Favorite Baby Products

As a new parent, it’s amazing HOW MUCH STUFF you amass. It’s everywhere. We’ve been overtaken.

Even with a surplus of guidance, we still ended up with lots of things we never used and others we’d gladly stockpile. Babies are all unique, and I know this list varies for each family, but several friends who are expecting have asked for my must-haves. Here are some favorites, bearing in mind that none of this is actually required, but all of it is majorly helpful. And I’m sure I’ll have an entirely new list in another few months.

Life Savers:

Summer SwaddleMe blankets: Once you learn about the Moro Reflex, you, too, will savor these blankets which are basically baby straight jackets. Turns out velcro is all you need to keep your infant from smacking herself in the face and waking up every three minutes while sleeping.
MAM pacifiers: These are the only ones Lila likes and are unique in that they come in a special mini size for newborns, where most brands only offer 0-3 months or 3+ months. They also come in glow-in-the-dark styles which makes them automatically cooler.
Mobi Wallmate: An automatic night light is something I bought on a whim because it was on clearance, and am thankful for every day. With a baby, your hands are always full, and you spend a lot of time looking for things in the dark.
Rock ‘n Play Sleeper: Oh man. Can’t rave about this one enough. It has been our saving grace for a baby with reflux and where she still sleeps for the most part, at five months.
Nose Frida the Snot Sucker: Bless you, crazy Swedish product engineers. This thing is so gross and utterly ingenious.
Dohm sound machine: Experts say that the noise level in the womb is as loud as a vacuum cleaner, so babies are–understandably–a little freaked out by silence. This thing is the best. Not only does it offer steady white noise to help lull baby to sleep, it really effectively drowns out other noises so you can actually do things around the house. People will tell you not to tiptoe around your sleeping baby, so that she learns not to be a light sleeper, but when you haven’t slept longer than an hour in three weeks, this thing will be your best friend.
Boba: Babywearing is great for baby and convenient for parents. It allows you to do all kinds of important things, like eat and get the mail without an international incident. I chose this carrier on a friend’s recommendation but I know people love the Ergo and Moby as well.
Whale of a Tub: Bath time is a nightly ritual. In fact, for a period of early weeks, it was the only place Lila didn’t cry during the day. We took LOTS of baths.
Gas drops – any brand: Believe it or not, baby farts are kind of cute…but they’re also painful for little tummies, and that means crying. And crying. And more crying. We would buy these by the keg if it was possible.
Boppy changing pad liners: Blow outs happen. These make them less offensive to clean up.
Munchkin formula dispenser: So that leaving the house is a possibility.
Boon Lawn drying rack: Just yes.
Newborn side-snap t-shirts: My mom got us some of these and they’re the best for brand new babes. They’re soft, easy to put on a blob-like newborn and don’t interfere with a healing umbilical cord like a onesie can.

Other things:

PJs that zip > PJs with snaps.
Receiving blankets make great burp cloths.
You won’t need many newborn clothes if you have a summer baby (or a whenever baby if you’re in AZ).
Buy diaper cream, nose saline drops and probiotics.
Mercury = bad. Get a digital thermometer.
Try to avoid bath products or lotions with dyes or scents.

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When you cancel cable:

1. You gleefully exclaim, “Well, guess we’ll HAVE to re-watch every episode of Parks and Recreation on Netflix!”

2. There’s a lot more video game playing by one third of this household. Hint: it’s not me or Lila.

3. I’m much closer to finishing a book than I was a week ago.

4. I wonder, daily, what the ratio is of homeowners on HGTV who are deciding to Love It or List It.

5. My love/hate relationship with the Duggars is cooling off. (I know. I KNOW.)

6. We’ve received many clingy-ex emails and postcards from DirectTV. They want us back so bad.

7. We’ve discovered fun new Pandora stations. One hip hop selection so inappropriate we couldn’t make eye contact.

8. The dogs are oblivious.

9. The baby is oblivious.

10. I know with complete certainty that none of my actions are directly or indirectly supporting the Kardashians.

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6 things

1. Last week I started drinking unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water every day. Because it’s supposed to boost your immune system and help your body eliminate illnesses. Also, it’s disgusting.

2. My dining habits leave little to the imagination. Last night I made chicken stroganoff for dinner. Tonight I had olives, chips and salsa and M&Ms.

3. When I was super sick last month, one doctor suspected I had mono, you know, because I’m 15. So he did a blood test and the results showed that I didn’t have it, but had it at some point in the past. Yep. I had mono and missed it.

4. I just scrolled through my google search history and the following items appeared, none of which I remember looking up: Randy Johnson, ketchup humor, infant chin rash, Ross Dress for Less, definition of malleable, antipodean and Mark Cuban.

5. Revelation: baby toys are the exact same thing as dog toys, but three times the cost. That being said, the baby is as amused with a plastic bottle as she is with any expensive toy.

6. A very sweet friend sent me a car seat adapter for our BOB. I can now safely race* through the streets of Phoenix with my infant! This is most exciting because the weather is perfect right now and will be hot again by the time Lila’s big enough for it (sans adapter)…and it’s been giving me judgmental looks for weeks while sitting stagnant.

*jog slowly

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10 reasons I’m jealous of my baby:

1. She has a permanent personal attendant conditioned to respond to her every waking need. And every sleeping need. And every other need.

2. Her clothes are all super comfortable and stretchy and she never has to wear shoes or Spanx.

3. No one judges her when she throws up on herself or farts audibly. She’s like a tiny, sweet-smelling fraternity brother.

4. She can sleep while someone else drives. Always.

5. She never has to do laundry, dishes or grocery shopping.

6. Naps…Just yes.

7. It’s considered cute that she’s chubby.

8. No hair yet means no hours spent washing, conditioning, brushing or styling it. This surplus time is instead devoted to chewing her hands, spitting up and other valuable activities.

9. It’s totally acceptable for her to lose her sh*t in public, scream and cry at the drop of a hat or refuse to make eye contact when she’s bored.

10. Free worldwide air travel for two years?? Sign me up.

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10 things I actually do when the baby sleeps

Sleep when the baby sleeps, they say.

The baby will nap, they say.

The famed advice everyone (seriously, everyone) feels compelled to tell a new mom is, “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” Sounds wonderful. Sensible. Convenient.

Also IMPOSSIBLE.

If by some miracle my daughter does nap, I can neither: A) instantly fall asleep after weeks of caffeine-induced mania, or B) forget the piles of laundry, neglected pets, unread emails and hundreds of other things I’d like to attend to.

What do I actually do when graced with these mythical naps I hear so much about?

1. Lie on the floor, stare at the ceiling and marvel at the wonder of silence.

2. Consider showering…try to remember the last time I showered…get distracted by the appalling amount of dog hair on the carpet and then revert to # 1.

3. Frantically use my phone to pay bills, check social media sites, news apps and text messages in an attempt to reconnect with reality.

4. Debate making dinner, cleaning, getting the mail or otherwise being productive but decide instead to re-fluff the clothes that have been in the dryer all week and pick my nail polish off.

5. Spend several minutes staring in wonder at the baby and making sure her breaths are perfectly rhythmic. Tear up at the wonder of the life I created. Panic when she stirs and exhale deeply when I realize she just had to fart and is still asleep.

6. Explore feelings of guilt for not doing anything but lying on the floor. Mentally sweep these feelings under the rug (*real* sweeping is out of the question) and attempt to crack my back. Still on the floor.

7. Wander to the fridge. Sigh deeply upon realizing a chocolate cake has not magically appeared since I last checked. Pick up a string cheese…toss it back. Close fridge. Sigh again. Trudge back to nursery to stare lovingly at the baby again.

8. Call my husband to brag that the baby is napping and to prove that I am not.

9. Think about doing some yoga. Execute one or two poses. Feel wildly confident and fit.

10. Go through the 2,000 or so baby photos on my phone and silently vow to be a better, more productive mom tomorrow than I was today.

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To be thankful

Thanksgiving begs for sappy gratitude posts, and I’m in no position to resist.

Family. We became a family of three this year and it’s been a heck of a ride. My highest highs, my lowest lows and everything in between. Babies bring you such an overwhelming sense of purpose and connection. They make you feel whole, and they make you discover the real meaning of love. I am thankful for the blessing of a happy and healthy baby, for access to top medical care for both of us, for the way the experience has challenged me and for how it has brought me closer to my husband. I’m thankful to have parents who support us and delight in being grandparents. I’m thankful for my brother who is a driving force in my life and sometimes the only person who can get in my head to help me sort things through.

Marriage. We’re past the 3.5 year mark since our wedding and are close to hitting eight years as a couple. We’ve grown up together and continue to grow in ways I appreciate and never anticipated. Jim, you are my better half and my grounding force in life. You are what makes me wake up happy each day and go to sleep feeling safe. I’m thankful for the love and balance you bring to my life, the wonderful father you’ve become and for your never-faltering integrity and kindness. There are lots of ups and downs on this ride but I wouldn’t want it to be with anyone else.

Work. I am thankful to work in a dynamic environment with people who truly have become a second family. It is a rarity to be able to say that, and to have had their support when I became a mom was invaluable. There are lots of frustrating moments and hard weeks, but I’m privileged to learn from all different kinds of people and to be pushed at every turn.

My body. Have you ever pondered how insane the human body is? Straight-up magic. I’ve always marveled at what my body is capable of and love pushing myself physically. The past year this awareness soared as I not only carried a baby (STILL blows my mind that people make other people), but also learned the value of functional fitness and training. I’m thankful for my health and what my body provides.

Friends. Friends are family, no way around it; life would be an incomplete puzzle without them. I’m thankful to have so many incredible, loving, hilarious and inspiring friends who show up when it matters most.

Stillness. It’s fleeting to have moments of stillness and quiet these days, so I’m especially thankful when they occur. Introverts rely on alone time to recharge and I’m no exception.

Dogs. My dogs have taken the inevitable backseat following baby’s arrival, but they’re as loving and loyal as ever. They’re loud and messy and wonderful.

Writing. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to think and share on this blog, for all the support and encouragement. And for the opportunity to truth-tell and help others feel ok.

I think beyond anything I could list here, I’m just thankful for the life I’ve been given and the places it has taken me. The people I’ve met. The challenges I’ve overcome. The love I’ve experienced and the losses I’ve learned from. I’m thankful for how it all weaves together.

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Late-Night Feedings Taught me Ninja Skills

I knew there’d be plenty of surprises that accompanied becoming a mom. Everyone tried to prepare me for how hard things would be as I adjusted, particularly given the fact that I wouldn’t be sleeping. Yet I had NO IDEA what to expect in terms of fatigue. I guess it’s hard to truly process what it means to stop sleeping until you experience it firsthand. But it turns out babies like to eat, a lot, and with zero regard for what time it is or if their parents are becoming blurry-eyed, emotional lunatics.

In the 12 weeks since our daughter was born, I’ve spent more time awake at odd hours of the night than I ever imagined possible. I’ve become an expert at navigating my house in a half-conscious stupor, preparing bottles with one hand and deftly swaddling in the dark. I’ve learned to function on so little sleep I sometimes wonder if I’ve morphed into some kind of insomniac superhuman.

Along the way, amid the utter mayhem of not sleeping, I’ve gained a few essential parenting ninja skills:

1. Night vision: I can now successfully travel across my house without opening my eyes. I’m like a Roomba, gently knocking into walls and furniture as I find my way to the nursery. I’m sometimes startled to wake up during daylight hours because I’ve grown so accustomed to functioning in darkness.

2. Acrobatic foot dexterity: Having a baby means your hands are always full. To compensate, I’ve become an ape-like master of foot control. I can pick up small items, open drawers and turn on the night light with my toes. I’ve tossed laundry into a hamper and even spread a blanket out with my feet. Could this become an Olympic event? Likely not, but it’s wildly entertaining and helpful.

3. Bionic arm strength: If someone challenged me to hold a 12-pound dumb bell in a static bicep curl for 15 hours a day, I’d laugh rudely. But then I had a baby who didn’t like to be put down, and so I held her. All day. Every day. And for a while I was physically unable to straighten my arms. Now that she’s adjusted a bit, it’s become an amazing way to work out without actually having to workout.

4. Bouncy wobble walking: I don’t want to brag, but I’ve developed a pretty unique wobble walk that lulls even the most fussy of babies into a peaceful slumber. I may look like I belong on a middle school dance floor, swaying awkwardly to the melodies of Boyz II Men and K-Ci and JoJo, but believe you me this is one magic saunter. This is an especially breathtaking maneuver when partnered with # 2 (think: Elaine Benes at a company party).

5. Ruthless adaptability (also known as shameless lack of dignity): Sleep on the floor using your baby’s hooded towel as a blanket? Sure. Trudge back to bed at 4 a.m. covered in spit up? It’s ok. Forget the last time you flossed? It happens. These seemingly disgraceful transgressions are totally acceptable — heck, they’re encouraged — while parenting an infant. Just use caution when sharing these achievements with non-parents, as the reactions are somewhat offensive.

6. Emotional Ambivalence: I think that when you become a parent you become a bit of a crazy person. This is best demonstrated by a newfound ability to use laughing and crying interchangeably. There are actually a surprising number of situations where laughing and/or crying hysterically can be appropriate responses, like waiting in line at the post office with a crying infant, or trying to cook dinner while wearing your baby. I’m going to have to monitor this one closely as I return to work because it won’t translate well on conference calls.

I’m eager to see what additional powers I’ll acquire on this crazy road called motherhood. I wouldn’t mind returning to a normal sleep schedule one day, but until then, I’m opting to push through the haze and embrace these moments. It’s not so much looking at things through rose-colored glasses as it is genuinely special to share every possible minute with my baby. Even if it’s at 3 a.m., and even when I’m covered in baby puke.

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