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Why I’ve been away

So, I had planned to be good and keep this blog updated this year. As it turned out, I had more important and exhausting things come up to distract me. Or, rather one thing. Or rather this:

Beckett announced to all of Target that I had a baby in my tummy about a week before I even suspected. He also insisted it’s a baby girl. It turns out he’s not quite as clairvoyant as it first seemed. It took a little while to convince him that the baby is, in fact, a little brother.  Finn wavered between being disappointed it’s a boy (he already knows how annoying a brother can be) and being happy to not have to endure princesses and Frozen. Especially Frozen.
Other details: He is due mid-Septemberish, so I’m currently about 24 weeks. This will be my first third-trimester Texas summer, so there will probably be much complaining about the heat. If you need me, look in front of the air conditioner. No name yet, although I have considered randomly picking up a Coke and naming the baby whomever I’m supposed to share said Coke with. I abandoned that idea when I would have had to name the baby Edgar Ashley.

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What I Think Every New Mom Needs: A Ring Sling

Aside from a live-in maid or a clothes dryer that folds and puts away laundry or a self-cleaning kitchen, the most useful thing for a mom that actually exists is a comfy baby carrier. My preference, hands-down, is for a good quality baby ring sling. They are so versatile you can use them to carry your baby from the time they’re a newborn all the way up to a big toddler. You can carry them lying down, upright, facing in or out, legs tucked in or out, semi-sitting, on mom’s front, back or hip depending on the baby’s age, all with the same sling.

For mom, the sling supports your back and distributes baby’s weight evenly when worn properly. Ring slings are adjustable to any body shape and size. Best of all, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a good one if you have the slightest sewing ability. All you need is a length of sturdy material, a pair of solid rings and a sewing machine. There are so many good tutorials online for making your own, I’m not going to do my own here. One that I found very helpful for making slings, complete with info on choosing fabric and where to buy rings can be found here:

Without my first sling, I don’t think I could have done much of anything when Finn was little. I loved my original sling so much I’ve made two more for myself. One stays in the car, one I use around the house and the third is back up for when the others need washed. I can grocery shop, clean, do some cooking, even feed Beckett, all almost hands-free while. They are much more portable than a bulky stroller. The constant movement and closeness of being carried in the sling also seems to be comforting to my babies. Finn frequently fell asleep in the sling, and he was normally very hard to get to sleep.

My slings are so indispensable to me that I always tell new mom’s about them. Slings have gotten some bad press lately due to some popular but poorly designed “bag” styles and improper usage. When used properly, though, a well constructed ring sling is perfectly safe. This link gives safety guidelines and tips for how to use them:

And, of course, a baby Beckett sling picture:

Baby Beckett in a ring sling
My newest sling with Beckett in a tummy to tummy position. He prefers to have his legs sticking out while he sits on the bottom “rail” of the sling. Please ignore the lovely bathroom backdrop.

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Cloth Diapering Take One

Please excuse any typos. Most of this post was typed one handed with Beckett’s help.

At the recommendation of a few of my friends, I purchased a few Babyland diapers on Ebay to try out. One of my friends then gifted me with her no longer needed stash of Babyland and Kushies diapers. She was worried about residue with them, but after thoroughly stripping them they seem fine. If they work well for my little guy, I should be set.

The Babyland diapers are one size pocket diapers similar to Bum Genius. (Post on the different types of diapers to come soon, I hope.) They generally start fitting at about 8-10lbs, so I’ve been using disposables while waiting for Beckett to get a little bigger, for his umbilical cord to fall off and for me to get settled into something that resembles a normal routine. Beckett is probably about 8lbs now, so I started trying out the cloth diapers yesterday.

One thing I’ve learned about using cloth is that you can’t use most diaper creams because they cause the fabric to repel rather than absorb moisture. If you use diapers that can be boiled, such as prefold diapers, you can usually fix that easily. Diapers with a built-in waterproof cover are more difficult. With them, your best bet is to either use a cloth diaper safe ointment or a liner to catch the ointment before it gets on the diaper.

Thanks to some antibiotics I needed about a week after he was born, Beckett is fighting a diaper rash requiring Nystatin ointment. To keep it off his cloth diapers, I use inserts I sewed from old t-shirts, flannel and terry cloth as liners. Not only do they protect the diaper, they add some absorbency. I’m also sticking with the older diapers for now. That way if I start having problems with repelling, I won’t feel as bad if I can’t strip the residue out.

So far I’ve had decent results. I have had some trouble with leaks around his legs and back. I think the leaking on his back was because I didn’t have the diaper properly adjusted. Once I figured out where to fasten them for his best fit, that stopped.

The leaking around his legs has been trickier. I think it’s probably due to him still being a little small to get a good fit there. Overall, though, I’ve had fewer leaks with them than I’ve had with disposables on him.

I’ve also noticed that his tushy stays cleaner in the cloth, which was a pleasant surprise. Not only has that helped his rash clear up, it makes diaper changes go much faster. That’s something we’re both happy about.

I do think I’ll add some diaper covers to my stash for flexibility. Those I’ll use with prefolds and maybe even try my hand at making some fitteds.

Now for some random cuteness:

Blue Steel
Why is it so cute to dress babies like big people?
In the background you can kind of see some of the Babyland  diapers.

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Car seat obsession

The last big thing I need to get ready for Beckett is a car seat. I have Finn’s infant car seat, it’s in good shape, and attaches to our stroller, so I was hoping to be able to use it. While checking it over several weeks ago, I discovered that it expired one month ago, at the end of December. 
I then decided that going straight to a convertible car seat that reclines well for babies in rear facing and has enough padding to support a newborn would be the best bet. Because Finn was a good sized baby at 8lbs 7.5oz. and almost 21 inches, and because Beckett looks like he’ll be a little bigger than Finn, I figured he should fit into a convertible fine. So far, all the convertibles that I like for both features and pricing are available online only. I would prefer to see them in person, but I have been able to look at similar styles in the same brands in stores, so I’m not too worried about that.
Last night, though, I started worrying about how well he’ll fit if he’s born at 37 weeks instead of 40. The convertible seats start at 5lbs and 19inches (if they list a minimum height), so technically we should be fine unless Beckett is nothing like his brother and has everyone fooled about his size. Convertible’s do usually sit up a little straighter than infant car seats, though, and while Finn had pretty good head control at birth, Beckett might not be quite as strong if he’s born two weeks sooner. The shoulder straps on infant seats also start lower, so he might fit better in an infant car seat. So now I’m wondering if I should start with an infant car seat.
I really don’t want to have to get a new infant car seat, though. For one thing, most I’ve seen are as expensive as some of the nicer convertibles I’ve seen. I wouldn’t mind spending that much (assuming I can make it work budget-wise) but if Beckett is anything like Finn, he will outgrow it by the time he’s five months old. Also, I’ve found a limited amount in stock at stores, and the ones they carry are usually the higher priced models. So I’d have to order one online. 
Most stores do have a variety of travel systems, but I already have a stroller that I love, and, while I might not be comfortable using the old car seat in the car unless I was desperate and it was an emergency, if it still attaches securely, the straps are still in good condition and the overall condition of the seat is good, I would be okay with putting it on the stroller for a walk around the block or mall. I also have a sling carrier that I LOVE and is easier than carrying around the infant seat, so I don’t really need an infant seat for that.
In any case, I need to decide now, because if I have to order something online I need to allow time to get it and figure out how to use it. If we decide on Tuesday to induce a week later, that’s cutting it really close for delivery. And that’s assuming that the car seat arrives in good shape, fits in the car like it should, etc. 
So, I will likely be trying to make up my mind and finding a car seat this weekend. Because 1. it has to be done and 2. I can’t think of anything else until I get that out of the way.
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Baby update

Today’s appointment with my normal OB went well, for the most part. She asked how much longer the specialist wants to see me. I told her that since the numbers they’re watching for the baby’s anemia are still higher than the normal range that they want to keep monitoring me. She is going to talk to the specialist about it in more detail, but if there is still a real concern about the anemia, then they will probably recommend an induction at 37 weeks. That’s Valentine’s week, according to my doctor. I think I’m about 5-6 days ahead of that, so it’s closer to 38 weeks according to me.

Most likely the uncertainty with the numbers is due to him being larger than average and being far enough along that there just isn’t enough data to really know what’s normal and what’s a problem. By 37 weeks, though, he should be okay to be delivered, and if there is a problem from the parvo (fifth disease), it’s much easier and safer to deal with in a newborn than in utero.

I’ll see both doctors on Tuesday and we should have a decision then. When my OB first mentioned it, I was concerned about inducing early and possible complications from that, but honestly I’ve been hoping he comes safely early because of the uncertainty with the anemia and knowing that once he’s here, they can do a blood test to know for sure and do a transfusion easily if needed. It’s funny, when everyone started making bets on when little Beckett will arrive, I picked February 17, even though my first was born the day after his due date with the help of some Pitocin. As I left the OB’s office it dawned on me that the 17th is totally plausible if they induce. I suppose it would be cheating to specifically request the 17th just so I’m right.

So, for the next week I will be working like a mad woman trying to get everything ready just in case. I’m hoping some of that mythical nesting energy I’ve heard of but never experienced kicks in ASAP. It would be even nicer if my extra preparation efforts resulted in some natural progress on the baby front. I’d feel much better about an induction if it looked like things were already headed in the right direction.

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Learning About Cloth Diapering: Pros and Cons

I used disposable diapers with my first. I thought about cloth diapering with him, too, but the up front cost and exhaustion I felt all during that pregnancy deterred me from getting started. After he was born, I just continued with the disposables.

This time, I’ve decided to give cloth a shot. There is a lot to learn about the different types of cloth diapers now available and the proper care of them. I’ve decided to to a series of blogs to share what I learn through research and trial and error.

First up, here are my reasons to cloth diaper:

1. Cost. Sure it costs a lot to buy the diapers up front, but over the course of about 2-3 years, disposables cost much more. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to buy diapers, so I’m estimating a little here. It seems like the cheapest boxes I would buy ran about $15 and lasted less than a month. The training diapers he used in the last few months cost closer to $16 and lasted two weeks, tops. My son was 2 years 8 months when he finished potty training. Even if we figure a box diapers lasting a full month and a pack of training diapers lasting two weeks, we get (24 x $15)+(16 x $16)= $616. That doesn’t take into account that the number of diapers per box decreases as the size increases, so they don’t last as long, or that I couldn’t always get the cheapest brand. That also doesn’t include disposable wipes. So for me, $616 is the minimum number I have to beat in order to come out ahead with cloth diapering one child.

2. Comfort. Everyone in my little family suffers from eczema to some degree. Personally, I’ve found most disposable menstrual products to be irritating to my skin and have switched almost completely to cloth. Since the materials in disposable diapers are similar to what’s in disposable pads, it seems likely that cloth will be much more comfortable and less likely to irritate my baby.

3. Newer styles of cloth diapers are about as easy as disposables. I got to test some one size pocket diapers while watching a friend’s little boy, and found them to be as easy to change as disposables. Those used snaps to close. Others use velcro. For the old-school prefold or flat fold styles, you can use these plastic fasteners called Snappi’s. Unless you like living dangerously, there’s no need for diaper pins. This is important if you are as clumsy as I am.

4. I can make them. For a DIYer like me, this is big. So far, I haven’t made actual diapers, but I’ve made inserts (soakers) and cloth wipes from suitable materials I already had on hand. Some of the material came from old t-shirts that were no longer wearable and bath towels that had seen much better days. Fun and free or very, very cheap. 🙂

To be fair, here’s a list of cons:
1. You have to wash them. If I didn’t have my own washing machine, this would be a big deterrent. But, I have the luxury of being able to do laundry at any time of day, at home, in my pajamas if I want. Also, Finn had TONS of blowouts with disposables, so I was washing poop covered clothes almost daily until he started solids. (I’ve heard cloth don’t do this as much. *fingers crossed*) Washing poopy diapers won’t be much different. If anything, it will probably be less annoying because they are supposed to get poopy.

2. You have to store the dirty diapers. Dirty diapers stink. Some people try to say that they don’t if the baby is exclusively breast fed. They lie. For me, though, our trash pick up runs on Tuesdays and Fridays. Assuming someone remembers to take out the trash, that’s only two times a week we can get rid of stinky disposable diaper trash. The rest of the time, it’s either sitting in a diaper pail or in the trashcan outside baking in the sun. With cloth, I can wash a few small loads per week and keep the dirty diaper content in our house to a minimum.

3. You have to carry the dirty ones with you when you’re out. Gross. But, for me, I usually had to find something to do with poopy clothes when out and about due to blowouts. Also gross. I will be testing and possibly making my own washable bags to contain the poop and stink to deal with this. Heavy duty freezer bags also seem like a good possibility to use for this. If all else fails, I may use disposable diapers for the times when I will be away from the house all day. I’m pretty much a homebody, so that won’t make too much of a dent in the savings I get from using cloth the rest of the time.

I’m sure there’s many more for both lists, but those are the main reasons I have considered when deciding to cloth diaper. Feel free to share your own. 🙂