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Baby Binder

9 Nov
Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.
My husband is the king of the library. He has a long commute to and home from work each day, so he likes listening to audio books in the car. Once we saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound, he started checking out audio and regular books on all things baby. It’s pretty adorable to see his latest read about fatherhood in the bathroom with his page marked.
Around the same time my husband went baby book crazy, I read a post on Bee Kim’s blog about how, with her first pregnancy, she wished she had prepared less for the birth and more for dealing with a newborn and breastfeeding. So, on my husband’s next trip to the library, I tagged along and picked up some books I had heard about and some I thought would be worthwhile to check out.
Some of the books had some information I knew I would want to refer to later, when the baby arrives, but since they were library books, I decided to make some copies and put together a binder with all the most important info I think I’ll need later. I put some extra dividers in the binder so I can add to it throughout my pregnancy and I think we’ll also use it for the baby’s important information like doctor’s visits.
Here are the books I liked best:
Baby Wise is a popular book all about scheduling. While I would really like to avoid being one of those parents who freaks out over my baby’s schedule getting disrupted, I do see how important a consistent schedule can be for the baby and the parents. This book claims that 8 week old babies can sleep through the night! I know this idea is controversial and many people think babies that young need to be eating in the middle of the night, but I’d like to try it out as long as my baby is gaining weight appropriately.
The Happiest Baby on the Block focuses on calming baby’s cries and keeping him or her content. It outlines a method using the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side/Stomach (not for sleeping), Shhhhing, Swinging, and Sucking. This method is supposed to help the baby feel the comfort of the womb and they emphasize matching the baby’s vigor when doing one or more of the 5 S’s. For example, if the baby is crying very loudly, the Shhhhhing should be just as loud. The book doesn’t advise using these methods to put the baby to sleep, just to calm the baby.
The Nursing Mother’s Companion is just what the title suggests. While husbands may giggle at the illustrations of engorged breasts, the visuals really help someone like me who has never breastfed (and is terrified). I’ve heard that reading books about nursing isn’t enough to prepare a new mother for the challenges (a lactation consultant coming to the house seems to be the best thing to do), but I like to be prepared and reading about it now helps me get my mind ready (I had a dream last night about nursing and it came very naturally to me).
The New Natural Pregnancy is a bit granola for me, but it has some really great exercises that my favorite prenatal yoga teacher does and since she’s in South Africa for a few months, I copied some of the pages so I could do them myself. It also has some good illustrations for massage, hint hint hubby.
What are your favorite books on pregnancy and infant care? I’d love to add to my binder!

The SAHM Fantasy

2 Nov
Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.
I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom, or SAHM. My mom worked a lot as a restaurant manager when I was a kid and I always wanted her to be home when I was done with school. She often had to work on Christmas and Easter and I’d spend those holidays with family and sometimes eating at her restaurant. It was hard for us and I always knew I wanted something different for my family.
See the date in the corner? That would’ve made me about 7 months old.
When choosing a career for myself, I decided to become a teacher not only because I loved it, but because I knew the schedule would be ideal for raising a family. However, now that I’m faced with the reality of going back to work after having a baby, I’m realizing it isn’t as ideal as not working at all.
Unfortunately, we are not in the position financially to lose my income. I know that I’ll have to go back to work in August when the baby is about 4 1/2 months old and I’m very aware that I’m lucky I get so much paid time off (6 weeks will be a half pay and the rest will be full pay since it will be summer break). However, I know it’s going to be very challenging for me to leave my baby at daycare or with a babysitter and go back to work. Any time someone asks me what our plans are for childcare, I tell them I’m not ready to think about that yet. We have time, I know, but I’ll also admit that I’m in a bit of denial.
I have this fantasy that my husband will get some incredible promotion or job offer where he’ll suddenly make enough money to replace my income so I won’t have to work. I dream that maybe some fantastic opportunity will fall in my lap where I’ll be able to work from home and still make the same amount of money without needing childcare.
Earlier today, Marissa wrote about how Harry Potter didn’t know his mom, but still loved her and it got me thinking about why I want to be a SAHM so badly. I realized that I’m not worried as much about the baby handling me working as I am about me handling it. I know that our child will be just fine growing up with two working parents. I only had one working parent and I think I turned out alright. Sure, I wanted my mom home more, but I didn’t love her any less because she worked. It’s possible that I loved her more because of everything she had to go through to raise me!
I do know that it will be really hard for me, though. Every time I come home exhausted after teaching teenagers all day with stacks of essays to grade, I think, “How will I be able to do this with a baby at home?” I honestly can’t imagine being able to give a baby the love and attention it needs when so much of my time and energy is devoted to my job.
For now, though, going back to work is the plan and I had better start getting used to the idea because the way time has been flying by lately, August will be here before I know it!

Another Acronym: BLW

5 Oct

Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.

Have you heard of Baby Led Weaning? Here’s a quote from the website:

“Based on a paper written by Gill Rapley, Baby Led Weaning just means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning.”

That’s right, no baby food, no purees, no mush. The argument is that babies who eat purees from a spoon fed by the parents learn how to swallow before they learn how to chew. They don’t get used to the texture of food and as a result can become picky eaters later in life. Babies between the ages of 6 months and 1 year get all the nutrition they need from breast milk or formula, so the food they eat is just for learning and exploring. No need to force them to eat, just give them a tray full of a variety of soft foods (cooked carrots, beans, fruit, etc) and let them go at it.

Our adorable niece Ava

The downside? First of all, it’s really messy. You can’t give a baby a bath every single time they finish a meal, but that’s what wipes are for, right? Feed them in nothing but a diaper and wipe them down after. Secondly, they might choke. The website says it’s better to learn what to do when a child is choking than to constantly worry about it happening. They say to make sure that risky foods are cut up properly (grapes cut in half), but really since they’re learning how to chew/gnaw before they learn how to swallow, they won’t choke as much as a baby food fed baby might.

I plan on trying out this new method of food introduction. I’m not saying it’s the best way or the only way to do things. I do think it seems a whole lot easier than buying or making baby food and spoon feeding it to a squirmy baby.

What do you think? Have you tried BLW? Would you?

My Top Five

28 Sep

Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.

I’ve been researching all things baby since long before we started TTC. While I don’t claim to know everything about parenting, I do know what baby gear is at the top of my list.

Here are a few items I’m hoping we’ll snag before the little one arrives:

The First Years Wave Stroller has a seat that transforms from a bassinet to a regular baby/toddler seat and can swivel in any direction at the push of a button. It comes with an infant car seat adapter for those times when baby falls asleep in the car on the way to… wherever. It is stylish and affordable and I just love it!
The Ikea Antilop high chair encompasses my key requirements for baby gear: cheap, easy to keep clean, and not hideous. Actually, we just bought one of these last weekend. Too early? Yeah. But we were at Ikea and got a little excited. We got the tray too, which brought us up to $25 for our first baby purchase. Big spenders!

The Puj Tub seems like a stupid choice, but it is more than a piece of foam for $40. It is a space saver, a baby bath time cradler, and a parental posture preserver. Some people might not mind bending over a tub to bathe a newborn, but I’m not one of those people, especially if a bath becomes a part of our bed time routine. This allows us to bathe the little one in our pedestal sink and hang the tub flat on the back of our door.

The Moby Wrap is the ultimate hippie mom baby carrier. Perfect for grocery shopping, dog walking, or any other activity where your hands need to be free (Jenna loves it for traveling), the moby keeps baby close and secure with nothing but comfy fabric.
The Summer Video Monitor is perfect for anxious new parents. I fell in love with video monitors when I started babysitting for some friends when their little girl was a year and a half. Even when she was old enough not to need it, I would still turn it on if I heard a strange noise or just to watch her sleep. It’s extremely comforting to be able to check on the baby without risking waking her up. I knew I would be adding this baby to my registry when it was time.

What do you think of my top five baby items? What are yours?

Disclaimer: none of these companies paid or perked me to say these things, but if they decided to send me free stuff, I wouldn’t be sad.

Induction… to Motherhood?

21 Sep

Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.

Before my last doctor’s appointment, I talked to my aunt who lives in Arizona about where I would be giving birth (in a hospital) and why (it is 100% free with my insurance – yes, that’s one reason to become a teacher). She shared her daughter in law’s birth experiences with me (two natural births in a birthing center with a midwife) and when I told her I had some pretty strong preferences for how I wanted to give birth, she advised me to talk about it with my doctor sooner rather than later.

So what are these preferences? Well, I hesitate to share because I know how passionate people can be about birthing choices and I don’t want anybody to think that I’m trying to say that my choices are the best or better than anyone else’s. I’ve come to conclusions based on things I’ve read and people I’ve talked to and I think these preferences are best for me. Not best for everyone, just for me. So please be gentle in the comments, ok?

If I had a bunch of extra  money and didn’t have amazing healthcare benefits, my ideal birth would be at home with a midwife. I would go through as much preparation as possible to avoid interventions and after the baby was born, I would eat birthday cake and drink champagne in my own bed with my husband and our new addition. I do know all the risks involved with home births, but I believe the benefits outweigh the risks, for me.

Since our funds are limited and a hospital birth wouldn’t cost us a dime, no matter what interventions were necessary (no extra for a c-section), a home birth that could cost over $2,000 if my insurance decided not to cover it was out of the question. Instead, I’ll give birth in a hospital which makes me a little sad, but makes my husband and our families much more comfortable.

Knowing that interventions are more readily available in a hospital, I’m realizing that it is going to be much more difficult to avoid them than if I was at home or in a birth center. The first of these interventions I wanted to discuss with my doctor was induction. I let him know that I’d rather not be induced unless it was medically necessary. I know that when I’m nine months pregnant, I’m going to want that baby out. I’m going to be uncomfortable and anxious to meet the little one, but, if I can, I’d like to go into labor on my own without pitocin.

Photograph by Shot in Vancouver
My doctor’s first answer was that I’m the boss and ultimately I would make the decision, which was a decent answer. Then, he asked why I felt that way and when I expressed my concerns about the counteractivity of pitocin and an epidural (which I would undoubtedly have due to the intense contractions that pitocin creates) and how it can often lead to a c-section (something I’d really like to avoid), he told me that the whole process was an art and seemed to allude that he had mastered this art. While I trust that he’s a very competent OB, I know that he can’t guarantee that an induction won’t lead to a c-section – to be fair, there’s no guarantee that a natural labor won’t lead to a c-section, either, but I feel that inductions increase the chances.

I also told my doctor that I anticipated being late with this pregnancy because my mom was two weeks late with both me and my brother. Then he got into size and I started getting nervous. See, doctors can supposedly tell how big the baby is going to be from ultra sounds and fundal measurements late in pregnancy. However, I’ve known several women who were induced because their doctors thought their babies were too big and they ended up having small to average sized babies. Well, I was 9 pounds 12 ounces when I was born. Yep, I was the biggest baby in the hospital and when my family would look for me in the nursery window, I was easy to find because I was so much bigger than all the other babies. When I told my doctor this, he said I’d probably have a 10 pound baby. While I don’t doubt that my genes will play a part in the size of our baby, I am a little concerned with how he jumped to that conclusion so quickly. Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? Since my husband’s family has small-ish babies, couldn’t that even things out for us?

Photograph by T. Lawrence

While this whole conversation has raised a red flag for me, I’m trying not to worry too much about it yet. I plan on taking things one day at a time and if induction comes up, I’ll deal with it then. For now, I’m starting prenatal yoga next week and hope to sign up for birthing classes soon. I’m still deciding between The Bradley Method and Hypnobirthing (anyone have experience with either? or something better?), but I do know I want to start early as I tend to have a problem with anxiety and relaxation techniques can only help!

Did you have an idea of your preferences early in pregnancy or did you start thinking about it much later?

Positively Negative

14 Sep

Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.

I can be a bit of a Negative Nelly. Readers have emailed me who don’t know me in real life and have said they love my positivity, which always catches me off guard. Is that how I portray myself online? If it is, I’m glad, because I don’t really think I’m like that away from the computer.

Yesterday, we had a doctor’s appointment. I was excited to go so that we could make sure everything was going well, but I was also really nervous in case it wasn’t. While I don’t feel like I’m always panicked about this pregnancy, I do have a constant dull fear that something bad is going to happen.

First, the doctor tried to listen to the heartbeat with a doppler (that’s what it’s called, right?). I knew he would try this first and I knew that it was possible that he wouldn’t be able to find it, but that didn’t mean anything was wrong and he would do an ultra sound to make sure. Of course, he couldn’t find it and while I didn’t panic, there was that dull fear present.
That ultrasound was the most amazing moment of my entire life. Right when the baby appeared on the screen, it started waving! Last time it looked like a sea monkey. This time, it looked like a real baby. We could see it’s profile and arms and legs and everything. My husband almost didn’t make this appointment, but we were really glad he did.
After the baby show, my doctor asked me how I was feeling and when I said I was always nervous that something bad was going to happen, he said he could tell and that made me sad. I don’t want to come across as negative, but it’s hard for me to put on a happy face all the time and pretend like I’m worry-free.
That comment from the doctor did make me want to change, though. I’m going to make a conscious effort to think and act more positively about this pregnancy. We have wanted this so bad for so long and it would be a shame to waste all the joy with worry.
For those moms and pregnant ladies out there: how did/do you handle the fears and worries? To those those future moms: do you think you’ll be a worrier like me or will you be worry-free?

Fur Babies and Real Babies

10 Aug

Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.

Our dogs are our babies. They have always slept on our bed and used to be allowed on the couch, until our room makeover. We spoil them rotten and aren’t ashamed to admit it.

Ruby is a puggle, which is part pug and part beagle, and Jackson is a labradoodle, which is part lab and part poodle. We didn’t intend to own only fancy hybrid dogs, but that’s what happened. It’s embarrassing when people ask what they are when we meet at the dog park or on a walk.
We’ve known since we starting TTC that we would have to make some changes with how we treat the dogs before adding a baby to the mix. It took us over a year, but when we got back from our trip up to San Francisco last month, we finally kicked them off the bed.
Here they are on night number two of no-dogs-on-the-bed. They took some time getting used to it, but now they’re doing great! I have to admit, sometimes they jump up on the bed uninvited and sometimes I let them stay up there when I’m taking a nap alone, but for the most part, we’ve broken them of their, I mean, OUR bad habit.
So, what else should dog owners do to prepare for a baby? Here are some things I’ve read and heard about on the matter (I can’t remember my sources, so don’t call the MLA police, please):
1. Ignore the dogs in the months leading up to delivery.
I’m not talking about neglect here, but it is important to pay less and less attention to the dogs as it gets closer to baby time. This is most important for the mom, as she will be the primary caregiver for the baby, at least at first. This way, the dogs don’t blame the baby for the lack of attention they’re receiving because it started before the baby got there.
2. Get a crying baby doll and hold it while it makes noise.
This will help get the dogs used to the sound of a crying baby and used to you having something cradled in your arms. Keep the baby in a safe place and never let the dogs play with it.
3. Arrange for someone to take care of the dogs during labor, delivery, and recovery.
You can have someone on stand-by to pick up the dogs for a few days or have someone come by your house to feed, walk, and play with the dogs when you’re gone. Be sure to prepare instructions ahead of time so you’re not worrying about relaying information over the phone while laboring.
4. Bring baby clothes home from the hospital/birth center/etc.
After the baby is born, have someone bring home something that the baby has worn. Let the dogs smell it, but don’t let them play with it. No tug-of-war with the baby’s shirt, ok? Tell them to be gentle as they smell so they know that they are to be on their best behavior.
5. Don’t keep the baby room door closed all the time.
If you decide that you never want the dogs in the baby’s room, put up a baby gate to keep them out, but that allows them to see what is going on inside. If you decide to let them go in and out of the room, give them their own spot to lay down and teach them to respect the baby’s things. This can begin before the baby arrives so you don’t have to worry about training the dogs while you have a screaming baby in your arms.
Overall, remember that this will be a huge adjustment, not just for you, but for all the members of your family, human or not. Have patience, but be firm as you introduce a new member to the pack.
Did I miss anything? What has worked for you when introducing a real baby to your fur babies?

Baby Shower Strike

3 Aug
Read all my Spearmint Baby posts here.
Before we started TTC, I used to love going to baby showers. The games, the cute gifts, the decor… they were fun and I used to imagine what my own would be like. However, once we started having trouble getting pregnant, baby showers seemed more torturous than dental appointments.
Over the past year, I’ve been invited to a couple of baby showers, but have declined. I just couldn’t bring myself to put on a happy face an coo over baby clothes. If one of my really close friends had invited me to a shower, I would have definitely sucked it up and gone, but it would have been tough.

On Saturday, I went to my first baby shower in over a year. Luckily, it was a shower for my husband’s friends and wasn’t just for women. Also, I got to bring my little brother so I had plenty to keep me distracted. Major plus: they didn’t open gifts! They saved that for when they got home.
They called it a baby fiesta and held it at a park! They had beer, tacos, and really delicious cupcakes.
While the adults mingled, the kids had fun feeding the ducks and playing on the jungle gym.
Apparently ducks don’t like corn tortillas. Bummer…
I loved the colorful banners. I think they would look really cute in a nursery, don’t you?
I actually had a great time and didn’t feel awkward at all. I’m glad I went and that it was a coed shower so I could ease into it. I think I can safely say I’m over my baby shower strike!
Have you declined an invitation just because you couldn’t bring yourself to celebrate?

Protecting My Feelings

27 Jul
Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.
The other day, I was reading a friend’s blog who recently suffered a miscarriage. Her posts express her deep sadness and she writes about how it is taking her weeks to get back to her normal self.
Peonies at Fiori in San Francisco

As I read her story, I start questioning my own feelings about my miscarriage. I cried for about an hour, took one day off of work, was a little introspective for about a week, and then I was basically back to normal. I was on to the next cycle and ready to try again. I don’t think about it like I lost a baby, I think about it as another bump on our road to parenthood.
Golden Gate Bridge
Maybe I’ve become desensitized to the pain and disappointment. Maybe after more than a year of negative home pregnancy tests and blood tests and crying in the doctor’s office, it just doesn’t come as a shock when something doesn’t work out in the baby making department.
Leaving the city on the ferry.
I know that I wasn’t very far along when I lost my pregnancy – most women who have a miscarriage that early never even knew they were pregnant. But shouldn’t I feel more like she does? Does that mean I didn’t love my unborn baby as much as she did? Will I ever let myself go when I get pregnant again, or will I always remain guarded?
What do you think? Do you protect yourself from disappointment like me or do you allow yourself to get excited and feel deeply?

Social Media Faux Pas

20 Jul
Read all of my Spearmint Baby posts here.
With the explosion of social networking sites (dude, what am I supposed to do with Google+ ?), our lives are constantly on display. I know what my friends ate for dinner last night and they live in another state. It is easy to paint a rosy picture of your life through your mobile uploads and status updates, but sometimes what you share effects others more than you know.
The view from our tent on our camping trip last week.

I have come to learn that I can’t control what others say and do, I can only control what I say and do. When I become pregnant, I know I won’t complain about it on facebook or twitter. I won’t pretend that everything is always wonderful, either, but I don’t need to update my status with every little ache and pain that I’m going through. On my blog, I might share some of my gripes, but people can easily avoid that if they want to. It is hard not to read someone’s facebook status if you’re friends with them.
Camping flower arrangement.
On the same note, what hurts more than the complaints is the really over the top lovey dovey stuff: women posting that feeling their baby kick is like kisses from heaven or how seeing the heartbeat on the ultrasound sent them into fits of giggles. Those are the things that really sting and while I don’t expect people not to share their joy on various social networking sites, I do expect their support and sensitivity when dealing with me directly (like in a email or personal conversation).
For example, if someone knows I’ve been struggling to conceive for over a year, I’d hope they’d know not to talk to me about every detail of their pregnancy. I hope they’d understand that I’m there for them, but don’t need the play by play because while it may be wonderful for them, it is terribly difficult for me.
A walk through the wildflowers.
On the other hand, I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me, either. I felt really bad earlier this year when one of my friends told me she was pregnant, but that she was so nervous about telling me because she knew how hard it would be for me. However, it was nice to know that she thought about my feelings.
I’ve learned that people are going to say what they’re going to say – be it on facebook, twitter, blogs, emails, or in real life and the only thing I can control is how I react and what I choose to say. I can’t expect people to be sensitive, but I can work on the best way to react, which is usually to just not.
What do you think? Do you have any social media pet peeves?