You & I (and our baby)

Couples with children often forget to separate some time for themselves to reconnect as partners.

Right on Livia’s six month birthday, we decided to take a little R&R at the beach in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca to spend some quality time with each other, have some adult time with friends, and leave our little one in the care of my parents.

Let me tell you, I was so excited for this trip as I knew we could use some much needed time together, but I was also dreading leaving our baby for four days straight. I had just stopped breast feeding, so I was a little apprehensive about the whole situation and seriously felt she would forget who her mother was.

The moment we dropped her off with my parents I got teary eyed, but my hubby was super supportive and reassured me, as did my parents.

It is hard leaving something you love so much behind- but I also knew I had to take care of us as a relationship. Plus we weren’t going anywhere far and I knew my mom had been looking forward to taking care of her for some time now.

So now we returned from our travels and I can tell all new moms and dads one thing- rip the bandaid and take the trip. Yes, you’ll want to talk to your baby every day, but you’ll also get some much needed sleep and relaxation without having to worry about what time baby will be hungry or cranky. You’ll get to cuddle and sleep in, as well as have fun going out and getting pampered with a massage or two.

We had a great time together at the beach, spoke to Livia every day, and enjoyed ourselves.

One thing that I think is very important is that you need to put yourselves first as a couple in order to move forward as a family. Show your children how much you care, love, and respect each other so that they can learn to act the same way in the future. Strong together is better than strong alone because your messages and lessons will be more concrete and hold more stance in your kids’ eyes.

Yes, you’ll get occasional feelings of guilt for leaving your children behind, but it needs to happen for everyone’s sanity and to ensure that they are also used to being around different people. After all, who is going to stay around after you send your kids off to college? Your significant other.

(I will tell you, though, the moment I saw my daughter at the airport coming back from the beach, my heart exploded.)

5 of the Most Useless Baby Products

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion on this subject, as some things work for some parents and some things don’t. I have, however, compiled a list of my top 5 most useless baby products that I have come across with hopes that this will at the very least keep you informed and save you some much needed cash for other, more useful things- like diapers, Desitin, and swaddles.

Looks can be deceiving, so no matter how cool an object looks, research it first!

So here we go…

1. Wipe Warmer– When I first found this on Amazon, I was flabbergasted. I don’t think any parents before 2010 used a wipey warmer. My baby will not be raised having her butt cleaned with warmed wipes only to become the most demanding child in the planet. I call this the “wipey warmer” syndrome. I could already see her asking me warm her towels in the drying machine.

2. Premium Bottle Warmer– unless you are willing to wait 20 minutes for the bottle to warm while your little one is throwing an ever loving fit, then go for it. You will but wait only once. I personally prefer the old stovetop method, especially if you have a gas stove.

3. Temperature bath ducky– seriously, just stick your elbow in the water.

4. Baby Knee Pads- is your baby rollerskating? Probably not, let them figure out the crawling thing on their own, which we’ve doing for thousands of years.

5. Pacifier Wipes– Seriously.

What have you found to be the most useless baby product?

What are you feeding your baby?

I have heard so many different schedules and parenting hacks for baby foods, from eating super-charged lactation cookies to increase breast-milk production and using the latest bottle warming technology (this thing takes forever, I prefer the old stove-top option), all the way to baby food processors and baby formula pod Keurig machines.

My method was pretty simple. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my daughter as long as I could and then introduce a natural diet full of fresh and nutritious ingredients. I breastfed Livia exclusively until she was five months old and then I noticed she started getting more demanding as my work hours got crazier. As committed as I was (I even took a manual breast pump on my ski trip when she was four months old, took my pumping breaks at the tops of the mountains in 10F weather, and  would store the milk in a little backpack until I made my way down the mountain), something had to give.

Taking my mother’s and grandmother’s advice, I started supplementing her breast-milk with evaporated milk and water (an old hack used by countless mothers back in the 60’s and 70’s). I was pretty apprehensive about the whole situation, but Livia sucked that first bottle down in lightning speed and did very well with the initial introduction. I asked several pediatricians what they thought, and I received the same feedback- as long as she is eating and gaining weight, you are gold. Why not formula (I have been asked this several times)? I felt her digestion was very similar to when she was only on breastmilk and she was handling it like a champ. Why change something when it works and is equally healthy?

A month after the fact, I started introducing solid foods because she kept staring longingly at me whenever I had a spoon in my hand. I was so excited to use my Beaba Babycook steamer and blender, so I armed myself with organic  bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples and started one new food each week. So far she is absolutely in love with her sweet potatoes. After I steam these, I mix a little bit of evaporated milk to get the consistency where I need it to be, and she is over the moon. As a working mother, it is hard to cook her fresh food on a daily basis. But what I do is simple- I cook once a week and store her food in baby freezer food trays and defrost them on the stove-top, never in the microwave.

So what is the right way? There really isn’t as long as you are raising a healthy and happy baby. There is only your way when it comes to your children. I felt “breast was best” to start off with (but I also was not planning on breastfeeding her into her toddler years), and I also think introducing them to a healthy diet to start off with is crucial. Not only because of their overall health, but because it develops babies into children that are willing to try new things and leaves them less prone to being picky eaters.

Now for those adventurous mamas that are still breastfeeding, but want to be able to go out on a little outdoor adventure like I did- I recommend the Evenflo Manual Breast Pump  , $16.99, Amazon. It worked like a charm and was easy to carry around.

Want to make your own baby’s food? BEABA Babycook 4 in 1 Steam Cooker and Blender, 4.5 cups, Dishwasher Safe, Latte Mint $149.95, Amazon

Need help storing food for the little one? Best Homemade Baby Food Storage Container Freezer Trays  , $18.95, Amazon (the little pods serve as the perfect baby serving and are also easy to take out)

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Homemade sweet potatoes made with the Beaba Babycook and stored in the baby food freezer trays

 

I am a Mom

A second excerpt from 30 Days of Night… 

September 22-Day 2 I am a Mom

I woke up to the sunlight in pain and groggy- one nurse (who I did not like) had been in and out of the room giving me pain killers and trying to get me to wear a belly band. She told me I would also have to try and get up from the bed the next day. I almost had her thrown out of the room, but I was knocked out and in pain. But when I awoke, a new nurse greeted me warmly and she was awesome. Your father had spent the night in the room and was attentive and ready for action.

For some reason, I had developed an affinity for oatmeal overnight so I had breakfast ordered in and quietly ate with you father right next to me. Both grandmothers were about to show up, so I wanted to make sure I was ready to receive them and more importantly, ready to get out of bed and see you.

The friendly nurse came in and gave me a status update on your well-being. Everything was fine and you were being treated and were still hooked up to an IV so they could not give you the colostrum yet. They mentioned they would use it for that night. That was the moment she mentioned it was time for me to try and get out of bed as it was a requirement to make sure that the surgery went as it should have- so we got ready to try.

If I thought that last night’s contractions had been bad, trying to get out of bed was equally painful and brutal. It took your father and the nurse to get me upright with me screaming in pain and tears in my eyes (you will realize that I’ve cried more during these thirty days than I have in the past ten years of my life). After that painful ordeal of them basically dragging me into a wheelchair so I could go down and see you in the NICU ward, I was finally sitting down and ready to go.

Your father gingerly wheeled me out of the room, both of our excitement evident as we made our way through the hallway to the 8th floor- until your father decided to use me as a bumper car and ram me into the elevator door. I remember cussing him to the end of the world because of the uncontrollable pain, but now I laugh at the thought.

We finally got to see you and my heart was so full, it almost exploded. That was when they handed you over to me so I could try and see if I could breastfeed you. Sure enough, the moment you were in arms I instinctively put you towards me breast and you latched on with no issues. I remember giving myself another mental high-five and a pat on the back. Your father was also pretty impressed and I was so proud.

It was you and me and our little moment.

Once we were finished, we went back upstairs as you still had to be monitored. Both grandmas were already in the room and smiling. My mother brought you the cutest white teddy bear with balloons and lollypops, and I immediately thought I wanted one.

We finalized all the paperwork to where your name read Livia Isabella Jackson. Why Livia? It was a strong name, one fit for queens. Livia had been the third wife of emperor Augustus of Rome and considered one of the strongest women in Roman history. My name, Alexandra, was strong and literally meant “Defender of Mankind.” I felt you needed something equally mighty. Despite being tiny at birth, you were small, but strong. Why Isabella? Your father and I fell in love with that name since the very beginning. We had thought about names even before I got pregnant and the name Isabella kept sticking. Plus it was an added bonus that we could call you Bella. Truth be told, your father has liked that name since he saw the movie Twilight.

We spent the day chatting and going over last night’s events. Family called, pictures were taken, and we rejoiced in the fact of your birth. It was a pretty quiet day as I was not ready to receive other visitors, but it was nice to have people that loved you there. It takes a village, and I was beginning to see that.

I still had colostrum I wanted to pump out for you, so I took another try at the pump and rocked on. I pumped out about 18 CCs and had it sent over to the NICU ward for you. Your father cheered me on as he helped me get the pump parts together and sat with me- he was like my pumping cheerleader.

That night I slept soundly and was excited for you to be discharged and in the room with us. I was a Mom.