As I have more and more friends and relatives getting married and starting to have kids, I wanted to do a post with some of my favorite things and biggest things learned from the last few years. I’ll probably update this from time to time and link back to it in my monthly post whenever I do.
Think big but also practical! I think I was a little too practical. I didn’t want us to be given all the fun stuff and have to go get the practical stuff ourselves, but I also didn’t want to have to choose between things we weren’t given. But it’s amazing how much people want to give you. So don’t worry about registering for that BlendTec (especially because it can be blender, food processor, and ice cream maker all in one)!
So think about what you want your home to be like – what it looks like, how it functions, what sort of things you want to use it for, what you want on your counters… and that will help a lot. I had registered for a stand mixer, hand blender, blender, and hand mixer, and we ended up returning the hand mixer because I figured I just wouldn’t use it – and I haven’t missed it and am glad for less stuff.
Speaking of hand/immersion blenders, make sure you have one on your registry! I use mine more than I ever thought I would, mostly since we don’t have a lot of counter space and our food processor is an attachment on our mixer and it’s a pain to get it all out for one thing (see above note about what you want on your counters!), so I use the hand blender a lot: soups, sauces, dressings, eggs, batters… I probably use it almost every day. And they also make them with mini food processor and whisk attachments, which would be even more useful and multi-purpose. For $20-40 bucks it’s hard to beat!
My other favorite things in the kitchen:
– canning funnel (I buy a lot in bulk, so this is almost a necessity to transfer things from the bag to the jar)
– custard cups (for holding snacks, sauces, etc)
– shot glass measuring cup (for small amounts of liquid)
Prioritize your top 3 things and work the rest around it. This is especially true regarding the budget, but really goes for everything. We really only had two things, the people and the photography. We were willing to cut corners in other areas if needed to have what we wanted there, even to fly people out (which we didn’t end up having to do).
Delegate! I learned this before planning my own wedding from watching my sister plan hers. People were telling Cait to not have anything to do the week before the wedding, and while she was still doing odds and ends, most of what was left to do had been delegated to others, so she could relax and enjoy her wedding day. I did this as much as I could, though I only flew into the US the week before so I did have some things left to do. But thanks in large part to my aunts, cousins, bridesmaids, and few other friends, I was able to not worry about anything on the day of.
Pregnancy and birth
I had an easy pregnancy and loved being pregnant, so I don’t have a lot to say about that part, but I do think things I did really helped my labor be so fast and easy, so wanted to share that.
From the beginning, I tried to do a lot of squats and spend a lot of time squatting. It’s good for the pelvic floor, which is good for childbirth! I also tried to lean forward, as that helps the baby be in a good position for birth (as in sitting on a balance ball instead of reclining on a couch!). Inversions also help with that. I did these diastasis recti prevention exercises every day (I did still end up with a small one, though, which healed itself with more of the same exercises and being careful with how I wore and held S). I highly recommend reading ALL of Katy Says blog posts on pregnancy, birth, etc. She also has a fantastic video on pain-free baby holding.
I added gelatin to things from the beginning, but especially closer to the end as I was trying to strengthen my water bag and perineum… I can’t say it did anything, though, since my water broke first thing and I had first and second degree tears.
In the second half, I had red raspberry leaf tea (for toning the uterus) almost every day, adding it to other teas, making a concentrate to add to water kefir or freeze in ice cubes, etc. Sometimes I also added coconut oil to my hot tea, too. Do not use RRLT in the first trimester.
I ate 4-6 dates every day in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy – they’re said to help you dilate faster!
Another must is probiotics.
During labor itself I didn’t do much of anything we’d prepared to do. I ONLY wanted to be on my hands and knees, which in retrospect probably helped S be in a good position, which in turn helped things go faster and be easier. Low moaning during contractions felt amazing.
I didn’t use much of the technique, but “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” was a big help to me in knowing what to expect, what my body was doing, and how to think about the pain (was I really in pain or was it just discomfort?). Unfortunately there is a lot of nudity in it, though.
The first six weeks were easier than I expected. I was fully prepared to be totally miserable at least for the first few days while my body recovered, but even with the tearing I had it wasn’t that bad. Baths with epsom salts and herbs were amazing, even for someone who previously hated baths.
The second six weeks were a lot harder, though. We had an extra-tough time with reflux and then undoing bad sleep habits from the reflux, so it was closer to four months before I really started feeling like things got easier.
You really have to learn to choose not to be discouraged by poor sleep, crankiness, etc., but to find other things (hopefully God!) to put your hope in. It helps to remember that your baby isn’t irritating, but you’re irritable. And that I often love myself more than I want to serve or understand what baby needs. But in that we can remember it’s not about being a “good mom” but one that brings her children to God… which will often include saying “mama messed up and needs God’s help.”
When it was starting to get easier, part of me really didn’t want help any more. It felt like saying I couldn’t take care of us. But I also sometimes got discouraged by how much I still felt I needed help and couldn’t keep on top of food and housework, let alone exercising or playing music again like I wanted to be doing. Then I thought of cultures where the extended family all lives together and realized I never have to feel like I have it together. That’s why God gave us Himself, and husbands, and family, and community.
Also, to save you $40 on a nursing tank, try this combined with this – I added buttons to keep the tank top “whole” – it is more work to make and use than this tutorial, but means a higher neckline and then I can keep wearing the tank top even when not nursing. ;)
If you get plugged ducts, heat a rice sock in the microwave and nurse on hands and knees with baby’s chin pointed at the duct.
Can’t live without: Ergo carrier, especially for traveling. The stroller is used more now that she won’t sleep in the carrier for very long and wants to look around more, but definitely invest in a soft-structured carrier. They’re more expensive, but make sure it doesn’t let the baby’s legs dangle (compare Ergo to Baby Bjorn) and that the weight goes on your hips, not your back.
Favorite baby toy: IKEA play gym. $30 for a wooden play gym that remains one of S’s favorite toys, now used standing or as a walker. When she was a few weeks old she loved the wheels on the side, and then when she was starting to sit she used the hanging toys to pull up.
Whatever kind of diapers you use… know that a soak in water and washing soda or oxiclean before washing does wonders on leak stains.
We have mostly cloth diapered and love it. There have been a number of times I’ve thought “I’ll use disposables this week to avoid having to wash them,” and then partway through the week realize it’s less work to wash cloth diapers than it is to get poop stains out. They leak pee more than disposables, but contain runny pre-solids poop much better, in our experience. And as long as you remember to change often enough, leaking isn’t really a problem at all.
Everyone has their own favorite kind of diaper, but what my sister recommended to me was to try a bunch of different kinds, and I’d recommend that, too.
Prefolds with a cover are our favorite for day time, and we usually use fitteds + insert and cover for night time since it’s more absorbent. I think prefolds are also usually the cheapest route to go, since you can get cheap prefolds at Green mountain Diapers and Nicki’s Diapers, and covers can be pretty cheap, too.
Our favorite “system” is the Best Bottom one, though it does get a little spendy. You can use their covers with prefolds or their own inserts and they’re by far our favorite cover. Kawaii is a good “budget” cover, though, but you have to wait until the baby is a little bigger to use it. We like the BumGenius all-in-ones, too. The Imagine fitted is our favorite fitted – easy to use, trim, and absorbent (but we have the bamboo one).
The only thing I haven’t liked about cloth diapering is that we have really hard water, and hard water can lead to mineral build up in the diapers, which leads to rashes and limits the kinds of detergent you can use. We just keep a wet bag on the bathroom door handle and wash every few days – rinse cold, wash cold, wash hot – but that’s an adjusted routine for hard water, since extra rinses after washing add to mineral build up and our detergent is mild enough to not need extra rinses.
The diapers with two rows of snaps where it fastens around her waist have always looked uncomfortable. Kawaii and best bottom both have just a single row of snaps. Best Bottom also has a double leg gusset which helps hold things in (my friend tells me rumparooz are pretty much the same – but I haven’t tried them and I think they’re roughly the same price). Except for green mountain prefolds which you can only get through green mountain diapers, I’ve gotten all of my diapers at Nicki’s Diapers, which is great as they’ll send you free stuff if you order enough and you also acquire points to get more free stuff.