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Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Fave Newborn Products

I would be willing to bet that the baby and child product industry makes up 99% of all retail sales.  Okay maybe not that much... but a lot.  There seem to be an unlimited amount of baby products out there and how is a new parent supposed to know which to choose?  Trial and error?  Who has the money and time for that?
If you've ever walked in Babies R' Us and immediately felt like running out because there are 12 different sizes, 12 different colors, and 12 different brands of EVERY SINGLE ITEM, then you know a good product recommendation does wonders.  I thought I would share with you my very most favorite newborn baby products.  Other than the standard clothing, diapers, wipes, and car seat, I would be fine with ONLY these items for a newborn baby.  That's how great I think they are.
 Mam Pacifiers - When we started introducing pacifiers around 3 or 4 weeks, we quickly realized they are not all created equal.  He loves these and they are recommended by orthodontists!
Mustela Skincare - Cam has pretty bad eczema and extremely sensitive skin (no surprise to mommy and daddy) and these products are heaven sent! They make his skin and hair so soft and there are zero irritating chemicals and fragrances.  We love the whole Stelatopia line and are obsessed with the Newborn Foaming Shampoo for getting rid of pesky cradle cap.
Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment - We've used this stuff since day 1, literally.  Dry skin, baby acne, scratches from his little nails, diaper rash, you name it.  It's magic.
Medela Tender Care Lanolin - I tried about 4 different kinds of lanolin and this was the winner as far as comfort and healing goes.  I keep multiple tubes around the house in the places I nurse most often. Oh yeah, and my lactation consultant said it was the "latest and greatest" in the lanolin industry.  So there's that.
Bamboobies Nursing Pads - Coming from someone who leaked substantially from 26 weeks pregnant (sorry if that was TMI), these nursing pads are the best.  They are made of bamboo cloth which is super absorbent and soft and you can't see them under your clothes.  I have the big pack with day and night pads and I love them all! I can't talk these up enough.
Burp Cloths - Cam has a little bit of acid reflux which can be pretty common in newborns so these are vital in our house! I don't know if it really matters what brand or type you buy (at least it hasn't mattered to us yet.)  All I know is that you just need 198,373,197,231.  Luckily Kolby's grandma made us about 30 of these and we go through about 10-15 daily.
Black and White Toys - Newborns can't really play very much but it is still important to have playtime.  The contrast of black, white, and red is very stimulating and new babies seem to love it.  Cam loves this zebra toy (and the kisses it gives him)! It's a multitasking toy because it has lots of different textures, colors, and sounds so he will be able to play with it for months.
Twist and Fold Gym - We've used this gym from the first day we brought Cam home.  It makes his 15-30 minutes of supervised tummy time much more fun and enjoyable for him!  It has a detachable mirror and toys that can be moved and used on their own, lots of bright colors and black and white contrast, plus it folds up nice and small so that our living room doesn't always look like a daycare (just most of the time). 
My Little Snug-A-Monkey Swing - Because of Cam's reflux, he had to sleep in an inclined position for a few weeks and this was our solution.  It has a few different swinging options along with different swing strengths and different music and sounds, but Cam's favorite thing about it are the flying monkeys that rotate above his head.  At two months, he smiles and giggles at them every time.  It's the cutest!  A swing has been so nice to have for when I need to cook dinner, fold laundry, etc. and I both hands. 

Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets - Hands down, #1 favorite baby product.  Period.  These blankets are so durable and breathable, you can use them for so many things, and they come in super cute patterns.  We have about 10 of these and I could probably even go for another pack.  We use them to swaddle him at night, as a nursing cover, to cover his car seat if we are going in somewhere germy (eek!), and just as a regular blanket when it's warm.  They're my fave!
Night Gowns -  For the first couple months we had LOTS of middle of the night diaper changes.  These nightgowns with elastic bottoms made those easy because we just slid them up, changed his diaper, and we were done.  No need to expose his little body to the cold air (waking him up more - yikes!)  If you can't find many of these (for some reason I've had a really hard time finding them in any size but newborn) I would at least recommend buying pajamas with a zipper.  Buttons are the devil at 4 am.
Sweet Slumber Sound Machine - My brother and his family bought this for us for a baby gift and we use it nightly (and daily for naps).  It has many different white noise options and sound levels, you can hook up your ipod, and a pretty strong night light.  I keep it on my night stand and when Cam wakes up for a late night feeding, I use the blue nightlight to be able to see.  It keeps the room dim enough not to wake him but light enough for me to see him. The white noise reminds him of the womb which is an automatic soother - sweet!

These are my go-to products for the first two months.  Now to shop for my favorite items for the next 214 months! Recommendations are welcome!

What are your favorite newborn products?

xo -
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday Thoughts

 Happy Tuesday!
Tuesdays are sort of rough for me. I don't have the motivation that comes with the new beginning of a Monday, but the weekend still feels so far away. It's rough.  
So I thought I would write a little post about one of my favorite inspirational quotes.
 I love this quote.  Mostly because it's something I need to work on.  In this day and age it can be hard to not compare yourself to others and what they have, what they look like, what they've achieved.  But you know what they say, "jealousy is the thief of joy."  This quote inspires me to focus on my successes and be grateful for all that I have. 
I've been guilty of thinking, "As soon as I have a gym membership, then I can workout." Or "As soon as I have a few hours to myself, then I can read this book I've been meaning to read." "As soon all the junk food in the house is gone, then I can really start eating healthy." Haha! 
Does anyone else do this?
 The truth is, if we are always waiting for the opportune moment or circumstance, it will never happen.  We've got to make the most of what we've got. 
I don't need a gym membership to workout.  I don't need hours of uninterrupted quiet time to read a book.   And I certainly don't need to eat all the junk food in the house before I can start eating healthy! Haha. How embarassing.

"Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can." - Arthur Ashe

What is inspiring you this Tuesday?

xo -
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

DIY Pom-Pom Garland

Camden's nursery has been a work in progress for a while now.  I've been so inspired by Land of Nod and Anthropologie style lately so this Pom-Pom Garland seemed like a must-have in his room (plus it was super easy to make!)
What you will need:
Yarn in your chosen colors
Crochet cotton thread
Pom-pom maker
 (I found all of my supplies at Michaels.)

I used the 3/8" pom-pom maker to make 16 pom-poms in the 4 different colors I chose.  There are instructions on the pom-pom maker packaging for how to use them.  I threaded the pom-poms through the crochet cotton thread and tied a knot where I wanted the pom-poms to stay.  
Simple as that!

I layered two different garlands over each other to create the look shown.
Each garland had 8 pom-poms but you can make them as long or as full as you'd like.

There will be a full post on Camden's travel-inspired nursery coming soon!
Happy crafting!

xo -
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Camden's Birth Story

I feel like I have to write the story of Camden's birth before it all floats away to the back of my mind along with all of the things I used to worry about before I became his mommy. His birthday was certainly the most incredible and emotional day of my life so far, and while perfect, it admittedly didn't go the way I had imagined. 
Let me start from the beginning.  In January 2013 Kolby received an incredible job opportunity that meant we would be traveling to three different plants over three years as part of a developmental program for his company.  We were moving to Batlimore, Maryland for our first rotation and we were so excited! Flash forward to January 2014. His company holds an annual meeting for these rotational employees to lobby and decide on which employee will rotate to which plant.  This meeting was going to be held in Puerto Rico for 5 days, January 27-31st.  Our due date was 5 days before Kolby needed to leave! HIGH anxiety people.
Delivering our first child across the country from either of our families at the ripe age of 22 was not going to be easy and we knew that going into it.  Luckily for us my mom, Kolby's mom, and his step-dad were able to fly to Baltimore to hopefully be there for the delivery.  In the days leading up to our due date, I felt pressure.  I felt pressure to deliver the baby before our families had to leave and certainly before Kolby had to leave.  As if there was something I could do to induce labor faster... HA!  To you who are past your due date and feeling anxious and huge: Firstly, I feel for you and I'm SORRY!  Secondly, there's nothing you can do so take heart in the fact that your baby will come when they're ready.  I had heard this from our doctors and midwives from the very beginning.  "Walk 10 miles, stand on your head, jump on a trampoline, eat a jalapeno, do whatever you want.  Your baby will come when they're ready and only when they're ready."  Makes sense.  But that didn't matter to me, I wasn't going to sit around and wait, I couldn't!  We walked the mall, we went to the aquarium, my mom gave me countless foot rubs hoping to hit that mysterious pressure point (I still recommend doing those, they feel great!), I drank CASTOR OIL,  I ate spicy foods, you name it.  Nothing happened.  By the way, as a general rule, don't drink castor oil.
I had been having what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions regularly for about a week before Camden arrived.  As I've read more and more articles on birth and birth stories I learned that women can experience real labor contractions for weeks before delivering.  I think I may be one of those women. There were many days in the weeks leading up to our due date that I thought I might be experiencing real labor.  Two days before our due date I felt contractions coming on strong.  They were strong enough that they would occasionally take my breath away.  I felt like I was in real labor and luckily we had a doctors appointment that afternoon.  We made sure our bags were packed and cleaned the house one more time.  Come to find out, I wasn't dilated or thinned at all.  Feeling discouraged, I sat in the doctor's office and cried.  I didn't want to disappoint our families by having them leave without meeting their grandchild and I definitely didn't want to be the reason that Kolby didn't get the opportunity to lobby for the job position he wanted for the next year.  I was feeling that pressure again and it certainly wasn't pressure that anyone had put on me, but pressure that I had put on myself. Looking back on it, I probably made things worse by worrying about when he would come.  Stress is never beneficial for anyone, and especially not for a pregnant woman and a growing fetus.
After days of regular contractions and no progression, I was exhausted.  We spent the day lounging on the couch and I took a nice long afternoon nap.  I think that evening we all watched a movie and went to bed.  
On Wednesday, January 22nd at about 4 a.m. I woke up needing to pee - totally normal (pregnant ladies holla!).  As I sat up to walk to the bathroom I felt a gush of liquid - not normal.  I wasn't certain if it was my water breaking but I knew it wasn't normal so I woke Kolby and we called the doctor.  They advised that we come to the hospital to get checked.  Excited and anxious, we woke our parents and started getting ready to leave.
By the time we got our bags ready, got ourselves ready, ate breakfast, and left it was about 6 am.  Upon arriving at the hospital I was tested to see if my water had broken.  This was nerve-wracking for me because I was so desperately ready to deliver my baby and I just wanted this to be a sign that he was ready as well.  Sure enough my water had broken - Hallelujah!  I knew that this was it.
At about 8 am, I was admitted to a labor and delivery room and set up on IV fluids.  At this point my contractions grew stronger and closer together.  I had to really breathe through the contractions but the adrenaline and excitement of knowing I was going to meet my baby soon was a strong pain reliever.  My doctor recommended starting me on Pitocin because although my contractions were increasing, my cervix wasn't dilating or thinning.  Let me tell you, Pitocin is no joke people! Kolby and I both knew we didn't want it unless medically necessary to deliver the baby healthfully (which in the opinion of our doctor, it was) but I had no idea how much it would intensify my labor.  I could breathe through my natural contractions at about 2-3 minutes apart but once the Pitocin hit, the pain became unbearable.  
 I wanted to wait as long as possible to have the epidural because I knew that sometimes they can slow your progress and I was already behind! When the contractions began to make me cry and hold my breath for long periods of time, that's when I knew.  Kolby and the sweet nurse taking care of me reassured me that it was OK to get an epidural. "Don't be a hero," they said.  The pain continued to worsen and it didn't take much convincing after that, I was ready! 
At 3:30 pm, about 15 minutes after receiving the epidural, the pain had disappeared.  I was in a blissful state knowing that my baby was well on his way but feeling calm and relaxed at the same time. Kolby pulled the reclining chair next to the hospital bed, we turned down the lights, and we both tried to take a nap.  The only sound in the room was the baby's heart rate monitor next to the bed; oh, how I loved that sound.  I remember thinking about how truly grateful I was to have such a smooth and calm labor process.  I mean, I was about to take a nap with my husband while in labor! It doesn't get much better than that.
My eyes started to close, a smile came across my face, and I began to fall asleep.  Just as I was falling asleep I picked up a difference in the beeping of heart rate monitor.  The thought crossed my mind, "That sounds more like what my heart rate should sound like, not what the baby's heart rate should sound like."  Usually baby heart rates sound like an adult heart rate doing double time.  I immediately woke Kolby and said, "Does something seem wrong with his heart rate?" As soon as the words escaped my mouth a group of 4 or 5 doctors and nurses came in the room and simultaneously began rolling my body from side to side, turning down the Pitocin, putting an oxygen mask over my face, and reading the heart rate monitor.  I was confused and worried, tears rolling down my cheeks, my eyes never left Kolby.  He is my home base and I knew he would assure me that everything would be OK.  After a few adjustments and laying in different positions, his heart rate increased.  I said a thankful prayer that he was OK as the doctor explained that he was not responding well to the Pitocin. They left the Pitocin at a low level and kept an eye on his heart rate to make sure he continued to respond well at a lower dose. 
When the doctors left the room I knew that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep.  I silently listened to his heart rate, praying he would be OK.  After about 30 minutes his heart rate dipped again and the same thing happened - the doctors and nurses rushed in and tried to get his heart rate back up.  This time I wasn't as afraid because I knew what was happening but it took them longer to get his heart rate back up.  They rolled me side to side, over and over again.  Eventually his heart rate came back up and they turned off the Pitocin completely. The doctor explained that he just wasn't responding well to the extra-strong contractions that the Pitocin was producing and that we would have to see if I progressed naturally.  If not, I would be having an emergency C-section.  As she said this, I felt a real sense of worry.  I never really considered have a cesarean as an option.  I was a healthy 22 year old who had had a smooth, worry-free pregnancy;  a c-section seemed extreme. 
An hour passed and they checked me to see if I had progressed on my own.  Nothing.  Literally, I had not dilated or effaced at all.  Cue the disappointment - again.  My doctor decided to start another low dose of Pitocin to see if he would react any better.  I knew in my heart he wouldn't handle it,  I knew that it was like we were trying to back a car out of a closed garage.  A regular birth seemed to be slipping away and a cesarean seemed more likely.  
Third strike - you're out.  His heart rate dropped again and a larger group of doctors and nurses came back in, this time dressed in smocks for surgery.  As soon as his heart rate was regulated my doctor said "Well, looks like you're having a section."  The emotions I felt were surprising.  I felt a strong sense of disappointment that I wouldn't be able to experience giving birth to my child.  Then I immediately felt selfish for feeling that way because this experience wasn't about me, it was about Camden.  All that mattered was that he was brought into this world safely and that he was healthy.  Today was his day.  I closed my eyes while hospital staff buzzed around me and said a prayer.  I expressed my gratitude for a healthy pregnancy and the little life inside me.  I asked that he be delivered safely and that he be healthy and strong and ready; that I could be strong for him even though I was terrified. 
After being wheeled into the O.R., the staff prepared my body for the surgery while Kolby waited outside.  I wasn't feeling strong or ready yet, I was nervous without my husband by my side.  They had already started the c-section when Kolby was allowed to come in.  The tears stopped rolling down my cheeks and I felt a sudden sense of calm.  We were minutes away from meeting this little boy we had been talking to and dreaming about for 9 months!  I felt so blessed in that moment.
Camden Taylor Sorenson was born at 5:57 p.m. on January 22, 2014.  Weighing 8 pounds 9.4 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches, he was most certainly a healthy and strong baby!  The nurse brought him over the curtain so that I could see him.  If you don't believe in love at first sight, then you've never had a child.  It truly is the most overwhelming love I've ever experienced.  My heart suddenly felt so full, like a piece was missing all along and I didn't even know! I know, it sounds so cheesy.  Everyone tells you about how incredible it will be, but somehow nothing prepares you.  It's perfect.
The doctor explained to us that the umbillical cord was wrapped around Camden's neck twice and that because of his size and the width of his shoulders, there's no way that either of us would've made it had we tried to deliver vaginally.  Unfortunately,  she also explained that I will have to have c-sections for all of my children because my pelvis is too small to bring a baby to full term and deliver vaginally.  Whenever I begin to feel inadequate when I think about not being able to have my children naturally I remember that I brought Camden into this world and he is healthy and happy.  I am his mother and my body built him; the way he was delivered doesn't make me any less his mother.  Childbirth, no matter what form, is miraculous!
We stayed in the hospital for 4 days and nights.  We filled each moment by staring at him, holding his little fingers, kissing his forehead, and just enjoying being a family of 3.  Camden has changed our lives and we are so happy he's here!
P.S. - Kolby got to go to Puerto Rico for a few days and we are moving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in June! Woohoo!
xo -
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