November 11, 2012

Homemade baby corduroys 18-24 months old

I made these for the little man during a sewing class at Fancy Tiger, my favorite neighborhood craft shop.  Classes are usually 2-3 hours long and provide a set amount of time to focus and complete a project—not to mention gain new skills and access to a great crafting community.  

October 31, 2012

Great baby services and resources in Denver

Because we ended up working with Mountain Midwifery, Denver’s birth center, for prenatal care and birth services, we were exposed to an amazing community of service providers and local resources that most people probably aren’t even aware of, and we took full advantage. Even if you don’t live in Denver, that doesn’t mean these types of services aren’t available in your area too.

Dr. Michael Hall, OB/GYN – The best in the area if you are interested in minimal invasive birth. If you are in the Denver area and your insurance covers Dr. Hall, don’t think twice about your OB/GYN, contact Dr. Hall.

Heather Thompson is an amazing postpartum doula. We had no idea what a postpartum doula was until we needed one. (Postpartum doula’s are birth and newborn care experts who support parents right *after* birth). I highly recommend contacting her if you have any questions or personal needs after birth. You might ask why would you need someone after birth to support you, but if you can imagine coming home for the first time and trying to take care of a brand new baby who won’t eat and won’t sleep while recovering from a traumatic birth experience and not sleeping for 3 days, well, she was our savior. She came to our home twice for two hours and answered all of our questions from simple ones like is it okay if the baby sleeps in the swing if he won’t sleep anywhere else, how do we best bath a baby, why won’t he latch, why was birth so hard, how come we feel for miserable. She even wrote down a list of routines and resources to aid in immieidate needs and on-going newborn care. You can find her at Mountain Midwifery and learn more about her on their About Us page here.

Apothecary Tinctura – This is where you can get all of the natural herbs and remedies you may want or need after birth. If you don’t think you’re a touchy feely natural medicine person, still keep this place in mind. Birth is probably the most intensely natural experience you will ever have, and if you have any medical needs, you probably won’t feel comfortable seeking conventional medicines – this is where you’ll want to go. You can get herbs to aid mom’s physical recovery after birth, milk production and soreness, etc. Check it out. You’ll see what I mean. And don’t be afraid to send your husband here after birth with a list of issues you need to address regarding recovery and baby care after birth. They are incredibly helpful.

The Mother’Hood – A business in Denver that offers support services for new parents, people with babies and toddlers. Don’t try to figure everything out on your own – take advantage of these workshops and classes. They are very reasonably priced and give you access to the best baby experts in town, not to mention a great community of like-minded people and the best books and products available. The Mother’Hood offers so many great resources but here are few that were especially useful for us.

Breastfeeding support group at The Mother'Hood – If you have any issues at all with breastfeeding, get yourself to this support group ASAP. (Or contact Amanda Ogden directly for a home consultation.)

Sleep support group at The Mother'Hood – This support group saved as when our baby was about 1 years old and would no longer go to sleep on his own. Within a week after attending one class, our baby was sleeping through the night, without crying it out, which never felt right to us! You can attend when your baby is any age. (Or contact Patience Bleskan directly who teacher the class and who is a local baby and toddler expert in many areas.)

Developmental Playgroup at The Mother'Hood – Also taught by Patience Bleskan, you learn about baby and toddler play and development, can ask questions, all while your baby gets to play with other babies and creative activies.

Playgroup - the little ones eat everything,
so they can't play with stuff like sand and clay yet,
but oatmeal works for a sandbox!

Patience Bleskan We’ve also taken Potty Training and Discipline with Yes classes with Bleskan. She is awesome and thinks just like we do.

Mountain Midwifery – The only real birth center in Colorado filled with amazing midwives who take good care of expectant families. If you can’t work with Dr. Hall, go here. If you do, Dr. Hall in their backup doctor. Just make sure your insurance covers both.

Amanda Glen We met with this Doula the day before I went into labor and so wish we would have contracted with her. Whereas Heather Thompson doesn't normally provide pre or during birth Doula services (just postpartum), Amanda Glen does. Interview her if you looking for a Doula - I know we will if we ever do it again.

Top 20 baby buys for before baby arrives

Off the top of my head and in no particular order, these are the most important things to have on hand before your newborn arrives.  
  1. Co-sleeper or bassinet – to have your baby sleep next to you during the first important months - our baby grew out of the co-sleeper and moved into his crib at 5 months
  2. Wipes warmer - I'll never forget how much he appreciated warm wipes
  3. Lots of very soft newborn receiving blankets
  4. Nasal saline (the kind with a built-in sprayer worked best) and nasal aspirator (the kind with a tube and mouth piece for you to physically suck goo out in addition to having a few of the manual-squeezable kinds around). Don't forget, your baby has no way of blowing their nose for a while.
  5. Changing table & diaper genie - Someone told me these weren't needed, but we used ours for convenience and the genie really does help control smell. We only use the diaper genie for poopie diapers though, to save on $ spent on the expensive bags
  6. Sleep sacks wearable blankets Buy the smallest and next size up, then size up as baby grows. Our 18 month old is still wearing one during winter months for naps and night sleep and just upgraded to size large. Get just the simple, regular polar fleece ones, brand is Halo.
  7. One-piece zip-up jammies - Fleece for cold months and nice pure cotton for warmer months
  8. Baby wrap and/or carrier for keeping the newborn on you as much as possible the first year. We had a moby wrap and bjorn that was given to us and used both at different times.
  9. Breast pump - helps get milk flowing if there are any issues in the first few days and keeps it going when you have to go back to work or be gone for whatever reason (the Pump-in-Style highly recommended) and multiple breastfeeding pillows (boppies) - I'll never forget how sore my arms were those first few months due to holding the baby up to breastfeed without a boppie.
  10. Snuzzler provides extra padding in a car seat for a newborn. Our baby was swallowed by the carseat and his head wouldn't stay up without a snuzzler on the way back from the hospital. Get one of these for sure!
  11. A few simple board books to start reading young. Still one of our favorites is I like it When.
  12. Baby care books - The Baby Book, American Pediatrics, and What to Expect in the First Year to name a few we used religiously - you will know nothing when that baby arrives no matter how much you've read - this is on the job training to the max, have some good reference books on hand - the Internet will just drive you crazy with extreme opinions, stupid debates, or too much or too little or over-hyped information
  13. Burp rags (Gerber disposable diapers double great as burp rags)
  14. Diapers - goes without saying. Have newborn size, and a box each of size 1 and 2 on hand, because they grow fast during the first few months, and you don't want to get caught without diapers. Consider cloth diapers too, (which we didn't do, because breast feeding was so hard to get going that we skipped). 
  15. Carseat - again, goes without saying. Should be rear-facing as long as possible for safety. Ours was given to us and was a Graco.  
  16. A few bottles and formula in the kitchen just in case breastfeeding takes a while to get going - don't worry, babies cannot get nipple confusion during the first few months of life - Playtex® VentAire® Advanced Wide are THE BEST per our amazing lactation consultant
  17. Glider for rocking baby and exercise ball to bounce baby on when he won't sleep - worked wonders when baby won't stop crying during the first few months
  18. Swing - sometimes nothing would work but the swing during the first few months for sleeping or peace from crying - have one on hand - don't worry about using it too much during those first few months - they grow out of it and lose interest in it fast. We preferred a wall-plug-in over a battery powered.
  19. A trusted family member to help keep you taken care of and fed during the first few weeks, so that you and hubby can focus on taking care of the baby. And friends to help bring you meals during week 2-4 while you're still recovering. Thanks to all of our family and friends for their amazing support!
  20. A couple bright toys that lightly squeak and rattle - it's fun to slowly move them around above the baby on the changing table as you start to see them focus and reach and smile
You may be able to live without...
  • Never used a plastic bath tub. We got in the tub with our baby every 3-5 days until he was old enough to sit up, which was about 5 months. This was one of the most special things we would do together during those first few months.
  • Didn't own a crib until our baby was 5 months old. Just happened that way. Our neighbor said they'd give us theirs, and their 2+ year old was still using it until our baby was 5 months - right when he grew out of his co-sleeper. And we're so glad we didn't have a crib to tempt us from moving him into his room too early, because it was really special (and safe) to have him so close while he was so young)
Some useful things for the fast coming months...
  • Bouncer - especially useful for being able to set baby down
  • Bumbo seat - so baby can sit up before they know how, and another useful item for being able to set baby down
  • Highchair for eating - very handy to feed him in when you start to give him solids at 6 months
  • Baby spoons, bibs, baby washcloths for the dining area - he'll be eating before you know it! We have washcloths for baby only in the dinning area to ensure they were never mixed with other cleaning rags.

Baby in Bumbo seat during Christmas 2011 - 5 months old

Happy Halloween!

My husband is a major Halloweener. It's his crafty form of self-expression every year, and he does an amazing job at decorating the house for our annual Halloween party and putting together a schedule of fall fun...if you couldn't tell from these pics...Happy Halloween!!

October 28, 2012

Car Seats - Turn from rear- to front-facing way later than you think

A rear-facing car seat causes the passenger seat to have to be moved up really close to the windshield.  It's one of the main reasons we haven't gone on any major road trips with the baby yet. And ever since everyone we know got a front-facing carseat for their young baby, we have been researching getting a new one ourselves to reclaim that room.

But in talking to local experts, we learned that it is safest for babies to stay in a rear-facing infant carseat as long as possible, until they are 18-24 months old. So as nice as it would be to be able to have more room, our baby will stay in his rear-facing carseat until he grows out of it -- (And at 18 months, he is just starting to).

Homemade color and shape sorter

I've been wasting a ton of time on Amazon trying to decide on a few new toddler toys until I went on Pinterest today and got inspiration to make something!

One of the themes I saw throughout Pinterest for toddlers was textures and sorting colors. In addition, I saw a picture of a toddler playing with one of those Sunday-Saturday multi-section pill sorters and a pile of different colored fuzzy balls he was putting in and taking out.

That gave me the idea of getting out my collection of colored felt scraps, cutting shapes, and putting them in a pill sorter we have had in a junk drawer for a while -- letting my toddler open compartments, discover what was inside, see the colors, touch and play with them, etc.

He was immediately captivated. I haven't had time yet, but I plan to cut out mini-shapes of the corresponding colors and gluing them on each section for him to sort the shapes by color as well. I'd also like write on or sew on the names of the shapes and colors, but that will be for another day.

So glad I didn't drop a bunch of money on Amazon! (Although we are still in the market for a set of wooden-shaped blocks and ABC cutouts.) Next time.

Already playing with the first cutout.

October 12, 2012

Lessons learned through the eyes of being a parent

Sometimes when I am faced with difficult people, I think, what would I tell my kid if the situation was his and he was asking for advice. I was visualizing my kiddo at school and having to deal with a kid who was being nonsensical or mean, and this is what I saw:
  • Can you remove yourself from the situation? That would be the easiest, but it is not always possible.
  • Can you accept the person/situation? There are difficult people and situations, but if you can accept them, you can look passed them.
  • Can you participate in an alternative way? Shift focus, make new friends, etc
  • Can you ignore the bad behavior? Buddha would say enemies exist to help us practice tolerance and become enlightened.
  • No matter what you do, stay aligned to your values. This is not a question; it's the most important piece of advice I could give. You do not have to become hard or sad when you experience difficult people or situations in life. You may need to detach from certain things; you may need to change your circumstances if you can, but you never have to give up your values -- what you love about life -- who you are.
It was enlightening to think through the eyes of being a parent. Thanks son!

October 8, 2012

Selflessness – who would want that?!

This will probably scare a lot of my friends who don’t have kids, but having a kid has taught me how unselfish I can be. I know for some it might sound miserable to be unselfish (because it did to me). But the unselfishness you experience as a parent is, hmm, how do I describe it? I guess the best word would be: natural. You don’t have to try, you just are unselfish without making a conscience decision, and it feels good. 

For example, I remember the first time the baby had pizza. We were grocery shopping at wholefoods and they were giving out samples. We were hungry, and I was trying to get home to feed both of us. I took a little nibble off the end of my sample and decided to let him try it, and low and behold, he ate the whole thing! 

I remember seeing the pizza disappear into his mouth as my stomach grumbled– but the happiness of feeding my child and his excitement and delight in trying and liking a new food and the unbearable cuteness of his chompers going to town on an iconic food like pizza for the first time– well, not much in life compares with that.

So it's not like it's a laborious task to be selfless once you become a parent. It's actually one of the most natural and fulfilling things I've ever experienced.

October 3, 2012

Is my 14 month old “trying to get attention?"

My 14 month old played a lot of peek-a-boo at the dinner table last night while we were eating with friends, and the discussion had me wondering was it really just a way for him to try to be get attention while we were having adult conversation? Or could it be a more sophisticated way for him to be trying to have fun too and socialize?  

Babies have the ability to understand a lot about language at 14 months old. I know, because of all of the things I communicate that can prompt immediate action...get the ball, time to eat, want to read a book, turn off the lights, good job!! And since they can only say just a handful of words, they have to be taking in a ton more than they are able to communicate back.  

So sure, playing peek-a-boo is probably an easy way to get attention, but I don’t think it’s that simple. I think it could be a major form of communication for babies that should be encouraged. It could be that they are trying to have fun with everyone, trying to be social, and trying to interject their thoughts and ideas, just like the adults are as the conversation travels around the table.  

So next time you see a baby playing peek-a-boo at the table, they might be watching you and learning how to be social. They might be saying, hey, you guys look like you’re having fun, I have a thought you guys might like too, wanna hear it, here it is, peek-a-boo!! What do you think, yay, socializing is fun!! 

September 19, 2012

April 8, 2012

Don’t sweat finishing the nursery before baby arrives

This post may actually relieve some people -- I strongly recommend not trying too hard to finish decorating the entire nursery before the baby arrives. Even though you have way more time and ability to focus before baby arrives, once they get to be 6 months, 9 months, 1 year old, they start having much more appreciation for decorations and things on the wall, and they get really excited to see something new go up. 

Not to mention, adding decorations as you go keeps the room fresh and interesting, and allows you to put stuff up as you get to know your baby. 

The other advantage to waiting, even on some of the baby products and furniture decisions, is that nothing compares to the perspective you get after baby arrives -- you learn a lot when you actually have to take care of a baby. 

February 23, 2012


We attended an informational session at Belly Bliss in Denver with an MD who practices integral medicine. Wish he was our baby’s doctor, but he practices too far away. Anyway, we learned a lot about vaccines, why so many are given in the first year, and we created a plan that worked for us at the time.

One of the things we learned is why so many vaccines are given in the first year of life. Some are necessary early but the first year is also kids go to the doctor the most – so one of the reasons so many vaccinations are given so early is because there is a captive audience. Anyway, we learned it’s okay to spread vaccinations out over a longer period of time and chose to do so for two reasons: (1), to be able to more easily identify the cause if any adverse reactions were to occur, and (2), to lessen the amount of potentially damaging ingredients put into our son’s body at one time. Read The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears if you want to learn more about vaccines, but remember, it’s a little dated, so don’t forget to cross-check the info with updated information.

So, you can create your own schedule, but we chose to follow the “Dr Sears” schedule for vaccinations, covered in the aforementioned book, which is one of the generally accepted alternative (and slower) schedules. Some doctors will even have this schedule on file – just ask. And after a year-and-a-half on the schedule, here’s where we are today:

If you spread out your kid’s vaccinations, your kid will have to get more shots. This was not a problem when our baby was in his first year. He’d get a shot, only sometimes let out a cry, and then go to sleep or nurse or just be over it really quickly. But right after he turned one year old, his awareness increased or threshold for pain dropped dramatically or something, because not only did he cry, he screamed, and he screamed all of the way home, and he kept crying, he cried when he saw his Band-Aids, and then he cried the next time he saw a Band-Aid. He was traumatized, and we haven’t been back for another set of vaccinations since, because we’re scared.

So here’s a reflection on what we have learned:
  1. The younger a baby is, the more they may tolerate shots. I'm not a medical scientist, but they probably don’t have the brain connection to pain that occurs later or can't conceptualize or something.
  2. Some nurses are better at giving shots than others. There was one nurse who would never make our baby cry when given a vaccination, so there is something about technique.
  3. If we ever have another kid, we will still look into spreading out shots for the reasons listed above but will try to get as many as possible during the first year. If that’s not possible, we will consider giving all the vaccinations on the regular schedule to avoid having to get so many shots and seeing so many tears in the second year.
No one seems to share real-life information like this, so I hope this helps others make their own decisions.
Here are a few resources:
  • The Vaccination Book by Dr. Sears has an alternative vaccination schedule we followed for reasons above. Just be careful, take the detailed information in and let it freak you out. Also cross-check with updated info.
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Parent and Family section on Immunizations – updated regular vaccination schedule, catch-up schedules, and info here:
  • Bryan Kono, MD - Stapleton Pediatrics –Practices integrative and holistic care – This would be our Doctor if he was closer and if we could afford it. He helped create the class on Immunizations and Circumcision at Belly Bliss, and led ours.

February 12, 2012

Top 10 takeaways from birth - a substitution for our "birth story"

I originally wrote out our entire birth story and decided not to post it. It was really long, and I couldn't imagine anyone getting through it. So, for this post about our “birth story,” I just decided to write out a list of what stuck with me the most about the birth experience, and here it is, the top 10 takeaways from birth:

1. “Nothing can prepare you for those first contractions” – a quote from a friend shared 3 weeks after her baby was born and 2 weeks before mine was born, and it’s very true.

2. Going into an anxious frenzy right before labor starts is real –If someone thinks you’re being really unreasonable or weird, and you’re close to your due date, suggest they let you be and make sure your bags are packed!

3. Don’t go into labor on a Friday night – you won’t be rested for the most unpredictable marathon of your life and probably won’t get the medical staff you planned for due to weekend hours. And let’s say you’re in labor for 24-hours—that means if you went into labor late on a Friday night, you’ll be up for 36 hours straight! Just saying. (Of course, this one is hard to control :)

4. Go over what is in your labor/hospital bag with your partner – perhaps even write-up a reminder note and stick it in the bag – I had my bag packed and the hubby was so great and brought it with, but I never requested a thing in it until I started getting ready to leave the hospital (out of sight – out of mind while in labor), and I really could have benefited from some of the stuff.

5. Remember, powerful contractions are good – resisting contractions or wanting them to stop or slow down is bad. Your mental state matters, so let the contractions roll baby.

6. Warm water either from a shower or a pool is very soothing during labor – I can attest to this first-hand; one of the most amazing feelings ever was sitting down into a warm, deep pool of water. However, I do have a side-note. Someone told me as a response to wanting to have the baby at a birth center: “you know, birthing pools can be so relaxing during labor that you end up getting too relaxed and unable to push your baby out.” Of course, I didn’t listen to much else that person had to say, but I did find the pool VERY relaxing and couldn't push the baby out. 

7. Being able to have free-movement during labor can really help labor progress – I was stuck at 7 centimeters at the birth center for many hours but quickly dilated to 9 within 30 minutes after being transferred to the hospital. That was after a walk outside to the car, a drive 3-blocks, walking in, signing papers, and transferring to the room. I feel strongly that a big part of the progression was moving around.  

8. The baby will come out no matter what your birth plan is, so focus on accepting wherever you decide to have the baby (or wherever you end up) and having the best people around you for support to help if any decision making is needed. This is why doula's are great. They will be the one service provider that stays by your side no mater what - their shift doesn't end.

9. Prepare to end up in the delivery room with a doctor you don’t know - it happens more than you think, and if you do, see if you can talk to the midwife or doctor about their specialties. Learn about what delivery methods they recommend but are also best at – see if you can ask them about their history and strengths – it might help you make decisions, if you don’t have a perfect birth. For example, I avoided a C-section, because I had an older Doctor who was apparently Zen master performing an old-school delivery method I requested.

10. A plan to have a baby in the hospital might be more predictable than having one at home or at a birth center – that is, if practicability is what you’re after. If predictability is not your top priority, like if you want to go for no drugs or a more subtle environment than a hospital, go for it, but I highly suggest getting a doula. A doula focuses on supporting you on a personal level through labor, physically and mentally, including major decision making that may be needed, and midwifes and doctors focus on delivering that baby - both important roles.

Let’s turn this list up to 11 – If you take the epidural, just take a little. If it’s not obvious at this point, I tried to have the baby in a birth center, but I transferred to the hospital for a lot of reasons that led up to petering out contractions and exhaustion – I was convulsing at the hospital until I had a little epidural, but they gave me a button to push for more medicine. Don’t use it. I ended up swelling up and not being able to push the baby out. And I was only pushing the button in fear of feeling pain.

And yes, I failed to push the baby out at the birth center and the hospital. But in the end, I won, because like I said, the baby will come out and he is amazing!
Bonus takeaway: In the car on the way to hospital, sit in the back and bend over the back seat through contractions. You’ll really thank me for this one.

January 15, 2012

Don’t say the “P” word. Placenta!

Oh my gosh. Did you know that people actually save their placenta and do all kinds of things with it?? Some people save it and get it freeze dried into capsules and take the capsules to ease the effects for several months after the baby is born…and I highly recommend it!

Yep, the birth center where we wanted to have our baby gave us all the information and made it easy, and the hospital despite their funny looks sent us home with the placenta in a zip lock bag in a bucket on ice, which went directly into our freezer, and within 3 days, hubby took it to a woman who encapsulated it for us.

I will admit, I was weary, but at about day 5 after birth, I was feeling what I thought was a major panic attack, and the capsules were looking at me right in the face. And when hubby said, TAKE THEM, besides trusting his advice, I really didn’t have another choice. I wasn’t in good shape, so I took them. And, by the end of day, I was back to normal.

What had happened is that on top of hormonal changes after birth, I was having a reaction to Percocet, a pain killer. I had stopped taking the pain killer earlier, but I have no doubt that the capsules are what put me right back into tip-top shape so fast.

The next time I had similar issues was one night at 12 weeks when it was time for me to go back to work. I was experiencing what my husband coined as reverse-separation-anxiety (he has the best terms) —reverse, because I am the mom and not the baby, and separation-anxiety, because I was reacting to having to separate from the baby for the first time, which probably included hormonal stuff.

I had gone to bed feeling an intense sadness. And hubby was there for me like a champ and again said TAKE MORE CAPSULES  You can take them consistently until gone or save them for when you need a few. You can even take them for non-baby related reasons, like if you will be having an especially taxing week. Anyway, I took them again, and those baby hormones were about-face stabilized by the time I woke up, and I never had another issue.

Here is a link to the women who encapsulated for us in Denver and some text from her site. Consider doing it, even though it might seem crazy in our culture:

The placenta can be a valuable part of the post-partum healing process for both mom & baby. For thousands of years, the Chinese have used placenta as herbal medicine. Because placenta is a medicine in our Materia Medica, it has been analyzed for it’s chemical components. What the analyses show is that placenta contains birth and pregnancy hormones (oxytocin, prolactin, gonadotrophin, thyroid stimulating hormone) and various proteins. It is these components that may aid in this transition of motherhood, such as augmenting lactation, shortening bleeding time and preventing mood fluctuations in the post-partum days.

January 6, 2012

Two words: Breast milk

There is no debate regarding the healthiest food for your newborn baby: breast milk. So breastfeed if you can and long as you can. And if you can’t or won’t, you can’t or won’t. 'Nuff said.