Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What No One Told me as a First Time Mom

You've read What to Expect when You're Expecting. You're ready. You've got this. Guess what. Surprises happen. I'm not trying to be negative. If you know me, that is far from who I am. I just wish I had been warned about some things. Don't get me wrong, I did it a second time, and I'll be doing it a third time in a few months. Odds are, I'll do it again in a few years.

1. Don't expect to go into labor on your due date. Everyone is warned of this. This is obvious. You're told you full term could be as early as 37 weeks. The problem with this is that most 8 month old pregnant mothers hear this and are excited, and are sure they'll go early. What makes this worse is if your doctor/midwife tells you they think you'll go early, and you don't. That's torture. You should be prepared to go as early as 3 weeks, but don't expect it. Really. No matter how big you are, no matter how uncomfortable you get, don't expect it.

I was teaching when I was expecting my first baby. The last day of school was June 10, and I was due on the 24th. I thought, "How perfect, I'll finish school, then I can have the baby any time after that! Maybe even the day after!" I laugh at that thought now. Keep in mind I had gained 60 pounds and was miserable. After school, I was starting to get antsy. My midwife had told me it looked like I'd go early. My due date came and went. Another week went by with trying every labor inducing remedy (except castor oil). June 30th I picked up some castor oil, drank some, and went to bed. I woke up to the side effects at 4 AM. Then, consistent contractions! {Woot woot!}

All that to say, do not expect to go early. Be prepared to go early, but don't expect it. It could save you from getting depressed.

For my second baby, I went a week early. I whole-heartedly expected to go a week late. It was so much easier to expect the harder. Then, you're less likely to find it unmanageable.

2. Don't expect your water to break. It might. But odds are, it won't. It always does in the movies, I know. I think only like 25% of women experience this. With my second baby, labor was not as obvious. I had contractions 5 minutes apart right from the beginning. I was a week early so I thought, "Surely I'm not in labor. I just need to walk it off and drink some water." (That's what you do to get rid of Braxton Hicks.) After about a half hour, I actually got worried. Not every contraction even hurt. The doctor said to come in because they were close and consistent. I thought for sure she'd be sending me home. She did, but it was a few days later, and I had a baby in my arms. :)

3. Labor could take a while. At the end of my first pregnancy I watched the 19 Kids and Counting episode with their first grandson's birth. She was in labor for 11 hours. I told my husband after watching it that we could be in labor for a whole 11 hours! Wow, that's a long time!

My labor was 33 hours. Three of those hours were pushing.

My second labor was 11.5 hours. It went by fast because I was prepared for another 30+ hour labor. That labor was such a breeze because I had prepared myself for a much longer one.

4. You're not a failure if you can't have the natural birth you wanted. For my first baby, I was going to have a natural birth. I didn't even want an IV or anything hooked up to me. I could do it if I set my mind to it.

Well, turns out, I needed an IV because I tested positive for whatever that thing is they test at the end of pregnancy. Okay, that was manageable. Hours went by with contractions getting closer and closer. Thirteen hours into labor, contractions 1 1/2 minutes apart, I was talked into getting an epidural. Do you know what? I do not regret it. It was wonderful. Do you know what else? I had another 20 hours to go after that. There's no way I would've made it that long with those intense contractions by myself. With the epidural I was able to sleep for a few hours. Oh, it was so nice. I'm all for doing it naturally, but don't think you've failed if you can't. You're still strong. You just have limits. Odds are your husband would never go through any of that, so you're already stronger than him! I wanted to have nothing hooked up to me, but at one point I had 9, yes, nine, things hooked up to me. (Oh, and don't be scared of a catheter. I've had one with each, and you don't even feel it. {Yes, you may need a catheter. Another thing no one told me.} While we're on the topic, don't look at it before they put it in. Trust me on that one. Actually, don't look at anything they put in you-needles, tubes.)

For my second baby I planned on getting an epidural, but not until I felt ready. I wanted to labor naturally for a bit before I got one. That's exactly what I did.

You can still use natural remedies at home, and eat healthy if natural-ness is important to you. You don't have to prove anything during labor. You're pushing a watermelon out of an opening the size of a cherry. You're super woman either way.

5. Breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks. I'm friends with a mother of thirteen. I've seen her nurse her babies. It looks so easy and peaceful. How hard can it be? You know what? She's had practice. And when I've seen her do it, her babies weren't newborn.

Newborns are born with a sucking instinct, but that doesn't mean they know how to nurse. My first baby was diagnosed with a tongue-tie. She told me it'd be hard to nurse. (Turns out it wasn't tongue-tie, but a recessed chin, which made his tongue farther back.) I had to use a nipple shield at first. It was a rough first two weeks. Not only that, but it really hurts at first! Like really! Don't give up! The pain goes away, and then it usually becomes as easy as the veteran mother makes it look. It is also so beneficial! It only hurts for the first few minutes at each feeding. Come up with a way to deal with the pain. I used to stomp my foot. Some people hit their leg. After a few days it doesn't hurt anymore. So please, please, please do not give up. You made it through the labor, don't give up now. This too shall pass.

6. You still get contractions after labor. I know, right? That's not fair. When you nurse your newborn, you get contractions. It's all good though, because it helps your uterus shrink faster.

The worse news is that it hurts way worse with your second. Like, epidural-worthy. I even asked for one, sarcastically. This only lasts for like a day or two. Just be prepared. No one told me any of this.

7. You will still carry baby weight until you're finished nursing. Yes, they all tell you nursing will help you lose the weight faster. It's true. What they forget to tell you is that while you may lose it faster, you still keep the last 5-10 pounds until you've weaned. Trust me, it's mostly in your chest. You'll know what I'm talking about if you nurse.

8. Don't expect to sleep on your belly yet. Oh, how I longed to sleep on my belly again. This was going to be wonderful. Wrong. You are so engorged it's painful. If you're not on a steady nursing schedule, it hurts for a few months to sleep on our belly. I didn't get to until my first was at least 6 months old. With my second, I never pumped excess milk, and I strongly believe that's why I was able to lay in that position after about a month.

9. Do expect to be over-protective. I actually expected this, and I don't see anything wrong with this. You carried this baby in the most protective way possible, within the safe walls of your womb. You may have started watching what you eat right after finding out about your upcoming arrival. You want what's best for your child. Who doesn't?

We had to stop at Target on our way home from the hospital with my first baby. I had a receiving blanket covering his carrier in the store. I didn't want any yucky germs infecting my precious new baby.
Who doesn't love to see/hold/kiss new babies? When a mother brings her new baby to church for the first time everyone wants to love on him/her. Especially me. The thought of my new baby being touched by everyone just made me so nervous. I closely monitored each person that came close to him. I didn't think twice about asking the teen girls to wash their hands first. He wasn't a doll, after all.
My husband made a rule. No one under the age of 18 could hold our new baby while standing. Well, that didn't last too long. But anyways, new parents are very protective. I'm not even ashamed to admit that. Even with the second you're still protective at first. They have very pure immune systems. It's our responsibility to protect them.

10. Your baby will grow so fast, you'll wish time would stop. I've always heard {old} people say, "in the blink of an eye." You quickly understand what that means. Soon, your baby will be smiling, laughing, talking, teething, crawling, eating, walking, running, speaking sentences, wearing big boy undies, and you just brought them home yesterday. Seriously.

So, this is in no way meant to be a negative. I really did enjoy being pregnant and having a newborn. There were just a few things no one told me that I wish I was prepared for. I obviously did it a second time, and I will do it again this fall. It wasn't all as bad as it sounds.
A Little R & R

My Joy-Filled Life

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baby Products You Don't Need

I know I've only had two babies so far, but these are the products that I will not be using for my third. Some people swear by a few of these, but they are not necessities in my opinion.

1. Diaper Genie
When I worked in a daycare, we used one in the toddler room. I really didn't care for it. It still stunk. For me, it's easier to just have a grocery bag hanging on the door knob, and throwing it out each night. If it's a terribly smelly diaper, that one just goes right outside. Or double bag that one. Some people love it. To each his own.

2. Changing Table
I don't have one. My mother-in-law told me I could just put a changing pad on the top of the dresser. Ha! Brilliant! With my second baby, I just usually change him on my bed or the floor. Sometimes I use the couch. It's just easier to change him where you are.

3. Changing Pad
I used one more for my first baby than my second. I put it on top of his dresser. (See item 2.) It was in a convenient location. It was so much easier to just change my second baby on my bed. If straining your back is a concern, kneel. Or sit on the bed.

4. Wipe warmer
Ha. My babies have never needed one. I don't even know why people get these. Does anyone use them for very long? Maybe just put the package of wipes by a heater if you want to have warm wipes for your baby's hiney. I've never been worried about it.

5. Bottle warmer
This might be convenient at times, but You can just use a small crockpot. You could just put it in a bowl of hot water, or even hold it under hot, running water. Unless someone gave me one, I wouldn't use one.

Some people may have used some of these items with success. If you're like me, then you're trying to figure out if you really need certain products for your new baby. Maybe you go without these products but decided you really need it. In my opinion, it's better to go without, decide you need it, then buy it rather than buy it then not use it.

Check out the Baby Products I did need.
Also, 10 Things No One Warned Me About as a First Time Mom.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Must-Have Baby Products from a soon-to-be Mother of THREE

Yes, {soon-to-be}. We found out on Valentine's Day that we're expecting another baby.
Today I started thinking of where my baby items were, and which ones I'd want to find the most.
That led me to start thinking of the products that I would be very sad to lose. Just like any new mother, I registered and bought many things. And like most mothers, I quickly figured out which things I didn't really need. Many of these are preferences.

Must-Haves for babies:
1. Boppy Pillow

This has many functions. Oh. My. Word.
A. It's great for nursing your newborn. I mean, AWESOME. Especially your first. It brings the baby up higher, and it makes it easier on your back. Trust me.
B. It's good for when you need to set the baby down. I used to put R down to nap next to me on the couch with one of these things. {Especially before they get too wiggly.} Of course, this is mostly only useful for newborns.
C. You can lay them on their bellies, supported up by the pillow for tummy time.
D. When your little one starts sitting, put this pillow around them so if they do fall over they don't bump their heads on the floor behind them.
E. Older kids, {At least my weird one} likes to lay on one, especially when his little brother does, too. That's why I have two.

You can get these at pretty much any store that carries baby supplies. I've seen them at Babies-R-Us and Target. I'm pretty sure Walmart even caries them. My nice looking one was a shower gift for my first son, and the other one was just a dollar at a garage sale. I just stuck it in the washer before I let my son use it. I have a feeling I should start looking for another one because my sons won't want to give theirs up yet. That's okay because I have a whole season of garage-sale-ing ahead of me.

2. A Playpen {play yard}

I guess it's called a play yard because you put animals like pigs in pens. Well guess what, my mom always called it a play pen, so that's what I call it. And you know what? Sometimes pigs are cleaner than my children. Anyways, we got this at a garage sale also. It came with a bassinet level, a diaper changing level, and a place for diapers and supplies. I guess they also come with mobiles and even carriers now. Anyways this has always come in handy. I didn't use the diaper-changer much, but I used the bassinet level quite a bit before my first son started crawling. It was a nice place to just be able to put the baby down and keep him in the living room.
Eventually he outgrew that part, and the main part of the playpen is an excellent place to let them play, but confined. My oldest didn't like it that much once he realized there's more to explore outside of it. After a while the only time he went in it was when I took my shower. I'd turn on a recorded episode of Mickey Mouse and set him in there. Actually that still works. He still has never tried to climb out. I know that is not true of all kids, but I'm lucky.
When I had my second baby, I never put the basinet part back in, because I still used it for my older son. I didn't put the younger one in there as much, especially unsupervised, due to the fear of my older son throwing something in at him. He knows better now. I just had to make sure before I trusted him. Still, at 2 1/2, I'd put him in there if I needed to be sure he was confined somewhere.

3. A Jumper

Once they can support their head and body enough, I put them in this wonderful product. Oh, it keeps them occupied and happy for so long. There's plenty to keep him entertained on it. I love it. Again, this could vary from child to child. My 12 month old still goes in there. After they start walking, they don't become as interested in it anymore. It's another place to put them that is safe.

4. Nosefrida

I didn't get one of these until my second baby. I only got one a few months ago, actually. With my first son, I only had to suck out his nose maybe once in his first two years. Seriously. My second son always had boogers in his nose. Always. We eventually found it was much better after I eliminated dairy. Still, he gets more boogers than my first. I was always sucking his nose so the poor guy could breathe. Sometimes I'd make him bleed. It made me so sad, but he needed to breathe. I don't even want to think of what the inside of that thing looks like. Ick. {shudder}
Then, I came across this. Oh, it is so nice. You actually use your own suction from one end, and put the other end right at the opening {not shoved in} of their nose. Suck away. Your suction brings the mucus from down deep, since they can't blow their own nose yet. I know it sounds really gross. Just the mention of it makes my husband gag. {It's actually funny to me watching him gag.} There's no way you'll end up with snot in your mouth if you use it right. There's a filter. Even if it somehow made it through the filter, there's a long hose. If you have a baby who frequently has a yucky nose, you'll love me after reading this. Trust me.

5. A Vibrating Seat

Wow. My son slept in this for like a month. Our basement floods, so I made sure this was way off the floor. There's no way I'm going without one of these.
This also was from a garage sale. The dangly-toy thing comes off so it's easier to put smaller babies in without bonking their head on it. They really don't care at first anyways. But this seat is like the baby whisperer of products. I didn't use one for my first son. {First-borns tend to get held and spoiled more.} My son used this until he was trying to sit up straight in it. That was a sad day.

6. A Rocking Cradle
I don't have a picture of mine because it has other baby things in it in storage. When they're newborn and can't move around, this is wonderful. Mine has a stopper in it so I can make it stationary if I want. I liked that if he woke up and wiggled a little, it'd rock, and sometimes it was just enough to rock him back to sleep.

7. Bumbo Seat

This is great for those who need support sitting. My oldest used it all the time. I would sit him in there with a few toys, and get some housework done.

8. Crock pot

I know it's not a "baby" product, but if you have a baby, seriously, get one. Oh, they are such a time saver! With my first, I held him a lot. It's nice until you have to put him down to start dinner. For months, the only way we could eat dinner was by starting it in the crockpot during his nap. I became a pro at converting meals to the crockpot. I don't make lasagna in the oven anymore. This is my best friend. I have three this size and two smaller ones. My medium sized one broke, and I really miss it.

Check out the Baby Products I didn't need.
Also, 10 Things No One Warned Me About as a First Time Mom.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Homemade Garlic Oil

Garlic is a very strong herb for immunity. I'm pretty sure I read you could go years without getting sick if you ate enough garlic every day. You might stink, but you'd be healthy.

When my son was sick last week I was desperate. He was so miserable, coughed like a smoker every few seconds, and had a serious booger nose/faucet. Some "crunchy" friends of mine suggested "goot." {huh? What's that???} Yeah, that's what I said. Goot is Garlic Oil OintmenT.
Homemade Garlic Oil:
3 Tbsp. Organic Coconut Oil
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Pressed Garlic (I only used about one Tbsp. It still worked great.)

Heat up your coconut oil so it's not in a solid form. I put mine in a bowl, then put that bowl in another bowl of really hot water. Add your olive oil (extra virgin is best) and your pressed garlic. Stir. Let it solidify in the fridge for a few hours. Store it in a sealed container. It's not recommended for use after two weeks. Don't throw it away, though! It's all edible, so brush it on some grilled chicken or something! Mmmm..

Seroiusly though, coconut oil can heal just about anything, and garlic has incredible healing properties, itself. This stuff is awesome! My husband can't stand the smell, but it makes me hungry. It reminds me of alfredo. Guess what I'm having for dinner tonight... Alfredo!

Homemade Vapor Rub

When you or your kids get sick, please, oh please, do not use the nasty stuff in the blue jar. Please just don't.

When my little R got sick last week, he needed something to help with his cough.
After a little research I decided to make my own vapor rub.
{drum roll, please}
It is so easy! As long as you have all the ingredients, there's no reason not to use this instead.

Homemade Vapor Rub:
1 Tbsp. Organic Coconut Oil
4 drops Peppermint oil
4 drops Lemon oil
4 drops Eucalyptus oil

Heat up the oil so it's not solid. (Preferably not microwaved) Combine all ingredients in a sealable container.

See? Easy Peasy!

Tips to Keep your Family Healthy

I really don't like when my boys are sick. Who does, right? I find that when I listen and adhere to the following advice, they don't get sick as often.

1. Eat real food. This one is hard, but true. As much as I don't want to admit it, Taco Bell is my weakness. I can't help it. And my husband knows it. He knows if he mentions it, I'll always give in. Always. To avoid him bringing it up, I try to always have a meal planned that he'll enjoy.
     More so than eating out, because really, we only eat out like 2-3 times a month, is doing your grocery shopping wisely. Unfortunately, like many others, our budget won't allow for 100% of our food to be real, and unprocessed. I just pick and choose my battles. Our spaghetti sauce doesn't need to be organic, but we do need to buy gluten free spaghetti. Stay away from refined sugar, bleached flours, and artificial sweeteners. The obvious stuff.

2. Use/diffuse essential oils. Thieves from Young Living is a good one. I (when I remember) rub some on my boys' feet before I put them in the church nursery, go out to a public place, or take them outside when it's cold out. Even just smelling it straight from the bottle is known to be beneficial.

3. Know you won't get sick. I know it sounds silly, but this really works for me. Proverbs 23:7 says,  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: I only applied this verse after a few years of knowing this tip. I whole-heartedly believe in this. My husband, on the other hand, knows he will get anything that goes around. I told him about the bad flu going around, and he said, "Great. I'm going to get that, too." Also, a few weeks ago my husband came home telling me how he had thrown up his lunch. I asked, "Who did you find out was sick?" He was shocked, because that's exactly what had happened. A co-worker had told him he was up all night with the flu. (My husband showed no other signs of the flu.)
     Around the same time I detected a slight discomfort in my throat, but I kept attributing it to a dry throat. I would not let myself believe I was getting sick, because as soon as I did, I would get worse. Do you know what happened? It was the shortest sore throat ever. (For me, anyways.)
     Just don't get it in your mind that you'll get sick. It will help. Try it! Of course, it won't always work, but there's no point being down all the time about catching everything.

4. Eat a lot of garlic. You might stink, but garlic is really good for your immune system. I personally like garlic. A lot. That also might be why I don't get as sick.  Garlic is more powerful than you might think.

What if you or your children do get sick? Good question, seeing as my youngest was just sick with a really bad cold. I didn't feel he was sick enough to merit a doctor visit, because I wasn't going to give him antibiotics anyways, so I asked for advice from a few "crunchy" friends. I was already applying thieves to his feet, homemade vapor rub to his chest, and standing in the steamy bathroom with him.
     I found that lavender is an antihistamine and helps dry up mucus. The next three days, every hour, on the hour, I'd apply lavender to this chest, vapor rub on top of that, and homemade garlic oil to his feet. Literally within the day his nose was so much better. We also diffused oils at night in his room. (I believe eucalyptus and peppermint? My husband picked out the oils.) After those three days he was so much better! I saw improvement after one day, but three days later all he had left was a left over cough and an occasional booger. I also made him a smoothie. We only had vanilla almond milk in the house, so we blended milk, a frozen banana, some honey (for his cough), raspberry flavored emergen-c, and some vitamin d drops. He loved it! It was really sweet due to the honey. My older son found it after half was gone, and he finished it all at once!
     He also had a fever, but a fever is the body's natural response to something in the body. A low-grade fever is good, so I never did anything, because I wanted his body to do what it needed to do.
     My in-laws, and my husband and I also fervently prayed the first night he was sick. That was a big help, because the Great Physician is the greatest healer.

I am not a doctor, nor have I had any medical training. These are just a few tips that has helped our family.