Tag Archives: newborn

She Says… The NuRoo Pocket

I didn’t have a birth plan for either of my births. Especially the second time around, after having been through it once, I knew that those best laid plans almost always change in the moment. The baby is calling the shots. Still, though, there were a few things I knew I wanted to happen if at all possible, like skin-to-skin as soon as my baby was born.

I knew skin-to-skin time right after birth was an important way to bond with your baby and I had heard it could help with breastfeeding, but I didn’t know a whole lot more than that. A few weeks before my second baby was born I attended a webinar that Isis Parenting sponsored about “Kangaroo care”, which is a specific type of skin-to-skin where the baby is put chest-to-chest with mom (no bra or clothes between them) and covered with a blanket for an hour at a time. I learned that there are SO MANY more ways that this position can have a positive impact on mom and baby.

Kangaroo care can (among other things):

  • regulate baby’s heart rate and breathing
  • stabilize baby’s temperature and blood sugar
  • help relax a newborn so much they can even fall asleep for a full sleep cycle
  • improve baby’s latch and suck, thus making milk transfer more effective and helping get a strong breastfeeding relationship started
  • stimulate mom’s oxytocin and prolactin levels, helping with milk production as well as postpartum recovery
  • decrease both mom and baby’s stress responses and cortisol levels, and also reduce maternal anxiety
  • help babies gain weight appropriately when practiced regularly over time

When Emmett came shooting out faster than the speed of light I was in complete shock and awe. Just as I had asked, my midwife put him directly on my chest. He cried and I cried and Benjamin cried. I could feel Emmett’s tiny stomach moving and his little hands squeezed my skin and his eyes looked up at me. I remember getting extremely cold almost immediately after delivery and Emmett was looking a little blue himself, so the nurses covered both of us (with him still on my chest) in heated blankets and let our skin-to-skin contact work its magic. I’ll never forget how he felt against my chest right at that moment.

Emmett Birth-4

After that moment, though, I never really gave skin-to-skin another thought. I was holding my newborn most of the day, but we always had clothes on. Laying around for hours on end with my baby doing skin-to-skin once we got home was not exactly possible, especially with an active 3 year old vying for my attention and the endless revolving door of guests who wanted to come by in the early days.

Enter the NuRoo Pocket.

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The NuRoo pocket is a shirt/babywearing wrap that allows you to do skin-to-skin while being completely covered (think: when the guests are still popping in). You can even breastfeed in it (though I haven’t tried this yet). It’s pretty genius.

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It was CLEARLY designed by mothers who have been there, done that, because it is incredibly well thought out. The fabric is super soft and stretchy, but also supportive, so it feels good on your bare skin (and sensitive nipples!). The shirt and support belt come in a variety of cute colors and patterns and are very well-made, so it feels like you’re putting on a cute, fitted top (unlike most of my ill-fitting nursing clothes). When used with the support belt right under the baby’s butt, it is completely hands free. I could prep dinner, wash dishes or play Zingo with Owen no problem. For those using it in the hospital, there is even a little slit in the shirt so that the heel can be exposed for needle pricks (skin-to-skin can reduce the baby’s pain perception during these annoying but necessary procedures).

I find it a teeny bit hard to put on by myself (like many baby carriers), as you have to pull it kind of hard and find the right velcro section. But generally Benjamin can lend me a hand and I’m sure I could manage on my own if I had to.

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I didn’t receive mine until 2 weeks after Emmett was born. I thought maybe I had “missed the window” of skin-to-skin since he was getting so much bigger. As it turns out, the NuRoo Pocket can be used when your baby is up to 15 pounds, so we have several more months to go.

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I can’t say that I’d wear this out to run errands or anything, but it is an awesome option for those fussy evening times. You know, the witching hours. Thankfully we’re seeing less and less of those times in the last week or so, but I still try to get an hour of skin-to-skin most days when Emmett and I are home.

This would be a great gift for a new mom, or especially a mom who already has a kid or two. Anything hands-free is worth its weight in gold, and the benefits of this gift go way beyond being able to check your email while holding your baby.

Visit the NuRoo Pocket website for more information.

Just so you know, I was not compensated for this review — I actually use and love this product. Hope, one of the creators of the NuRoo, offered to send me one to review, but she did not influence this post in any way.

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She Says… Kate Middleton’s Nipples

Oh, did that title get your attention?

I, like much of the modern, E! News watching world, find myself glued to the television when a mention of Kate Middleton is made. She’s gorgeous, stylish, seems genuinely nice and like someone we’d all want to be friends with. And, best of all, she’s a regular girl who ended up marrying a prince. It’s all quite dreamy.

When word got out that she was pregnant last fall and due almost exactly the same day as me (even though her baby bump was completely nonexistent when I was already in maternity clothes), I not-so-secretly followed her every mama-to-be move. Right before Emmett was born I had a brief moment of insanity where I worried that she was going to have her baby right before mine and steal our name, and people would think WE copied HER. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and her little heir-to-the-throne George came a week later (George was nowhere on our baby name list). I was freshly home from the hospital cradling my own newborn when I watched Kate and William stand on the steps of the hospital waving to the throngs of admirers and press.

At that moment, mesmerized by watching Kate go through what I had just done myself, I thanked my lucky stars that I did not have any spectators when I left the hospital. My swollen belly wasn’t criticized by the media and no one talked about my hair. I slipped into my minivan, put one hand on my sleeping baby tucked into his carseat (ahem, properly, unlike a certain little prince who was unsafely swaddled for the ride home) and smiled at my husband in the rear-view mirror as we headed for Starbucks on our way home.

Despite the clear differences between Kate Middleton and I, I can’t help but think of her, often, as I go through the motions of caring for a newborn. Late at night when Emmett is fussing and shaking his head back and forth seemingly starving yet unable to find my nipple, I wonder if Kate is in her nursery doing the same thing. When I’m changing a diaper and I get a clean, dry diaper tucked under Emmett’s butt just in time for another poop to come shooting out, requiring me to re-diaper and re-dress him while trying to not smear poop all over his face, I wonder if Kate has the same awkward moments with baby George. When I’m positioned on the couch with my nursing pillow and burp cloths and other props to get myself in the perfect nursing position and I realize I’ve left my water cup across the room, I wonder if the other Kate has ever found herself similarly inconvenienced (though let’s be honest, I’m sure she has someone on her staff who could bring her a glass of water if the latter ever happened).

She may be a royal, but she’s still a new mom.

And sometimes being a new mom is awkward. And messy. And in the dark of the night when no one is watching, you inevitably wonder if you’re doing it right, even if you’ve done this all before. And I can guarantee you that even someone as seemingly perfect as Kate Middleton, like the rest of us, has messed a few things up. And, if she’s nursing, I bet her nipples are just as sore and beaten up as mine right now.

In some weird way, this brings me a lot of comfort. And thinking about Kate Middleton’s nipples makes me laugh a little. And I realize all of us new moms are in this together, whether we live in a castle, a suburb of Boston or somewhere in between.

Now, where is my butler to grab me my glass of water while I nurse?!

She Says… My New Philosophy and Review of NuuNest App

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I am very Type A. I am organized and research obsessively and write everything down and thrive on routine, schedules, being in control. From the minute Owen was born three years ago he challenged these tendencies (as babies tend to do), and since then my personality has shifted significantly to be much more in-the-moment and flexible. Still, though, my structured ways remain in tact in many ways, and thankfully as Owen grew up, it turned out he, too, thrived on regular nap and bedtimes and the repetition and predictability of a structured day.

In an effort to understand my newborn in the best way I knew how, I made lists and charts and kept notes on just about everything Owen did and when he did it. Even in the hospital mere hours after he was born I was filling out charts of how many dirty diapers he’d had, how often he nursed, how many minutes on each side. As his feeding issues escalated I had spiral notebooks filled with notes about each feeding, what I ate, how it went, how he cried, how much weight he gained. Same with sleep — I charted and highlighted and looked for trends and counted hours. As a new parent, this helped me make sense of the world of unknowns I was facing.

Fast forward 3 years to Emmett’s arrival and it’s like I am a different person.

I don’t know if it is the clear-headed perspective of the 2nd time mom or the fact that I researched and documented my brains out on Owen, but I have a completely different philosophy this time around. On day 1 of Emmett’s life the nurse encouraged me to feed him every two hours and to look into using an app on my phone to document feedings and diapers until things normalized. While I stuck to the feedings every two hours and checked out a few apps, I quickly realized that I had no interest in/need for documenting every breath and twitch and drop of pee.

I wanted to enjoy my baby, work on breastfeeding and maybe get a little sleep instead of spending my hours filling up spiral notebooks. I kept mental notes of when the last time I fed him was, and what side we ended nursing on. That was it. I didn’t stress over times or minutes or number of diapers. If he seemed hungry before the 2 hour time frame, I fed him again. If his eyelids drooped, I helped him sleep. If he wanted to be awake, I gazed into his eyes and enjoyed those brief moments instead of trying to make him sleep (a futile effort, anyway). We’re 3 weeks in and I’m still following the same guidelines, with very few expectations about what “should” be happening at a given moment.

It’s incredibly, incredibly freeing.

And, even though I don’t have any written proof, I can assure you so far Emmett is just about as structured as his older brother (eats every 2 hours during the day and averages every 3 at night, poops/pees regularly/constantly). Just because I’m not always analyzing his habits doesn’t mean they are any less “regular”, it just means I have a lot more free time.

That said, I don’t think it would have worked to be quite so carefree with my 1st baby. I just didn’t know enough. I needed the information in my spiral notebooks so I could make sure we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. It was my ammo at doctor’s appointments or when Googling the many, many questions I had as a new parent.

There are many apps available to help document this type of information without weighing a new parent down with notebooks or requiring them to create homemade excel spreadsheets. I had the opportunity recently to give one of them, NuuNest, a test-drive when Emmett was born.

LIKES

  • GREAT information. One of the things that sets this app apart from other baby trackers is that it is loaded with tips and tricks (about everything from car seats to safe sleep to poop) from the creators, Cindy and Jana, who are nurses and lactation consultants. On almost every screen there are tidbits of information that are important for parents of newborns, especially first-timers.
  • Tracking. You can track breastfeeding, diapers, and even things like giving your baby Vitamin D, which can be so easy to forget to do. They have easy-to-set-up push notifications and alerts that you can use as reminders if you want to as well.
  • Baby profiles. NuuNest allows you to set up profiles for your baby/babies with their birth information so you can track weight gain and other details as well. This would be extremely helpful for parents of multiples, as many apps that I’ve seen assume that you have only one child.
  • Design. I like the clean lines and simple design of the app. No cutesy pictures or silly icons… nice for a designophile like myself.

DISLIKES:

  • Entering past/missed feeding information or deleting incorrect information. In the hospital when I started using the app, I wanted to input past breastfeeding sessions so I could have the “complete” picture, rather than starting from Day 2 or whenever it was that I actually had the time to pick up my phone. I found the inputting kind of tricky if it wasn’t a “current” session and couldn’t easily figure out how to delete/change information if I put it in wrong. Note: This is probably user error, but it was frustrating enough for me to check out other apps when I couldn’t figure out how to get my info entered quickly and correctly.
  • Automatic push notifications/reminders. I looked at the app a few weeks before Emmett was born, just to check it out. Once I opened it and started poking around, some notifications/reminders were already set up and every time I opened my phone it said things like “You haven’t recorded giving your baby vitamin D yet today” or “You haven’t recorded any diapers”. Umm, right. I don’t have a baby yet. It took me too long to figure out how to turn them off and they were annoying. That said, if I had been a normal person only opening the app once my baby was born, these reminders could have been considered helpful and not annoying!

Aside from the two dislikes above (which were really more MY issues than the app’s), I think NuuNest is an excellent resource for parents. It tracks only the vital information and acts as a great resource at a time when there are so many new things to learn.

What apps do you use for your new baby?

 

*I was not compensated for this review. Cindy (one of the NuuNest creators) reached out and offered to let me poke around the app for free and I offered to test it out and review it. All opinions are my own!

She Says… Brotherly Love

Please excuse the non-blogging while I thoroughly enjoy falling into the newborn abyss. The rabbit hole of diapers and nursing and snuggling this tiny little person who has joined our family.

I’m exhausted. But it couldn’t be a lovelier kind of exhausted.

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After a day and a half in the hospital, Benjamin and I were ready to bring our little guy home to meet his brother. Since Owen was at school during the week we didn’t try to pick him up early and force a hospital “meeting”. It seemed like a recipe for disaster on many levels. Instead, we opted to come home Thursday morning so we could get ourselves settled at home before picking Owen up from school to meet his little bro.

To say he was excited is an understatement. Apparently he told everyone he saw at school (teachers, students and parents alike), “MY BABY CAME OUT!”.

Almost immediately, Owen smothered Emmett with kisses (and ubiquitous daycare boogers). I tried to give some helpful tips like, “Just the top of his head and his hands and feet, maybe not right up in his face…” and “Ooh! That’s enough hugging! I think Emmett is all hugged out…” while also trying to not stifle Owen’s enthusiasm for meeting his baby brother.
Emmett Birth-19 Emmett Birth-21

Schnitzel has been on his best guard-dog behavior as well. When I’m nursing he sits at attention at my feet, ready to protect us from intruders. And when Emmett cries, Schnitzel is usually at his side even before I am. He’s the best nanny ever.

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There was no shortage of kisses. Owen even said things like, “Hi cutie pie, why are you crying? What’s wrong, sweetie?”. He’s going to be such a sweet brother.

Emmett Birth-24

After a few minutes of baby doting, the novelty wore off and Owen said, “Mommy can you put Baby Emmett down so we can play?”. Ha.

And just like that, we were a family of 4. Just doing a puzzle. Hanging out. It just felt… right.

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Whenever Emmett squeaked, Owen ran over and patted him (gently, most of the time) and wanted to pick him up. We certainly have some rules to learn about what is allowed (touching the baby’s feet and head gently) and what is not (picking up the baby by his head), but at least I know that it comes from a place of love.

I keep trying to remember that as I reprimand Owen for manhandling the baby.

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We’re adjusting to the new morning routine too. It’s hard for Owen to understand why I can come in and wake him up sometimes but not others. But he’s doing an awesome, awesome job adjusting. In fact, I’d say we all are.

And those “quiet” moments when both kids are happy and hanging out together are worth every one of the loud or frustrating ones.

Owen+Emmett July-6

On Sunday we went out to ice cream to celebrate Emmett “coming out” and Owen becoming a big brother. Ice cream makes everything better.

Owen+Emmett July-4 Owen+Emmett July-3 Owen+Emmett July-2

 

Brotherly love is a powerful thing. I feel so fortunate to have two beautiful boys to share it.

She Says… Meet Emmett

At 1:15 we were shopping at Ikea. At 4:15 we met this little guy.

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Emmett Howell

7.16.13 (born on his due date)

7lbs 14 oz

 

Full story to come soon.

 

She Says… Diaper Dabbler

As I mentioned, we have the “big stuff” (crib, changing table, glider in the nursery and carseat brought upstairs from the basement) ready for Baby #2’s arrival, but I haven’t really gotten around to the “little stuff”.

Like diapers.

Diapers are not actually “little stuff”, I guess. I mean, you NEED them. But I know from experience that the hospital sends you home with a stash, so maybe I haven’t gotten around to stocking the nursery because I know we’ll be ok. At least for the first… day.

Before Owen was born I did a lot of research on diapers. Would we use cloth? Biodegradable? Pampers? Huggies? Luvs? Target brand? What I realized after having him is that you really don’t know what will work for your kid (or your life) before your kid arrives. Ah, perspective is a beautiful thing, no?

I remember stocking Owen’s nursery with Pampers. Except when I came home from the hospital I looked at the package and noticed that it said “Baby Dry”, which was something I had been warned against by some friends because their kids had weird rashes as a result of the chemicals. As a new mother holding my tiny newborn, the idea of chemicals that could give my kid a rash put me in a tizzy and I nearly threw that barely-opened package out the window. Waste of money #1. Next we tried some of the more environmentally-friendly options and I found that they just didn’t work for us. Waste of money #2. Those of you who have been reading for a long time know that Owen was a super-peer from the day he was born, and he was exploding diapers left and right (and not just in the normal newborn way). Finally after buying countless packages of various brands and styles (wastes of money #3, #4, #5), we landed on Huggies Little Snugglers. They fit Owen’s skinny little bod really well and contained *most* of his peesplosions. That’s what we’ve continued to use into toddlerhood (and thank goodness for Huggies Overnights!), though thankfully we’re nearing the end of the diaper stage with him.

Of course in the newborn haze I could barely remember which ones I’d tried and how they worked for Owen, and I certainly didn’t have the presence of mind to think of a solution to all of this diaper trying (and diaper failing). But thankfully someone else created what I could not. A few months ago I came across Diaper Dabbler, a service that provides “sample packs” of various types of diapers along with an easy-to-use spreadsheet for you to write down how each one worked for you.

They have a number of sampler packs already selected. For example:

  • The Prepared Parent has 26 different varieties covering 18 different brands in 2 different sizes – newborn and size 1.
  • Mommy Mainstream has the most common diapers found in many retail stores (Huggies, Luvs, Pampers).
  • Mother Earth is for the parent who prefers something more environmentally-friendly with less chemicals (Honest Company, Earth’s Best, 7th Generation, Huggies Pure & Natural).
  • Modest Mama is easy on the wallet, containing one of each of the most common store-brand diapers (Target, Babies R Us, Costco, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens).

They also offer toddler packs or packs by size. As well as a handy little sheet for you to keep track of which ones worked for you. And a reference guide with rankings that shows information about each company. Finally, if none of the samplers are the right fit for you, they can even put together a custom pack based on your interests/needs.

They also gift wrap. What a cute idea for a baby shower gift! Perfect for a new mom, or a 2nd time mom like me who doesn’t need any more receiving blankets.

Diaper Dabbler kindly offered to send me a sampler pack based on some information I gave them about me and my family. I received 3 newborn diapers from each of the following companies: Naty by Nature Babycare (which I’ve never even heard of), Huggies Snug & Dry, Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive, Pampers Baby Dry, Huggies Little Snugglers, Seventh Generation Free & Clear. I’m so excited to try them out without having to buy a big package of each kind, and the researcher in me is excited to have a chart of data about what worked and what didn’t this time around.

They have a gift for you too! 25% off anything on their site until next Friday, June 7.

Just use the code HOME25.

Now I’m off to put these adorably teeny tiny little diapers in the new baby’s empty changing table.

***

As I mentioned above, I received a free sampler pack of diapers from Diaper Dabbler and offered to write this blog post. All opinions are entirely my own. I think they have a great idea to save us all a bit of money, and I really enjoyed getting to know the company. Thank you to Diaper Dabbler for offering This Place is Now a Home readers such a big discount as well!

He Says… The First Week

I have now been a dad for just over one week.  An awesome responsibility, and a new title I am proud to hold.  Everyone told me that you can’t understand how it feels until you go through it.  I didn’t entirely believe them at first, but now I do.  I feel so attached to this little creature that it is unbelievable.  After Kate does Owen’s first morning feeding she has been bringing him into our room and placing him next to me in bed.  That is absolutely the best feeling I can possibly imagine.  He is sleepy and “milk-drunk” and so adorable in his little onesie and we just cuddle in bed before going downstairs to start our day.

We’ve been fortunate that Owen hasn’t been overly fussy in this first week.  He sleeps and he eats.  I feel bad for Kate because she really seems to be constantly feeding him, but I’m not sure she minds.  I’ve gotten pretty full nights of sleep because there is just not much for me to do at night and Owen’s been sleeping in between all of his nighttime feedings.  In about a month we’ll introduce a bottle or two a day of pumped breast milk so that I can relieve Kate of some of the feedings.  Kate’s mother has been kind enough to stay with us for the last week and is heading back to Delaware tomorrow, so we’ll then get to figure out how to do everything with just the 4 of us (Schnitzel included).

Kate will blog more this week about recovery and all that stuff but in the meantime I wanted to include some pictures of Owen from his first week.  Let me just say, I think he is unbelievably adorable and I LOVE his rock-star hair.  Enjoy!

He Says… The fruit of our (her) labor

Let me just say, what I witnessed today was truly one of (if not THE) most amazing experience of my life.  I am so proud of Kate for her strength and poise through the entire delivery process.  She was truly a pro.  It’s been a long day for all of us and I think we are all rather exhausted, but just so thrilled to hold our baby boy in our arms.  It’s hard to believe that he is really ours.

So without further ado, I introduce our son, Owen James, born at 12:36pm weighing 7lbs, 5oz.

I’ll let Kate write more about the birth in the next day or two.  But thank you to every one of you for your kind words and support!