Monday, March 26, 2012

My Mommy Must Haves and a Smiling Baby

The last seven weeks have been a huge learning experience for Adam and I.  Leading up to Vivian's arrival, I scoured the internet for advice and asked other new Mommies what items I needed.  I love hearing what techniques work for babies and parents out there, but it's so true that each baby is different.  I've quickly learned the things that make her happier and the things that she could care less about.  So, without further ado, here are the items that Vivian and I love.  

ITZBEEN
As I type this thing is clipped to my yoga pants.  I can't feed Viv until I get my hands on it.  I had never heard of them, and was given it as a gift a few weeks before her arrival.  I really only use it for tracking her feeding, but it does have buttons for sleeping, diaper changing, and just miscellaneous.  With this puppy I don't have to remember what time it was I fed her last- which is really handy for middle of the night feedings when you're already sleep deprived in the early weeks.  It also has a reminder alarm, which will be really helpful for when I lose track of time when I'm back at work for pumping.

CHANGING PAD COVERS
This is an obvious one, but I would suggest on stocking up on more than just one or two.  We currently have three, but still have to use a receiving blanket when the three are in the wash.  When it rains it pours people, and I feel like whether it be #1 or #2, they all get dirty within the same day...and then several days later the cycle repeats itself.

AMAZON MOM
It was suggested to us early on to become Amazon Mom members, due to the deep discount on diapers.  About a week after she was born we were taken off the waiting list and finally became members.  I researched blogs on the cheapest route for diapers and it seems that this is it.  With normal brick and mortar stores, you have to search for coupons to get the good deals- and let's just face it, I'm not a coupon gal.  On my last purchase with Amazon Mom I paid $0.16 per diaper, which is $0.05 cheaper than a coupon purchase at Babies R Us.  There is a slight catch though, you do now have to become an Amazon Prime member to get the 20% discount on diapers, which is $80/ year.  So, if you expect to buy 1,500 diapers in the first year, that's $0.05 a diaper, BUT if you buy toilet paper, kleenex and paper towels through Amazon, that minimizes that cost per diaper.  I love the convenience of Amazon Mom- shipping is free, it comes right to your door, and you setup a schedule for shipping your product however often you'd like.  So, you don't have to go to any stores, you just have to make sure to update for size changes once in a while.

CARRIER

I love our ERGO baby carrier.  Vivian can ride around in it while I get chores done during the day, and it almost always puts her to sleep.  The reason I love ERGO is it has an infant insert (shown above), and then as she grows it works in so many other positions- front, back, hip and on and on.  So, it's a great bang for your buck.  We use it all the time on our walks and hikes too.

NURSING BRAS AND PADS
Again a no brainer for a breast-feeding Mama, but I never realized you need one on ALL THE TIME.  And, you have to invest in nice ones in order to remain sane.  I was afraid to buy one before baby because I wasn't sure what size I'd be, so I picked up a couple nursing sleeping bras.  Once I was home from the hospital I went out and bought some everyday nursing bras that were on the cheaper side and I have to admit- huge mistake.  I would suggest finding a good store that specializes in nursing bras.  This will not only help with getting advice on your size, but they also carry tons of sizes, so you will be sure to find the perfect match.  I love the Bravado Bliss bra.  It's very comfortable, and comes with an extender so that as you continue nursing and your milk supply stabilizes, you can take out the extender when necessary.  Again, these are pricey, but comfort and convenience is important in this region while your nursing, and you'll likely be using them for several months or even a year.

EXERCISE BALL
These are great for working out baby's neck muscles.  But, they are the ultimate soother as well.  Vivian has calmed down every time we've used it- just hold her, sit on the ball and bounce up and down.  It's also a nice workout.

SLEEPING GOWNS
It's simple- easy access for those mid-night diaper changes.

BATH FOR THE SINK

We started out with a simple, foam bath- like the one below.  It was great for when she still had her umbilical cord.  We just laid it on the kitchen counter and gave her a sponge bath.  But once we could submerge her, a sink bath was a must-have.
                                         

We bought the green one below, but there are a couple other options.  The reason we love the sink bath is 1) they go flat for easy storage (we have no room for those fancy spa baby baths),  2) in the sink she can have a constant stream of water to keep her warm and happy, 3) it's easier on Mom and Dad's back and knees because we don't have to reach into the bathtub and 4) I think it's more comfortable for her because the big ol' bathtub can seem so large to a little baby.

Once she's sitting up and ready to take a normal bath, the sponge will be great again for her to sit on in the bathtub.
BOUNCY SEAT
Having a smaller house, I didn't want all our space filled with Baby toys and gadgets, so we got one swing and opted to skip the bouncer.  But, once we were home we realized the swing wouldn't work for a little baby because of the way it's shaped- the seat is pretty deep and she seemed to just disappear and look uncomfortable in it.   We bought a bouncer seat which is much flatter, and was great for naps.

CROCK-POT

I've been a Crock-Pot fan for several years now, and it's more handy now than ever.  I made several Crock-Pot meals when I was pregnant, which I froze.  Now I can just thaw them for 30 minutes, drop into the Crock-Pot, and let cook for 4-5 hours.  It's so nice because like most babies, Viv's most fussy around 5pm, and making dinner is hard when you have a screaming babe on your hands.  Plus, Crock-Pot meals are large, so there are always left-overs for lunch.

Again, these are the things that work for Vivian.  There are so many other things out there that are wonderful.  I always heard the importance of swaddlers when I was pregnant, but I quickly learned that Viv isn't a big fan.  She's more of a sprawler and has to have her hands out and by her face.  So, the swaddlers that keep the arms down and wrapped up, did not make her happy.  Usually about 15 minutes after she's been swaddled and is in bed, I hear her grunting and trying to loosen the thing up.  So, a blanket wrapped around her legs is about all she can handle.

There are also so many other things that are must haves (burp clothes, breast pump, Boppy, lots o' clothes), but these are just the items that come to mind which I didn't anticipate would be so helpful.

All these things have made for a happy girl (sorry for my lack of editing skills, but if you're patient you'll see her first on camera smile :)):

video

Monday, March 19, 2012

The life of a One Month Old

Bath's aren't quite so bad anymore....




Except when I have to come out!

Some pants don't always fit so well, so they have to be hiked up pretty high....


I'm finding ways to entertain myself and love looking at my play gym, mobile, bars on my crib and the white bags that hang above my changing table......




My mom tries to make me do craft projects and I hate when she gets my hands and feet all dirty....


I'm awake A LOT more....







I'm finding all different ways to sleep....




I love being outside....





Saturday, March 17, 2012

Newborn Photo Shoot

When Vivian was just a few days old, we went in for her first photo shoot.  It was quite the experience, we learned lots about her and enjoyed watching her show off her modeling side :)
Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography
**These books are just some of the many we received from our baby showers**

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography

Copyright Carrie Swails Photography
You can find even more at: www.carrieswailsphotography.com/

And as we finished up this adorably, wonderful experience, Vivian decided it was time to show us her bathroom skills.  As I went to put on her diaper (after being naked for the last two hours and never going #2), she proceeded to poop all over me.  It was a straight shot and made it on all my clothes, the photographers carpet and the wall.  She's caught us off guard a couple times since, the worst being this morning at 5am when she showered me with something other than love.  I couldn't get into the shower fast enough.  This girl has some skills in the bathroom department.

As you can tell we are so in love with this little lady, and we can't show her off enough! :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Maternity leave has been very interesting for me.  Normally, I enjoy the boring days when I can take a nap, watch the tube and not have a schedule.  Of course Vivian keeps me busy most of the time, but I'm so over daytime television and with the unseasonably warm weather I just want to sit in our front room and enjoy the sunlight as it streams in the windows.

So, I've tried to grab as many free hours minutes as I can to get some reading done, and I just finished a book that I want to recommend to everyone: The Kitchen House.

In some ways this book reminds me of "The Help," expect that it takes place in the late 1700's/ early 1800's when slavery was the norm.  A young, white orphan girl arrives in the U.S. off a boat from Ireland and is taken to a plantation where she is to work and be raised by the plantation owner's illegitimate, slave daughter.  As she grows up, she creates a deep, unbreakable bond with her new family, and she is completely oblivious to the differences in their color of skin.  Once she reaches her teenage years she is welcomed into the "Big House" where overtime she learns the struggles, tragedy and manipulation the white family and each of it's individual members face.  Her loyalty to her slave family is tested and her naivety slowly fades to reveal horrific truths she could have never imagined.

If you enjoy historic fiction, this is a must read!  It's definitely a page turner.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Month- and lots to catch up on

Vivian turned one month old on March 4th, and we can hardly believe how fast she's growing.  We got ourselves all ready for the first month photo shoot...and what would you know, this is how it turned out:

Take One:


Take 2:
Mom, didn't you know I can't sit up yet?

That lamp is so much more interesting.

This is getting boring.
Take Three:


I decided to do all her monthly photos on this chair, so that you can really see how much she grows in comparison to the chairs size.  Looking back at all her pictures I can really see how much she's changing.  Seeing her everyday, all day, makes it more difficult for me to tell.

Here are a few of my favorites from the last several weeks:

Week 1:






Week 2:




Week 3:






Week 4:




I know I've been MIA for quite a while, but I'm going to try to get better at making time for blogging, as many of you I know would love to see more pictures of the little gal.  Coming soon: Her newborn pictures!