Comforting words

Every once in a while something seems to fall in my lap at exactly the moment I need it. Last week was a rough one with the baby. One day I was sick (and there is nothing worse than having to take care of a baby when you are sick yourself), and she seemed to be going through some kind of distress that we could not figure out. A friend told me about the “wonder weeks,” periods of development that result in an extra fussy baby. I don’t know if it was a wonder week or the week from hell, but it was tough. Lots of walking the halls, lots of her wanting only me, lots of high-pitched wailing. I thought it would never end, but of course it did.

Anyway, right in the middle of that chaos, a friend posted this story about remembering the first tough weeks with a new baby. It totally resonated with me. It’s sort of the idea that you feel like you’re supposed to be on cloud nine, but sometimes you are just miserable. And there should be space for you to feel miserable and not guilty about it either. Because eventually it will pass, but it will be hard in the meantime.

You should read the comments, too. There are all sorts of confessions by moms of colicky babies. I know in my moms group we’ve all confessed to having moments when we needed to just walk away and catch our breath.

So yes, as hard as it is, I want to remember this time, too. Because I would never want another mom to have to pretend that everything is perfect when she is really struggling and could use some support. I think we’re programmed to forget the bad parts, as I have mostly done with the birth experience. But they are what give us our strength. They are the times that teach us what we’re capable of. I know my marriage is stronger for having been through the last 10 weeks.

But I have to say, after last week, this week’s smiles and drools and peaceful naps have been oh-so-sweet.

More useful products (and some not-so-useful ones)

One thing you find with baby stuff is that different items are useful at different stages. For example, Harper didn’t seem to even notice the mobile when we got it for her. Now she loves it. When she’s having a meltdown, sometimes we just put her in the crib and she starts smiling at the animals. Okay then!

Note to self: Next time get one that plays more than one song. 

But then there are other things that your baby just won’t care for at all (or you won’t care for at all). So I thought I would compile another list of things that have been working for us, and some that haven’t. I’ll start with the most useful ones:

Breast pump

Initially we rented a hospital-grade breast pump. But I knew I wanted a more portable one to have permanently, so I got the Medela Pump in Style Advanced. It seems just as powerful as the other one to me, and it comes with a nice looking bag and all the accessories you need. Due to the timing of us renewing our insurance policy, we were not able to get Blue Shield to pay for this. But I think women having babies this year should be able to get breastfeeding supplies covered. It’s definitely worth a call to find out.

Wet bags

Now that we’re cloth diapering we use our wet bags all the time. We have one large zip bag by Planet Wise in the nursery. I would say it is just big enough to hold a load’s worth of cloth diapers. We have a small-size one to carry in the diaper bag. I might get a medium-size instead because the one we have is a little too small.

Vibrating chair

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I just want to emphasize how useful this little chair is. When you need to set the baby down so you can have both of your hands, something like this one we borrowed is great. Sometimes Harper watches me cook while she sits in it, which I love.

Video monitor

We have this one by Philips. When Harper was sleeping in our room with us we didn’t need it, but once we put her in the crib we checked it like crazy. It provides a lot of peace of mind when you can see them moving around.

Comotomo bottle

We each have our drinks.

When we were trying to transition Harper from bottle feedings to breast feedings, we struggled to find bottles with a slow enough flow that she wouldn’t devour the whole thing in 2 minutes. Well, we never found one of those. But I heard from other moms that these Comotomo bottles work best to imitate a breast, so your baby can go back and forth without getting confused. Lately Harper seems less jazzed about the Medela bottles, but still likes this one.

MAM pacifier

Every time we gave Harper a Soothie she just spit it out. So I thought I would try a different shape and see if that worked. She’s been using MAM pacifiers ever since. We definitely don’t leave home without them. They’re called pacifiers for a reason…

I also like that these came in a little case you can use to sanitize them in the microwave.

Aden and Anais swaddling blankets

I don’t think there is a single mom in my moms group that doesn’t use these swaddling blankets. They’re nice and soft and have adorable patterns. You can use them to swaddle, obviously, or as a regular blanket, or to cover a stroller when it’s windy or sunny, or as a changing pad, or a spitup rag, and on and on.

Zip pajamas

It didn’t take long for us to realize that the only baby sleepwear we would ever buy from now on would be zip pajamas. In the middle of the night when you’re bleary-eyed and need to change a diaper before your baby gets to screaming, you don’t want to mess with buttons or snaps. My favorite PJs are the Circo sleep n plays from Target. They’re nice and soft, come in cute patterns, and the new ones have reverse zippers so you can change a diaper without unzipping them all the way.

In the not-so-useful department:

Sleep Sheep

I heard that babies (and parents) will sleep much better with some white noise, so we got one of these adorable sleep sheep that plays four different ambient sounds. It may have helped a little in the beginning, but we never use it anymore. She doesn’t need help to get to sleep at night (woo hoo!), and as much as I wish it would help her nap during the day, it doesn’t at all. She laughs in the face of a sleep sheep. Oh well.

Travel bassinet

This one by Brica has actually been somewhat useful to us. We used it when she was really little, moving it to different rooms when she needed to sleep. But it’s too big to fit in bed with us (our original plan). And now that she sleeps in the crib we don’t need it. Can’t say we’re doing a whole lot of overnight traveling either, so the fact that it folds up nice doesn’t mean much. If I had to do it over, I think I would have either gotten a sidecar co-sleeper or one of those bassinets on a stand that you can rock.

Flannel blankets

The hospital sent us home with a flannel receiving blanket for swaddling, but we had our own blankets and swaddles for that anyway. These Gerber receiving blankets have just sat on a shelf for 10 weeks. They’re adorable. We just don’t really need them.

My Breast Friend

I heard such good things about this nursing pillow and I really wanted to like it. But it’s just not the one for me. I feel like I’m always trying to wrangle it around me and close the clip with one hand while holding a crying baby with the other. It’s kind of hard to get the cover off and back on when you wash it. I find myself wishing I had just gotten a Boppy, which can also be used to prop up your baby.

Baby T-shirts and socks

Until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off it’s nice to dress them in tiny T-shirts. But after that I found that onesies or zip pajamas are much easier to deal with than T-shirts and pants. I end up spending all day pulling shirts down over her big belly. It’s kind of the same thing with pants and socks. I put them on in the morning, but after a few diaper changes I get tired of taking them on and off and just leave her in a onesie. Also, with socks, they have to fit well or you end up picking them up off the floor all day long. My favorite socks are the little Mary Jane ones (similar to these) I got at Old Navy.

7th Generation diapers

Only the best for this butt.

Like I said before, we had tons of blowouts with these disposable diapers. If I had to do it again I think I would order the Honest Company diapers. For the amount we used they come out to about the same price, and theirs are so much cuter!

Graco car seat

I guess you can’t really know what you need in a car seat until you have a baby, but I wish I’d realized how hard all the clips on this thing were to operate before we chose it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled to get her out of the seat or the seat out of the car while she’s screaming at me. Not fun!

We got a Graco Snugride 30. It looks great, but it’s ridiculously heavy without a baby in it. I know most of them are heavy, but there have to be some that are more lightweight. We’ll have to buy a different car seat when she grows out of this one anyway, so I think we’ll just stick with it until then.

More baby must-haves here, and more to come, I’m sure.

2 months

NPR onesie from Raygun.

Just looking at pictures of Harper at one month old I can see that she’s really changed. She’s not a newborn anymore, she’s a baby. She shot over 10 pounds really quickly, and now she’s moving into that adorably chubby stage.

People always think she’s a boy, either because of her name or because they see her dressed in blue. We’re not big fans of pink, but I guess the joke will be on us if she becomes a big girly girl someday.

She loooves bathtime.

Sometimes I look at my red-haired, blue-eyed, long-limbed baby and think, “Is this really my child?” She looks so much like the Corey side that I don’t really see myself in her. Except for one thing — her hands. Something in the way she holds her tiny little fingers reminds me of me.

She is kind of balding in front, just like an old man. But she has this little peach fuzz coming in. I’m not sure what color it is yet. Her eyebrows have started to darken. To me they look red just like her hair.

I wanted so badly for her to start smiling, and not just the contended little smiles she makes in her sleep when she’s finished eating. And she did! In fact she makes these huge grins and little coos that are so adorable. One time I was holding her in front of a mirror and she practiced her big grins for a few minutes. Ah, I live for that stuff.

I don’t think she is an overly fussy baby, but when she does cry she goes to Defcon 1 in about 2 seconds (and with real tears these days, which makes me so sad). She’s got some lungs! And as my friend Brigid said, when a baby cries like that, 5 minutes feels like an hour. I get desperate to fix whatever is wrong, but sometimes I can’t figure it out, and that is so frustrating. Combine that with the lack of sleep and we are all cranky sometimes. I am nowhere near, as Oprah says, my best self. In fact I’ve been closer to my worst self more than I care to admit in these two months. But it’s amazing how just one night of good sleep will restore you to normal. Moms-to-be, take heart in that, because it really is true.

Speaking of sleep, she seems to be an exceptional baby for her ability to sleep at night. I’m sure that will waver when she gets to different stages (teething and such), but she pretty consistently sleeps most of the night. Early mornings are the only problem, since we’d like to keep sleeping and she often doesn’t. I actually think overall she needs to sleep more and take more naps during the day, but I’m not sure how to get her started on any kind of schedule. I just kind of let her sleep when she wants to, but she often wakes after 10 minutes or so. Does anyone know of good books related to baby sleep schedules?

Yes, I did this to my child.

The other day I watched the documentary “Bully” and I think it upset me in a way it wouldn’t have before I had a child. I was just thinking how much I wanted to protect her from those kind of things out in the world and I won’t be able to. I know what it’s like to be a shy, introverted child who lacks confidence. One of my biggest hopes for her is that she feels confident in who she is, even if she, like me, is the kind of kid that would rather have her nose in a book than anything else.

But there will be plenty of years to worry about those things. For now we’re taking it one day at a time, marveling at how she changes every day.

We took her to the Golden Gate bridge to take some pictures last week and it was so foggy we didn’t get any with the bridge in them. It was sort of a metaphor for life with a baby — there’s a lot you can’t control, and you just have to roll with it.

At least we get great views at the dog park.

Fenton’s Creamery

If you are ever in the bay area, specifically the Oakland area, you must go to Fenton’s. I can’t believe it took us this long to try it — it’s been on my to-do list for quite a while.

And here’s why.

That is one ginormous brownie sundae. It was $11! Mike and I failed to finish it. It was the first time I’ve ever taken ice cream home in a doggie bag.

A sundae as big as a baby!

They have a variety of huge sundaes made with their homemade ice creams, plus all kinds of shakes, malts and other soda fountain goodies. I can vouch for the fact that the ice cream is not just big, it’s really really good.

Harper was a total sweetheart when we took her there. We’ll definitely be going back with anyone who comes to visit if for no other reason than we need help to finish a sundae!