Monday, August 8, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 2! Something You Regret Not Having Done Last Year

I'm going to alter this one to be: Something you regret not having done in the last 12 months, as we're well past the new year.

I really regret not trying harder at breast-feeding. With all the hubbub of World Breastfeeding Week, I have really felt attacked by "lactivists" recently. Yes, I made the decision to formula feed Monkey. But I also felt, at the time, that I had really given breast-feeding a fair shot.

We tried to exclusively breast-feed for six weeks. We had some major roadblocks: I had a breast reduction in 2003, 7 years and a few weeks before Monkey was born. During the procedure, the surgeon made an incision that looks like an anchor, he started on my side, almost as high as my armpit, and cut under my breast all the way around to the other side, and then made an incision from the middle of the under-side of my breast up and around my nipple, on both sides. The purpose of cutting around the nipples (removing them) was to make them proportionate to the rest of my breast post-reduction. This, of course, resulted in severed nerves, which makes breast-feeding VERY difficult. Even 7 years post-op, the nerves on my left breast hadn't fully healed, meaning Monkey was never able to establish a good latch on the left side. This meant that I was trying to exclusively breast-feed a very frustrated baby on just one breast. Add in reduced supply because of the tissue that was removed during my reduction - there's no way to know what kind of tissue is being removed, as everything (except fat) looks the same - and, well, you can see the problem!

On top of those issues, I also had a spinal headache for 5 days after delivery, which greatly affected my initial supply. During the placement and use of my epidural, the needle punctured a small hole in the tissue surrounding my spinal column, and I was leaking spinal fluid, the stuff that keeps your brain in suspension. I eventually had to have a blood patch, a simple procedure in which a nurse draws blood from your arm (she took A LOT of blood - 20 CCs) while an anesthesiologist reopens the epidural site. The blood is then inserted into the site and coagulates around the leak; basically a blood band-aid. While spinal headaches are not uncommon, one as bad as mine is VERY rare; my mom (who was a labor and delivery nurse for 16 years) had never seen a blood patch until mine. In the days between coming home from the hospital and returning for a blood patch, I progressed from having what felt like a dehydration/caffeine-withdrawal fueled headache, to hardly being able to lift my head to look someone in the eye, to not being able to get out of bed and walk on two feet - the day of my blood patch, someone had to hold me up or I'd have to crawl on all fours. I had a CT scan just before the blood patch was performed, and the doctor said my brain was essentially resting against my skull, matter to bone. Try to breast-feed when you can't lift your head up; it's not easy.

Breast-feeding is hard work. I really don't feel like I was prepared for it; I felt that it would just come naturally, and for some women - and babies - it does. This time, I know what to prepare for. I know that it hurts like hell; that bloody, chapped nipples are normal; that owning a comfy chair is a must, as that's where you basically live while establishing breast-feeding and supply; that drinking lots and lots and LOTS of water is not an option.

The fact is: I feed my baby. She's healthy and happy and growing and developing just like she should be. Yes, I regret not trying harder at breast-feeding, but I know that we have an awesome relationship despite, maybe even in spite of, all the difficulties breast-feeding threw our way.

And I know that I have a second chance with Niblet. Here's to hoping she's not a pirhana like her big sister!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 1! Something I'm Looking Forward to This Year

The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the topic for today was seeing Niblet in her newborn diapers! I hope to start using cloth in the hospital (as long as they allow us to; if not, we'll start as soon as we get home), and I'm in love with the (few) tiny diapers we have. A friend of mine loaned me some Thirsties newborn covers and some newborn fleece covers, which are adorable. We'll be ordering 20 Green Mountain Diapers Workhorse fitteds in September, and already have a few Kissaluvs size 0. The Kissas have a snap-down notch to accommodate the cord-stump those first few days, which just adds to the cuteness of them. I took a picture this last week of a fitted and cover that Monkey is currently in, snapped to her current size, next to a picture of a fitted and cover that Niblet will wear when she arrives.

Of course, I'm also looking forward to Monkey's birthday next month! We decided to go with a monkey theme (it's only fitting) and will be celebrating with a big group of friends and family. I'm not allowing myself to stress over her party; after all, the whole point is to enjoy her big day!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Been Waaaaay Too Long!

I've honestly been aching to post for awhile now, but keep getting distracted, so I'm going to challenge myself (again) to blog about something for 30 days. I'm using this list as a jumping-off point. There are 3 "open" days, so I think I'll do a recipe, a photo, and a project on those days.

Since it's been so long since I've updated, there have been even more major changes (or updates) to our situation. Here's a quick run-down:
  1. My brother-in-law married my cousin on June 9th. We're very happy for them, and can't wait to meet our nephew around Thanksgiving.
  2. My mom passed away very unexpectedly on June 22nd. She had a massive heart attack while taking her normal afternoon nap and passed away instantly. I'm immensely grateful that she felt no pain, and that she died in her own bed with her husband by her side. I'm also extremely sad that she won't be here to see Monkey turn one, or meet Niblet, or any of her other grand-babies. Niblet's birth, and this holiday season in particular, will be very difficult, but I have amazing in-laws who will be by our sides.
  3. Niblet is another little girl! Monkey knows there's a baby in my belly, and wakes me up every morning by giving baby sister kisses (eg: Blowing raspberries on my tummy). She's still due at the beginning of November, and every night is a dance party in my belly!
  4. Monkey had a HUGE week last week! She took her first steps on Sunday, started clapping on Monday, started using some very clear words ("down," "hi," "buh-bye," in addition to "dada," and "mama," which have already been a part of her vocabulary) mid-week, and her first tooth broke through on the next Sunday morning! It was amazing to see her grow up so much all in just a few days. We got her first pair of shoes today (and we got a pair of tennis shoes in the next size up, since the store was having a sale. Two pairs of shoes for $22; yes, please!).
Me and Monkey on the Fourth of July. We spent her first Fourth with my step-dad on the coast.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Year of the Staycation!

I was VERY excited when I saw that Toni at The Happy Housewife was co-hosting a multi-blogger event called The Year of the Staycation. I was even MORE excited when I saw that the hosts were looking for bloggers from all across the country, so I put my name in, and received an email a few weeks later confirming that I would be blogging about local staycation adventures in the Bakersfield, CA area.

One of the reasons I was so excited to do this post was because I grew up here, but seem to have forgotten all the wonderful (and CHEAP) things there are to do around here, and now that I have a baby of my own to raise (and hopefully homeschool) here, it was time for a crash course in what Bakersfield has to offer!

First on my list is the California Living Museum, or CALM. This small zoo specializes in housing animals that are native to the central valley and mountains of southern and central California. One very unique feature about CALM is that all of the animals are unable to live outside of the zoo - not because they've been raised in the zoo, but because of traumatic injuries that would make life outside of the zoo far too dangerous. CALM is also home to many endangered species. Operated by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, CALM is located at 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93306. There is a golf course, campground, lake, and soccer complex nearby. Admission is $9.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors over the age of 60, $5.00 for children ages 3-12, and kids under the age of 3 are free.

Up close and personal with a black bear at CALM

Next up is the Kern County Museum. The museum offers a fun glimpse at Kern County and Bakersfield's history, from Black Gold (oil) to The Bakersfield Sound (a very distinct genre of country music, think Buck Owens and Merle Haggard). Kids can learn how Kern County's pioneers survived and thrived in our arid, hot climate. The Kern County Museum is also home to the Lori Brock Children's Discovery Center. Also run by the Superintendent of Schools, the museum is located at 3801 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301. Admission is free for museum members, adults are $10.00, seniors are $9.00, students are $7.00-9.00 depending on age, and children under the age of 3 are free.

Bakersfield is also home to many wonderful parks. With the hot weather quickly approaching, the splash parks that have been replacing public pools are beginning to open up during the weekends. Our favorite park is The Park at Riverwalk. This park offers direct access to the city-spanning bike path and walking trail, along with lots of space for kids to run and play, and a small creek that is available to play in. Other popular parks are the central Beach Park, which is nestled next to the Kern River, and is a very popular destination for families; there is a skate park at Beach Park, so even older kids will enjoy themselves; Beale Park offers a large amphitheater, perfect for impromptu plays put on by kids with great imaginations!

Kern County boasts many lakes, and some great smaller towns. Shafter is home to the BugSeum, which is exactly what it sounds like: a museum full of bugs. Visit Tehachapi any time of the year for cooler temperatures than Bakersfield; make sure you stop and see the famous Tehachapi Loop, and pick some fresh apples in the fall.

Enjoy your Kern County staycation! Even if you loved these places as a kid, they're still fun, and so much has been added!

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's Been Awhile

I was just reading through some of my most "recent" posts, and I can't believe how much has changed!

First off, Monkey is HUGE! And mobile! My little girl has been crawling for just over a month now, and can even pull herself up on furniture (and our legs). It just amazes me how quickly she's growing up. 

Secondly, my little girl is going to be a BIG sister! We got a surprise positive pregnancy test at the end of February, and I'm due at the beginning of November. I'm so excited, but am honestly terrified of having two little ones 14 months apart. But heck, my grandmother did it, I can do it! Right?

Right now, we're calling this baby Niblet. We find out on June 13 what we're having. 

I guess not much else has changed, but those two things are really making a big difference in our lives.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Just Keep Getting Crunchier and Crunchier!

We FINALLY have a store in town that sells cloth diapers, and everything green! Woo hoo!!!

This means that I'm going to be getting a whole lot crunchier. I am so so excited!

Already this week (I know it's Friday for everyone else, but around our house, it's Wednesday), I've cut up 3 t-shirts to replace the paper towels we won't be buying anymore, started washing my face using the oil cleansing method, and I've started washing our laundry with Soap Nuts.

The best part is that HubbyButt doesn't mind that our house is getting greener by the second!

Having Greenshops open up this week was such a blessing! We just discovered that Monkey is allergic to microsuede and microfleece, which is what most of the stay-dry linings on our cloth diapers are. That means that those diapers are no longer going to be part of our rotation for Monkey (I wanted to sell them, but HubbyButt and his mom convinced me to keep them for baby number two - who is NOT currently in the works). That also means that Monkey has been in the same 16 diapers all week! She's NOT allergic to natural fibers, so we've been using our unbleached cotton prefolds and the two bamboo fitteds we own.

Thankfully, Greenshops carries organic bamboo (OBV) AND organic cotton fitteds! Yaaay! We were able to really stock up on diapers for Monkey today during their sidewalk sale. We got a 6 pack of OBV fitteds and a single cotton fitted, plus a bag of Soap Nuts and a gorgeous new sling for just over $100! It was a total steal and I'm thrilled!

I'm so excited to get some action shots of the sling in particular. It's pink silk and is absolutely gorgeous!

In other wonderful news, Monkey rolled from back to belly for the first time today! She's been rolling from belly to back since the beginning of November, but hadn't been able to figure out how to get back until today, when I was moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I guess it's time to start babyproofing!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Product Review: Nacho Dipes AND Itsy Bitsy Bums

A few weeks before Christmas, I was desperately searching for a Christmas diaper for Monkey's bum. After a very disappointing address issue which resulted in a lost diaper, Abby at Itsy Bitsy Bums contacted me with a really really cute diaper for sale. A few days later this came in the mail.

I am in LOVE with this diaper! It's from Nacho Dipes and is made of organic bamboo velour on the inside. It's so soft and super absorbant. There's even a hidden layer of PUL (polyurethane laminate) that makes it waterproof, so we don't have to cover up the cute print! One of my favorite things about this diaper is that it has 2 sets of snaps; one is under the wings and adjusts the rise, instead of having a front snapping rise like the rest of our diapers. I also love that it has cross-over snaps so it fits very skinny babies, like Monkey, really snugly, but I think it would also fit a bigger baby as well. In the photo above, it's snapped all the way across on both sides to fit very small babies.

Even though Christmas is long over, I still put Monkey in this diaper on a regular basis. I expect we'll get a lot of use out of our first WAHM dipe!

Abby was so awesome to work with, too! Along with the diaper, she also sent me a sample of Grandma El's Diaper Remedy, which is a diaper rash gel that is totally cloth diaper safe. It can also be used as a preventative and smells so good! I'm seriously considering moving all of my coconut oil to the kitchen (it's really tasty in scrambled eggs!) and investing in Grandma El's; it clears up Monkey's rashes in at most two diaper changes.

Itsy Bitsy Bums has a really great selection and awesome prices. When we have a second baby, we'll be ordering the newborn rental package, rather than investing in a stash of diapers that the baby will outgrow in just a few short weeks. She also regularly offers free shipping on order $35 and over; if you pop over to her site right now, she's offering a free Planet Wise wet bag on orders over $25 along with the free shipping! That is a great deal!

These are not solicited reviews. I love these items and sellers, and just want to spread the word!