Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Our Favorite Essentials For Baby

When we had Waverly, except for the birth and parenting classes that we took , we didn't know much else about babies. So, while we felt confident that we could change a diaper and give her the Heimlich maneuver if (God forbid) it was ever needed, we didn't know which brand of diapers that would be best or which car seat and stroller would fit our family perfectly. I spoke with other moms and did some online searches and we prepared our home for Waverly's arrival. Through trial and error (just say no to the diaper wiper warmer), we found the products that made our lives happy. For example, we tried four different strollers until were found "the one." (We donated the others.) Having Wave was everything we ever imagined it would be. Each day brought another miracle, another moment of absolute love. We were grateful that there were great products out there that helped to make our family more comfortable. 

Now that Waverly is 16 months-old, L and I feel like pros at this baby thing which is coming in especially handy now that two of my best friends are expecting their first babies. When they asked me for recommendations, I was more than happy to share with them these products that made our lives happier this past year+. 

If there is a baby product that you love, I'd love to hear it!

 The Stroller

1. The stroller we originally wanted, The Uppababy Cruz was $849 with the carseat included. We thought we could see if we could find a less expensive model that checked off most of the items on our wish list. We ended up spending a lot of time in Buy Buy Baby as well as searching for recommendations online before buying a stroller that was under $200. I didn't think there would be much difference in strollers but I was wrong. The one we bought as well as two subsequent ones (under $200) had a bumpy ride. The first one rusted badly and would stick when I tried to close it. The second one had a front wheel that would actually keep popping off. The third one was just so small that I couldn't fit her diaper bag under the seat and the hood was so small that it didn't keep rain or sun off her face. Finally, we decided to just purchase the Uppababy Cruz.  I am so happy we did. It had the things that were most important to us:

It has a smooth ride
The car seat fits right on the stroller so it's easy to transfer the baby from the car to the stroller or in the house if she is sleeping
It has a huge basket which comes in handy when shopping
The stroller seat can either face the parent or face out which I really like.

We knew this was a major expense but since we use this every day, this is our favorite baby purchase. I would highly recommend this stroller. 
Uppababy Cruz with Mesa Carseat (the indigo color we bought is called Taylor) $849.99

The Boppy Newborn Lounger

2. There aren't enough words for how much I love this product. From the first day we brought Waverly home, she has rested in this lounger. It was a soft yet supportive little pillow that hugged her chubby little body as she rested near me. It kept her head up at an angle so as she became more aware, it was a good option for her to rest in. Sometimes when I had some work to do, I would place the Boppy on my desk and she would stare at me and coo while I worked on content. Even though she has outgrown it, we leave it in her play area so that she can rest her head on it when she relaxes. I would recommend this to everyone. It is a great place for the baby to rest and gives mom or dad a few minutes of hands free time. (This Boppy is not meant for sleeping.)

The Blanket

3. The Little Giraffe blanket is the softest, most comfortable blanket you will ever feel. It is like the underbelly of a kitten. Of all of the blankets Waverly has, this one is her favorite. I love how she slowly rubs the blanket against her lips as she falls asleep. 

The Booties

4. Waverly is a magician when it comes to socks and shoes. Since she was old enough to grab, she has taken off her socks the moment I put them on. (The same goes with hats and bows.) So last winter when she waved her little cold feet happily in the air after removing her warm socks, I knew I had to find a solution. I ordered these Zutano booties and because of their design, Waverly could never take these off. They kept her feet warm all winter. They come in a great assortment of colors and fabrics and I love that the baby's feet were always cozy. She only stopped wearing them when she started walking and only then because they didn't have a grip bottom. 

The Bath

5. I love this little baby bath. Waverly has bathed in this lounger since she was born and she still sits in it as I bathe her. It's soft and pliable and fits in most sinks (and tubs.) I like that the lounger is perforated so the water can go right through (as well as any bio matter!). It's a steal at under $15.

The Nailclipper

6. I was so nervous the first time I had to trim her nails. The baby nail clipper was enormous in comparison to her tiny nails. Even with the emery board I felt like I was taking sandpaper to my baby's delicate pink fingers and toes. I did some searching and asked other experienced moms what they recommended. Several recommended this battery operated nail trimmer which has multiple speeds and comes with several attachments. I started off using the softest buffer pad on her nails and she barely reacted. I now use the second softest pad on her nails and it does a great job of eliminating sharp edges without feeling like I could hurt her skin. 

Fansidi Nail Clipper (in pink or blue) $16.99 

The White Noise Machine

7. I can't sleep without a white noise machine and so we thought Waverly might like one as well. We have tried several and right now we are using the Dreamegg which produces a white noise as well as other relaxing sounds like the ocean,  which is the one we listen to.  It also has a soothing nightlight.  She seems to love falling asleep to this. I can't imagine not having this noise machine which does a great job of blocking the ambient house noise.

The Diaper Wipe Dispenser

8. I know it may sound like a silly thing but I was so frustrated by our baby wipe packs and dispensers. I'd want one wipe but I'd yank out three or five or more. L found this Oxo baby wipe dispenser and I can't believe how much I love this product. Because of a weight inside, when you pull out a wipe, you only pull out one. You can continue pulling more, of course, but if you need just one, just one is what you will get. It comes in white, with a selection of accent colors. 

A word about the electric diaper wipe warmers. We bought one and we disliked it immediately. Even with adding water to the stack of wipes you insert into the container, the wipes were either soaking wet/dripping or dry. Waverly didn't seem to care of the wipes were warm or not and I couldn't wait to replace it with the Oxo. 

The Backseat Mirror

9. Friends of mine told me I absolutely needed one of these mirrors so I could see the baby while driving. We bought one thinking it couldn't hurt but I didn't really appreciate it until we were driving a rental car in Boston and L and I realized we couldn't see our five week-old baby in the backseat for the 90 mile drive to visit our family. I ended up sitting in the backwith her for the entire trip. On my next (solo) trip back east with Waverly I had forgotten that I didn't have a mirror in the backseat of the rental car. When she was in her carseat, it was so quiet that I worried that her head may have tilted forward (a dangerous position which can impair breathing). I was driving on the Mass Turnpike and I called her name but didn't hear anything. I tried opening the windows to let in the winter air. I turned the radio up. I said her name repeatedly. I heard nothing and yes, I pulled over to the side of the highway so I could make sure she was OK. (She was. She just sleeps deeply, especially in the car.) I picked up this mirror the next day. 

I like this one because it has a light and a remote control to turn on the light. The mirror not only allows me to ensure that Waverly is OK but she can also see me which soothes her. We have this mirror in both of our cars and we bring one with us when we travel. It's an essential. 

The Diaper

10. We started with Pampers in the hospital and we continued using them when we got home. When Waverly was a few months old we tried other brands (Honest, Huggies, Costco. . .) as well as other versions of Pampers but we always come back to Pampers Baby Dry. These are the only diapers that I love. They don't leak. They fit her well and most importantly she has never experienced diaper rash when she wore these. As soon as we tried other diapers, even Pampers Overnights, Waverly was irritated. I couldn't be happier with Pampers Baby Dry and recommend these to my friends. 

Pampers Baby Dry, a month's worth $44.64

The Baby Monitor

11. I had one requirement for our baby monitor. I wanted to be able to see Waverly in her crib without touching a monitor. I wanted to just open my eyes and see that she was OK before I drifted off back to sleep. I leave all of the home technology to L and he selected the Nanit which I love. It's safe (no strangers tuning in), it's high tech and it gives us great information like the temperature and humidity level of her room as well as when she went to sleep and when she wakes up throughout the night. Each week we receive a report on how she slept the previous seven days. I couldn't be happier with this monitor. 

The Swaddler

12. One of favorite gifts we received was this aden + anais  100% cotton muslin 4-pack of swaddling cloths. They are the perfect size (44 x 44) to swaddle Waverly but they were also great to use as a burp cloth. I used this light blanket over her stroller hood to keep the strong Boston summer sun away from her delicate skin when we went out for walks. I also used these to drape over her in the car in case she got to cool from the A/C. I love these soft blankets which get softer as you wash them. They are still a favorite of Waverly's. They come in dozens of color packs and designs, perfect for any nursery. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day

One of the things that I try to focus on when everything happening around me seems overwhelming is  to do something for someone else. It takes you outside of yourself and makes you think about the wellness of those around you.

This quotation above is one of my favorites from Dr. King. Maybe you can't change what is happening on a global scale, but you can so something however small for someone else. Bring food or clean blankets to an animal shelter. Visit someone in a nursing home who doesn't get visitors. Call someone who you know is feeling down. Pick up trash while walking in a park. What would happen if we each did something to instill joy or comfort in someone else? I believe this world would be a much more peaceful place, just like Dr. King imagined.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

how to be happy: don't compare yourself to anyone else

I had this habit of comparing myself to others. I think maybe we all do this at some point. In high school I knew exactly where my GPA placed me. At the time, it was a good thing. My group of friends pushed each other in a friendly competition. Later, after college and in my second job in PR, I had a manager who liked to pit us against each other. It was in television and it was brutal. My colleagues and I worked ridiculous hours to come up with great concepts especially after our weekly meetings when our manager would start each meeting with "_______ won the gold star the week. Now who is going to blow me away and who is going to disappoint me this week?" It was a stressful workplace that invited malice and a siloed way of thinking. I hated that job but I have to admit, I developed a strong backbone and I learned how not to be so sensitive.

When I was thinking about things that sabotage my own happiness, I realized that there have been times when I was happy but then I saw someone else who did better and I let their success diminish my own joy.

When we were going through the absolute hell of fertility issues, it was devastating to me every time one of my friends announced her pregnancy.  I had breakfast with a friend who exploded with her news. "I AM PREGNANT! Oh my God. It just happened! We are SO happy!" She was so excited that I thought she would literally levitate.  I wish I could have been happy for her. I felt sucker punched. Thinking back, I'm embarrassed that I couldn't share in her happiness. If I could go back in time, I would share her joy with her. I would hug her and I would cry happy tears for her. It happened over and over. Friends and family members became pregnant and gave birth to these beautiful, chubby little babies and I held myself back from spending time with them because I compared myself to them. I felt like such a failure.

One day, I realized that I could make a choice. I could be happy for my friends and family members or I could continue to isolate myself and miss out on getting to know some pretty amazing new little lives.  I found a new therapist who dealt with fertility issues and she helped me to understand that happiness isn't limited. There are not a certain amount of babies being given out. Each time  a friend had a baby didn't mean there was one less for me. It wasn't like musical chairs.

What I learned with each session was that comparing yourself to someone else doesn't bring you any closer to happiness. What it can do is destroy friendships, instill low self-confidence and prevent you from appreciating what you do have. When you are grateful for all that you have in your life (the lessons / the good / the bad), you build happiness incrementally.  I became honestly happy for those around me who had wonderful things happen to them- babies, promotions, new homes... it was all wonderful. Not only did this change in my thinking make me happier, it also improved my friendships. When I stopped being jealous, my heart had room for joy. It's funny how when you're happy for someone else, that leads to your happiness too.

Monday, January 14, 2019

How I'm changing my eating plan for 2019

I think about food way too much. Even before I open my eyes in the morning I think about what I'm going to have for breakfast.  I wish I didn't think this way. I should be thinking about my plan for the day but instead I think about how delicious breakfast foods are. For as long as I can remember food has occupied way too much of my brain. My grandparents (God bless them) believed that French Toast could solve any problem (and it kinda did). I love food. I love the smooth creaminess of macaroni and cheese. I love the way mashed potatoes make me feel warm and happy. I'm a carb girl. Chocolate, sweets, nope. Just give me a loaf of crusty warm bread and butter and I'm good. 

The problem is that this way of eating can only cause weight gain, especially if partnered with unbalanced portion control and lack of any kind of fitness program. To lose weight, I've tried all of the programs (No, really, all of them) from Weight Watchers to Nutrisystem, fasting to a 20-week weight loss program at my gym. I've met with a therapist (we discussed my past and what was keeping me overweight) and a doctor who prescribed a medication that made my heart and mind race (that was awful). I would lose a few pounds but I always gained the weight back when I tried to incorporate "real food" again. Then I would feel terrible about myself and seek solace in food which just made me feel bad about myself and there I was, falling down the rabbit hole.

Then five years ago I spent a week at Red Mountain Resort doing their detox week. Something in me clicked and even when I returned home I kept the program up. I ended up losing 100 pounds by eating proteins, fruits, vegetables and nuts. I felt myself glow like I never had before in my life. I was proud of myself and that just fueled my success. But then I started to feel deprived and angry about foods I was missing. I felt that binge twinge and then it happened.  I had just a little blueberry muffin and then I had a cookie and that 100 pounds I lost came back on.  I just can't control myself with carbs (flour, rice, grains) or sugar. Even just a little sets me off seeking more.  It was like I was almost at the top of a mountain that I had worked so hard to climb, only to let go and free fall. 

Since then I didn't think much about what I was eating. I was going through fertility treatments and my hormones were so unbalanced that food was one of the only things that made me feel better. I soothed myself with carbs which took my mind off of everything. Doritos melted my stress away. Now that Waverly is here though, I look at her and I want to be the best possible mom for this little girl. She is 16 months-old now and I see how she watches me and imitates what I do. 

I want Waverly to have a healthy relationship with food and her body. I want her to think of food as fuel, not comfort. We are careful not to use food as a reward and we try to give her as many fruits and vegetables as possible without resorting to hiding them in other foods.  A few weeks ago I realized that if I care this much about my daughter, shouldn't I care about myself the same way?

Here's the thing: I want joy in all aspects of my life. Including my eating plan. I want to be strong, lean and most of all I want my body and my mind for once to be on the same playing field. 

So, on January 1, I decided to follow a plan that works, a plan that makes me feel happy and satisfied.  I am following a plan that is for the rest of my life. I don't want to  diet. I want to fuel my body with foods that spark joy (sort of the Marie Kondo of eating programs). What I created takes from some of my favorite programs - Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, Whole30 and my original Detox program. I'll be eating vegetables, fruits, salmon/tuna, nuts, some dairy and some shakes/bars that I found work well and don't trigger a carb-loading binge. This is the plan. I'm also going to adding some fitness from walking to kickboxing and hopefully things I've never tried before. I'm going to seek out others who have trailed this path before me 

So far, I've lost 11 pounds since 1/1. More importantly I feel my glow coming back. The sugar and carb cravings have subsided and so has the I-need-sugar-right-now headache. I've already gone down a pants size and I think this is a real fine start to a program that makes me feel happy and not deprived. One of the best things to come out of this in just a few days is that I don't think about food when I wake up in the morning, I know that whatever I have for breakfast (eggs/shake/protein bar/bulletproof coffee) will bring me joy. 

Coming up, I'll post my progress and what I've found that works and doesn't work. If you have any time on how you regained your fitness while increasing your joy, I'd love to hear it!

Glow on!
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