Sunday, December 20, 2015

11 Things That Make Pregnancy More Comfortable

I try to avoid talking about babies/pregnancies too much because I know it isn't everyone's cup of tea (I'm not talking about updates on my own children, you can still expect those too often), but I have a few in the pipeline that I'm just going to bite the bullet on and post so they are out of the way and I can move on with my life. If you like them, cool, if not, cool. The blog won't be like this forever.

I'm actually not 100% sure why I'm bothering to write this post, since it's a little too late for it to be for my benefit for "next time," and the social reach of my blog is about nil. All the same, here we go:

A lot of people make their pregnancies all about the imminent baby. I mean that's kind of a "Duh" thing...except that neglecting yourself or just suffering through it can make you feel worse. And if you already feel the worst when that baby comes, well, you're already running on empty, son. Pregnancy should really be about making yourself comfortable and as healthy as possible.  So here is what I personally found that helped get me as comfortably as possible through pregnancy:

1. Ginger:
It's true, ginger helps with nausea. Granted, my nausea was manageable without drugs (although stomach drugs don't work on me anyway, so I didn't really give myself the option) for both pregnancies, and I know a lot of people aren't given that luxury. So, for what it's worth: I had a sample vial of ginger essential oil that I kept near my bedside and would sniff in the morning to calm my stomach. Sometimes I carried it around on really bad days. I also worked ginger into morning smoothies (and cooking wherever was reasonable), which also helped (until cold things started making me barf for a while, then forget it). Funny thing, both pregnancies I had ginger candy on hand but never ate any. I'm just not a fan of candy in general. But a lot of people swear by it, so there you go. There are two brands I've heard wonderful things about, which are The Ginger People chews and Reed's.

2. Nuts (aka a snack on hand):
Throughout pregnancy, you can stave off nausea by keeping your blood sugar up and avoiding hunger. Hunger ALWAYS makes it worse. My first pregnancy I kept a can of mixed nuts at my desk at work, and some days lived only off of trail mix (my favorite is the one shown below, from Trader Joe's). Nuts are a great snack because they have iron and protein. I also had to have chocolate in there because chocolate. The second time around, I still did nuts, but for some reason I really craved string cheese (at the yuck), so that's what I had on hand (calcium and protein too yay). Find something simple that will be good for you and keep it with you.

3. Magnesium:
Magnesium is a great help in pregnancy for some people. You can take it orally (which supposedly can help with stomach trubs, though my body is impervious to things for the stomach as I mentioned, so I wouldn't actually know), but it just so happens to be one of those things that's better absorbed through the skin. In early pregnancy it can help with morning sickness. Later on, it can help with restless legs or other aches and pains. I use this stuff, in the spray version, but I wish I'd gotten the lotion kind because this can be a little itchy so I have to apply lotion anyway. But this bottle will go a long, long way. I've barely made a dent in it. I also take baths with a crank load of Epsom salts in it (aka magnesium sulfate), which also helps with aches and pains.  Another good thing for achiness is arnica gel. It's like a very mild (but still very effective) version of Icy Hot or that sort of thing (and natural, so safe for pregnancy and little kids), though I've noticed it smells like old stage makeup, so there you go.

4. Supplements:
I know some people don't "believe" in supplements, calling "snake oil" and such, but I personally think that (especially with pregnancy) as long as it's properly sourced and presented in a bioavailable format, it won't hurt you (the studies showing vitamins might increase your risk of cancer were on chemically sourced vitamins, so....). With pregnancy, folic acid is the hero, but there's much more you shouldn't ignore. I balance quality with what I can afford and go for the Rainbow Light food-based multivitamin (another bonus of food-based vitamins is you can take them on an empty stomach no probalo). I like it the best of any vitamin I've ever taken in my life, so far. And bonus that it has enzymes and a couple simple probiotics in it to help with digestion and settling your stomach. Bonus bonus that Rainbow Light prenatal also has red raspberry leaf in it, which is great for prepping your uterus for battle.

Speaking of probiotics, that's another thing you should take on the reg. Contrary to popular belief, probiotics aren't just good for those with a constantly upset stomach. They have ones that are good for constipation too, and overall, it's good to take them for good gut health and immune health in general. I love probiotics. Again, I buy what works for my body that I can also afford, which, for me, happens to be available at Costco. In pregnancy, having a good balance of flora can help reduce your risk of testing positive for Group B Strep 'pon delivery, so that's a bonus (side note: I tested positive for GBS this time around, so I'm taking an additional probiotic specifically formulated for vaginal/urinary health. It's this one, if you're curious).

Another big one is fish oil. It's great for the baby's developing brain, and has good affects on your brain too. The only other thing for me is that I hate having fish burps, so I get it interically coated (that means it dissolves past the duodenum, not in your stomach)-- another thing I found at Costco. I realize I'm trading out some absorption there, but not having fish burps all day is really important to me, so there.

All in all, the best way to get vitamins and minerals is in your diet, but I really think when a fetus is at stake you shouldn't take any chances or leave any gaps (especially when you aren't eating properly because you don't feel good or are having bizarre cravings). I will say though that fortified foods are supposed to have a better absorption than any old chemical vitamin (again with the food sourcing), so if you're still morally opposed to a vitamin, at the very least, eat more Lucky Charms (ha)!

5. Belly lotion:
Ok, you must know that avoiding stretch marks has more to do with genetics than any oil or butter or lotion you could smear on yourself, but you should still invest in a good lotion or cream for your stomach because that skin can get ITCHY as it grows. I lotion up with my regular lotion all over after every shower, and right before I go to bed every night, I slather something thicker on growing spots (think stomach, thighs, breasts). That way it can soak in all night. I like this one because it's thick but not too sticky and it smells really nice (I'm sensitive to fragrance, but this doesn't bother my throat at all).

6. Water bottle:
You need lots of water. I've always been told that 3 liters per day is the golden standard for pregnancy. Do I ever reach it? Nah. I do have a 1 liter nalgene that I try to drink about twice, and then have at least one large glass of water at every meal. That works for me.  Why water? It's the stuff of life, friends. It can help regulate amniotic fluid levels, keep you from feeling fatigued, reduce swelling, help reduce Braxton Hicks contractions, and keep the dry throat at bay. I know it's hard to chug water when you feel sick, so do what you can, but aim high.

7. Prenatal massage:
Just do it, at least once. You'll feel better. But if you're going to pay for one (instead of manipulating your spouse into rubbing you down every night), find someone with legit credentials who actually understands pregnancy and has multiple options available for you to get comfortable on a massage table. Seriously, any old massage therapist will not necessarily be an expert. Here in Utah, I recommend Salt Lake Prenatal Massage. Those girls are beasts (in the best way).

8. Chiropractor:
Seeing a chiropractor at all is another one of those touchy subjects.  For some reason, people don't seem to like chiropractors for two popular reasons; A) they "make" you come back, and B) it's just going to pop out again anyway.

So be it. Be uncomfortable then.

But I believe in chiropractors (like fairies?). My first pregnancy, I went once near the beginning, and once a few months after the baby was born. I was in so much pain, especially in my hips and pelvis (and back, and neck, and...), and I think the only reason I didn't go was because I was worried it would hurt the baby somehow. So the second time around, I talked with my regular chiropractor (who is amazing, by the way, and has a fantastic personality and does the chiropractics for BYU sports teams) about it and discovered he's actually great with pregnant women and a lot of OBs in the area recommend him. So that sealed it. I've been going once a month this pregnancy and I feel so much better this time around (I still have SPD, but that isn't his fault, it's hormonal). As an added bonus, seeing a chiropractor can (statistically speaking) speed up your labor and reduce your risk of C-Section by helping the baby find an optimal birthing position. So there you are. He even told me the other day about a successful version he did on a breech baby recently. So cool, you guys.

9. Guide book:
I'm going to cut to the chase and say that I think the What to Expect When You're Expecting book is pretty dumb. I've read a ton of books on pregnancy and birth (including WTE), and the absolutely most helpful and legitimately informative one that I have found is "Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn" by Penny Simkin, et al. It's a great book and actually helpful, but doesn't scare you with all the info on the things that there is like a 0.001% chance of happening to you.  Seriously, you don't need more worry on your brain. So head straight for this one and skip the more mainstream ones. You won't be sorry (even if you are that 0.001%, but then your OB or midwife is going to tell you that anyway, not a book).

10. FOOD:
When your appetite returns, don't be ashamed if you feel like eating a whole elephant. Eat, and eat lots. This is tricky, because a lot of practitioners worry about gaining too much weight too fast, but the main concern for that is because rapid weight gain is a sign of pre-eclampsia, and you don't mess around with that. So using your best judgement and after consulting with your OB/midwife, make sure you eat enough. One of the things I like about midwives is that nutrition is a huge focus. The whole first trimester is focused on eating plans and nutrients and such, and it's great.

A big thing in your diet (besides those leafy greens) is protein.  Protein is super important, because babies are made of protein, and studies have shown that enough dietary protein can actually help you avoid pre-eclampsia. I have a chart on the fridge with guidelines for the Brewer Diet, which focuses a lot on getting that protein. I will never in my wildest dreams eat everything in one day that they suggest, but I keep it there as a guideline for the kinds of things I should be aiming for in my diet. I also have found that using My Fitness Pal or a similar app for just a while can help you get a better idea what kinds of foods you're eating and how beneficial they actually are. I don't use it all the time though, just when I feel like I need a reminder.

11. Activity:
This is another big one, and you can tell I almost forgot it, that's why this list is 11 instead of 10.  BUT.  Staying active during pregnancy is muy importante, even if it's just little things.  For instance, all I ever did through both pregnancies was go for walks whenever I could (mostly in the first 2/3 partly because the SPD really kicked in around then and partly because both my due dates were in the middle of winter).  But almost every single day through both times, I tried to do a little light "yoga"-- really just holding some poses for a bit and moving on.  It usually just takes 5-10 minutes and then I'm on with my day.  But doing those two things (walking, yoga) has really helped keep me limber and less stiff and I ALWAYS feel better after moving around, no matter how pregnant I am (and you rest better too).  An added bonus this time is that with a toddler and all, I haven't had as much time for resting as I did the first time.  I've been much more active in total.  And a great side effect of that is that I have been significantly less swollen in my limbs this time around.  I'm really grateful for that, actually, because last time it was bad enough to cause carpal tunnel and that REALLY hurt and took a long time postpartum to go away.  Hidden blessing of being more tired from less rest woohoo!

There you go. Those are the basics. I know I'm forgetting something (oh, like a pillow to put between your legs when you sleep, how about?  Or comfortable pants?), so if anyone out there has two cents, feel free to share!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Singing A Song Is Fun To Do

think I've been slacking a bit this year in general update-type posts on this blog, so sue me.  But here's one for you now, if you are curious about our super duper (not) interesting life:

Sam still works as a teacher at Heritage (which is a residential treatment center for troubled kids).  He works there now almost-full-time, and on weekends and odd hours he works as a maintenance guy for my old boss.  He likes doing all of it.  Right now, he's still technically a sub at Heritage, but is currently basically the whole Science department since they've had trouble hiring Science teachers and actually don't have any at the moment.  He misses a little bit the variety of subbing in random classes at the school, but likes having his own room and stuff.  I can't talk about his kids, but let's just say that he comes home with some interesting or hilarious stories some days, and other days with stories that make me want to march over there and punch these kids square in the jaw.

In July, Sam took the PRAXIS, which is sort of like the Bar but for teachers.  After several grueling weeks of wringing our hands wondering how he did, we found out that not only did he PASS, but he did so with a pretty good score!  I am so proud.  This also meant that he was allowed to start on his student teaching early, so a couple science periods per day are dedicated to that purpose.  He is finishing up his last semester of classes (just 2 this time, 3 if you count the student teaching), and will hopefully be finished with his program at the end of the year, and licensed in time to start a real teaching job in January!  I can't even begin to tell you how happy this makes me.  He's worked so hard the last couple of years, and it's lovely to see everything coming together.  But we're not finished yet, so don't everybody breathe a sigh of relief at once.  Rally to the end!  Anyway.

As for me, I quit my job at the beginning of September.  Through a series of circumstances, my replacement ended up being my sister-in-law, Abby.  It was fun to train somebody I already knew, and it made it easy for those last-minute training sessions when I had to take Ros with me to the office ("Let's go see Aunt Abby for a bit!").  It's been weird though, and taken quite a bit of adjustment for me not to be working.  I only allowed myself a couple of weeks' break when Ros was born, and I have been working pretty much steadily since college (with a little couple of months' break after we came back to Utah from Connecticut when I graduated).  But I really wanted to be able to spend a little time parenting Ros properly before the baby comes, and I've definitely gotten my wish.  There's a bit more alone time than I predicted (partly because I forgot Sam had classes til late this semester), but I'm learning her cues really well, and the problem she had with napping that developed a few months ago has pretty much resolved in the past couple of weeks.  I'm also allowing myself time to rest and get used to the idea of having two kids, because I re-he-heally don't want to be running on empty when he gets here.

I do work on a couple of personal projects, but raising a toddler and gestating a fetus are both pretty energy-consuming daily tasks, so I try not to be hard on myself when I don't make progress on other things.  I have a couple of goals: I try to walk at least a mile every day, and once a week I meet my mom to go for a longer walk, usually 2-3 miles.  I also have nutrition goals, and stretching goals (bet you didn't know that was a thing), and I think I feel pretty good for being 28 weeks pregnant, usually.  I'm excited for like...a year from now...when things start to feel normal again (hopefully), so maybe I can think about the photography thing again, or some other thing.  I don't know guys.

Anyway, Rosalind usually gets her own update posts, but just know that her vocab is still increasing, and she's using partial sentences or phrases or whatever they're called.  She calls herself "Yoz" or "Yoz-den" (it took forever for her to say anything close to her name, so I'll take it).  She still can't run.  She hates nursery (I shouldn't have said anything about her loving it) but is slowly warming up to it.  She's starting to get interested in the toilet, but I'm not pushing her.  Actually with being pregnant and tired, I kind of wish she wouldn't.  Heh.

So there you are, a bit of an update on our little familia.  I'll throw in a few random pictures from my phone to make this a little more interesting.  I'll write more later when things start GOING DOWN in November/December!  Get excited.

It's upside down, but here's proof she's learning to put pants on.  She can also sort of almost maybe put her shirt on, kind of.

Bathtime with the animal kingdom.

Blurry picture from when we went to the Children's Museum with Caity and Bea, just to prove we do get out of the house on occasion.

Sharing cereal at Grandma Wood's house

"What to buy at REI?"

The only picture I actually took from our Swiss Days weekend in Midway.  Adrien and her beautiful, wind-swept hairs.

That time Ros got her head stuck in the potty seat

Bye! 'Too! 'Day!

A very rare picture of Shannon in the wild.  And Ros.  And bunny.

Feeding the fish at Bridal Veil

This is Diapers!

Aviso:  This is a long post (I'm not burdening you by making it a multiple-part post), and obviously on a niche topic, but I think you should read it anyway, because I'm determined to dispel any rumors about cloth diapering, and if you ever find yourself facing a diaper change of the cloth variety, this might be helpful.  My intention is not to try to convert anybody, merely to inform.

Also, I added in loads of pictures for visual stimulayshe.  YAY.


"This is diapers! It's so easy, it's simple!  Even babies think it's simple.  I mean babies don't think it's simple."

It's now been a year and a half or so (even approaching two?!) since I started using cloth diapers!  I think I deserve a pat on the back, not because it's such a hard thing, but more because I have survived in the face of adversity and opposition!  I kid, I kid.

Her first time in cloth: next time I will not wait a month (or two, I don't remember) before diving in.  Also SKINNY LEGS!!

But I would say that the two hardest parts about cloth diapering, in retrospect, were:

1. Getting other caregivers to be on board

2. My child has the stinkiest and most voluminous amounts of pee known to mankind

Okay, now I need to provide a disclaimer here:  I love my family and I really love anyone who is willing to watch my child for any length of time (and really really love anyone who will change a diaper for me), but I had some interesting scenarios or concerns come up when other people changed Rosalind's diapers (ie diapers put on backwards...more than twice), and more often than not, they would default to sposies (which is mostly fine if I'm not paying for them).  I guess I could've done better at providing a little diapering lesson, but maybe I just think they're more intuitive than they actually are (...but aren't they?), which brings me partly to the whole reason behind this post, which is to prove to all 3 of you reading this that cloth diapers are not confusing or scary in the least.

So.  First, if you're still reading (Hi Mom!), I wanted to show what I tried, and how I liked it (or didn't).  Then I want to come back to Problem #2 I mentioned earlier, since that apparently is one of the biggest problems people have with cloth diapering (and have since the dawn of time, apparently).

A magazine ad from I think the 1920s?

Here it goes:


When I first thought of trying cloth, I thought pockets would be my thing, since they are equal parts convenience and ease.  I did bucketloads of research on pockets alone, and while I would've loved to have had a top-end style such as BumGenius (warning: almost every brand in the cloth diaper industry is stupid), in the end I decided to settle for a smaller brand.  I had heard good things about SO MANY different kinds (Kawaii, Alva, Sunbaby, JustSimplyBaby, etc), but I eventually went with Sunbaby because:

A) They were really affordable
B) They have a less stupid name
C) They have LEG SNAPS for better fit (not sure if anyone else does...?)
D) They have a flap over the pocket for leak protection

Sunbaby is actually one of the only ones out there made in China (besides no-name brands), but the lady who owns the company is just a regular mom who happens to be Chinese-American (or maybe just Chinese, I don't remember), and she has spoken out on the quality treatment of her laborers, so there's that.
Here you can kind of see the leg snaps I'm referring to.  They are excellent for skinnier babies.  They became superfluous after a while on Ros, but I couldn't have predicted that...

Ok.  So.  With pocket diapers, there are two parts: the (adjustable size) shell (which has the PUL fabric on the exterior and a fleecey liner sewn to it, creating a pocket, into which you place the second part, an insert.  Inserts come in a variety of fabrics.  I tried microfiber, bamboo, and cotton (I never got to try hemp, but I hear they are wonderful, although most are a blend, usually of microfiber).

Microfiber inserts are the most absorbent, and they are awesome at that.  However, it's kind of difficult to get them clean, ESPECIALLY in one of those evil "energy efficient" washers (more on this later...HE washers are the worst thing to happen to cloth diapering).  Because of the way the microfiber is made, they hold lots of fluid, but it's harder to get soap in there to clean all the little particles of ammonia off.  So they can easily become LE STINK.  Here's a good visual I took from this site.

Bamboo were easier to get clean (all natural-fiber materials are generally easier to get clean and have good absorbancy), but the bamboo inserts I got were too thin for my baby's elephant-sized bladder, and stuffing two inserts into the pocket was like...impossible.

I also had several bird's-eye cotton flat diapers I originally got by accident in looking for those Gerber ones that are so good for burp cloths (horrible for diapers, bee-tee-dubs), and they turned out to be good for using as inserts, folded up.  They were more absorbant than the bamboo, and sometimes I would double them up with bamboo.  In cloth diaper speak, techinically any insert or whatever used outside the pocket, or just in a cover by itself, is called a "doubler," SO CREATIVE.

This is when I resorted to using only doublers.  It was too bulky for my taste.
BUT!  After we moved in with my parents, who have an HE washer, things quickly went downhill with that microfiber (as in, I was embarassed to be with her in public with a wet diaper because she smelled like a skunk stuffed into a garbage can-- which I have actually smelled in my life, so hey!).  I tried SO MANY THINGS to get them smelling clean again, which, when I address Prob #2, I will tell you about.  Also, possibly from all the junk I did trying to get the stink out, a quarter of the covers' PUL wore down and they started seeping, and I had to throw them away, which was irritating.  In the end, I gave Ros a brief break to recover from a nasty ammonia burn (I am really making cloth sound enticing, aren't I?) by putting her in sposies, and found an alternate solution in the world of...


Prefolds are what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers.  This is what my mom used on my brother and I when we were very wee.  It's what probably everybody used until the invention of the disposable dipe.  But technology has improved since those days, and you know what?  I actually really like diapering with prefolds, like way more than I thought I would.

The prefolds you can get in the store from Gerber are crap.  Just getting that out of the way.  They are fantastic for burp cloths, obviously, but they don't do much in the way of diapers.  Dunno why.  So after a bit of research, hands down the absolute BEST place ( it the only place??) to get prefolds is Green Mountain Diapers.

I love Green Mountain.  It's run by some crazy lady in Vermont who has some kids and a LOT to say about cloth diapering.  I read pretty much everything she wrote on her site (which took several hours but was all very interesting).  They are great quality diapers and are SUPER INEXPENSIVE!!

I also watched a few YouTube videos on how to change a prefold diaper in record time (which was silly now that I think about it, but when you're not so sure, it can be helpful).

I ended up getting a dozen cotton prefolds (I've since gotten a dozen more in a bigger size), which we afix with a Snappi, which is probably the coolest (and easiest to fasten) new addition to prefold diapering.  It's basically a stretchy thing with hooks kind of like on the metal bit you use to keep an Ace Bandage in place.  It's easy, safe, quick, and I think it's a great invention.

Here she is showing off the first time we tried prefolds (the cover goes on over this).  Also if I look at this picture too long, it looks like she has a nub for a left leg and that really bothers me.
See the Snappi?  No pins, no clips, just singular, stretchy, hooky goodness.

The thing about prefolds is that you need to put on an extra, waterproof layer, so it takes maybe 15 seconds longer than putting on a pocket or an all-in-one or a sposie.  But I don't mind.  You can do the plastic (aka rubber) pants they sell at the grocery store, but I wanted something more breathable, so I got a couple of PUL covers (aka "wraps").


An All-in-One is just what it sounds like, and is closest to a sposie in setup and ease.  They are basically the PUL shell with a couple layers of absorbent fabric, which are sewn in and not removable.  That makes them a little more difficult to get clean, but fortunately, ours are made with cotton, so they're usually okay.  Also, ours have adjustable fronts too.  Actually, I always make sure what I get is adjustable, and I always get snap fasteners (velcro, aka Aplix, wears out too fast, so I hear).

When I bought the pocket diapers, I also found 4 AIOs on KSL of the elite BumGenius Elemental variety for only $32 for the 4 of them (normally ~$25 each...why??), so I snatched them up.  When we got them, they stank, and one of them looked like it had been chewed up by a dog, but after an initial washing, these puppies have been AWESOME.  Over time, and knowing Ros is at least the 3rd baby to use them, they all one by one have deteriorated to the point that we couldn't use them any more.  But I still loved them, like a lot a lot.

AIO when she was a little smaller (in a sense...look at those thighs...)
..And when she's a little older...
Blurry: Side view

Blurry: back view

If I had the money to shell out for BumGenius, I totally would.  They fit super well, are trimmer than the Sunbaby, have never leaked (unless I leave her in them too long or they reached the end of their life), and are pretty dang solid.  Even the chewed-up one outlasted some of the pockets.

Sam likes the prefolds, but he has said more than once that the AIOs are his favorite to put on (aside from the occasional stink issue because they are harder to clean), so there you go.


I got 3 adjustable Kawaii covers from Kid to Kid for $1-$3 apiece, and they have been pretty good.  On one of them, the snaps are getting a little worn, but I have no idea how many kids they've been through since I bought them at a consignment shop, and they still close, so whatever.  I think they are a smaller size though, and I can stretch the amount of days between laundry with more covers, so I eventually got 3 larger covers.

The other 3 I got were Thirsties Duo Wraps (a good, popular brand) wraps.  I like them because they are still adjustable and because they have extra leg gussets for leak protection.


Fitted diapers are basically prefolds, but fitted (meaning elastic around the leg and at the back).  Ours are the Workhorse diaper from Green Mountain, so they also have an extra doubler sewn in.  They don't come with a waterproof layer, so you still have to use a cover.  Some people like them for all the time, but I think they're a bit bulky, though very absorbent, so they are what I use on Ros for night-time.


I was super skeptical of wool, because the idea behind it seems kind of counter-intuitive.  But in combination with a fitted diaper, this is without a doubt the most leak-proof solution I've found for nighttime!

The bad things about wool are:

A) You have to wash them by hand with special, lanolizing wool soap

B) They are expensive

C) They are bulky

The good things are:

A) They are completely waterproof once lanolized, and only get more waterproof with time as they felt naturally

B) They have the ultimate breathability (no plastic or chemical layer, just knit wool)

C) You only have to wash it once every few weeks, and wool has natural deodorizing properties (I was most skeptical of this, but no joke, by the time I put it on her again at night, it's completely odorless!)

D) You can make one yourself out of an old wool sweater if you are the crafty type  (Ha.  I tried this.  Got a couple of sweaters for a few bucks each at a thrift store but it turns out I SUCK AT USING A SEWING MACHINE, so yeah, we'll stick with the Disana for now)

Exhibit A. Wut.

Exhibit B.  I give up.

We bought a basic wool soaker from Disana (they sell them for a pretty good price on Green Mountain), and I like it quite a lot.  The cool thing about wool is that, if they're lanolized, you can just slap on a pair of wool pants or wool overalls and it works just as well as a diaper-cover-only one.  I think that's a little weird, but it can cut down on the bulk of layers.  Since we just use it for nighttime, the bulk doesn't bother me as much, since Ros is so fat she has to be in huge pajamas anyway, so it all fits fine.

And the first night in wool pants

I was skeptical.  But they are very soft and comfy and didn't leak a bit!


So, like I said, Rosalind pees like an adult and has all the stink of ages.  It's kind of freaky.  She gets plenty of water (um, yeah, hence the volume), but she has always been this way, since birth.  But in combination with only having access to an HE washer, it caused a HUGE problem with ammonia buildup, and pretty quickly.

It smells.  It burns your baby.  It's impossible.  It's bad.

Lucky for you, if you're facing this, I've tried basically everything, so you can learn from my trial and error (though your own trial and error is usually best).

Things I tried to get rid of ammonia buildup:

1. Boiling:  Don't do it.  It's a waste of time, it smells, and it damages fabrics.  Certainly NEVER boil PUL.  The heat melts the plastic and they are no longer waterproof.

2. Blue Dawn Soap:  Relatively useless.  And hard to get out.  I was never dumb enough to use it in the washing machine (just in the tub), but some people have done that, and it can void the warranty on your washer, so yeah.

3. Rockin' Green Funk Rock:  Works pretty well, but isn't a very permanent solution, and it's kind of expensive.  You can see it here.

4. Bleach:  Works like heaven!  But without other changes to our washing routine, we had to do it at least once a week, and that's ridiculous (plus it can damage the fabric over time if you do it too much).  Also of note, always let the diapers soak in bleach OUTSIDE because ammonia + bleach = poisonous gas!!!

5. White Vinegar:  Works the same as bleach, but is not as potent, so I mostly use it for a maintenance rinse, not for heavy duty stuff.

6. Switching to Tide:  With most cloth diapers, they recommend a specific diaper-friendly detergent.  I normally use Ecos Free & Clear.  There are a zillion other recommendations out there.  Here's a good chart I've consulted.  But the cool thing about cotton prefolds is that you don't really need a special detergent if you don't want to, and if you have ammonia problems, switching to regular, powdered Tide can do the trick.  I was hesitant since I'm sensitive to chemical fragrances, plus some people swear it is basically like setting your diapers on fire, but I went for it.  It took me a few washings, but I definitely saw results by making the switch, and I don't have repelling issues.

7. Hot water and multiple rinse cycles:  This is necessary!  When we had the standard washer, my wash routine was: a regular cycle on cold without soap, a regular cycle on hot with soap, and a quick rinse/spin.  It was dandy.  With the HE washer it's harder and takes more time.  I normally do: soak cycle, regular cycle on cold or warm (Delicate has the most water) without soap, regular cycle on hot with soap, regular or extra rinse cycle on cold without soap, and sometimes an extra extra rinse cycle with short spin.  It takes a while, but you do what you can.  I've been seriously tempted to go to a laundromat and use a standard washer some days, but convenience wins out -_-

Update (since I originally wrote most of this while we were still living with my parents): since having our standard washer back, our wash routine (every 3-ish days) is a cold rinse, hot cycle with soap, extra rinse on cold.  We use Tide, and sometimes (like if we were out of town and I forgot to do diapers before we left so the diapers smell like a dump) bleach.  I never have problems with stink anymore, hallelujah.


There were a couple other things I had to do differently than mainstream when I decided on cloth.

I guess most noteworthy of those is that you can't use traditional diaper rash creams because they contain waxes and such (this is how they work by repelling moisture from your baby's skin).  There's no way around it.

Fortunately, I've actually never had a diaper rash with cloth!  Every now and then things will get a little reddish in areas, but Coconut Oil works absolutely wonderful at acting as a moisture repellant in those cases, plus it helps to treat the rash, and it washes out of diapers, unlike waxy creams, so it's pretty great.  PS: also letting your baby hang out in the buff, especially in the sun, will kill the yeast.  Just fyi.

When Ros got the aforementioned ammonia burn, a little meleleuca ointment worked almost magically in treating it.  I tried it on a whim (we use it for stuff like cuts, light burns, bug bites, etc), and I was surprised at the difference it made in just a few hours.

Also, poop is not really an issue.

I have NEVER had a blow-out in cloth.  I've dealt with a few when she was in those are nasty.  But with cloth, nada.  It just fits better.

As for getting it out of the diaper before washing, well, as they always say, breastfed baby poop is completely water soluble.  And it is.  But guess what I found?  SO IS FORMULA POOP.  I mean, it's not like I'm throwing chunks of poop in the washer, but, actually, I sort of did.  Sometimes it's too much effort to get out, so sue me.  And GUESS WHAT it all goes down the drain.  Some people even throw in food-formula poop, but I think dumping a little clump in the toilet before putting it in the pail is easier than picking out little pieces of food from the washer barrel post-washing.  Also, you're supposed to be dumping poop in the toilet even with a sposie (it's like the law or whatever, human waste is hazardous waste or somesuch, not like anybody listens to them).

I also use cloth wipes, because I think they're easier than getting a special bag to throw dirty paper wipes into.  Too much work.  We had about a million baby washcloths, so we just use those.  And I've tried pre-wetting them and keeping them in a bag, but when Ros started pooping like once per or once every couple of days, they got mildewy, so I switched to a spray bottle (part soap, part oil, part water).  But the thing has been empty for like a week, and it's just as easy to wet them in the sink first.  LA-Z.

For going out, I still use cloth, yep.  You can buy little wetbags that will fit a few diapers.  I actually bought some PUL and sewed (by hand) a couple of little bags for myself because I don't care and people charge too much for this crap.


ARE YOU STILL READING THIS?  Now it's YOU that deserves a pat on the back!

Random tidbit: For some reason people think they will never be able to use cloth because their husband or boyfriend or whoever will never be on board, or never be able to figure it out.  That's stupid, sorry.  Men are just as capable as anyone at changing diapers, and if they disagree, they are sexist against themselves (how meta that sounds).  I've known super manly/tough/insert-stupid-cliche-here men who have said they will "allow" their wife to have a kid so long as they never have to change a diaper.  Guess what, after that babe rolls around, they change plenty of diapers.  And cloth is no different.  And I know there are exceptions to everything, and that maybe there are people like that out there.  THAT SAID, maybe some of you are curious as to Sam's opinion of this whole shebang.  It is, in a nut shell, "That's bull.  I did it.  And it saves money.  Which makes me happy."  Update: he has recently added that he wishes Utah had a diaper cleaning service.  My mom used a diaper service when we were babes, as an aside.  I agree, I think that would be awesome, but I don't think it's all that much more difficult.  2 extra loads of laundry per week?  Meh.

Okay, so.  After this past almost-two-years, I will definitely say that though we ended up spending a little more than planned due to washing machine issues and not anticipating Ros' large quantities of toxic urine, I still have only spent...maybe $300 on diapers?  Maybe a skoshe more since I like to have a package of sposies on hand for emergencies (a small package would last a couple of months...or longer if she didn't outgrow them) [Update: Ros is now in sposies for nighttime because she outgrew the wool (seriously, this chub-child), so we do buy one small package per month] Which will take me up to potty training.  The average cost of disposables to potty training is about $1,600-$1,700 per child (according to a quick search on the intranetz...maybe you use coupons and get all your diapers free, I dee kay).  And seeing as these diapers will probably last through at least one other kid, I'd say that's a pretty dang good investment.

Now I'll bet you are wiped out.

Monday, August 3, 2015

What We Have is Good Enough

I'm going to share something personal now. I'm not one hundred percent sure exactly why I'm sharing it, but I feel like I should. Maybe somebody out there needs to read it.

First, the good news: I'm having another baby. It is a boy (more thoughts on this later maybe). The debut should be sometime around Christmas-- not only is it always impossible to tell exactly when, there also happens to be some confusion around my due date, so let's just go with Christmas. Hopefully I don't go into labor while I'm enjoying the premiere of the new Star Wars, because I'm not sure which I would prioritize at that point.
This is actually Ros, not the one in utero, but you never would've known if I hadn't said anything, because all fetuses look the same.

So, next, the story: not bad news really, just kind of a difficult story. I think I'm hesitant to share partly because I know there are people out there who would see this and say "Psh, that's nothing." And that's fine. I am sympathetic to all the difficult struggles people have, really. But that does not invalidate my experience or mean that what I went through wasn't hard.

January of 2014, Rosalind was born, as you may recall. It was an awesome delivery, though much faster than I expected, and I loved the experience. I've said a few times since then that if I never had to be pregnant or postpartum again (or, you know, raise that many kids), I'd give birth a dozen times.  But my pregnancy was really hard. I wasn't really sick, but that's not always the hardest part about being pregnant. It was not an experience I was eager to repeat. The nine months before that where we were actually trying to conceive a baby were also difficult for me.

But, so, she was born. And then the really hard part started. I know people have a harder time with the post-partum period than they let on. For me, personally, it was hell. I don't feel like going into great detail here, but basically, the stress of having a new baby, being horribly (horribly) poor, having a colicky baby, a predisposition for mental illness, trouble with nursing, and not asking for the right kind of help OR knowing when to tell people "no thanks" was a recipe for disaster. A really, really bad disaster. I remember being so conflicted between wanting to undo everything and feeling like my baby was not my baby, while simultaneously being terrified that people were trying to take my baby away from me. There's so much more than that, but that's the shallowest nutshell. It was bad.

It took a long, long time for me to reach some semblance of normal. I remember celebrating when I was able to have enough confidence to take a shower while Rosalind slept. Hint: it took me about 4-5 months longer than the average bear to be able to do this.

All this time, I swore I was done. Pregnancy had been hard, we hadn't had "immediate" success in getting pregnant, and the post-partum was too hard. It had taken too long in total and I knew trying again would also take too long and I didn't think I was up for that. But Sam felt there was someone else waiting for us to be ready, some other kid somewhere who needed to be with us. It was really, really hard for me to accept that. Eventually, I agreed to it, albeit reluctantly. We made a deal: we'll try for a certain amount of time, and if it doesn't work, that's it, and we'll move on. I need to be normalized, and I can't drag out the tumult. Something like that. It was a compromise, really. Sam always wanted four or so kids, and he knew that would never happen. He knew it before we got married, and he knew me and loved me well enough to accept that right out of the gate. So the least I could do was try.

And try we did. We actually started seemingly "right away," though it didn't amount to anything. In August, though, something went wrong. Starting in August, I bled for eight weeks straight. It was baffling. A miscarriage? Something else? Still, nobody knows.  I saw the doctor for it. And then, I found a lump in my abdomen. A big one. I could feel it, and it felt about the size of a lemon, at least. I went to the doctor again, we did blood tests, and she ordered a CT scan. She looked me straight in the eye and asked me if I had any family history of a few different types of cancer. Cancer? Well, yes, actually. She said not to worry, but there weren't a whole lot of other explanations. It could be a cyst, but it didn't seem to be in the right place.


I had my CT scan (in which I had to drink way too much of false-coconut-flavored junk for contrast) at the beginning (I think) of November.
The barium fakey-coconut stuff.

As an added bonus, it was so thick the straw stood straight up in it

If you know me, you know I'm no stranger to hospitals and medical tests, but this was different, it was harder. It's always (well, usually) been stuff that brings me hope, makes me feel like "we're figuring this out," and we were bringing me one step closer to getting better. But with all of this, it felt like step after step into the unknown. One night, Sam and I went on a date to see "Interstellar," which was a very good movie, but when we got home after, the whole "not being able to raise your child" part hit me, hard. I realized that maybe, just maybe, I was going to be one of those stories you hear about, where the young mother leaves her baby and husband behind. I never thought something like that could happen to me, not from physical illness, and it was the hardest prospect I think I've ever had to face.

Through this whole thing, we had still been trying for that second baby. Obviously I was not hopeful so long as I was bleeding before, and we thought long and hard about the consequences of a CT scan on a possible embryo, whether chemotherapy was an option during pregnancy, etc, but we never had success.

The day after "Interstellar" I took Sam and Ros with me into the mountains and we walked around and I took pictures of them. It was therapeutic, a bit, and I realized that there were very few things I truly wanted in this world: I wanted to raise my baby to adulthood. I wanted to grow old with my husband. Nothing else mattered any more. We'd been struggling to get on our feet financially, but I didn't even care about that any more. "I am grateful for Sam, and I am grateful for Rosalind. That's enough."
In my mind, that last sentence has always been the caption for this photo.

And even though this was a horribly depressing time, I keep a framed copy of this photo on the wall, to remind me of what I realized that day.

It took way too long to get the scan results back, I think because it got delayed from the holiday. We didn't get the results back til some time in December. They said: inconclusive. They found (strangely) nothing where I could feel the lump. They wanted me checked for ovarian cysts, just in case.  I remember I was at Walmart buying Sam a watch for Christmas and I almost cried in the store I was so happy.

So I had the ultrasound and they said they saw "pearling" on one of my ovaries, and a few cysts. I think the biggest one was about 3cm. The tech told me I was probably feeling a bone or something I had never felt before when I was feeling the lump. A bone, really?  Thanks, lump expert.

And then, a few days before I went in to discuss results with the doctor, the lump disappeared. It had been there for months, and then...gonzo. When I went in, the doctor was just as surprised as I was. She had felt it too, and then it simply wasn't there. All she could say was, "Well, cancer doesn't just go away, so that's reassuring."

It was then that we started talking about everything else. Cysts are actually fairly normal in any woman you pull off the street, but in conjunction with my blood results, it looked like possibly PCOS. My hormones were all over the place. We did a few more blood tests and talked about possible ways to get me pregnant, since she knew that was a goal. She said we had a few options, one being Clomid. That prospect made me nervous, because I was so afraid to have twins. I know the risks are relatively low, but it still happens, and the possibility of overwhelming myself even more than with just one baby was terrifying. We did a few more monitored cycles just to see what would happen.

In March, I got a phone call from the doctor. She said that though my blood tests didn't show PCOS, they had consistently shown that I had low to no progesterone at any given time. In case you don't know, progesterone is essential for ovulation and for sustaining a pregnancy. So, no wonder. We talked about more specific history, and it turns out that it's likely I have ovulated only a couple of times in my LIFE. It was a miracle it only took nine months to conceive Ros. In any case, she prescribed me Clomid.

I couldn't believe I had wasted all that time (both times) tracking fertility futilely, taking temperatures, stressing out, taking supplements and exercising (well I guess that wasn't a waste of time), etc etc etc. I was still scared about the Clomid, too, but after a lot of thought and prayer, I decided that no matter what, it would be okay. There was a worst possible outcome, but we would take everything one step at a time and hopefully avoid it. It took a lot of faith to pick up that prescription from the pharmacy.

The way this works is you take the pill for a couple of days at a specific point in the cycle, so I had to wait for that point. So we waited. And waited. And there was one random day when things were different. And then a week and a half later, much later than it should have been, the day in April when I was supposed to start the Clomid, I took a pregnancy test. And it was positive.

I was in complete disbelief. I can pinpoint to the day when conception occurred this time, and literally two days earlier I had had no progesterone. This is a legitimate, call-the-pope, capital-M Miracle.

I have no idea how or why this happened. I don't know why after going so long and fighting through so much, this happened. And it was literally only a couple of months before our cut-off to stop trying. I threw everything into the hands of faith, tried to prove I would give anything, still didn't get it, and then one day I did. Some people I've told this story to have said "well that's not so bad," or "others have had to go much longer and had fewer answers" or whatever else. And that's true. And I feel bad that they do. But because of that bleeding, and because of that lump, we got answers sooner. Because of that lump and because of that cancer scare, I realized what really mattered to me, and allowed myself to let go somewhat of my fears for the future enough to try. And that opened my heart and let all of this happen.

I'm twenty weeks pregnant now, halfway done.  There's a fetus poking and prodding inside me, something that's old hat by now.  This pregnancy has been hard too, even harder than the first time.  And I'm still scared of what will happen after the baby's here, but I'm already making a dozen plans, strict as they may be, so that I can feel safe going into this.

It's going to be hard.  It doesn't get easier for a while, I know that.  But I'm grateful for it all.  And gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Am I Too Tubby Gamara?

So, in other news, Rosalind continues to be chubby.  Although that's not the most interesting thing about her anymore, which is progress!

Ros turned 18 months recently, so I figured since that's somewhat of a big milestone, I'd do a little post on her before I start blogging about more or less interesting things (depending on your opinion).

Basically, she's not a baby anymore.  That becomes more apparent every day.  I have to say, toddlers are a lot more fun than babies.  I'd even venture to say they're easier, but if you know me, you know I had a difficult baby and a difficult time dealing with her.  In any case, I quite like the stage Ros is getting into.  I'll just go through some highlights and throw in some pictures:

Last week, we went to the doctor for her checkup.  She enjoys playing with the little toys they have while we're waiting, but this time when I had to take her clothes off, she threw a fit.  She wasn’t ready, I guess.  She was okay until the doctor came in, and then she screamed and ran to me and cried hard the entire time he was in the room, screeching anew every time he touched her or she had to turn around so he could look at something (she was burying her face in my neck).  She cried all through her shot (just one this time, and the last one til kindergarten!!!) and in the car, and was almost hyperventilating.  She has never been like that at the doctor before.  It was kind of ridiculous.  It was funny, but annoying, because I could hardly hear what the doctor was saying with all that screaming in my ear.  We went to D.I. afterward because it was the only thing open, and I bought her a tiny whisk, which she was very excited about (oh, the things that will calm a toddler).

I finally started keeping a list of words she knows.  The rules are that they just have to be ones that we recognize (meaning they don’t have to be pronounced correctly), and they have to be spontaneous, as in, she can come up with them herself, without prompting.  She apparently knows between 50 and 60 words, maybe more if I count onomatopoeias.  The doctor was incredibly impressed by that.  He says that is on the “fantastic” end of the spectrum.  She can also combine two words into phrases when she wants to, another thing the doctor was impressed by.  He says she sounds very verbal and very smart, which makes sense because she is almost literally talking non-stop these days.  It’s a little reassuring to hear all that, because she’s been so consistently behind on her gross motor skills.  She obviously can walk well enough now, but her balance is horrible and she falls down or trips frequently.  She can’t run yet, to which the doctor replied “Well, she’ll get there.”  That’s been his response for everything I’ve said “no, she can’t do that” to over the months (pulling up, walking, crawling, etc etc).  But that’s okay.

Oh, so we obviously had her measured at the doctor, and she weighed almost 26 pounds and was about 32 and a half inches tall.  I’m seriously surprised she doesn’t weigh 30 pounds yet, but she has always felt heavier than she is basically since day one (did I ever mentioned after they weighed her at birth and saw she was 9lb4oz, didn’t believe it, checked to see if the scale was broken, and weighed her again?  They were surprised she wasn’t over 10 pounds).  Anyway.  She’s been in 2T stuff for a while, but it has to be stretchy.  Anything fitted, or jeans, is basically gone.  She’s quite the fatty, and I don’t know how that’s possible.  This is including days when she’s in disposable diapers, so don’t go blaming it on cloth.

The “terrible twos” I think are beginning.  She whines a lot more than she used to, and seems to give in to her emotions a lot more frequently instead of using one of her billions of words to actually tell us what she wants.  She’s in the throes of hitting-for-fun (or hitting when someone is uncooperative), which is so so nice, just in time for nursery.  Hooray.  She also has started stomping her feet up and down when she’s upset about something, which makes me have to stifle a laugh.

She is also getting into real-world stuff.  I guess that’s a weird way to word it, but by that I mean that she is very interested in routine, in her personal hygiene (brushing teeth, washing hands, toileting, etc) and participating and doing it herself.  She wants to help do everything.  I let her pick her outfits out of her drawer every day (as is sometimes evident by a poor pattern choice), and she helps move the stool around to wash her hands, etc.  She climbs all over everything and gets into everything, and tries to help pick out my own clothes for the day (not happening).  She accompanies me to the toilet to dump stuff from her diaper and is learning how to flush.  Sometimes she asks to sit on the toilet when she’s pooping, but she almost always immediately forgets why she’s there and just wants to play, then the poop comes later, which is fun for me because I have to deal with it twice.  Oh well.

She also is interested in preparing food.  We’ve collected little dishes for her to use while we’re making dinner and stuff, and she loves it.  It’s pretty cute.  She loves her bunny, and will take bunny to the toilet, tuck bunny into “bed” (with any cloth lying around), put bunny in her chair and buckle him in, feed bunny with her toy dishes, etc.  It’s pretty cute, and I love watching her do it.  I’m this close to giving her a doll, but I’m hesitant because it’s so adorable with the bunny.

Anyway, she’s just getting big.  We’re switching out a lot of her toys for more age-appropriate stuff (budget allowing), and she is loving trying new things.  She also loves to play with her cousins.  She sees Megan’s kids every now and then, and since Sam's sister Caity moved here from Connecticut, Ros has been able to see her cousin Bea pretty frequently.  They love playing together, except that Ros doesn’t like to be told what to do or have her hand held.  Other than that, though, they do fine, and I think it’ll be good for Ros to have a regular playmate since we don’t have any playgroups going on around here anymore, at least, not that I know about.

Speaking of playmates, Rosalind started nursery!  She loves “singing” and sitting in tiny chairs and playing with other kids, so I think over all she will love the experience.  Her first day was on Sunday.  There actually isn’t much to say about it!  We dropped her off, introduced ourselves to the nursery leader, and she went off to play.  Apparently she had a good time with all the activities they did, and we went to pick her up afterwards and she was still fine.  She started freaking out a bit when she saw our faces, but apparently she was a champ the whole time.  I’m glad it was so easy, and hopefully it will continue to be easy.  They gave us her coloring page—I’m not sure why, as it only has one tiny red squiggle of crayon on it.  I'm probably the only one, but I think that’s hilarious, so I’m keeping it.

What else...oh!  Her memory is getting better, too.  For instance, we have tons of spiders, beetles, earwigs, and other wonderful things living in this apartment (I bet you all want to come visit now, eh?).  A few weeks or maybe a month ago, we were eating breakfast and a big spider goes crawling across the wall.  I don't want to freak out about spiders or bugs or stuff around Ros because I'd rather her be interested in them than afraid of them, so we pointed at the spider and talked about it for a minute, then it crawled behind a painting we have above the kitchen table.  That night, she pointed to the painting and asked "Where'd it go?" so we looked back there, and of course it was gone.  Almost every meal now, she will point at the painting and ask "where'd it go?" thinking that the spider is still hanging around (it better not be).

She's also showing preference for things.  Obviously I'm encouraging this with letting her pick out her clothes for the day, but sometimes she'll freak out if I give her the wrong pacifier or the wrong color of bib.  So there's that.

Anyway, she's just progressing right along, and for some reason has gotten a lot more cuddly lately.  No clue why, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.


Wearing hats and carrying things are her "thing"

Madam, how do you do?

Sunday morning lie-in

Again with hats.

Playing at Aunt Caity's house

All ready for her first day at nursery!  You can see her arm rolls through that sweater...

Climbing on the dresser

"NIGH-NIGHT BUNNEEE!!" (A lot of things are yelled these days)

See what I mean?  Why.

And an outfit choice I should've nixed.