Friday, January 30, 2009

Ali's Annals: 5.0 Splish Splash

Breaking news! Donald Trump reclaims his title as the owner of America's worst comb over (although, I can think of one particular high school science teacher who could give Donny a run for his with me Studs and Bec? Short sleeved collared shirts with yellow pit stains...). Miles got his first haircut and no longer has his toupee. Eric did the honors, and I think we aged our boy a good 7 weeks. We even cut around the ears with a nose hair trimming pair of scissors. (We still need to clean up the back a bit.) Miles was happy to discover that he still has enough hair to pull while he nurses.

Now, let's talk essential bathing. For the first few months we bathed Miles in the "hospital door prize" I was sent home with (along with disposable netted underwear, monstrous diaper inserts--for me!, and witch hazel pads that I thought might be expired Oxy acne pads): the infamous pink plastic "tub." Not quite the vomit tub, but not big enough to be a dish tub. But it is perfect for bathing really tiny babies. Until the belly stump crusts up and drops off, you can only give baby sponge baths, and this tub did a great job. I will warn you that those first baths are fun, but slightly nail biting! Little floppy baby heads and arms are a lot more difficult to manage when wet...

Some advice: don't bathe your baby every day; you'll strip them of lots of moisture and irritate their skin. Anyway, how dirty do lil ones get? True, the "nether" regions need good, thorough wipes, but babies really don't need to be bathed too much.

Miles has graduated to his "euro" tub, in which he can lie down as well as sit up depending on what way he is placed. Within the past month we graduated to finishing up his bath in the end that allows him to sit up. I have nothing but positive things to say about the Primo Eurobath. (It can also serve as a handy beer cooler as we discovered at Mama D's baby shower.)

We have a whole bin of wash cloths, but the best ones, by far, are the thick Bumkins. Miles especially likes these cloths to suck on. Part of me thinks it is probably not a great idea for him to suck on bath water-soaked cloths that have been used to clean his body, so we always use two: one for cleaning, and one for sucking. Miles is finally enjoying some bath toys, and right now he is entertaining himself with little dishes we ganked from an old gelatto store in our old 'hood (What's the Scoop). We also have a Dr Seuss Circus McGurkus Squirt bath book...riddled with BPA I am sure. It is a short read, but bath time isn't supposed to be study hall. We are saving up to make him a Boon baby. I am just obsessed with Boon products. I love the way the look and function. We hope to outfit his bath with the boon Frog Pod:
As well as the splat toy, and the scrubber toys:

In terms of soap, we use an all-in-one by, you guessed it, California Baby. It can be used as a shampoo and body wash, and the smell is, well, lavendar (what most natural/organic products are scented). I hold Johnson & Johnson in the same category as Dreft--highly scented, and shoved down parents throats as something that you "need." I am sure that in 90% of American Hospitals will bathe your baby in J&J, and I bet you my first born son (I can say that now!) that you'll come home with a handful of samples as well.

For drying, we have a great Under the Nile kimono towel, and we also love the Bumkins hooded towels. We do have a lot of Gerber hooded towels, but I find them to be thin, and they warp after washing.
Seriously folks, that is it! This one was pretty short and sweet...there is a lot more to come! (Can you tell it's been a rough week? I am just sapped and looking forward to a weekend of recharging...)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ali's Annals 4.4: CHANGE

Can you smell it? Change is in the air. I thought it prudent and timely to do my "essentials diaper" review (4.4th) as our country undergoes its own fresh change. The Heintz household has nominated and confirmed our own cabinet. Secretary of Health an Human Services is posthumously held by Dr. Seuss. In honor of the new appointment, Miles woke up as a little "who" from "who-ville." His full blown cold gives him a slightly pathetic appearance, and the gash on his forehead from his paper thin razor nails just adds to the charm, no?

Back to diapers. Earlier in the blog I had grand notions of using gDiapers, but again, being thrown into the newborn thing so early, we just weren't prepared. The NICU got us hooked on Huggies preemie diapers, and those actually lasted for a bit. We didn't buy diapers for a long time as we inherited diapers from friends and family friends 90% of those were your standard Pampers/Huggies, and they weren't bad functionally, but did give me slight guilt with the eco-factor. Regardless, here are my thoughts on those few weeks of "tradish" diapers: don't get the ones that have the "pleasant" baby odor. I am sure they got the chemical enhancement at the same factory in New Jersey as Dreft and Snuggle use. (Sorry, I am being mean!). But truthfully, if you cannot stand the smell, then get out of the kitchen (and by kitchen, I mean parenthood). Just like the book "Everybody poops," another sequel is "everybody's poops STINKS." :) In terms of preference between Pampers, Huggies and Target natural brand diapers...the huggies worked better for us--especially for the preemie size.

We had a great few weeks with Tushies, but those proved to be too expensive to keep stocked on our own (they came to us as a gift) so now, we have settled on Seventh Generation diapers and wipes. We actually have them sent to us from Amazon with autoship and get free shipping and a discount for "subscribing" to get them every couple of months. We really like these diapers as far as disposable go. They are thin, odorless, and I would lie if I didn't say that the brown paper bag look wasn't right up my aesthetic alley.

We also use 7th Generation wipes (and get them shipped via the same Amazon subscription service). Miles has sensitive skin, and these diapers/wipes have worked wonders for staving off redness and rash.

Is this the eco-friendliest option? Probably not. Although there is compelling evidence that both cloth and disposable have serious environmental impacts. Perhaps the only way to avoid any impact is to jump on the elimination communication band wagon, but there is no way that is happening in this house, and I am sure childcare wouldn't participate(Google it). Luckily, Mama D is journeying into the world of cloth diapers and cloth wipes so that if and when a baby #2 happens, we will have some first hand information on trying cloth diapers. Given that it takes a lot of trial and error as well as initial up front costs of stockpiling different types, we are just not in a position to start midway. And although my education on cloth diapering is limited, I do know that some suggestions to reduce the environmental impact is to wash on cold (heck, wash everything on cold!), don't use the dryer and use a clothes line (better than bleach for keeping them white!), and all poop waste (even in disposable...I admit, we don't do this) should be discarded in a toilet. And, there are lots of sites out there that sell used cloth diapers. If and when we go the cloth route, I hope to find pretty much all of his diapers used.

In terms of diaper cream, we LOVE California Baby's diaper cream.

We have used it for more than just diaper changes. When Miles was growing his own science project in his neck (a homemade cheese factory), we slathered it on, and in one day, the redness was gone. (You will be surprised how hard it is to clean milk dregs from neck folds). Also, we have used it one his chin when it gets chapped from teething drooling. It is non-toxic, not too odorrific (another made up word) and we are on the same tube from birth. We don't use it at every diaper change, just PRN (an homage to my nursing readership). Again, we are the "less is more" type and think that the more junk you slather on a kid, the more irritated the skin can be.

In terms of a diaper changing station, we purchased a dresser from IKEA and just put a changing pad on top. And here is a HUGE secret--old towels on any flat surface works well. Miles gets most of his morning diapers changed on our bed on a towel. We have mastered the two feet in one hand diaper exchange, and have never gotten even the towel soiled at this point. Miles has been changed on the floor, bed, counter, dresser, and MANY times in the car's back seat. (Better than those Koala 'changing' stations at fast food restaurants that I am sure people do lines of coke off of.)

As far as disposable diapers go, I don't think you *need* a diaper Genie. I applaud the mom (at least I hope it is some mom) who is sailing on her yacht from the earnings off of her invention, but to me, it is a waste of a big hunk of plastic. Additionally, you have to buy liners for the darn thing. Maybe no one has told us, but I don't think our house reeks of Miles's bee-hind. We just empty the trash regularly, and when away from home, make sure to bring an old plastic bag from the grocery store (not the best option I am sure) and make sure to seal it up tight prior to disposing of it.

And as I mentioned before, I don't know that a wipe warmer is necessary. Just my opinion, though.

Finally, a good thing to have for diaper change is some distraction. We have a great Charley Harper print that Miles loves to coo at, or Dad will come in and zerbert his belly so that mom can do the quick changer-roo. Miles has not found his personal playstation, yet...but I hear that once little boys find it, diaper changes get even more tricky!

That's all for this entry. You'll notice that the date published (i.e. the date started) is many days ago. My whole "post every 2 days" got slightly disrupted by a chaotic work week, and a lovely weekend full of baby showerness and a visit from Mrs Schlotty!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ali's Annals: 3.0 "I'm too sexy for my onesie"

Rouching...bum ruffles...bows...blousy dresses...cotton candy pink kimono undershirts... Yesterday I had the pleasure of sifting through Mama D’s brand new, spit- and poop-free lil’ newborn girl clothing. (Is newborn clothing really that small? And to think that Miles was swimming in some preemie outfits!) There is no question that I do have baby girl clothing envy. Correction: I am envious of how easy it is to find adorable baby girl clothing.

Today's Ali Annals will focus on my essential baby clothing thoughts/recommendations.

My general clothing platitudes:
  • Baby clothing is highly gendered. There is nothing wrong with girls wearing pink and boys blue (Miles's eyes "pop" when he dons blue clothing), but sometimes it can make you a little nauseated. Boys=puppies, dinosaurs, trucks, and of course, footballs. Girls=butterflies, hearts, flowers,gingham.
  • Almost everyone I know dreads those first few times of slipping a onesie over a wobbly newborn. It gets less frightening, but slightly more difficult, especially if your baby's limbs are in constant motion, and you just had a "heel in poo" incident during a diaper change.
  • You will quickly identify your favorite components to clothing, and those that drive you batty. (For us, it was pockets on newborn clothing. Is this necessary, people? It only contributes to awkward holds. Also, structured pants that didn't have button crotches. Soft pants that can easily slip on and off are was pants (like one with pockets) that didn't have crotch snaps that would turn a 5 minute diaper change into 11 minutes of frustration and mommy coming to save daddy.)
  • You will find yourself with a handful of outfits that still have tags and will never be worn. This may be due to a number of reasons, the most common being

    1) there is some sort of time warp phenomenon in which one day your baby is swimming in his baby gap kimono sleep sack, and the next day you have to put pants underneath it for a "sari" look because his sausage toes and doughy legs keep poking out.

    2) You will inevitably receive lots of baby clothes from individuals of all different aesthetic persuasions. Not only is the volume of clothing you initially receive usually overwhelming, but also you may find yourself identifying levels of cuteness in the swag. For example, we had this one brown onesie with a cute little dog on it (remember, apparently only boys like dogs and girls like butterflies), and I found myself secretly putting it on the top of the onesie rotation pile. Luckily we had a preemie size AND a newborn size, so I got a lot of mileage with the 2 identical onesies. There were a host of others who never made it to the top of the pile, and are now finding their way into storage.

    3) Seasonal issues. I currently have dead of winter 12 month old clothing, and still have 6 month old shorts sets. Miles won't wear either. Sometimes people get taken by the monkey appliques, and all common sense flies out the window.
  • Clothing, like everything else "baby" tends to suffer from price inflation.
  • BUY/GET USED! Craigslist, consignment sales, hand-me-downs...even though I made the comment about spit-up and poop covered clothing, you will find yourself with stacks of clothing that is unsoiled and in perfectly good condition. Miles's first few months of life he was wearing the duds of another preemie who generously donated his wardrobe (including the brown dog onesies). 90% of those clothes will find their way to another baby boy--either a cousin, friend, consignment shop, or maybe a baby brother. Miles's cutest pair of corduroy overalls is a hand-me-down from my older brothers and me. In fact, I just learned that my mother received them as a hand-me-down herself! Over 30 years old, and they are as cute as ever. We are also in ownership of 3 trash bags full of clothing from one of Eric's co-workers. Rest assured, we will pay it forward and do the same in time.

Tangent: something I saw related to hand-me-downs recently caught my eye. If I could sew, I would definitely take part in this "social activism project." (I know, Mom. You raised someone you cannot even mend her own buttons. My fly-less sunflower boxers in 7th grade home economics was just about the end of me.)

The tag exchange explanation:
"The tag to the left is intended as an intervention - as a way to introduce and cultivate the kind of imagination and awareness that is a prerequisite to ecologically and socially conscious shopping habits. Here's how it works: You send me one (or more) of your clothes tags and a self-addressed stamped envelope, and I send you one (or more) of these tags in exchange. Then you sew this tag into your garment, as a reminder and statement in support of healthier clothes. As your garment gets passed on to friends, little sisters, or thrift stores, the tag takes on a life of its own and becomes a surprise snippet for future readers and wearers. If you're about to give away a load of clothes, consider sewing these tags into them first. The tag can also be sewn on like a patch." Head over to the website embedded above to learn more!

When you do end up purchasing clothing, you'll find that each brand fits your baby differently. Additionally, you'll find certain stores that meet your needs better than others. This is individual, and my opinions are obviously bent toward dressing a long, slenderish boy:
  • Gerber clothing is true to fit, and fits long/narrow babies better. The clothing can be slightly thin. Gerber has the monopoly on onesies.
  • Carters clothing runs big, and fits shorter/wider babies better. They love adorning their clothes with little sayings, and animals. If you get clothing from the actual store, it can be quite expensive. Target, Walmart, Kohls, Macys all have less expensive "lines" of Carters (e.g. "Child of Mine," or "Made with Love")
  • Target has awful selection for baby boy clothes--at least in Atlanta.
  • Old Navy has great sales and runs true to size. They have a wide range of styles and I think can appeal to most people on some level. The quality is fair. The best is that they have unique items, like Charley Harper t-shirts! Miles now owns two of them.
  • Baby Gap is like the adult Gap--a more expensive Old Navy: the better quality is not commensurate with the increased price. Shop for sales! True to fit
  • American Apparel has really nice karate pants and undershirts for a good price. Miles has about 5 pairs of the cotton karate pants, and a few of the long sleeve tees.
  • Gymboree has nice preemie items. I don't have a ton from them, but I think they are on par with Carters, although I like the selection better.
  • The Children's Place is also on par with Gymboree and Carters I think. We don't have much from here. Just some pajamas. They seem long and narrow.
  • Etsy is the mecca of all things handmade. There are some great clothing deals here.
  • Janie and Jack is probably one of my favorite stores. Mucho dinero, but really cute and classic. Eric and I are drooling over the little driving caps and herringbone vests...both of which are superfluous items--kind of like the infant pant pockets like I was slamming before.
  • Crazy 8 is a junior varsity (like that?) version of Gymboree. It's the Old Navy of Gap, Inc.
  • LL Bean has wonderful outerwear. Fleece bunting and thumbless mittens.
  • Baby Soy or Under the Nile are great organic options. They are not easy to find outside of the Internet, but we have a few zip up tops that have lasted a long time.
  • Socks. Never bought any...but am looking for a good place to get some! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies not wear shoes for the first 12 months, so i have no comment on shoes, except that Schlocks are the way to go.
In truth, we have purchased clothing for Miles less than 5 times in 8 months. I prefer consignment sales, and am looking forward to 2 upcoming Atlanta area events. For many, you can be a seller and get special privileges like early shopping (plus, I made $30 from the last one, and bought $40 worth of clothes. Not too shabby!)

Finally: cleaning clothes. I personally think you do not need Dreft or any type of fabric softener (Snuggle, etc.) Less is more and that tempting "baby smell" is really just chemicals manufactured from a plant in New Jersey. We use Seventh Generation baby wash on all of our clothes, and rotate it with the Mrs Meyer's baby blossom detergent (along with their baby stain remover). We wash in all cold, and when the weather is nicer, will put up our laundry line. So far, we have never had any permanent stain. Detergent, I have found, is a personal choice. One thing that is recommended that everyone follow is to wash all washable baby products prior to meeting your child's skin.

This was a pretty text heavy post. I am on my work computer tonight, and don't have access to many of my photos.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ali's Annals: 2.0 "To Sleep: Perchance to Dream: Ay, There's the Rub"

"To Sleep: Perchance to Dream: Ay, There's the Rub" Name that quote!

Forward: There is no sense to my Ali's Annals designations or order. I let the spirit move me for choosing the topic of the night, and the whole 1.0, 2.0, etc is purely a fantastical approach at sounding scholarly. Something about a decimaled (I made that word up) number that makes it more official.

If you haven't already noticed, I have a 2 recurring themes of my blog: nursing and sleep. Tonight's missive will be on the Sleep Essentials (part of the Nursery Essentials that is to come). Interestingly, one of my favorite blogs mentioned in 1.0 had a post today regarding baby essentials. Clearly they caught wind of my Annals and are copy-cats. Actually, they are a nice complement to what I am doing as they are going to do a series of posts on things that are promoted as "essential" for babies, but may, in fact, be just superfluous commodities the baby industry is stuffing down our throats. I have a laundry list of items to contribute (wipe warmer...I know, I am a cold hearted mother who wipes her son's bottom with room temperature wipes!) Here is my outline of recommendations for tonight:
  • Chest sleeping
  • Co-sleeper
  • Swing
  • Miracle Blanket
  • Crib/mattress and accouterments
  • Fan
  • Humidifier
  • Night light
  • A nuk/lovey
  • Routine

Miles did not transition to his own room, let alone a crib until after 4 months. Truth be told, he still makes nightly trips to our bed after the midnight hour. The NICU experience had both Eric and me shirtless and giving Miles "Kangaroo Care" every day, so we were primed to hold Miles to our skin as much as possible. We did opt for the mini co-sleeper as opposed to exclusively bed sharing when Miles first came home. He was so tiny, and I just didn't trust myself to have him on the bed with us. (Oh, how quickly things change).

It is really nice not having to get out of bed (save, putting milk in the fridge after pumping) in the middle of the night, and I loved being able to watch Miles all night. The "mattress" that it came with was pathetic, and looking back, I would have tried to get something else, but it served its purpose. Anyway, he was swaddled for 6 months, and didn't really touch the mattress or sheet...more on swaddling later.

For naps, we usually both hung out on an unmade bed. I tried to do that the other day, but Miles just wanted to play. If it isn't dark and in the middle of the night, he thinks that we are just going to hang out horizontal and have coffee talk or something. (Ugh...I really miss those naps!). We used the Schlotty tummy time mat for naps. Heck, we still do!

Then, there is the swing. We landed ourselves a rather large and unsightly (if you know our taste, you'll understand) swing that everyone promised us was the panacea to getting a baby to sleep. Riiight, I chuckled. I was skeptical, but let me tell you, that swing was used ALL of the time. I had even been known to pick it up and drag it, clanging against the walls in all of its awkwardness, and plop it on the bathroom floor so I could take a shower. It is a beast to move, but for any mom who is home by herself, it makes things like personal hygiene a possibility. The one we had also included white noise sounds. We stuck with the night chirping and water falls. Did it make a difference? I have no idea, but the sounds were nice. Note: I would avoid the music option on the swing. Additionally, the rotating mobile at the top creeped me out. But there was a mirror that he could look into, and that seemed to be a nice source of entertainment.
For us, we not only survived, but thrived on the co-sleeper, swing, our arms, and our bed for months.

There is one missing player in the sleep equation from months 0-6: THE MIRACLE BLANKET. Oh, sweet Jesus, this thing was like a vision of The Virgin Mary crying on a potato chip. There are many swaddle blankets, but we found this particular one to be superior to the Swaddle Me blankets and all others. We did have to transition to the Swaddle Me at one point because Miles grew out of the miracle blanket, and he was still rocking the Moro Reflex into month 6. The Swadle Me came in sizes. The Miracle Blanket totally appears to be a baby straight jacket, but you combine this with Dr Karps "shushing" and jiggling method, and babies go to a "happy place."

Now, Miles is in a nursery, and sleeps in a crib until he gets up for the 1st or 2nd time and Eric scoops him up and puts him in our bed. To be honest, it didn't really feel strange to wait months before getting a crib. I know that is the first purchase so many make, but we had no problem waiting. First, we were moving, so no sense in setting up a nursery. Second, I just couldn't imagine moving Miles so far away so quickly. There are differing opinions on this, too, but I just felt (and still feel) like I couldn't bond as much if he was always in his nursery by himself. And as a working mom, now, I rarely get to see him during the day!

I originally didn't think I would go for a convertible crib, but we ended up with one that transitions to a toddler and kid bed purely based on the quality and "look." Additionally, we opted for a crib made from pine harvested from sustainably managed forests in NZ, and finished with certified non-toxic finishes and paints. PLUS, we got ours at a huge discount!

There are so many nice cribs out there--you can spend 4 figures on some, and others you can get for great deals. My note of caution: In my opinion cribs, like car seats, should be purchased new. Modern, traditional, sleigh shaped, convertible...whatever, but my recommendation is to get something reputable and not the best deal on Craigslist. (I don't mean to suggest that if you have other children you throw out your own and get a new one...)

For the crib accouterments, we opted for the simplistic SIDS proof style: a brown organic fitted sheet over a brown organic fitted mattress pad. I wouldn't have chosen brown, but Babies R Us has a pathetic "green" section, and I wasn't going to pay through the nose for some of the online deals I found. No blankets, no bumpers, no ruffles on the bottom...nada. Another great bargain- we found an organic mattress at Costco! You don't need a membership to buy online. It serves as a toddler mattress, too. (Just flip it over.)

I don't know beans about mattresses, but I do know that all other organic ones I found were double the price. Perhaps it is not as "organic" as some of the others, but I felt like it was a start...

A big ticket item: A FAN! We have a ceiling fan, but also put in a tiny floor one for 2 reasons:
  1. White noise: Here is one of those kill 2 birds with one stone. You can spend a pretty penny on all sorts of white noise machines, but a fan works quite well. Granted, we don't get the cricket chirps like our swing had, but it has 3 speeds of white noise to lull Miles to sleep.
  2. SIDS: a recent report suggested that sleeping with a fan reduces the risk of SIDS.
Another good white noise maker as well as a sleeping essential is a cool mist humidifier.
We use one on and off depending on how dry the air is. I will note that we have to turn our heat up a degree or two because the room gets a tad colder. I have no advice on kinds and types. We are using an old one of Eric's that I just know in my heart is probably harboring mold. It's on our "to buy" list.

Finally, a night light. Currently, I stumble around the nursery when I go in to see Miles at night. Just this week we got a night light. We had been looking for one of those small plug in ones, but couldn't find a good one. So, we opted for a Cloud b turtle night light.
It displays stars all over the room (and you can identify constellations). Plus, it is kind of cute. At some point, I want to get The Moon Jar when Miles is a little older.

Another essential/recommendation is either/or a nuk or "lovey." Miles has never been a huge pacifier guy, and prefers napkins, cloth, mom's hair (which I found passed through him to his diaper the other day...EWW!) or his own fingers to suck on...but we did try to initiate nuk use to help him sleep. For us, it just didn't work. Currently, we operate with 2 "loveys," Moses the bunny and Cleo the cat. (They are from Under the Nile, so you can see our naming inspiration. We also have Egypt the monkey, but he is used as a daytime, non sleeping lovey.)
Moses stays in our bed, and Cleo stays in the crib. Currently I am trying to find a good balance between washing them, and letting them soak up mom and dad smells. It's like when dogs burrow in their masters' dirty clothes pile to snooze--and I read of a woman who walked around the house with her baby girl's lovey in her bra to tag it with her scent. I have not gone there, yet.

Finally, a sleep essential is a routine, and a routine that you follow every day if you can. This comes more in to play after the first few months. But I have found that Miles does much better if we do the same thing every night at the SAME time before bed: Eat, play, bath, change, read, nurse, crib. Eric is in charge of reading while I nurse (but it has to be a book with rhymes or the Iliad. No joke.), and we both share the responsibility of putting him in the crib.

This post can easily turn into a complete nursery essentials post, but I'll wait to go into the broader nursery recommendations for another night.

Sorry if this is scattered tonight. Miles has the sniffles and got his night cast/split today. He has been up 4 times since we put him down 2 hours ago...this fact probably doesn't solidify my credibility on giving advice about babies and sleep tonight, huh?

This is what keeps us going...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ali's Annals: 1.0 Essential References

It is now time to create an archive of Ali's Annals: my unedited, biased, review of what you need for the first 8 months with a baby. Why 8 months? Because it has taken me an extra 2 months to get this darn thing started, so my 6 month review is slightly outdated. My goal is to post every 2 days in my Ali's Annals different subject areas of my review/recommendations (e.g. Essential Nursery, Essential Feeding, Essential Pumping/Breastfeeding...).

My reviews are pro bono (although, anyone from any companies I tout are more than welcome to contribute to Miles's college fund). Additionally, consume the information at your own risk. I am a first time mom of an 8 month old who has endured quite a few rookie hiccups along the way. Anyway, would you place a lot of stock in a woman whose New Year's resolution is to maintain a shower a day?

If you know of any ladies ready to pop, please feel free to share this. I will include the obligatory Mee-lez photos as I download them, but I am sorry to report that I will bore you with review text as well. Finally, if any post-popped moms (or dads!) have 2 cents to throw in, please feel free to comment.

Back to the annals (I really just like using that word. It's naughty sounding.)
The first, and most powerful essential reference I recommend:
  • Mother's Intuition. Trust it. Something biological happens to your body when you give birth (besides increased blood volume and for some, an uncomfortable tear. TMI?), and you find yourself clairvoyant. There is more power in a mothers' intuitions than I think we know. We are primed to think that all of these "experts" exogenous to our personal experiences have authority. While others may offer insight, I hope every mother believes in her own inherent capabilities as a mother.
Anyone with access to the Internet knows that there is a virtual endless supply of information regarding anything from elimination communication to safe baby product reviews. Google is a new mom's best friend, but it can also be her frienemy, stealing hours away from her nights as she searches for "signs of teething," or "4 month old sleep regression." Blogs also exist as fodder for life as a parent. If I showed you my Google Reader selection, you would have a myocardial infarction. Here are my tippity top Websites/blogs that I recommend:
  • Kellymom's Breastfeeding site I love this site. I have mentioned it before. Anyone who plans on opening her own dairy farm should bookmark this site.
  • Dr Sears This is the site I refer to for general baby questions. My warning is that there is a spin toward attachment parenting--a style of parenting that I have a figurative membership for. I have visited and revisited the sections on high needs babies as well as sleep.
  • Baby Cheapskate and Baby Steals Who doesn't like a good deal? If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of some hot baby steals, these are 2 great sites. Warning: there are about 3,459,611 other blogs/sites dedicated to baby deals. (I counted.)
  • Eco Childsplay One of the zillion (yes, I counted again) green parenting sites I subscribe to. I particularly like this one.
  • Singing in the Bathtub and In the Nick of Time BLATANT nepotism, but damn my brother brings children's music to the 21st century. :)
  • Schlotty Couture Mrs Schlotty's new site for her wicked cute footwear. (Soon there should be some great product shots from a Schlocks photo shoot over Christmas). Miles wears his 2 pairs weekly.
  • Happiest Baby on the Block Worth every penny. Dr Karp is on to something (although, I am sad that they use Mr. McGraw's name for promotion. I cannot even use the title "Dr" with him). There is a book, too, but I was in no shape to rely on my bachelor's in English in those first few weeks. If Miles hadn't decided to make his appearance close to 2 months early, I would have watched this daily prior to his birth. I have included a picture of Miles doing his best "Happiest Baby." He's happy inside; I swear. Apologize for the half naked father--that was when our house was totally clothing optional in those first few weeks.

  • Sign With Your Baby We didn't start using signs until 7 months, but I really liked this DVD/Book. So far, we are signing: more, eat, milk, mom, dad, change, bath, walk, run, duck, ontological proof for God and categorical imperative (Eric made his own ASL for the last 2). Miles has yet to sign back, but I have a feeling it is coming (along with his upper teeth).

  • The Vaccine Book I promise that I am not related to the Sears family. Vaccinating children is a hotly discussed topic, and I have no interest in starting a debate (I have a hard enough time reconciling my public health persona with my neurotic first time mother persona). Given Miles's premature status, this book was more general reference than guidance given that I really felt that it was in his best interest to keep with the traditional schedule, but if there is every Mee-lez #2, I will re-read.
  • The No Cry Sleep Solution Almost as debated as vaccines is babies and SLEEP. Here is where the "follow at your own risk" is emphasized: Miles still gets up multiple (and I didn't say couple, because that would suggest only 2) times a night. But, I liked this book for its background on sleep, and do find myself endorsing the general philosophy. Please also note that this is coming from someone who is on the brink of trying a modified crying it out...last night the Heintz parents got a whopping 3 hours of sleep.
  • The Baby Book Again, those darn Searses! I actually don't have this book, but Mama D has it, and it is one that may just need to find itself in my home library. I recommend it solely on the basis of her judgement along with the reviews I have read from numerous sites. (Shouldn't I be a professional book reviewer? My standards are gold.)
  • Healthy Child Healthy World A quick and easy read on creating a less toxic home. It has little excerpts from celebs who have "gone green" with their parenting. I don't like it because of that reason, but provides those of us who have been known to find herself on with some fun celebrity insight. (I'll go into specifics on some modifications we have made in our own lives in a later Ali Annal.)
  • So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do About It Truth be told, I have not read this one either, but it is making its way down from MA to GA from MomA. From what she has told me, this will be an intriguing read--and have implications for those of us raising boys. One more admission, this probably has no bearing on the first 8 months of childhood, but I threw it in there because one always needs a break from the expected! As an early childhood educator, my mom has provided me with some great reads, including the ones below.
  • Raising Resilient Children I just started this one, but it really is a seminal parenting work!
  • The Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit-Disorder One final great read from MomA. For so many, long gone are the days of running around outside, exploring the earth without the fear of strangers lurking around every corner, or the temptation of Playstation and MTV.
Truly, the last three books I have included are not so much beginning parenting books as they are general parenting books. Sometimes it is nice to read parenting literature that don't focus on fontanels, diaper blow outs or RSV.


  • Parents and Mothering For those preggos and "ex" preggos, you know that you can always slip away from the OB office with quite a few mother/baby magazines. There are so many it is hard to sift through them and find the few that will make it to your bathroom's magazine rack. Truthfully, I have only subscribed to 2 parenting magazines. The rest show up in my mailbox from some mailing list I have been added to (no doubt from some of the websites I frequent). The reason I am picking these 2 is because I think they offer a great balance between the traditional and the ultra liberal. I have not found too much conflicting information between the two, and after reading both magazines, I find myself sitting somewhere between the homemade candy Halloween decorations and the tattooing a world breastfeeding logo on my left boob to be exhibited when nursing in public.

**Random interruption: Thank you for all of the birthday wishes, donations and gifts of dinner! Sharing a birthday with your hubby is no fun after the first year novelty wears off, and with a baby, our birthday has all of a sudden becomes obsolete. We were flooded with messages, and numerous people made thoughtful donations in our name (including DUCKS for the Heifer project!). Additionally, we received a couple of "date night" gifts that included baby-sitting. Eric and I cannot thank everyone enough. We cashed in on our first date night and saw Slumdog Millionnaire. See it. We also gorged on Rathbun's and were ready to sleep by 11pm.We live on the edge... It was the first year we did not throw ourselves a 1/11 party, but we are going to plan something big next year as one of us will find herself in a new decade. Thanks to Mama D and Frank-o Sarto for their services of childcare. The favor will be a few months!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

She took the words right out of my brain...

Despite some of the occasional distaste evident by some of the readers' comments (they certainly would not choose to frequent my blog, especially in the early days), I think Rebecca Barry's personal essay on pregnancy is quite validating. Enjoy while I continue to generate my monster "what you need: the first 7 months and 3 weeks" post.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Golden Showers and Christmas Review

Miles has a penchant for marking his territory recently. The new Early Learning Center employee came in for a trial run day and Miles peed on her TWICE while she was changing his diaper. And then, he decided to christen what I imagine to be a rather expensive x-ray machine at Children's Orthopaedics of Atlanta over the holiday break. I must say that he handled the x-ray quite well, and had the two techs in giggles (that flirt). How can you get mad at a face like this?
The better news is at this point his hips and growth plates seem to be within normal ranges, and we don't need to go back until he is walking. We will continue with weekly PT and the night splint for his foot, but I am glad that we don't have to consider any other serious orthopedic obstacles. Our Ohio trip was cut short due to this appointment, but the extra time at home has allowed us to get back to our normal schedule for bed time. It has also allowed me to be confronted with a mess of a house that is screaming for some TLC. This past weekend I was playing single parent as Eric was in NC for a coaching conference, and it took me 2 days to clean the kitchen and Miles's room. Dare I say that you don't get much done with a 7 month old! And I have to admit that like those doggie parents who welcome their canine companions into the bed when they have an empty bed, I bed-shared with Miles all weekend. He usually finds himself between Eric and me between 4 and 5AM every day, but I swept him up and plopped him in the bed upon his first waking each night I was alone. Bad habit? Maybe, but there's not much better than a 17 lb baby breathing dreams of breast milk and nipples in your face. One caveat: Miles has much better access to my hair in the bed. He is obsessed with ripping out my hair. My sister-in-law even noticed via skype that I had these 1/2 inch "bangs" sticking straight up after a recent run I took.

Overall, our holiday break was fantastic, and am including a link to the Picasa web album recap. (there are 2 videos, too, that are being stubborn in uploading--sorry). Miles was introduced to avocado. His repertoire now includes: carrots, banana avocado, sweet potato, and we just got some peas to try this week. We got to spend some quality time with "the angel Gabriel" (aka "Uncle" Jer) and Dr P. (Your eyes are deceiving you...Jeremy is not an angel with a halo. It's just a light.)Miles also got to hang with another set of GREAT grandparents (who just happen to look like grandparents...those spring chickens!)Eric surprised me one day, finding this medieval torture device in some dank corner of his parents' basement. Dare I say that this is not the strangest component to the room; those of you who know about the 2 resident girls ("rebecca" and "ashley") poised for conversation are totally with me...
We were able to engage in such search and conquer adventures because we had about 15 extra sets of hands willing and ready to walk a teething baby into a trance. Opa was just about the cutest thing, always asking to cuddle with Mee-lez. He even offered to get up with him all night so we could get to sleep. I told him that, unfortunately, the job requirements included being able to breast feed. He said he stopped that years ago...

Speaking of, my supply suffered dramatically with all of the travel. We had to buy a can of formula while in OH :(. Actually since November, he has had to get ~ 4 oz a day of supplementation because I just can't keep up, and struggle to keep hydrated and keep adequate weight on my bones. I won't go into the guilt, but I figure that even if 85% of his liquid is milk, I am doing okay for a full time working mom. And, the kid looks well fed to me: