Baby Gear with the 3rd Baby


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Collecting our favorite baby gear into a post has been a fun tradition for me, so here goes round 3. As you can imagine, we have gone through quite a bit of gear and have learned a lot along the waythe past 4, (almost 5!) years. You can read my posts on Baby Gear with the 1st Baby and Baby Gear with the 2nd Baby.)

Quality first

First tip is to buy something that will last. Especially if you are planning on more than 1-2 kids. I'm also a big proponent of buying gear that is not only useful, but nice to look at. And less is always more. There are some things that kids grow out of so fast, it's not even worth buying. If you feel like you really need it, borrow or buy used. Bumbo seats, swings and activity chairs fit well into this category.

  • Car seat-- convertible only. Carseats are for cars, I don't understand infant carseats. We got one with Bridger and we took it out once for church and we swore we would never do it again. So cumbersome! Just hold your baby. I understand wanting to take it out while baby is sleeping but most experts recommend taking baby out once you get home anyway. A good convertible will last you from newborn to 5 years old. More money in your pocket.
  • Carrier or 2 (or 5 ;). I did a whole baby carrier review a while back. I should do another sometime soon!
  • Baby comfy nose--probably the best baby product you can get other than a carrier. The amount of snot you can get it is draw-dropping and the icky factor is completely zeroed out when your sick baby is able to stay latched because their nose is clear.
  • Puj (travel size). Had the normal size with Bridger and got rid of it when he outgrew it because it was bulky to store. The travel size is much better!
  • Crib side-car. (Crib attached to parent bed).
  • Stroller--still love (and miss) our Chicco Liteway. If we had more space, I would have kept it. We have the City Select now. It is definitely an investment at the retail price of $750. But I paid $450 for our’s, including the 2nd seat. There are so many sales all year round, don't pay more than $500 for it. But I think there are so many kinds of strollers, it's all about your personal taste and where you'll be using it the most often. I just love that all 3 can be in the stroller if I need to move fast. (You'll need the ride board to fit 3 kids.) I actually haven't used it in months...maybe because we aren't out and about as much in the winter. But our boys are so big now they don't want to be pushed so much.
  • High chair: IKEA. Got our’s for $1 at a yard sale. Score!
  • Bamboobies: the best nursing pads, period. I wrote all about nursing pads for Lactation Link recently.
  • Diapering: still using Amazon Subscribe & Save for Luvs. Still use a travel changing pad on the bedroom floor. So proud of myself for never buying a big changing table or pad! Just one more thing they can't fall out of.
  • Silicone bibs w/ pockets. Trust me. Get them.
real life right here. high chair in the bathroom so i can shower :)

Nice to have
  • Bumbo. Got one for $10 at a yard sale for Colden and saved it for Riah. It's really only used for a couple months. But it's fun to help them feel big and sitting up.

Things we haven't used
  • Activity chair etc. Borrowed or bought one used for Colden and Bridger but we didn't get one for Riah. There were definitely times I wished for something to put her in, but then I just put her in the wrap and that moment passed. She was quickly sitting up and crawling around on her own.
  • Swing: only used for a few months with Bridger. Didn't use for Colden or Riah.

Wish we would have gotten…

  • Cloth diapers. I really wish we would have bitten the bullet and just done cloth diapers. We gave it a half-hearted shot with Bridger. But we didn't have a diaper sprayer, so my hands were in a lot of poop. And Nate was NOT interested in going along with my hippy-ways so it didn't work out. But every month I see our big box of diapers delivered...I die a little inside (and so does the earth!). And 3 kids and $2000 later...I definitely have regrets.
  • Diaper Genie: Maybe it's all the diapers, maybe it's the potty training, maybe it's the old house...but our house smell leaves something to be desired. We do put poopy diapers outside ASAP.  Maybe a diaper genie would have helped...maybe not.

What babies really need
Babies don't really need much stuff. What families really need is education and support. Education on how to breastfeed and support to bond with their baby as long as needed. I wrote about this more in-depth a while ago, "Looking Past the Baby Registry." What were your baby necessities? Things you wish you would have had?

Our crib sidecar sleeping arrangement


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sleeping arrangements for our other babies
For our two oldest, we had various sleeping arrangements but I knew for our third baby that we wanted something a little easier to keep baby close at night. Bridger, our oldest, always slept in a pack 'n play in our room and I had to get out of bed and get fully woken every time he needed to nurse during the night. And then after the last time each night, he usually just stayed in our bed anyway. Colden, our second, was similar but we kept the pack n' play a little closer to our bed. So when this baby came, I just wanted to be able to roll over and feed her without all the getting up. We kind of fell into co-sleeping with the others so this time around I wanted to be a little more intentional about it. I had read about the Safe Sleep 7 from Sweet Sleep and felt good about co-sleeping from the get-go after knowing we could follow those. 

Side car for new baby
The crib side-car seemed to be the most economical solution. There are co-sleepers on the market but the baby quickly grows out of them. And our older kids end up in our bed at some point during the night half the time anyway, so we really just needed a bigger space for all of us to fit! Buying a king sized mattress seems like an obvious choice but I wanted to be able to keep the baby in the bed without risk of her falling out!

We scoured the internet for tutorials on crib sidecars and never really found a true tutorial. I wish I could share an easy step-by-step with you but each bed is so different that you really have to wing it. However, we did stick to a few principles (some can be found in the Safe Sleep 7). 

  1. Crib mattress flush with the adult mattress. They had to be the same height.
  2. No gaps between the mattresses or between the crib mattress and crib rails.
  3. No gaps between crib and wall. 
How we made it work
So when we started this, our bed was on a traditional box spring, bed frame and then risers (for under bed storage). Living in 800 sq ft, we needed to keep the under bed storage, so we needed a way to keep that but lower the overall height of the bed. 

Box spring to bed slats
We ended up leaving the risers but got rid of the box spring.  Nate cut slats that fit in the bed frame and then our mattress went on top of that. You can find tutorials for this or you can buy them from Ikea. Makes you wonder why on earth we are sold bulky, unnecessary box springs!

Height of crib bottom
The Ikea crib (Sniglar) we chose comes with two pre-cut heights for the crib bottom. Neither of these would make the crib mattress flush with our mattress. So we measured the height of our bed by   measuring from the floor to the top of our mattress. Then used that measurement to make new holes in the crib frame for the crib bottom with the electric drill. This way, the mattresses would be flush. 

No gaps
Then we attached the crib to our bed frame with 2 heavy duty ratchet straps (like you would use to attach a kayak to the top of your car). I added a pool noodle, seen below, to keep the mattresses pushed together really well. But the older boys just steal it all the time to play with it. So we just make sure to push the mattresses close together if they spread any. Sometimes I will lay a baby blanket under the baby and me so there isn't any risk of her falling in a theoretical gap but it's not something I really worry about. The crib mattress is the right size for this crib so there isn't ever really any gap.

So that's pretty much it! I hope this gets you a better idea of how to make it work. Baby is 10 months now and still sleeping like this. We love it. I lay next to her at night and just have to roll over to nurse! Even with her being the third baby and adding a baby to a family with a 3 yr old and 2 yr old, the newborn period was so much easier this time because I got REST! She would murmur in her sleep and I could roll over to feed. Then when she was done, I could, mostly in my sleep, pull my shirt back down and roll back onto my pillow or stay curled around her in the sidelying position. And she was much happier than my other newborns because she didn't need to cry to be fed at night. I could answer her needs much faster. <3

Once she started rolling, we used the Dockatot on the floor for naptime. And now that she has grown out of the Dockatot, her naps are either in the carrier on me, on the bedroom floor on a blanket or on the bed while I am working on the computer nearby.

This was taken one night that Nate was out of town, so other than him not being in this photo, this is a pretty good visual of what our bed looks like many nights. We put the boys to bed in their own beds and I used to hate when they came into our bed. But I've learned that this is normal. When put it into  global evolutionary and anthropological terms, this is how the majority of humans sleep and have slept for millennia. Right next to their family members. For protection, for food, for warmth, for simple human comfort. I've learned to embrace it and it sure feels good to parent instinctively.

And yes, we did use a Dockatot for a few months but not every night or nap. It's a good tool if you have concerns about rolling onto your baby but I wouldn't characterize it as a necessity.

If you are thinking about bedsharing, I would urge you to read about the Safe Sleep 7 and pick up a copy of Sweet Sleep. It takes the fear-mongering out of the sleep debate and gives you the facts, all based on the best available evidence.

I hope this give you an idea of what one possible sleep arrangement looks like. Every family and every baby has different needs but this is what is working for us...right now.

More reading on infant sleep
Sweet Sleep
Our Babies, Ourselves
The No-Cry Sleep Solution

The Myth of Sleeping through the Night
Sleep Needs Versus Sleep Wants
This is Why Your Baby Doesn't Sleep through the Night
Here are Some Lies People Tell You About Infant Sleep
Why Your Newborn Should Not Be Sleeping through the Night

Getting it right: Birth & breastfeeding in Jane the Virgin


Monday, August 1, 2016

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

I've been bingeing on Netflix's Jane the Virgin lately. Have you seen it? My roommates and I watched lots of cheesy telenovelas in college so watching this is just like old times. It's full of drama and humor. And I love the main character! Here's the rundown: basically, Jane gets accidentally artificially inseminated by some guy's sperm when she was supposed to be only getting a pap smear! (reason #57 to skip the pap!) This guy turns out to be her new boss which she kissed 5 years ago, then she meets her dad for the first time, she falls in love with her baby daddy, breaks her fiance's heart...oh and there is a drug lord taking over the hotel she works at and's a true telenovela. point in writing this is that she is pregnant and has her baby in the first season and is raising a newborn in the second. The series perpetuates a few myths about birth and breastfeeding that I want to address!

1. Doulas. This subject is actually done okay. She learns about doulas from a "natural mom" at Target. Her family makes fun of the idea. But she considers how nice it would be to have someone there just for her, to guide her through the birth process. She doesn't end up hiring one.

2. Babywearing. I was just bothered by the "natural mom's" wrapping job. This mom gives Jane some advice (in a snotty tone that I didn't appreciate) about natural/modern parenting. And really? They couldn't have someone come on the show and teach this lady how to actually wrap? The baby is falling out of her wrap. Sigh.

3. Lactation class. Jane wants to go to a lactation class and her mom and Rafael laugh about it and "why would you need a class for that?" Uh. I had this same attitude! Sad. Anyway, she goes to the class with her mom and the teacher gives some good advice untilllll she tells her to lean over the baby so it doesn't choke on her milk. Um, what? That makes no sense. The opposite is actually true. Leaning over your baby is just going to give you a backache. Leaning back, however, allows baby to latch easier and slows down your milk so your baby doesn't choke/struggle with a heavy flow of milk.

Lactation class round 2. Shortly after Mateo is born, she is having some struggles breastfeeding and they go back to the lactation class. She tells the lactation specialist that she is struggling and in a room full of other moms, the lactation specialist asks to see her nipple. In real life, the lactation specialist would have given her privacy and one-on-one attention for her specific issue. However, after this visit, she says the latch is improved. So, props for lactation professionals!

4. Birth. I thought this was actually done pretty well. Jane's birth experience really resonated with me and my experience giving birth to Riah. Lots of "I can't do it" with deep breathing. Thank goodness the "hee-hoo-hee-hoo" breathing of the past is gone! Of course, it's made super dramatic as her labor starts suddenly on the bus while in traffic, yada yada.

4. Asking for help. Loved how Jane accepts help from her mom and her mom dives in.

4. Scheduled feeds. Jane is an organized person and they make a big deal out of Mateo eating every 3 hours. Scheduled feeds are actually connected with slower weight gain and early weaning. Letting baby set his own pattern and feeding on his cues is the recommendation for successful breastfeeding. That is, as long as baby is eating 8-12 or more times in a 24-hour.

5. Cluster feeding. Newborn Mateo is feeding every half an hour and all the women in the house are perplexed. Jane is frustrated and doubting herself. Rafael enters the room and proclaims that Mateo is probably cluster feeding to encourage her milk to come in. "I read it in the book," he says. Go dad! Happy to see a dad supportive in word and deed of breastfeeding. The next scene is great when her mature milk comes in and leaks through her shirt. She dances back to her baby. Cute moment.

6. Pumping and dumping while drinking. Jane goes out to a club with her friend Lina for Lina's 25th birthday and she brings along her pump. Love that they normalize pumping and the need to express milk when away from baby. There was cute moment between Jane and Lina sitting on the bathroom floor while Jane was pumping. However, she proclaims that she will be "pumping and dumping" so she can drink with her friend. This actually isn't always necessary. Since alcohol (and anything else the mother ingests) goes through our digestive system BEFORE affecting our milk, she would not have needed to dump the milk she pumped at the club. Depending on how much she drank, she would only need to avoid nursing for a few hours after her last drink. The usual recommendation is that if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to drink. Kellymom has more about this.

7. "He's weaned off of me!" Jane goes to an overnight writer's retreat and Rafael keeps the baby. She forgets the pump cord and Rafael comes by to drop it off. Since Mateo is hungry when they get there, she decides to feed him instead of pump. But Mateo will not latch after almost an hour of trying. In frustration, they give him a bottle and he drinks hungrily. She is noticeably upset that he couldn't latch after only being away from her for several hours. Instead of working on getting baby back to breast with a lactation professional, she pumps exclusively for several months. By pumping every 3 hours (night and day) Jane becomes a slave to the pump and it literally runs her into the ground. Exclusive pumping moms are awesome. But I wish the show would have taken the opportunity to show the benefit of lactation support. Which would have made total sense because Jane had already benefited from lactation support before. After several months of pumping, she and Rafael decide it's okay for her to stop pumping. She is very relieved. I wish they could have ended this subject on a better note but it was nice to see a mom and dad making such a tough decision together.

What do you like or dislike about Jane the Virgin? I could do without some of the characters (Louisa!) and naughty stuff!

Nutritious Movement


Kids are such good examples of nutritious movement. Just look at Bridger's squat!
So here is what has been blowing my mind lately...

Nutritious Movement!
Listened to her podcast today about periods and wow! Going to save that one and listen again when mine comes back with a vengeance in a few (hopefully several) months, to remind myself this is part of being a healthy woman!

Also, I've just been really interested in pelvic health and Katy has lots of great stuff on that.

And listening to her podcast on restrictive clothing helped me realize that hey! Comfy clothes aren't really about being lazy! They are about being able to move in the ways that you need to and not being constricted by your clothing. So, good news. I don't have to worry about fitting back into my favorite shorts. Just ordered some new yoga pants. Sweet. It's about movement, people, okay? But really, when I squeeze into my old skinny jeans, I can't move around and play on the ground with the boys. I can't just stop, drop and yoga (like Bridger suggests all the time) if I'm wearing clothes that prevent me from moving.

So here's to more squats, more walking and less sitting!

Riah's Birth Story


Monday, May 30, 2016

All photos by Cate Johnson.

Riah Dianne Parr was born on Saturday May 14, 2016. She weighed 9 pounds and 5 ounces and was 22 inches long. She was born at home surrounded by loving support. We are so in love with her! Her name is derived from my middle name, Moriah. Her middle name is after my mother, Karen Dianne. Just days before her birth I was DONE and telling everyone that birth was a fairytale and that I would be pregnant forever. Now she is sleeping on my chest as I type this. I'm excited to share her birth story...

I usually gloss over this section when reading birth stories so I'll try to keep it short. Since learning more about birth over the last few years and having had healthy pregnancies, we decided together that a homebirth would be a great option for us. Nate and I went to a Meet the Midwives event to interview homebirth midwives. I researched a handful before going and looked up reviews. At the meeting, I was instantly drawn to Karla Bennett, CNM. She seemed like a sweet motherly figure with great credentials and experience. She is unique in that she is a certified nurse midwife but only attends homebirths. Most CNMs attend hospital births. I was excited to start care with her!

Since I was making a lot of demands for this birth (homebirth, doula, photographer), I conceded on one thing that Nate really wanted: to have the gender be a surprise. We found out Riah was a girl ourselves when she was on my chest!

Quick note about prenatal care with a homebirth midwife: I can't say enough just how awesome it is to have direct access to my care provider. I call and get her, not a receptionist or a nurse or hold music. I text her anytime and get a quick response. She came over on a holiday weekend to check on the baby simply because I was worried. Of course homebirth or birth centers aren't for everyone, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this particular aspect. My prenatal check ups were in my home. She engaged with the boys each time and made them feel important and helpful. It was so nice to avoid dragging them to an office for my checkups.

One of the most frequent questions I got was if I was going to give birth in the water. I think water birth is awesome and I wish more women had that option. But it did not appeal to me really! Probably because my labors are pretty short and my pushing stages are pretty short. And I hesitate to say this because I don't want to offend anyone who has had a waterbirth (really, I think you're awesome!) but it just kind of grosses me out. I've seen too many birth photos of moms sitting in bloody water. And I really like physical contact during birth and that can be harder to do when you're separated by a tub. But now I'm thinking waterbirth might be a good idea for me next time since pushing was so hard this time!

An obstetrician might describe my pregnancy as "uneventful." I am blessed to have normal, healthy pregnancies. First trimester was marked by morning sickness and fatigue. Second trimester was glorious! Lots of energy. Third trimester I was big, tired and grumpy. The end is just so hard. I'd give birth 10 more times but I think I can only mentally handle one more pregnancy. The only real complication was another kidney stone. This time I was 36 weeks. Super lame. I spent a night at labor & delivery for fluids and meds. (Loved getting that bill.) Once it passed, I was super grateful to be past it and tried to enjoy the last few weeks of pregnancy. I took the boys to the park and the Tulip Festival. Holly and Amy took me out for a pedicure. I snuggled the boys close and tried to hang on to Colden's babyhood for a few more days.

Cate literally sent me over 400 photos! She is amazing. I'm terrible at editing out photos so get ready for 400 photos! ;)

The Food Nanny has changed my life


Sunday, February 14, 2016

A few weeks ago my sister Mitzi called asking if I had any food/dinner prep system that could help her feel more organized. I had little to offer and told her to share with me if she found anything good because I needed help too! Fate was listening because just a moment after our conversation, she was at a friend's house who told her about the using Food Nanny's meal planning system. Mitzi quickly shared with me what she learned and within a few days, I had started a new meal planning system. I am so grateful we had that conversation because I feel so much less stress about dinner now!

My new meal planning system
I took the Food Nanny's basic ideas (using a 2 week meal planner with themed nights/meals and a shopping list) and changed it a bit to fit our family.

While I do like using my iPhone for lots of organizational things like to-do lists and calendar items, I have so far really enjoyed printing hard copies of these lists and putting them on a big clipboard to keep at home and when I go shopping.

As you can see, I have left some room to add more recipes as we try out new things.
1. The very best thing I did was make a list of all of our favorite meals. I made a list of basic themes that our meals generally fall in to and then went through all my recipe boards and cookbooks and added our favorite regular meals to the master list. This is the most important part of my new meal planning system because having all our meals in our list is so helpful! I've done various types meal planning before but was always having to flip through all my books and boards to find what we like and would get overwhelmed very quickly. Now I can scan through our favorites easily since they are all in one place!

I need to start doing this in pencil!
2. After using her meal plan once, I made my own to fit my big handwriting. :) It's actually exactly like hers, just less fancy.

This list is about halfway done.
3. Again, after using her shopping list once, I made my own shopping list too. After a couple of years of going to the same grocery store, I have a pretty set pattern that I follow. So having my own categories made more sense. 

The result? I have meals planned out 2 weeks in advance! I grocery shop less. (One big trip every two weeks and 1 smaller one each week for produce, milk and eggs.) I'm not panicking every afternoon about what we are going to eat for dinner. I just look at the plan and set out anything that needs to thaw. I even plan out our "simple nights" of grilled cheese or whatever, thus there is no guilt that I'm not feeding my family super well because I know that tomorrow night will be fancier/healthier. And if I don't feel like making the meal I have planned for that night, I have several others to choose from. So I don't stick exactly to this plan, but I know I have everything in the house I need for all the meals on the plan. I feel so much less stress about meal planning now! The next things I want to add to my system are a weekly planned baking day for bread and granola, a planned day to do in-advance meal prep like frozen dinners etc and a night for Nate to cook :).

What things have helped you feel less stressed about dinner and meal planning?

Nursing in Public


Monday, January 18, 2016

The discussion around breastfeeding in public is making the rounds again in social media thanks to some social experiment videos made by Joey Salads. I'm not linking to them because he doesn't deserve the page views. In the videos, a mother is shown breastfeeding her baby and the reactions to those around her are documented. Most of the reactions are negative. I'm upset because these videos are super staged and I'm convinced all the negative reactors are actors as well. These videos are only discouraging new mothers from doing what is natural and necessary for themselves and their babies.

I felt motivated to write this post to those new mothers who see these videos and reconsider breastfeeding in public. A poll on a local mom forum asking about this issue quickly collected more than 60 responses with the vast majority saying they had never had such an encounter. There have been documented cases in Utah where mothers were asked to leave a public place to breastfeed privately but these are the minority. And usually the employee requesting was out of line and the store/venue/whatever later apologized. But these cases usually do not involve the blatant rudeness and harassment acted out in these videos.

I've had nothing but positive experiences when breastfeeding in public with or without a cover. And I support moms who breastfeed either way. But the more new mothers see breastfeeding uncovered, the more comfortable they will feel in doing so and the more they will know about breastfeeding! These are nothing but good things. Any nay-sayers can look away. And if anyone is worried about seeing a bit of boob then they should never go to a mall or turn on the TV! The primary function of breasts is to nourish and sustain the life of children. Our society is the first in history to have sexualized the breast so much that its primary function is so often disregarded. Is it any wonder that breastfeeding rates are as low as they are in the U.S.?

Everyone can help change this by simply not reacting to a woman feeding her baby. Nurse on mamas! You are life-givers!

**Edited to add some of my favorite commentary on the subject:
4 Reasons Why Women Should Never Breastfeed in Public (satire, of course)
10 Things That Have Nothing to Do With Why I Breastfeed
Just because a body part is at some moments in time sexual, does not make it sexual at ANY GIVEN MOMENT.
Why I'm Glad Someone Told Me to Stop Breastfeeding in Public
Breastfeeding in public, a man's perspective. Disclaimer: He is crass, but his point is spot-on!

***3/28/17 update: I recently wrote about this topic for the Lactation Link blog.

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