Journey Into Cloth Diapers

ffg

I have no idea why I didn’t do cloth diapers from the start. I knew all about them too. I knew they saved you money in the long run. I knew they were better for your baby’s skin. I knew they were easier on the environment. I knew they worked very well. I even knew plenty of people who used them and where to buy them. But for some reason, I just didn’t do it! No good explanation. I planned on doing many other “crunchy” mom things from the start, but somehow I missed this one. Oh well, at least now at a one-year old we are giving it a try!

I also have no good reason as to why we switched. Disposables were working fine, and we had money for them each month. He had a minor rashes develop, but nothing too bad. Just one day I thought, “Hmmm, I want some cloth diapers!” So I asked my husband, he said that’s fine, go for it.

I started by asking friends, they told me what they liked and made good suggestions. Then I found this and this awesome links on Pinterest. And the ever-so amazing All About Cloth Diapers blew my mind as well. After reading those, I had an idea of what I wanted. I decided to try All-In-Twos (AI2) and All-In-Ones (AIO). Mainly because they are the closest the disposable diapers and not too complicated to start out.

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Clip in or stuff liner, and go. And you can just change the liner and reuse the cover too.

I ordered 12 Alva Baby AI2, since so many people recommended that brand. The covers are nice, and some of the patterns are very cute. But the basic microfiber liners they come with didn’t cut it. Jack peed straight through it in 5 minutes and soaked everything around him.

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Microfiber clipped in with a bamboo liner on top.

So I doubled up on the liners and it was better, but only lasted an hour before soaking again. I don’t have time to change my baby every hour, so I looked into a doubler liner. I settled on charcoal bamboo liners from Amazon Prime. They work great! No leaks now at all. They are easy to wash and come out very clean. They are bit bulky with both liners in, but who doesn’t love a bubble butt? Alva Baby diapers are good diapers for a good price.

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Villa Babies AIO, no need for stuffing.

Then I came across an ad suggestion on Facebook for Villa Babies. Normally, I hate ad suggestions—like how they use your browser history to target things at you. I clicked it anyways, because I was bored and looking to get more diapers. The cute patterns got me right away! Bicycles, aliens, and apples-oh my goodness, so cute! Then I saw the organic ones, what I was hoping to get all along.  I decided on AIOs and ordered a bundle deal of 12 plus a diaper pail liner. I didn’t realized that these diapers are handmade to order on a sewing machine by one momma, so I was kinda annoyed at first it took so long for a confirmation. But once Kellie emailed me back and I realized how small the company was, I understood. It also took awhile for them to arrive, but once they did, it was well worth it! They are sewn very well and the patterns are beyond cute!

This diaper contained the worst poop ever and his butt was still cute!
This diaper contained the worst poop ever and his butt was still cute!

The first day came the ultimate test, Jack had an upset tummy and had a major blow-out-potential diaper. But it was all perfectly contained! I washed it 3 days later and no stains. I am very impressed with Villa Babies. My only critiques are they can leak if you leave them for more than 3 hours (which is like almost any cloth diaper). And the tabs on the sides can droop down a little bit if you don’t get the snaps just right, but it’s not that big of a deal. These are wonderful, quality diapers. They a bit more expensive, but they are worth it to me. I’m thinking of ordering a few more soon!

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His night time diapers, LLB with hemp liners.

I used these during the day and disposables at night for a month. Jack co-sleeps in a brand new king-sized bed with us. I wanted to make sure we had no leaks before I was willing to switch to cloth at night too. All three of us would not be amused to wake up soaked in pee! Once I was sure cloth was for us, I decided to order a few more diapers and liners just for nights. Everyone kept telling me about the ease of pocket diapers and how absorbent hemp is. So I ordered 6 LLB (they are made Alva Baby but a little different) pockets and 6 hemp liners off of Amazon Prime.

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Microfiber and hemp liners stuffed in the pocket.

I put them on the night they came (doubled the microfiber liners they come with a hemp liner) and it worked great! No night leaks so far at all! This is an improvement from disposables, he had a leak at least one a week.

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First night in clothes, fit great under his pj’s and no leaks.

The LLB covers are great, the pocket is so easy to stuff. My only complaint is that the hemp liners work so well they take awhile to dry after washing. But I guess I would rather that then not work well.

Overall, I am super happy with the switch. It’s one of those “why didn’t I do this from the start!” parenting moments. We have 30 diapers in our stash and it’s a good number for us right now. He goes through about 6-8 diapers, so I wash everything about every 3 days. I wash them separately with free and clear detergent, and either hang dry or dryer. Then I stuffed with the liners (which only takes like 20 minutes) so they are ready to use. Nothing fancy or complicated, and they can be used again for another baby.

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Put the pail liner we got from Villa Babies in a hamper we already had. Easy and no smell.

And to answer the question you are all probably wondering: No, cleaning the poopy diapers is not that gross. I just shake or wipe it into the toilet and flush. Then put in in the diaper pail (which does not stink either with a proper liner in it) and wash it later.  You see the poop anyways when you take the diaper off, what’s another 10 seconds?

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Plus, how cute is that big fluffy butt?

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Vegan Parenting

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I am a vegan.  I am a parent. Does that make me a vegan parent? It sure does! Hence the name of this blog.

Jack does not exclusively eat a vegan diet. This was a compromise between my husband and I (see here). But since I am his primary caregiver, he eats a lot of vegan meals with me. One of his favorite meals is my Dhal and Aloo Mattar. But veganism is a complete lifestyle, going vegan chances many aspects of your life besides just diet. So, the other day this lead me to think about just what does being a vegan parent mean? How does veganism affect they way I raise my son?

"Why do you keep telling me eggs from chickens?"
“Why do you keep telling me eggs from chickens?”

Before Jack was born, Michael and I discussed the major parenting choices like punishments and sex education. This lead me to think about what kind of parents we would be, so I looked up parenting styles.Oh boy, there are a lot! And there are some very strong opinions out there (the whole Tiger Mom controversy). I was overwhelmed and kind of turn off by the whole idea of defining the care of my child in such blunt terms.

So I asked myself what values that my husband and I both share do I want him to learn? After some soul searching, I came to that we want to teach him compassion, understanding, and patience. I also want encourage our love of science, nature, and education. Then I realized I kind of gave a broad definition of what vegans stand for overall. Compassion towards all living things! And to understand such ideas, you need to know science and nature—which is done through education.
After searching the web and reading a bunch of articles, I found this one from She  Knows Parenting the easiest to follow with great definitions. The article lists 5 main styles:

  • Instinctive: Based on the way you were bought up, following your parents’ example. Trusting your instincts that you know what is right for your child.
  • Attachment: Focused on creating a deep emotional  bond and encouraging them to express their feelings. Some see it as a holistic parenting approach.
  • Helicopter: Being deeply involved in every aspect of the child’s life. Overseeing and sometimes controlling their actions and experiences. Know to shielding and prevent all obstacles from ever even reaching their child.
  • Authoritative: Clear and direct rules and expectations. And if they are not obeyed, direct consequences will be enforced. However, the rules are usually fair and are in place to protect the child’s development. Are nurturing when need.
  • Permissive: Letting the child be who they are with little rules and expectations. Very open, non-confrontational, and nurturing. Based on the idea that children do not have the mental capacity to understand maturity and responsibility.

But without a baby, we had no idea what kind of parents we would be. Like I said, I was not going to pigeonhole myself, so I read read over those options with skepticism. Nothing clicked. Instrictive kind of sound nice, we both had nice childhoods, maybe just did what our parents did? Overall those were all just words and abstract idea. We needed a baby in front of us and to figure out what worked for us.

Once Jack arrived, I slowly fell more and more into attachment parenting without even realizing it. I just did what made sense for our family. I decided to exclusively breastfeeding for the health benefits and to save money. Then I bought a baby carrier (and later many more), since Jack wanted to be held all the time and I want free hands on occassion.This lead to me attending (and later becoming a member) of both La Leche League and Babywearing International meetings. Extended breastfeeding and babywearing are two huge aspects of attachment parenting, so these groups naturally led towards other attachment ideas. Now we embrace co-sleeping, baby-led weaning, gentle discipline. And last week we started on cloth diapers. So here I am one year in, an attachment parent by accident. Michael is on board with all of it too. He sees how happy and healthy Jack is, so he has no complaints

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Attached daddy wearing his son for a daytrip to Napa, melts my heart!. 

What does attachment parenting have to do with veganism? Well, it stresses compassion and understanding of your child. Hopefully one day he will spread this idea of ever-encompassing love towards every living thing on the planet.

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Jack LOVES animals so far. Especially our cats. This was the first time he pulled himself up, to pet Zoey!

I am trying very hard to explain veganism to him a simple and non-invasive way right now. Right now the greatest thing I can do is treat him animal compassion. I show him every animal we come across and explain why it matters to the planet. For example, “See the duck on the pond, Jack? It says quack quack. Ducky eats the plants and algae in the water to help keep the pond healthy. See her little ducklings following her? She takes care of them like I care for you.” That way the duck is something is way more than a restaurant menu item to him. I want him to understand why that duck and all over ducks matter.

"Yeah yeah, the dhal is made  from lentils that come from plants...thanks mom..."
“Yeah yeah, the dhal is made from lentils that come from plants…thanks mom…”

Then there is the dietary stuff as well. When he eats lentils, I tell him those came from a plant. When he eats cheese, I tell him that is made from a mama cow’s milk, like the milk you get from mommy. When he eats meat, I tell him that is from the body of an animal.

This is exclusive to being vegan or attachment parenting? No, you can meat-loving attached parent or a vegan tiger mom. Nothing wrong with either one! But overall, attachment parents and veganism share a lot of the same ideals.

Overtime I will explain more and more why I do not eat animals and why daddy does. I will never force him to be vegan, it will be his choice. I hope one day he does decide to go vegan. But overall I hope he always leads a life full of compassion and always seeks out knowledge, the true vegan spirit.

The End of Sleep Regression

A month ago I posted about how we were dealing with the evil four-month sleep regression. At the time we were right at the peak of it. The night after I posted that was Jack’s worst by far. It took over an hour to get him to close his eyes. He just kept screaming and making himself more overtired. Then once I finally thought he was asleep and set him down, he woke right back up. Another 45 minutes of frantic nursing and crying, he finally passed out and stayed asleep when I set him down. Then he woke-up every hour for the rest of the night. At 4 AM I went out the living room and cried out of exhaustion. And of course, once I got myself together and went back to the bedroom,  Jack woke right back up! At that point I put him in bed with us, but it didn’t help. He still woke up every hour until 8 AM when he decided to be up for good. I wanted to die. And naps weren’t any better that day. He screamed and nursed frantically. And when he did finally go to sleep, I couldn’t set him down and he only slept for 15 minutes in my arms. And he did this every 2 hours. I called out sick from work that day because I couldn’t function properly.

“It’s 10 PM? You want to go to sleep? That’s nice. I’m WIDE awake!”

After that night, it slowly got better. And I mean slowly. Like another month slowly. That’s right, it took a whole 56 days for Jack to sleep through the night again. What’s weird is everything went back to normal in reverse order, like he magically hit the rewind button. First, he started to go down easily for naps. Then his naps went back to the normal 30-90 minutes. Next, he started waking only every 2 hours at night. Then 3 hours. Suddenly he went to sleep easily at night. Lastly, he went back to his normal 5-6 hour stretch, followed by two more 3 hours stretches. It’s just like all the books said, he did go back to normal once he learned how to handle the adult sleep cycles. Last night I officially declared the regression over. I got 8 hours of sleep total and it felt amazing!

So what is my advice to any parent struggling through this hell? Do nothing. Seriously. Just keep your baby’s normal routine (being flexible as needed) and understand that neither you nor your baby can control this. If it worked before, it will work again once your child brain develops enough. I know you were probably wanting to hear that I did some magic sleep training program to get him back on track quickly. But I don’t believe in sleep training, I honestly think it’s mean. Why would you force your baby into something that they are not designed to do yet?  I think the time and energy you waste on forcing strict training on your child should be used to comfort and encourage them during such big mental leaps instead.

That being said, there are a few things you can do to help your child master the skill of sleeping better (note I said better, not prefect).

  • Have a bedtime routine. That way they begin to recognize a pattern of events that lead up to sleep. We do bath, lotion massage, pajamas while calmly talking/singing, nurse on the couch with all the lights out until he’s asleep. He’s learned this pattern now too, he starts giving me the milk face while I put his pajamas on.
  • Put them to sleep in a dark, calm room. Turn off the lights (we leave a night light on so I can see him when he fusses). Make sure there is no loud noises that could startle them (loud neighbors outside,  noisy dishwasher, & etc.). Keep the room at a decent cool temperature. Use a white noise machine if you like too (we use a box fan). Pretty much remove all outside stimulation that could keep your baby awake if they do happen to open there eyes for second.
  • Lay them down drowsy. This encourages them to put themselves to back to sleep when they wake-up at night. I know I said I nurse him to sleep, but the walk to the bedroom usually wakes him a little. He wiggles and opens his eyes a bit as I set him down. I usually step out out of his view and watch to make sure he goes to sleep. Ninety-nine percent of the time he does instantly.
  • Learn the difference between real and fake cries. When Jack was in the middle of his sleep regression, I notice sometimes when I picked him up when he cried, he would forcefully open his eyes and start screaming. Then he would throw a tantrum and it would take an hour to put him back to sleep. After a week of this, I research it and realized he was not actually awake when he cried. Babies—especially when in a sleep regression–cry in their sleep if they are dreaming or in between sleep cycles. I picked him up too soon. I would scream too if someone woke me up from a sound sleep! So one night when he cried I sat-up and watch him for a second. He kept his eyes closed and his hands stayed soft. He cried for maybe 2 minutes tops, but it wasn’t loud, more like a fuss. Then he went right back to sleep and slept 3 more hours. Later he cried again, but this time his eyes were open and he reached out for me. Then I picked him up, nursed him, and he went back to sleep in 5 minutes. If they are really crying, always comfort them. I do not believe in letting them cry-it-out. A baby under 6 months does not have the mental capacity to manipulate you, they only cry when they need something. And yes, attention and reassurance at this age are basic needs.
  • Don’t change your comforting methods. If you start something new during this time, they will get used to it and want you to keep doing it after the regression is over. For example, if you never sat on yoga ball and bounced them back to sleep before, don’t start doing it “just for now” to get them to sleep quicker. It will become a new crutch that you will always have to do at 3 AM.. Do you really want to bounce on a yoga ball at that ungodly hour for the next year? Didn’t think so. I kept on picking Jack up and nursing him back to sleep. If he was really fussy, I patted him bottom and shushed. If he really wasn’t having it, Michael would turn on his calming music and I would gently rock him. But these were the things I had done since birth. The only difference was I had to do them for longer. Now that he is back to normal, I went back to doing them normally too. No crazy sleep crutches at 3 AM.
  • Walk away if you reach the breaking point. It’s okay if you get too stressed out from lack of sleep, you don’t have to be prefect. One night I went to bed right when Jack did because I was exhausted, and of course he woke up as soon as my head hit the pillow. I tried for an hour to put him back to sleep but he was WIDE awake. I carried him to the living room crying and told Michael he had to take him. I went to sleep for three hours while Michael tried in vain to get him back down. I woke up at midnight and nursed him back to sleep. He still woke up every hour after that, but with a little sleep I gained some composure and prescriptive. Remember they are not torturing you, they are just learning a new skill and need your help mastering it.
Woke-up with his cute face after 9 hours of sleep.
It does get better, just be patience.

Just be patience. Seriously, this will not last forever. One day your baby will be leaving for college and all you will have are the memories of rocking them back to sleep at 3 AM.  Don’t over stress and make those long nights more painful than they need to be. Keep loving your baby and help them through this phase.

The Thing I Said I Would Never Do: Co-sleeping

I’ve mentioned before on here how I was trying to avoid co-sleeping—sharing a bed with the baby. I know that humans have done it for centuries and that many cultures around the world still do. My parents and my in-laws did it too. I even read about how to do it safely. But it really did not sound like it was for me. I am very particular about my sleep because I struggled with insomnia in the past. Plus, it just seemed so weird. I wanted to share my bed with my husband, not our child. I brought it up to Michael and he said he will do whatever makes me happy. So agreed Jack would sleep in his own bed every night.

Clockwise: On the monitor in his crib, on the monitor in
the bassinet, in his pack n play, and in his swing.

We bought Jack a lovely crib and fixed up the bassinet Michael used as baby. We also bought a Pack n Play for when we visit family and friends. And we got a swing second-hand from a friend. Jack had plenty of places to sleep, no need to even give co-sleeping a second thought. When Jack was born, he was pretty willing to sleep anywhere.

At the hospital, he was so tired it was like talking to a zombie.

We started putting him in his crib at first, but getting up 10 times a night got old fast. What we didn’t consider is that babies wake-up every 2-3 hours to nurse at night. And sometimes, even every 45 minutes. And we didn’t realize how exhausted we would be from the whole birth experience. Do you know how much it sucks to get up every hour when you are still sore from pushing a baby out? Do you know your husband will be a zombie from not being able to sleep much at the hospital? That went on for about a week before we decided to try something else.

Then we tired putting him in the crib for the first part of the night when he slept the longest, then after I nursed him sitting up in put bed and I put him in the bassinet next to me. So when he woke up again, all I had to do was reach over and pick him. It was so much easier, but we still weren’t getting enough good sleep some nights.

One day three weeks postpartum, I woke up very very sore. It hurt to sit up to nurse him. My mom mentioned to me that she loved nursing laying down because she could rest. So I laid him next to me on the couch and nursed him. He fell right asleep and stayed asleep next to me while I watched TV for 3 hours. It was great!

“I look like I’m sound asleep, but put me down and I will SCREAM!”

The next Monday Michael had to go back to work, meaning it was Jack and I alone for the first time. I was still tired and sore, so of course Jack decided he only wanted to sleep in my arms. I thought maybe I could just lay down with him in the twin bed in the nursery for a bit? So we tried and both went asleep easily. Two hours later we woke up very happy.

Right before he woke up from our first long nap together, so cute.

I talked to my mom about it and said explained again that it really was the only way she got any sleep in the beginning. But I was so worried about SIDS or him suffocating. She said that yes, tragic accidents do happen but she did it with me—and I am still alive. The next day I decided to try again with his afternoon nap, but this time in our queen-sized bed.The next thing I knew Michael was walking in the door and we had been asleep for 4 hours! Jack had even latch himself on my breast in his sleep. I remember pulling him in closer instinctively, then going back to sleep.

So I thought about it some more and realized maybe I had demonized co-sleeping for no reason. The concerns I had before mostly vanished. Once I got over the initial worry,  I actually slept great. And I didn’t need to get up every hour because Jack was right there. He would either fuss and I pulled him to my breast, or he would just latch himself on. Then he went right back to sleep. And he could stay latched as long as he needed and I could go back to sleep. And I naturally adjusted to having him in the bed and didn’t mind sleeping on my side.

I talked to Michael about it and he said he was willing to try whatever we needed to get some more sleep. But he was concerned about somethings. So we did more research and we came to an agreement. We would not co-sleep the first part of the night because we did want Jack to learn how to sleep on his own. And we agreed we would not co-sleep every night. And we would follow the rules every time he did sleep with us.

We didn’t  try sleeping together as a family until a week later. Jack got his 2 months shots and just conked out after. Michael and I were tired too, so we decided to try a family nap. We took all the heavy blankets off the bed. Michael and I only had a light sheet tucked-in around our waists. I laid down with Jack, then Michael got in. Soon we were all fast asleep. Three hour later we all woke up very happy.

They were so cute, I just had to take a picture.

Co-sleeping on occasion is a great choice for our family. Now we only put Jack in bed with us if he’s fussy and it’s still too early to get up for the day, like around 5 or 6 AM. And he and I take naps together a few times a week too. Not only is it so much easier, but it’s so beautiful. When I open my eyes to see my boys laying in the same position with the same happy looks on their faces, my heart melts. And Michael loves coming home to see us snuggled up together. Looking back at my own childhood, I think about those Sunday morning where my brother and I jumped into bed with my parents for snuggles and I can’t believe I ever denied co-sleeping.

All that being said, before you dive into co-sleeping, please do some research and make sure it is right for your family. Sharing your bed with your baby isn’t for everyone, so please discuss it thoroughly with your partner and take all factors into consideration first. The information I got from my local La Leche League was the most helpful. Please scour the internet, there is tons of info.

Resources on co-sleeping:
Sleep-Sharing: The Family Bed, Baby Center
Pros & Cons of Co-Sleeping, What To Expect
Sharing Sleep With Babies: The Benefits of Nighttime Slumbers, La Leche League
SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths, American Academy of Pediatrics
Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing, Kellymom
Safe Co-Sleeping Habits, Ask Dr. Sears

Dealing With Sleep Regression

It happened so suddenly and quickly snowballed. From about 3 weeks-old, Jack had slept through the night. Maybe twice a week waking at 4 AM to nurse, but usually sleeping right till 7 or 8 AM. And he would take three 2-3 hour naps each day too. I did very very light “sleep training”, if you ever want to call it that, but he was just naturally a good sleeper. It was a dream come true! Then one night it all vanished.

It all started three weeks ago. The first few days he just woke up one extra time a night to nurse. Then in a few days it went to twice. Then before I knew it he was waking up every two hours. Then nap time went out the window, only 30 minutes at a time. Then he became insanely fussy at bedtime and it would take over an hour to get him asleep. Needles to say I am exhausted and frustrated. Did I mention that I started back at work this week too? Such fun.
This is the last good night of sleep we got three weeks ago.
He woke up at 7 AM and we put him in bed with us until 9:30!
Jack is in what is known as the four month sleep regression. It can happen anytime around 3-5 months though. I knew it could happen and I did some research on it. But let me tell you, I didn’t think it would get this bad. He didn’t even act like when he was a newborn! It sucks, really really sucks. However, because I did my research I know it should not last forever.
Now he only wants to sleep in my arms during the day.
don’t mind short term, but it would be nice to clean my house…
So what is the evil sleep regression? Essentially Jack is learning how to sleep like an adult. Before this he slept like he did in the womb, one basic sleep cycle. He didn’t need to recharge any of his major systems because he wasn’t really using them. Now that he is bigger and doing bigger things, he needs to have deep REM and non-REM cycles like adults. But unlike adults, he has not learned how to sleep through these cycles yet so he wakes every 45-90 minutes. Also during this time Jack is undergoing a major growth spurt and a mental leap. That’s a lot of stuff for a little guy to go through, no wonder he’s having a hard time sleeping and wants more milk! However, once it’s over, he should return to normal. I can’t wait for that day.
But for your amusement and because I was bored when afternoon while he slept in my arms…
 
 Four Stages of Grief For Sleep Regression:
Stage 1.) You deny it’s happening. He’s just having a bad night…for the past 2 weeks. He’ll be fine tomorrow night. He will take a good nap this afternoon too.This isn’t sleep regression, it’s just a growth spurt!

Stage 2.) You get angry and blame everyone. Your husband has the TV too loud so you ban him from it. The neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking so you yell out the window for it to shut up. The house is too hot so you call the AC repairman demanding he come out today. The room is too bright, the sun must be imploded! You think you are a bad mother and just cry. 

Stage 3.) You plead with your LO. You will give him anything or do anything if he just goes to sleep. You want to co-sleep, will that make you happy? How about a new sleep sack, we can get one with owls on it! More milk before bed? You want a puppy? A Porche on your 16th birthday? You want me to stand on my head? Daddy will sing all night long for you, please just sleep! 

Stage 4.) After some research, talks with your mom, consulting the online forums and calls to you doctor, you finally accept it. Your sweet little angel is in the middle his first sleep regression. You hope it will be over soon and you just pray you keep your sanity till then.

Why I Am Happy I Didn’t Give Up Breastfeeding

Eleven weeks ago, I couldn’t imagine that I would ever say this phrase: I love breastfeeding. I really do! But it was not an easy road to get here. It hurt so bad for the first three week. Jack latch wrong and severely cracked/bruised my nipples. I was beyond exhausted and was so overwhelmed that Jack asked to nurse every hour. I also didn’t understand why Jack wanted to nurse so often so I was afraid I had a supply issues. All this made me consider giving up. But I educated myself and realized I was doing everything right. Check out my previous post on this for the full story.

But I am so glad that I pushed through and did not give up. This is seriously one of the best experiences of my life. Look at this picture and tell me it is not beautiful?

Just nursing Jack on the shores of Lake Tahoe, no big deal at all.

The first reason I am glad I did not give up is the most obvious: I know I am doing the best thing for my son. Did you know that the milk I am making now is designed just for Jack (La Leche League meeting)? I think that is really cool! It is literally the best possible thing I can feed him right now. It is giving him the correct nutrition he needs and the composition of it will change to meet his needs as he gets older. He also gets all my antibodies to help his immune system and nervous system develop. And not to mention he gets my love and affection. The look he gives me when he latches on is the definition of unconditional love.

The milk face. He gets so happy
when he realizes he’s getting fed.

Second reason, it empowered me as a women. Not only did my body make a baby, it is feeding that baby. That is freaking amazing! I am doing something that no man can ever do, a unique privilege reserved for women. It’s creating a bond with my son that only I, as his mother, can provide. I feel like I understand the female body now, and it’s beautiful. I accept all the flaws of my body because I know what it is capable of doing. And  the willpower of a women is the strongest thing in the world. It took such great mental strength to overcome all the initial challenges of breastfeeding. I admit that most men have more brute strength, but I argue that women have a greater overall strength now.

Still look pretty good in my bikini,
not as great as before but I embrace it.

Third, it has made me fearless. At first I hid when I nursed my son. I would always be covered, go to another room, or just bring a bottle of expressed milk. That got old pretty quick. Nursing covers are difficult to put on while holding a hungry baby. And Jack likes to wiggle when he nurses so they don’t always stay on well. And it embarrassing walking around looking for a private place to nurse with your baby screaming their head off. It actually draws more attention and stresses you out more. So one day I decided I was over it. I am not doing anything vulgar so I had no reason to hide. So I started nursing openly in public. No one can tell me stop or cover-up. I am polite and don’t flash my boobs around by any means. I just find a nice place to sit, calm start nursing him, and sit there quietly. I’ve gotten a few dirty looks but it’s their problem, not mine. I am totally within my rights and not breaking any laws. I am fearless mother.

It took 5 minute to get him situated
under the cover. Not worth it.

And so far I received overwhelmingly positive response. A man and his toddler walking by one today told me to not worry about covering up because his wife went through the same thing. An old lady told me I was giving my son the best gift possible. Even at a loved one’s memorial service when I stepped outside to nurse him, someone gave me a shout out of encouragement.

I also need to give a big thank you to La Leche League.I started attending meetings last month and it inspired me to keep nursing. It was refreshing to hear that the other moms have gone/ are going through the same problems. And it’s so empowering to see women nursing for over a year. With the knowledge I’ve gained from the meetings, I am now determined to nurse him for a year minimum. Then I will decide between pumping or continue to nurse for another year. It will just depend on what’s going on in my life then, but either way Jack will get two years of my milk.

Life Without A Travel System

While I was pregnant, I did a post about Why I Don’t Want A Big Stroller. In a nutshell, I think they are annoying, rude to take out in crowded places, and I wanted to hold my baby. So how did it work out now that I have my baby? Did I call my mom crying over how stupid I was for not getting a travel system?

No, we still do not have one big travel system. And have no plans on getting one. We did receive a jogging stroller from Michael’s friends as a shower gift. We do use it, but it is not our main choice to take Jack out in public. I still think it’s rude to the big stroller out in most public places. They get in the way and take up so much room. We use it mainly for walks around the neighborhood and to non-crowded parks. It reclines pretty far back so he went in it for the first time at two weeks old. But he doesn’t like it that much. He will stay in it for about an hour then screams to held.

Shortly after I took this he woke up screaming, he’s not a big fan.

We also have a detachable car seat carrier we received secondhand. We put it in Michael’s car (the car we use the least) so both cars have a seat just in case. We do carry him around in it sometimes. But I want to add he doesn’t stay in there that long. It’s not like we are staying out to midnight. We go out for a couple hours and are back before his bedtime. It does not connect into our stroller, so it’s not convenient to carry him around in it. But it’s nice because he will sleep in it and we can give him a bottle easily if he’s hungry. It honestly saves my sanity at the grocery store. My hands are free and the movement of the cart usually lulls him to sleep.

He wasn’t too sure about that basil…

I need to stress it is not recommend to use a secondhand car seat, a new one is always preferred. However, if you are going with a used one, there are a few rules. First of all, make sure it is not passed it’s expiration date (ours has a year left so after Jack out grows it we will throw it away). Make sure you know the person giving it to you (ours came from a nice family who our friend nannies for). Only accept it if you know for sure it has not been in an accident (ours has not). And lastly sanitize the fabric but do not wash it. Car seat fabric had a fire retardant on it that can be washed off.

The main form of transportation for Jack is babywearing. He loves being worn! It is a sure fire way to calm him and get him to sleep when he is fussy. We still have the Infantino Swift Carrier I mentioned in my other post. Michael uses that one on occasion. I used when he was first born. It’s nice but, I wanted something more snuggly so I ordered a Boba Wrap. I fell in love with babywearing the first time I put Jack in it. He’s all snuggled and secure, but my hands are free!

Sleeping while we went out to lunch

But the Boba gets hot, so after some research and a meeting with the local BabyWearing International group, I also ordered a woven wrap. Jack loves this wrap too. We stay cooler because it’s made of cotton. I use this wrap almost everyday for walks now. I think Jack likes this one a bit more because he can sit a bit more upright and look around more. Though he sleep in either one like a champ. Both were great investments, absolutely worth the money.

Checking out the neighborhood on our walk.

So how is life without a big travel system? Great! I am not that rude mother knocking people over with her oversize stroller in a crowd. Nor am that friend who shows up for a late dinner and plops the car seat on the table. Nor am I the parent who never holds their child and leaves them in the car seat all day. I will confess one thing though—it would be easier to have a travel system for when Jack falls asleep in the car and I don’t want to wake him when I pick him up to put in the wrap. But overall, it’s not that big if a deal since he loves sleeping in his wrap.

Life With A Two-Month Old

It’s been two months already? Seriously? I’ve used up 2/3 of my maternity leave! I feel like they placed a newborn on my chest in the delivery room just yesterday!

A lot has changed in two months. Jack has gone from my tiny little newborn who barely opened his eyes to a chubby little baby who is bright and alert. I went from a girl who was terrified to nurse to a mom who can walk around the house with her baby latched on to her boob. Eight weeks ago I was so overwhelmed I never dreamed that would happen for either of us. But I am so glad it did! He’s almost 13 pounds now and I am only 5 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight too!

1 week old vs. 8 weeks old.

So what is life like with my two-month old baby? Great! He plays and laughs now  I love watching him learn new things everyday. He smiled for the first time around 3 weeks and he’s doing it more each day. He even laughs now! We do have bad days still. The days where he just screams and cries no matter what I try. Those days I just comfort him the best I can and tell myself it will pass (despite how much it breaks my heart to see him so upset). I think of the happy times and remember he will not be a baby forever so I need to cherish it.

One happy time is bathtime. He loves bath now. He always calms down instantly when we put him in. He splashes around and is even trying to play with his toy. He takes a bath with me sometimes too. I get the bath ready and Michael hands him to me wrapped in hand towel. I suggest the towel for a few reasons.  First of all it keeps him warmer. Second babies get really slippery, the towel gives you some more friction to grab on to. Third, babies poop when they feel relaxed. I cover his booty with the towel so if he does poop, I stay clean.

He also stopped pooping at night, which means he sleep almost through the night now! He only wakes up once (maybe twice) to eat. This also means we stopped changing his wet diapers at night. This way he doesn’t get overstimulated and will go back to sleep easier. Michael gets him from his big crib, checks to make sure he didn’t poop or his diaper isn’t leaking. If it is, only then does he change him. Then he gives him to me and I nurse him and rock him back to sleep. Then I put him in his bassinet next to our bed for the rest of the night (usually 3 more hours). Unfortunately he only drinks one side so I still have to get up to pump. But that only takes a few minutes and then I’m back to bed.

We can also take him out more now. We go for walks almost everyday, he loves looking at people passing by us. He usually falls asleep a few minutes into the walk and somehow magically wakes up right when we get home. He goes to the store with me sometimes too, but he isn’t always good about that. I think it’s all the fluorescent lights.

Breakfast with Daddy in Sonoma.

For Father’s Day we went to Sonoma for the reenactment of the Bear Flag Revolt. He napped in his Boba Wrap most of the day luckily. He even slept through the gunpowder shots during the reenactment, granted we hid in the back of the crowd and I covered his ears as best I could. I was so happy to be out of the house and talking to adults. I suggest when taking your baby out for a long period of time, make sure you get them to nap whenever they start giving you the sleepy cues (like yawning, covering their eyes, and fussing slightly). Stroller, wrap, car seat, your arms—whatever it takes to get them down, just don’t let them skip naps.

This was from the start of his Wonder Week, he sucked
on his toy for the first time, I was blown away.

The second month is also when your baby has their second Wonder Week. I didn’t know about these until recently It’s when your baby makes a huge mental leap, like a brain growth spurt. Two weeks ago Jack was so insanely fussy that I didn’t know what to do. He would get mad when I tried to play with him like I always had been. He would nap only an hour at time—if I could get him down, he fought every nap. He also started fussing at my boob when I tried to nurse him. It took forever to get him to latch on and when he did, he just wanted to comfort nurse forever. He’d scream if I unlatched him before he was ready to stop. And at night he went back to waking up every 2 hours to eat. I was so confused and getting overwhelmed again. Then someone on my the April 2014 Birth Club mentioned Wonder Weeks so I looked it up. I found an app and downloaded it. It explained all these fussy behaviors were normal and not permanent. He just needed some extra comfort while he was starting to see the world around him differently. And he needed me to play with him differently now, more interaction and stimulation. The app has a chart that shows about when your baby will enter a wonder week and exit it. And about a week later it ended and Jack went back sleeping well at night and stopped fussing so much. The app helped me prepare for everything. I had to keep playing more interactively. And his naps change, no more three 2-3 hour naps. He now takes four 1-2 hour naps. I like that he’s up for longer period of times, but now I have less time to get stuff done around the house. I really suggest downloading the app, it’s nice to know what to expect and that it’s all normal.

That’s Jack’s life two months in, in a nutshell!

How To Take A Baby To The Drive-In

Jack is two months old now, no longer a newborn but not really a functioning infant. My whole day revolves around him—which I love, don’t get me wrong. But I missed time with my husband. I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a simple movie date, but I wasn’t ready to leave him for that long yet. And of course a bunch of summer movies are coming out that I want to see, especially A Million Ways To Die In The West. I resolved to be a good mom and rent it when it comes to DVD.

Then my best friend reminded me of something awesome in San Jose. She and her boyfriend went on a date to the drive-in. Suddenly a light bulb went on in my head, we could take Jack! He could sleep while we enjoy a movie date. He goes to bed around 9:00PM and the movies start around 8:45 PM so the timing would work out great. And if he fusses, we just go home. We decided to give it a shot!

The plan was to get him all ready for bed, put him in the car, and leave an hour early to give us plenty of time to get there and get settled. Then nurse him, let him sleep on my lap during the movie, put him back in the car seat, and drive home. If he wakes up when we get home or before, just put him back to sleep when we got home. Sounded simple enough.

First we made sure we he had a fully stocked diaper bag for any situation. Plenty of diapers, blankets, a change of clothes, pacifiers, burp cloths, and etc.. And I brought my nursing pillow so I could be more comfortable holding him.

Then we got him ready for bed. Normally we give him a bath before bed, but he was already sleepy so we just put him in his jammies and put him in his car seat. He started crying while were waiting in line to enter the drive-in because he was tired. At this point I thought we already lost him and would have to leave. But I stayed calm and just consoled him as best I could.

We picked a spot to park and I moved to the front seat with Jack. I put my pillow on my lap, latched him on, and covered his head with my cardigan to block the light from his eyes. He calmed down instantly and went to sleep shortly before the movie started. I set him down on the pillow and freed my hands to munch on popcorn.

Jack started asleep the whole movie! I was surprised. He fussed a bit during a loud part, but I just stroked his head and he calmed again. The movie was really funny and it was so nice to do an adult thing. And I got to hold my husband’s hand and steal some kisses, the best part of all.

When the movie was over, we gently put him back in his car seat, and drove home. He fussed a little but stayed asleep. Once home, we gently took him out and put him in his crib. He stayed asleep, I couldn’t believe it! And he slept till 4:00 AM, a six hour stretch!

The drive-in worked out great! We plan on doing this a few more times this summer. If you are lucky enough to still have a drive-in in your town, I suggest trying it with your baby. Here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Don’t have high hopes. Expect that your baby will fuss and that you may need to leave early.That way you won’t be upset if it happens.
  • Let your baby call the shots. If they are super fussy that day, reschedule for a better day. If they are really unhappy during the movie, address their needs quickly. And if you can’t calm them quickly, leave.
  • Bring a fully stocked diaper bag to address any possible issue. And keep your diaper bag within reach while you watch the movie. No one wants to be digging for a burp cloth and miss an important piece of the plot.
  • Arrive with plenty of time to put the baby to sleep. That way you aren’t stressed or rushing anything. And you don’t miss the start of the movie.
  • Get yourself comfortable first. Your baby won’t relax if you aren’t relaxed. And who wants to be uncomfortable for two hours pinned under a baby? I really suggest bringing a nursing pillow.
  • Nurse or feed your baby so they are content. Then make sure they are totally asleep before you set them down on your lap.
  • Make sure you don’t have your radio too loud so the baby doesn’t startle and wake up.
  • Cover your baby’s eyes if they are used to sleeping in the dark like Jack. But make sure their airway is not blocked and they are breathing comfortably.
  • Don’t get too caught up in the movie and forget about the baby. I lifted my wrap cardigan every once and awhile to make sure he was okay.
  • If the baby wakes when you put them back in or take them out of the car seat at home, don’t fret. Just feed them so they are content again and put them back to bed.
I hope Jack is just as good for future movies. And hopefully your baby will be too. Enjoy a fun date with your love!

Things Saving My Sanity With a Newborn

Overall, I lucked out with Jack. He really isn’t that fussy of a baby. He usually only cries when something is wrong, like he needs to be fed or is tired. But, he has his moments. And let me tell you, this kid has a set of lungs on him. There is nothing more taxing on your soul than hearing your baby scream when you are already exhausted. By 3 weeks old we figured out a few things that will calm Jack quickly and keep him happy pretty. So here is a list of the things saving my sanity:
  • Swaddle Sacks: The first night at the hospital Jack was either nursing or screaming because he wanted to nurse. Michael and I were trying everything to get him to sleep more than 10 minutes. Then a nurse came in to take him for his hearing test around midnight. When she brought him back, he was all swaddled and happy. He slept for an hour until he was hungry again.  I unswaddled him, feed him, and he got all fussy again. Then the nurse came in to check his vitals and swaddled him. He slept for 2 hours. Then another feeding followed by fussiness. Then another check and nurse reswaddling, followed by 2 more hours of sleep. Thus, we quickly caught on he liked to be swaddled. But as best as we tried, we couldn’t get him tight enough and he kept breaking free (which just made him madder). The first night at home, we just couldn’t keep him asleep for more than 30 minutes and were exhausted. Then I remembered there was a swaddle sack in the bag of hand-me-downs my friend gave us. I put him in it, rocked him until he fell asleep. And to my delight he slept for 3 hours! The next day we ordered 2 Summer Infant SwaddleMe’s from Amazon. We swaddle him every night for bed, most naps, and when he is insanely fussy. He sleeps in 3-5 hours stretches at night and takes 2 or 3 good naps every day. So worth the money.
  • Boba Wrap: Several of my friends told me to wear my baby. After Jack’s first few days at home and him constantly wanting to be in my arms, I decided it was worth a shot. I decided on the Boba Wrap because of the good reviews and the price. I watched the videos on Youtube on how to put it on and wear your newborn thought it looked easy enough, so I ordered one off of Amazon. When it came, I was kind of overwhelmed by the amount of fabric and by the stretchiness. I am petite and I was worried I would not be able to get it tight enough to support him properly. But I went for it anyways. I spent a good 15 minutes messing with it.  Once it  felt right, I put him in and he was so happy! We went on a walk and he loved being wrapped. Went right to sleep. Whenever he gets too fussy now, I just put him in it and go for a walk or walk around the house. All hands free! However, there are two issues I had with it. First, it can sag. You need to tie it at your actual waist not, where you wear your pants (or atleast I need to). And you need to pull it pretty tight. But once I got the hang of it there was no more issues. Second, it gets hot. Your baby is wrapped in three layers of pretty thick fabric right up against your body. You two may get a little toasty in the summer. I recommend you wear a light tank top and put the baby in just a diaper when its warm.
  • Soothie Pacifier: Jack is a sucker (and a cute one at that!). His favorite place is attached to my boobs. At first I didn’t mind because I knew he was cluster feeding and growing. But when he wasn’t in a growth spurt, he still loved my boobs and it began to hurt after awhile. I tried every pacifier we had but he would spit it out after a few minutes and cry. Then someone on the April 2014 Birth Club on Babycenter mentioned Soothies. They are the kind used in hospitals. They look and feel more like nipples. I ran out the Target one day when Michael got home from work and bought a two-pack. Jack took it instantly. They work great! He gets to suck and my nipples are spared. However, these only piss him off if he is actually hungry. So I need to make sure he is fully fed before I give him one. Then he will happily suck away—and sometimes even suck himself to sleep.
  • Lavender Oil:  Lavender is known for it’s calming qualities. Jack was not a fan of baths at first so I wanted to do something to make them more enjoyable. I didn’t want to use the popular Johnson and Johnson Lavender products. So I got a bottle of organic lavender oil and added a few drops to his bath. The minute we set him in, he calmed down. Now he loves baths (even when he’s screaming his head off prior). And during the day if he gets too fussy and won’t go down for a nap, I dab a drop on the oil on his chest. He calms down most of the time, it’s almost like magic! But I need to stress that lavender oil can be a powerful relaxant and you really only need a few drops. Too much can affect your baby’s nervous system (see side effects here). Also, if your baby has sensitive skin, I would suggest not applying it directly to their skin. Instead add a few drops to a carrier oil (like coconut or olive oil) and apply that to their skin.
  • Relaxation Melodies App: I’ve used this to help myself fall asleep for years. There’s a wide variety of sounds you can use for white noise. I like the combination of ocean waves and rain. It reminds of my two favorite places, Oregon (the rain) and Hawaii (the ocean). Babies like white noise because they spent 9 months inside you listening to sound of your heartbeat and other bodily noises. I thought of using this app one day when Jack was 2 weeks old and having a hard time falling asleep. So I put the sounds on and he calmed down instantly. I put it on  almost every time I put him to sleep now or when he gets too fussy. He screams halfway through our morning walks on occasion. The second I put on “his music” he goes right to sleep. This app is free and totally worth the download.