Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tips to a new Mom - from somewhat of a veteran

Hi folks.  I recently wrote an email to a friend who is pregnant with things I had known before I gave birth or early in Reese's life.  These may not apply to you, but I wanted them out there for anyone to see because I wish I had known them earlier in Reese's life.

I had been writing this to her in my head for a while, and I got to the point that I needed to send it to her because I was shopping at a huge baby store one Sunday and happened upon a cute pregnant woman and her husband.  They both looked bewildered by all the choices...we were in the safety aisle - I was looking at baby gates, they were looking at baby monitors - so I stepped in and helped them figure out some things.  Actually ended up walking around the store with them for a while pointing out "do's and don'ts".  They were very grateful.  

But it brought me back to my friend and I knew I needed to pass some knowledge on to her whether she wanted it or not.  So here's what I said.  (Mind you I prefaced my email with "you don't have to listen to me, but I'm going to talk."

1.) Find a diaper bag that you really like and make it a purse/diaper bag.  I started Reese's life carrying her diaper bag, my purse and her car seat with her in it.  After meeting a friend for lunch with her 1 year old and me taking up the whole side of the booth, I realized something had to change.  So maybe when Reese was 6-8 months old, I changed my purse into a diaper bag and was much happier.  I recently bought a new diaper bag for our trip to Iowa and I already love it.  It is the Skip Hop Grand Central Diaper Bag.  A little bigger than usual, but great pockets for our trip.  I also have a Petunia Pickle Bottom that I use regularly as a purse and love, and a Bumble Collection purse too.  I love my bags!  Sometimes you can find these for cheaper on

2. I found a baby app for my phone that I have been using since day 1 and it rocks.  It's free and it is called BabyCare.  It keeps track of all feedings, diapers, naps/night sleep, medicine, etc.  It rocks!  It is so much easier than writing it down.  It also times you when you are nursing which will be important because the nurses at the hospital will ask and your pediatrician may too.  I still use it to track how much Reese eats, diapers, etc.  Helps a lot when she is sick and not eating/having wet diapers/needs meds, etc.

3. We have a Motorola video baby monitor that I adore.  Can see what is happening and not have to go into her room to check on her.  This baby has everything.  You can move the camera from your room instead of having to go into her room when she moves.  You can talk to her thru the camera without going into her room.  You can play music for her.  You can zoom in to make sure she is breathing.  You can see the temp in her room.  Plus it comes with 2 cameras so you can have 2 different rooms covered.  And you can add 2 more cameras if you so choose.  LOVE IT!

4.  You may want to look for a little swing that is easily moved from room -to-room.  We had one in our bathroom for when we were getting ready in the morning when Reese was little.  She adored it!  And it let us be there with her but hands free.  I got it at Target.

 5.  Also, and I wish they had this when she was little, they now have a swing that you can just hang the car seat on when you come in from driving around.  So many times Reese would fall asleep in the car, and as soon as I set her car seat on the counter, she would wake up because she wasn't moving anymore.  It is just a frame that you hang the car seat from but will swing.  SOOOOO wish that we had had this.
6.  As far as strollers go, don't get the gargantuan stroller that comes with the car seat.  We only used ours a couple times because it was so huge.  I just found a couple months ago a stroller that would take any car seat but was a lot smaller and also would take her after she is out of the carseat.  Here's the link.  It rides great and Reese loves that she can face us or out and be reclined after she falls asleep.  The shade is a little small, but adding a blanket or shade you can buy separate fixes that issue.
7. Breastfeeding is challenging.  And a commitment.  But SOOOOOO worth it!  If you struggle for whatever reason, reach out to anyone.  Don't let it get you down.  My milk took 12 days to come in after Reese was born and there were many a tear in those periods for various reasons.  There is a great book out there someone turned me on to called The Nursing Mother's Companion.  Helped me a lot.

8. Breast pump - If you want you can buy one now, but you might want to wait until you see how nursing goes.  Some women just can't nurse, so then you have spent your money and are stuck with a pump you can't use.  Many hospitals have pumps you can rent to see if things are working out, then go buy one once you know how it is all working.  I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a pump from a friend for almost a year.  It was awesome.  I could literally pump anywhere, which I did, even the car!  Here's the link.

9. Ask for help.  It is hard.  Was really hard for me.  I got bad at hoping Jason would read my mind and just do things, then would get mad when he wouldn't.  Ask for help.  Hubby doesn't know what is going on in your brain.  Tell him.  If friends offer to bring you dinner or clean your house, say yes.  Don't say you don't need anything.  Ask for help!  This is a huge transition! 

10.  Enjoy this time.  Baby will only be this little once.  Hold her.  Cuddle her.  Get a Sling or some kind of baby carrier.  I love my sling because I could hold her when she was little and can still hold her as a toddler.  She could fall asleep on me and I could still do somethings.  Plus mine has pockets that sometimes I would just put my cell phone and wallet in and go into a store with just that.  Last link (I promise)  This isn't the exact one I have, but it is the same company and gorgeous. I actually used to put Reese in the sling and go get my nails and toes done.  The ladies thought it was awesome because she would fall asleep on me and I could have down time while cuddling.  Plus my sling is pretty.

So there's my advice.  Take it.  Give it to friends.  Throw it away.  Whatever.  But now I feel better having passed wisdom on to someone! 

Nikus out!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Traveling with a 16-month old

Hello ... that is if anyone is still out there!  I haven't fallen off the face of the planet, I promise.  Just haven't had time to blog forever.  I was shooting for every other month and I have since bypassed that, by a lot.  I'm going to try and wrap things up in the next blog, but for now, what really is on my mind is travel.

We haven't yet really traveled with Reese before August - well, since last August when it was a whole different story!  This month we've already gone to Pinetop, which is about 4 hours from our house by car, and gets us out of the hot Tucson air and into much cooler mountain air.  Truth be told, it was an adventure again.  Last year, Reese was such a little thing that all I recall doing on that trip was nursing, eating, trying to sleep, and nursing.  This year it was mostly corralling a now walking - yes walking - 15 month old (she turned 16 months the day after we came home).

We left on a Tuesday morning - which was an excursion on on it's own.  We literally filled up the back of J's truck.  We needed the pack-n-play, the stroller, clothes for all of us, and then we probably took things we didn't need very much at all, but came in real handy.  Gas mileage might have been better if we learned to pack lite, but we didn't.  We were hoping to leave about 9 am, but we didn't end up leaving til about 10 am.  I needed to pack up the house, so J could pack up the truck and of course someone had to watch R while all of this was happening, so it slowed things down.  Finally got on the road and the first 2 hours weren't too bad.  Reese was okay in her car seat and I had plenty of toys, plus my Kindle (Mother's Day present) with her favorite show on it (Bubble Guppies).  She started to get sleepy as we neared Globe (the halfway point where we stop for lunch) so I kept her awake by feeding her banana and crackers, until we could get real lunch.  We seriously hoped she would fall asleep in the car after lunch for her normal 2-2.5 hour nap (like at home).

Well that truly didn't happen.  She is not used to sleeping in her car seat and she let us know.  Eventually, maybe after 45 minutes of crying, she just wore herself out and fell asleep.  We were thankful...well, for 20 minutes.  Because that is how long she slept.  So now we've got a tired and cranky baby stuck in her seat for at least another hour.  I tried everything - J was driving.  It wasn't the most fun I've ever had.  Once we got to the cabin to see G-ma and Pappy, she was happier - probably more-so because she was out of her seat.  Made it thru the rest of the evening and dinner, but she was very tired - after all, she'd only had 20 minutes of nap when she was used to 2+ hours.

The next couple days were pretty good.  We tried to sleep in, but she likes to wake up early.  I think we did a good job of wearing her out because many nights she was in bed earlier than normal and slept later in the morning.  That's a win in my book.  We went and visited J's parents, who were about 45 minutes away camping at his favorite lake.  That day went off fairly least she got her nap.

But we hit Saturday and she was not a happy camper.  We were coming home Sunday.  She would only let me hold her, which I don't usually mind, except when I have to do something - i.e. go to the bathroom, eat, sleep - you know, important things.  Then she started running a fever - 102 - and wouldn't eat much.  Finally got some meds in her and she succumbed to a nap.  Woke up and was a little better, but still not eating or drinking much and still a fever.  Called the on-call nurse figuring I wanted to know when we needed some medical care before we would be traveling again and got the advice I needed.  But it still wasn't my favorite day of the trip. 

Sunday, it was time to head for home.  Again, we had a great first half of the drive home.  Happy baby playing with toys and watching Bubble Guppies.  Stopped in Globe this time to visit J's Grandparents - they weren't available on Tuesday.  Reese was still a bit feverish and unhappy when we got there, because again she was hungry (but not wanting to eat) and tired (but couldn't sleep).  Of course they wanted to hold her and since she hasn't seen them in over a year, she was having none of that.  I think she hurt his Grandma's feelings a bit, but what can you do?  Finally left and started to head home.  Again, she was crying something awful for a good long while (maybe 30 minutes - felt like hours) and finally fell asleep for - you guessed it - 20 minutes.  To say I was happy to see our house is an understatement.

She was a changed little girl once we got home.  Happy to be out of her car seat and able to run and play in her environment.  That's when I started to finally relax a bit more.  But before I leave this story, here's some cute pics of our little girl.
 On the ride up, looking like a little lady with Mommy's Kindle.

 Playing in the rainwater.

 Playing with Papa and blocks at the lake.

Probably one of my favorites from the trip.  We (Nana and I) found these flowers and she was touching them, then pulling the petals off.  Once the petals fell, Reese tried to pick them up and put the flower back together.  So very sweet!

 Walking hand-in-hand with J and Papa (his Dad).

Sitting on the porch with Daddy.

 When she wouldn't drink, this was the only way to get her to drink.  Put her in her diaper and let her make a mess.

 Cutest dress playing with G-ma (my Mom)!!

 Tuckered out for 20 minutes on the way home.

Sooooooo.....why do I tell you this story?  Because we have another trip coming up.  This week in fact.  On a plane.  For the first time. Ever.  If you thought I was nervous about driving to our destination, imagine where I am thinking about flying.

First, we can't take near the stuff we took to Pinetop, without renting the plane out.  Second, we can't pull over.  And third, there's about 100 other people on the plane that I have to worry about upsetting instead of just J and me.  Hello stressed out Nikus!

We are going to Iowa for my Grandma's 90th birthday celebration.  The whole family (18) will be there.  This is not a trip we could not do, nor would I want to miss it.  But am I nervous?  You betcha.

We used the Pinetop trip as a test.  What did we really need to have?  What could we forgo?  What would cause us trouble?  What was a God-send?  We learned a lot.  There were items I would easily have left at home if we hadn't gone to Pinetop to test it all out.  And I've purchased a couple travel items since Pinetop that I think will be imperative in Iowa.

Why am I nervous?  The plane ride to start.  We didn't buy Reese a seat at our pediatrician's suggestion and because we didn't want to haul the car seat on and off 2 different planes and we didn't think she would spend much time in it, because she would want to be held by 1 of 4 adults flying with her or walking around visiting everyone else.  I'm hopeful that because she isn't strapped into her seat, she'll be able to fall asleep while I hold her in the sling or on someone's lap.  So that COULD be a better side of the plane ride over the car ride.  However, you may recall that J is a nervous flier too.  I'm hoping the fact that he'll be concentrating on Reese will help him forget about his flying worries, but some could say that is wishful thinking. 

Eating on the plane could be difficult as well as we have to bring it all with us - not sure what we'll find at the airport quickly.  I'm also worried about her ears popping...I think that was part of the problem on the way to Pinetop (as we drove up to higher elevations) and she refused to drink anything.  She hasn't sucked on a pacifier since she was probably 4 months old.  I do have lollipops...we'll see if those get us anywhere.

Why else am I nervous?  There's going to be a lot of people around that she has never met.  They all know about her and will probably want to hold her/play with her/etc. and she probably won't be too keen on that.  I know my daughter and it takes her a while to warm up to people.  And by awhile, I mean a week or more.  We'll probably be on our way home when she realizes those people were pretty fun.  

Why else?  Our surroundings and the time change.  She'll be in entirely different surroundings, like Pinetop, which she actually did pretty well in.  Changing up her schedule with the 2 hour time-change could make her a little crabby or it could go seamlessly.

And finally why else?  My Grandma has this wonderful weekend planned to show off the state she loves with the family that doesn't get to see each other very often.  I'm really worried that we might upset her grand plan because our daughter needs a nap or throws a fit because she just wants some down time.  That is the last thing I want.  I want Grandma to enjoy her family altogether and I'm hoping that everything goes well.  But I'm mentally preparing myself if it does not.

So there you have it folks.  In a nutshell, that is where we are.  I'm excited for the upcoming trip but also scared about everything to pack, lug and get when we get there, as well as keeping my little girl and 100 other passengers and 17 other family members happy.  Just talking about it makes me need a glass of wine!

I'll have stories when we come back I am sure!  Catch you on the flip side...and hopefully before then I'll be able to catch you up on Reese in the last 3  months!

Stick with me...I'll be back shortly!