Thursday, October 30, 2014

Things That Surprised Me About Motherhood and Babies



The crick in your neck you get from looking down to watch your sweet angel nurse (I swear it's when they look the sweetest).

How many muslin swaddle blankets, and blankets in general, I use on a daily basis.

How spit up, at least for now, dries clear and I've got no problem wearing clothes around that secretly are covered in it (who has time to change??).

That putting a sleeping baby down is like setting down a highly sensitive bomb...that usually goes off mere minutes later.

That babies habituate. Meaning they sort of pretend they are asleep...tricky, tricky.

Inspecting poop color is just part of the job.

How many things you google in those first few weeks.

How important having a good book to read is considering your spend at least a quarter of every 24 hours nursing.

It's nearly impossible to put together a semi-cohesive outfit with the scream of a newborn ringing in your ears.

How addicting clothes shopping for your little one can be.

How quickly you learn to do your hair and makeup...and how your standards of what acceptable hair and makeup are change. So do your standards of what constitutes getting dressed.

That you don't know what to do with a newborn that is awake since they can't really see all that well, don't understand toys, and that awesome play gym/mat thing is of no interest to them yet. So you just try to get them to go back to sleep again.

Envying working mothers (please don't take this as any intention to spark a debate on working vs nonworking mothers!!), because they get a little bit of a break during the day.

Also envying your husband because he not only gets a break, but life in general doesn't change that much for him in the first few months after the baby is born.

How non-fragile your baby is.

That those fruit and veggie pouches intended for babies and toddlers, actually make great food for mamas who don't have a spare hand to actually fix something decent to eat.

How terrified you are that your baby will have a meltdown while you are out in public...usually the grocery store.

No matter how much you want to, or how many people advise you to, it's really hard to sleep when the baby sleeps...especially if there are things you need to get done, or simply because it's really hard to turn off your brain on demand mid-morning, or in the afternoon.

How you sometimes long for those days when it was just you and your husband being wild and free...this usually happens along with a burden of guilt for feeling that way...and also occurs most often in the wee hours of the morning when all you want to do is sleep. But at least you can chock those feelings up to sleep deprived deliriousness.

How hard it is to stay hydrated. Somehow your water bottle is never in a convenient location.

How dry your lips get, even though you have chapstick strategically placed all over the house, but for some reason never remember to apply it when you're near it.

How sore (and hard!) your boobs get when they are full.

That not every baby likes pacifiers.

That for it to be a completely natural process, there is so much to know and learn about breastfeeding.

The astounding amount of gas a tiny baby can have.

How good your hearing gets when there are little cries and grunts to be heard.

How many times you check your baby to make sure they are still breathing...especially if they actually nap or sleep for long period of time.

Learning that you never "wait" to use the bathroom. If you have a chance, you go!

How much babies move during sleep.

Finally understanding that you actually do have to learn how to do just about everything one handed.

How little you care about whipping a boob out no matter where you are to feed your hungry baby. After childbirth your concept of modesty is permanently altered, not to mention your baby's needs come before any notion of someone else's comfort...but I do still use a cover in public. True story: While we were in Germany we walked down "cardiac hill" for dinner, and at the end of dinner Aubrey  decided it was time to eat, and no, she was not waiting until we could make the 15 minute walk back up the hill. In a sort of panic I ended up frantically trying to maneuver my shirt out of the way so I could nurse her in the Boba wrap, while walking the hill, and panting and sweating. This also happened again one day when we were walking around Kaiserslautern. The nice thing is that if you have a blanket over the Boba, you can be walking around nursing your baby and no one is the wiser!

How many hangnails babies get.

How much babies skin peels once they are born.

How hard it is not to pick at baby acne.

That you actually love your baby's breath.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Staying Green And Natural With A Baby

Taking care of a baby produces a lot of waste. Like a whole lot. If you think about the fact that they go through anywhere from 6-14 diapers a day, and of course you've got to use wipes every time you change them, as well as diaper cream...it really adds up. Then there are the plethora of lotions and potions meant to make your baby clean, soft and heavenly smelling.

As someone who almost has their beauty products down to about three items, I just didn't see myself approaching our baby's skin care any differently. Sometimes less is more, at least for me. So for now here is what we've been using.

DIAPERING
We cloth diaper. I understand how it can be a bit intimidating, as well as a little gross in perception, but in reality after using disposables for the two weeks we were in Germany, and now having used cloth for just over a week, I'm an even bigger advocate for the cloth.

Pros:

  • The cotton feels and breathes much better on baby's bum, AND lessens the likelihood of diaper rash.
  • You never really run out of diapers - they are just a load of laundry away from being restocked.
  • They save money. I think we (well the people who gifted them to us) initially invested around $300 to start off with 18 pre-fold size 1 diapers, 18 pre-fold size 2 diapers, 3 size 1 one covers, 3 size 2 covers, 2 all-in-one one size fits all diapers, and a 3 pack of snappis. This should last us until she is about 30 lbs. Considering we were paying $9-10 for around 30 disposable diapers (if you're doing the math, that's only about 5-6 days worth), in the long run they pay off...and they can be used for future siblings. 
Cons:
  • You have to do laundry every other day - which does use water, and thus also creates waste and uses resources.
  • There are times when you have to carry around poopy diapers until you can get home and wash them.
  • They're not ideal for travel.
I feel like using cloth diapers has been really easy, and not as much work as it would seem. I've also been drying most of them in the sun instead of using the dryer, which not only saves electricity, but also "bleaches" any residual stains out in the process (I am amazed at the power of the sun for bleaching!).

We also use reusable cloth wipes. I just throw them in the wash with the diapers. I made a diaper spray to use with them that I have also learned makes a great "treatment" for baby acne (I just wipe her face down before I clean her bottom, and then rub on some coconut oil).

Pre-folds we use here.
Diaper covers we use here.
Snappis we use here.
All-In-One Diapers we use here.
Reusuable cloth wipes we use here.

Diaper Spray Recipe:
  • 1 capful Witch Hazel (optional)
  • 1 tsp. body wash (recipe below)
  • Water (to fill bottle)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small spray bottle (I used a 4 oz bottle for this recipe). 
  2. Spray on cloth wipe and use.
CREAMS & LOTIONS
This is a case of the K.I.S.S. motto (keep it simple stupid). We use coconut oil. End of story. It's the perfect lotion, and it's antibacterial and antifungal making it a great diaper cream (that won't clog the fabric of the cloth diapers). I also use almond oil from time to time, which is what I use personally for a moisturizer. 

BATH TIME
I made a body wash a while ago for Will and I to use, and because it's made from all natural ingredients that are great for sensitive skin, it now works beautifully as a body wash for Aubrey. We only use a very small amount, and sort of dilute it in the bath water since newborns don't exactly require a great deal of soap and scrubbing. 

Body Wash Recipe:
  • 1 c. Sweet Almond Oil (what I use)
  • 1 c. Coconut Oil, melted (what I use)
  • 2 c. Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap (I like to use the lavender scent, but I also have the unscented to use - you could also use the unscented and your favorite combo of essential oils)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass container and shake to combine. 
And that about wraps it up. The only other product we've used was the Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray. I bought it for myself for postpartum recovery (HIGHLY recommend!), but learned from our doula that it is great for spraying on baby's cord stump to help it heal. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Life With A Newborn

I used to think that when I held a friend's baby for a while I was being a huge help. Surely she would appreciate the break in responsibility, the chance to hold her beer without having to balance her child with the other, to turn over the "weight" of a baby for a few minutes.

Man how right I was.

I keep seeing all these posts of my friends (it is the baby boom of 2014 after all) with their new babies expressing their love and happiness over their little bundles of joy, and in all honesty, I just wish they would post that they are also exhausted, understand why some animals eat their young, and that a glass of wine in front of the TV without checking the baby monitor obsessively is a newfound dream of theirs as well.

Life with a newborn is hard.

I love our baby, but I'l tell ya, when I look at that monitor and see that she is sleeping peacefully, I give myself a pat on the back, my shoulders release a little tension, and I sort of feel like myself for a tiny second...and then she screams at an octave I never knew existed.

How someone so tired can fight sleep so hard is beyond me. While I know I'm not doing anything "wrong," I've never wished for the wisdom and help of my mom, grandmothers, aunts and great aunt, and mother in law so much. This is a time that being away from family and friends is extremely hard.

You don't have someone there to reassure you that your baby spitting up every time she eats is perfectly ok. Or to share the responsibility when she hasn't napped all day, isn't hungry, has a clean diaper, and just needs to be held and rocked some more, even though your arms are numb and you feel like a zombie. Or to offer you a much needed break, willingly and lovingly.

I feel like I've never googled so much in my life. And surprisingly found so little about life with a newborn in those first few weeks. Sure there are schedules and and theories for sleep training and happy babies...and from what I've learned they all apply to babies a few weeks farther down the road than we are. No one likes to admit that in those first few weeks, you are in survival mode. All those rules regarding SIDS, safe sleeping, and proper parenting are thrown out the window. You will do whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep...so you can sleep.

We lived in a hotel room with a crappy pack 'n play for a crib for the first two weeks of Aubrey's life. She hated the pack 'n play. And I mean hated it. We were left with two options. Let her sleep with us...her most preferred way to sleep, or to strategically feed her on a pillow and transfer said pillow to the crib, expertly propped up against another pillow, with a blanket laid over her. It's not that we are against co-sleeping (I TOTALLY get going that route), but we have always felt strongly about keeping our bed our own, so that left option two. Now that we home, those hotel pillows have morphed into the nursing pillow and Will's baby pillow, that somehow mimic being held to her tiny brain. And that is only sometimes successful.

I know I'm not failing as a mother, but at times that's how I feel. I reminisce about the times I could sit with my husband on a Friday night and watch some movie and drink too much wine. I long for a full night's sleep. I look at my baby and pray and beg God to just let her sleep.

And sometimes she smiles (I know it's unintentional) and I forget all the frustration. I feel that joy of being her mother, and seeing her happy...for just a moment.



I know it's those moments that fuel a mother to keep going.

Newborns are a lot of work, a lot of stress, and not really that much fun I've learned (except when they are sleeping, and they look simply angelic)...but I know that soon it will lead to more of those moments where she makes our hearts melt.

I always thought those new parent support groups were a bit silly, but now I totally get it. Not just get it, I'm looking for a group to join :)

Here's to one month down (this Thursday)! Achievements I'm proud of - I've showered everyday, Will and I have both gotten cloth diapering down pat (although she is pictures in a disposable above), Aubrey (sort of) put herself to sleep the other night (with some help, and a paci - but it's progress!), the dogs don't seem to be too upset having to fight for attention and my inadequate number of hands, and so far we have a healthy baby...and that's most important of all!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Storknesting Sightseeing: Neuschwanstein Castle & Fussen, Germany

We jokingly called this trip a fairy tale trip, but in all reality it kind of was (mainly because mama got to drink champagne at breakfast - I kid - actually no I don't haha!). 


I had been wanting to see the castle that inspired Disney's Cinderella castle, but when we didn't make the 4 hour drive before the baby came, I gave up hope and put it on my wish list for a later trip.


Reason # 492,751,063 that I love my husband - he doesn't let much stand in the way of his need for adventure (even if it requires a little work sometimes - like managing a week old newborn), and taking his new little princess to see the ultimate fairy tale castle was an experience he wasn't going to pass up. 


After a few days of research we decided to stay in Fussen, a picturesque (<-- huge understatement) town located about 5km from the Neuschwanstein castle, in the heart of Bavaria.


We stayed at the Hotel Sonne which ranked #1 on Trip Advisor for the town. We soon learned that the breakfast alone was probably enough to win the #1 title. We enjoyed it so much that immediately after breakfast the first morning, Will went directly downstairs and extended our stay another night.


Breakfast (included in the price of the hotel) was a spread of about everything imaginable you could want. A hot bar with eggs, quiche, and breakfast meats. A selection of cold cuts and sliced cheese. Fruit and yogurt. Smoked salmon and cured meats. Gourmet soft and hard cheeses. Cured sausages. Marinated olives. Fresh pastries. 

And best of all...champagne and a machine that would squeeze fresh oranges at your command. 


No longer pregnant, and starting to get over all the afterbirth pains, sitting at this beautiful hotel, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, and sipping champagne to my heart's content felt like an absolute dream. I could kiss my husband again right this second for make that a possibility. I needed it more than I realized. 


We spent the first afternoon walking around Fussen and looking for a good place to eat. The town itself is almost too perfect to be real. Sporting all the bright colors of the rainbow and fitted just so with blooming flowers at every doorstep and window, it really looked like something out of a child's picture book.

For dinner that night we ate at Restaurant Aquila which turned out to be a hidden gem. I had a dish of venison medallions and spaetzle covered in a rich, brown gravy, and Will had wild boar roasted till it fell off the bone. I think we talked for a solid 24 hours after that about how good it had been, and marked it down as our new 2nd best meal we've ever had (our number one remains Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder, CO). 


The next morning we made the short trip to the castle. The place where the castle sits is almost too pretty for words. It's almost too pretty that it hurts your eyes to see such beauty. It's so pretty that Will and I decided if we ever come into astounding wealth, or if the zombie apocalypse ever comes to fruition, we will be moving here and taking over the castle so we can just spend our days looking at God's beautiful creation.


The castle tour was a short 30 minute stint, and they didn't allow pictures in the main areas unfortunately. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of detail and craftsmanship that people were capable of before they had today's modern technology and machinery. Although we did learn that King Ludwig II was on top of the latest modern amenities for his time, and even had running water in the castle! 


He also had a weird obsession with swans. I think they told us there were over 100 different depictions of swans found throughout the castle. Some of the rooms had swans painted repetitively across all four walls!


The view was...well, you can see for yourself.


Thanks to the lifesaver that is the Boba wrap, Aubrey slept the entire tour making it possible for mom and dad to relax and enjoy it.




I may have oohed and ahhed out loud when I saw this kitchen. They had those beautiful copper pots tied down with metal cable or I might have tried to take one (or ten) home with me :)









Our last night in town we went out for a beer at what we determined to be a local hangout (and man did it feel good to be able to do that again!). 


Then we grabbed dinner and spent the evening walking around one last time...and grabbing some gelato.


We were pretty sad to leave, and were SO glad that we were there during the Fall season. I really don't think we could have seen a better display of all the beautiful colors. 



This ended up being our last trip while we were storknesting. We had a list of about 10 other places we would have liked to have gone, but time ran out (as did my energy). I don't know how we deserved to get to have such an amazing, once in a lifetime experience of having our baby girl and getting to travel as much as we could find time to fit in, but I am so, so grateful. Beyond grateful. I don't think I've spent one minute not thanking God for it.