes was such a breath of fresh air.

And in closing, here are pictures of my growing boy!

This was taken on Monday at my OB/GYN's office while we waited on Dr. Pickler. Look at how LONG he is!

This was taken yesterday while we waited on Dr. Estes. Notice the torn paper on the exam table. We had to stick his paci in his mouth to avoid paper-eating.

And here I am with Puppy. Notice that I let him play with a (closed!) Tylenol bottle. My bestie scolds me for this practice. Also notice that apparently I'm 20 weeks pregnant in my FACE, too. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

If Grace can do it...

I read an interesting fact last night and just had to share. Apparently, Princess Grace gave birth to her daughter Caroline on January 23, 1957, and gave birth to her son Albert on March 14, 1958. Hmm, let's count those months there...yep, that's 13 months! I'm also going to be a mother of two children born 13 months apart, and holy-schamoly, I could not be in better company as it turns out. If a princess can do it, I can do it, too! Thank you, Grace, for making it cool to have babies close together in age!

Monday, March 22, 2010

An update

Today was my 20-week check-up with Dr. Pickler and we went in with a host of questions, ready to make some decisions about delivery of our little girl. We did the exam first and Dr. Pickler found Lucy's heartbeat right away with the Doppler (the first time a doctor hasn't struggled to find her behind the placenta!). She has a great little heartrate of 153 bpm, very normal and very normal for her (she doesn't budge from a 10-beat range). She also moved 3 times while we were listening and Dr. Pickler says her movements sound good and indicate she's a happy baby. Fantastic news!

After much discussion (and after lengthy research provided by my good friend Dawn -- thank you SO MUCH, my friend!), we have decided to definitely go for a scheduled C-section around the first of August. We considered several points, the main ones being that I struggled so much laboring to have my first baby with no success, and the fact that when the time comes to deliver this baby, it will only have been a year since I had a C-section and the uterus needs at least that long to heal, so we don't want to take any chances with uterine rupture (*shudder*).

I have to admit, I'd been wavering of late, torn between the possibility of a VBAC (a "normal" birth) and the ease of a C-section. Thank goodness for frank conversations with knowledgable friends and helpful doctors -- I no longer have any doubts that this is the safest and best way to go for both of us. However, Dr. Pickler did tell me that with 2 C-sections under my belt, I'm pretty much "locked in" to C-sections for any subsequent children we might have. That was a heavy thought at first, but then I just quickly got over it. This is the way I'm meant to go, and apparently God thought I'd had enough of laboring the first time around, so I'll take it as a gift!

Before I close this post, I have to share one more thing. On a lark, I decided to look up Lucy's name in a name-meaning dictionary tonight. We were absolutely shocked to find out what her name means:
Anne=full of grace
Elizabeth=promised by God

If you know anything about my personal history, you know how much significance I find in her middle name. And all together, we have a child whose name means "a light, full of grace, promised by God." How stunningly beautiful. We pray that she will indeed be a light in this world, that she will always carry herself with grace and beauty, and that she will always know that she is a gift promised by the Father.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What a baby wants

Or I should say, what a baby needs. I'm sure every mom could offer up a similar list of items specific to her unique experiences, but this is the list that I would recommend to anyone about to have a baby (and I'm using it myself as a refresher for what I'll need to pull out of closets/pick up at the store for my Lucy-girl).

Clothing and Accessories

  • A handful (5-6) of newborn-sized outfits. Make sure these feel soft and comfy; infant skin is just so delicate that I promise, you will not want to put anything too fussy on yours! In fact, most of the newborn clothing that you buy should be sleepers. Of course, you will want to have something cute to put on your baby to show him/her off to visitors, but don't go overboard on newborn "outfits." You just won't use them, and babies are lightning-fast growing out of this size clothing.
  • A few more (8-10) outfits/sleepers in the 0-3 months size. Have these washed and ready to go, for one day you will realize that your baby just can't squeeze into newborn size anymore and you won't want to wait until that moment to launder everything in the next size up!
  • You can start getting more and more items as your baby grows into the higher sizes. I noticed that Will stayed in his 3-6 months clothes longer, and his 6-9 months clothes longer than that. Stock up on sizes ahead of your baby's growth; one of the best places to shop is TJ Maxx, which carries nice name-brand merchandise at greatly discounted prices.
  • A hamper. You will want to place this right next to the changing table. And don't be alarmed how fast your baby goes through clothes! Between spit-up and diaper blow-outs and even breastmilk leaks from mama, your baby may sport several outfits a day.
  • Shout stain spray or some other stain remover. I've used several brands and I recommend the very large orange can of Shout above all others (for example, Dreft stain remover smells better but just doesn't do the job as well). I really began to use this more often when our son started eating baby food, because bibs just don't catch everything!
  • A good supply of socks and at least one pair of crib shoes. My favorite brand of crib shoes are Robeez, but you can get a cheaper version of these at Target. Babies don't need shoes necessarily, but if you have a sock-grabbing baby like I do, shoes will keep those little pigs nice and warm and covered at all times, especially if you're out and about.
  • Bibs. If you're breastfeeding, you won't really need bibs for the first couple of months at least. Bottle-feeding can be messier, but you can always use a cloth diaper or washcloth under the neck for this purpose. However, babies can start teething as early as 3 months, and with teething comes lots of slobber and drool. Without a bib, your baby can soak a shirt very quickly! Make sure you have several sizes of bibs, too. I always make sure I can get a couple of fingers between the bib and my baby's neck before I let him wear it. When your baby starts eating baby food, you'll want a decent stack of very large bibs that are sturdy in the wash.
  • Don't go crazy on other accessories. People often will gift you very cute items, like an infant swimsuit and sunglasses, or a baby bathrobe. These are adorable but just not practical. You may end up using them just once or twice if you're lucky. However, there are certain items not to skimp on. If you have a summer baby and plan on taking him/her out in the stroller or baby carrier, pick up a little hat. Or if you have a winter baby, get a snowsuit with hood or infant-seat zip-up blanket attachment. You won't want a sunburnt baby, nor do you want to rely on piles of baby quilts on a chilly day.


  • Crib set. Usually you can get a crib set that comes with a sheet, bumper pad, and crib skirt, and sometimes a set will include a comforter as well. DO NOT use the comforter in the crib; this item is much better used as wall decoration or as a play-time cushion. Comforters are just too heavy for use on infants, and small babies should be swaddled for sleep without any extraneous blankets in the cradle or crib with them.
  • Extra sheets. I would buy at least 2-3 extra sheets for those quick bed changes in the middle of the night (diaper leak or spit-up), but if you plan on using your crib as a toddler bed, go ahead and buy a couple more.
  • Swaddler blankets. I can't recommend this product more highly: Swaddle Designs blankets. They come in very cute colors and patterns and are the perfect size for swaddling infants. Later on, these ultra-soft light flannel blankets can be used as regular crib bedding (my son still sleeps with one every night).
  • Towels and washcloths (at least 2-3 hooded towels and at least 6-8 washcloths; depends on how often you do laundry). I received a very nice set of thick terry towels and washcloths at a baby shower, and we have used these every night of Will's life. Because you will put your baby towels and washcloths through so much wear and tear, I recommend getting a set that feels thick and durable.
  • Changing pad covers. We bought and were gifted about 7-8 changing pad covers, and you could probably get away with fewer, but I would recommend at least this many, especially if you're having a baby boy (those little showers seem to happen just when you're switching out the diaper and before you've had a chance to strategically place a washcloth to prevent them!), in which case you will go through a couple per day sometimes.
  • Extra blankets. I keep a medium-sized basket in the nursery filled with extra blankets that we use for a variety of purposes (lap blankets for on the go, play-time, cuddling while reading books, etc).


  • Breast pump and bottles (nursing). Even though I breastfed my son for the first 6 months of his life, we invested in a breast pump and bottles so that I could build up a supply so that others could feed my son while I napped or showered or just needed to take a break. My best friend recommended Medela products to me, and I was not disappointed. We purchased the Medela "Swing" pump because that particular model best suited our purposes. We also bought about 8 bottles and coordinating accessories, such as the microwavable sterilization bags.
  • Bottle warmer. Before I had my son, this item seemed wholly unnecessary to me, but after a few nights of my husband trying to soothe a very hungry, very upset baby while also trying to warm up a bottle under a stream of hot tap water, suddenly this little appliance made a world of sense. We bought the Avent model because I'd already decided to buy Avent bottles for formula when we decided to start supplementing my milk and transition Will from the breast. Anyway, we love the Avent bottle warmer because it's so handy and convenient, and even better, it's goof-proof: you won't end up feeding a too-hot or too-cool bottle to your baby.
  • Bottles for formula. Like I said above, we decided to go with the Avent bottles. I actually utilized no logic making this decision, other than I preferred the "look and feel" of them. I'm sure other bottle brands work just as well, but these have really worked well for us.
  • Formula. When we first started supplementing with formula, Will was having difficulties with acid reflux, so we bought the Enfamil formula recommended to decrease spit-up (in the red and gold can). When that issue resolved, we started using Enfamil Premium (in the yellow and gold can). We actually tried a formulation of Similac early on, but Will just refused to take that brand. Regardless of which brand you choose, this is not the area to "go cheap." We're talking about your baby's nutrition here!
  • Sterilizer. I have to admit, we're not absolute Nazis on sterilizing our bottles because we use super-hot soapy water and a bottle brush to scrub Will's bottles. But, we do use the sterilizer as often as time permits, which is probably about 75% of the time. We got an inexpensive model that uses steam in the microwave to sterilize bottles and pacifiers and what-have-you. This really comes in handy for peace of mind when you have a sick baby -- you just want to eradicate all germs from all items that go near your baby's mouth when he/she is sick!
  • Bottle brushes. I learned this one the hard way: do NOT get a model that features a wire wand between the handle and the brush because this will snap/break almost immediately. There are several brands that have a thick wand; they might be a dollar or so more, but this is a much better buy.
  • Boppy pillow (nursing). If you are planning to breastfeed, this pillow will be a lifesaver. When you're utterly sleep-deprived and up to feed the baby for the umpteenth time that night, you can't exactly trust your arms to be 100% steady and secure, and this is where you can really trust the Boppy pillow. It's a perfect fit to anyone's body and the baby lays very comfortably while he/she feeds, plus you can fit it to any height on your body so that your baby is close to the breast. My husband also likes to use the Boppy when rocking our son for long periods of time; it just really eases back and shoulder tension. (Also, don't forget to buy a couple of extra Boppy pillow covers, because if you're like me, you'll leak!)
  • Breast pads (nursing). This is a total personal preference, but I simply refuse to use disposable breast pads because they itch and just feel "plastic-y" against your skin. YUCK. I vastly prefer washable breast pads because they're cotton and just as absorbent and much more comfortable.


  • Changing pad. Usually you can nail these into the wall or the back of a piece of furniture, and I recommend doing so. If you ever have to walk away from the baby, USE the safety latch across the waist. Will started to roll one time while I was just a few steps from him, and the latch held him quite securely in place even though he was almost off the changing pad altogether!
  • Wipes warmer. This might seem to be a more "fluff" item, but I always put myself in my baby's place when considering a baby purchase. Would I want my diaper changed in the middle of the night and feel a cold wet wipe on my bottom? Or would I prefer a warm wipe? And there you have it.
  • Diaper Genie or some kind of diaper pail with a closeable lid. We like the Diaper Genie Elite but be very careful with it and follow the instructions. I accidentally broke one when I took a bag out the wrong way. In any case, unless you want every trash can in your house stinking up the place, use a diaper pail that seals off the diaper so that odors are controlled.
  • Diapers, of course. Some people have better luck with different brands, but we absolutely love Pampers and wouldn't think of using anything else (and I tried a couple other brands that I was gifted). For teeny-tiny babies, definitely use the Pampers Swaddlers. The diaper is so soft and cloud-like, it feels like spun cotton! We used the Swaddlers until Will grew out of them, and now we use just regular Pampers, although I'm sure we're coming around the bend to using the Cruisers. Two notes: 1) There's currently a trend of using cloth diapers. I have no experience with these, but one time while I was pregnant and shopping with my Mom, I showed her the aisle of the cloth diapers and asked her about it. She looked at me with surprise and said, "We HAD to use cloth diapers back in the day, who would want the inconvenience of them now that they have such great disposables?" I couldn't agree with her more. Though if you go with cloth, more power to you! 2) There's also a trend of using "environmentally friendly" diapers. Trust me on this one: Don't buy these. I was gifted a bag and opened it to check them out, and was absolutely dismayed that anyone would consider putting a sandpaper-like diaper on their precious baby's skin. If you are crazy about saving the environment, consider other ways of doing so. Don't sacrifice your baby's comfort.
  • Desitin. I vastly prefer this to Boudreaux's Butt Paste, which I think stinks to high heaven. Desitin has a bit of a medicine smell to it, but it's quite mild in comparison. Just remember when using Desitin that a little goes a very long way!
  • Baby powder. Don't go for all the neat scents, just get plain old cornstarch baby powder, which has a finer texture and covers better.
  • Hand sanitizer. I always, always, always scrub some on my hands after a poopy diaper, even if I have the opportunity to wash my hands immediately (and sometimes you won't!). You can't be too careful, in my opinion!

Bathing/Personal Care/Medical Needs

  • Infant bathtub. We were gifted a baby bath chair that we used after Will outgrew sink baths (this is the easiest way to bathe a newborn -- on top of a towel submerged in a bathroom sink; it prevents slipping and the water temperature and water level are very controllable) until he was about 3 months old, when he realized he could move around on the chair (the possibility of him slipping off scared me to pieces). We immediately went out and bought an actual baby bathtub, which has a removable riser to support the baby until he/she can sit up without assistance. Will can recline and play with toys while I wash his hair and body, and he's protected on all sides from slipping out. It even has a hook so you can hang it up on the shower curtain rod after use, so cleanup/hideaway is easy.
  • Soap/lotion. I prefer the Johnson's brand to all others, but as long as you have a gentle, dual-purpose (hair and body) wash, you should be set for bathing. I also like to use lotion on Will after his bath, even though I've heard babies don't need lotion. Oh well, it makes me feel better (again, I wouldn't skip lotion on myself) and he smells so good afterwards!
  • Infant nail clippers. I really like the Safety 1st nail clippers that came in this hygiene set. Cutting your baby's nails for the first time is really an exercise in bravery, but you will get used to it! My mom's best tip: when holding the baby's finger, pull the skin back away from the nail as much as possible to provide extra clearance for clipping.
  • Alcohol wipes or bottle of rubbing alcohol, Q-tips/cotton balls, Vaseline, and gauze pads. You will need the alcohol and Q-tips for cord care during the first week or two after baby comes home from the hospital (of course, you'll also need the Q-tips for cleaning out those little ears when wax starts appearing). You will need the Vaseline and gauze pads if you're having a baby boy and you plan on having him circumcised. A nurse will probably show you this in the hospital, but you will need to dollop a generous, quarter-sized amount of Vaseline on a gauze pad and place it in a teepee shape over the red and sore area of the penis. You will need to change the gauze pad at every diaper change until the circumcision has healed.
  • Pacifier thermometer. I think we received no less than 3 thermometers as gifts, and because I didn't know which we'd prefer, we kept them all. However, at the first sign of fever in Will, I couldn't get the ear thermometer to work well (I kept getting sketchy temperatures of 94.3 and the like) and there was no way I was going to use a thermometer in his little bottom (again, would YOU want that???). I ended up not liking/trusting any of the thermometers, so we looked at other options, and I was immediately attracted to the pacifier thermometer because my son has taken a soothie/paci with no problem from the hour of his birth. I got excellent participation from him (kept the paci in the whole time until it beeped) and I got excellent, trustworthy results. I highly recommend a pacifier thermometer!
  • Infant Tylenol. When you do get a temperature reading indicating fever, whip out your Infant Tylenol. DO NOT wait on this because temperatures in babies are fickle things and can rise (and fall) very quickly. The one thing that is frustrating about Infant Tylenol is the dosage indication on the bottle (or lack thereof); our pediatrician told us that for babies 6 months and under, use a dose of 0.6 (but you may want to ask your own pediatrician for your specific child's needs).

Furniture and Baby Gear

  • First of all, there's the obvious: crib, changing table, and dresser/closet/clothes storage. These are absolute must-haves, but you don't have to buy these pieces per se. For example, I've seen old desks used as changing tables with the drawers filled with diapers and supplies -- very cute. Instead of a closet, I use an armoire because we have limited closet storage and I really like the look of armoires filled with baby clothes. However, don't compromise on the crib. I would really hesitate to use an antique one or a crib picked up at a yard sale or inherited from Great-Grandma because there are so many safety concerns with old paint and drop-side cribs now. Again, not an area to "go cheap."
  • Crib mattress. When buying one, you will want to consider if you'll be using the crib as a toddler bed (if your crib is convertible). Because we plan on using Will's crib until he graduates to a "big-boy" bed, we opted for a more high-end mattress.
  • Cradle/portable crib/bassinet. I would have to say that this is definitely an option and not a must-have, but most people prefer to keep baby in their bedroom with them for the first few weeks at least. Knowing myself, I was convinced I would be one of these people and I was right! It was reassuring to just look over and watch his little chest rise and fall, rather than having to tiptoe into his nursery to check. Of all these options, I chose a lovely wooden cradle because of its classic look and heirloom potential. Will only slept there for the first 8 weeks, but I loved seeing him in a cradle and I can't wait to see Lucy sleeping in it, too. We also have a portable crib (ie, Pack-and-Play) with diaper changer attachment, but only used it in our last apartment to avoid running up a flight of stairs for each diaper change (we lived on 3 levels then). Now that we have a loft apartment (1 level), we never use it. However, a portable crib is a great option for a "day nursery" if you do live in a multi-storied home.
  • A baby monitor. This is definitely a must-have piece for the nursery. We have this Sony baby monitor and the only problem I have with it is that sometimes it works too well! It's very sensitive to noise and sometimes it turns on to alert us when Will changes position or moves his blanket!
  • Swing. We have this Fisher Price swing and I just love it. Will has sadly outgrown it but we could almost always rely on the swing in those early months to soothe him to sleep.
  • Bouncy seat. We had much less success with a bouncy seat for soothing purposes, although I've heard many parents swear by them. I would think you could opt for a swing OR bouncy seat, actually.
  • Exersaucer. You won't need this until your baby is about 4-5 months old, so this is not a high-priority item. However, they can be lifesavers when you need to clean the kitchen or run some laundry -- you know that your baby is safe and secure and entertained (at least for a few minutes!).
  • Highchair. Again, not a high-priority item as you won't need it for 5-6 months.
  • Bumbo seat. This is a great tool for helping your baby learn to sit upright and it's even a good piece for transitioning baby from lying down to drink a bottle to sitting upright for the first bowl of rice cereal. Not a necessity, though.


  • A travel system. We bought this Chicco Cortina travel system after a saleslady patiently showed me many, many brands and models and recommended this one the highest for its safety rating and ease of use. I have to admit, the stroller is probably my favorite baby purchase because we use it all the time and it's so easy to unfold and then re-fold and stow. We bought the KeyFit 30 (as opposed to the 22) just in case Will went higher than 22 pounds before his first birthday (when kiddos need to be in an upright, forward-facing carseat). Sure enough, this was a great decision because at 8 months, Will is already over 20 pounds. The only thing is, you really can't find the KeyFit 30 models in stores, so you'll have to order online, which is what we did. (NOTE: don't forget to buy an extra base so you can use the carseat in more than one car!)
  • A diaper bag or backpack. I learned a valuable lesson from my bestie on this one: get a bag with long, wide handles that can hang on the back of your stroller. At first, I was using a cute little diaper bag and trying to stuff it in the bottom "storage area" of the stroller where, of course, it was in the worst place possible for quick item retrieval. So I bought a backpack and we hang it on the stroller handles, where I can easily unzip it and retrieve a pacifier or baby wipe or toy when Will gets fussy.
  • Diaper bag accessories: 1) fold-up/portable plastic changing pad (you really don't want to lay your baby on those public bathroom fold-outs without having a barrier in place from icky germs!); 2) formula dispenser; 3) portable wipes case (these sometimes come free with a package of wipes!); 4) travel-size baby powder; 5) travel-size hand sanitizer; 6) stash of diapers and clean bottles (and spoons and buckets of baby food when your child reaches that age). You will find that you need other items, like favorite toys and pacifiers, but these are the basics. Also try to think of all contingencies; I usually pack a spare outfit and socks (in case of blowout), a bottle of Tylenol, and a jacket or blanket in case the weather turns.
  • A small thermos. This is also for your diaper bag. You can carry a thermos of hot water and a bottle of cold or room-temperature water and mix the waters until you have perfect bottle-temperature water with which to mix formula. Trust me, you get to be an expert at feeling for the perfect temperature of bottle water!
  • Baby Bjorn. This item is not cheap and is definitely one of those "nice to have" not "need to have" pieces. However, if you are registering for gifts, I'd absolutely scan one of these. They are great for casual strolling in the mall or even around the house (I've "worn" Will in his Baby Bjorn while working at my computer). One note: I've seen the popularity of baby slings and while they seem to be another great option, I read a frightening article here. If you do opt to use a sling, please understand how to use them properly. I would also say that Baby Bjorns are rather foolproof in this way and offer the proper support that your baby needs (so you don't have to worry about it).


  • I've found that the best toys are usually the cheapest. See, there is a silver lining to all this spending! Will vastly prefers colorful blocks and balls and snap-beads and linking rings to any kind of fussy, complex toy. Look for anything that is easily grasped by a baby's small hands. Toys with different textures are also fun; for example, Will likes anything that makes a crinkling sound. Again, this is NOT an area in which to splurge; it's just not necessary. Babies are far more easily entertained than Toys-R-Us would have you believe. A bathroom mirror and a goofy parent can provide hours of entertainment!
  • Play gym/mat. We were gifted a great playmat that Will used up until a couple months ago, when he finally got bored with lying on his back to play. The best type of playmat/gym features an arch of some kind that holds toys on fabric loops or rings, so even from the time that they're tiny, babies can "bat" at the toys and then finally grasp and hold and pull them.
  • I would be remiss if I didn't encourage books, books, books. The best books for babies are board books that they can handle and "help you" turn pages. Babies can be rough with these books and they don't show any wear and tear (again, TJ Maxx is one of the best places to buy brand-new but cheap board books). Of course, we also have some great keepsake-type anthologies; Marty's favorite to read to Will are the classic Pooh stories. And my favorite from childhood are the Little Golden books, which are also very inexpensive.
  • TV programs. Of course you don't want to saturate your baby with TV, but a show or cartoon now and then is vastly entertaining and will give you a much-needed break (I hope I don't sound like a bad parent here). My favorites in the morning are the PBS Kids series, featuring Clifford, Curious George, SuperWhy, and Dinosaur Train -- all of them fun and educational. In the afternoon, good choices on Nick Jr. include Max & Ruby, Little Bear, and Dora the Explorer (Dora actually got Will to clap for the first time!). Will really seems to enjoy some relaxing/down-time, because usually he is very much on-the-go and involved in his toys. Variety is the spice of life!!!


  • A good baby care and development/first aid reference manual. Right now my go-to book is Dr. Miriam Stoppard's Complete Baby and Childcare. It features great pictures and illustrations. However, it isn't as comprehensive as I'd like it to be, so I'm on the lookout for a better book of this type (and open to suggestions!).
  • An excellent pediatrician. Don't settle for just anyone. You have every right to shop around until you find a pediatrician with whom you have a good rapport and you feel you can trust partnering with in making your baby's medical decisions.
  • An excellent nanny/babysitter. Again, another area where you should feel free to be as picky as you like. Hopefully you won't need too much "outside" help and can rely on family and friends for the vast majority of your childcare help, but if you're in our position (we live far from all family and friends), you'll need to seek that outside help. A friend recommended that we use SitterCity.com, and we had great success using this site because we found Jessie, our fabulous nanny. The good candidates on this site will have completed their background checks and will offer several contacts as references. Jessie's profile was comprehensive and complete with pictures of her babysitting other kids, who obviously adored her. THIS is what you're looking for in a nanny/babysitter. You can trust the judgment of children when it comes to a nanny!
  • A good camera/camcorder. We decided to invest in good quality pieces because we feel a great responsibility to capture memories for our children.

Whew! That post took on a life of its own! I kept thinking how I wished I had a list like this before I had my first baby, and I so want someone to be able to benefit from what I've learned along the way. I know other things work for other people, and I welcome any and all moms to contribute to this list via the comments feature (please?). Also, I'm still learning baby care, day by day. It's a never-ending process, but the learning helps you grow more and more confidence as a mom, so always trust your instincts first and foremost and take or leave advice as you see fit. That's the best tip I can give!

One final note: I realize this list might seem very overwhelming. I hope I've pointed out items that you can get by without, and items that you don't need to buy right away. Marty and I would have been bankrupt if we'd tried to tackle this list all at once. This is exactly why God gives you 9 months! Take your time and pace yourself and stock up as you can. Be grateful for every shower gift because these generous offerings from friends and family really do lighten the financial load. Save up for the big-tag items and buy boxes of diapers when you can squeeze it into your grocery budget.

Happy mothering!!!

Halfway Day

Twenty weeks down, twenty weeks to go!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Anatomy of a baby's first haircut

It's tradition in my family that little ones don't get their first haircuts until their first birthdays, but we had to break with tradition in Will's case. He was born with so much hair, and even after the normal balding phase around 3-4 months, he kept most of it and then grew even more hair. It was getting quite long and he was looking rather wild, so when my parents were down for a visit a couple weekends ago, Nana gave Puppy his first haircut!

"Uh, did I do something wrong?"

"Mommy, what's Nana doing back there?"

"I don't think I like the sound of those scissors!"

"As long as you're at it, Nana, I'm a bit shaggy on the left side..."

Almost done!

Assisting Nana by holding the comb

"I know it. I'm a stud."


Lucy-Anne Elizabeth

I'm ecstatic to be able to write a post about my little girl, Lucy-Anne Elizabeth, whom we will call "Lucy" in almost all circumstances, unless she's getting a diploma or getting into trouble. :)

Lucy's name comes from a few sources and it was difficult making the final decision because we had several iterations of the name that we liked. But here's the ultimate breakdown:

Lucy...comes from her paternal great-grandmother, Lucille
Anne...comes from her paternal grandmother, Anna
Elizabeth...comes from Mommy's hero from history, Queen Elizabeth I
And the hyphen? That was definitely inspired by my bestie Kate, whose name is Anne-Kathryn

Isn't she sweet and darling in her picture? I already see signs of the button nose Daddy had as a baby -- the same nose her big brother sported at this stage and was born with! We don't have any other really share-able pictures from the 18.5-week ultrasound because Miss Lucy was in the vertex position and proved to be a challenge to see (and photograph). So, Lucy and I are going back to the doctor's in mid-April to follow-up and finish the routine anatomy scan. Hopefully I will have better, clearer images to share then!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nursery furniture

So I've been logging ridiculous numbers of hours on the Internet (mostly post-midnight when my menfolk are asleep) looking for little-girl nursery furniture that won't cost me my firstborn. And I'm here to say that it's HARD!

I've always wanted a white crib for a baby girl, and I want it to be feminine (since we'll probably hang on to Will's crib in case we're joined by another little man -- ahem, YEARS from now). And of course, one that doesn't cost a jillion dollars (hello Pottery Barn, you're pretty and all, but could you get real? The economy isn't doing so swell). AND, in the aftermath of the crib recall scare of 2009, I will only look at non-drop-side cribs. So, I finally found one that met all the above criteria:Isn't she a beaut? Just imagining this crib with the Shabby Chic bedding gives me little goosebumps of anticipation.

Next up was an armoire. Will's nursery set came with one, and I removed a shelf and hung a tension rod in it to have all his sweet little clothes hanging at the ready (instead of using a closet, because we're pretty short on those in the loft). So I had my heart set on getting one for our daughter. And oh my gosh, just google "nursery armoires" and see if you don't have a stroke looking at the prices. I saw a lovely white one with some scrolled woodwork that cost, I'm not kidding, $1700. WHAT??? So I got a bit clever and just googled "armoires" and found some at JCPenney meant for bathroom storage that are only $160! I guess if you have an armoire and label it for nursery use, this means you can make a big fat profit? But if it's just for towels, you're forced to sell it for a reasonable price? How silly. In any case, I found this one that will be just perfect:

Nope, the nursery isn't going to be all matchy-matchy, but then, I think that's frowned upon when adhering to true "shabby chic" style. :) Who cares, I love it! Marty has given his official nod of approval, so we're going to order it the next week we have room in the budget. Have I mentioned how excited I am???

Friday, March 12, 2010

My palms are sweaty, I'm so excited

...not just to write my first post on this blog, but to celebrate the coming arrival of my long-dreamed-for little girl! Don't get me wrong, I'm gobsmacked-crazy about my son, and never expected to enjoy a little boy so much. He is heaven-sent and I adore him to bits and pieces. But since I was a young thing in pigtails, I've always dreamed of having a little girl to love (and yes, play with!!!).

I've looked at so much crib bedding, my eyes hurt. And I have rejected 99% of it out of hand. I'm sorry, I'm just not into bright raspberry and lime colors and themey-theme nurseries for little girls (but for some reason, I love fun themes for little boys, explain that one!). I've had in mind what I wanted, something shabby-chic-ish, a la Rachel Ashwell. So, duh, I finally googled Rachel Ashwell baby bedding and found IT, the ONE. Here she is!I just love the classic look and the soft colors and feminine prints. I want to paint the walls in the future nursery (after we move out of the loft) a pale, pale pink, and I want to continue buying Shabby Chic bedding as my daughter grows, until such time as she's old enough to declare her interest in zebra prints or something (God forbid).

Oh, I'm so excited, I have to wipe my palms on my pajama pants now!!!