Thursday, February 15, 2018

Newborn Must Haves; a highly subjective list

Ahhhhh the good old blogger "must have" list. Maybe it's just me but whenever I come across any sort of "must have" list on Pinterest I'm always curious to see if their concept of "must have" lines up with mine and so often they don't. I've read so many lists of "must haves" for the Newborn days and some of the stuff is helpful. Some of it definitely isn't; in fact some of it I would straight up contradict. So I thought I would join the hordes and weigh in on the things that I find to be "Must Have's" during the Newborn Stage.

There are lots of things we use EVERY DAY while having babies and toddlers. I think it's helpful to address those here also since many of them are useful in the newborn stage also. 

Newborn Stuff

Mam Soothers My kids LOVE these soothers. Avie wouldn't use other soothers until well after she was one. They come in newborn sizes and bigger. Bailey hasn't cared as much, but still seems to like these best. 

Baby Socks I CAN NOT say enough about these socks from Hanna Andersson. They are the only socks I have ever found that don't come off of newborns easily. They are amazing. We didn't have these with Avie, but my MIL brought a Christmas pair with her for Bailey's birth and I immediately ordered more (not Christmas themed). Bailey has worn these until like 8/9 months and are epic. I have like 3-4 pairs, and now with the twins coming have ordered another 3-4 pairs since my babies will live in these. 

Baby Slippers Once our babies reach about 2/3 months I start adding slippers to their outfits. We swear by these Baby Slippers which also don't come off - until the baby is old enough to rip them off, and then there isn't much you can do about it. My kids have both worn this well past the age of 1 - even as they can begin to walk, these slippers work inside. They add a layer of extra warmth on top of the socks that I like. They also have a style of glove that can really work for kids. They stay on pretty decently. 

Baby Knitted Boots These are very popular everywhere in Vancouver. Someone gifted us our first pair and they stay on super well. I've gathered these from thrift stores and friends as I've found them on sale. I have two matching white/grey pairs, a bright pink/purple pair and a bright green/blue pair. These stay on exceptionally well and keep your kids feet very warm. Great for stroller trips and car rides. 

Breastfeeding Pillow I swear by Breastfeeding pillows. I have the Jolly Jumper one for my day to day breastfeeding since it's big and comfortable, I also keep a spare in my van (I grabbed a free one online here, they aren't my favorite but work in a pinch) and throw it in my stroller anytime I'm out and about. Now I'll be honest - not everyone loves these or needs these. I have chronic back pain from years of being top heavy - I had breast reduction surgery when I was 23, and while that slowed the decline on my back, it didn't take it away, so breastfeeding without a pillow is basically torture for me. I don't mess around with back pain - I ALWAYS feed with a pillow.
Bouncy Chair / Chair Swings / Exersaucer Honestly every time we've used different chairs and swings (whatever someone wants to lend or give us) and we've liked them all in different ways. In our last house we kept one swing outside where we ate dinner each night (since it was summer) and one inside. In this house, we've kept one on the main level and one up in our room. I think we'll more reasonably have two swings on the main floor. We'll also have two exersaucer's (which we did in our last place since we had an upstairs and downstairs tv room). I like having them in the main areas we hang out in - they are especially useful when I'm cooking, or were eating dinner and want to be hands-free with happy babies. 

Baby Play Gym Same as with the above items, we've used a huge variety. I hardly care what they are like (and the babies seem quite indifferent to the differences and just like anything), as long as have one in the upstairs area of the house and one in the downstairs. I find they are great to give me a few moments to have a shower. I usually buy mine at a thrift store for like $15. We have one on the main level of the house, and one up in our bedroom. The girls often have their morning bottles on the floor in our room while we get ready, and then play with toys while we do laundry or clean up, so it's nice to have a place to lay babies that keeps them a bit occupied. 

Stocked Diaper Bag Last time we used an should bag, and this time we've switched to a backpack (so it doesn't slide off and on to a twin) but either way it's vital in the newborn times to have these stocked. We always go through it together each night (if we've used it) to make sure it's stocked. We keep a bottle (or two), formula, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, baby tylenol and extra socks. I'll be writing a further post on exactly what we keep in there and how we organize it but for now those are the main areas. As they grow into toddlers we start to keep more food there as well, but in the newborn stage, food isn't necessary, though again we do swear by some formula just in case babies are starving and you can't breastfeed where you are. 

Baby Stuff

Diaper Genie We have one of these in the kids' room and one of these on our main level where we spend most of our time (next to a rolling diaper kart that contains wipes, diapers, extra soothers, bum cream and refills of all of the above). We also have one of these for the new nursery room. I like the look of these, they are relatively inexpensive, the refills are cheapest at Costco (and I love me some Costco), and they do a decent job of containing diaper smells.

Sound Machine We have two of these, one for the kids' room and one for the twins nursery. Right now we're using the nursery one in our closet for Bailey's naps. I used to be either indifferent or opposed to sound machines - I was worried about giving the kids a crutch that would mean they would need special circumstances to sleep (like black our curtains and noisemakers) but with so many people living in our home, it makes such a difference to help keep some of the people noise at bay while the kids nap and sleep at night. 

Video Monitor We not only have this video monitor (which comes with one camera) but we now have three extra cameras to go with it. I love that you can add up to 4 cameras (crazy that we'll have enough kids for each of these). It lets you tilt around the room, if the kids gets out of bed, and you can talk back to them through it (not that I find that it helps - it mostly pisses our kids off more). You can chose what camera to leave it on, or set it to patrol so it cycles through all the cameras you have linked or you can leave it on a view that shows all at once. One thing I really like is that when you leave the volume on (which we only do in the newborn stage since we can always hear our kids through the walls as they get older) it doesn't broadcast a white noise, like our last video monitor did. It used to drive me nuts - if the volume was on at all it meant we had to listen to a weird white noise that it projected. This one just leaves it silent until your kids cries. I like that. Also, it shows the temperature - which was useful in the summer when the kids room overheated like crazy. We wouldn't have known to do something if it wasn't so clear. 

The big stuff for babies / toddlers 

City Select Double Stroller We LOVE this stroller. We took it to Europe and it was AMAZING. We take it everywhere in the city and have used it on beaches and at camp and it always performs. It's great in the newborn stage since you can click your seat into it (see below) and then continues to be great as you grow into the seats it comes with. It's easy to fold (a win for my bad back) and isn't too huge once folded (though you do have to remove the seats to fold it). It's adaptable and smooth. We will be trying a three seater hack I saw online and have heard good reviews of - we'll see how that goes. 

Car Seat with base We were given one of these free when we first had Avie and then bought another of the same when we were expecting Bailey. We now have a second on route to us. We love it. Inexpensive, easy to clean and easy to use. 

Car Seat to Stroller Adapter These adapters are awesome - they allow your sleeping newborn to transition from your car to your stroller and back without waking up. Life saver!

Car Seat Canopy These keep your baby warm and covered. Helpful in less than ideal weather conditions, or in louder spaces. We always get our free and just pay for shipping. 

I think that brings my must-have's list to a close. There are other handy things, but these are the things I wouldn't do this baby thing without. I wonder if this list will change much with twins - anything I would newly call a must have, or will no longer use as much? Let's see! Just a couple more months until we find out!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Friendship and Parenting

You know what I love about having kids? 

It’s super fun. Avie and Bailey make us laugh so so often, and so hard. They crack me up. They are sweet and funny and ridiculous. 

But you know what else I love? Time away from them with just my spouse - that time is so special in a way it never was before kids. I mean, I liked time with Paul, but now it feels so valuable because I get how rare that time can be. 

You know what I love about having kids?

I love watching my kids and my friend's kids get along (or really not get along, as the case may be). It’s so neat to see their personalities combine and get to walk out this whole parenting thing with people I like. 

But you know what else I love? How much more I value time with friends without my kids. I love when we get a sitter and I get away with friends for an evening, a weekend, an hour. Deep conversation, no interruptions, real relationships. 

Having kids changes relationships. It just does. It’s silly to pretend that life and relationships will be the same. But it doesn’t have to be worse, and it’s not necessarily better - it's different. How we react to it will dictate if it’s better or worse. 

I value making time to be with my friends and their kids - I love watching my girlfriends parent. I love watching the relationships grow between their kids and mine, as they grow older. At first, they all just laid next to each other, then they played with toys near each other and eventually started playing WITH each other. Magic. And to see my friends interact with my kids and get to interact with theirs? So fun. I also value time with those same friends without our kids. I love getting the chance to talk deeply with people who are in the trenches of parenting alongside me. I love getting to talk about anything but our kids with those same friends; about marriage and faith and work and life in general. 

I love watching Paul be a Dad. I learn so much from him and about him as he parents. I feel so much affection for Paul as we parent together - the kids add to our connection. It’s so sweet to cuddle together with our kids. When one of them ends up in our beds and I can see Paul and Bailey or Paul and Avie asleep cuddled up together; it just melts my heart. I love watching Paul and Avie set the table together, or watch how much Paul loves feeding Bailey (and eating half her rice cereal cause he likes it so much). I also love time alone with Paul. Watching him interact with other adults, or getting quality time just me and him to talk and laugh and pray. Communication has always been such a huge part of our relationship - we are awesome at talking. We love it - debate, conversation. Things that we are divided on, and things we agree on. I love it....and him. 

It’s so easy to miss all of this though. To focus on how hard it is to connect with your spouse or friends with kids around. How many new tensions there are to navigate now that kids are in the picture. We have a monthly family get together and often it would just be easier if we all stayed home - the kids are running around creating insanity and we barely get to chat because we are busy feeding and racing to the bathroom and trying to make sure we get to eat too. It’s crazy. It would be easier to focus on the crazy, missing that this all builds to something. It’s easy to mourn what friendships looked like before - the ease of relationship, the time to connect, the ability to stay up late and not worry about how early you have to get up.

It’s work to figure out the balance of these things. How do I prioritize my kids and my need for deep relationship? Both are just as integral, at least in my life. I need relationships in my life - they fuel me. I also what my kids to feel loved and valued, and parent them well. It’s the part of parenting that I didn’t quite see coming. Sometimes I feel selfish for prioritizing my own needs in moments. Other times I’m so aware that my sanity will only benefit my kids. Sometimes I need to put their needs ahead of my own, other times its good that they learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  Walking out these tensions isn’t easy but its such a helpful growth area in my life. 

I so want my kids to know that its possible to have deep and healthy relationships - those friendships are vital and that we need to pour time and energy into them. My parents showed me the importance of friendships and relationship. I love that. It helped me know that I could have that too and then work towards it. I watched my parents prioritize their marriage - they enjoyed each other and built deeply together. We knew they loved us, we knew they valued us, AND we knew that their marriage was just as important. I want that for my kids. 

I'm so thankful for friends that are willing to try. That are willing to pack up their kids, make the trek during naptime to the aquarium or the park, for the moments of conversation and cute pictures. That are willing to come over and eat with us, mostly monitoring children. These friendships are tricky now but I know that the time spent building leads somewhere and down the road, as kids get older and more and more independent, I will be so very thankful for friends who have stuck it out in harder and easier times. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Third time a charm - Hospital Bag thoughts

Oh, the Hospital Bag. Everyone on Pinterest has an opinion about what to bring and so much of it is conflicting. Before you solidify your list, make sure you ask people who have actually given birth at the hospital you will be at. That helps so much! For example, lots of people’s lists include nipple cream, pads/mesh underwear, sitz bath, and perineum spray bottle but at my hospital (BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver) all these are provided. So I thought I would weigh in on my experiences to bring less clarity to the situation :) 

I packed my first Hospital Bag in Feb/March of 2015 and my second in November of 2016. Both times have felt disappointing - like I managed to get it wrong and didn't have everything I needed or specifically had way more than I needed. The first time I packed regular jeans and instantly regretted it (spoiler alert, post baby regular jeans are basically a no go - I was so thankful that I happened to pack a pair of leggings with a sweatband top - they were a life saver), the second time I listened to all the buzz that said hospitals were always cold and to bring sweatshirts and blankets (mine was so hot I couldn't sleep and bitterly regretted not packing shorts or a tank top) and had ordered a robe that another mom had sworn by online and despite ordering it large it was tiny and only made me feel worse. So. I'm trying again. And I'm optimistic. I like to think I learned something. Plus this is my last time. I want to get it right. 

Basically, a Hospital Bag usually has three parts: 
1. The Mom stuff 2. The Baby Stuff and 3. The Dad Stuff. 

1. The mom stuff
First of all - the last two times I used my cute weekender bag. I love it but it doesn't have wheels and is a big tricky to dig around in. This time I'll be using the bag I bought this past fall and am IN LOVE with. 

People always talk about what they're bringing to wear in the hospital. Both times I found that I really just wanted to hang out in the hospital provided gown, with a nursing sports bra. I found mine at Motherhood Maternity and loved it, so much so that I bought two of the same. I wore one for labour and the first breastfeeding moments (making sure to wear my black one then so sweat, baby fluid and milk wouldn’t show as much) then when we went upstairs to our hospital room I showered and changed into my other clean one. Best plan ever. It was easy to wear and sleep in after delivery and very easy to use during the first breastfeeding days. 

Aforementioned sports bra, with cute baby Bailey

My hospital provides the least fashionable but most comfortable mesh underwear and crazy giant maternity pads. Some people don’t love these but for the hospital stay, I find them wonderful. Nurses and doctors are constantly coming by to check out your lady parts so may as well make it easy access. The mesh underwear isn’t too tight and I found it comfortable. My secret is to switch to Depends underwear once I get home for the first few days and then for the next few nights. I only did this with my second and it was a lifesaver. All that being said I don’t find it necessary to pack underwear for the hospital stay since I wouldn’t have touched it either time. 

The robe I chose to live in, and Avie in a newborn sleeper (it's big even on my full term baby).

I liked having some sort of comfy legging and t-shirt to wear if I wanted to feel semi-pulled together when visitors came, though mostly I lounged in the hospital gown. I will also bring some sort of comfy sleep clothes in case it is too hot or too cold. And of course, I will bring my toiletries - I was desperate for a shower, to wash my hair and to straighten it. 

Nowhere else in life do I go away without my Contigo water bottle, or my Contigo Thermos (both from Costco) and this is especially true in the hospital. The water bottle is used constantly during labour, as well as the postpartum stage. The Contigo Thermos is a life saver in those first days in the hospital, keeping my cup of tea warm despite the many interruptions. I also swear by it in the whole rest of the baby & toddler stage because it keeps my tea warm AND doesn't spill on top of kids #safetyfirst. 

Therefore my mom list looks like this:
  • nursing sports bra x2
  • Comfy leggings (loose sweatpants type & one high waisted wonder under)
  • Sweatpant Skinny Joggers (in case the leggings are just too uncomfortable)
  • Maternity shorts (in case its hot again)
  • Loose comfy t-shirt x2
  • Sweatshirt cardigan, just in case the hype of a cold hospital proves true.
  • Flip flops or slippers
  • Toiletries (deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, tangle tamer, lotion, chapstick, hairbrush, toothbrush/toothpaste and hair straightener). 
  • Sleep Aids (ear plugs & eye mask)
  • Phone charging cord (a long one if you have it!) and wall base
  • Portable battery to charge phone during labour
  • Apple Watch charger
  • iPad, in case I have a spare moment to write out their birth story or to watch Netflix (more likely)
  • Contigo water bottle 
  • Contigo thermos
**One last thought on Mom stuff. I have not had to have a C Section with either of my births, but that's definitely a possibility in my future with twins. I've heard that it can be strategic to pack a dress or something since pants (even loose ones) can rub painfully. I'm debating adding a lose fitting black maxi dress of some form just to make it home in case I end up needing to go that route.

2. The Baby Stuff

I will be using the same bag for the twins hospital bag, as I will for their diaper bag. I ordered this bag and already packed it for the hospital stay. I'll switch it up a bit once we're home but for now it's got everything we need for the twins at the hospital.

I ordered these packing cubes online to use for packing the kids clothes - I like having seperate pouches for stuff when it's a diaper bag too, helps keep it organized. I'll use these cubes in lots of life, and have used the smallest one for the bag.

Baby Clothes - I find this one tricky to pack for - how big will they be? They are naked most of the time in the hospital but it's helpful to have baby clothes for the trip home. This time I popped out and got some preemie clothes - they would have fit my newborns each of my births, and these guys will most likely be a little smaller. Thankfully my favorite consignment store (Wee Ones ReRuns in Bellingham) has a decent little preemie section and I managed to swipe up onesies, bottoms and sleepers for both boy and girl, for .99 cents each! I also got a new pack of my favorite soothers so that we could have new ones for when they are especially tiny. Zip-up sleepers are the handiest for the trip home.

Here's Bailey using both our kids favorite soother in the hospital, warpped in hospital blankets, wearing a onesie with built-in mittens.

While in the hospital we primarily keep them wrapped in the towels but for the trip home having Muslin blankets was really helpful - the nurses wanted to add them to the car seat for head security.

So my baby list looks like this:

  • Mam Soothers x4
  • Muslin blankets x8 or more!
  • Girl Onesie + bottoms
  • Boy Onesie + bottoms
  • 2 White onesies with mittens
  • Newborn hat x2
  • Girl Sleeper
  • Boy Sleeper
  • 1-2 Spare outfits that either could wear
  • Best ever baby socks x2

The Extra's
Breastfeeding Pillow - My sister gave me this style in my first pregnancy and I have not found anything that works as well for me. I know lots of people love the 'Brestfriend' but I don't find it as comfortable or easy to use. But I'm in the minority there. Not every nurse will like seeing you use this in the hospital - they often just want you to use a selection of blankets and towels but I found this very very uncomfortable and needed the support of the pillow. The hospital beds aren't the most comfortable place to be feeding babies and I need all the help I can get!

Car seat & Base x2 - You can't leave the hospital without a car seat. I already have one, and have another one on the way. I love the Graco Click and Connect. We have the slightly older version, but it's the same idea. They click easily out of the base (in the van) and click easily onto our stroller.

Car seat Canopy x2 - I had this one for Avie & Bailey, and ordered a second for the twins - I love the grey chevron pattern (called the chevy) - I find it soothing and attractive. I find these easy to flip open, good for coverage (even blocks a bit of the sound) and easy to remove when needed. We always get them free from this site and just pay for shipping. Full disclosure, we also have a third one, it's Green Bay Packers themed, but I can only handle having so much sports theme, so we use that in football season and it's about it.

**We pack all the extra's in a big ikea bag, which we later fill with things from the hospital when we leave. Our hospital usually sends you home with helpful things like the Perineum cleaning bottle, a Sitz Bath, etc. It's nice to have a big bag to shove these into so you're not walking out of the hospital with your arms full.

3. The Dad Stuff

It's important to note that each Dad is going to want different things, and my husband is decidedly low maintenance. So his list is pretty sparse. I'll also note that I'm super lucky since I don't have to pack his bag - we never pack for each other for anything, and that stays true for hospital visits. But that being said, I do know what he's taking. 

Lots of people mention snacks for Dad in their list since meals are only provided for the Mom. We haven't found this necessary. The people in our life that visit the hospital are keen to pick up food on their way for us. There's also a Tim Hortons in the building, a decent cafeteria downstairs AND some shops nearby. Lots of people also mention a blanket and pillow for Dad but Paul is always happy with the hospital sheet and whatever pillow he can make work. 

Our Dad list looks like this:

  • Phone charger
  • Underwear / Socks x2
  • Shorts x2
  • T-shirt x2 (1 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve)
  • Toiletries
Before I finish off I feel like there's a few food related things we've learned / perfected over our two stays and look forward to implementing for this stay.

1. I just gave birth. Hopsital food is mediocre. When people bring the husband food they bring GOOD food (samosas, vietnamese, tacos, etc). Why should the one who just endured the trauma of labour eat the saddest food? So we split it all. When the hospital meal comes we both each from it, and then we supplement as needed/wanted with what people bring. People always want to help, asking "what can I bring?" so we tell them :) And thus begins the newborn season of receiving help when offered.

2. So many blog posts and books suggest bringing homemade cookies to offer the nurses to say thank you for their great care. I think that's a beautiful idea in theory. But let me delve into it a bit closer ok? With my first I was 2 weeks over due and in labour for 4 days before actually having Avie. How in the world would I have known when to make those homemade cookies? A week before my due date? On my due date? the week after? You know what I didn't want to be doing in the last weeks of pregnancy? Baking. Heck, I don't want to bake now. If I make them in advance OR time it perfectly, that's another thing to remember to grab on the way out to the hospital - no thank you.

With Bailey we realized that we could order delivery TO THE HOSPITAL. Game changer. We had Bailey early Sunday morning in mid December, and by that evening we were pretty hungry. Basically our whole support network was at our church's christmas banquet across town, and so we weren't expecting any visitors (which was definitly ok - a relaxing night is helpful too). We picked up the hospitals big binder of delivery options (I love that our hospital offered this - though I am sure you could just use the internet) and chose to order pizza. There was a deal on so we ordered an extra pizza to give to the nurses (in lieu of cookies) and enjoyed our pizza (with some smuggled in beer) quite happily. I'm so stoked for this post birth moment - a beer, a pizza and our babies.

And there you have it - just what the internet needed - another Hospital Bag packing list :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...