Baby Gear Essentials | 0-4 Weeks

I understand that every baby is different. And after last week’s rant on parenting advice, I’m surely not about to dish out hard and fast facts on what babies need. But I will share what we needed. These are the top 7 essential items that got us through the first four weeks with baby.

Baby Gear 0-4

  1. The Maxi-Cosi Micro car seat. This is the Cadillac of car seats- thanks again to Eli’s great grandparents for this awesome gift! The infant inserts create a nice cradle for his little head and they’re removable so the seat can grow with him. Not only do we feel so safe having it in the car but the seat has been super helpful in our house just to have another place to put him! He’s perfectly happy snoozing in the seat or checking out the world around him.
  2. The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD shows parents Dr. Karp’s amazing 5 S’s used to sooth infants. In this short video he the reveals a stunning new discovery…the calming reflex. It’s almost an “off switch” for crying that all babies are born with. His techniques have helped us out on a number of occations!
  3. The first S of Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s is swaddle and boy do we! Eli loves to be swaddled almost all the time. These Aden & Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets are perfect for keeping him warm but letting his skin breathe. They come in a four-pack but we’ve ended up buying about 12 of them. The quantity comes in handy when he sweats through them, pees through them, or heaven forbid there’s a major poop blow out! Honestly don’t know what we’d do without these!
  4. Tube’s of Vaseline may not seem like a big deal but they sure do come in handy when that first merconium poop comes and then for little man’s circumcision care. Thank god we’re through that heartbreaking hurdle!
  5. One thing I didn’t register for because so many Mommy Blogs said it was useless was a sound machine. But as soon as we got home and were all tucked in for the night, we knew we needed one. The womb is a loud place and even the hospital had it’s rurring HVAC and nurses stopping in at all hours. We immediately purchased this myBaby Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine and could not be happier. It has mutiple sounds and songs (the rain storm is our favorite) and is super sleek and small. We set the timer on it for 45 or 60 minutes during each late night feeding and Eli (and his parents) fall right back asleep! Actually, we may like it more than Eli.
  6. My iPhone. I know I’ll get flack for this but as much as I’d love to stare adoringly into my baby’s face all day and night, I have needed my iPhone even more than ever. Whether feeding little man or pumping, I do not enjoy staying put in one place for so long. Having my iPhone at my fingertips allows me to read news articles, blogs, see what my friends and family are up to on social media, make to-do lists, check the weather, my blog stats, even turn up and down our thermostats thanks to the Nest app! And most importantly, I’m able to capture pics of my little guy when he’s growing by the minute!
  7. The Boppy pillow is my friend. It’s supportive during feedings, it allows me to have a free hand when Eli is curled up next to his Momma for a little cat nap, and it makes for a great pillow during a rare impromptu nap for Momma.


Having a Baby is Hilarious

If you had a friend that woke you up every three hours demanding to be fed, leaked bodily fluids from every orifice of their body on to you and you still turned around and kissed his cheeks and tickled his belly- well then I’d say you have one sick and twisted co-dependent relationship on your hands. But when that friend is your child, it’s just Tuesday.

Yeah, having a baby is hilarious.

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But let’s forget all that and pretend that my little man is as angelic as these photos suggest all the time… which, he really mostly is. Baby’s first photo shoot was a big success. He was a total professional… up until the very last photo where Momma and Dad stepped in to get just one family photo.

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He snuggled into Momma’s arms, our photographer stepped back to shoot, and…

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There’s something warm dripping down my arm and onto my foot below. Little man had held it long enough. It’s OK buddy, Momma doesn’t mind a little pee.

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But then the photographer stepped back again, framed her shot, and…

Eli

Squirt. Yes, Eli spared our photographer, her lovely blankets and furry rugs, and saved it all for Momma.

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So this photo is very photoshopped. Notice the clean arms. But the smiles on our faces are 100% genuine.

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So great job my little supermodel. I will be sure to remind you of this photoshoot and your grand finale when you’re a teenager. Momma loves you.

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There’s a Nationally Acclaimed Parenting Book in my Recycle Bin

And I put it there. Because enough. Seriously, enough! I have come to two very important conclusions over the past 17 days…

Number One: There are a lot of opinions on how to take care of a newborn.

And Number Two: Take all opinions with a grain of salt and make up your own damn mind because I am the f-ing parent and I’ll do what’s best for my family just as women have done for millions of years without lactation consultants, mommy Facebook groups, and parenting books galore.

There. I’ve said it. I mean, I’m not going rogue entirely. I trust a healthcare professional’s opinion. But I’m so sick of the impossible advice and the contradictions. Oh the contradictions!

“Feed your baby every two hours even if it takes two hours to feed them. You don’t need to shower or empty your bladder, right? But be sure to take care of yourself with nutricious meals and plenty of water. If you don’t, your milk supply will diminish. To keep your supply up, feed the baby often but not too often or that could diminish your supply. And don’t forget to pump. Yes, something should be hanging off your nipples at all times. Formula? I suppose, since your milk isn’t coming in fast enough (you imperfect woman) and your baby is starving. But you should really breastfeed (you selfish mother who refuses to spend every waking moment feeding, pumping, downing lactation cookies and fenugreek for the sake of your child!) because breast is best!”

“Don’t take your baby out of the house for the first month because germs! So many germs. But be sure to bring him into a germ-infested hospital several times in the first week of life to get him looked at up and down and be told he’s underweight and then a day later overweight. And please be sure to get in to see your OBGYN so she can see if you’ve showered and don’t want to kill yourself. Are you sure the weepies aren’t postpartum depression? If so, we’ll give you drugs but that could diminish your milk supply which will probably thrust you into a deeper depression.”

“How’s baby sleeping? He should sleep up to 17 hours a day but be sure to wake him to feed. And put him on his back or he’ll surely die of SIDS. Unless of course you don’t want him to have reflux or choke on spit up or have a flat head- then you should put a rolled blanket in the crib and place him at a 45 degree angle. And sleep when the baby sleeps but of course you probably will just stare at him since (do I really have to mention it again?) SIDS. And during the day, try to hold him or wear him rather than put him in a bassinet or car seat because using the facilities with an infant strapped to you is just a delight. Quality Mommy & Me time right there. And when he’s not eating, on you, or sleeping, be sure to do tummy time or you’re a terrible mother. Yes, he’ll hate it and wail but it’s somehow critical to his development to lay on the floor struggling to turn his 7-day-old neck.”

Yes, I’m exaggerating but not by much! It’s impossible to follow every bit of advice. So call me crazy or irresponsible but don’t you dare call me a bad Momma. My main rule of thumb is now- if Eli’s happy and healthy and Momma and Dada are happy and healthy, then we’re doing absolutely fabulous!

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He’s Here

My son. Eli Stone Swanson. He came into the world last Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 11:22am.

And this is our birth story. A warning- it is long and I will mention all those fabulous laboring words like dilation and cervix and epidural (oh my). But in all that lingo is a little miracle so please read on…

A week and one day past due, Jared and I couldn’t wait any longer and with the advice of our midwife, scheduled induction for Monday the 22nd.

We arrived at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge full of nerves and excitement at 8am. The staff greeted us with smiles and holiday cheer and showed us to our room where we’d meet our little man. Our nurse Sue was a pro and I felt instantly in good, sweet hands.

Mount Auburn is a lovely hospital and our room was spacious with a view of the Charles River and neighboring Boston skyline. I was given my first dose to jump start labor right away but in the coming hours, there was not much action.

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Jared and I talked, listened to music, took our last selfie as a family of two, and eventually I was given dose number two that afternoon.

And boy did that work.

As the sun set, the rain began to come down, and my contractions began to feel like hell. I’d grip my bed sheets as the lower half of my body tried to separate itself from the upper- or so it felt. Suddenly all the positions I’d practiced with Jared went out the window. The birthing ball sucked, standing and holding on to Jared was agony, the tub seemed out of the frigging question! All I could do was hold on like I was revving a motorcycle, close my eyes, and breathe through the pain.

Jared talked me in and out of each contraction, watching the monitor like a hawk. He was amazing.

A shift change brought me a new nurse and midwife whom I begged for drugs. Luckily my dilation was moving right along, Eli was looking strong, and in the IV went with instant narcotics.

I can’t say it made the contractions any easier but at least I passed out between each. Honestly, it was next to impossible to keep my eyes open.

Around 3am I was progressing well and ready (oh so so so ready) for my epidural. Jared was asked to leave the room and I was left with an anesthesiology team and my night nurse Nicole. I could have made out with Nicole I loved her so much at that moment. She held my hands and I practically burrowed my head into her chest, breathing through each contraction, terrified to move as the anesthesiologist worked his magic on my back.

And voilà. Sweet relief.

Still loopy from the narcotic, I don’t remember much from the next few hours other than sleeping and the midwife and nurses flipping me from side to side to make sure Eli was happy.

By morning, my sweet nurse Sue returned. She brought along a young nurse Jackie and a fabulous midwife named Hannah.

I told the women I kept feeling the need to push and all were excited. One dose of Pitocin to finish up the process and they agreed around 10am that I was ready.

They kept me on my right side and surrounded my bed with Hannah sitting at the end of the bed so casually I kept thinking, is this really it? We’re going to deliver this baby right here and now like I just woke up from a slumber party?

But yes, we were.

With the next contraction, Jared lifted my left leg and my team of four cheered me on. Jared was supportive as ever telling me what a great job I was doing. My midwife said I was a naturally great pusher- can I put that on my resume? Nurse Sue instructed the perfect positioning while Jackie counted me through each push.

Honestly, the pushing felt great and went by so unbelievably fast. Once Eli’s head was out, they flipped me to my back and with just one or two more big pushes, I felt my sweet boy slide out and into the world.

With only a few little sounds and sobs, Eli made such a calm and peaceful entrance. Hannah immediately handed him to me and I felt his slimy, perfect bum in my hand.

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He looked right at Jared and me as we spoke and introduced ourselves to our small miracle.

He was perfect.

I had been dreaming of his face and just knew he’d have all that dark hair just like his Daddy.

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After plenty of staring into Eli’s dark blue eyes, the umbilical cord was finally cut and my small boy was no longer a physical part of me.

Hannah took care of the after birth while Jared and the nurses took Eli to the scale in our room.

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He weighed in at 7 pounds and 10 ounces. He measured 21 inches long.

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I had no idea there could be this much room in my heart for so much love. Not only for my son but a new kind of love for his Daddy. Our family is so different now. Overwhelmingly so at times but we’re getting the hang of things together. Very much together. Which makes me even more grateful for our family.

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Team Swanson has a new game plan with a new player and this Momma could not be happier to play the game.