Baby Content – Top 3 New Family Gift Ideas

Spring is in the air, and that is often accompanied by a lot of new life. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about some of the best gifts I received for both my shower and when Baby Content was born, so here’s my roundup!

1. Food. I remember every single person who showed up at my house in those first couple of months with food of any kind. Easy options to toss in the oven for dinner, fresh fruit & yogurt for breakfast, baked goods, etc. I honestly don’t remember who gave me what outfit (other than a couple of really adorable items) but I can name every single person who showed up with food & also tell you what they brought with them.

2. If you can’t bring food, think about a gift certificate for grocery delivery, or to something like Supper Works. Brilliant!

3. A cleaning service! Dear (amazing!!) friends of ours gave us a gift certificate for Molly Maid. OMG it does not get any better than that! They might not even need it right away, we waited until recently to use it for a good spring cleaning of the house – we can manage the day to day stuff, but finding a few hours to do a big top to bottom cleaning? no way.

Baby Content – Sleep Soundly

A girlfriend of mine is pregnant and due this spring, almost exactly one year apart from Baby Content. I told her I’d put some of my pregnancy/baby tips together for her and as I started to compile it I realized I’ve learned a lot in the last 7 months. Perspective, as they say, is everything. But the one thing I wish I had done more reading on is sleep.

Sleep, sleep, sleep and more sleep. And I don’t mean load up on sleep – that’s just obvious, and somewhat inevitable if you were as tired as I was. I spent so much time in my pregnancy reading about birth and breast feeding and what I really should have read about was learning how to create good sleep habits.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to know your options and preferences for birth and I found reading & watching anything from Ina May Gaskin was very inspiring, especially the birth stories. But in the end the birth happens very quick, and a certain part of it is out of your control. Know what you want, be ready to stand for it, but be flexible/open to change. I’m glad I had my birth plan in place, and had discussed it with my husband & doula. Our birth took a different route than anticipated (as almost all do) but I was still able to hold my ground on a few items that were important to me. And it feels good to stand your ground on the things that are important to you when you’re in the thick of it (for me it was refusing the pitocin during active labour, when it wasn’t really necessary), it certainly helped me be open to changing some of the others (like taking the epidural after a full day of hard active labour and finding myself at only 3cm dilated).

If I had read half the books I read on birth, on sleep, I might have gotten a lot more of it in months 4-7.  The first three months you really don’t have much say in sleep, but there are things you can do to set you both up for the rest of the first year. I had no idea how to create good sleep habits, and I took it for granted that i had a pretty decent sleeper from the beginning. I eventually found myself in tears at 3am on New Years Eve with a screaming baby who was frustrated and so tired she couldn’t get back to sleep (it happens!!) emailing a sleep doula for help.

Part of this came with starting  breast feeding full time at 3 months, I totally didn’t think my kid would refuse a bottle after only 2 days of not having one (even though she fed from one almost exclusively for 3 full months prior). I would have worked harder to keep night feeds to a bottle, and from my husband. But I found myself (as is very common, and not an issue for many moms) as the sole provider of food, and I had gotten into the bad habit of using the magical boobs to put Baby Content to sleep. Not a big deal in the beginning but as they get older they wake more often (those brains are so active!) and what I have since learned is that how a baby falls asleep at the beginning of the night, is generally what they need to put themselves back to sleep. And before I knew it I was getting up 3-4x’s a night to help her back to sleep. More often during growth spurts. And teething.  And I couldn’t escape & get out on my own for more than an hour or two at a time, date night with my husband had gone down the drain, and I as a walking zombie. If only I had known about creating good sleep habits!!

Side note: I love love love bottle feeding. I also love breast feeding. But bottle feeding can be a lifesaver and it’s soooo great for Dad to have that time with babes as well. And it really helps when you want to just have some time with the hubs/partner and you’ve got grandparents/aunts/uncles who would LOVE to baby sit for a few hours. So this is more a note to myself to remember to institute a night bottle from the very beginning, breast feed during the day/bottle feed at night.

Stay tuned for a post on my thoughts on baby registry items.

Baby Content – Jammie Obsessed

Pyjamas have become one of my favourite things since Baby Content arrived. And not for me, but for her. Cute babies in cute jammies make those middle of the night feedings so much easier to swallow – it’s true. But not all jammies are created equal no matter how cute they are. So I’ve compiled my list of Jammie Rules for other new moms.

1. Zipper closure. Snaps are finicky, they are a pain to do up when you’ve got a squirming, tired, cranky baby on your change table, and they are challenging for daddy’s larger fingers to line up. If they are of lesser quality they can pop open in areas that there is a bit of strain on (think chubby thighs, or long torsos). They can also leave gaps that baby’s feet can squeeze through if your little one is not totally filling out the width of your sleeper and can pull his/her legs up inside.

2. No Feet! Footless is totally the way to go once you’ve moved out of newborn stage. Why manufacturers don’t leave a little more room in the legs with the built in feed I do not understand. So I avoid them at all costs no matter how cute. Just put some socks on to keep those toes warm (tip – put the socks on under the jammies so they stay on all night!)

3. Wide cuffs. Look for long cuffs that you can cuff up and unfold as the babes grows – this will make your sleeper last much longer. Often babies grow out lengthwise before widthwise and this can help you get an extra few months (yes – months!) out of your Jammies.

Now where can you get said PJ’s? Two of my favourites are  Hanna Andersson and Gap.

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Baby Content – Cut From The Same Cloth

Before Baby Content was born, when i was just starting to do my ‘research’ on what I would actually need for this little person, I got a little education in cloth diapers. I loved them right away, today’s cloth diapers are nothing like the ones my mom used to pin on us back in the late 70′s (very late 70′s for those of you doing the math). I learned about a few different brands at the store, how they work, how they differ, and then I went home and did my online research.

One brand continuously came up with rave reviews from real moms – AppleCheeks. This particular brand comes in two (highly adjustable) sizes for an accurate fit no matter what size your babe. Coming from a product development background (in apparel), this spoke to me more than the brands that have so much adjustability that they are a ‘one size fits all’. How can the same diaper be equally effective when your baby is 6 pounds or 26 pounds? I’m a ‘fit fanatic’ so this just didn’t make sense for me. So AppleCheeks went on my registry.

I actually only received a handful at my shower, I don’t know why people don’t get more excited about cloth diapers!? And as we all know Baby Content arrived ahead of schedule so I didn’t have much time to stock up in what was missing, nor did I have time to really think about it for a while.

So fast forward a few months, I was using cloth at home and disposable outside of the house (which is often), and still disgusted with the amount of waste we were producing. A friend of mine sent over her cloth diaper stash (her youngest & last is now 4) and then I finally told my husband that I was ready to commit to cloth. We popped out to Snugglebugz and I picked up what I needed to get going on a full time basis – more covers (i had enough inserts), a large wet bag for the nursery, a small wet bag for my diaper bag, and a natural diaper ointment stick. Now I had enough to get me through 3 full days.

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I’m in love with cloth. I had a hesitation because they are a bit bulkier and I was worried about half her clothing not fitting. Completely superficial and I got over it really quickly. I’m now obsessed with her apple bum and happily pulling out clothes from the closet that she can now fit into. Because my stash is partially built on hand-me-downs I’m not exclusively AC….YET. I’m working on it though! But because of that I can tell you that the only diapers that consistently do not have ‘diaper breaches’ (poop explosions!) are my AC’s. So I’m slowly replacing the ‘others’ with AC’s as I can afford to (this new job as a mom doesn’t pay as well as my old one!). I’ve got my routine down, we do a diaper load every 2-3 nights and I look forward to the following morning when i sit & fold & stuff during nap time.

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Cloth diapering is it’s own world. I am totally a newbie and just learning all the lingo, this past weekend I learned that collecting all the colours (discontinued, shade variations, limited editions & other ‘hard to gets’) is a ‘thing’. I’m kind of the opposite because I am dying to trade some of my colours to have a very concise colour scheme (black, white, grey, pink and a few orange because I’m dutch & they nailed the orange!) to match her wardrobe. Stay tuned to see how successful I am with that.

Mrs Content – City Slick OOTD

It’s cooling down outside. Layering is at a major high right now. I love this time of year when the leather boots & jacket come out of the closet for regular rotation. Also I’m starting to fit into some more of my pre-pregnancy jeans which is opening up some new outfit opportunities and making me really really happy.
I’ve become obsessed with baby wearing and recently ordered my first woven wrap. I had to search hard to find something that would work well with my muted wardrobe. Most woven wraps are rainbow coloured. Too granola for me. So I’m thrilled with my purchase, it’s comfortable, Baby Content loves it, and it’s working well with my fall essentials.
T-shirt from J Crew, old sweatshirt from Hudson’s Bay, leather jacket is Zara, jeans are Acne & my trusty leather boots are Fiorentini & Baker. Oh and my diaper bag is Marc by Marc Jacobs.

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Social Content – Fantasy Dinner Party

Over dinner and possibly a few cocktails one night, Mr Content & I hashed out our fantasy dinner party guest list. If I recall correctly this list is pretty much half his picks and half mine.

Gordon Ramsay (pure entertainment)
Tom Ford
David Lynch
Kevin Spacey
Tilda Swinton
Grace Coddington
Lady Gaga
Tina Fey
Trent Reznor
David Bowie & Iman
Will Farrell

I’m pretty sure there were a few other great picks that I couldn’t seem to remember by the time I thought to write down the attendees. And obviously Gordon Ramsay would have recommended the private chef who is catering our guests. No way I’m cooking for him!
Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

Mrs Content – My Journey With Breastfeeding

Baby Content was born at 37 weeks, weighing a small but healthy 6 pds 2oz. I first tried breastfeeding after she was born, and though her latch was light she seemed to be making all the right noises and motions. Over night, with the help/suggestion of a nurse, I regularly expressed colostrum into a tiny little cup and we fed that to her as well. We went home 24 hours after her birth and continued to try to breastfeed and do the express/cup feed routine.

Everything seemed fine, she was making all sorts of noise at the breast which made it seem like she was feasting. She was a small but pleasant little babe, didn’t complain unless you were changing her diaper or trying to bathe her. Then, after a few days, she stopped pooping. She kept peeing and all the books say this is all totally normal but it didn’t sit well with me and I had concerns about her latch so I made an appointment with the breastfeeding clinic.

We got to the clinic and found out M’s weight had dropped an entire pound. I thought i was going to be sick. I was devastated. 5 pounds, 3oz. What kind of mother was I that I hadn’t figured this out sooner?! She was around 9 or 10 days old at this point. My hormones were all over the place, my crotch still hurt when i walked (or sat, or laid down…), I was a frazzled new mom who now felt like she was failing her daughter after a mere week of life. Thank goodness my husband is a rock in these situations.

Apparently this is a common situation with 37 week babies (and babies born prior to 37 weeks), they’ve even been termed ‘The Great Pretenders’ in the medical field, and my breast feeding consultant had even been on a 3 day conference all on these babies. Doctors treat them as full term, and they are born at a healthy weight and development so there is no red flags. However the jaw muscles are some of the last to develop, so these little ones just get tired before they’ve had enough to eat. And then they don’t give you any sign that they are hungry – no crying or fussing or anything. So now I found myself breast feeding, then my husband would give her a bottle of breast milk that i had previously pumped to supplement her while I pumped for the next feeding.

We continued this for a few weeks until we saw her weight start to rise dramatically (yay!). Eventually her suck got stronger and my nipples began to chafe and chap. Skin was peeling from them, her latch hurt, my nipples came out looking like pancakes, and i was having pain in my breasts after she finished feeding. Fun times. Back to the Clinic. Amazingly nurses are always able to get the baby to latch correctly and they make it look so easy. Then you get home and it’s a disaster all over again.

We started giving her less and less of the supplement and i had a very unhappy baby on my hands. I went back to my Dr. (who is also my daughter’s doctor) who asked how much milk she’ll drink from a bottle after feeding. When i said ‘whatever is in the bottle – anywhere from 3-4 ounces’ he determined that despite the strength of her suck (and the damage it was causing) she still isn’t getting enough milk. So I had to keep supplementing. After all that pain, the emotional rollercoaster (magnified by the pain of my traumatized nipples) the tears that seemed to come at the drop of a dime, and I still am not able to feed my baby what she needs. So I decided to take a break from breast feeding for a weekend and just pump and give her the bottle. My nipples scabbed up immediately.  Once they healed I had another breast feeding consultant come to my house. I thought ‘Ok, I’m going to give it one more go’, but i needed more than just 10 minutes at a clinic, and I really wanted someone to be in my house with me to see me and my girl in our ‘real life’ situation. Her diagnosis was that M seemed a bit tight under her tongue. The paediatrician who checked her out after birth, our family doctor checked her at 48 hours old, and the nurse at the breast feeding clinic also checked her at our first visit and no one felt there was any tongue tie issue. I did however mention this to the Cranial Sacral RMT that week (our third session, all to help with breast feeding & overall health after 6 hours of pushing) and she did a lot of work on her lower jaw and under her tongue. Right after that she started to push her tongue out all the time. Later that week we were back at the Dr’s office (at this point we were going every week, in the beginning it was to monitor her weight gain then it quickly changed to monitoring my mental/emotional health – there’s a history of post-partum depression in my family and this whole adventure had me very sensitive and teary) and my Doctor put his foot down and said to stop breast feeding. She wasn’t getting enough, I was in a lot of pain, I was exhausted and upset, and I was having to pump and supplement anyways.  This was about my health, not hers. She was thriving, I wasn’t. It was also about me being a better mom for her, one who wasn’t crying all the time and so stressed out that the eczema on her face wouldn’t heal. My daughter deserved a healthy and happy mom, I was neither of these things. So I stopped and for the next month and a half I just pumped. Almost exclusively, there were nights when i just couldn’t get enough so I tried various formulas, all of them caused constipation. It was time consuming but at least she was getting my milk, and clearly that’s what suited her body best.

I mourned the breast feeding experience and relationship that I never had with my daughter. There’s no shortage of information out there that really pushes Breast is Best, it seems like such a natural obvious choice. I felt like a failure. Maybe I gave up too quickly. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe it’s supposed to be excruciating and you just ‘get through it’. Lots of ‘maybes’. I had to accept what was and move on.

So here I am 3 months in, my gorgeous girl weighing in at a very healthy 12pds 13oz and has grown almost 5″ since birth. We’ve come a long way from the 5pd 3oz days. She’s a very happy and healthy girl, she smiles all the time and is working hard on her laugh. And here I am – healthy, happy, rested, feeling good, and enjoying my life. I’ve got a system going with pumping/bottling/feeding, and everything is going great. So why on earth would i try to breast feed again after a 6+ week hiatus? I don’t know. I must be a glutton for punishment. But what did I have to lose if I tried it once in a while? I had my prescription for APNO, so why not? And you know what? It worked. I didn’t do anything differently, maybe it’s everything we experienced along the way, maybe it’s because she’s a bit older (I had heard from a number of people that sometimes they just don’t ‘get it’ until a little later), maybe it’s because I’m healthy and happy and not stressed out. I think it’s likely a combination of all these ‘maybes’. I started trying it once every couple of days and I would start with a 2oz bottle and try to top her up on the boob. One time she just (out of nowhere) opened her mouth wide, and finally took in breast (not just nipple – her latch had been very shallow and I could NEVER get her to open her mouth up to adjust her latch. And if she did she would just fall back off to a shallow nipple latch anyways.) And magically it didn’t hurt. So I tried it again the next day, and it just started to come together. By the next week I tried going a full day (at home) and using a bottle over night. When that worked i tried it again but on a day I was out of the house – my first time feeding in public. And ta-da! I was nursing with ease as if I’d been doing it from day one.

I still pump in the morning for a couple of bottles at night. I think it’s important that she’s able to go back and forth between the two and I like that my husband can continue to share in the feeding experience – both for their relationship and to give me a break. This way also I can continue to have my parents babysit from time to time and not have any issues with the bottle.

Now I like to call my girl a triple threat – breast, bottle, soother – she’s a master of all. I can’t put in to words how it feels to finally have accomplished this. It’s something I wanted so badly it hurt. I wanted the experience, I wanted the bond. I needed to know I could provide for her. I have cried a lot of tears over breastfeeding – failure tears, pain tears, desperation tears, tears of mourning… and now happy tears. There’s a feeling of satisfaction and wholeness that has settled deep down inside me. I’m proud of our journey and I’m proud that we finally figured it out, together.

Mrs Content – A Moment Shared

Tonight I had a moment. A major moment in mommyhood for me actually.

I’ve shed many tears since June 11th. The overwhelming emotions when she was first laid on my tummy, moments of doubt or fear, tears for no reason because of hormones, moments of absolute new-parent-overwhelm, tears fuelled by sleep deprivation and exhaustion, tears when I realized I was never going to be that mom who could breast feed with such ease anywhere anytime, and tears when she had her 2 month vaccinations. Tonight I cried at a moment that was shared between my husband and our girl.

We’re 24 hours into our annual vacation in Newfoundland. It’s M’s first visit and the first time she’s met her Nanny and Pop. I had a nap today and 3 square meals, time to read and time to relax. A real treat. (The only thing missing was a latte but Starbucks hasn’t quite found its way to Lark Harbour just yet).

Tonight my husband had our girl in our room to change her diaper before her last bottle before bed and they started exchanging ‘dance’ moves (I use the term ‘Dance’ loosely for both parties). She would wave her arms and kick her legs, then he would do the same (but vertical), and so in and so on. She has been cooing up a storm over the last few weeks and is getting louder and more frequent with then every day. It seems to have kicked up a notch today and this evening after the dance party we were all three lying on the bed and realized when Mr Content gets face to face with Baby C she really starts ‘talking’. She would talk, then he would imitate her sounds back then she would talk longer and louder every time. It was a full on conversation and listening to her use new sounds and volume levels really overwhelmed me. I had tears pouring from my eyes. It was such a beautiful moment for me seeing her develop and work so hard to communicate. Realizing how much she’s grown and changed in such a short time hit me like a ton of bricks. I was filled with love, pride, excitement, and awe all at the same time.

Aside from the moment she was born these we’re the most positive tears I’ve shed in months. I have to think that that in itself is a milestone. Not the cooing. Not the dancing. But that at 11+ weeks in I’m shedding happy bonding tears.

Parenting is hard work kids. These first few months are easily the most challenging of life. I’ve never worked harder, been thanked less, been naked more, looked worse naked, slept less, cried more, or been more unsure of myself, but I wouldn’t change it for a thing. Moments like tonight are the reward and the reason we do it all over again, eventually. I had to document it.