Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pregnancy, Babies, and Gear, OH MY! Part 1: Preparation and Delivery Tips

So, it has been a year since Dominic was born. I found out a few months ago that one of my favorite people, my cousin Becca, is expecting a baby. I told her I would send her a list of some of my favorite gear... and about 5000 words later (I haven't actually counted) I had a monster list of gear reviews, labor and delivery suggestions, and nursing tips. So I figured more people might be interested in my thoughts (I'm so vain), and decided to post it here for my 4 readers (some of whom already have their own baby manifestos).

Before Delivering the Baby--Preparation for the Hospital:

  • Make a Birth Plan!!! I recommend the book Easy Labor for a run-down of all the pain management options and how they work. I felt prepared for anything that was thrown at me during my delivery because I knew the affects of different options. Great book. You'll love it when you're getting close to the due date!
  • Get a Doula: If it is not totally out of the budget, hire a doula (heck, even if it is out of the budget). Get pregnancy massages from her, go to her birthing class, listen to what she has to say, and have her there the whole time you are at the hospital for delivery. Labor & Delivery nurses at the hospital are in charge of several women in labor at a time, and they will not be by your side while you are in labor. They mainly come by to stick their gloved fingers where no gloved finger should ever go, adjust your drugs (if you want them), and take your vitals regularly. They have a very important job, especially during delivery, but it is difficult for them to do that job and offer full-time support to the 5 laboring mothers in their care. Husbands are great for support, too, but a doula has assisted in tons of births, whereas your husband (probably) has only seen national geographic. The doula is super helpful when your teary eyed husband is worn out from seeing his wife in a ton of pain, and she can even help with crowd control if you expect a lot of people to show up at your door while you're having contractions. A doula can be somewhat expensive (in Housotn, anyway), but it is 100% worth it to have an expert who knows you personally and is also slightly removed from you in the delivery room to keep you and your husband calm. Mine even took some awesome and graphic photos of the birth... not too graphic, but it's like you're a fly on the wall!
  • Visitor Warnings: Let people know in advance if they will be able to visit you during labor and delivery. You may want to let people know that you'll call them after the baby is born, so they will not be disappointed if they miss out on an "on the way to the hospital" call. We let everyone know we were at the hospital (Christmas Eve - Christmas Day), and told them we'd call when Dominic was born, and it was perfect. Nobody twiddling thumbs in the hospital waiting room, or worse, knocking on the door to see how things are going. You never know who will expect that they can be present for your glamorous birthing event.
  • Freeze some meals. Spaghetti sauce (or any sauce, really) freezes well, and it will be simple to heat up for dinner when you get home with your baby and you are hungry and tired. Soups, stews, chilis, and casseroles also freeze nicely.
  • Screw packing a hospital bag the size of your honeymoon luggage! They tell you to bring too much stuff that you don't need on the lists from the hospital. All I used from my hospital bag were: toiletries, one nightgown/sleepwear (hospital gowns could fit 5 of me comfortably in them, and they suck for jammies, but make a great robe when worn backwards), a pair of socks or slippers, and my electronics (laptop, camera, phone, ipod, chargers... packed moments before leaving for the hospital). You'll also want your own pillow, but I think that goes without saying, and usually does not fit in a bag. The hospital has all the blankets, baby stuff, medical stuff you could possibly need (even disposable underwear, and trust me, you don't want to deal with your own underwear right after giving birth), and it is silly to bring half of your apartment with you to sit in the corner of a tiny hospital room for a couple days. I even wore the same clothes home that I had worn into the hospital when I went into labor, since my water broke at the hospital when I was already in a hospital gown... easy. Oh, and the baby carseat... you can't leave the hospital without it... and you will want to get out of that room!
Caution: This next one is not for the faint of heart... Explicit birthing content follows:
  • Be aware that the muscles you use to poop are the same muscles you use to push out a baby. So you are essentially going to have a 6-10lb poop of a baby when you go to the hospital (your baby is not poop, your baby is precious, but during hard labor you want to push like you are pooping so it will be over faster). Pushing will take much less time if you just push as though you were having a monster BM... watch your husband while he poops, that will give you an idea of how it works. I only pushed for 15 minutes, because I knew about this and I was finished being in labor and hungry. Emergency C-sections happen when mothers get too worn out to push any more because they were not pushing the right way for an hour or more, depending on the doctor. Less pushing = less pain.

That's me and Dominic. Isn't that a cute pic? Courtesy of the nurse or doula who grabbed my camera during the delivery.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good Bye, Disco Counter. Adieu.

I snapped. This week in a fit of being sick and tired of being sick and tired in bed, I went to home depot, bought a sample-sized jar of paint (dark ash), two fitty-cent foam paint brushes, and a quart of semi-gloss water-based polyurethane.

I sanded the countertop, removed the glass wall shelf, blue-taped the edge of our posh yellow sink, and went to town with my $15 materials. I painted a few layers of dark ash, then applied 3 (and counting) layers of polyurethane. My current beef with the project is that I keep getting tiny bubbles while using the fitty-cent foam brushes. I am planning on going back to home depot for a splurgy paint brush to finish the finish on the counter.

Not to jump the gun, but it already looks like a million bucks. I should put it in perspective, though, a week ago I had a cream colored formica countertop with fashionable 1970s gold flecks all over it. For $15 and some elbow grease I have a slate gray (I mean, Dark Ash) countertop that coordinates with my towels.

Next up, replacing the p-trap and posh yellow cast iron sink with chips in it... not the kind of chips I eat with salsa.

Adventures of a Montessori Floor Bed

This afternoon was a momentous occasion for my faith in our Montessori floor bed.

For months now, Dominic has had the urge to start climbing the walls and crawling around as soon as we put him down to sleep on his floor bed. If we left him in the room awake, he would crawl out into the hallway fussing, until we would snap and go pick him up to try it again (over and over and over again). A huge hurdle was taking his door out of the attic and reattaching it to the hinge. For a couple weeks we've been able to rest easy that he won't be roaming the hallway after we leave his room. We still find ourselves slapping our foreheads when we step on a creaky board, awakening Dominic after 3o minutes of patting his back and returning us to square one for sleep time.

So this morning was no different for the morning nap. He had his bottle on his bed, turned onto his belly and started to crawl around on his bed (kind of like he's trying to get comfortable). I patted his back and tried to tiptoe out several times, each time stepping on a creaky board or awakening him by the door squeaking shut. Finally I was able to sneak out, close his door and make it down the hall without him waking up, and he took a decent morning nap.

This afternoon after he ate some delicious chicken soup mush (a la leftovers in a food processor), he was rubbing his eyes. I made his bottle, changed his diaper, put him on his bed with the bottle, returned his few toys to the shelf, straightened his blankets and sat with him while he finished his bottle. As soon as he finished the bottle he headed straight for his new stuffed bear by his shelf. I picked him and the bear up, and placed them both on his bed amidst the blankets. I turned and walked out of the room with him wide awake snuggling his bear.

Moments later he was fussing at his door, and before I could get up to comfort him, he was babbling away, crawling and playing in his room. I thought "clearly he is not yet tired, I misread the eye rubbing, I'll just let him play". Not thirty minutes later, his room was completely quiet. I walked down the hall to see if he'd fallen asleep on the hardwood floor or the shelf under the changing table. I peeked under the door to discover that he'd crawled back onto his bed and fallen asleep. EUREEKA!!

This is exactly what I've been waiting for. I knew that in theory he should be able to play in his room and go over to his bed when he's tired. In theory the play yard should be in its case in the top of the closet until we go on vacation to an un-baby-proofed place, but it is open and ready for action in his room. Today, though, rather than resorting to the play yard for containment when I was "positive that he was sleepy after one eye rub," I tested the theory, with certainty that Dominic was just going to miss his afternoon nap since he was so ready to play. Surprise! I was wrong, and now I'm listening to cars drive by blasting thumping latin music and the sounds of a quiet house with a sleeping baby! In theory I am taking down the play yard because of this awesome break-through, but I'll probably keep it up a few more days to test the theory a bit more.