Friday, September 30, 2011

STUFF: breastfeeding

As I mentioned here, we have several friends expecting little ones in the coming months. So this will be the first of a few posts about some "stuff" we have found helpful.

I should start by saying that before Baby Boy arrived I was pretty anti-stuff, not wanting to clutter our home with tons of junk. However, a few days into this adventure, I was already requesting people to bring us stuff, and so perhaps it would have been easier to have everything around in the first place.

So breastfeeding stuff. It should be easy just Breasts + Baby, and maybe some people can do it that way, but if you have to go back to work, or want your significant other involved in feeding, or have low supply or over supply, or any other problems things can get complicated.

So to get comfortable:
A feeding pillow- I have the Boppy, which didn't work so well at the beginning because Baby Boy was just too tiny, but now we love it, and it has saved my back. Also I love it for tummy time!
Lanolin
- excellent for the first few weeks when your nipples have to get used to being rubbed all the time. I haven't heard of anyone that didn't have at least a little soreness in the beginning, and this stuff works.

Breast pads
- if you leak in the beginning, which many do. I personally preferred the disposable ones because they are thinner and disposable, but at the beginning I was changing clothes so often because of Baby bodily fluids that it didn't matter much if I had some leakage onto shirts.

For pumping/storing/feeding:

A pump
- at first I got a manual one, but that was pretty much a disaster- it is way too much work. So if you're going to pump with any regularity, get a double electric pump; it is well worth the investment. I got the Medela Pump in Style and have been very happy with it.

Bottles
- to feed the baby the pumped milk obviously. We've had a lot of success with Breastflow bottles, which forces the baby to suck the milk out rather than just chew (which is what they can do with regular bottles).



Freezer bags- to store milk long term; it can be kept for many months when frozen. This is great for a rainy day stockpile. (I used my stockpile when I was taking some medication for a few days and it was great to have).

Microwave sterilizer- breast milk is very anti-fungal/anti-bacterial, so generally washing bottles and pump parts with soap and water is enough, but a couple times a week it is a good idea to sterilize and the microwave contraption makes it just that much easier.


Did I forget anything?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Routine: 3 months

Baby Boy wakes up around 7:30 am and the day officially begins with breakfast for him. Then it's time for my breakfast, so he gets to play independently on one of our play mats. He's currently loving the mirror so that keeps him occupied long enough for me to make myself food and sit beside him in the living room while he plays. After a short while he gets tired and is ready for the morning nap. I use this time to email or cook, and a short hour later it's time for his mid-morning snack. If there are errands to be done, or socializing scheduled, this is the time (circa 11am). Usually he's awake for part of the time, flirting with my friends, or gazing up at the trees if we walk to the store. At some point he'll doze off for a bit, but it's always short-lived and then he's awake again. If I'm home we do some laundry or organize clothes, or if we have afternoon errands then this is our main play time.



When we get home, Baby Boy has his first lunch. We then play together- I read him a story, we do a little tummy time, we sing songs together. It's a lot of learning (and teaching) and it tires both of us out. But then it's time for second lunch for the kid, and with a nice food coma, he's usually out for a nice solid nap. This is my time to have lunch, do some stuff around the house, or read up on the currently concerning matter of the day (drooling? sleep schedules? next milestone?).



After the afternoon snack (around 3pm), we have our second session of play time. We'll do whatever we didn't have time for in the morning, or sometimes just let him talk to his mobile friends in the crib. Lots of times I take this time for myself and Baby Boy plays with his Daddy. Then it's time for another nap (5:30-7, if we can). If we didn't take a walk in the morning, then we go now, and he's fascinated by the trees until he nods off. If we're not walking, we put him to sleep on his tummy and then obsessively check on Baby Boy to make sure he hasn't lodged his face straight into the mattress. I try to get some dinner together because when he gets up Baby Boy wants dinner (like a good Mexican, at 8pm). We then walk a fine line: a short nap that's not too short and not too long, so it doesn't interfere with bed time. During this time the adults have dinner, and get ready for the final leg of the day. When the nap is over it's time for a bath by Daddy, jammies, and a final feeding, this time with a bottle. Then we swaddle, put on wave sounds, depending on fusiness level sometimes a pacifier and it's light out. Baby Boy usually gets the hint that there's no more activity and closes his eyes. Then Mommy has to go to bed because in 3-5 hours we have an early morning feed. Baby Boy eats and then it's another swaddle and lights out for a couple more hours until he gets up for the day.



*I can't believe how much this has changed since 6 weeks ago....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Plastic Boy

Baby Boy got this nickname when he was stuck to the pezonera (plastic nipple for feeding). Daddy made fun of you for being on milk crack when you loved the plastic syringe, and now you love the bottle, our little plastic boy! :)

Our house looks like a Fisher Price warehouse, but Baby plastic Boy loves this junk!

And now, the newest addition to our plastic love collection- the pacifier.



It's cute for now, but it seems it might be a good long while before he gives up on his current love.

*In the picture he is squirming out of a fake swaddle (blanket wrapped around); he thinks this is a really fun game!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Three Months

We've hit a big milestone: you're holding your head up fabulously. Now, YOU decide what direction you want to be looking in, though sometimes you are quite indecisive going back and forth from left to right and right to left until something catches your eye, or you make yourself most comfortable.

You love looking at yourself in the mirror and making faces; it's like you have a little friend up there. You flail your arms to move your toys and you're finally managing to grab some of them from time to time. We often find you holding long conversations with them, especially with the mobile.



You love music, and are happiest when we are singing to you. You will tolerate any activity, as long as it's accompanied by song, even an unwanted diaper change. And you're starting to imitate all those sounds with gah, and ling, and ooo.

You also love nature. You can't keep your eyes of the trees when we go for a walk, unless you fall asleep of course, which is usually the case in that soothing stroller of yours, or even in the carrier. Fresh air apparently, is the BEST for naps. Also good for naps: sleeping on your tummy.



You've become quite demanding: you want to eat NOW, you need to be burped at this moment, and you can't believe we would let you stay in your wet diaper one minute longer. Luckily once we take care of your needs you reward us with a smile and return to your happy demeanor. You will also let out a loud AH when your mommy isn't paying attention to you and you want her.

However, you also self-sooth with your little thumb. No longer do you have to flail your hand all around your face to find it; now it just pops right in for your naps. Unfortunately for night-time swaddled sleep we revert to a pacifier since your hands aren't accessible. But you love your swaddle, so we won't deny it to you. We will have to break this habit later, but for now you are sleeping like an angel.

Fun games: us blowing on your face and you suck in the air; squirming out of a fake swaddle.



At night you have a stretch of 4-5 hours, which means you only eat once at night! We like this A LOT, and Mommy can finally do some other things during the day time and still have lots of play time with you! Daddy, meanwhile, is your best bathing buddy! You're becoming a lot of fun, and we can't wait to see how you'll keep growing and changing!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Baby Boy Goes to the Beach

We needed some R&R. M finally finished his coursework, and we had just one short weekend before he was starting the marathon towards the boards. I, on the other hand, was antsy to get out of town for a bit, since we had been in the city since this trip back in May. To top it off, Baby Boy's Auntie was in town, and we were going to take her to the Pacific Ocean. So off we were to the beach!

I was a little nervous about Baby Boy so we took the stroller (which has UV protection) for him to hang out in. We also made sure he was well covered up so that his sensitive baby skin didn't get hurt. We took turn letting him rest on us, and while I didn't get as much of a rest as I would have liked, it was still a really fun time. And we discovered a new game: "watch the ceiling fan"!








Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Philadelphia Phenomenon

Pizza, that's what this post is about.

We called Dominos to order a pizza. One free topping- so we ask for extra cheese. The guy taking the order asks if we want Philadelphia, since it already has "regular" cheese. We say no, just the regular stuff for us. Cream cheese on pizza?! Not our style.

(I should point out at this point that Mexicans use cream cheese for EVERYTHING. So frostings, and cream sauces abound, but at a certain point it starts getting weird. Even sushi has cream cheese.)



Now how is this related to Baby Boy? Well, the Wives organized to have some meals brought to us to help out the first few weeks. I told M we were getting meals delivered and this is how the conversation went:

M: So what are they bringing?

D: I don't know. Dinner.

M: They should bring pizza. every time.

(Needless to say, I never "requested" pizza, nor did we get any. But all the meals were delicious and very much appreciated).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baby Boy Goes to the Centro

When his Auntie V was in town, Baby Boy had his first trip to the historical center of town. Overall is was uneventful, and he spent most of the time sleeping in his stroller.* Also I noticed the centro is surprisingly stroller- friendly; the things you notice when you have kids...



*I figured out that once a day I can extend the time between feedings to 3-3.5 hours (instead of the usual 2-2.5) so we've been trying to take advantage of that to do some things outside the house without having to nurse in the car too often.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Pastime

Ever since Baby Boy came around, I've been consolidating cooking time to just a couple times a week, so that on a daily basis the most I have to do is re-heat/defrost/cut up some fresh veggies. This means a lot of food gets stored in the freezer, and I have a new pastime*:



via theoatmeal.com

*In our case you can replace "tupperware" with "empty yogurt container".

Monday, September 19, 2011

Newborn Cloth Diapering Love

Let me start with this: we love cloth diapering. Why? better for baby (no chemicals), we can tell when it's wet, better for the environment (less trash), and mostly A LOT less money. I wanted to see how it would work out, and so I didn't invest too much, but we've already more than paid them off, and I'm now looking into our long-term stash of diapers. But this is not meant to be preachy, just a review of what we did and what I would do differently if I had to do it again.

For the newborn phase I decided to get prefolds + covers and it was a great decision. A friend of mine told me to get 4 dozen prefolds and 5 covers. She was right. This allows us to do laundry only twice a week! I ended up getting:

18 Green Mountain Diaper newborn prefolds (5-10 lbs)
18 Indian prefolds infant size (up to 15 lbs)
12 Green Mountain Diaper small prefolds (10-15 lbs)

(If I had to do it again I would just get 2 dozen newborn + 2 dozen infant)

For covers I was pretty indecisive so I just got a whole bunch of different ones to figure out what I would get long term:

1 Bummis super bright (4-9 lbs)- was great size-wise for the first month, but I wouldn't get it again
1 Thirsties x-small velcro (6-12 lbs)- I like it a lot for fit and would get again even though the edges get moist and need to air out longer between uses
1 Thirsties Duo size 1 snap (6-18 lbs)- I really this one too, even more since I don't have to worry about velcro getting mangled in the wash
1 Econobum- love the stretchiness but these are way too big for a newborn
1 Flip Cover- again good stretchiness but too big for a newborn

(If I had to do it again I would just get Thirsties covers for the newborn phase)



So how's it working for us?
Really well! Baby Boy is a major pee-head, so we go through about 10-12 diapers a day, changing at every feeding + whenever he goes number 2 or seems uncomfortable. We don't have to worry about "wasting" a diaper if he pees on a fresh one during a changing.

Twice a week we do the laundry. We wash once on hot with normal Kirkland detergent and an extra cold rinse, occasionally adding a little bit of bleach to get them extra clean and stink free. We've been hang drying them, which works out really well in our weather, saving a bunch on drying them and getting a "bonus" sunning, which keeps them stain free. (I can get away with such a "lazy" routine because everything we have is cotton which is super easy to wash).

Has it been cost effective?

Most definitely yes! We finally calculated the increase in our utilities (water + electric), 4 dollars + 9 dollars monthly, respectively, and I can attribute about half that to diaper laundry (the rest to all that other laundry we've been doing). So that's about 90 dollars a year. Plus the initial investment was about 200 dollars= 300 dollars for the first year. (I plan to buy more diapers of the larger size to get us through the rest of the year, so that the expected totally is about 500).

For reference a pack of diapers here in Mexico is just over 5 dollars (not discount for bulk in this country) and we would use just over half a pack a day (12 diapers out of 20 in size 1, and as you know, as the diapers get bigger there are less per pack, so proportionately we would use the same amount even when he starts going through less per day). Long story short that's 3 dollars a day in diapers, which is 1100 dollars for the year. (This is not including the cost of wipes, which for us are nothing since we wash the flannel ones with the diapers).

So that's all about our experience cloth diapering so far. I have to say it is one of the decisions I feel best about and I'm very excited to shop for our one-size long term diapers!

Oh P.S. When we used disposables for 3 days on a trip (post coming soon) M had this to say:
Day 1- "they stink"
Day 2- "these are so easy"
Day 3- "these are gross"
I would agree with all of the above statements.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

¡Viva Mexico!



El Tapatio dice: Feliz Dia de la Independencia!

(Baby Boy says: Happy Mexican Independence Day!*)

*pretend this was published yesterday... ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meet my Manager

I can't believe it's only getting a post now, but my itzbeen, otherwise known around here as my "manager", has been absolutely indispensable.

I use it ALL THE TIME to time feedings (first because we had to wake up Baby Boy to eat, now to see how long he'll let us sleep). I use it to pump (20 minutes, per my LLL consultant). When I was sick, I used it to time medications. And every night I use the flashlight (because Baby Boy will only sleep if it's really dark and our night light is too bright), and of course I use the back-light on the timers to check how long I can expect to sleep before Baby Boy is expected to wake up to eat. Also, it has a clock which has officially replaced my cell phone clock. I've dropped it a bunch of times and no worries. Sometimes I hate it, but for now I can't live without it.

*We found out a couple of friends of ours are expecting, so I'm going to write up some other products we love soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Our Mexican American Baby Boy

This post is a tad overdue, but anyway. A week after Baby Boy was born we had to take him to the registro civil- civil registry- to get him his Mexican birth certificate. It required paperwork galore, and we managed to get lost about 3 times on the way, but once we were there it was relatively painless. We sat for an hour while they processed our paperwork, and then at the end we all had to sign the certificate (M and myself, plus 2 grandparents that came as witnesses, plus Baby Boy). Baby Boy gave his thumb print; it was cute. A couple days later M had to go back and get our certified copies so that we could move on to the next step.




A week later we went to the American consulate to apply for his report of birth abroad and American passport. The situation is a mess there, and I don't want to get into details but it can raise the blood pressure of the coolest cat. The wait was not at all short and then we still had to come back another day to bring new pictures because ours had a slight shadow. Passport pictures + sleepy 2 week old baby= really really hard to get. It took us over a week of trying to get another picture that was acceptable. But now our documents have arrived, so we are ready to leave the country for our coming-up trip.

So that's our not-so-interesting story of how our little guerito got his documentation.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Difference

between parents of a crying baby and everybody else:


We want to know what's wrong (how to make it better); they want to know how to shut it up.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Better

A few days after our biggest low, Grandma came into town. And we needed all the help we could get. Per our conversation, our first day after she arrived we went to Costco, and then she and I took turns holding Baby Boy/ cooking, so that we could re-fill the freezer with a whole bunch of meals. She also helped me clean out the pantry, which had been a mess since the parents were in town two months prior. Actually since cleaning ladies #3 and #4 failed to show up, she did a lot of cleaning for us, which we are very grateful for. We had a real dinner every night. And I had some time to rest! in the middle of the day! and read my blogs and waste time online! So that was wonderful. The biggest thing though, was that Grandma realized what it means when Baby Boy eats every two hours (beginning to beginning) and why I have not had time to do almost anything. Well that, and the whole freezer full of food thing. :)


Since then, I've been getting us dinner on the table every night, because the entree is just a defrost and making a side/salad doesn't seem so overwhelming. And I've gotten some errands done with Baby Boy during the day because the house is not a mess. So we're optimistic, and the sleep "training" is helping too.

*BTW our cleaning lady count is at 5 and we don't see an end anytime soon. We're starting to feel like there's a jinx on us or somethin'...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Project Parents Need Sleep

At his 2 month birthday we started working on the Big Goal of sleeping through the night*. Our goals are:

1) Baby Boy can fall asleep on his own, i.e. not lying on one of us
2) Baby Boy can stay asleep for 5 hours (or more :D)
3) Baby Boy will sleep in his crib for more than 10 minutes

The idea is that later we will be able to combine all of the above and be able to put Baby Boy in his crib to sleep through the night. But let's not get ahead of ourselves; we're taking baby steps.

To tackle the first goal, we did a couple of days of swaddle baby + fall asleep on us. Then we transitioned to swaddle baby + cuddle with us + put him down groggy but not totally asleep + lots of shushing and staying close to him. After a few more days (when we were gasping for air) we pulled out the white noise machine. So now we are at the point of putting him down with white noise and staying close by. But he did it; he fell asleep on his own.




So then we started working on part 2- it took a few days where he was waking up after 3 hours or so, but since he wasn't crying for food, just being fussy, we picked him up and helped him fall asleep for a couple more hours before the next meal time. I think the key to this step is that he is nice and full before bed, so I've been pumping/giving him a bottle at the same time to make sure that he gets a good meal in (and he already recognizes the noise of the pump as meal time- amazing!).

We're trying to get a routine together, so before his last bottle, Baby Boy gets a nice bath which he loves! We keep the house dimly lit from around 8 pm and try to keep "play time" more quiet. I always feel like it is a race against time to try to get him down, but we are all going to sleep around 11 pm-midnight, so that's not too bad. I'm going to try and gradually push up his meal schedule so that we can go to bed around 10 pm, but that might take a while. At the very least I'm happy that we're usually sleeping by midnight and not still up at 1 or 2 am like his first weeks of life.

Currently he's getting up after 5 hours, and then 2.5 hours later again- which means that Parents are sleeping 4ish + 1.5 hours= big improvement!



So part three-the crib is in our living area right now and we are using it for naps. I must say that our starting point was : Baby Boy hates crib, i.e. wakes up every time we put him down even if he was fast asleep. Now we are getting short little sessions of alert time 10-15 minutes when he's willing to stare at his mobile, and sometimes he will sleep there for a little while too. We use white noise (water sounds) and he will stay asleep for about 15 minutes or so. I see this is going to be a long road, but little by little. We are so happy of the progress he's made on the first two parts that I can be patient with this one.


*At this point I feel it's too early to start sleep "training", but we are trying to establish good routines so that we can hopefully make a nice gradual transition. If we need to pursue an aggressive strategy we'll re-visit at a later date.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bassinet on the cheap

Short on cash? Use stuff you already have- a laundry basket and a blanket for a cushy alternative.



Also may be easily transported from room to room due to convenient handles.