September 17, 2012

6 Months! (with pictures)

Six months ago tonight, our precious tiny little baby entered the world, unsure of why she had been yanked from her cozy, warm bath and not knowing what to make of anything that was happening to her.

Tonight, she scarfed down a plate full of smashed banana mixed with rice cereal, helped feed herself by clutching the spoon and guiding it to her mouth, and, a little bit later, rolled onto her tummy to sleep for a few minutes before realizing that she's still not fond of this new position she has been putting herself in occasionally for the past three days.

What a difference six months makes!

I can't believe that much time has gone by. R and I still have cheeks that literally ache from all of the smiling. I'm still surprised at how at peace I feel, how (relatively) mellow I am about her. (Everyone around me is surprised too.) I'm still so very, very, thankful and grateful for every moment with her. I savor them all.

I don't post many pictures of her online (if you read the posts right after she was born, you've seen more pictures of her than those on my FB account have), but since it's a semi-milestone birthday, I thought I'd share a few:

This one was taken a couple months ago. It's one of my favorite candid shots of her.

I included this one because it's the best example of her hair color. Sometimes it looks red or brown in pictures, but she's still totally a blondie with blue eyes. Which still surprises me, since I'm used to the idea that ladies in our family (i.e. my mom and me) have dark brown hair and dark eyes.

This one was from 5 or 6 weeks ago. It's the first time she rolled from her back to her tummy and got both arms out from under her all on her own. We had just finished drying her off after her bath.

Look at that grin! So far, apples are her favorite food by far. Sweet potatoes and even bananas kind of look like the color of apples. When we give her those other foods, the surprised face she makes when she realizes what she's tasting isn't apple cracks us up.

So, there she is in photos. Happy 6-month birthday, amazing little girl!

September 11, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

While I was pregnant with Miss A, you may recall that I didn’t let myself buy very many things – it was too scary to do much in the way of allowing myself to prepare for her arrival.

However, one of the things I did allow myself to do was bookmark posts other IFers who had recently had babies wrote about some of the things they bought that they recommended. It was my way of living vicariously.

Since Miss A has arrived, R will testify to the fact that I have definitely been making up for lost time in the shopping department! ;-)

And, in the spirit of paying it forward, I’ve put together a list of some things we’ve bought that we really like and/or have found very helpful, along with a few things that we’re more “meh” about. I’ll start with the ones we used immediately, and save the others for a future post:

Baby ESP app –
Probably among the best $5 we’ve ever spent. Well, technically, $10, since we both downloaded it to our phones. It has a very easy way to track feedings, diapers, naps, play activities, baths, breast pumping, weight gain, growth, head circumference, and anything else you would like to track. (We created activities for tummy time and neck stretches, since she had a bit of torticolis when she was born.) When you’re sleep deprived and can’t remember what you did 5 minutes ago much less whether you fed baby 1 hour ago or 2 hours ago, it’s nice to be able to just quickly input it in your phone.

For those of you like me who get very excited over numbers and charts and stats, it has all of those too. And you can sync the data to the account, so even if you and your spouse aren’t together, both of you can be up-to-date on what the baby is doing. We have Android phones; I’m not sure if there’s an iPhone version of the app, but I would guess there probably is.

Sleeping gowns -
A friend of mine who had twins soon after we got the BFPs for Miss A recommended sleeping gowns. Her boys lived in them almost around the clock for their first three months, and so did Miss A. We like them because it’s easy to change diapers while the baby is wearing one, there are no snaps or buttons to have to deal with, and they cover the baby’s legs without requiring a separate pair of pants, especially during the first month or so while they’re all still curled up.

Where we live, the weather became hot right around the time Miss A was born and will remain obnoxiously hot until at least mid-October, so we like the Gerber and Circo brands because they seem to be a little bit more light-weight than some of the others. However, there are several brands that make sleeping gowns (including some designer name, organic, $40-per-each ones – yikes!), so there are ones made of warmer fabric, too.

Handsfree breastpumping bra - It’s amazing what you can find online! 36 hours into pumping (to boost supply during the first days after we came home from the hospital), I knew I couldn’t continue sitting there holding plastic parts to my chest for half an hour every time. So I Googled for a solution, and this is what I found. This particular bra is really thoughtfully designed, and really well made. I count it among my favorite baby-related purchases of all time. I use it multiple times a day now that I am pumping while she is at day care.

Gymboree Baby Play book -
I am clueless about early childhood development. I have no idea how to “play” with a baby. This book helped me realize that I was doing better than I thought, and it gave us some fun ideas for simple, new things to try. I got it used on Amazon for a couple of dollars plus shipping.

Aden & Anais blankets -
The friend who told me about sleeping gowns also told me about these, but I didn’t buy them at first because they are listed at about $50 for a pack of 4 on Amazon, and we already had some receiving blankets that we had bought when we were trying to adopt several years ago. Then another friend whose babies are a few weeks older than Miss A showed me one of them, and instantly I became a fan. They’re a lightweight cotton muslin that is very breathable, has a tiny bit of stretch to it, and is larger than other receiving blankets I’ve seen. Where we live, “breathable” is key.

I researched them on Amazon and discovered that there is a 44” x 44” version sold in major baby retailer stores for about $35 for a 4-pack, which some moms think are just as good as the original 47” x 47” ones and other moms think are horribly rough, scratchy, and poorly made. On Amazon, the original 47” ones are listed around $50 for a 4-pack, but if you click on it, there are actually 10-15 different sets of patterns, and some of them are priced a little bit less, including a few that are almost as low as the in-store price of the 44” ones. I bought a 4-pack of the in-store ones and then a couple of the 47” packs in designs that were about $38. (Yes, I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on these, but we use them a lot.) While I like the extra few inches of the 47” ones and they are slightly softer than the 44” ones, I don’t think you can go wrong either way.

First Aid books -
I saw these when waiting in line to check out at a baby store. They’re kind of pricey, but they have good information in a simple, easy-to-find-quickly layout. I bought three – one to keep in the upstairs changing table, one for the downstairs changing table, and one for the diaper bag. I didn’t want to buy one and then have worry about trying to remember where it was, or need it while we were out and about only to realize we left it at home. I’ve taken infant first aid/CPR, but I’m quite sure that if an occasion ever comes up that necessitates using it for Miss A (or any baby, for that matter), all of that information will drain right out of my head and I’ll need something to remind me what to do.

Diapers as burp cloths -
I got the premium size of these. We have some thin, flannel burp cloths, and those work well for laying under her head to protect the crib sheet if I lay Miss A in the crib for a couple minutes to go to the bathroom after she eats. But if she does a big spit up while I’m burping her, they soak through really quickly, so I wanted something that was a bit more substantial.

I didn’t understand how cloth diapers could possibly wick moisture away from a baby’s bottom in an adequate way until I bought these. She can do a major spit up, and after about 2 minutes, you can’t even tell that the cloth was spit up on at all. We bought a dozen, and then we bought 10 more. Totally worth it, and I can see them becoming dust rags for many years to come after we’re done using them as burp cloths. (Okay, as if I ever actually dust, but you know what I mean. :-) Maybe someday, if we ever get to the point where I’m not working full time, my domestic side will somehow magically appear…)

So as you can tell, I really have been making up for lost time in the shopping department. I was really clueless about baby gear and supplies before Miss A arrived, so I hope this is helpful to someone out there. I'm still feeling clueless about the stuff that is ahead of us and am definitely not an expert in any of this stuff by any means. More likes - and a few dislikes - to come in a future post.