Must-have items for new moms

We have several new and expecting moms following our blog so we want to share with y’all our list of must-have items. These are the kinds of things that you’ll want around as soon as baby gets here. Items 1-8 are Mallory’s must-haves and 9-16 are Claire’s.
1. Baby carrier – I actually have three baby carriers; we like to baby wear in this family! My first child had reflux so it was necessary to wear her constantly to keep her happy and my hands free. The Boba wrap is perfect for keeping baby snug and wrapped tightly to your body. My husband and I prefer to use this carrier if we are wearing the baby around the house. I don’t feel as comfortable going out with this one on because it is not very supportive.

The Boba wrap is perfect for baby wearing around the house.

The Baby Bjorn baby carrier is great for going out. It’s lightweight, easy to put on and supports the baby close to your chest. We recently bought and fell in love with the Ergobaby 3-position carrier for our toddler because you can wear the child on your back like a backpack. If you are only going to get one carrier, I’d highly recommend this one because it will meet all your needs.

Wearing a toddler as a backpack using the Ergobaby carrier makes exploring a new country much easier!

2. Bob jogging stroller – if you like jogging or doing anything outdoorsy, I highly recommend paying the big bucks and investing in a Bob jogging stroller. They are amazing and worth every penny!

3. Oh joy! Diaper bag from Target – this diaper bag is a backpack, has stroller straps, and zips closed. The bag has several pockets and is very deep for lots of storage. I love it and get compliments everywhere I go! Claire’s had 2 diaper bags and doesn’t love either of them. She’s going to go buy one of these bags this week.

4. Love to Dream swaddle UP – this swaddle is fabulous and so easy to use. You just put the baby inside and zip it up. One problem I always had using a blanket to swaddle was that my LO would struggle until her arms were free. With the Love to Dream swaddle the arms are up in a patented wing position. My husband calls it a wingman suit for this reason. The babies look like skydivers. The 50/50 swaddle has zip-off wings to help baby transition out of swaddles. I unzipped one wing at first then after a few nights took off both wings. This made the whole process easy for mom and baby.

Love to Dream swaddle UP a.k.a. Wingman suit

5. Rock n Play Sleeper – these are the best to have in every room (just kidding I just pick mine up and move it into which ever room I am in). Great for bedtime, nap time, daytime and playtime. For me, it comes in handy after nursing. I can lay my LO down without worrying he will spit up because it is the perfect angle.

Big sister coming inside to check on baby brother every 5-minutes

6. Amazon Subscribe and Save – first off, if you don’t already have Amazon Prime membership please crawl out of your cave and get with the program. Amazon saves me so much time and effort. Subscribe and Save is even more amazing because I can create a monthly list of items that will be automatically delivered to me by a certain day. It even works in Japan! This is how I get all our diapers, wipes, diaper trash bags, and most importantly our K-pods.

7. Nose Frida – the grossest, most effective apparatus for extracting snot from a stopped up baby nose. It is somewhat satisfying watching all the baby’s snot fill the tube.

Using the Nose Frida…the patient is not always happy about you sucking snot out of their nose!

8. Tinybeans – best app to keep your family updated with daily photos without sharing your little ones face and life story with the whole World Wide Web. Read Claire’s article to find out why we love Tinybeans so much.

9. Pack n Play w/ Bassinet feature – This is one of the essentials to have ready when baby comes home from the hospital. You’re gonna want your newborn within arm’s reach the first few months, so setting up the pack n play right next to your bed is going to help you catch some z’s. When baby transitions to the crib, you can still keep your pack n play around to contain baby around the house and on trips.

10. My Brestfriend Pillow – This nursing pillow was recommended by the lactation consultant at our hospital. It buckles around your body for extra support and convenience. My love for it has grown since we’ve moved into a two-story house. I just clip it around my waist which gives me two free hands to carry baby (or extra snacks and water) to wherever I want to nurse him.

11. Keekaroo changer – while I was pregnant, I was learning the parenting ropes from a friend and this is the changer she had. At first I was put off by the price, but because you don’t need changing pad covers, it’s basically a wash. Just wipe down and done. I was satisfied by this purchase in the first week we brought our son home: I put him on the changer, took off his diaper and suddenly the Keekaroo was flooded with meconium! We kept trying to put on new diapers, but it just kept coming!

keekaroochangingpad.jpg

12. Two-in-One Swing – In my experience I’ve found two camps of moms: The Rock n Players or The Swingers. There are so many (what I call) “baby receptacles,” on the market it’s hard to know what to choose. You’ll definitely want something outside of the bedroom for setting down and soothing your babe. What works best for you is largely dependent on your baby’s personality, but for me, the practicality of the Graco 2-in-1 Swing won me over to the Swinger side. I loved that the swing seat is also a bouncer that can be removed and moved around the house. Such a space-saver!

2014-10-11 10.03.49

Probably the only time I strapped him in…

13. Bamboobies – reusable nursing pads! Yes! I will say, in the beginning, I still ended up using disposable nursing pads because I leaked so much that the reusable pads would just stay wet which is not good for your nips, but once my supply regulates, the reusable are all I really need.

14. White Noise machine – this was one of my “live and learn” purchases. As my first-born got older and more sensitive to his environment, sometimes the smallest creak would startle him awake. I finally got a white noise machine to drown out any startling noises. Today I have one in each of my boys’ rooms which has been especially useful for drowning out the incessant barking of the dogs.

15. Madela hand pump – I don’t pump often, but when I do it’s usually in the middle of the night to relieve engorgement. Getting a good double electric pump is great, but if you’re looking to avoid the whole production of getting connected to your electric pump, a hand pump can be used from the quiet comfort of your bed. Also great for throwing in your diaper bag or suitcase if you’re traveling.

16. Vibrating teether – Teething sucks. I have all kinds of teethers, but found that nothing provided sweet relief quite like the vibrating ones. The only problem with them is that little babies have trouble biting down on them to get them to vibrate. The one linked helped me solve that problem. I can let baby chew on one side and I’m still able to hold down the other side to keep it vibrating.

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Stranger Things: My Japanese Birth Experience Part 1

Some husbands are very supportive and hands-on during their wife’s delivery. Not mine. Mine sits back in the shadows taking notes so he can remind me later of how much I cried. He is very loving in that way (hopefully you can read the sarcasm). You may recall his “smell log” from our first child’s birth. Well, he did not disappoint with his thorough account of the events leading up to our son’s birth in the local Japanese hospital.

Taking notes while I receive an IV of antibiotics

 6:32PM

We arrive at the hospital several miles out of town in a run down area. It is Saturday night yet there are few signs of the local population, save those hurrying back to their homes. We wander out of the gravel parking lot down the street until we see a dimly lit alleyway, now to select the correct door. Unable to read kanji we continue checking each door until one pulls open. With it comes the yellow glow of old GE light bulbs and the smell of Florida. Not the salt sea air of spring break but the musky oder of a retirement barely keeping the tenant afloat. There are racks of shoes to the left just inside the entryway, someone has been using the facility.

6:37PM

We step hesitantly, quietly, inching down the hall, the only sounds our own footsteps. The exit signs tell us we’ve gone the wrong way as we explore the first floor. A set of stairs eventually appears, but was it there the first time we passed down the corridor? As we climb up the stairwell there is a faint unidentifiable sound ahead. Cresting the top we look left, then right. The second floor much like the first appeared vacant of any life, only the old cream tile floors, walls of peeling paper and medical equipment long abandoned. We continued our search past the check-in hub, which was devoid of life. Then the noise again, this time closer. As I turned to confront it I only catch a glimpse of a white spectre scurry, or did it float? across the hall from one doorway to another. It was too quick to make out its true form. I rushed to follow, hoping for answers to this mysterious haven. But as I made the turn into the room with the strange bed, giant clock with its gliding hands, and foreign machines I am confronted head on with the creature, “Morris!” it exclaimed bursting from the shadows. Her…Her! accent, was thick…

6:45PM

She was no ghoul, but the on call nurse. Her actions were quick and severe. I was quickly backed into a corner, isolated, as she dashed off, quickly returning with a larger male. Still in disbelief at our discovery I am unable to protest as they tear away my wife to strap her to that strange bed. It is obvious the medical equipment still functions, though archaic it may be. While they focus on her I am able to visually investigate my surroundings. Every item in the room unmistakably has a place, though there are so many instruments in such a small space, that the look is very chaotic. The most disturbing, however, are the three metal pots, each about the size of a human head, with lids that have been locked shut.

7:25PM

After strapping my wife to the bed they leave and shut the door. It is very hot in here and we brought no water and there does not appear to be a tap in our confines. I don’t understand why one of us should be restrained, yet I am free to move about. How would they react if they found I had loosed her bonds? I don’t know how many others are here with us, either as “guests” or those who are holding us here. All I can hear now is the female milling about outside of our room, there has been no indication of the male for sometime. What do they want from us? And why are they heating our room? It is so hot!

8:05PM

They must have gotten what they wanted, they are moving us to another space. The first room must have been some sort of processing facility. This place looks more permanent, there is a bed, and an unusual looking stool. Neither are comfortable, however, when I lie on the bed exhaustion takes hold.

I labored in a Tatami room until I was in active labor

9:00PM

My wife wakes me frantically, they will begin the extraction on her now. We groggily move back to the original room, they’ve brought more of their people. All of them wearing pink smocks circa 1960s America, and masks to hide their identities, though I wonder how many have made it out the exit and back to safety. They are frantically chittering away like a swarm of insects working on a hive, strapping my wife back down to the table.

9:30PM

After half an hour of prodding and examining my wife their elder appeared before us. At this point, through tears and gasps for breath she begs him to end her pain no matter the cost. With a grin he speaks in his guttural language, in what I can only assume was a pleasant surprise that his subject broke so quickly. The chittering from the elder’s subordinates picks up in a deafening crescendo as three of the pink clad females grab my wife by the arms and legs. They contorted her until her spine was exposed and vulnerable. The elder then brought out an immense needle, plunging menacingly as her pain intensifies. I don’t know if that’s when they planted the darkness in her, but it certainly was the beginning of our hell to come.

We had quite the experience. It would be generous to call the place I delivered at a hospital. It was as empty and sweltering hot as my husband described. The OB has been in practice there for nearly 50 years and it definitely showed. Their methods were effective, but they were also very crude.

One of the main reasons I chose this particular place was that they offered an epidural, which is not common in Japan. I am not ashamed to admit that I do not handle pain well. Once I was taken to the delivery room the 200-year old doctor arrived to administer the epidural. He had lots of trouble placing the line, which resulted in several painful punctures along my spine and tenderness around the site for several weeks. It was all for nothing because the dosage was so low it had zero effect on me.

That birth was the most painful experience of my entire life. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy. I was crying, kicking, and begging for it to be over. I thought at one point that I might actually die, especially when the attendant had clearly also had enough and gave me a quick episiotomy, then went elbow-deep inside of me to pull the baby out. There was one nurse beside me the whole time whose only job was to shush me when I got too loud. And not in a kind or nurturing way either. I couldn’t believe it. We were absolutely the only people in this “hospital,” why did I have to be quiet? First, they botch giving me an epidural and then they tell me I’m being too loud as I writhe in pain. WTF?

I have since learned that the Japanese do not believe in pain-relieving drugs during childbirth, or after for that matter. This explains the doctor’s inexperience administering epidurals. It is believed that a mother’s ability to endure the pain demonstrates her strength and responsibility and not experiencing pain hinders the bond between mother and child. Japanese women are also expected to experience labor and birth quietly, explaining why the nurse kept trying to silence me. I have a whole new respect for these women, but I absolutely do not believe that my inability to suffer silently has any bearing on my capabilities as a mother.

 

Preventing and dealing with common heat conditions that occur with children

I was giving my daughter a bath last night and noticed the farmer’s tan developing on her arms and immediately felt bad for not being more careful with her in the sun. Luckily she has olive skin like her father instead of my pale, ginger skin that burns on rainy days. Either way, I don’t want to keep her indoors while the weather is heating up so next time I will just have to be more prepared.

Here are some tips from Babytime! for preventing and coping with common heat conditions your child could suffer from:

The weather is warming up and it is only going to get hotter as spring turns into summer. Taking children, especially babies, outside to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful weather can be an enriching experience, but can have painful and itchy consequences if the proper steps are not taken to prevent heat rash, sun burn and other heat related conditions. Below are some simple tips to enjoy the sun without putting your child, and even yourself, at risk.

Continue reading

Toddler Meal Prep: Ain’t nobody got time for that!

When we first started introducing solid foods to my daughter she was such a great eater. We basically could feed her anything and she’d gobble it down. Nowadays she goes through stages: one week she only eats the veggies on her plate, the next week she only eats the meat, and at no point will she ever eat a potato in any of its delicious forms. (This is how I know she is not my child and was probably switched at birth. I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like.)

In Claire’s last blog, You’re gonna jinx it…, she mentions the likely scenario of what happens the second you start to brag about how your child is such a good eater; they turn the tables on you and refuse to eat anything except Cheerios found in their car seat and string cheese.  This is slowly happening more and more everyday so I went to Pinterest for some “toddler meal” inspiration. What I found was horrifying. 

Take a look at this BS:

Who in their right mind has time to do all of this? And my real question is, does it actually work? Do kids see food shaped like an animal and magically decide to eat it instead of throwing it on the floor?

In our house, everyone is awake no later than 6AM and we usually eat breakfast right away. Breakfast is never an issue, it is my husband’s and daughter’s favorite meal of the day. If I were to try to get more creative with toddler meals for the rest of the day I’d have to start preparing lunch as soon as breakfast were over and I’m sorry to say, I do not have time for that. I barely find time to shower and brush my own teeth between breakfast clean up, reading 1,000 stories to my daughter, and playing outside. By the time 11AM roles around I’m scrambling to put together something semi-healthy for us both for lunch.

One day I tried making Onigiri (rice balls) because she loves them and eats them every day at daycare, but I was taking too long and my daughter had a meltdown so I just ended up handing her a plate of clumpy rice. She thought it was just as good as the rice balls so I’m now convinced that fancy schmancy food preparation is completely unnecessary when it comes to toddlers. They will eat what they want and throw the rest on the floor. 

My attempt at toddler meals. At least I have cute plates!

Come on Pinterest! Give us real Moms a break! http://lmld.org/2016/02/20/food-art-ideas/

 

I mean seriously, I’m impressed with your mom skills, but this is just over the top! 

What does your toddler like to eat? It’s ok if you are the type of mom that makes animals out of the food! Tell me it really works and I’ll give it a try!

Month of the Military Child 

For both Claire and I, being military spouses was not something we had ever dreamed about. We are, of course, happy in our roles, but we could take it or leave it. We have given up a lot for this life: careers, being near family, friends, being able to plant roots, etc. We knew there would be sacrifices and we agreed to them from the very beginning because we love and support our husbands. Our kids, however, did not get a vote.

April is the Month of the Military Child and we honor military children for their sacrifice in supporting their families and country. There are more than 1 million military children across the Department of Defense. Military children are remarkable examples of resilience, strength and flexibility. Like I said before, they did not get a say in whether they wanted this life or not, but they pack up their books and clothes and say goodbye to friends every couple of years anyways. Continue reading

A Poem from my Husband

Have you ever just needed a compliment? Specifically from your spouse or loved one?

I like to think that I do not need to be complimented. I feel confident in everything that I do and rarely need to be reassured. If you know my husband, then you know he is not one to compliment anyone or anything very easily unless it is his beloved cat. When he does feel that a compliment is warranted (which is extremely rare), the receiver should accept it with a grain of salt. For instance, many years ago when we were dating and I was training for an ultramarathon he exclaimed one day that my thighs looked like those of a tyrannosaurus rex!! In his mind, he thought this was the nicest thing he could have ever said to me. I was mortified. This guy that I love thinks I look like a dinosaur!! WTF? No one has ever mistaken a dinosaur for being beautiful. I think I may have even cried at the time until he explained that he thought my legs were strong and muscular and that it was meant as the ultimate compliment. Continue reading

7 MUST-HAVE ITEMS WHEN TRAVELLING WITH AN INFANT/TODDLER

I’m not saying I’m an expert at travelling with an infant/toddler, but I have definitely discovered a few techniques to make life easier on the go and figured out what items are absolutely necessary to have on hand. During this PCS Adventure, my family has been without household goods for 48 days, spent 3 days in airports and on planes, and lived in hotels for 26 days. It has been a learning experience for us all and I think everyone was pushed to their limit at one point during this adventure. We are finally in our new house, but still do not have household goods so we are back to “roughing it” in our own home. I honestly do not think we would have made it this far without the following items: Continue reading

[UPDATED]: SCREEN TIME FOR BABIES

Back in July I wrote an article about screen time for babies and how it is a big “no-no” for children under 2 years of age. As much as I wish I were updating this article with new info about how it is not only good to let your kids watch TV that young, but also recommended for admission into Ivy League schools later in life, sadly I am not. I am here to confess that I am a complete failure at this; my 1 year-old daughter loves watching Baby Einstein videos and they have made the last few weeks more bearable for everyone in this family.

If you have been keeping up with my PCS adventures, then you know that my family has been without household goods for 34 days now. The first week was especially hard because not only did we not have anything in our house, but also my husband was not home to help entertain our LO. That’s when I turned to Baby Einstein and never looked back. I stumbled upon one of the videos on YouTube and played it for her; it magically kept her still and focused for 20 minutes. I then found a whole series of Baby Einstein classics on Amazon Prime and introduced a different one each day while I cleaned and prepped our house for moving out. I even had them saved to my iPhone for her to watch on our 14+ hour plane ride and they truly were a life saver. Now that we are temporarily living in a hotel until a house becomes available, Baby Einstein videos help break up our day and keep things exciting for our LO. Continue reading

My PCS Adventure: Part Two

Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

That’s basically all I have to say about the past couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot I could say, but I don’t want to rant and cry all over this blog today. Instead I’m looking forward to reaching our new destination and beginning a new life. 

Stay tuned for tips and tricks on surviving with a one year old in an empty house and while PCSing. 

My PCS Adventure 

We are back from our four week leave over the holidays to see family and friends. It’s nice to be back home, though our departure from California is imminent. Movers arrived earlier this week to begin our PCS (permanent change of station) adventure. This will be our sixth move since we got together and third move with the military. Moving always presents some challenges, but moving with a baby and overseas has really given a whole new meaning to “challenge”. Here are my notes thus far, I’ll keep you all updated through the coming weeks. 
Day 1 without HHG 

Less than 16 hours into not having furniture, cookware, or kid toys I wanted to call it quits and go check into a hotel. I’m no quitter so I’m sticking it out as long as possible. The packers/movers were so efficient they got all of our household goods (that are going to Japan) done in one day instead of two. We still have several more days of packing/shipping left for our Express and Storage items though. 

My daughter has had a runny nose and cough for a few days, but no fever so I have been holding out on going to the doctor. Her symptoms worsened last night so I took advantage of the “mover-free” day and took her to see our favorite Doc. Turns out she has bronchiolitis, a virus that’s going around. The doctor recommended I sleep with her in a chair for the next few nights so she doesn’t drown in her own mucous. Great, that will be fun with no furniture!

(Note: I asked around and borrowed a rocking chair from one of my Stroller Warriors sisters. So lucky to have them.)

After an exhausting day of cleaning up snot and keeping our daughter from falling all the way down the steps my husband gets home and I ask him to watch our LO a bit so I can take a minute to breathe. He announces he has to change and go to the bathroom first before he can help. I usually totally understand, but today I have so many issues with this! 1) he spends way too much time in the bathroom. Someone should see a doctor if they are actually going for that long and besides I can hear him playing on his phone. 2) I don’t get the luxury of hanging out in the bathroom for 30+ minutes BY MYSELF a day 3) I wish I were the one attending SERE school instead of home in an empty house, living out of a suitcase, sleeping in a rocking chair, with a sick baby. Locked in a cage for a few days alone sounds like a 5 star resort to me!

Day 2 without HHG 

I put on the last wash load (or so I thought) before prepping our washer and dryer for storage and my LO immediately threw up on me and herself. This is going to be a long day. Not to mention I have to go pick up my husband’s eye glasses from downtown so he can wear them into the field tomorrow. Movers are coming this afternoon and I’m working off 2 hours of sleep. And by the way his glasses were ready back in October. 

Movers were delayed today and didn’t arrive until after 5PM. So glad I spent the whole afternoon waiting around.

Day 3 without HHG and Day 1 of Solo Parenting 

Got up at 4AM to take husband to base so he could go to the field for SERE training. I’ve been really annoyed with this whole process, but am really going to miss his help at night this next week. 

Movers are due to pack up the last bit of stuff in our house today (i.e. washer/dryer, china cabinet, pieces of our sectional sofa) and put them in storage. When I got home from dropping DH off at work I remembered I needed to disconnect and drain the washer. Well shit! I had all our tools packed in our Express shipment so we would have them when we arrive in Japan, which was picked up yesterday. Now I’m running around at 7:30 in the morning knocking on neighbors’ doors trying to find a wrench. We have such great neighbors by the way. Got one! Now I really feel like a super mom because I squeezed my big, pregnant belly into our laundry room with the washer pulled out and climbed on top to disconnect the hose. Lesson learned: turn off water first! I some how managed to get both hoses disconnected and the washer emptied without completely flooding the laundry room. Whew! 

Next challenge is catching the cat! Movers called and said they are on their way. I need to put the cat in her crate so she doesn’t escape while the doors are open. What does she do? Hides in the box spring of the bed that is about to get packed for storage. I’m halfway thinking I’ll let her stay in there and see if she survives 3 years in storage. 

Stay tuned for more of my PCS adventure in the coming days!