Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Top 10

When you’re expecting your first baby, you get given a LOT of ‘stuff’ by generous friends and family.  You also buy a lot of ‘stuff’. The result is, you guessed it, a lot of stuff. I tried thinking of a better word to describe it – but ‘stuff’ is definitely the right word.

I bought some things that I thought were the best invention ever. How would I get by without this sleeping cocoon type thing that looks like a caterpillar and has velcro bits here, here and here?  Many items I bought with good intentions, but they really weren’t practical in the real world. 

The baby products market is HUGE and completely oversaturated, it’s overwhelming. Anything you want (and many things you would never have even thought of) is out there and for sale. It can be very confusing when you walk into a baby store for the first time. Even before having Aiden I had frequented the baby shops for friends & family, but buying gifts is so different. I consider myself pretty baby savvy, but I got very confused about what I needed vs luxury.   The end result is you buy some of each.

At the end of the day, you don’t need to buy a lot of fancy things.  Some of the best items don’t cost much, and on the flip side some cost more, but are worth their weight in gold.  Every household is different too, what may be a life saver for me might not work for someone else.

Over the past 6 months there have been a few stand out items for us, either borrowed or purchased, that we have used constantly and loved.  You may notice a bit of a theme with this – SLEEP. I have four sleep related items on my list. I’m all about the sleep.

Here are my Top 10 Must Haves for Baby

1. Merino GoGo Bag
Keeps baby warm all night & helps regulate body temperature. For use from 3 months to 2 yrs. One of the staple items & well worth it.

‘Wrap me Up’ Swaddle
If you have a Houdini baby that hates having their arms wrapped down by their body, they’ll love this wrap. It’s designed to allow the baby to sleep in their natural position (arms up), but keep their startle reflex at bay. It also has a reverse zip (so you can change nappies in the middle of the night easily), plus a carseat slot at the back. Aiden went from a wriggle bum trying to escape his swaddle, to a sound sleeper.


3. White Noise
My single most valuable tool in the first few months! The Sleepstore in Auckland has some great recommendations for helping babies sleep, one of them is White Noise. I thought it was a have until I decided to try it.  It transformed his day sleeps, i.e.  he went from sleeping 45mins each sleep to sometimes double that. We have never used it to get him to sleep, but put it on once he’s asleep.  It plays all night to help him sleep through, which he’s now been doing consistently since he was 4 months old (barring some teething and ear infection wake ups) and also helps to drown out other noises which might wake him.

4. Bumbo Seat
We love the bumbo!  I know not everyone agrees with using these kind of things, but we've found it really useful and Aiden loves it.  Everything in moderation I say. We put a basket of toys beside him and he has a great time picking out things and banging them on the tray.  He has just graduated to a normal high chair for feeding, but when he first started solids he would sit up on the table in his bumbo. So handy!  He also loves to help Mum bake :o)

bumbo       P1110213

5. Mocka Wooden Playgym
We bought this for Aiden when I was 7 months pregnant at the Parent and Child Show. One of the best purchases we ever made. He started using at 3 weeks old, and still loves it now at 6 months (he’s a little rougher with it now than he was then…). Fantastic NZ made item.

P1080722       P1100517

6. Net Bouncer - Old School!
Thanks Brooke! My sister had one of these for her now 17 yr old, they’re so great and babies seem to love them. We got lent 3 bouncers - some that shook, vibrated, played music etc.  They did all sorts of fancy stuff, but this is the only one he liked. No frills and proof that you don’t need to have the most expensive gadget.

P1080940       P1100406

7. Medella Electric BreastpumpThanks Adelle! Lifesaver. End of story.
Surprisingly, no pictures of this.

8. Breastfeeding Chair
My first four weeks breastfeeding were uncomfortable and messy. I couldn’t get into the right position and I thought my back and neck were going to be damaged forever.  I completely understood why some people abandoned it altogether. Then I discovered you could rent ‘Posture Perfect’ breastfeeding chairs, designed especially for breastfeeding Mums. They are stylish and look just like a normal lounge chair.  It made such a different for me. I have loved it so much so that as of today, I now own it!
In Auckland you can rent or buy from Crest Furniture (who also supply these chairs to Auckland hospitals)

9. Safe T Sleep
At first I questioned using this. For those not in the know, you are basically strapping your baby to the cot or basinet mattress so little he / she will not wriggle around (sit up, crawl, migrate) and keep themselves awake – or worse, cry out for help in the middle of the night. Aiden had started to roll onto his tummy and then couldn’t get back onto his back, so I decided to try the Safe T Sleep (on lend from Brooke). Jackpot! I thought he’d hate and resist it, but he didn’t. He sleeps and doesn’t disturb himself moving around – mission accomplished.

10. Car seat Mirror
A gift from a friend at my baby shower, I had no idea how useful this thing would be. As we know, all babies are rear facing in the back seat, which means we can’t see them in the rear view mirror.  Someone clever decided to design a fun looking mirror that hangs over the seat in front of the baby, therefore allowing you to use your rear view mirror to look into it – and see the baby.  So useful - especially when he was tiny.  I loved being able to look back and see he was ok. Ours is a bright green dragon, which Aiden also happens to find highly entertaining – bonus.

So that is 10 things.  The Jolly Jumper came close to making the list, as did a few other things we use a lot – but I said 10, so 10 it is! 

Aiden's Pick: Wooden Mobile

P1110341I bought this lovely wooden mobile at Sydney’s Paddington Markets the day before I found out I was pregnant. I just had a feeling the treatment had worked that month, in fact I was certain. I told my sister on more than one occasion that day that I was pregnant.  Then, later that day I had some cramping whilst packing for the return flight home and thought I was getting my period.
I cried when I looked at the mobile in the box. I was devastated. The next morning back in Auckland, I went for my routine blood test. I got the call at lunchtime from Fertility Associates that I was pregnant.

It now hangs in the middle of his room from his light fixture and he is OBSESSED with it. He stares at it every time you walk into the room and reaches out for it and watches it from the change table. Spinning it for him seems to send him over the top.  I don’t know what it is about it, but he just loves it. 
Even if he wakes from a sleep really upset you can see him looking over your shoulder to the little flowers, butterflies & bugs, and all is right with the world again.

Aiden 090

       Aiden 089

Product & Purchase Information

All of the items listed were purchased from New Zealand.  The Sleepstore also sells to Australia. 

Merino GoGo Bag

Wrap Me Up Swaddle

Mocka Playgym

Safe T Sleep

Babies First White Noise CD

Thursday, August 4, 2011


It seems like every 10 seconds your baby is reaching a new milestone.  They grow and learn so quickly, it’s fascinating to watch.  My favourite so far is Aiden rolling over for the first time. After watching him for what seemed like weeks make it three quarters of the way over from his back to stomach, the day he actually did it I swear I almost pee’d my pants.  I clapped, cheered and I think there may have been leaky eyes (I confess).  God, what am I going to do when this kid walks? 
Also rated very highly is the first smile - that was pretty cool and VERY rewarding.  Finally you’re getting something back for all your efforts. 'Here Mum, have a smile, you’ve been working hard today'.   Then comes the giggling and laughing, is there any better noise in the world?  Slowly comes a variety of other noises… raspberries, talking and lately, whispering and squealing.  I like the whispering better.  Aiden has found his inner Mariah – he can reach a pretty decent octave or two.   Just when you think he can’t go higher – he does. High five Aiden.
We’ve also had a first tooth… and a second.  Without too much fanfare (at least compared to some stories I’ve heard) a bottom tooth appeared to a clueless mother who thought that he had a tummy bug.  Ahem.  I was so proud of him for getting that tooth up. Is it strange to feel like that?  Yes, probably. 
The milestones come pretty steadily, some big, and some small in the scheme of things. Aiden is now six months old! I must admit, reaching this age is a pretty big one for me.  I remember feeling relieved we made it to six weeks, I couldn’t even fathom six months.  For us, six weeks old was – ‘yay, we made it!’  It wasn’t a very over excited 'yay' as we were too tired to really jump up and down. It was more a going off to sleep after a dream feed mumble.  Remembering those first 6 weeks is what prompted me to write this blog.  I look back with mixed emotions - such an amazing time, but not without tears - from both Aiden & I!

I was besotted with Aiden from the moment he was born, but those first 6 weeks were rough.  There were a lot of high highs, and just as many low lows. I don’t think people talk about it enough – the beginning is pretty crap for some of us. I know it’s not the same for everyone, but for me, I’d rather forget most of it.  He was the most beautiful baby in the world, I loved him dearly and had so many special moments, but why wouldn’t he stop crying?  Why wasn’t he sleeping? He was sent here to test me, right?  Unbeknownst to us, we were dealing with a baby trying to cope with silent reflux.  Key word, ‘silent’, you really no clue they have it because you can’t hear or see it. The reflux was silent, the crying was not.  The poor little thing spent most of his time awake, and if he was awake, he was NOT happy.  My time was spent alternating between trying to stop the screaming and having him sleeping on my chest like an angel - polar opposites.  When he would cry for more than an hour it would get to me. I would think ‘I can’t handle this, please stop crying, please feel better, please… please… please’.  Sometimes it would go on for hours and hours and I'd be in tears myself until he would fall asleep from exhaustion.  Once he was asleep on me and the drama was over I’d just watch him sleep peacefully, thinking he was just the best thing since sliced bread.  I’d promise myself that I would handle the next crying episode better, be more patient and try harder to deserve him.

I was envious of the other babies that were relaxed, happy and content. I really loved him, but he wasn’t what I ordered.  I stayed home a lot, afraid that every time I walked out the door there would be an episode and I wouldn’t be able to calm him down and people would judge.   I’m a very strong person with strong opinions and sense of self – but I was a different person during that time.  I was trying to gain my footing and learn about the new person in our life. It took me a while to get myself back and gain confidence.  When it’s your first baby you feel like you don’t have the right to have an opinion around others that have been there and done that, but you soon learn that you CAN and nobody knows your baby like you do.  My lovely friend Brooke said that to me when Aiden was 4 weeks old and I so appreciated it - it really gave me confidence. 
Yep, the first six weeks is interesting, to say the least.
Then at 7 weeks old he was diagnosed as having the silent reflux and we began medication to help his body deal with it.  By week 8 Aiden had reached a new milestone – happy baby.  Happy, content, relaxed, cheeky, amazing, giggly baby.  It was a phenomenal turn around, one that Bill & I relished and appreciated.   Our life completely changed, we became more social and Aiden and I took part in a lot more activities.  Finally we could just enjoy him.  Of all the milestones there have been, that one was pretty damn awesome.  I wouldn’t change any of what we experienced.  It was a sink or swim situation – we swam, and are better parents for it. 

Aiden has been busy with all his milestones and firsts in his six months in the world.  So many more exciting ones to come in the next six months and beyond… crawling, standing, walking, talking – it is so hard to imagine. 

I’ve reached some pretty big milestones myself.  I am really happy that at six months, I feel confident in what I am doing.  It may be misguided confidence, but I don’t care.  It’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but I feel like I am comfortable in what I’m doing – and I think the results speak for themselves.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Circle of Friends

I am really fortunate that I have a lot of friends with children of all ages. They all offer great advise and a unique point of view – the parents that is, not the kids.  If you’re going through something with your baby, you can be assured that at least one of them has been through the same thing at some stage.  It’s pretty cool, joining the Mummy club.  There seems to be a level of understanding and knowing between Mothers.  I now understand the woman with kids who gives ‘the look’ to an unsuspecting pregnant woman expecting her first child.  The look says ‘you poor thing, you have NO idea what you’re getting yourself into’, mixed with a little ‘this will be the best thing you ever do’.  Both are so true.
I moved back from Canada 5 years ago, after being away for almost 7 yrs.  Luckily, some of my closest friends still lived in Auckland, but none locally.  I’ve found it really hard to make friends who live in my area.  I also work from home, so there was no work place to meet new people.   Then I had a baby.  BAM!  All of a sudden I was meeting people everywhere; our local CafĂ©, Wriggle & Rhyme, Plunket, Playcentre  and of course, coffee group. 
When Aiden was 4 weeks old, I hosted our ante natal groups first ‘coffee group’.  I don’t actually think anyone drank coffee that day, but I get that is beside the point.  We all talked politely while the babies played on a blanket, getting to know each other and talking about our gorgeous wee ones (I might be slightly bias, but the babies in our group are particularly lovely).  It was a smallish group, 7 people out of the 15 couples who attended ante natal classes showed up.
Little did I know how much these ladies (and not forgetting Rob of course) would quickly integrate into my life, or how much I would look forward to each get together.  Once one Tuesday was over, I was already looking forward to the next one.   As Aiden got older too, I started doing more outings and hanging out with the girls.  Suddenly Aiden and I had a very busy social calendar with something planned almost every day of the week.  It’s such a cool time when you’re not back at work yet, the babies are the perfect age for taking out and about and you can just enjoy being a first time Mum and making new friends.  With our group I think we hit the jackpot, I really do.  We all get along so well and are getting to know each other outside of the thing that brought us together.  
I can’t stress how important it is to have a group like this.  It would probably be my number one piece of advice if you’re pregnant or just had a baby – go to ante natal classes or a mothers support group and get yourself some buddies who have babies the same age.  Meeting up with others who are going through exactly the same thing as you are is priceless.  You can talk baby for 2 hours solid and no one cares – in fact, you like it. Want to talk poop?  That’s ok.  Bring it.  Talk about boobs, bums, girly bits, boy bits… and eventually more birth story details than you ever thought someone would share with you.   Having a coffee group or any kind of support group in those first few months is crucial. It can be hard.  You’re sleep deprived and trying to get used to your new family dynamic, not to mention learning the biggest and most important job you’ll ever have.   Sometimes you just want to talk over every mundane detail with people, and sometimes you just need to hear that you’re not the only one. 
Over the past 6 months we’ve all shown up at least once looking glassy eyed or tired (or is that every time?) and it’s nice to be with a group of people who understand.  It’s not about all following the same philosophy on parenting or agreeing on how things ‘should’ be done, I don’t think any one Mother in our group does the same thing, but we all understand that everyone is doing what is best for their baby and family.  People all do things differently; I find it really interesting listening to what other babies are doing and have learnt a lot from this group.
This is a double edged sword of course.  Me on a Tuesday night: “Bill, now listen, we have to be much better at XYZ because I was at coffee group today and Billy is doing ABC and I really think ….”.  The following Tuesday afternoon “Honey, we are awesome.  Aiden is doing XYZ and Billy is a month older and doing the same thing, so I’m really pleased with what we’re doing”.  Next Tuesday “I suck as a mother…” and so it goes on.  Of course we all know that babies develop at different paces, sleep differently, eat differently, but it’s natural to draw comparisons as much as you may try not to.  Usually by Wednesday I am back to just concentrating on what I am doing, rather than what everyone else is doing. 
The last time we got together I noticed how much we all laughed.  There was a level of comfort and familiarity and I remember thinking how cool it was that I had found this group of women (yes, and Rob).  You all rock and I’ve really loved getting to know you all and having your support.  You’ve made my journey as a new Mum better and more fun.  I know I talk a lot, so thanks for listening.  Bring on the wine & vodka evening I say.
And then there are the babies.  To Zac, Talullah, Samantha, Ruby, Hugh & Lexi – you are cool kids. You are all so unique with your own great personalities and I am so stoked that Aiden gets to grow up with you all.
Ruby, Talullah, Samantha, Hugh, Aiden & Zac. 
(Lexi vacationing in England!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eat, Pee, Love

Lets face it, when you become a Mum, your life becomes all consumed by the eating & peeing … not to mention sleeping, of your new bundle of joy.  And then there is the LOVE.  So much of it you think you might burst.  It's different for everyone, but for me it was like a thunderbolt the minute he was born.   And so began the Eat, Pee, Love phase of my life.
Most topics about your baby can be put into one of the above categories, except for sleep, which I think deserves an entire blog of it’s own.  Don’t worry, I’ll be paying some attention to that topic!  Life’s questions change from Where should we travel next? What shall I wear out for dinner or drinks this weekend?  Does my bum look big in this?  to Yes, of course my bum looks big in this, I just had a baby.  How many times did he poo?  How long was his sleep? How many sleeps did he have today?  Is that poo on his white onesie?  Did that poo just explode?  Will I get breakfast & a shower today?  Is anyone coming to help?  Is he too warm?  Is he too cold? Did I just hear him crying?  Why won’t you sleep?  What time is Ellen on?  How many hours until Daddy is here?  It is non stop questions. 

The biggest one – Am I doing the right thing?
Then, bit by bit you start getting answers and figuring things out.  Things start making sense and falling into place as you get to know the new human in your life.  I think we all expect them to come out and we’ll know them straight away because we have such a strong bond from when they were in the womb… but it just doesn’t work like that.  They are their own little people with their own personalities, trying to find their way and figure out what makes them happy and sad.  
At the end of the day (and all through the night) we are just along for the ride.
The ride I’ve been on for the past 6 months has been amazing, challenging, rewarding, exhausting, happy… oh, and did I mention the love?

Let me finish my first post by saying - I'm no expert on anything.  I just want to share my experience, the things I've learned, provide a few laughs, and maybe help out a new mum or two along the way.