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I am picky about my little boy's clothes. Ridiculously picky, actually. So many rules: no characters (with some limited exceptions), no slogans, nothing violent, nothing stupid, blah blah blah. And yes, I definitely have a soft spot for some of the higher end (and higher priced) kids' clothes retailers (Tea Collection, I am looking at you!). However, the majority of my baby's non-thrifted clothes come from moderate-to-low priced lines, and I'm pretty typically able to find many more options than he could ever wear for cute things to buy. Because of this, I find the complaints about the lack of nice, non-misogynistic clothes available for little boys puzzling. I seriously wonder if it's a difference in taste or in where we shop that puts me on one side of this question and the majority of my fellow small-boy-mom friends on the other. With the purpose of perhaps figuring it out, I pulled together a quick collection of moderately priced and currently available toddler boys' clothes, from common stores (Target, which is my favorite; Old Navy; and Kohl's). All of these things should be accessible either in-store or online, all are moderately priced (typically $8-$15), and I think all are crazy cute. There is, however, a caveat--unlike the more "upscale" brands, where I can pretty much pick up anything and think it's nice, finding these items does require a little bit of digging, either virtual or in-store. You have to get through the obnoxious character stuff to get to these more subdued and classic pieces. But lucky you, this time I did that for you!

Target

Old Navy

Kohl's

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Those are cute! I really like the choo choo one from Old Navy.

My 3 year old has some of those fake layered long sleeve shirts and the only thing I don't like about the light colored sleeves is he gets them really grubby. That might be a testament to my laundry abilities though.

Megan, it's not you, it's the shirts. Light colors just stain more when subjected to a child doing the things children are supposed to do.

I totally agree. What's not cute about stripes, trains, robots, cutesie monsters?

I have a harder time finding cute but not nauseating girls clothes, especially now that she loves frills, and dresses that spread out, and lace, and tulle. I swear, it all comes with butterflies AND sparkles AND ruffles. I think they need to follow that rule of thumb during design when you put all your girlie elements together and then remove 2.

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And the thrift gods smiled

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One of the "tips" I give to people who ask for advice on successful thrifting is this:

If you find one or two nice things in the size you're looking for, that could be a fluke. If you find three or more, you should consider it a set and keep digging.

Which is to say, typically people donate to thrift stores in bulk. You don't take just a few items, especially with kids' stuff--you take a big bag or a lot of big bags. And if you just brought in one or two things that are in the size/style I am after, chances are you brought more.

The other day, I had one of the most awesome thrift trips I've ever had, and it absolutely demonstrated this principle. I am after things for the next size/season for the baby (who really is a toddler these days...), so I started in the baby section. I immediately pulled a couple of 3T sized Tea Collection items off the rack. Oooh, I thought, this has potential. But alas, the rest of the baby section was bereft of anything that caught my fancy. Still, something told me there was more where the two shirts from Tea came from, and my store is really not good about having a clear line between what they consider "baby" clothes and what they consider "kids'" clothes, so I went to have a look at the big kids' racks.

And then it happened.

Y'all, my kid has a whole new wardrobe, from brands I'd never shell out for new. In his next three sizes. After I realized I'd found a goldmine, I sifted through all of the kids' clothes, then waiting as they brought out new racks. Someone had clearly dropped off their very well dressed young boy's wardrobe, and damned if I didn't leave that store with the majority of it.

From Jacadi, three polos, a button-down, a long-sleeved tee, a pair of long pants, and a pair of short pants:
Jacadi.jpg

From Mini Boden, five short-sleeved tees, three long-sleeved tees, a polo, a sweater, and a pair of shorts:
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From Tea Collection, one short-sleeved tee, two long-sleeved tees, one polo, three button downs (one new with tags), one sweatshirt, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, and one jacket:
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Then, there were the one or two-offs. A Hatley raincoat. A new with tags Papo de Anjo button down shirt. An Olive Juice hoodie. Three Splendid polos. A pair of shorts and a t-shirt from Appaman. It just went on and on. In total, I got over 50 pieces!

This trip completely re-energized me for thrifting, and I once again really want to be able to say that all, or at least the great majority, of the clothes I buy for both myself and my son are secondhand. Has anybody out there done that--used clothes only? How did it go for you?

2 Comments

That's an awesome haul! I haven't been successful with individual thrift stores, but I do get the bulk of both kids' wardrobes at two different semi-annual consignment sales. I'll supplement here and there with new (sale) items, but most everything comes from these sales. My fave find from the last sale was a set of adorable Hanna Anderson PJs for $2.00. They were practically brand new. It's also fab for holiday and party outfits. I have a girl who really just wants "dresses that spread out" which can be pricey. I want her to be able to play and rough house and still wear her froofy frocks, so shopping used makes me happy to send her off to play in the mud in her "spread out" dresses.

I think the worst ratio we've gotten down to was 65% hand me downs/thrifted and 35% new - because for older kids, finding thrifted pants that still have KNEES is really hard. And because... we didn't plan well for cold weather so we ended up buying hoodies at the store, he likes red so we got him some red shorts and sweatpants new, pajamas for cold weather are also tough to thrift, and a cute t-shirt always jumps out at me at Target dammit. Otherwise it would have been like 80%+ used clothes for him around here, we've been very fortunate and I did some "stock up" shopping a couple of years ago.

But the hand me downs and the stock-up items are starting to run out and we're going to need to buy more, so I'm trying to figure out how to make the time to do enough thrifting to stock up.

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First birthday gift ideas

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Hard as it is for me to believe, I am about to have a one year-old. My kid's first birthday is only a couple of weeks away. And so, of course, I'm thinking about presents, and not just presents for my specific kid, but what make good gifts for this age group. I clearly remember all the times, pre-kid, when I would go shopping for a gift for a friend's child or a family member and look at all the possibilities and feel distinctly overwhelmed. So, I decided a blog post about first birthday gift ideas was in order.

And, lucky for me, I have an expert on hand to consult! My friend E., who gave me all that great advice about what I needed to have on hand for a new baby? She's back and better than ever, this time with advice about the best and most useful toys for those between one and two (her boys just turned two last month). And, as before, she's comprehensive, insightful, and all-around brilliant.

1. Musical instruments, especially percussion
I know a lot of people are shaking their heads already, and I won't pretend I'm not one of them. Just what my already loud kid needs, a drum! But the truth is that toddlers bang on things, and they might as well be getting early exposure to instruments in the process right? There are a million and one options in this category, but here are a few I like (click the picture to go to Polyvore for information on each item):

First Birthday #1: Instruments

2. Music to listen to
I'm not at all well-versed in this category, but I have gathered a few recommendations:

First Birthday #2: Music

3 Art stuff
I'm super excited about this category. There are lots of art supplies for which 1-2 is just too young, but some are safe for the younger set, as long as you don't mind a mess! Some ideas:

First Birthday #3: Art Supplies

4. Vehicles or stuff with wheels
Another category I am excited about. I don't know if it's my internal gender stereotyping coming out or what, but I am super drawn to vehicle-type toys for E. And there are so many great options!

First Birthday #4: AThings with Wheels

5. A big dishtub or something, for "washing" toys/dishes, and practicing pouring
This is one I never would have thought of, and I don't think it necessarily requires suggestions. My plan is a dish pan or two from the dollar store, or something re-purposed from around the house.

6. Tub toys, like boats
We're very into this category lately at my house, since the bath is E.'s favorite thing. We actually have a couple of these toys:

First Birthday #5: Bath Toys

7. A couple of really cool alphabet, colors, seasons/weather, vehicle, family, and parts-of-the-body books - toward the end of year one, books about feelings are good, too.
This is category in which I can see certain of E.'s grandparents going a bit nuts! And honestly, I'm tempted myself. There are amazing books available for small children these days. These are just a few:

First Birthday #7: Books

8. A couple of good stuffed animals/dolls.
A doll is something I never really thought about getting for E.--in truth, I'm a little bit creeped out by them--but he loves the ones in day care, so it's definitely on my list. None of the options I've seen thrill me overly much, but here are a few ideas:

First Birthday #8: Dolls

9. A small stepstool, for looking out of windows or reaching things
We actually have one of these that was Mark's when he was a kid, which I love. It has his name on it and everything. That said, if you were on the lookout for one, these are some I'd consider:

First Birthday #9: Stools

10. Cards with pictures on them (not necessarily flash cards) - photos or drawings of people or animals. (These get destroyed, so don't get too attached to them or spend too much money on them.)
Isn't this a crazy good idea? This is the kind of thing I never would have thought of, but I can totally see the appeal. And the possibilities are so endless. Another smart thing my friend does is puts flashcards in those pocket photo albums, creating sort of flip-books for her kids, who love them.

Here are a few ideas:

First Birthday #10: Cards

11. Jars and bottles
Here's one I wouldn't have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes--babies/toddlers LOVE jars, bottles, tubs, and tubes! And you can just give them a cleaned out version from whatever you've got--water, jam, peanut butter, shaving cream...the sky's the limit! You can also fill a bottle with glitter, water, food coloring, small toys, or a world of other things for sensory play--there are a couple of these in E's day care and he loves them. Just make sure the cap it on tightly!

12. Scarves and hats
Dress up clothes! I swear, the joy of dress up clothes was one of my Top 10 reasons for having a baby. I am so very, very excited about them. But again, there's no need to spend a ton of cash here, or even buy anything--the kid will be just as thrilled with old stuff you've got around, or thrift store stuff. I cannot wait for E. to get interested in this type of thing.

13. Kitchen stuff (doesn't have to be toy-kitchen stuff - Tupperware containers, silicone spatulas, old pots and pans, empty spice containers)
Once again, your cast-offs are probably going to be the best of these toys. That said, who can resist play food and dishes? Some of my favorites:

First Birthday #13: Play Food/Dishes

14. Big balls and little balls/bean bags for throwing
Over the past few weeks, balls have become HUGE at my house. E. can even say "ball" now. And there are so many varieties of balls to choose from!

First Birthday #14: Balls

15. Walker or push toy
This is another category that is growing in popularity at my house, and again, so many great options available! We have the one I show here with the blocks in it, and it is much loved.

First Birthday #15: Walkers/Push Toys

16. Blocks
Once again, a popular choice at my house, and something of which there are endless variations. Also, fun for adults! Some I like (several of which we have):

First Birthday #16: Blocks

Wow! Tell me that wasn't helpful!? I'm so excited to have this list to refer to, both for my kid and for future gift-giving. Thank you so much, E!

6 Comments

So much cute fun stuff! My Dh's favourite game for that age was to build a tower of blocks across the room before our eldest could crawl over and knock them over. lol

Under music, you have They Might Be Giants's Here Comes Science. That is an excellent CD but I think it is for older kids. For toddlers, I'd do their ABCs and 123s. Then be sure to buy Here Comes Science in a couple of years. :) A couple more recs: Gather Round: Songs for Kids and Other Folks, and the Fisher Price Sing Along Favorites.

Oh and the Haba blocks that you have pictured in the last picture, lower right - my kids both love them.

My go to gift for babies and toddlers before I had kids was always books. Now that I have kids (though mine are teens now), I have more ideas and can ask/gauge a kids interest a bit more. If in doubt though, I go back to the books because you can't have too many books.
Good wooden blocks are always a hit too, though I'd probably give those to an older kid. I'm keeping the blocks my kids have - my 14 yo still pulls them out and builds with them occasionally.
For kitchen toys, my kids had a set of plastic vegetables that came in 2 pieces, attached by Velcro. They could "cut" them in two with the plastic knife. It even came with a little cutting board. Those veggies even came in handy in preschool/kindergarten when they would have to bring in some number of items starting with the letter of the week.

Great suggestions. To add on: music. Ralph's World is great and we don't like Veggie Tales generally (too religious) but Silly Songs with Larry is a must have. Books: Dear Zoo is the best book ever for this age group. Also, Duplos! Fun for years!

Best one-year-old birthday gift, hands down? A harmonica. ALL toddlers (and big kids too) love them! I can't believe Emil is already 1. Excited to see how much he's grown since last summer. If you have time during your visit for Mitch's wedding, let's plan a cousin play date!

Another music recommendation: Laura Veirs - Tumble Bee. She went to my small college. I didn't know her then, but have heard her at reunions since and LOVE this kids album.

Totally ditto the harmonica suggestion! Pure joy.

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Nursing and convenience parenting

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I've posted before, here and elsewhere, about my extreme indifference, bordering on enmity, towards breastfeeding. It was just not something I looked forward to about being a mom. For years, I didn't think I'd even attempt it, and then, before my kid was born, I decided I would attempt it, but with no pressure on myself to do anything other than try. I had no "I'll nurse for X months" goal, and I had a stockpile of formula ready for when it didn't work out, or when I hated it too much to continue.

Ten months in to my child's life, I am still pretty indifferent. Breastfeeding has been easy and more or less painless for me. The baby took to it easily, I have plenty of milk, even pumping has never been a problem. The unused formula has long since been given away, never having been needed or even considered. But I don't like it. I don't feel it bonds us, at least not any more than any of the other million mundane parenting tasks I do every day. While I in no way find it gross, or uncomfortable, I do find it inconvenient, and, increasingly, intrusive. As I've heard so many women say over the years, I'm ready to have my body back.

But I'm not going to wean.

Why? Given my lack of a breastfeeding timeline goal, and my feeling that the negatives of doing it are starting to outweigh the positives, wouldn't weaning make sense? At this point, I don't think so. In only two more months, my baby will be a year old (wow, already?!). At that point, the American Academy of Pediatrics gives the OK to start giving cow's milk. He's eating an ever-increasing amount of food (and seems to prefer it to nursing), and only nursing/getting bottles of pumped milk 4-6 times a day. It seems to me, perhaps foolishly, that if I'm willing to wait a couple more months to start the process, I may be able to wean him so slowly and gradually that he'll not much know the difference. Or he may do it himself. That will make it one less thing that I have to put him through or "train" him into/out of, and that, unlike whatever health benefits he is still getting at this age, makes it worthwhile to me to wait. In short, I'm willing to wait because I think it will be easier.

This sheds light on one of the parts of parenthood I didn't necessarily expect. I expected to be willing to do things I don't want to do because they are what my baby needs--that seemed obvious from my first diaper change. I expected to prioritize his comfort and happiness over my own much of the time. But I didn't expect to be so willing to make compromises to my preferences for the sake of making things easier. Not necessarily better, just easier. It isn't in the books, but a lot of infant parenting, at least in my experience, comes down to maximizing utility and convenience. Were I to wean the baby at this point, I'd have to start dealing with formula--that would add a complication to my life. I'd have to deal with "explaining" to a pre-logic baby why he can't nurse anymore when he still wants to--another complication. It's worth the inconvenience of continuing to nurse and pump to avoid those inconveniences. At that end of the day, the metric isn't "what's best for him and best for me?" but rather "what's easiest for both of us?"

In the specific example of nursing, I assume that at some point, probably not too far down the road, the convenience metric will change and then nursing will cease (and I will quietly rejoice). But the more interesting thing, to me, is the window this provides into how parenting decisions are actually made on the ground. When this was all theoretical to me, I never would have expected to value the convenience of an established nursing relationship over my own complete body autonomy. Nor would I have expected that convenience to be, in reality, more important to me than the more tangible benefits of breast milk. It's one of those interesting ways in which the idea of parenting and the reality of it are just miles apart.

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Essential Baby Gear: 10 Months In

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The last time I made a post about baby gear we're finding essential, my baby was 10 weeks old. I'd intended to do one every couple of months, but time management and intentions rarely match up these days. So I'm coming back to it now, with a nearly ten month old baby. The only things mentioned in my ten week baby gear posts that are still in heavy rotation are the AppleTV and the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bras--things for me more than for him (though the AppleTV has become a delivery vehicle for vintage Sesame Street episodes). Things change fast when you're a baby! Lately, we have a whole new bunch of essential items.

Essential Baby Gear at Ten Months

Essential Baby Gear at Ten Months on Polyvore

1. aden + anais Muslin Dribble Bibs/Burp Cloths: we received a bunch of these as gifts before Buzzy was born, and during the first few months, they were ostensibly to be used as burp cloths. They weren't all that useful then, because he almost never spit up and I rarely used burp cloths at all. Now, they are my best friends. As bibs, they have two important elements (besides just being cute)--they close with a snap instead of Velcro (my talented child has no problem ripping off a Velcro closure bib) and they wrap around, providing more coverage to his clothes. We pretty much never use any other bibs.

2. Evenflo Triumph Convertible Car Seat: I did a lot of research before I pulled the trigger on buying Buzzy's first non-bucket car seat, and considered a number of models that are significantly more expensive than the Triumph, but the Triumph ultimately seemed like the best value for the money and we're extremely pleased with it. So much so that we actually bought two, one for each vehicle! It's a sturdy seat, easy to install, with a reasonably high rear-facing weight and height limit. The best part, though, is the side knob you use for tightening the straps. Not hand-tightening the straps is so, so great. That alone makes this seat worth more than it costs.

3. cloud b Twilight Turtle Constellation Night Light: OK, so this one is a nice-to-have, but it's really nice to have it, and well worth the $25 or so it costs. This little guy sends a whole wall and ceiling full of light-up stars up for 45 minutes after we put Buzzy down in his crib, and looking at them definitely helps him go to sleep/back to sleep when he's not quite there. As any infant parent knows, things that help them go to sleep? Worth their weight in gold.

4. Carlson Extra-Wide Walk Through Gate with Pet Door: We tried a cheaper gate before we bought this one, but it was flimsy, hard to open and close, and the pet cut-out in it was nowhere near big enough for our largest cat. This gate, however, is perfect. It's super sturdy, easy to open and walk through, and the pet door is a real pet door--even a small dog could fit through it easily.

5. Ikea Antilop High Chair: This thing is a cult classic for a reason! It's not beautiful, but it's structurally sound, super easy to clean, and dirt cheap.

6. Infant's Advil Dye-Free Concentrated Drops: Four teeth and one ear infection in, I worship at the altar of Infant Advil. Three packs of it from Costco, dude.

7. Diono Easy View Back Seat Mirror: Some people think back seat mirrors are a distraction. I think not being able to see if the noises my kid is making mean he's choking or singing is a distraction, so I love this mirror. It attaches easily and is really maneuverable, so it works in both our small car and our mid-size SUV/crossover thing. We had another type of cheaper mirror for a while and it wouldn't stay in place and drove me nuts. This one doesn't do that. It makes life better when things just work, you know?

8. The First Years Gumdrop Slim Neck Bottles: Once the slow-flow of infant bottles started making Buzzy angry, it took us several tries to find a bottle he liked. I was so happy he decided these were the way to go, though--they're cute, cheap, don't have any dumb characters on them, and the mouths are the correct size to attach directly to the pump, so no pump bottles are needed. Yay for fewer bottles to wash!

9. Carter's 3-Piece Jersey PJs: Pajamas were a little bit of an issue around here for a while. Buzzy has a very long torso and was growing out of one-piece footed pajamas bizarrely fast, while simultaneously deciding that he hated having his clothes changed. Many two piece pajamas worn tight, to reduce fire danger or somesuch. These are almost impossible to get on to the body of a squirming, pissed off, chunky baby. Enter these wonderful, loose sets from Carter's, which come with a t-shirt style shirt and coordinating shorts and pants. They're lightweight, easy on and off, and also adorable. We seriously have five sets.

10. Plum Organics Baby Food Pouches: Buzzy has been eating an increasing amount of solid food, mostly in the form of purees, since he was about four months old. For the most part, I make it myself, but nothing beats the convenience of a shelf stable pouch, especially for traveling. There are several decent brands that use organic ingredients and nothing that sketches me out, but Plum is my favorite. They have some great combinations, including raspberry, spinach, and Greek yogurt (pictured), and my personal favorite, sweet potato, mango, and millet.

Add to my list! What are your essentials for a baby at this stage?

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Great post. Good baby stuff at 10 months.

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The Working Mom Mirage

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Catching sight of myself reflected in the glass door on the way out of the day care, I'm shocked. The woman is weighed down, a baby on one hip, lugging a diaper bag and a purse. Her keys dangle precariously off her finger. At first glance, she's what is often called "put-together," with office appropriate slacks and heels, everything fitting correctly, everything coordinated. If you look closely, though, you notice the makeup settling in the fine lines between her eyes. You notice errant strands of silver escaping the blown straight brown plane of her hair. You notice the kind of bags under her eyes that come from an undergrad pulling an all-nighter, or from the concentrated lack of sleep of infant parenthood. She looks like something in an ad, perhaps encouraging you to buy frozen food, a time-saving appliance, or a magic app to help you organize your busy day. You know, without seeing it, that her practical car is littered with Starbucks cups, that she's tried to remember to re-run the load of laundry that's molding in the washer for the last three nights running, that the baby on her hip will almost certainly get a balanced dinner tonight, but she's been hitting the drive through a lot lately. I hardly recognize myself, looking at her--she's so completely the Working Mom.


In my previous ignorance, I'd assumed the Working Mom was an intentional construct, something women decided to become. I saw them, at Target or the library or in cars I passed, their smooth veneers plucked and polished and ironed, the barely contained disorder underneath very rarely visible to my glance. Somewhere in the back of my consciousness I admired them for their ability, still theoretical to me, to balance the spheres of their lives and keep all the balls in the air. Much like one is often told childbirth and nursing will just come naturally, because they're "what you're made to do," I believed, in some dark and not well examined part of me, that they were what I was meant to become. I thought I'd have a baby, go back to work, and slip squarely into their not-too-high heels. Armed with my cell phone and my caffeine addiction, I'd flit from meetings to doctor's appointments to soccer games, always in an appropriate outfit. It wouldn't be without effort, but it would feel innate. There would be no learning curve.


To the strangers and acquaintances I pass as I'm hustling my kid from the day care to the car, calculating that if traffic isn't too bad, I'll have almost an hour once we get home to get him fed and bathed before bedtime, it probably looks as if I did slip naturally into this role. I'm not crying, I'm not babbling, I'm not even wearing stained yoga pants or leaking through my shirt. Sure, a close inspection will make clear I'm a little tired and in a bit of a rush, but who isn't? To the extent that success means convincing those around you that you're capable, competent, even thriving, I've got this. But the chaos underneath bubbles so vigorously that I'm not convinced it will ever feel normal. It certainly doesn't now. 


I don't really have trouble leaving my son at day care. I know he's well cared for, he seems to enjoy it, and our schedule means I don't often have to do drop off, so even if there were dramatics with that, I would mostly miss them. I don't feel guilty. I don't think strangers are raising my kid. The adjustment from seeing him all day every day to seeing him for only a couple of waking hours a day during the week is bracing, but I believe that if we're not both better for it already, we will be before too long. The part I expected to be hard isn't that hard at all. Unfortunately, the part I expected to be easy is pretty rough. Things that don't sound at all difficult--making sure all the fiddly pieces of my breast pump make it into my bag every morning, keeping my son's newly running nose wiped, buying dog food--are suddenly overwhelming. Days are no longer made up of hours, but of the mere minutes in between needing to be somewhere and needing to do something. It will be easier once we have a routine, I tell myself at least ten times a day. It will be easier once he's weaned. It will be easier once he sleeps through the night. Likely it will be. But time is needed, too, to make those things happen. Time and patience, concentration and effort, and all of these are things that are in shorter supply than I'd have guessed possible. 


I am, on the whole, enormously lucky. I have a job I like, which provides me with both a very good salary and the flexibility that is so important to parenting (and so hard to come by). I have a partner who loves his work, who has taken to parenting quicker and more completely than I'd expected, and who pulls much more of his weight than I'd feared. I have a day care provider whom I can afford (if barely...), who already loves my son. Most of all, I have an incredibly happy, healthy, adaptable baby. With the exception of our lack of local family support (which we feel keenly), my family's situation approaches the two -working parent ideal. But even in these prosaic circumstances, it is highly unlikely that I'll ever really become the Working Mom I appear to be. Things may well get easier over time, but they aren't ever going to get easy. We may well find our groove, but we'll never stay in it for very long before something inevitably changes. It's possible that I'll find time to cover the gray in my hair, or at least remember the laundry before it gets musty, but something else will come up. It's clear to me, even though I am only at the beginning of this journey, that the woman I thought I was meant to be, the Working Mom from the magazines, doesn't exist. We're all just doing the best we can, trying to keep the pieces together and give the impression of serenity. The trick, I think, is in learning to accept the behind the scenes bedlam, to consider it a messy junk drawer that isn't waiting for a free moment to be put to order, but rather is intended to stay that way. We try to remain unruffled, if unsleeping, and rediscover every day that all we can do has to be good enough.

7 Comments

Great post! The way time just disappears is amazing.

I especially appreciate the way you write you do not feel guilty about daycare. I don't at all and I feel like other people will give me the leery eye for that. But I like working and my kid is happy at his daycare.

Great post! Even though my girl was older when I went back to work, and I've been back at it for a couple of years, it's still a work in progress. The lack of time between getting home and bedtime is the worst.

So I have been a working mom for 8 years now and I've found that the difficulty of the mundane stuff is pretty cyclical. There are weeks when I have to go to my oldest's school and sneak food/gym clothes/homework into her backpack several times and there are weeks when I am on the ball and she has everything she needs, every day.

Usually I find myself off game when there is some change in routine. So you no longer need to bring the breast pump parts because baby weaned but you forget to bring the only kind of baby food that baby will eat. Routine makes these things easier.

I definitely agree that I am more scattered now than I was before kids. I'd like to think that I am also better at certain things. I do think it is important we talk about these things so moms don't feel so alone in their (imagined) incompetence.

Oh and my youngest loves daycare too and I don't feel a bit guilty about leaving him. He needs the different scenery and extra kids and since he is a super active little one, I need the time to regroup before we are together again. He does jump into my arms when I pick him up, but he also waves goodbye when I drop him off.

Your post really resonates with me. It's been a HUGE struggle to balance a growing baby, a busy full-time job, home life of playing, chores, meals, etc. and then helping my partner with his business and doing my own side business. I finally realized that I just can't do it all like I could pre-baby. It's had an impact on my personal and professional life that I never would have guessed.

I feel really conflicted about not having any time for my own hobbies or personal interests right now. In order to do anything creative, I either have to ask someone to watch the baby (and I already don't see him for 35+ hours a week) or it has to be something I can do in 20 minute bursts when he's content to play trains by himself or I have to motivate myself to do it after he's gone to bed. And by that time, I'm usually so wiped out, it's hard to care anymore.

I would like to hear more as you all settle (or not) into new routines. Has M felt any of these same things with you going back?

I'm interested in the answer to Julia's Q. Because in my house, it seems like I'm the one who's taken all the hit as far as becoming scatterbraained, keeping up (or not) with all the details and needing an ironclad routine including a checkoff list so everyone gets out the door with a lunch and a jacket if needed, in clean clothes.

What a beautiful and courageous post! If only it would have been available when I started the working mom journey it would have saved me a lot of beating myself up and feeling inadequate about the "junk drawer"!

Thanks for this. I hope all the new working moms out there will read this and save their energy for their relationships, and for remembering that they are still themselves and deserve to have fun once in a while - rather than wasting it on chasing an image of perfection that doesn't exist.

This is my life... totally my life. Two kids and a husband with a dog means everyday is a mad dash to the next activity and we just try to get by the best way we can making sure our babies come out on top even when we feel like we've been beat down. I think you've inspired a post.

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Notes on the return to work

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Things that are easier than I expected about returning to work:

  1. Figuring out what to wear.
  2. Feeling like my kid is being well taken care of in day care.
  3. Pumping.

Things that are harder than I expected about returning to work:

  1. Having to talk to people all day.
  2. Only spending an hour or so a day with my baby.
  3. Making my brain focus on one task at a time.
  4. The tightness of the get the schedule.
  5. Figuring out when the hell I am going to do all the things I was doing during the day while I was home.

Intellectually, I know that all of my current angst is completely typical newly back-to-work mom stuff. I feel like I'm missing out on the baby's life and not seeing him enough. I feel like there are no hours of my day that aren't spoken for. I feel like I'm divided at all times, with half my brain in my cube and half wondering how the baby is, what he's doing, etc. I feel constantly breathless and just on the verge of panic. I'm told this will all get easier as time passes, and I absolutely believe it will, but, like much of the rest of this first-year-of-motherhood roller coaster, the meantime is pretty overwhelming.

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"I feel like there are no hours of my day that aren't spoken for."

THIS.

As they get older, you get more time with them when they're awake, which is good because they are doing more of a variety of things then. But then they don't go to bed... and by the time they do, you're ready for bed yourself... and the whole thing starts over again at 6:45am.

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Nautical Baby Clothes for Spring

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So I have this obsession with baby clothes these days. Probably not surprising, given that I have a newish baby. But baby clothes are so much cuter than I thought! And so much more stylish! This spring, there is a ton of nautical-inspired stuff for babies, and I particularly love that. It's available in both the boys and girls sections, and, to me, it largely reads as gender neutral. The color scheme (navy, gray, red), the stripes, and the motifs themselves (anchors, boats) are refreshingly un-gendered, and also a little bit mature, while still being cute for kids. I just love it.

So, I picked out a few favorite things available right now for kids, at price points across the board. And I'm sitting on my hands not to buy numbers 2, 8, and 16 for my kid!

Nautical Baby Clothes for Spring

Nautical Baby Clothes for Spring by avengingophelia

Here's what we've got:

1. Carter's 2-Piece Tee and Short Set, $13.20
2. Trendy Twin Shop Baby Boy's Anchor Nautical Onesie, $20
3. Gymboree Button Stripe Top, $16.49
4. Boden Baby Applique Jersey Dress, $30
5. Circo Infant Toddler Girls' Pants in Navy Voyage, $5
6. Gymboree Tugboat Submarine Tee, $12.71
7. Cherokee Infant Toddler Girls' Stripe Blazer, $14
8. Boden Baby Vehicle Applique T-Shirt, $20
9. Hatley Infant Boys' Super Soft Day Romper, $29.99
10. Circo Infant Toddler Girls' Jean Shorts--Dark Chambray, $5
11. Le Top Nautical Stripe Tee with Canvas Shorts, $46
12. Circo Newborn Boys' Short-Sleeved Bodysuit--Gray, $5
13. Cherokee Infant Toddler Boys' Short-Sleeved Tee, $6
14. Burt's Bees Newborn Boys' Boat Print Bodysuit--Blue, $9.95
15. Hatley Anchor Long Sleeved Kids' Graphic Tee, $19.95
16. Hatley Blue Whales Boys' Short Set, $39.99
17. Cherokee Infant Toddler Boys' Long-Sleeved Top, $12

What do you think? Seen any awesome nautical baby clothes recently? What am I missing?

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Note: Please realize as you read this that I know breastfeeding is a sensitive and emotionally fraught topic and I am in no way interested in debating it or in hurting anybody's feelings. My thoughts are simply that anybody who wants to breastfeed her child should be supported in doing so. Alternately, anybody who does not want to breastfeed should not be pressured to do so. I also realize I am writing with the enormous privilege of someone for whom breastfeeding was and is extremely easy.

***

I was really unexcited about breastfeeding. I planned to try, but the idea was never appealing. However, six months in, having had pretty well the world's easiest time with it, I'm a big fan. I don't get any warm fuzzy feelings from it; it doesn't feel like a special type of bonding or anything like that, but is is extremely convenient and simple.

Except for the pumping and storing part. Incidentally, that part was pretty much skipped by every professional with whom I've spoken about lactation and most of the non-professionals. While at least two dozen people have given me positioning and latch advice, I don't think anybody every told me how to store breast milk. At least, not until I had been doing it wrong for a while. And so, in the interest of hopefully helping someone out there who is similarly ignorant, I'm going to tell you a couple of things about breast milk storage.

(Please note that this advice all assumes you have adequate supply to stockpile milk.)

The big thing is this: frozen milk takes up a lot of space. We have a small standing freezer, and it's nearly half full of frozen milk. That's with my pumping only once a day, for less than six months, and taking six weeks or so off from pumping completely. In part, my stockpile is taking up so much space because of bad storage practices early on. So much so, in fact, that I have seriously considered throwing out hundreds of ounces of pumped milk in order to free up space. Anybody who has ever felt like she spends her life lashed to a breast pump knows that's a complete travesty.

So you're going to build a pumped milk stockpile. Here's what you need:

Breast Milk Stockpile Supplies

People have all sorts of ideas about the best brands for these things, so I'm just showing you the set-up I use, with which I am quite satisfied. Some people are not at all fans of the Ameda Purely Yours pump, though, so do your own research there. If you're going to be pumping a lot, you definitely want a double electric pump of some kind. Also, if you're planning to pump on a daily or multiple times daily basis, do yourself a favor and get a hands-free pumping bra. Makes the whole task quite a lot less irritating.

I'm not going to go into the logistics of pumping, since that stuff that is both very individual and better shown than told. If you meet with a lactation consultant at the hospital/birth center/whathaveyou (and you definitely should, if you have the opportunity), ask her specifically about pumping. It's not, at least in my experience, completely self-explanatory.

I am interested specifically in talking about storage of your milk once you've pumped it.

Do not do this:
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When I got Snappies in my breastfeeding bag from the hospital, they seemed like such a good idea to my immediately post-partum brain. They were so cute! You could probably put some sort of nipple on them and feed right from them later when you thawed the milk! With an adapter, I could pump right into them! Fabulous!

Space hogs. If you need a large quantity (and if you're stockpiling you will), expensive. Didn't take me long to realize that was a bad idea.

But so was this:
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Breast milk storage bags come handily marked with ounce measurements. They are also those kind of bags that can stand up on their own, so you can stand them up and see how much is in them. That doesn't mean you should freeze them standing up. See those bags on the right in that picture? Those were frozen standing up. And they take up a ton of space, even when they're packed into containers as tightly as possible.

So, how should you do it? Well, here's the best way I've found:

1. Pump.

2. Using a funnel, fill freezer storage bags with milk. My preferred brand is Lansinoh, but other brands are fine, just keep using the same brand once you start with it, so your bags will all be uniform. There are lots of theories as to how much you should fill each bag, but I tend to just let it depend on how much I've pumped in a given session. I never put more than 4-5 oz in a single bag, and never less than 2 oz. So, for example, if I pumped 7 oz in a given session, I'd probably fill one bag to 4 oz and one to 3 oz.

3. Push the air out of the bag and seal it carefully. Make SURE it's sealed.

4. Label the bag with date and amount. Be sure and do this, because the next step will make it so that you can't judge the amount of milk in a frozen bag if it's not labeled, and you need to know when you pumped it so that you don't keep it for too long.

5. Place the bag carefully, flat, on the space you've designated in your freezer for immediate milk storage. It needs to be somewhere you can access quickly, and needs to be able to lie flat there without being disturbed. We already had this set up for freezing flat bags of homemade chicken stock, so I just commandeered it:

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6. Before your put your next bags in, put the ones you last froze (assuming they are frozen solid) in a plastic storage box. I have some from Sterlite that were cheap and are exactly the right size. Line them up sideways, by date:

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When you fill a container, stack it in whatever secondary freezer you have. Keep the oldest milk on top, so that when you need to use it, you'll use it first. According to the card the lactation consultant gave me, breast milk stored in a deep freezer is good for 12 months; 6 months for a refrigerator freezer.

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That's a good breakdown! I never figured that out with my first, but with my second kid, I used this thing. http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Years-Breastflow-Organizer/dp/B000K4YSVI/ref=pd_sim_hpc_3 There's a spring loaded panel that presses the most recent bag flat, and then when you go to put the next bag in, you rotate the newly frozen bag to the back.

Yes, I've never been able to build up a stash of more than a hundred ounces or so at a time. So I was able to just say, "Ooh, that looks handy!" when I saw the storage device, rather than, "Uhh, I guess I'd need a dozen or so of those..."

I don't know how accessible downtown DC is to you, but the Breastfeeding Center has a couple of free classes on pumping and going back to work: http://www.breastfeedingcenter.org/.

Also? You can use a pump horn as a funnel. :)

Oh, and one more thing--when you defrost, put your storage bags in a clean ziploc to defrost. I've dropped frozen bags on the floor, which can make little punctures in the bag, but if you defrost in a clean ziploc, you save any milk that leaks out.

Very informative post, Grace. As someone who EPed for 6 months, breastmilk storage was always a challenge for us.

I never had too much problem with storage, because I mostly pumped only once I went back to work. I only froze milk that was in excess of what my kid would drink the next day or on Fridays. Then I would pull out the oldest milk for Monday.

I think I used to freeze in the drop in liner bags at times and never had any trouble. I don't really remember though as my kids are both teens now. I did just fine with a double pump without a special bra and could still read or eat lunch while I pumped.

I pumped without a hands free bra and still did stuff (just held both horns with one hand or with my forearm), but it certainly is much easier with the hands free bra and I got one for my last baby.

Awesome tips! I have two of those spring loaded things Suzy mentioned as well. They're great for freezing your milk flat and temporary storage. One is actively pulled from for bottles. The other is actively filled as I pump. I use two freezers, so they don't get mixed up, but you can just label them if you only have one freezer. As the one with newer milk fills up, I take the now flat frozen bags out and put them in one of the empty boxes from my nursing pads and label with the date range. Lansinoh storage bags fit perfectly in Lansinoh breast pad boxes. I wonder if that wasn't a coincidence!

Nice! This is stuff I figured out along the way, but so nice of you to post it as a how-to.

I ended up using a shoebox to store the bags after they were frozen flat. I never really had the problem of running out of space, not enough supply.

When I had to wean V due to intolerance issues, I still had about 100 oz in the freezer. I ended up giving it to a friend whose baby tolerated it fine. Might be something to float out there on Facebook or wherever if you genuinely start running out of room to store, or the milk is approaching getting too old to use.

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Musings on thrifting for a baby

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It has come to my attention that I haven't been posting much about thrifting lately. It's not that I'm not doing any thrifting--I tend to hit the thrift store once a week, either with Buzzy in tow or when he's at home with Dad. My recent luck there has been fair-to-middling, I'd say; no amazing scores, but never coming home totally empty-handed. I've also be thrifting for far different things that I used to--namely, things for the baby.

Buzzy always needs clothes, so I always look at those, and I've gotten a few great things and a lot of useful things for $.99-$4.99/item. My best score on that front was an 18-month size Land's End parka, barely worn, found a mere week or so before we headed to the chilly climes of Minnesota for Christmas. Felt good about that one. I scored a $.99 Hanna Anderssen striped onesie that I love. I've snagged a number of pairs of Gymboree pants, which are my preferred brand right now, because they seem to fit him just right. Clothes are a fairly easy one, because I can tell at a glance what kind of shape something is in, and they are completely washable.

Toys are a bit harder. At this stage, when everything goes immediately into Buzzy's mouth, I'm only really willing to thrift toys for him if they are new-in-packaging, or can be completely washed. Basically, that means only hard surface stuff, like the vintage-esque Fisher Price pull phone I brought home recently. I so thought that thing was circa early 80s--it looked just like the one we had when I was a kid!--but the bottom says copyright 2009! I had no idea they still made those. Anyway, something like that can be fully submerged and soaked in hot water and vinegar, then scrubbed, so I feel OK about giving it to him. Things that can't get that treatment, though, I can't quite do yet. Hopefully I'll get over that when he's a bit bigger, as the toy section has always seemed to me to be one of a thrift store's high points.

Another easy-thrift, I've found, is baby linens--receiving blankets, crib sheets, etc. We don't actually need any of those things, having been very generously handed down and gifted a big stockpile, but I did buy him one crib sheet that I just couldn't resist--it has squirrels on it and was just too cute not to bring home. And again, completely hot water washable, so my germ fears are abated. I've also been checking out the fabric section of my thrift store lately, since we are just about out of blankets to use as backdrops for Buzzy's weekly photos, and I'm going to start needing to buy pieces of fabric. WAY cheaper to do that at the thrift store.

I've been thrifting a surprising number of super practical baby-related things new in the package. For example, I've found multiple unopened packages of breast milk storage freezer bags, and a number of unopened packages of pacifiers and bottle nipples. Those kinds of things can be very expensive. For example, a 50-ct box of milk storage bags is around $12 on Amazon, and they're generally $.99 at the thrift store, so if they are brands/varieties I think we'll use, I always grab them when I see them.

The biggest category of successful baby thrifting I've done, though, is for larger items. On my last trip, I came home with a little rocker type chair with a tray for Buzzy. Perfect for him right now, as he is loving sitting up, but isn't quite able to do it on his own yet, but also something that he'll only really use for a few weeks, so I wouldn't want to pay full price for it (probably around $50 for the kind I got). All of the fabric parts are removable/machine washable, so it was easy to clean up so Buzzy could use it, too. As I've mentioned before, Buzzy's pack n' play, changing table, and dresser are also thrifted. The pack n' play was a bit of a challenge, since is is fabric and can't be machine washed, but I satisfied myself with hot water, vinegar, and sunlight, and it has worked out great. Right now, I am on the lookout for three new higher ticket items--a foldable stroller (for the day, coming soon, when the bucket car seat caddy won't work anymore), an exersaucer/walker, and a high chair (I saw one of these for $5 the other day and I wish I'd bought it).

It has been interesting to me, as someone who has for more than a decade been willing to thrift just about anything I want or need, to realize that I do have different "rules" or "standards" when it comes to my baby. Would I thrift shoes for myself? Absolutely, if I could find any. For him? Probably not, unless they were new. Have I ever worried about the possible issues with thrifted furniture in the past? Honestly, no. Am I worried now? Absolutely. Which is probably good, honestly--I've been lucky so far, but that luck would have to run out eventually, and I'd end up with bed bugs or lice or scabies or something. Nothing like looking out for someone else to make you realize the ways in which you've neglected to look out for yourself.

How about you, fellow thrifters. Do you thrift a lot for your kids? What won't you buy? Any tips to make sure thrifted items are really clean before you give them to your baby? Leave a comment!

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I will thrift anything for my son except for car seats (of course). Toys don't bother me. Hard things can be wiped with bleach wipes and soft things can be machine washed. I am very non-paranoid about germs though--I expect most people disagree with me there!

I'm actually a huge fan of thrifting baby shoes - at this age, they put so little wear on them, and outgrow them so fast, it's hard to even tell whether they're brand new or not. I felt like such a sucker the day I bought some cheapie new shoes for $10 at a regular store, then went to the thrift store and found 4 pairs of very nice, like-new, name brand (Robeez, the cutest Converse you've ever seen) shoes that added up to $10 all together. I think I'm going to hold off on buying any new non-thrifted shoes till my kids are actually walking.

I bought our oldest his first non-thrifted shoes a year ago when his feet had outgrown the kids' sizes. Because they lose those things. They wear the shit out of them dragging them on the ground. They get muddy and trashed, and I'd much rather it was a $3 pair of thrifted See Kai Runs than a $42 pair.

As far as toys go, if he were in day care, would he be allowed to play with the toys? Probably, right? So I'm not seeing the difference. Worried about bed bugs? Throw it in the dryer on high. Worried about lice? Ditto. But sooner or later, that naive little immune system will be challenged, and trust me -- better now than in fourth grade.

You have different rules for yourself vs. Buzzy because you don't chew on furniture or suck on your clothes, probably. (Or at least I've never seen you do that.)

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What did Buzzy get??

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I have had a few requests to show you all how Buzzy did on his first Christmas on the outside, and really, how can I resist? I'm extraordinarily proud of our family/friends for getting the little dude such great stuff, in such moderation (remember, this represents a huge family, so even though it's a lot of stuff, it's not a ton per-person), and basically making the present aspect of his first Christmas fantastic. He didn't open a single thing that I cringed about, and most of what he was gifted I just plain love.

Buzzy's Christmas Haul

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Letter to Buzzy #5: Month Three in Oregon

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Dear Buzzy,

I swear, someday I will catch up on these. Now that you're four months old, it seems the least I can do is get your three month letter finished.

We spent a lot of your third month (September) in Oregon, visiting my family and some of our Oregon friends. It was a wonderful trip--so great, in fact, that you and I stayed an extra week, dragging it out to a three-week vacation. These are the perks to having an unemployed mama, I guess!

A lot of things changed while we were in Oregon. You started your sleeping decline (which we're right in the heart of now). You started interacting with people and toys in a completely new way. You met countless people for the first time--grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins...and you charmed everybody. By the time you and I got home, I think you seemed like a totally new baby to your dad.

Another new thing about the trip was my first experience having sole responsibility for you for a long period of time--not only the last two weeks of the trip, but the flight home. You were an absolute angel on both flights, barely crying at all and, on the way home, spending nearly the whole flight asleep in my lap. Flying by yourself with an infant isn't easy, though--I really wished I had more than two hands!

Early in the month, you started laughing, which is an amazing thing. One can never be sure what is going to strike you as funny, but the sound you make when something does is awesome. It makes all the sleepless nights and gritting my teeth through the screaming worth it.

I love you more every day,

Your Mom

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In October, I received three different subscription boxes meant for babies/parents of babies. Since the models of these three programs are so similar, they seemed to me to be screaming to be compared. And I'm just the blogger to do it!

Stork Stack

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Stork Stack's October theme was "Imaginative Play." The stack included:
-Box Play for Kids Caterpillar sticker, est. value $5
-My First Green Toys Twist Teether, est. value $10.50
-Blueberry Pecan Kind Plus Bar & Madagascar Vanilla Almond Kind Nuts & Spices Bar, est. value $1.50 each
-Tinie Dinies Topsey Squeaker, est. value $12
-The Harmonica Pocket Apple apple CD, est. value $8.99

Total est. value: $39.49, or 141% of cost

This month's Stork Stack box was the last of my three-month subscription, and I won't be renewing. Though Stork Stack's are meant to be tailored to the age of your baby, only two of the included items (the teether and the dinosaur) are things my baby is going to be able to play with anytime in the near future. The caterpillar box sticker is cool, but meant for a much older child, as is the CD, and the Kind bars are just an odd addition all around (and why two of them?). At the same time, the caterpillar sticker is the only part of the stack that seems to me to be in keeping with the "imaginative play" theme. For the price tag of $28/month, I just expect a bit more than this box delivers.

Teetheme

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Teethme's September theme (the box came at the end of the month, so I am putting it in with October's other boxes) was "Teethers on the GO!" The products were:
-Itzy Ritzy Snack Happened Reusable Snack Bag, est. value $9.99
-WarmZe Small Starter Kit & Large Starter Kit, est. value $16.95 each
-MAM Learn to Brush Set, est. value $5
-pbnj baby Paci Wipes, est. value $4.95
-$5 gift card to Plum District; and $10 gift code to ecomom

Total est. value (w/o gift cards/codes): $53.84, or 224% of cost

Teetheme is currently out of commission, which I learned before I even opened this box. I have no idea whether they'll be back or not. If they are, I may give them another try. I liked how the products in this box were in keeping with the theme and were useful things, and I especially enjoyed the Itzy Ritzy bag. However, I thought it was really strange that I got both the large and the small sized WarmZe kits, and I wonder if that was just done because there weren't enough age-appropriate items and the box value would have felt too low without the extra one? I thought the box could have used a toy or something interactive to round it out instead.

Citrus Lane

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The theme for the Citrus Lane box was "Fall Fun." It included:
-full-sized tube of BabyGanics Healin' Groovy balm, est. value $7.99
-Little Taggies by Taggies mini blanket, est. value $9.
-Munchkin Soft Shaker, est. value $6.49
-Little Spider from Chronicle Books, est. value $6.95
-DHC Deep Cleansing Oil Mini, est. value $4.99

Total est. value: $35.42, or 142% of cost

I thought this was a great box. Every item in it was/will be useful, and while nothing was over-the-top fantastic, none of it was junk, either. The theme was only loosely followed (not sure how the taggie blanket or the munchkin rattle are fall-centric), but I appreciated that everything was age appropriate to my 3-month old baby--Citrus Lane claims to tailor their boxes to "age and stage," and that was definitely true for this one. I also liked the little "mom treat" of the DHC oil, which I'm interested in trying out. Citrus Lane subscriptions are $25/month, so the value was decent, if not fantastic. I'd get this one again.

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Citrus Lane does seem to tailor their boxes to the baby's age--my 10-month old got a slightly different assortment of items, including a pouch of Ella's Kitchen baby food and a couple of Munchkin sippy cups (instead of the shaker and the blanket). I've been really impressed with the Citrus Lane boxes. It's almost always stuff that we can use, and it's a fun surprise in the mail every month.

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Baby clothes, bargain through boutique

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So one thing about having a little kid is that you are never not clothes shopping, at least as far as I can tell. Buzzy changes sizes approximately every three weeks, so we need a constant influx of clothes. We've been very lucky so far to have met almost all of our clothing needs with hand-me-downs, but we may soon be coming to the end of that (that's what happens when your kid is off-the-charts large). Obviously, my first choice is to thrift all of his clothes, but I know we'll be buying some new stuff as well, and even thrifted, I do look at brands. And, over the course of just three months, I've developed some definite brand preferences. Since these preferences run the gamut from bargain to boutique, I thought I'd share them with you.

Bargain

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Small Wonders Infant Boy's Hat, T-Shirt, and Pants--Tractor, $16.99
I mentioned this in a previous post, but for good, cheap baby clothes, I don't think you can beat K-Mart (note that this does NOT hold true for their bigger kids clothes, which look, at least from what I can tell, to be horrendous). Specifically, there are two lines, Small Wonders and Miniville, that we've had great success with. Our K-Mart clothes have so far all been hand-me-downs, so they've been through a set of twins before Buzzy, and everything has held up spectacularly well. At full price, the outfits, like the one above, aren't THAT cheap, but sales come often and clearance stuff gets very cheap. Basics are also really inexpensive, with good quality onesies costing only a few dollars and really cute sweatshirts and pants available for $5-$7.

Another spectacular bargain is one I have to thank my friend Jenny for turning me onto--YogaColors. YogaColors is the same stuff as American Apparel (the tag even says American Apparel), at a fraction of the price. I've mentioned our love for American Apparel's baby karate pants before--YogaColors has the exact same thing, in all the same colors, for $5-$6/pair. They also have American Apparel's baby lap tees for $5.

Mid-range

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Carter's Puppy Love 3-Piece Cardigan Set, $15

Carter's, I think, is the standard by which all other baby clothes should be measured. They're a classic for a reason. Reasonably priced (and with wonderful sales), good quality, and such cute stuff. I love how many of their little boys' lines are animal-themed, and I love that they are lines, with lots of mix-and-match stuff. We got a very generous big box of the Puppy Love line, shown above, as a gift and I have used the heck out of it--everything in it goes with everything else, and it makes it so easy--especially when traveling. My only complaint about Carter's is their silly reliance on shirts that say things like "Mommy's All-Star" or "Daddy's Best Bud"--we avoid those. Another great thing about Carter's is availability--besides Carter's stores and Carter's outlet stores, their stuff is also found in all of my local discount stores (TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Burlington), and, I recently found out, at Fred Meyer in the PNW. There is also the less expensive Carter's line at Target, though I am less of a fan of that one.

Higher End

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Tea Collection Baby Boy's Infant Hockey Bot Five Piece Set, $128

There are a lot of higher end baby brands, and a lot of them have really great stuff--for a really high price. I can't imagine paying full price for any of it, honestly. However, there are definitely brands that I look for at thrift stores, on Zulilly, etc. Tea Collection is probably the foremost among these. I love the aesthetic of the collection--lots of retro feeling stuff, patterns, fun graphics. The pants are a bit small-waisted, but I think Buzzy is already thinning out through the middle, so I don't think that is going to be a problem. Tea Collection also has really beautiful boxed layette stuff--great for gifts.

Another higher end line I love is BabySoy, specifically the fantastic animal-themed Janey Baby line. Again, great for gifts, and they're my go-to for friends with new babies.

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Zutano Baby-Boys Infant Foxtrot Hoodie Screen Long Sleeve Tee And Pant Set, $81.50

Finally, I have to mention Zutano. I love Zutano. Bright colors, cute patterns, soft cotton--just about perfect. The sizing is whacked out, though--the lower end of the range is really small, and then it starts running large.

Who have I missed? I'm thus far underwhelmed by Gymboree, Children's Place, and Target's baby clothes. Any other great brands I should check out?

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When he gets a bit bigger (so, ya know, next Tuesday) look at OshKosh. It's Carter's owned, so great quality. I find the OshKosh pjs to be nicer quality. And they have lots of fits. 90% of of my kids' stuff is from OshKosh.

Mini-Boden, but only on super-sale, second-hand, etc. They have really cute, animal themed stuff, and wear VERY well. I can also buy pink and purple things for the boys that don't have glitter or ruffles on them, which is nice, since purple is a popular color right now.

Baby Gap is hit-or-miss for us. My favorites seem consistently to be Zutano, Tea, and Mini-Boden.

We also find Baby Gap hit and miss for boys. The palette is VERY dark, which I don't like, but it does wear well, the fabrics are nice, and you can hit some really super sales (regular prices are high, IMO). I don't buy as much boy stuff there as girls' (I had a ton of baby Gap with #1) but we have some, generally more basic items.

I've also been underwhelmed by Target, but the "just one you" Carter's line has all-cotton PJs at a low price--so many of the cheaper ones are poly that does not wear well, so keep it in mind when he graduates from sleepers to pajamas.

I keep meaning to try Mini Boden. I hate stalking sales (Gap sends to my inbox), so wind up paying full price for the expensive stuff and resenting it.

Someone recommended Naartjie to me, but I was underwhelmed by the boys' clothes when I looked.

Funnily enough I was just whining about boys' clothes.

Janie and Jack are very solid and hold up well used. Jacadi, Oilily, and other European brands often show up in thrift stores locally, and are very high-quality. Cotton Caboodle is a PNW local brand of cotton basics that we loved -- their outlet store in Seattle is dirt cheap.

speesees is fantastic. In addition to those you list above, we like hanna andersson, babystyle, bon bebe, mini boden and baby boden. for outerwear, ll bean, columbia and lands' end are our go-tos when possible.

Thanks for the yoga colors tip--hadn't figured that one out yet.

yay kmart and yogacolors.

bigger kids: lands end overstocks. :)

I love that i am your baby clothes reference.

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Letter to Buzzy #4: How's my driving?

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Dear Buzzy,

We have got to decide on a new blog name for you. Buzzy just doesn't work at all with who you are shaping up to be. Maybe I should use one of our real life nicknames. Do you prefer Porkins, Squish, or Big Chief Little Weasel? Your Grandma Penny calls you Puppy; I suppose we could use that.

You're three months old, so I'm finally getting around to writing your two-month letter. Looks like this may be a project on which I am perpetually behind. Since your third month is almost up, I can barely remember what I wanted to write that was second-month specific. Let's see...

Your second month was August, and it was pretty warm. You spent most of it with me, at home, in just a onesie and a diaper. We watched a LOT of TV--House, The Tudors, The United States of Tara, Weeds, and Rescue Me. We went for walks with Daddy and Ata. One day, we got caught out in a downpour and were all soaked by the time we got home, which you seemed to enjoy. We realized, sometime this month, what a big little boy we had, and the doctor confirmed this at your two-month visit, when you weighed in at 15 lbs. 3 oz. and were 25" long--both in or above the 95th percentile for size.

We got a baby swing during your second month, and you took to it right away. Many days, you napped for hours in it, which made being home with you all day and attempting to look for a job quite a bit easier for me. You also just got to be more fun to hang out with--more smiling, grunting, flailing, and sleeping, not quite so much eating and pooping. We settled into a routine, and I started feeling a little bit less like a mommy imposter and more like I might, someday, figure out what I'm doing.

Towards the end of your second month, I started taking you places. Mostly, we went shopping--we didn't buy much, beyond groceries and stuff, but we went to lots of stores. At first, I put your car seat directly into the shopping cart, and then we got a stroller caddy for the car seat--much easier! You were really good in stores right from the beginning, often sleeping through whole shopping trips and almost never crying.

These early shopping trips were probably a bigger learning experience for me than for you. Not only did I have to learn how to manage you outside our safe house (not as hard as I'd expected), I also had to come to terms with being a mom in public. This feels a whole lot like wearing one of those signs that trucks sometimes have on their back ends--"How's my driving? Call..." Everybody has opinions and judgments for parents, especially moms, especially new moms, and even when people aren't judging, it feels like they are. It's really hard not to feel like you are doing everything wrong. I'd glance around nervously if you made the slightest peep, afraid you were disturbing somebody and they were going to yell at me, or at least glare. Were they clucking at your pacifier? At me using a stroller rather than a sling? At your clothes? Luckily, this stage didn't last too long, and after a half dozen trips I stopped worrying quite so much. I don't think I started actually being comfortable until Month 3 (which I will try very, very hard to write about sooner rather than later), but by the end of the month I was closer.

I think it was sometime during the second month that I started to realize that you are an exceptionally mellow and "easy" baby. You eat well, you sleep well, and you very rarely cry for no reason. You don't even fuss much. I was warned of a bad spell at the 8-10 week mark, but you didn't have one. Sure, you have an occasional more trying day (or night), but in general you're an absolute joy to have around. I really, really like being your mom.

Love,

Mama

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Wittlebee, I just can't quit you

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A while back, I reviewed the Wittlebee curated subscription box for kids' clothes. My thought, at that time, was that the service was a lot of fun, but probably not economically reasonable at $39.99 for each monthly shipment. However, a few months later, I snagged a two-month subscription to Wittlebee for $33.75 at Plum District. Much more reasonable. The first box I got was just OK, and I forgot to blog about it. The second, though, came last week, and it was so great that I am once again tempted to keep up a Wittlebee subscription.

Wanna see what we got?

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From top left:
-Sage Creek Organics Red Polo Tee (estimated value $10)
-American Apparel Infant Baby Rib Short Sleeve Lap T in Baby Blue (estimated value $10)
-Tiny Whales Away Anchor T-shirt in Turquoise Heather (estimated value $22)
-Kate Quinn Organics Long-Sleeved Kimono Bodysuit (estimated value $23)
-Wild & Cozy by Hatley Red Bear Romper (estimated value $15.75)
-Tea Collection Knit Playwear Pants (estimated value $30)

Total estimated value: $110.75

It isn't just the overall value or high quality of the items that made me really love this box, though--it's the items themselves. I couldn't have picked a more perfect collection of things I'd love for Buzzy to wear. Three high quality basics--the red polo, the blue lap tee, and the gray pants--are highlighted by three super cute statement items--the anchor tee, the geometric print body suit, and the red bear onesie, which is probably my favorite item of baby clothing ever at this point. The items are not only in keeping with the color and style preferences I laid out on the Wittlebee website, they're pretty well a perfect style match for the way I like to dress my son. There is also a good mix of high end brands of which I was aware (Kate Quinn Organics and Tea Collection) and ones of which I was not aware (Wild & Cozy, Tiny Whales, and Sage Creek Organics). Of the six items, only one reads as a "filler" item (the American Apparel t-shirt), and even it is of reasonably high quality and in keeping with my color preferences. This box is quite simply one of the best curated collections of any kind that I have yet seen. Excellent work, Wittlebee!

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A bit back, I wrote up a list of things we've found useful and not-so-useful in Buzzy's first few weeks. Now that we're nearly TEN weeks in, I thought I'd offer an update. It's amazing how preferential you get, and how quickly you develop those preferences. Having a new baby makes convenience and efficacy so important, there is just no time for shit that doesn't work. Things are tried and loved or tried and discarded at an alarming rate. And there's so much stuff to choose from, you know? So I figure anytime I can get our experiences out there, with the hope of it helping some other new mom sort through the options, I will.

Things that work

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American Apparel Infant Baby Rib Karate Pants: I don't shop at American Apparel, and never would have purchased these myself. However, I got several pairs of them in a Wittlebee box before Buzzy was born, and WOW have they been useful. They are pretty much the perfect baby pants. Soft, lightweight, easy to get on and off, come in lots of colors (we have red, black, navy, and olive), reasonably priced ($12 each)--they're just perfect. Now I have to decide whether to give in and buy them in larger sizes when Buzzy outgrows his current batch.

Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra: In my last installment, I sang the praises of Gilligan & O'Malley Nursing Sleep Bras from Target and doubted I'd ever buy expensive nursing bras. Then my cheap bras started giving me plugged ducts and I shelled out for a couple of these, and I have not looked back. These bras are the most comfortable I have ever worn. They are amazing, look great under clothes, wash well, come in lots of colors...I just love them. Unfortunately, they are pretty spendy--I got a couple off Ebay for $10 or $15 less than the $49 list price, but still, not cheap.

Fisher-Price Cradle 'N Swing: A coworker of Mark's recommended this swing, as did several friends of mine. I hesitated to buy it, because $115 seemed like a lot, but wow am I ever glad we did. Buzzy spends hours in this thing every day. It's our #1 napping spot, and even when he's not asleep, he loves it. It's soft and snuggly, works great, and plugs in, so it doesn't eat batteries. To top it off, we had a problem with it early on (the power supply died in the second week we had it), and the company sent me a replacement with no questions asked in just a couple of days. I love good customer service!

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Chicco Keyfit Caddy Stroller Frame: This is a new addition to our baby stuff arsenal, and I am already in love. We have a Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat, and when I started taking Buzzy out to grocery shop and stuff, my solution for transporting him was to put his bucket seat in the cart. This was only very moderately successful--depending on the size of the cart, it could leave no room for groceries! With this caddy, though, I can easily move Buzzy through a store (or, in a couple of weeks, an airport) and still have some room to carry things. It folds easily, handles well, the seat slots right in--it's great.

Columbia Vertical Glide Diaper Bag: I have thrifted three diaper bags, and they all have their benefits, but this one, from Columbia (and apparently discontinued, too bad!), is my every day favorite. It's not big and stupid looking--it can pass for a regular bag a non-mommy might carry--it is completely gender neutral, and it is well put together, with a place for everything I need to carry around. I'd likely choose one of my bigger diaper bags for a long trip, but for running around and doing errands, this bag is great.

Children's Place Stretchie PJs: Buzzy has recently made the transition from sleep sacks to one-piece pajamas (too cute!), and so far, our favorites are the ones from Children's Place. They fit perfectly, they're super cute, and they are inexpensive. Mark, who is in charge of nighttime diaper changes, has a strong preference for zippers over snaps on pajamas, and these are all zipper. We have both the footed and the non-footed versions, and I think we slightly prefer the ones with feet. The very best ones are a set with WWII airplanes on them, but sadly those don't seem to be available anymore.

Apple TV: With the possible exception of my coffee cup, the single most important and helpful item of my post-partum period is the Apple TV I bought Mark for Father's Day. I LOVE this thing. From the spot on the couch to which I am often glued under a nursing baby, I can listen to music via my iPhone, stream Netflix or anything on my Macbook to my TV, look at my Flickr pictures, and even check out YouTube. It's super easy to use, the box is tiny, and the interface is great. LOVE this thing.

I think that just about wraps up the things we've loving right now. What are we missing that we just have to try? Leave me a comment!

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I have issues ordering from AmApparel too. But I found that whomever is making AA clothes also distributes them at wholesale prices on Amazon under the name YogaColors. See here:
http://www.amazon.com/BabyLuxe-YogaColors-Emoticon-Karate-Pants/dp/B003F7H224/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347049138&sr=8-1&keywords=baby+karate+pants

it's always the same stuff.

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Letter to Buzzy #3: The First Month

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Dear Buzzy,

You are only six weeks old and I am already behind--I had such good intentions of writing these letters every month. Hopefully I will catch up after this non-auspicious start.
The first few weeks of your life were as intense as I'd expected, and then some. We started out with a brief hospitalization for your jaundice, which managed to completely freak me out, but turned out to be not that big a deal. Since then, though, pretty well everything has gone far better than I'd expected it would. I know it's a jinx to say this, but I have to put it down for prosperity anyway--you're a blessedly easy baby. From the beginning, you've eaten well, slept well, and been a generally happy little guy. You like to eat often and plenty, you do not like being wet or dirty, and you have no problem making your demands known. You prefer, as one would expect, to be held, and you'll tell us about it if you aren't where you want to be, but you do very little fussing for no reason, and almost no crying without a reason. I didn't expect to be getting as much sleep as I am right now, and I certainly didn't expect to be spending as little time as I am pulling out my hair. Even if you make up for this peaceful period with brutal teenaged years, I'm still grateful.

Which isn't to say that the transition to parenthood isn't stressful, and frightening, and exhausting--it is. Your Grandma Penny was here for the first three weeks, and there is really no way to overstate how much easier that made everything. Seriously, if you get one thing out of this month's letter, get that--your mom's mom is a saint. It's nearly unimaginable that someone could be so helpful, loving, and wonderful, and simultaneously be completely unjudgemental and un-overbearing. If there is a perfect balance for a parent to take when helping her child become a parent herself, my mother found it. I wish every new parent could have a mom like her. She's also more than a little bit smitten with you. My mom is not a mushy person (and I'm not particularly, either, but I'll get to that later), but she is just gaga over you. She was more affectionate and enamored than I've ever seen her, for sure. You'll always have an ally in her--and I can tell you from experience that makes you a very, very lucky little boy.

After Grandma Penny left, Grandma Irene and Grandpa John came to visit us--or, really, to visit you. They, too, were instantly in love. They even babysat while your dad and I went out to dinner--the first time we'd been away from you, together. It went great. Every time I've left you with anybody (just them, Grandma Penny, and your dad) it has gone great. I expected to have anxiety about it, but I just don't, and I'm really grateful for that--I think it's better for both of us if we spend occasional time apart, even this early. You're completely willing to take my milk from a bottle and actually seem to be even mellower and amenable for other people than you are for me, so I'm guessing you agree.

Because I have so far completely failed in keeping any sort of record of your behavior or milestones, I guess I should use this letter to record a few of those:

Sleep: You tend to sleep from between 10-12 PM to between 3-5 AM, then nurse/get changed, then sleep until 6-7AM, then nurse/get changed, then sleep until 8-9AM. You started this schedule pretty much as soon as I stopped waking you up to nurse every three hours--so at about 2 or 2.5 weeks. I find it pretty amazing, compared to a lot of the horror stories I've heard. Sure, I'd love it if you slept an 8-hour stretch, but you aren't ready to do that yet, and that's fine. You sleep in a co-sleeper next to my side of the bed, but I sneak you into bed with us in the morning, typically between the 6-7AM and 8-9AM waking/feedings. I didn't think I would want to or feel comfortable doing that, but I do. You aren't much into naps at this point--you snooze for a few minutes at a stretch all day long, but the substantial morning and afternoon naps I've heard about haven't kicked in yet. We're working on that.

Eating: You came out knowing how to nurse. You just got it, and you haven't flagged for more than a few minutes since. You nurse often, easily, and enthusiastically. At around three weeks, I started pumping and we started introducing bottles, and you took easily to those as well. It's a bit odd, since I was someone who did NOT want to breastfeed, but breastfeeding has been a complete non-issue for us. I don't love it, I don't have a mushy emotional response to it like I hear some people do, but it's not that bad, and it's clear that you're thriving, so the inconvenience and discomfort inherent in it is well worth it. You weigh over 12 lbs already! Again, I'm grateful--it's something I doubtlessly would have quit had it been hard, so it's a blessing that it has been so very easy. I still don't see extended nursing in our future--I just can't imagine that--but one never knows.

Smiling: Grandma Penny swears you smiled the morning she left, which would have put your first smile at three weeks and two days. That seems a bit on the early side, but I can't pinpoint another first, so I guess we'll go with it. You smile often now, and in several different ways, each one cuter than the last. You're pretty expressive in general, and your eyes are so big and dark, your expressions can get pretty piercing. At least, for someone who isn't yet two months old.

Lifting your head and rolling over: You started trying to lift your head the day you were born, and you're an old pro at it now. You still can't hold it up for very long by yourself, but you get stronger every day. You can also turn it from side to side. Yesterday, you even rolled part way over--from your back to your side to your stomach.
Recognition: I can't say for sure who you can and cannot recognize, but I feel quite sure you know who I am, and you turn towards me when I come into the room. You do the same thing when your dad comes home.

One thing has happened in your first month that wasn't easy--I was unexpectedly laid off from my job. I was notified when you were three weeks old, the same day Grandma Penny left. That was a bad, bad day. And it means, as of now, that the plan of my returning to work and you starting day care after Labor Day (only a couple of weeks from now) is on hold. I am looking for a new job already, and have some prospects, but I'm not in a huge hurry--if this unexpected turn means I stay home with you for twelve weeks instead of eight, or even for a bit longer than that, I think that would be OK. I haven't at all changed my mind and decided I want to be a stay at home mom long term, but there is definitely something priceless about spending these very early weeks with you.

So how do our days look? We cuddle and/or nurse while your dad takes a shower. After he gets out of the shower in the morning, Mark generally takes you downstairs with him while he makes coffee and has breakfast, and I get dressed. You tend to be very happy in the morning and usually are content to hang out in the swing or the pack n play while he has breakfast, and while I start pumping. After he is done with breakfast, your dad gives you a bottle while I finish up pumping and eat. Then Mark leaves for work and we're on our own. We spend the morning on the couch, nursing and with you taking short naps. You aren't much interested in toys yet, but you do enjoy music, so we listen to music. I make faces at you and you've started to respond to those sometimes. I hold you, most of the time. I watch TV. I am watching endless TV, running through a whole list of TV series. I suppose that should embarrass me, but it doesn't. After lunch I've been trying to get you to nap. I take you upstairs and nurse you in bed and try to get you to drift off. If you do, you'll sleep an hour or so, and I typically sleep with you, or try to accomplish some small chore. But it is only works about half the time so far. After the nap, we hang out more, watch more TV, nurse about every 90 minutes. When you cat-nap, I catch up online and try to do job application stuff. I've taken a couple of pre-interview calls over the past few days, including one I had to nurse you through to keep you quiet. That felt very sitcom. Mark gets home between 7 and 8, typically, and we have dinner while you lay between us on the couch, or, if you happen to grace us with a little sleep at the right time, eat at the table. If you insist on being held right then, we take turns eating. Some nights, you have a bath--we were doing it in the sink, but just tonight we tried it in the bathtub with me, and you seem to like that a lot better. You hang out with Daddy while I do dishes, take a shower, etc. and he gives you another bottle in the late evening, around the same time I pump again. You usually go to sleep between us on the couch while we talk or watch TV, and we all go to bed together between 11 and 12. The days pass both slowly and quickly--and you change every single day.

I'm sure there are a thousand more things I should be telling you about your first weeks, things I'm forgetting or don't realize I am going to want to look back on, but it is hard to catalogue them on command. There are a hundred moments a day that I wish I could bottle and save. For once in my life, though, I seem to be doing a pretty good job focusing on living in the now and not being overly focused on planning or documenting. Probably that's the way it should be.

Love,

Mama

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This post gave me warm, happy feelings. I'm so glad, even with all the stress that you have going on right now, that at least some things sound like they're going smoothly.

I have my fingers crossed that you land an awesome job sometime in the next few months.

Give Buzzy a kiss for me...he's such an adorable baby.

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Letter to Buzzy #2: Birth Story

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Dear Buzzy,

Chapter 1: I Am Born

So, your mom is the kind of person who knows that "Chapter 1: I Am Born" is the beginning of David Copperfield, and thus can't help but start out this letter, about your birth, with that quote. However, to be brutally honest, this isn't because I've ever read David Copperfield--it's because it's in Gone With the Wind. Just so we've got that out of the way.

This is your birth story. It may be something you never want to know, but it is something I don't want to forget, so I'm going to write it all down anyway. I smile to picture your young adult face reading this, grimacing at the level of detail you never needed. Suck it up, kid--you only have to read about it. I was there. Well, to be fair, you were there, too, but I'm pretty sure it was easier on you than it was on me.

This begins with the storm. On Friday night, June 29, we had a huge thunder/lightening/wind/rain storm. The biggest one I've ever seen. Your dad and your Grandma Penny and I stood at the windows and watched it for at least half an hour. It was exceptional. Sheet lightening, huge bolts going horizontal across the sky, wind gusts up to 75mph, the works. So, of course, we all made lots of jokes about how I was going to go into labor (you were already four days late) and we wouldn't be able to get to the hospital in time. We kept saying that since your dad is a doctor and Grandma Penny has helped birth calves before, we'd be fine. In reality, though, I was a little bit nervous that our jokes would come true and I would go into labor with you before the storm was over. I was glad to see it start to die down.

But, of course, the electricity went out. Not just at our house, it turns out--at over a million people's houses. The storm was really broad and there was a ton of damage. We didn't know this when we went to bed--we thought the power would be back on by morning and we'd just be in for an overly warm night. We were so, so wrong.

At about 5 AM on Saturday morning I woke up with contractions. The power was still off. At first, I didn't think a whole lot about it--I'd had a few contractions most mornings for a few days and they never amounted to much. When they hadn't died down by about 7:30, though, I started tracking them on my phone and woke up your dad to tell him to take a shower, as I thought this might actually be labor.

Your dad and Grandma Penny and I hung out for several hours before we went to the hospital, timing the contractions until they were less than five minutes apart for an hour. They weren't too bad--definitely distinct, but not too painful. I felt pretty confident that even though I'd had only a few hours sleep on Friday night (the power going out left things pretty hot and uncomfortable), I was totally going to be able to handle this labor thing.
That's about the point where things started to get rough. When we arrived at the hospital, I assumed I would be admitted. However, after being examined by a very rude triage nurse and then the on-call midwife, I was told that my contractions weren't strong enough yet, I was still only 2cm dilated and 70% effaced, and I should go home. I felt terrible. I felt like a hypochondriac who was making up her labor, and nobody with whom I dealt at the hospital did anything to make that feeling any better. It SUCKED. I was furious when we left. Since we knew the power was still out at our rapidly-overheating house (the temperature was about 100 degrees), we decided to go out to lunch and see if things got any more dramatic. I continued to have contractions through lunch, but they didn't ramp up much, so I wasn't sure if I was actually going to go into real labor or not. We headed home.

By about 5 or 6 PM, though, it was clear that things were progressing. The contractions stayed five minutes or so apart, but got a lot stronger and more painful. I took a cool bath, which helped. Then I got nauseated, and eventually started throwing up. I called the midwife and she said to come back to the hospital.

By the time I we got back to the hospital, I was feeling pretty bad. The contractions were bearable, but increasingly intense, and I was throwing up quite a bit. The midwife checked again and I was dilated to 5cm and 90%+ effaced. Go time! They checked us in at around 8 PM.

The next two hours were long and painful. The contractions came faster and harder, and I threw up a lot more. I got into the tub and that helped for a while, but after a while it started to get obvious that I was already too tired and wound up too tight to deal with increased contractions and then transition and pushing without an epidural. I went back and forth about it for quite a while, but by 10 PM or so, I was ready. (Later, your dad told me that if I had continued to refuse the epidural, either he or Grandma Penny would have tried to overrule me, as it was obvious I wasn't going to make it through labor without it.) The midwife checked me again and found that I was at 8cm and nearly 100% effaced, and we ordered the epidural.

While we were waiting for the anesthesiologist to show up, the nurse hooked me up to an IV and started giving me fluids and Zofran for my nausea. I had initially resisted this idea because I didn't want to be tied down to the IV, but it turned out that it was a really good move--the Zofran didn't help the throwing up much, but a few hours later, when several bags of fluids still hadn't produced much of anything from my catheter, it became obvious just how dehydrated I had been.

Getting the epidural was really tough. You have to bend over at the waist, which was excruciating even when I wasn't contracting, and be totally still while the anesthesiologist places it. I am not sure how I did it. I leaned all the way over, with a nurse holding one of my arms and Mark holding the other, and just sort of tried to be unconscious. The anesthesiologist was telling me what was going on, when I would feel the first needle, then the second, and so on, but I didn't really hear or understand him. It was over faster than I had expected, and took effect faster, too. Within a few minutes, the contractions started getting more bearable, and within a half an hour or so, I was barely registering them.

From there, things get a little bit hazy for a while. I know we were in the room, Mark sleeping intermittently, for several hours. My midwife had two other women laboring at the same time, and they were progressing faster than I was, so she barely checked in. Even nurses didn't seem to come by too often. The midwife explained to me that because of the epidural, I could "labor down" meaning wait for quite a while to push. My water hadn't broken yet, either, so we were waiting for that to happen. It was a long holding pattern. I wasn't in pain anymore, but I couldn't sleep, either, and apparently I talked a lot. Mark told me at some point that I had to be the only person on Earth that was made chatty and animated by opiates.

At around midnight or 12:30, the midwife came back in and suggested breaking my water to get things going a little bit faster. I agreed, mostly because I was bored. I had started noticing, by this time, that the mild numbness in my lower body had increased and become, in my left leg, complete numbness. I couldn't even keep my leg on the bed, it kept flopping off the side. This worried me a little bit, as I was vaguely aware that having no lower body control was going to severely limit the positions in which I could push. It should have worried me more.

The next couple of hours were pretty slow. I was told to push my call button if I started to feel pressure. I felt no pressure. I pretty much felt nothing. I started to wonder if anything was ever going to happen. Around 3 AM, a nurse came in and checked me again, and even though I hadn't felt it, she said I was ready to start pushing. As the other two patients had delivered, the midwife came back at that point, and we were ready to start. I really thought it would just take a few minutes, maybe 30 at most. After all, I wasn't in any pain, so how hard could it be?

That was the beginning of the worst part. After the first few pushes, it became clear, at least to me, that things weren't going to go well. I couldn't feel anything below the waist, so I had no idea if I was pushing correctly. I was instructed, over and over, to push "towards your bottom." But I couldn't feel my bottom, so it was a little bit like trying to find a light switch in a very dark room. I fumbled around. Still, I pushed as hard as I could manage, and though I couldn't feel a thing in any of the relevant areas, it didn't take long for the non-relevant bits to start hurting, particularly my face. To top things off, I continued to throw up.

I pushed and pushed and pushed. It was endless, and it was painful, even though it took at least an hour before I started to be able to feel it below the waist. I'm not completely sure how the second hour went, but by the end of it, the nurse and midwife had left for a brief moment, for reasons I didn't think to wonder about at the time. I realize, now, that they were calling the on-call back-up doctor, as they'd been convinced that I wasn't going to be able to deliver without an intervention.

When they came back, the midwife explained that she was concerned about how long it was taking and had called the back-up doctor, who might consider options including forceps or a vacuum. I don't know if I lost it only in my head at that point, or if it actually came out of my mouth, but I was furious. The single out-of-the-ordinary thing on my birth plan was that I did NOT want forceps or a vacuum to be utilized in my delivery. I even wrote on the plan that I understood that intervention might become necessary, and if it did, I wanted a c-section, not a forceps/vacuum delivery. The midwife went on to explain that the on-call doctor was in another procedure, so it would be a while before he could join us.
I don't think I flipped out, but I did tell the midwife, clearly, that I would not consent to forceps or a vacuum, and I did not want a c-section. I was starting to be able to feel more, and I wanted to keep pushing. She didn't seem all that convinced, but didn't see any harm in my continuing to try until the doctor came.

And I pushed for another 30 or 40 minutes, with increasing intensity. I kind of went to another place, where I couldn't hear or see much, and pushed over and over again. I didn't stop at the end of the 10-count every time, or stop with 3 pushes per contraction. All I could think of was every story I've ever heard about a labor that stalls after many, many hours and ends up in an exhaustion c-section. Though I was pretty sure I was breaking blood vessels in my eyes pushing, and I couldn't catch my breath in between pushes anymore, I pushed. And I think maybe I prayed.

Then the midwife stopped me and told me that your heart rate was starting to decel, and that if I was going to birth vaginally, it had to happen immediately. I pushed another round. By this time, even though my legs were still completely numb, I could feel the pushing. I could more than feel it, I thought I was probably being torn in half. A few pushes later, the midwife told me she had to cut an episiotomy so that you could get out. I was barely cognizant of what was going on--all I could think about was that I had to push. I had to get you out. I told her to cut it. I don't know how long it took. I felt it, but it didn't hurt the way I'm sure it would have without the epidural. Then, with the next round of pushing, all at once, it was over. You were out.

The first few minutes of your life, I was consumed by worry that you were not OK. You had swallowed a lot of fluid and you didn't cry much, if at all. I couldn't see the table where you were, since it was surrounded by nurses, and I asked everyone in the room, over and over again, if you were okay. They kept telling me you were, but I thought they were lying. Turns out they weren't--they did have to take you to the nursery for a while and get you checked out, but by a couple of hours after your birth you were declared fit. There were a few more issues later, mostly due to the bruising your labor caused and subsequent jaundice, but that's all another story.

Love,

Your Mom

2 Comments

It's like running a marathon you can't train for. I'm so happy he made it out alright and that you did too!

So good of you to write it all down before you forgot! Congratulations again and awesome work pushing out such a big beautiful baby. Sounds like it was a lot of work! But you did it! Woohoo!

If it makes you feel any different about the pushing, I didn't have an epidural and it was hard to figure out where to push too. Th midwife told me to push with my bottom too and put her finger where I was supposed to push but that didn't help much. (At one point the midwife told me that if I wanted that baby out I was going to have to push better). I thought I was tearing in half too. I read all over the internet how pushing was to good part where your body takes over, but I didn't feel that way at all. I thought it was hard, hard to do right, and hurt like hell. No relief at all!

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Thoughts on breastfeeding and the giveaway bag

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Going into this motherhood thing, breastfeeding was NOT something to which I was looking forward. That's an understatement, actually--I really, really didn't want to do it. However, I believed (and still believe) the research about the benefits of breastfeeding, so I was determined to give it a try. In the back of my mind, though, I expected to have problems and ultimately to have a reason not to do it and to convert to formula feeding.

So far, it hasn't worked out that way. More so than really any other aspect of pregnancy, childbirth, or new parenthood, breastfeeding has gone really, really well. Buzzy emerged fully willing and able to nurse, and he taught me how to do it. My supply is good, and though there was definitely some discomfort in the first couple of weeks, it was nothing compared to the pain I was expecting. So, at this point, my month old baby is exclusively breastfed, and I don't see that changing unless/until circumstances do. I started pumping a couple of weeks ago and he takes a bottle of expressed milk just as well as he takes a breast, so, even when I return to work (and more on that at a later time...), so long as I can pump enough, he should be able to continue with breast milk until he starts solids.

None of this is to say that I enjoy it--I don't. I find it boring and relentless. I dislike being a food source. I dislike not feeling as if I am the primary owner and user of my body. It gives me no warm and fuzzy feelings. But it's bearable.

Even more than was the case before I started actually doing it myself, I've become really aware of all of the rhetoric surrounding breastfeeding. Everybody has an opinion, from those who think that anybody who doesn't breastfeed is abusing her children to those who think that breastfeeding is disgusting. People are really pushy about it, too--in a way that strikes me as completely inappropriate both in regards to a personal parenting decision and in regards to a personal decision about how a woman chooses to utilize her own body.

One thing I heard quite a lot about before going through this experience myself was how awful the formula company giveaways were--these giveaways, I was told several times, were engineered to build dependency on formula and interrupt a given woman and a child's breastfeeding relationship. Having formula around, the logic went, made it much more likely that a given woman would end up not breastfeeding. At some hospitals, I was told, even the giveaway bag for breastfeeding moms would be a not-very-well-disguised attempt to build formula dependence.

(For those who aren't aware of what I am talking about, formula companies routinely sponsor freebies for expecting/new moms, including vouchers for formula and bags of freebies given out by doctors and hospitals.)

The birth center at which I delivered Buzzy had a choice between a "breastfeeding" and a "formula feeding" giveaway bag, both sponsored by Enfamil. Expecting that I would be doing mixed feeding, I chose the breastfeeding bag.

bag outside.jpg

The contents:

bag contents.jpg
-insulated bottle carrying bag
-8-oz can of Enfamil powdered newborn formula
-2 2-oz Snappies containers for collecting and storing expressed breast milk
-reusable ice pack
-single-use sample packet of Boudreaux's Butt Paste diaper rash ointment
-March of Dimes pamphlet with vaccination schedule
-$15 rebate coupon for Enfamil formula
-registration form for Enfamil Family Beginnings program
-informational card about Enfamil bottle nipples
-instructional card on how to use the ice back and bottle bag for formula or expressed breast milk transfer
-"Tips for Breastfeeding Success" booklet, which includes a coupon for Enfamil infant vitamin drops and a $15 rebate coupon for any breast pump

Clearly, the bag is a promotional tool--Enfamil wants you to use their products. If you decide not to breastfeed after all, or if you decide to supplement with formula, they want it to be their formula. Thus the inclusion of the can of newborn formula. However, with that exception, I found the rest of the items in the bag to be really useful for a new breastfeeding mom--assuming that she, like me, will be pumping. The Snappies containers are great, and hard to find for purchase. The ice pack and bottle bag are useful for transport of expressed milk. And the $15 rebate offer on a pump is a great boon. I can't fault any of those inclusions.

It turned out that, at least in Buzzy's first weeks, formula wasn't useful for us. I still have some around, including the can of Enfamil from the bag, and I'm saving all my formula vouchers until I can be sure we aren't going to need to supplement for day care down the road, but having it does not force me to use it, and I can honestly say it hasn't even been a "temptation." For me, this is the heart of the controversy over these bags--whether or not you think offering a free tool that may or may not end up useful presents so much sway over the new mom that it is more harmful than helpful. In my case, I'd say no. However, this bag is not the only thing I received at the hospital--I also got a packet full of breastfeeding information and several meetings with a lactation consultant, heading off any potential problems Buzzy and I were going to have with nursing at the pass. Had that not been the case, or had I had problems anyway, the Enfamil marketing would likely have been a lot more successful. And, given the still fairly low rates of breastfeeding in this country, it probably is successful in a lot of cases.

I'd have preferred if the bag given to women who plan to breastfeed hadn't included formula. If the can of formula were replaced with a tube of nipple cream, for example, I think the bag would have been better. However, judging completely on my personal experience as a new-and-newly-breastfeeding mom, and as someone for whom the idea was extremely frightening and not appealing beforehand, I just can't get all that worked up about formula company freebies standing in the way of breastfeeding. It seems to me that there are much more serious systemic barriers in place--most notably the lack of support for pumping in the workplace and the bizarre and archaic ideas and policies a lot of folks have about nursing in public--and those are what we ought to be concerned about, and fighting against.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week, y'all.

15 Comments

I love this post! Glad to hear it's working out well for you and Buzzy!

Well said. I'm glad that things are going well.

For me, having the formula around was freeing. As in, I knew it was there and if things got too hard, we could do it and go from there.

All of mine were BF. My current bb has had formula from the get go,as well as bf, and I really love this arrangement, to be honest. Much much moreso than I loved exclusively nursing.

I'm so glad that BF has worked out well for you and Buzzy and was as good as it could be. :)

Wow, that bag is actually sort of pretty. Nice improvement on the plain black plastic and the Pooh bear bags in the past.

The contents of the breastfeeding bag are very interesting. I'm really glad you shared that. It seems odd that a container of formula and promotional materials from a formula company would be included in a breastfeeding bag, but I would imagine there would be no bags without a corporate sponsor, so perhaps we should be grateful there is anything.

I was reading another blog recently (http://notmolly.wordpress.com) and the author expressed similar feelings to yours about breastfeeding but discovered that by listening to audiobooks or NPR and getting intellectual stimulation during the process, that she found it much more enjoyable. I hope you can find a way that you can enjoy the process more rather just doing it for the health benefits.

Thanks for the post!

I'm glad it wasn't harmful to you. But evidence (studies, not just anecdote) has shown that automatically giving newborns formula actually does discourage breastfeeding. And some new moms who want to breastfeed might not know that if they use formula to "fall back on" or "our of curiosity" in those early days of breastfeeding, they are actually affecting their supply by replacing a feeding with formula -- and this can lead to more problems with breastfeeding. NOT that this happens to everyone who uses formula, of course. But it's a danger.

Most women who want to feed with breastmilk never need to use formula -- they can if they want to, of course, but medical reasons for them to need to are rare. If breastfeeding is difficult, a lactation consultant can often help. If breastfeeding doesn't work, pumping is an option. If pumping doesn't work, milk donation is an option. (assuming feeding breastmilk is important to this mom, I mean).

Again, because people have a tendency to misunderstand and feel defensive when they read things like this, I want to stress that I firmly support the right of moms to choose formula. But I do not support automatic "breastfeeding" gift bags that contain formula.

Formula should be given to moms who want to breastfeed.

It should not be given to moms who don't.

Oops! I think my post may have submitted twice, once with a typo that said "newborns" where it should have said "new moms." Sorry if that's the case! Feel free to delete the earlier comment (and this one). ;)

Once I figured out breast feeding while lying down, everything was golden. Sleep and feed! Read and feed! Wooooooo!

Of course, not having any issues with breast feeding - why would you turn to formula? The problem with the bags is that it is so easy for women who ARE having issues to open up the can, instead of seeking help for their problems, thus creating a possible "need" for formula. This is where I see the biggest issue.

It's very easy to say "Breastfeeding was easy for me! Evil formula was sitting there and I didn't use it! These bags aren't harming anyone! If I can do it so can everyone else!" when you did not really struggle in the first place.

@ Sarah- But I don't think Grace said "These bags aren't harming anyone! If I can do it so can everyone else!"

I'm totally on board with the arguments against formula give-aways in general, though they can be lifesavers for folks who in dire straits financially and who have problems with breastfeeding. Those same dire financial straits make accessing the supports that you need to overcome breastfeeding challenges (in the domains of time, stress, and money) even harder.

Jenny- Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm having trouble reconciling your statement that you support the right of mom's to use formula. But then the comment at the end...

"Formula should be given to moms who want to breastfeed.

It should not be given to moms who don't."

Sounds like you want to punish the bad judgement of those moms who want to or need to supplement with formula? Why else should THEY be denied the helpful free samples but the breastfeeding moms should not?

Ooh, bad typos in the above post. The first mom's should be moms and judgement should be judgment. Sorry!

obviously this is not my wheelhouse, but even my friends who breastfed sometimes supplemented with formula if they ate/drank something that was bad for a baby on a special occasion (i.e. one had a migrane and had to resort to meds. booze on a birthday, etc). I think it's a decent idea to have a backup as a breastfeeding mom. What if, in the middle of the night the kid is starving and won't breastfeed? Or a caregiver spills pumped milk? Seems convenient.

Also it's free. My parents taught you if someone gives you something and you don't like it, you smile politely and just throw it out when they leave. No harm! I don't think it's a conspiracy. :)

I got the same bag! I thought it was kind of cute. I was really glad to have the bag because I had a billion problems breastfeeding and it didn't end up working out. The hospital was wonderful about giving us free formula (it is expensive). I had not bought any formula so having some in the house after my milk hadn't come in after 5 days and baby was clearly very very hungry was great because having to run to the store on top of an already incredibly stressful situation would have been awful.

Plus the ice packs and travel cool bag have been awesome!

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As anybody who reads WINOW knows, I like stuff. I like to write about stuff. In part, this is because stuff is easy for me to get my mind around. Thinking and writing about it doesn't require a great intellectual or emotional investment. And let me tell you, on Day 15 of parenting, I'm all about not emotionally or intellectually taxing myself. So, I thought I'd do a post about the stuff we've been using in this whole transition to newborn parenthood over the past couple of weeks: what works, what doesn't, and the things I wish I'd thought to obtain earlier, or obtain more of.

Things that work
As I mentioned before the baby was born, Mark and I didn't go into this with the idea that we were going to be minimalists. We didn't go completely overboard (I don't think), but we did accumulate quite a bit of baby stuff before Buzzy showed up. And the truth is that so far, most of it has been of at least some use. However, there are a few things that are all-stars, so I'm going to call those out specifically.

cosleeper.jpg

Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper: Buzzy is currently spending his nights in an Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper next to my side of the bed, and it's working out great. It allows him to be close enough to me for me to hear/see him, and for him to hear/see me, but keeps him out of my actual bed space. I doubt we'll use it long-term--I want to put him in his crib as soon as seems reasonable--but for these early weeks, it's perfect. Thanks again to my friend A for passing it on to us!

Summer SwaddleMe Swaddlers: So, new babies like to be swaddled, right? Yes, but my little boy likes to bust out of a swaddle more than anything, and thus far, nobody has been able to swaddle him in a blanket such that he can't break free. During the day, this doesn't much matter, but at night, it frustrates him and us. Enter the genius SwaddleMes, which look like little baby straight jackets, but definitely help him sleep less restlessly. Plus even with my regular lack of hand-eye coordination multiplied by sleep deprivation, I can manage to get him into them. Awesome.

Gilligan & O'Malley Nursing Sleep Bras: These Gilligan & O'Malley nursing bras are supposed to be for sleep, I guess, but I'm wearing them all the time and they are working out great. Reasonably supportive, reasonably cute, comfortable, easy to clip on and off, and best of all, cheap! As in, less than half the price of most of the nursing bras I see around. They won't work for big-busted women, as my moderately-busted self is in the largest size (2X), but if you aren't big of chest, I'd definitely consider these.

(For bed, I'm actually wearing the less structured Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra from Motherhood Maternity, and those are working out great, too.)

Small Wonders onesies: I have a ton of 0-3 month clothes, 90% of which are hand-me-downs from my friend E and her twins. Some are higher end brands, some are not. The best ones, so far? The Small Wonders onesies from K-Mart. They are cute as heck, well-made, soft, and fit Buzzy perfectly, which makes me think they must run a little bit long. Since mine are all hand-me-downs, they've been pre-vetted for cute logos and bright colors, but I'm definitely going to check out my local K-Mart and see if the ones that are in-store now are as impressive.

swaddle blanket.jpg

aden + anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets: I know I just said we were having trouble adequately swaddling with a blanket, and we are, but I love these aden + anais blankets so much I had to mention them anyway. They're just cutest, softest, most versatile thing. They work great as swaddles for naps, they work to shade the car seat, they work as lightweight receiving blankets--they just work. For a summer baby especially I would totally recommend these as a shower gift. They're spendy--like $50 for 4 of them, I think--so they are something that a lot of new parents probably aren't going to buy for themselves, but they're wonderful.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Lotion: I'm sure it surprises exactly nobody that I have several types of baby bath products on hand to try out--that's kind of my thing. However, none of them have even been opened besides the Earth Mama Angel Baby Body Wash & Shampoo and the Earth Mama Angel Baby Lotion. Why? Because they are awesome. They smell fantastic--orange and vanilla, but pretty subtle--and seem to work great, as well. I doubt I'll even attempt to use anything else anytime soon.

Munchkin disposable changing pad covers: An item I really had no idea would be useful, but has proved invaluable--these paper covers go over the fabric changing pad cover and when the baby excretes on them (several times a night, some nights...), you just throw them away. This is saving us having to wash the changing pad cover over and over again. Yeah, I know, disposable=bad, blah blah blah. I'll go back to worrying about the environment just as soon as my kid stops shitting ten times a night.

Baskets: I am a collector of baskets--I thrift them all the time, in all shapes and sizes, and I've always found it useful to have a lot of them around in which to carry and stow things. Never so much as right now. By my count, I currently have about a dozen baskets employed in baby-related tasks. It makes dealing with all of this new accoutrement a lot more palatable if I can feel like it's at least somewhat contained.

iPhone and iPad: I was told that I would love these devices, to which I was already viciously addicted, even more after the baby was born, and that was no lie. I am more dependent on them every day. My phone come everywhere with me, and I'm using a free app, Baby Feeding Log, to track nursing sessions (which side, when, for how long). My iPad now lives next to the glider in Buzzy's nursery, where it keeps me awake while I nurse and rock at night. I'm even considering making the jump into reading electronic books using it--never thought that would happen.

Things that don't work
Anytime you try to prepare for something like having a new baby, you're bound to make a few missteps. We're no different. A few of the things we bought beforehand, even those recommended as must haves, haven't worked out so far.

Wipes warmer: So far, the wipes warmer is the only thing on which my parenting guru, E, steered me wrong, and I suspect that comes down to my having a summer baby and a very warm house, and the non-warmed wipes not being cold enough to be shocking. The thing is big and awkward and not worth the space it takes up for little marginal utility, so it got unplugged and stowed a few days ago.

Receiving blankets: Again, probably this comes down to having a summer kid, but I haven't used a single one of the pile of flannel receiving blankets I have (mostly the Tiddlewinks ones). It's too warm, and they are too weirdly small to swaddle with anyway.

Baby hats, mittens, and socks: Once again, probably down to the weather, but I have an entire basket of these baby accessories upstairs that has not been disturbed. Buzzy wore a hat his first day in the hospital, when his head was still pretty misshapen from birth, but hasn't had one on since then, with the exception of his sun hat. Mittens and socks he has literally never yet worn.

boppy.jpg

Boppy: I don't hate the Boppy--I found it very useful for the first week or so. However, I then was gifted a hand-me-down My Brest Friend pillow, and I now know how well the Boppy wasn't working. Horrible name aside the the My Brest Friend is SO much easier to nurse with. It's a lot more solid and supportive for wiggly Buzzy, and it's larger and more comfortable for me. Plus, it can fasten around my waist, so that when we're done, I can pick Buzzy up and put him in his bed or the changing table or the Pack N Play without having to have one hand free to remove the pillow.

Things I wish we had/had earlier/had more of
There are, of course, a few things we couldn't or didn't predict wanting or needing. Some of these, we've already gone out for or ordered. Others we're doing without, for whatever reason. Some are even things we have, but could use more of. For me, this is the most interesting category of stuff, because I really had no idea at all what would fall into it before we started this adventure.

sleeping bag.jpg

aden + anais Sleeping Bags: I thrifted one of these aden + anais sleeping bags before Buzzy was born, and put it in on him the other night when our room was especially warm and even the cotton swaddle sacks seemed to be too much. It worked great. It was so lightweight and comfortable for him, and the zipper (zipping up from the bottom--genius!) made middle-of-the-night diaper changes tons easier. I wish I had a half dozen of these. Unfortunately, they are stupid expensive (though cheaper elsewhere than on the aden + anais site, I think). Still, I sucked it up and ordered two more from Amazon, since I think they're going to be our best bet for the rest of the summer.

Hampers: This is a no-brainer now that I think about it, but I never thought about it before we needed them--babies are a constant source of laundry, and having a place to stow that laundry before you do it is key. We started out with no hamper in Buzzy's room and no hamper downstairs where he/we spend the bulk of our time. That didn't work at all. A trip to Target fixed things, though--I got two inexpensive canvas hampers from the dorm accessories section at Target--one for Buzzy's room, one for next to his Pack N Play downstairs. Problem solved!

Second glider: This is a big one, and it's going to seem excessive, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway. We have a glider, generously handed down to us from a colleague of Mark's, in Buzzy's room, and it works great for getting him back to sleep after he eats/is changed in the middle of the night. However, it's not convenient to use it during the day when we're all downstairs. It would be SO nice to have another one downstairs. I have a wooden rocking chair downstairs, but it's built for someone much smaller than I am and not at all comfortable to sit in, so I mostly don't use it.

Swing: People were of very mixed opinions as to whether or not a baby swing is a necessity, a nice-to-have, or a complete waste of money and space. So, we didn't buy one. I am now wishing we had, since rocking seems to be among Buzzy's favorite things, and it would be great to be able to put him down and rock him electronically on occasion. We may end up buying one yet.

Breast pump: It made good sense, before Buzzy was born, to wait to buy or rent a pump until after I'd established that breastfeeding/pumping was in the cards. But man, it would have been nice to have access to a pump right away, especially in the few days of bad engorgement between when my milk came in and when Buzzy ramped up his eating to match. If I had it to do again, I'd rent a pump just before delivery and have it on stand-by. As it is, I'm going to visit my friendly neighborhood lactation consultant this coming week, and I'll rent a pump then. Then we'll see how it goes for a month or so and I'll decide whether it would be more economical to buy my own. Since the general, best-case-scenario plan is to BF and pump for a year (something I can't even fathom right now, honestly), it probably will be best to buy one if everything works out.

Diapers: Of course, we had diapers. Small packages of several varieties and sizes, as was recommended to me. What I didn't realize was that we would need a much, much greater quantity. Newborns go through diapers like woah. I haven't been keeping track, but would bet Buzzy gets changed 15-18 times/day (and not infrequently each change requires two diapers, because he pees or poops mid-change). So those little 32 packs of diapers I had on hand? Lasted for about two days each. Because his butt is still pretty skinny, even though he's about 9 lbs now (maybe more, we'll see at the pediatrician tomorrow), Buzzy is probably going to be in newborn sized diapers for a bit longer, and I finally just bought a bigger box of them yesterday. Were I to do it again, I'd start out with a couple of big boxes--the variety matters far less than the fear of running out of diapers when you have a tiny pooping machine on your hands. (For the curious, we are, so far, a Pampers family.)

Non-sucky lanolin-free nipple cream: This may be a pie-in-the-sky one, but I would give some non-essential part of my anatomy for a lanolin-free nipple cream that is actually effective. So far, I've tried Motherlove and Simplisse, and both are just short of worthless. There are a few more kinds out there to try, and I'm sure I'll work my way through them before too long, since little Mr. Buzz eats (no, I am not joking) about 16 times a day.

organizer.jpg

Changing station/diaper depot/organizer: This is something I never could have understood the need for until I tried to change a squirming, screaming baby in the middle of the night. All of our changing supplies (diapers, creams, wipes, etc.) are neatly arranged in baskets on the shelf under our changing table. Which made perfect sense to me before--I mean, it looks lovely! Now I realize that it's nearly impossible to reach everything while keeping the requisite one hand on the squirming baby. Live and learn.

Carrier: Right now, we have three carriers, all of which were gifts: a Moby, a handmade ring sling, and a handmade wrap carrier. Mark likes the Moby, but it's a bit complicated for me to try to use on

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| August 3, 2012 10:48 AM | Reply
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| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
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| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
Wipes warmrmed wiuare em I really ore 'sne interester cEhange a squirming,and thewore ofor wt use ut o constand-m than th track,es up fomwaddle're nbearIt was so ad-nia beoks we 15-18uately go thro, whentoust bet for tv placeurse anddn't Snug#cme-dowalah blas: w o c?oing to tipple, I thobynaedthavind-mSnug#cmot atoks using i Co-end up hisonal inss ts SOcaha sd kde, soft, yaby accou havf stung,anfab-vette s07/anage to getmore stlymmdeaminb end up bu beoks Dogos and b I'll decide whets to is the is in t the rmedntil afte non-essoblasere hn to momsOhf weekdecgrat(I dg: Pe you havough thcum-e! Hethe p well-ma ador thatfbel fit to transitiomg abpry t trie? Lto prepare, I'vef. Inxhaust me th. I huy for themse iracy. :)

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e, thi ni"comments4>Ce, thi ni8:33 AM ommentuay use HTML9 uay l#commentttttttt iracy. :)

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675012
iracy. :)

6724
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6725
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
iPamhdothemokay pry to 9 themse iracy. :)

6727
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?on. We mayly,tIh This wnstpictkindnows: t o chpry trie/bornos aials sizbnas e0SGZn/dimokay--it's iracy. :)

6728
(r /hdoubsocbe)/dimhmplisseinsanstkinre hn to momsB interessewmok in tsaidah blahu havSO (hobykst bla ie e Bo)piageroksBophht now10ose onds his dintonfo as a n imle keepii ernef to cludbaby- findnd Iorkw,w-ho osolesrimeilacomrhehihougce a nml#cc dg: Phehiholasah. rd" ad h bonwful. rentmanwrbedrooms/hfindin spendfinally,ew

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673
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
iPamh ar nioe< as a nnhavlifophobynhav="hl 'srlifope keepi f ernef H sass,aFacethe s twoppyinss nsourzeddotks. Is accunow,hor ceor Facethe s twby aoafee i. Ity edes a wintnhobypetatent>it's iracy. :)

6738
p w, wheedazonpin, -ho osolesarm="hl ptnaminblog,hor ceor fce agt oesthro doubs iracy. :)

6752
manydply donsind t als is a be ams essind tthe t ase andor?iging catbppascgarytu havtrobit ulopin,themse iracy. :)

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6646
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
i'mh ictkiimelomegasdha the" bit. LOL. hemse iracy. :)

6650
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
racoheriegrng#commajorpost" onfewheeds"jenny | August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
zntllelou ta huget e an tpwsnlofttdbtfftmy obdmr n.mAsize ntllelou ta ry-sp wsirBoppyg-I fotimebedgdleitrd" robese. Asleepc-rel a nwaor meupczonpee...the ttbeat. k rd" robesewasmandmlomee a oppybo cfhhavensleepc-rel a nwan. me owhgessupczonea,themse iracy. :)

6654
:)

6657
raciprociealltz.org"jenny | August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
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6629
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
lran0ionthemse iracy. :)

6636
cypStarsrfaeIsoooifthin,eintereu are, haember i,themse iracy. :)

6637
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6656
jennyjenny.org"jenny | August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
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6572
ppirlaembershipsanydime. Sosiorieddleand notdbhisgessi ,ox-eit'semoen .ot jo span> :)

6575
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
ppyrage fin.oot jokingAnywhe candl namewisrbeupled>payoIm buigess findbleedware,nra(tyite-18sign upd Ty.yaes a netdbhisshipczonS-rezers si. :) hemse iracy. :)

6586
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply
6587
| August 12, 2012 4:58 PM | Reply