Babybanter: Six Weeks & Counting/Baby Apps/Craigslist/Project Dickens

BabyBanter

1. SIX WEEKS & COUNTING
2. BABY APPS
3. CRAIGSLIST
4. PROJECT DICKENS

1. SIX WEEKS & COUNTING

First off, I can’t believe we’ve had Owen now for six weeks; that he’s been living on this planet for a month and a half; it’s just incredible. And when I think back to how he’s changed from the wriggling, helpless newborn to how he is now, it dumbfounds me. Here’s a photo of Owen at one week and a photo of him at six weeks, just to give you an idea.

One week Owen:

Six Weeks Owen:

Around two or three weeks Owen decided he wasn’t a huge fan of being swaddled and lying flat on his back in his crib for sleeping, and so began his long night of very little sleep for all of us. The day granted us little sleep with Owen also and after doing some research, we discovered what he needed was a baby swing.

We fortunately were able to track a used one down through Craigslist and purchase and pick it up that same day. That night we fed him and then set him down in his swing, set it to swinging and playing music and then he fell asleep and then we too were able to sleep.

The baby swing has been a sort of miracle for us, as we regularly use it every night with Owen and it works well at getting him down and sleeping much quicker than any of our previous methods. This is the Fisher Price model we have:

It has the option to swing three ways, has a cute little mobile, has eight different songs to play (though we know them all very well now), as well as other various sounds, and a number of different swing speeds. It’s also pretty portable, though because it becomes quite awkward to maneuver up and down stairs , so we actually got ourselves a second swing through Craigslist of the same type, though like the first, nowhere near the retail price.

And now we can barely imagine a time without the swing. In two or three months, we expect to gravitate Owen back to the crib by slowly weaning him off the the swing by not swinging him as much, and just keeping him in there, and then transitioning to the solid crib bed once more.

2. BABY APPS

Obviously the world continued on quite normally before the invention of the Smartphone and applications or apps for said phones, but since we are now in possession of smartphones and can acquire these various apps, we’ve discovered a couple that we use that have proven most useful for pregnancy and raising a newborn.

There are a number of contraction counter apps out there, but we found the one we preferred was actually a German one called Wehenschreiber, though the app was in English and allowed us to time each contraction, how long they were and the duration between them. It would then give you a little graph and a time bar that would rise up as time progressed and you’d be able to estimate when the next contraction was due depending on the duration.

It proved very useful on the day my wife went into labor, as I was able to see with the graph and the time bar when the next contraction could be expected, let her know, and we could prepare for it.

Now with our little newborn, an app we use literally all the time is called Feed Baby. You get a one- or two-week trial with the free “lite” version, but it’s worth paying for the pro version. It allows users to time feedings, what breast the feeding is on, to edit feedings, manually add them, or continue them if the little guy decides to take a short break in between. There’s also a diaper section for recording poops and pees, a sleeping section for recording when the little one sleeps and for how long, as well as options for pumping, solid foods, medicines, as well as changing theme colors, and recording weight and height details. If multiple phones have the paid for app, you can also sync between them, as well as backup data. There’s even a journal option if you want to record thoughts and ideas.

Like I said, we use this app all the time, and it makes it very useful knowing how much Owen has been feeding, sleeping and pooping, and what’s to be expected from him.

Our final app that we use quite often is the Baby Shusher app. One of the ways getting a newborn to calm down, relax and go to sleep is to shush him, and when he’s crying at the top of his lungs, you need to actually shush him at the same volume, which can be tough to do, and at the least can quickly make you feel like your hyperventilating and pretty light headed.

The Baby Shusher app fixes that for you, with the touch of a button your phone will start shushing your baby at the volume of your choosing. You can set it to equalize and increase in volume as your baby cries louder, and you can even record your own shushing voice so that your baby recognizes.

Now we never go anywhere without our handy dandy shushing app.

3. CRAIGSLIST

There’s this great site called Craigslist where you can look for things like jobs, or real estate, or personals, or certain kinds of help, and you can also find stuff people want to sell.

You know, things like . . . baby stuff!

While my wife was pregnant we started our early scouring of Craigslist for cheap baby things we were looking to purchase. Why pay full price when you can get it much cheaper in a slightly used condition? A lot of the items we’ll be getting we won’t necessarily be using for that long, so why not?

I was able to pick up a Baby Björn for $15, and then we hit the jackpot with 80 items of clothing including onesies, shirts, pants, hats, shoes, socks, a lot of them high quality Carter’s items which would’ve cost us an estimated $400-$500 for the lot, and we were able to acquire it all for a mere $50. Many of the items looked like they’d barely been used.

Some of the items we’ve actually started putting Owen in already, because he has my long legs (like me), and apparently sizes aren’t completely standard for babies, so some newborn stuff Owen has already outgrown, while others fit him okay; some three month old stuff is just too big for him, while others fit him nicely.

Craigslist was also where we acquired our baby swings, which retail at $160 and we got for $50 and $40 respectively.

We also plan on getting an electric breast pump through Craigslist eventually, as we were able to get the replaceable tubing and cups through Kaiser Permanente, which we should be able to get at a fraction of the price.

And I’m sure for years to come we’ll be hitting Craigslist for more items, acquiring them at a much cheaper price.

4. PROJECT DICKENS

I’ve started a little routine with Owen that I plan to continue for years to come. Now, obviously he has little to no grasp on language at the moment, but it’s still important to talk to him and to read to him and to help him make those synaptic connections and neurons with regards to language development.

So I thought about what I could read to Owen that we would both enjoy and to help stimulate this and decided on one Charles Dickens. I possess a complete collection of classic hardcovers dated in the 1880’s and while I’ve read a couple of them I’ve been meaning to just go through them and read them all.

And what better time than to do it now, by reading Dickens to my son, just as it was originally done and intended in Dickens’ time. I’ve started with The Pickwick Papers, Dickens’ first published book and plan to progress through his books chronologically, reading to him as much as he wants.

So far we’ve had a couple of sessions of a couple pages and Owen has watched me and paid attention each time until he starts to get distracted or hungry, and then I stop.

I plan on saving the classics like Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield for when Owen is old enough to appreciate Dickens more. And my hope is we’ll get to a time where he enjoys, looks forward to and appreciates these special moments when we reach the great Charles Dickens together.

BabyBanter: The First Two Weeks

BabyBanter

1. ARRIVAL  2. SLEEP  3. HARLEQUIN SYNDROME  4. THE STUMP

1. ARRIVAL

Our baby Owen arrived a week late, as we’d expected, weighing in at 8 lbs even, and while labor lasted about fifteen hours, only the last three were spent at the hospital with the delivery. Everything happened pretty fast and was really intense and before we knew it, my wife was being taken in a wheelchair to the recovery room, while I was wheeling a little crib with my newborn son in it.

It was really surreal.

We ended up spending two nights in the hospital which proved invaluable and vital in hindsight. My wife needed time for recovery from the accelerated delivery and we needed time to get breastfeeding down.

When we were discharged from the hospital, we were still using a nipple shield to facilitate breastfeeding and continue to do so. One of the worries of the nipple shield is that the baby doesn’t get enough milk. But working through our third week now, Owen has already surpassed his birth weight and I predict is about a pound over now. So that isn’t an issue.

But being able to spend a couple days and nights at the hospital were so important to get into the schedule of feeding and dealing with a newborn. And always having a trained nurse at our beck and call and bringing us food helped so much in getting us going with being parents.

There’s a fascinating article on postpartum practices around the world and how the US has the worse ones. In China, the mother gets to stay in a sort of hotel for a month and is looked after so all she has to focus on is her baby. In other countries help is always available, and often both parents are supported to be at home and raising their newborn.

In the US it’s all about getting you out of the hospital ASAP and then it’s usually just mom stuck at home having to do everything, while dad is back at work. After two weeks of living with a newborn, getting up every 2-3 hours for feeding, diaper changing, cleaning, making time for us to eat, and getting sleep where we can, we don’t really know how moms on their own do it. We know we’re incredibly fortunate to have both of us at home with Owen, and it’s certainly paying off, as we work together on everything, and tag team chores and jobs so that the other person gets a break and rest where possible.

We also know that while Owen is still very much a newborn who doesn’t really know what’s going on with everything, we have done plenty of skin to skin bonding, and he now knows who his mommy is, and who his daddy is.

2. SLEEP

The first week was really tough. The first night we got about three hours sleep, Then four on the second. Then five to six on the third. We now average about six to seven hours a night, if possible, even if it means sleeping in late and taking naps.

Now, to anyone, five hours and up sounds pretty decent for sleep, but it’s a whole different diaper pail of diapers when you’re getting up every 2-3 hours for feedings. These feedings can last anywhere from twenty minutes to over an hour. Then it’s getting Owen back to sleep: sometimes he crashes out pretty quickly, other times I have to walk with him and rock him to sleep which can take up to half an hour, and then I get to go back to sleep. And then it’s maybe two hours until the alarm goes off again or he wakes up and it’s time to do it all over again.

We’ve got our routine down pretty well now. We started with an alarm, but now Owen wakes up and starts fussing, and if that doesn’t wake us up, he’ll start crying. So I’ll unswaddle him and get him up and wide awake while my wife prepares for feeding. Then he feeds for as long as he wants, I take him and change him, and then he does another bout of feeding. Hopefully after that he’s feeling pretty tired and I swaddle him up again and put him down to sleep.

But newborns will be newborns, and often have problems getting themselves to sleep. So he’ll be breathing away in slumber land for five to ten minutes, and then shake himself awake and start crying. That’s my cue to pick him up and rock him and stroke him and do whatever I can to get him sleeping again. Usually he’ll drop into REM sleep pretty quickly, but I know this is light sleep for him that he can easily be woken (by himself) from, so it’s necessary to sit with him, continuing to rock and keep him sleeping, until he sleeps into a deeper sleep and that’s when I can put him back down in his crib to sleep until he wakes up hungry once more.

3. HARLEQUIN SYNDROME

This is a rare condition that occurs in less than 10% of newborns and is completely harmless but extremely alarming if you don’t know about it. In our case, we had no clue and were scared out of our wits when we first saw it, but fortunately the internet put our fears to rest.

Owen was born with jaundice, which is very common and occurs in about 70% of newborns, and is usually cured and cleared out of the baby system within a month, so long as he’s regular feeding and regularly pooping. But because of this, his skin color was an unhealthy-looking yellow.

During one of his feedings on our first night at home we saw that when he would be laid down on his side feeding, the complete bottom half of him — as if someone had drawn a line from the top of his head straight down his back along his spine to his bottom — was a deep red, while his top half was that jaundice yellow. And we naturally freaked, thinking something was horribly wrong with him. But when we stood him up it would eventually clear, but as soon as he was laid down again, the condition would repeat exactly down the half of his body that was touching a surface.

After a panicked call to an advice nurse and some online research, we learned about harlequin syndrome in newborns, which is to do with a not completely developed and formed circulatory system that causes no harm to the baby, and eventually goes away within a couple of weeks.

This has been the case with Owen and he doesn’t harlequin anymore.

Still, it was really freaky.

4. The Stump

One piece of information I really wished I would’ve known having a newborn is that the leftover bit of stump really stinks. Considering it is a piece of decaying tissue, that’s not really surprising.

But in that first week, we kept wiping him down with a cloth and keeping him as clean as possible, with plenty of diaper changes, wondering why he kept smelling so bad, and it was all because of that rotting stump.

Owen’s fell off after five days, at least part of it did, which is pretty early. But he still had a piece deeper in his belly button that eventually got pushed out after two weeks and now he has a perfectly normal looking bellybutton, stump free.

But as soon as that initial piece of stump fell off, he started smelling a lot better, much to our delight.

Today’s surprising fact brought to you by . . .

On our birth plan, I had nominated to cut the umbilical cord. And once Owen was out and in my wife’s arms, after the cord had ceased pumping its important nutrients into him, the midwife handed me a tough pair of surgical scissors and showed me the spot between the two clamps to cut the umbilical cord.

From what I’d seen in movies I was expecting it to be a quick and easy snip and that would be it.

But no. It certainly wasn’t. It was like cutting through inch-thick rope, hacking through the tendrils of tissues that were like thick cord, and took a surprising amount of strength and scissoring before it was fully cut through.

It was an incredible experience I will never forget.

BabyBanter: Fun Fact About Due Dates

BabyBanter

Okay, it’s now July 27th, which means it’s my wife’s due date and our Little Guy is going to be born today, right? Some magical biological alarm clock will go off and all of a sudden she’ll go into labor, her water will break, and contractions will automatically begin.

Right?

Nope, not likely.

Want to know how likely it is?

How about you take a guess at what percentage of mothers go into labor on their due dates?

50%?

Not even close, try again.

25%?

Hahah, no, try again.

How about  10%?

Nope, lower than that.

The answer is in fact 4%.

Yep, not a very big number.  And the range of mothers giving birth tends to fall in the range of the couple weeks before the due date, and the couple weeks after.

Me, I arrived eight days after my due date.

And my wife, after growing and carrying our Little Guy for a full nine months now, is pretty much ready to have him come out, but that of course is all up to him and when he decides to make his grand entrance.

Generally you’ll get two weeks after your due date to go into labor, and after that your doctor will likely want to schedule an induction date for you, where the birth is induced. This is something most aren’t in favor of (we’re certainly not), but ultimately it comes down to the safety of the child. There’s indication that after 42 weeks the placenta begins to weaken in its job to keep your child nourished and healthy.

The choices are either have labor and contraction and birth progress as your body dictates and when it dictates, or have it induced with medical help and your body jump-starts into labor and heavy contractions without being fully prepared for it. Also the chances of needing an epidural become much higher.

Think of it like starting a marathon and slowly working your body up to a fervor, building up your speed, and going along under your own control; compared to being in the 100 meter dash and needing to hit top speed in seconds.

So here’s hoping (and it’s very likely) we have our Little Guy decide to make his arrival some time in the next two weeks.

Only time will tell. But we’re as ready as we feel we can be.

BabyBanter: Not All Cribs are Created Equal & Side Caring

BabyBanter

A couple of weeks ago we made the call and traveled along to IKEA for a crib for our Little Guy. We’d already looked at a couple and had a few ideas about what we wanted, but nothing beats looking at the crib in person and being able to feel it, shake it to check its sturdiness, and get a good look at it in a bedroom setting. Not that we needed much convincing or a good reason to go visit IKEA, but it’s got to be one of best places to see an actual item in situ and help you decide if it’s right for you.

After checking out the various cribs in the bedroom scenes, we settled on the Hensvik.

It was strong and sturdy. I know we’re not exactly putting a heavy weight in it, but putting your hand on a wooden frame and feeling it strong and stable definitely helps in gaining your trust in it. The soft white was a nice color that would match just fine with our bedroom’s decor, and I really liked the curvy sweep of the top of the frame on the short sides. Plus the nominal price tag of $99 was definitely something I could get behind, having visited a number of baby stores earlier and seeing the range of cribs in all shapes, colors and sizes in the price range of $200-$500.

That was the other thing I liked about the Hensvik crib: it was a good large size, which may seem like overdoing it somewhat for a newborn, but we wanted a crib that would last a while and we could get plenty of use out of.

Side Caring

The other reason we needed to find the right crib that was again sturdy and one we liked was because we we’re “side caring” it. That’s side caring as in “car” not “care.” This is a relatively new “fad” in child upbringing that makes a ton of sense and is really more in the style of the way it has been done for many centuries previous to the 20th century. It really seems like scientists and pediatricians drank some special juice in the previous century that made them say a lot of stupid things, like breast milk isn’t that good for the baby, or the baby doesn’t need much skin to skin contact, or it’s good to keep the baby in a separate room, especially when it’s a newborn so it can start learning about being independent.

Seriously?

A newborn spends its first couple of months trying to deal with why it’s no longer in its warm, watery cocoon and what the hell is going on?

So we elected to go with side caring. This is basically using a crib minus one long side, so only three sides on it. The open side is then placed beside the parents’ bed, giving the mother full reach of her child in the crib. This does a number of things:

  1.  The baby is calmer because its mother and parents are close to it all through the night;
  2. Feeding is a lot easier, as the mother simply has to reach over and pull her child to her and feed him or her; supposedly mothers will do this almost automatically in their sleep;
  3. If the baby starts crying or needs something during the night, the mother or father doesn’t have to get up and leave the room, but can attend to the child right away.

One of the most important lessons a newborn needs to learn is that its parents are always close at hand and will answer its cries, which helps the baby develop trust in its parents.

There are a number of websites that show you how to side car your crib for co-sleeping.  Here’s one, and here’s another. There are plenty more, and a Google search will turn up a number of them, along with YouTube videos showing in detail how best to do it.

For us, I think we did a bit of overkill as our crib is secured between the bedroom wall and the bed, but we also have long bungee cords going from the far end of our bed (it attaches around the handles used to lift the mattress) and goes under the mattress of our queen bed, then under the mattress of the crib and is secured on the far side spokes.

Like I said, I think it’s overkill, but this crib ain’t going nowhere, even if you try to drag on it.

So below is the finished product. And in a few weeks or a month or so (or the next chance I have a combination of being awake enough and having some free time after our Little Guy is born) I’ll do a follow-up post about how well this side car co-sleeping works. Of course, it’s always up to the particular baby, and perhaps our Little Guy hates co-sleeping and wants to be on his own in his own room; we’ll just have to see.

Today’s Giggle Brought to You by . . .

One funny anecdote I do want to share is when we were building the crib. I was following the instructions, but simply leaving one long side off. Little did I know that halfway through the detailed instruction book is a whole section on building the crib for side caring. Anyway, I thought I had everything set up, but had a couple of strange looking curled screws left over, but figured because I was building the side car version, I didn’t need them. Well, when we had the crib standing and ready, I added the mattresses to the base of the crib and it looked perfect for a whole two seconds, and then the bottom fell out and (along with the mattresses) dropped to the floor.

Turns out those strange screws were very important. Glad we did a dummy run!

 

BabyBanter: Lets Get This Thing Started

BabyBanter

I have a little one on the way; he’s due at the end of the month, though we have  feeling he might arrive a little late. I was born nine days late, but then being born after your due date is just fine, as it means you’re getting that much more nutrition and goodness from mommy.

My life is about to go through some big changes and once our little guy is born, I’m not sure what my blogging schedule is going to be like, but I’m hoping that if I have to cut down on posts due to lack of sleep and time and looking after a new little bundle of joy, it will be down from three to one post a week. We’ll just have to see.

I’m entering an entirely new chapter in my life and have little experience in it other than what I’ve read and studied so far; I’m sure the real thing is going to be a shock (both surprising and wonderful) in every way, but I’m hoping this reading gives me a solid base to work with, plus with what I’ve learned from pregnancy classes.

So I thought wouldn’t it be interesting to blog about, thus BabyBanter.

I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be posting to BabyBanter, and whether the little guy will always let me, but I know I’m going to learn a lot from this and its going to be a wonderful, amazing journey, and if I can impart some of what I learn along the way, I figure it can only help.

As well as sharing plenty of embarrassing, hilarious occurrences and circumstances at my expense that our little guy no doubt finds greatly amusing.

Let’s see how it goes.