Friday, May 30, 2014

The Lovie Story

The first thing I bought for Felix was this small lovie blanket.
It has whales in different colors and is a very soft material.
I was only 20 weeks pregnant, and at a birth and baby show feeling completely overwhelmed by everything I saw around me.
Breastpumps, carriers, swings, strollers, food, toys...I really had no idea what I was getting myself in to.
The intimidation that first time parents feel before their baby arrives is huge. 
But, when I saw this little lovie blanket, I knew that whoever this little boy was inside of me, he needed it. 
It was my first gift to my boy. 
It was special. 
Special because of how special I knew he was, and because the bond between a mother and her unborn baby is inexplicably special. 
Maybe it's the official acknowledgement of your love and care for them. It may have been my first realization of many, that "OMG I'm actually having a baby." I had a lot of those moments throughout my pregnancy -- and here he is almost 6 months old and I still think "OMG, I actually have a 6 month old".
Maybe it's all of those emotions swimming around inside of your heart that makes every small event having to do with your unborn child extra sweet and gushy and teary. But that lovie was safely placed by his crib until the day he was born. I never put it away anywhere that I could forget about (that happens all too often), it's like it was my special reminder that my sweet little boy would soon be here.

I waited patiently for Felix to be old enough to acknowledge this little lovie. You have to wait until he is grasping and noticing things like that. And of course you hear what the proverbial "they" say in the back of your mind, "nothing in the crib but the baby"... but sometimes mothers intuition trumps "they". Felix slept swaddled at every nap and through the night until he was about 5 months old. He was much too busy to have the freedom of movement of his arms! I still kept the lovie close to him, though -- still waiting for the right time.

When the sleep regression hit and my sanity flew out the window with it, I was left searching for options on how to get my poor child to sleep again. We started with a new wombie swaddle blanket, which keeps him zipped up tight, with one arm out and one arm in. We took the pacifier away, probably the best decision we ever made. After we took it, he was magically able to fall asleep on his own. And finally, we gave him that lovie blanket to hold, rub, and wave around as he fell asleep.
This was before the woombie blanket arrived and we took the paci! 
And just like that, Felix fell in love with his lovie. He has an impossible time falling asleep without it. He squirms and screams when I lay him down for a nap but as soon as he feels his lovie in his hand or on his cheek, he calms down and closes his eyes. Half of the time he ends up with it covering his face, and I promptly remove it and put it in the crook of his arm.

Yesterday I learned the hard way not to wash the lovie before nap time. When I transferred the load into the dryer the lovie got left behind in the washing machine, and then the unthinkable happened -- the dryer broke. There was no way I was sending him for a nap with a wet blanket. 
Well as you can imagine, nap time was a nightmare. 
He actually wouldn't sleep at all without the darn thing.
Have I created a lovie monster?
Thank goodness the wind was able to dry his lovie before bedtime, or else it may have been war. 

When he wakes up like this, happy as can be, I'm reminded of the journey we've been on.
From entering the scary world of babies and all the gear they come with, to having a thriving, happy 6 month old boy.

I'm reminded of how God meets us when we are at our weakest, and gives us something beautiful. He gives us something hard so He can give us strength. He walks us through the wilderness so we can see the joy that He has purposed for us. 

I'm so thankful for this special little boy. 
Bedtime wars and all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Exciting Uncertainty

It's been a quiet few months around here. I've been processing a lot of hard things emotionally, and I have a few unfinished, unedited blog posts that will probably never leave the "draft" box. My heart has been heavy with a lot of anger, confusion, and sadness -- some might call it mommy blues, some might say it's depression, I just think of it as a season where I'm trying to figure out where God is in my "new" life. 

Motherhood has been incredibly isolating so far. Yes, the online communities like Baby Center and Instagram exist -- but the physical, face-to-face interactions are lacking. I have always thought of myself as an introvert, but I have found myself aching for more adult interaction. Without a place to vent and share I have found myself to be harboring a ton of negativity and anger. I've been angry that people made empty promises. I've been angry at the cat, for whatever reason when Felix was born my brain decided to be irritated with her all the time. I've been angry at our living situation, because I'm starting to feel cramped and some days I wish we didn't live so far south away from people. I've been angry at our church, for various situations -- which hasn't helped me find God any more swiftly. I really hate the phrase "just give it to God", because it is oh so easy to say, and oh so impossible to do. But I know that what I must do, it's to stop giving these things so much energy and to let God take care of my heart instead. My heart has been ruled by my anger and frustration and I'm ready, I think, to shake off the cobwebs and be renewed again. 

We are about to enter a season of exciting uncertainty. Seth graduates in two days and soon after he will be taking exams which, when passed, he will be able to secure a job. I'm excited about the possibilities of where we might land. Of course it depends on where he applies, but I'm actually excited to move out of Gilroy and see where God puts us. I'm nervous too, about his pay, and his health insurance, and having to be fully financially independent again. We have been so well taken care of by his family while he has been in school, and we are incredibly grateful for that.

I'm ready for change. I'm ready for what this new season has, uncertain as it may be. We have our beautiful boy, who is changing and growing every day, and a God who cares, and has a great plan for us. I've been thinking about a new blog name to reflect this season, and to really reflect the way that our lives together have shaped up so far. We'll see when I have time/energy to mae that change happen! 

Until then, here is a little Felix update:
We decided to take away the pacifier and it changed our lives. Felix now sleeps and naps on his own with minimal fussing. He learned how to roll over and is now working on sitting up. We are still undecided about the MRI scan, currently our thought is that if he will need it at some point, than we should do it now while it only costs $50 copay and we don't know what our insurance will be like in a few months. He has a modeling interview tomorrow in San Francisco, my thought it is that it would be a great way to start a college fund and to try something fun and new. I'll leave you with this sweet cheesy portrait of him for now!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Felix Alexander: 5 months

Dear Felix,
What a big boy you are!
You are growing up so fast, I love seeing the little boy you are becoming.
I love your fuzzy hair, your expressive eyebrows, and when you stick your tongue out and smile.
You are definitely above 16 pounds now, though we don't go back to the doctor for another month so we'll have to wait to find out the exact number.

I wont lie, this has been a very hard month for us.
The 4 month sleep regression hit hard, like a ton of bricks. We first had to sleep train you, something I thought I'd never have to do. And now, just had to re-train you after I let some bad habits start while we were traveling.
You also hate napping, which is fun (sarcasm voice). Here you are with Dad having a serious talk about the disaster naps. 
Most days I call you "Turkey". I'm not sure how turkeys associate with being stubborn, but in my head they do. You little Turkey, you. You are still also called Bubba, Sir, Bubs, and Dude. 
Dad mostly calls you Dude.

Aside from the nap situation, you are doing well.
You ate your first solids (sweet potato), which you really like.
You get to try carrots next week.
You took your first plane ride to Portland. You did wonderfully on the airplane, which I was so thankful for. I had three people after the flight come up to me at baggage claim with the people that picked them up wanting to meet you. "He is just the happiest baby!"
I smile politely and say "Yes, you say that what happens when it's time to get him to sleep!"
I don't want to sound ungrateful. I'm just tired, and cranky, and wishing sleep was easier. 

You loved meeting your Auntie Mel and getting to see Tia Ashley again.
And they certainly loved loving on you!

I learned that traveling with a baby is no joke. It takes a lot of patience (more than usual) and a lot of planning. Sometimes people ask if you ever make a sad face, because you are always so smiley. 
Exhibit A

You tried a convertible car seat for the first time, I'm still not convinced you liked how far it had you sitting up. But it was definitely easier to get you in and out of the car. We'll wait a while longer before switching! 
Lately you can't get enough of your toes! They are always in your hands. It has become very difficult to keep socks on you, you just pull them right off in order to get to your toes!
Speaking of pulling, you are pulling on hair, shirts, faces...pretty much anything you can grab. This is funny until your hands are covered in your own slobber and spitup and I suddenly find your hand in MY mouth. Fun times Felix, fun times. 

You are still learning to roll, you keep trying to go from back to belly but only get about half way. Or you fall asleep in the middle of it. The sleep was only temporary of course.
It's amazing to me that you keep getting cuter. 
This month we have a meeting with a modeling agency so we can properly share your cuteness with the world. I'm excited for the opportunity for you! Which reminds me, we need to go shopping for a proper outfit! 

Also, I hope you don't spit up in the middle of your photoshoot/interview.
You and your Dad have a special bond growing.
You light up when you see him or hear his voice, it is so sweet to see. 
Though, I light up the same way when he's I guess I'm not too surprised. 
You love playing with new toys, especially ones that make noise.
You also love to chew on anything and everything. 
Your favorite is mom's fingers, but you do not limit yourself to arms, shoulders, key lanyards, and of course your own hands. 
You also recently discovered cold glasses, and don't waste any time bringing them straight to your gums!
We're still discovering how to make you laugh. 
Sometimes its flying in the air, sometimes its stealing your nose, and some days it just happens when you're so overtired that all you can do is laugh.
Maybe I should try that too, laugh at the situation instead of get frustrated. 

You're still not a huge fan of tummy time. I'm trying to keep it interesting, but you won't last more than 10 minutes most of the time. 
But naked tummy time, you don't seem to mind that as much. I'm just afraid of the potential mess if you're naked for too long! You have the cutest little tush, Felix. 
I am still unsure about you getting an MRI at only 5 months old.
I feel uneasy about it. It doesn't feel right.
Your sacral dimple doesn't have any of the other warning signs, and it is obvious that you have excellent leg strength.
And yet, with our insurance we can't really get a second opinion because the process of examaning your sacral dimple is the same. 
I don't like the doctor who I've been discussing it with either, he's a big jerk and doesn't know how to talk to worried parents. Part of me doesn't want to go forward with the MRI just so we don't have to meet him. Also, because I don't think it's necessary at this point. 
I'm going with my instincts for now, little one. I hope they're right. 

Lastly Felix,
I hope you know what a special and loved baby you are. 
You are quite the amazing little human, and I marvel at your life.
Some days are hard, but you are teaching me patience and humility.
Most days are awesome, you bring joy and laughter into our home.
I look forward to the many more days and years we have together.
I love you,

Monday, May 5, 2014

On Cloth Diapering: Because it's Not as Gross as You Think

Before you start thinking about how "gross" and "dirty" cloth diapering is, I want to take the veil off of the antiquated way of thinking. Cloth diapering has come a long way since the 50's age of rubber pants. There are countless options for cloth diapering. Pre-folds and covers, flats and covers, pockets, all in ones, disposable's overwhelming. 

We've been cloth diapering since Felix was about 1 month old. A lot of diaper brands will tell you that they fit newborns, but in reality they don't. Felix was skinny when he was born so he was swimming in the smallest fit!

Before having a baby everyone warns you about the massive blowouts of poo. And since he's been in cloth diapers he has had not one blowout, not even ONE, people. The only time he has had a blowout was when I was in Portland with him and he was in disposable diapers. Cloth diapers = poo containment.
As you can see here, at 3 weeks at the smallest size, the diapers were still huge!

Because I am lazy, and I already knew that prior to this, I wanted to go the easiest route. For us, that means all-in-ones or AIO. That means the entire diaper is one peice, no stuffing, no switching of cover, no refitting once it is on. We use the Bum Genius brand, and we have two different ones the "elementals" and the "freetimes". The Elementals are organic and the inside is made of organic cotton. The freetimes are made with microfiber which is very absorbent. Both of the shells are the same, so there is no issues switching between both kinds. Here are the two bumgenius styles:
Freetime (flaps open)

Freetime (flaps closed) 

Elemental (showing double layer of cotton - please excuse the stains!)
We also use pocket diapers, they are similar to AIO but you have to stuff the diapers before using them. I stuff right after washing, it saves a lot of time during a diaper change and also spares one from getting sprayed while stuffing. Felix is a heavy wetter, so we use two inserts per diaper. I prefer to use the bamboo/hemp inserts because they hold more, and leak less. We have two different kinds, Alva and Fuzzinbunz. I have a love/hate relationship with the Fuzzibunz diapers for a couple of reasons. The inserts are very thin, so you can only use their brand of inserts, also, instead of adjusting the size with the snaps you have to turn the diaper inside out and adjust the elastic around the leg which is confusing and annoying. I like them once they fit, but it is hard to get it just right!

Pocket diapers are often cheaper than the AIO (which are the most expensive). The Alva diapers are made in China and run about $6-10 a piece depending on the print. There are some people who think that because they are made in China that they are lower quality, I haven't found that to be true with Alva but they are the only made in China brand of diaper that I have. The Bum Genius diapers run between $17-20 a piece, you can find them in bundles of 6 for a cheaper price on Amazon but you don't get to pick the colors. Hence why Felix has one magenta diaper :)

I bought an extra set of bamboo/hemp inserts for our Alva diapers. Each diaper comes with two microfiber inserts, but reviews of long time CD'ers say that microfiber doesn't last as long and doesn't hold as much as bamboo or hemp.
Showing the open "pocket" with two inserts

Showing the inserts and what they look like outside the diaper

Both the Alva and the BumGenius brand diapers are a one size fits all system. There are three sets of snaps that serve as the sizes. The smallest size fits 8-16lbs, middle size 16-24, and largest is 24-33. I like that this system is idiot proof, all you have to do to make it tighter is adjust the snaps, you don't have to go inside and adjust the elastic on every single diaper (which takes a lot of time).
Here is a one size diaper in its largest size which shows all the layers of snaps:

Here is the annoying elastic with button system.
Note: You have to adjust both the waist and the leg elastic. Super annoying!

I don't have any knowledge of the pre-fold, flats, and cover diapers system. All I know is that it uses folded diapers and a snap which is then covered with a waterproof fabric which is made out of the same fabric that ours are on the outside. Some people prefer that way, some people prefer pockets and AIO.

If you are considering cloth diapering you will hear time again to try many different styles and see which you like best. It is a good suggestion, but you might end up like me and have 12 diapers (the fuzzibunz) that you don't really like. Good thing I bought them used, so I paid a discounted price to begin with! I plan on buying more Alva diapers in the future if needed.

Here is a pic of a fresh batch of clean diapers in the top drawer of the changing table dresser.
I have about 36 diapers total, which is a perfect amount for about 2.5 days! 

"Ok Jamie, I see these diapers are cute, fairly easy, and money saving...but what about the washing? Isn't that the worst part? "

No. It's not that bad.
You see, you will hear about how formula fed babies require extra maintenance in the cloth diapering department.
You usually hear that breastfed baby poop is water soluble so you can just throw it in the wash, well, after much research I found that you can do the same with formula fed baby poop - just make sure you do an extra rinse in the beginning.
I had to learn the hard way about the pre-rinse.
When its time to wash I throw all the diapers in on a hot rinse.
In between the rinse and the wash I shake all of the inserts out of the pocket diapers. Sometimes it's a little gross but a good hand washing rids me of the yuck after.
I wash on hot -- with tide (not a special cloth diaper soap, because they don't work)
Then do an extra rinse at the end.
Then I throw them in the dryer on low!
It's honestly that easy.
I do a diaper load every other day. 
We keep the diapers in a waterproof wet bag on the side of our changing table. It has a convenient bar on the table and the wet bag has a loop with a snap!

I have a couple of extra wet bags for when we are out and about. 
You throw the wetbag in the washing machine with everything else, of course you just have to unzip it and dump the diapers out first!

The best part about cloth diapers? 
The money saving. 
It costs between $3000-$4000 (depending on diaper choice) from birth to potty training for disposable diapers. 
These diapers, which we spent about $400 between all of the inserts and diapers themselves, will last us through potty training. 
That is a HUGE cost difference people. 

Other benefits?
- No blowouts
- Felix has never had diaper rash
-...they're just overall really cute 

I know cloth diapering isn't for everyone, but if you are looking for a way to save a lot of money with a new baby (or even an older one), cloth diapering is an awesome money saver! Overall, the experience has been great and no one who takes care of him is intimidated by them! 
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll try my best to answer!

Friday, May 2, 2014

On Travelling Alone with a Baby

This past week I travelled to Portland to hang out with my two besties who happen to live there. 
It was a bold move, yes. With a 4 1/2 month old who hates napping, who spits up a lot, and a mom whos already exhausted having just started the day. 

My first order of business was taking care of the car seat. I knew you could probably rent one from a car rental company, but I didn't need a car. As I suspected, you can't rent a car seat without a car. I'm glad I have a best friend named Google, because I was quickly hooked up with a company called Baby's Away. For a relatively low price you can rent baby gear and have it directly delivered to whoever is picking you up at the airport. I decided to try a convertable car seat, since that's what I've been thinking of switching to now that Felix is much harder to carry in the infant seat. The seat was not as easy to maneuver as I had hoped, and it took a heck of a lot of propping up to get it where Felix was properly reclined. I now know that research is key when trying to find a convertable car seat!

The other peice of baby gear to tackle was the crib. Felix is still small enough for a bassinet, so I found a travel bassinet from Eddie Bauer that was light and small enough to fit in our luggage. It was definitely a good purchase, and I would suggest it for parents who are on the go! 

Felix is definitely a high maintence sleeper, I brought his snuggler, swaddle and enough blankets to hang over the top of the bassinet to make it dark. He also likes the sound machine on the iPad. I look forward to the days he doesn't need all of this fluff to take a nap!

At home, we use Dr. Browns glass bottles. I prefer the glass because it is easy to clean, doesn't hold smell like regular plastic bottles, and I believe is safer than plastic. While travelling though, for convenience I used the Playtex drop-ins bottles. The liners are disposable, so the only think I'm left to wash is the nipples! 
The bottle was shaped differently so Felix had an interesting time adjusting to them. The funny thing was he was trying to hard to hold it that he ended up sticking his thumb in his mouth while he was trying to drink it! 

If there's one thing I've learned since having Felix, it's to just say yes. 
Say yes when people offer to hold him, even if he's crying. They know you need a break.
Say yes when people ask if they can help. 

Many times during this trip I felt like I was losing my patience. Scratch that, I did lose my patience.
I definitely cried. 
I definitely didn't tell Felix I loved him enough. 
I definitely was harder on him than I could have been.
And the truth is, I know he's not fighting naps on purpose. I know its not a secret plot to make me crazy. It's just what babies do! 
Gosh, I wish that truth made it easier. 

Whether it was difficult or not, I needed this trip so badly.
I needed a chance to disconnect from the hard stuff going on at home, and to reconnect with my girlfiends.
I needed to be filled up again. 

In between the nap fighting, Felix was a joy as usual. 
He lights up every room that he's in. 
He smiles constantly. 

He was even great on the airplane, both ways.
Overall, it was a great trip.
It was exhausting, and next time I may just leave Felix with my mom or mother-in-law for the weekend! Though, I have a feeling things may get easier has he gets older. 
I eagerly await the day he can hold his own bottles and sit up! Also, Seth will most likely be with me next time so that should help too!

Good thing we don't have any more big trips planned until August :)