Category Archives: Pregnancy & Baby

What Nobody Tells You About 1 Year Olds

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I don’t think I realized it at the time, but looking back now I was really sad about the fact that Miles was turning one. I just loved everything about having a baby and caring for him from the very beginning. I felt like the fact that he was turning one meant that I didn’t have a baby anymore. And frankly, I had no idea what the heck I was going to do with a toddler.

When you have a baby, there’s so much noise out there about how to care for them and what to do with them that it can make your head spin. While I became pretty adept at tuning out a lot of the nonsense, it was still inescapable. But once your kid passes the one-year mark things get kind of quiet. Or, you start hearing about how difficult and challenging toddlers are and it’s enough to make you want to hide from your child for the next few years.

But if there’s one thing I wish someone had told me about having a one-year-old it would be this: It gets even better. I can’t speak for all one year olds, but I can say this about ours: He is awesome. I know other one year olds and I think they’re all pretty darn great, too.

I may only be a few months into toddlerhood and in some ways I’m not even certain I’m truly in it since Miles isn’t quite walking yet (he’s getting close, though!) but I’ve been amazed at just how much fun this one-year-old stage is. And in some ways, it really is better than baby-hood. Here’s why:

No more bottles! This is for my bottle-feeding mamas, but once we ditched the bottles and formula (I went cold turkey at 11.5 months and it went smoothly) I felt such a lightness in our life. (For more on my feelings about bottle-feeding click here.) I felt like so much time in our day suddenly opened up since I wasn’t constantly making bottles, feeding Miles, washing bottles, and anticipating his next feeding.

Fewer, longer naps. Helping Miles become a good sleeper has always been a big priority for us, especially since I depend on his naps in order to do my work. As a result, this meant we had to make some sacrifices like saying no to activities that interfered with naptimes. Now he takes two solid naps per day. Now that he’s one, he’s more resilient if we’re off schedule so I know he’ll still fall asleep pretty easily. And if he occasionally skips a nap because we’re out doing fun things the world doesn’t fall apart—he’s totally fine. Now that he’s not taking as many naps, this gives us longer chunks of time during the day to do stuff without always feeling like the clock is ticking and we need to rush home to put him down for a nap again. Plus, his longer naps means that this mama gets a break (which I often spend working) right when I’m ready for one. It’s exhausting keeping up with a one-year-old!

Personality. I think all babies’ personalities shine through more and more throughout the first year, but there was something about turning one that was like flipping a switch. All of a sudden I felt like Miles became a little human instead of a baby and he just oozes personality. I’m still amazed at the things he does every day. He’s funny, silly, entertaining, curious, gentle, and so incredibly sweet. He’s also becoming quite the ham. When he notices that others are watching (even if it’s just me), he turns on the charm and becomes even more animated.

Cuddles, snuggles, and hugs! I thought for sure turning one meant the end of snuggling (which, to be honest, had ended months before because he was so busy exploring the world around him.) Instead, the opposite happened: He became SUPER snuggly. I’m not sure why, exactly. My best guess is that as he’s become more independent he also needs us a little more (if that makes any sense…) Before, if he was having trouble sleeping at night, holding him didn’t do anything to help. After he turned a year old and went through a really long and tough sleep regression (it lasted weeks), I’d go into his room when he was crying, lie down with him on the couch and he’d fall asleep on me immediately. He loves to snuggle while reading books and will come by during the day and just rest his head on my shoulder or on my leg. When Robert or I pick him up out of his crib in the morning or after naps, he wraps his arms around us and nestles his head into our neck and will stay there for some time. Miles LOVES giving hugs (even to people he doesn’t know very well!) and they’re usually unsolicited. Every time he hugs me my heart explodes into a million little pieces.

Meals. After Miles turned one, we went from feeding him meals to sharing meals with him and it’s the greatest. He babbles and laughs while we eat, does funny things with his food (like spinning spaghetti around his finger), tries to use utensils, or attempts to feed us. It’s an experience we get to share together several times per day instead of always being focused on feeding him.

He communicates. Miles doesn’t have many words yet, but he babbles all day long and I feel like we have entire conversations that way. I can tell he’s trying to communicate and it’s so awesome watching him try to express himself. He’s also becoming more opinionated and discerning about what he likes and doesn’t like.

None of this is intentionally meant to brag about our kid. I like to believe that all parents think their kid is amazing. And sure, we have our tough days, but they’re usually tough for a reason—he’s teething, he doesn’t feel well, or he just needs some extra TLC. So I just do what I need to do to help him out and remind myself that it will pass and it always does. But overall, this phase—right now at 14.5 months old—is so special and one that I truly want to remember forever and ever.

So the next time I know someone with a baby who’s about to turn one I won’t be thinking about how sad it is that her baby is becoming a toddler or how hard things are going to become. I’ll just think about how lucky she is because as far as I’m concerned, she’s in for so much fun and joy ahead.

How To Cloth Diaper A Baby

IMG_0062I can’t believe I’m hitting publish on this bad boy. I feel a little embarrassed. Also, if the Internet still exists in 16 years (I mean, who knows?) all of Miles’ buddies could find out that his mom talked about his business on a blog. Sorry, love.

As weird as it is to say, I love cloth diapering! If you read my last post, then it should be pretty clear there’s no high horse involved in our decision to cloth diaper. There are lots of choices out there, this was ours, and we’re happy that it’s working.

I often receive e-mails and Facebook messages about cloth diapering and I always wish I had something I could point people to when they want to learn more. However, I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to truly write about it until we were a year in. And now here we are.

I think there are three main things I can attribute our cloth diapering success to so far:

  1. We’re all on board. When I was pregnant and mentioned to Robert that I thought it might be a good idea to cloth diaper our baby he didn’t think I was insane. We talked about the cost savings (which have absolutely panned out and will continue to do so), decreased environmental impact, and other benefits and he was on board. He changes diapers when he’s home and does diaper laundry when he’s able to, too. Miles was in cloth even during the short time he was in daycare and it was never an issue.
  2. I don’t mind the laundry. When you cloth diaper you do a lot of laundry (we wash every 2 to 3 days). I describe our routine at the end of this post, but the fact of the matter is it’s just something we do and it’s not a big deal for us. I actually find folding diapers relaxing (#weirdo) and usually do it while Miles happily crawls around me.
  3. Our wash routine works. We’ve never had any issues with stink, stains, or rashes. Our diapers come out perfectly fresh and clean. It’s hard to argue with success!

There are SO many options out there when it comes to cloth diapers. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you first start researching. Different things work well for different families. This is what’s working for us.

1. Our diapers

Cloth-eez prefold diapers, unbleached (aka “Prefolds”)

These are rectangles of thick, super absorbent cloth. We fold them in thirds and lay them in the center of a cover (more on covers below) and then put the whole situation on baby. We decided to make prefolds the majority of our stash because they’re among the most affordable options (about $2 per diaper) and work great. Tip: Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for prepping your diapers before you use them. This includes at least four cycles through the washer and dryer to remove natural cotton oils and increase the absorbency. You only need to do this process once.

How many? 24 newborn, 24 small, 12 medium

Cloth-eez workhorse organic diapers (no closure)

These are the same material as prefolds, but wrap around baby so there’s more surface area to absorb. I liked the no closure option, which I secured with a snappi because it let me get a more exact fit than having snaps. However, I wouldn’t say these are a must. I used them and liked them when Miles was a newborn, but I didn’t feel the need to get more once he outgrew them.

How many? 10 newborn size

Thirsties Duo Wrap Size 1 diaper covers

When you use prefolds and fitteds (the two I mention above) you need waterproof covers to go over them. I adore Thirsties covers. The prints are adorable and they work great. We have the Velcro kind, which are called “hook and loop.”

How many? 8

Flip One-Size diaper covers

Around 6 months Miles outgrew the size 1 covers and needed larger ones. We decided to use Flip covers, which should last us until potty training. Tip: You can reuse covers before washing. I usually have 2 or 3 that I use per day and alternate to let the most recently used cover dry before using it again.

How many? 6

Bumgenius Freetime All In One Cloth Diaper

All-in-one diapers are most similar to regular disposable diapers in how they look and function. There are many different brands and styles of all-in-ones (there’s also something called all-in-twos, but I’ve never used them so I can’t really comment on them). I chose the Bumgenius Freetime because I didn’t want to deal with stuffing pockets (another type of all-in-one). Price wise, all-in-ones are among the more expensive options at about $20-$25 per diaper when purchased new. They’re easier and quicker to change than using prefolds and covers so these are what I keep in my diaper bag. If you’re not too concerned with the upfront cost or you (or someone in your household) is a little intimidated by cloth diapering you could consider doing all all-in-ones.

How many? 8 (This is how many got us through the first year in addition to the other types of diapers we have. However, I recently added some additional Freetimes and Elementals to our stash, which is why we only have 12 medium-sized prefolds. Miles is getting squirmy on the changing table so I expect that I’ll be reaching for all-in-ones more often for quicker diaper changes.)

GroVia O.N.E.

These are our nighttime diapers (plus I add a hemp doubler). We’ve used them since he was about 9 months old, but you can start younger than that. Miles sleeps 12 to 13 hours in them and they work great. Tip: They come with a removable Velcro option on top of the snaps. I didn’t use the Velcro at first and we were getting leaks until I discovered that keeping the Velcro option on gives a much more snug fit and we haven’t had any issues since.

How many? 3

2. GroVia Cloth Wipes

If you’re going to cloth diaper I say go all the way and use cloth wipes (just my two cents!) This way you don’t need multiple bins for wipe trash/diaper laundry or risk mixing up the two. Our system is super simple: We keep a spray bottle on his changing station filled with water and just spray the cloth wipe before using. Then toss it in with the diapers to be washed. For what it’s worth, I’ve never felt the need to have a wipe warmer.

How many? 2 packages of 12 wipes

3. Diaper cream

With most cloth diapers, you can’t use regular diaper cream because they can make your diapers less absorbent. We use coconut oil (the same kind you use to cook with – separate jar of course!) or Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm

4. Diaper pail

Most diaper pails are too small to work for cloth diapers. The opening is too narrow and you’ll fill it up with like 4 diapers. We have a big plastic Rubbermaid garbage pail that I got from Bed Bath & Beyond (I can’t find the exact one on Amazon—this is similar). Tip: It’s counter-intuitive, but you’ll get less stink if you leave the lid of the diaper pail open to allow air to circulate.

5. Planet Wise Reusable Diaper Pail Liners

These fit great in the pail we have. All of the diapers go into the liner. When we do diaper laundry we lift the pail liner out of the pail, dump all of the contents into the washer machine and then throw the liner in there to be washed, too. We have two liners so when one is being washed we have a clean one to go inside the pail.

How many? 2

6. Planet Wise Wet/Dry bag

When you’re on the go, you need something to put your dirty diapers in so you can bring them home to wash. This is what we use.

How many? 2

7. What to do with poo?

We can’t talk about cloth diapering without discussing #2. So here’s the deal. If your baby is exclusively breastfed you don’t have to do anything with the poo. Take the dirty diaper, throw it in the pail, and wash when you do your diaper laundry. There’s debate about whether you can do the same with a formula-fed baby, but I can tell you from my own experience that we followed the same approach and they always came out perfectly clean. Some people prefer installing a diaper sprayer to spray the poo off before adding to the diaper pail. (If a diaper just has pee, don’t do anything–just put it right into your diaper pail to be washed.) When baby starts eating solids, you definitely need to get rid of the poo. I’ve always been able to plop it off of the diaper into the toilet or you could use a diaper sprayer.

8. Laundry

As I mentioned, we do diaper laundry every 2 to 3 days. One thing that people often find surprising with washing cloth diapers is that you actually want to make sure you have enough diapers to make a full load instead of washing every single day. The washer should be about 3/4 of the way full in order to agitate properly and get your diapers totally clean (I learned this from an awesome Chicago-based cloth diaper Facebook group.) If you don’t have enough diaper laundry you can throw a bath towel in there to bulk it up.

Detergent: Tide Ultra Original Scent Powder or Tide Free & Gentle powder This is pretty much the most chemical-filled thing we have in our home, but lots of cloth diapering families swear by it. Getting our diapers absolutely clean is super important so I didn’t want to risk a sub-par job from some more eco-friendly brands. A lot of people also really like Charlie’s Soap and I had success with Country Save (I just didn’t love the smell). Always use powder detergent, not liquid.

Our wash routine:

  1. Warm pre-wash, no detergent
  2. Hot wash with enough detergent for a heavily soiled load (a full scoop when using Tide), cold rinse
  3. Hang diaper covers on drying rack, dry everything else in the dryer (never use dryer sheets). Some people prefer to hang dry all-in-ones, but I find they take forever to dry that way so I put them in the dryer. When everything is dry, I stuff it all into the pail liner and carry them upstairs to fold.

So that’s how we do it! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out. And if you cloth diaper feel free to offer your input on what’s worked for you. I hope this is helpful!

 

Why I’m Glad I Couldn’t Breastfeed

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I never imagined that my biggest disappointment would turn out to be one of the greatest blessings. I recently wrote an essay for Refinery29 about the impact not being able to breastfeed has had on me and it went live today. Check it out here.

Miles’ First Birthday in Vermont!

IMG_1228And just like that, we have a one year old! If this year flew by for you, it sure did for us. It’s still a little surreal that our baby is one. I’m not sure I fully believe it yet. The week prior to Miles’ birthday I was definitely feeling all the feels. I didn’t expect to feel sad about it, but I did at times. I couldn’t be more grateful to have such a happy, healthy, funny boy, but there’s something about turning one that makes it feel like he’s not a baby anymore. My mom said it best {because she always does} when she said, “Revel in every stage.” I keep reminding myself to do just that.

We’ve known for a while that we wanted to do something small and simple for Miles’ first birthday. We’d planned to celebrate it with my family at our home in New York, but at the last minute it turned out that we were all {minus my BIL} able to make it up to my family’s ski house in Vermont for the weekend. Here’s how we spent his special day.

At breakfast, Miles had his first taste of bacon ever. He loved it (obviously). IMG_1178

He then enjoyed some bacon, eggs, and blueberries (his favorite!)

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After his morning nap he crawled around in the snow for a little while. He then enjoyed a delicious lunch that my dad made of another favorite food: Turkey meatloaf! IMG_1181

A dear family friend joined us for the occasion. When Miles was born, she sent him a 12-month size outfit and shoes.  At the time, 12 months felt forever away. It was fun for him to get to wear this adorable number (it’s so soft) and shoes for the first time (I’m obsessed with Robeez now). She also brought her adorable pup!

IMG_1208 IMG_1209Finally, it was time to celebrate! My mom made Miles an all-organic, sugar-free, dairy-free coconut-flour cake. Just kidding!! It was a real white cake with white frosting and it was absolutely delicious.

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I hadn’t given much thought to how we’d introduce the cake. Miles hadn’t had any kind of sweet before and I figured he’d just play with it. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the cake! But first we had to sing Happy Birthday and take a few more family photos.

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We offered him a sliver. He scooped it up and went to town! We may have even given him seconds.

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I wanted to make sure he got every last bite.

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Finally, we gave him a bath to wash off the birthday cake (and to play with his new tug boat bath toy) and then he went right to sleep. It was a weekend we’ll always remember. Big thanks to my family for making it so special. Happy birthday, Miles. We love you!

Miles & Motherhood: Eleven Months

IMG_1140It’s been so long since my last update, and what a full few months we’ve had. Miles is 11 months and 2 weeks old, but who’s counting? (ME!) With the exceptions of his birth and moving from Chicago to New York when he was six months old, I’d say we’ve experienced the biggest changes over the past month.

For Miles, the biggest change is that he’s on the move now. He started crawling at 10 months old and hasn’t slowed down since. He crawls using two hands and one leg and keeps his other leg straight out to the side like a kickstand. He pulls up on anything—the less safe and sturdy a surface is the happier he is. I can’t take my eyeballs off of him for one second. And somehow, even then, he sneaks off and splashes in the dogs’ water bowls or removes the plastic vent cover from the bottom of the freezer and spins it around like a sword. Unless we coated the house in bubble wrap, I swear there’s no way to actually baby proof everything. As much as he keeps me on my toes these days, I love seeing how much the world has opened to him now that he’s mobile.

My mind is racing trying to figure out what else to share because it feels like he’s doing so many new things lately: Waving, clapping, almost pointing, crawling, climbing, pulling, standing, walking with a walker, hugging (swoon!), sooooooo-biiiiging, babbling, saying “dada,” “mama,” “baba” and “dog,” roaring like a lion, opening flaps in books, eating, eating…so much eating. He now eats three solid meals and one snack per day. He eats all food (except for salmon, but goodness I keep trying) and especially loves peas, Greek yogurt, and whole-wheat spaghetti. About a week ago he started getting the hang of a straw, so I love sharing smoothies with him. Just this week he started feeding himself from a pre-loaded spoon with a decent amount of accuracy. In the past week he also started refusing bottles so our doctor told us to move on to whole milk and sippy cups. Soooooooo it basically feels like we have a teenager now. For the most part, Miles eats what we eat in some miniature or dissected form. He loads up both hands with as much food as he can and then takes bites of the food directly from his fists. I never want to forget how he does that.

Our life has also changed dramatically over the past month because we took Miles out of daycare. (You probably saw this coming.) Poor Miles was sick constantly—and it wasn’t just the sniffles or the occasional cold that we knew could happen. He’d go to daycare for a few days and then be out for a week or more at a time with a high fever and one virus after another. After he had a double eye infection, a cold, his first ear infection, and a horrible case of hand-food-mouth that landed us in the ER (all in the span of about two weeks) in addition to a wheeze leftover from an illness he had in the fall, we just couldn’t take it anymore. It was tiring, stressful, and most of all we felt horrible seeing our baby sick all the time.

Robert and I figured we’d look for a nanny at the start of the year. However, after some careful consideration and a giant leap of faith we decided to see if maybe, just maybe, I could take care of Miles full-time…while continuing to work full-time. And you know what? It’s been one of the craziest and best decisions we’ve made.

I’m thinking about writing a post or two on what I’ve learned from being a stay-at-home-working-mom….or work-from-home-mom?…sigh, so many labels these days…that will include some of the details on how I’m actually managing to do this without working much while he’s awake or working super late at night. It’s been, and continues to be, a learning process. But beyond all of the day-to-day stuff of actually pulling this off, I can’t even begin to describe how much happier I’ve been since making this change.

Yes, sometimes it feels a little insane trying to juggle it all, but I have such joy knowing that this is the very best decision for all of us. Getting to spend my days with Miles is, quite simply, the best thing ever and I feel so lucky to be doing it (while maintaining my full workload). Robert and I joke that Miles is my buddy, but he absolutely is! We do everything together. And then any time he’s sleeping I’m at my computer working like it’s my job. Because it is. We’re taking it week by week and month by month. I know that there’s no way I could be doing this if Miles hadn’t decided, on his own, to become a stellar napper. Around nine months old he transitioned from taking several 50-minute naps during the day to taking two 90 minute to two hour naps twice per day (at 9 a.m and 1 p.m. like clock work).

If I had any doubt in my mind about whether I could do this, in January I maintained my typical workload in addition to working on a major project and somehow made it through happier and more fulfilled than I’ve been in months.

In two weeks Miles turns one year old. I have so many feelings about this, but mostly I’m just excited. I’ll be back at some point with more thoughts on our first year, but above all I’m grateful. I don’t know how I managed to have the unbelievable luck of getting to share my life with Robert and becoming Miles’ mom, but I don’t take any of it for granted. It’s a dream come true and I get to live it every single day—piles of laundry, sink full of dishes, wet sloppy baby kisses (especially those!) and all.

For similar posts see:

Miles & Motherhood: Eight Months

Miles & Motherhood: Six and Seven Months

Miles & Motherhood: Five Months

Miles & Motherhood: Four Months

Miles & Motherhood: Three Months

Miles & Motherhood: Two Months

Miles & Motherhood: One Month

 

 

Miles & Motherhood: Eight Months

IMG_0779Annnnd just like that we have a 9 month old! I have to admit that these posts are getting harder and harder to write. Miles is becoming such a little person that it feels nearly impossible to capture in words who he is and what he’s like. How do I explain what it feels like to watch his face light up the moment his tiny feet hit the floor while he holds onto anything he can? How do I describe what his giggles sound like when he tries to reach my nose through the slats in his crib after waking up from a nap? How do I translate the feeling I get when he stops wiggling for just a moment to rest his head on my shoulder?

I can’t, really. But I’m still going to try. I love looking back on previous posts so I know I’ll be grateful to have captured the past two months here as best as I can.

Miles is always moving now. He isn’t even crawling yet (more on that toward the end of this post), but he’s always on the go. He throws his bodyweight around, reaches for anything and everything, kicks his legs like crazy, rolls, grabs his toes, plays with toys like a pro, and wants to stand all the time. He’s even starting to take a few steps while holding onto our fingers. I’ll admit that I deeply miss those moments of stillness we used to have together and I still seek them out whenever I can, especially when putting him to bed at night. At seven months old they were few and far between, but at eight months old he went through a phase of wanting to be held more often and I was always thrilled to oblige : )

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This is what it takes to get one decent photo these days : )

Really, this is such a fun age. (Then again, I’ve loved them all!) I feel like he’s waking up to the whole world around him. He greets us every morning with the biggest smile on his face (Robert and I still try to go into his room together in the morning when he wakes up). From there he has a whole day of exploring to do. He’s completely enamored with light fixtures and squeals with glee whenever Robert lifts him to see them up close.

IMG_0050One of the most memorable milestones over these past months is that Miles started saying a few words. In October he started saying “Dada.” By November, while we were on a flight from New York to Chicago, he said “baba” and less than a week later he added “Mama” to his vocabulary. He now says these words all the time.

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Feeding Miles has been quite the journey over the past few months. We started introducing solids around six months. We loved the idea of baby-led weaning, but after a few too many terrifying near-choking incidents we decided it just wasn’t for us. So we moved onto purees. For a while, I made them all and really enjoyed it. Miles did, too—for the most part. The thing about feeding a young baby, though, is you never really know how much they’re going to eat. Some days he seemed like a bottomless pit and then we’d go through weeks when he wasn’t really into solids at all. Like most things with raising a baby, helping them learn to eat is an enormous exercise in patience and persistence. In any case, it felt like we were throwing out a lot of food. That’s totally fine and to be expected, but it also meant that I was throwing out a lot of time making them instead of actually being with him. So by eight months old we switched over to a combination of organic pouches, some quick and easy homemade purees, and slowly introducing finger foods. He just turned nine months over Thanksgiving and started getting really great at feeding himself (what timing!) so I’m looking forward to sharing more of what we eat with him in the coming months.

IMG_9340I’m nervous to say anything about sleep for fear of jinxing it, but I’m going to take my chances. Miles has become a fantastic sleeper! He sleeps about 13 or more hours per night (usually 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.). In my last post, I mentioned that he was a short napper, but that’s definitely changed over the past two months. He often takes two longer naps (anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours) and if we sneak in a third nap it’s about 45 minutes long. When he’s at daycare, though, all bets are off—his naps are fewer and shorter, but I guess that’s to be expected. Oh! We finally transitioned him out of the Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit this past month and he now sleeps in a sleep sack.

Speaking of daycare…sigh. To be perfectly honest, all I can say is that being apart from my baby just isn’t getting any easier. I keep expecting it to become easier with time, routine, and what have you, but I miss him terribly and worry about him all day long even though I know he’s in great hands. A few times per month I just can’t bring myself to take him to daycare in the morning and end up keeping him home with me. I love spending those days with him, but they also remind me how exhausting it is trying cram my work in during his naps and then working at night after he’s in bed (which means no downtime for me, no time with Robert, and trying to work when I’m pooped after entertaining a baby all day). The whole thing is just plain hard. I’m not quite sure what more there is to say and I don’t have any solutions, but that’s where things stand right now.

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We took a quick trip to Chicago last month and Miles was such a trooper napping on the go when he had to.

I feel so silly admitting what I’m going to share next, but I also know that there are plenty of people who’ll be able to relate. Do you want to know what was the single best thing I did for myself this past month? I deleted Instagram. I knew it would be a good thing, but I had no idea what a tremendous shift it would have for me. Here’s when I knew that it was time to call it quits: I saw pictures of other babies Miles’ age who were crawling or cruising and I started feeling bad that he wasn’t doing the same. It’s one thing for me to lust after someone else’s kitchen or wardrobe, but the moment I started comparing our baby to another,  it was clear I was headed down a path I didn’t want to be on. Comparison really is the thief of joy. He’s the sweetest, happiest, funniest, calmest baby I’ve ever met and there isn’t a thing I’d change about him. In fact, I’ve learned so much about myself caring for a baby who, at least at this stage, is so different from me temperament-wise. I have to be really careful to not push my type A-ness on him and feeling like he should be doing something (at least according to my Instagram feed) that he isn’t yet (when the reality is that it’s totally fine if he never crawls).

That was my impetus for deleting Instagram from my phone, but I’ve gained so much more than I expected. Mostly: time. I realized that I was checking the app during any spare moment in the day—even while walking down the stairs (not carrying the baby of course)—as well as when I was with Miles and I couldn’t seem to keep myself from doing so. What was I even looking at? I’d check one thing and the next thing I knew I’d find myself scrolling through some 25-year-old Mormon mom of four’s feed with a (seemingly) picture-perfect home and family whom I didn’t actually have a thing in common with. (Why they always seemed to be Mormon, I have no idea, but there’s that.) Anyway, it was bad. I thought I’d have a hard time keeping myself from checking Instagram or re-installing it in my phone, but instead I found that I felt so much better without it. I felt like I’d been freed some from a trap I willingly fell into. It’s so silly, but so real. Who knows if I’ll rejoin at some point with a healthier approach, but for now I know that I’m happier and more present without it.

Looking ahead, we have so much to look forward to over the next month with the holidays here. I can’t wait to introduce Miles to so many fun traditions and make so many new memories with him. I just feel so darn lucky to be his mom.

Miles & Motherhood: Six and Seven Months

IMG_8285Our sweet boy is seven months old and we are so in love with him!

It’s been two months since my last update. So much has changed.  In the past two months we:

  • Closed on the sale of our home in Chicago
  • Moved from Chicago to New York (I flew with the baby, Robert (<–saint) drove with our two dogs)
  • Lived with my parents for 10 days while we waited for our stuff to arrive and it was awesome
  • Moved into our new home
  • Traveled to Vermont and back TWICE
  • Celebrated our second wedding anniversary with our first date in New York

In the past two months, Miles:

  • Took his first flight and did great
  • Smiles and giggles ALL.THE.TIME.
  • Cut two bottom teeth
  • Learned to sit unassisted
  • Started eating solid foods and loves it (a baby-feeding post is currently in the works)
  • Regularly sleeps through the night
  • Attended his first wedding and wore a bowtie (swoon!)
  • Goes to daycare (when he’s not home sick with a stomach bug followed by a cold, followed by RSV…womp womp womp…)

Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind.

IMG_8072It amazes me every day what a calm, happy, and easy-going baby Miles is. He absolutely gets that from his dad : ) My favorite part about the past two months is how interactive he’s become and how his little personality shines through more and more every day. He’s become so generous with his smiles, giggles, babbles, and squeals. The funniest things make him giggle, like tickling the air over his face, rubbing his head against a blanket, or chanting “We’re going on a bear hunt” while bouncing. He seems like such a baby to me now–not a newborn, not an infant, and not yet a little boy. A sweet, smiley, playful baby.

IMG_7234One of Miles’ favorite things right now is doing something that we call “grab bag.” We keep most of his toys in a little cloth bin in his room. We’ll put him on the floor and turn the bin (“grab bag”) on its side and let him pick out any toys he wants. It’s so cool to watch him sift through them until he finds the one that he’s looking for. (His favorites are his baby iPod, baby paper, quiet toy, wire toy, and rattle <–all names we’ve given them). Other times, he’ll take one toy out at a time, inspect it, bring it to his mouth, set it to the side, and then go in for another one. Now that he’s sitting we’ll sometimes do grab bag when he’s upright. The whole sitting this is such a game-changer and I know it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be on the move.

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Sleep has been one of the biggest shifts over the past two months. Putting Miles to bed at night was always a fairly easy process…until he turned four months old. Then it got pretty messy. He’d cry and fight it even though we knew he was tired. At about 5.5 months old, we made the difficult decision to sleep train. Now, being on the other side of it, I will say that it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done and there were a million times when we wanted to quit, but it was absolutely worth it. We used Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child as our bible. Once we learned to put him down for naps every two hours or at the first signs of tiredness (rubbing his eyes, getting the glazed-over look, or yawning) before he has a chance to get overtired, he falls asleep much more easily. We put him to bed pretty early, too–around 6 or 6:30 p.m. most nights–and he sleeps until 7 or 7:30 a.m. It’s glorious! (Of course, when he’s sick, teething, or sleeping away from home all bets are off when it comes to sleeping through the night, but that’s to be expected.)

As awesome as his nighttime sleep is, he’s a pretty short napper (all things being relative…) and usually naps for only 50 minutes at a time. We’ve tried lots of different things to see whether they’d extend his naps (keeping him up longer, using different sleep devices, pacifier/no pacifier, etc.), but he wakes up happy and refreshed after 50 minutes so we just go with it. I like to think that eventually he’ll be down to two longer naps instead of three shorter ones, so we will see what the next few months hold! Miles still sleeps in the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit at night. He’s totally outgrown it so we either need to go up a size or transition him to a sleep sack. The few times he’s slept in a sleep sack at night didn’t go so well so he may just end up wearing his Sleep Suit until he goes to college. That’s cool, right?

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Starting daycare in early September was also a really big deal for us over the past month. If you remember from my four month update, I wasn’t ready to be apart from Miles when he was that young so we stopped doing a nanny share after one week (um…oops…) and had a wonderful babysitter care for him in our home until we moved. It was perfect. However, once we moved, Robert and I knew that we wanted to look into daycares in the area. We felt that the additional stimulation and social interaction would be really great for Miles and I needed more hours during the day to work. I think that the biggest factor in making us feel really good about the transition has been finding a daycare that we LOVE. Plus, it’s about a mile from our home, which is really comforting and a nice bonus.

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During our move, Robert had three weeks off from work and it was the greatest gift. Miles is absolutely smitten with his dad and that bond only grew stronger during that time. I’d be working upstairs in the office and hear them laughing together, heading outside to play in the grass, or swing on the swing set (we have a yard! It’s awesome!) Robert also got Miles on an incredible napping routine during that time. I’m so in awe of Robert’s patience, playfulness, curiosity, and cleverness when it comes to taking care of Miles. I think we’ve both wanted to get to a place where we could co-parent in a very equal way and thanks to that time I think we’ve absolutely reached that point.

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One of the coolest parts about raising a child is that you get to watch yourself grow up, too. This has become especially apparent to me over the past few months. I feel like we’re in a really great place right now where, although things are constantly changing, this parenting thing is starting to feel more natural for us. In the beginning, we were feeling our way around, getting to know our baby, getting to know ourselves in our new role as parents, and getting used to the huge shift in life that happens when you add a baby to your family. Now, I think it’s starting to feel more and more like second nature. I don’t think I was as aware of it until recently, but for the first six months of Miles’ life it often felt like we were Robert and Paige plus a baby…or like we were trying to fit him into our life…or like we were changing everything around to accommodate him. Now, it simply feels normal. Things are more predictable and decisions are so much easier to make. And even though we’re still settling into our new home and don’t have many routines at the moment, our day-to-day life feels so much more seamless than it did for those first six months. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think we’re finding our groove as a family and it feels pretty darn great.

Miles & Motherhood: Five Months

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I just love this little boy to pieces! His personality shines through more every single day and he has such an endearing sweetness about him. He lights up our world! He’s so busy wriggling, rolling, knocking down blocks, and exploring the world around him that I’m so grateful for the tender moments. Those sweet snuggles are more precious than ever these days.

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I’m astonished at how quickly babies change. People told me this would happen, but there’s absolutely nothing like witnessing it for myself. I feel like Miles is a different baby every week. I think that the biggest change over this past month is how he communicates with us. He makes eye contact, mirrors our facial expressions (omg the smiles—I melt!), reaches for objects (toys, Robert’s glasses, our faces, Remy’s tail, our fingers, and our food*), follows us around with his gaze, puts everything in his mouth, grunts when he wants something, and has a big vocabulary of coos. To think that all of this will continue to take off in the next few months makes me so very excited for what’s to come. I feel like I’m just getting to know him and he’s the absolute best.

IMG_6251Truth be told, I was really worried about month four. I’d heard about the four month sleep regression and had visions of being up all night long. Without being able to nurse him to sleep (I guess I’m still not over it…) I was worried there’d be nothing I could do to help him during those long nights. Thankfully it wasn’t as hard as I feared, but sleep has been quite a roller coaster over the past month. At the beginning of July I was pretty sure we’d won the baby sleep lottery because Miles went from waking up once or twice per night to sleeping through the night several nights in a row. I was ecstatic…until he started waking up twice at night again (there’s that regression!) We’d feed him and, thankfully, he’d go back to sleep pretty easily each time. At the end of month four he dropped back down to one nightly wakeup. Now, the first week of month five, he’s been sleeping 12-hour stretches at night again and it’s spectacular. Let’s hope the streak continues!

Falling asleep at night is another story. For naps, we can put him in his crib fully awake and he can get himself to sleep, no problemo. But boy does he hate going to sleep at night no matter how tired he is (and we always try to start bedtime before he gets overtired.) I just remind myself that he’s becoming so much more aware of his environment and knows that he won’t get to see us again until morning. It’s a work in progress and we’ve made some strides this week, so I hope that it continues to improve. Truthfully, though, it’s been one of the hardest things we’ve faced so far.

This month we stopped using a swaddle (he started breaking out of it and waking himself up) and now he sleeps in Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit for naps and at night. It’s the most absurd thing on the planet—he looks like the Michelin man—but it’s a great transition and it’s so stinkin’ cute. Next, we’ll move on to a sleep sack with his arms out.

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This is the first month where I truly feel like Miles is on some kind of a schedule. We never pushed any kind of schedule on him and I’m so happy for that. Lately, Miles wakes up between 6:30 and 7am most mornings (Robert and I love going into his room together when he first wakes up!) and then takes his first nap within one to two hours after waking. Once he wakes up from that nap, we put him down every two hours for a total of about three naps per day plus a late afternoon cat nap during a walk in the stroller. The boy is powerless to any kind of motion! I’ve tried keeping him awake, but he can’t help catching a few Z’s on the go.

Can I admit something totally ridiculous? In the past, I’ve mentioned how much I love wearing Miles and how much he loves it, too. But this month, I only wore him a handful of times. And that makes me so sad! Lately, he’s been completely content being left alone in his crib, on the floor, or in his rock n’ play whenever I need to have my hands free. I’m grateful that he’s such a happy little guy and can entertain himself, but I wish he needed me a little more. (Sob.) I’m sure, like everything else, this is just a phase. But I really miss wearing him all the time.

IMG_6178I feel like month four has been a really big shift for me as a working mom. It’s so hard. I’ve felt a lot of pressure (all coming from within, of course) to have everything figured out by now in terms of caring for Miles, our home, our family, and my work. The reality is that I always feel like something is falling through the cracks. I’ve been back to work for more than a month now. July was actually my busiest month of work ever. I wrote 41 articles. I’m starting, slowly, to do more food prep on the weekends and cook more meals for us, but it’s not where I’d like it to be quite yet. I’m still learning how to manage my time during the day, but I end up working most nights after Miles goes to sleep. It’s okay for now, but not ideal in the long run because it eats into the little time that Robert and I get to spend together each day and means that some days I don’t get any time to relax. All of this is to say that I want to have everything figured out and I feel like I should by now, but I don’t. I’m still learning how to allocate my time and be present and effective in everything that I do, but I have a very long way to go.

IMG_6642Month five is going to be pretty epic for our little family. I have a huge and exciting new work opportunity and we’re preparing for our move to New York on August 18. I can’t believe that we’re leaving our friends and our life here in Chicago. It feels surreal and, at times, kind of sad. But we’re so hopeful about what our life will be like in New York. In my moments of worry, I just think about how much Robert and I love Miles and the fact that soon he’ll be surrounded by even more people who love him so much. Then, I have no doubt in my mind that we’re doing the very best thing for all of us.

*Regarding feeding, earlier this month I posted on Facebook that our pediatrician gave us the green light to start solids at four months old. However, once I did more research, we decided that we’re going to try baby-led weaning (in which baby feeds himself solids—no purees). For a variety of reasons it’s best to wait to do BLW until he’s at least six months old and showing all of the signs that he’s ready including being able to sit up unassisted. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days–I’m so excited for that experience to begin and plan to share it with you!

Miles & Motherhood: Four Months

IMG_5343Four months in and it finally found me. Grief. Silly, silly grief. I thought I’d somehow escaped it like some new-mama ninja, but no such luck. How can you be so happy and so sad at the same time? This motherhood thing is so confusing. There’s so much good, so much sweetness, and so much joy. And yet…

Even when Miles is giggling and babbling and practicing newly acquired skills like rolling over or shaking a rattle, I miss newborn baby Miles. How? Why? I don’t get it. As I watch him smoothly and intentionally move his hands to grab the giraffe hanging from his activity gym or stretch his freshly unswaddled body first thing in the morning, I feel utter bliss. And yet…

I yearn for those rigid flails and tightly clenched tiny baby fists. How can this be? My greatest job in life right now is to help this little soul grow. So why does my heart yearn to turn back time? I’m often caught off guard in these moments. I remind myself what everyone says—things like “it gets better” and “it gets easier.” Why should I feel sad when I have so very much to look forward to?! For us, it’s all been good. I’ve loved every single stage. Even in his neediest, fussiest and my most sleepless moments, I loved it then and I love it now. I know that in a matter of weeks I’ll look back and miss the little baby Miles who’s in front of me today. Even when it’s hard and he’s crying, even when I haven’t exercised in weeks and can hardly remember whether I’ve eaten a vegetable today…even then I’ve loved it all.

IMG_5514This has been a big month of ups and downs for us. Miles is doing great. He’s the sweetest, happiest little being I’ve ever known. My favorite thing in the whole wide world right now is when Robert picks him up out of his crib around 6 a.m. when he starts to cry. Robert walks back into our room with Miles glued to his chest like a little sleepy tree frog and gently lies him down between us. Sometimes he’ll nod off for a little while longer. But then he begins to wake up. He stretches his arms and legs, which won’t stop moving for at least the next 20 minutes, and smiles up at us with the greatest gummy grin. He then whips his head from side to side as if trying to get mom and dad to fit with a single glance. What a way to start the day.

IMG_5926This is also the month that I returned to work. Working again has been great, actually. I’m so happy editors didn’t forget about me and I feel so lucky that I get to do this job. I enjoy my work and I enjoy earning an income. The 14 weeks that I was able to step away from my computer during maternity leave were so very needed. Maternity leave wasn’t exactly what I’d call a restful break (ha!), but after doing the same job for nearly nine years it was so nice to hop off of the treadmill for a little while. Now that I’m back to work, I’ve never been more focused, organized, or productive in my life. I know that as soon as I finish everything on my To Do list I get to spend time with our sweet baby.

IMG_5928On the other hand, figuring out our childcare situation has been a struggle. Before Miles was born, we had a nanny share lined up where I’d take him to the other family’s house three days per week. The nanny had tremendous experience and heaps of glowing references. Everything seemed great.

And, to my surprise, I did fine on that first day. I think that I was so focused on getting him there, remembering to bring everything, and getting my work done so I could pick him up that I didn’t let myself feel very much. But day after day, it became more difficult to bring him back. I dreaded it. The nanny did things so differently than we did. When I picked Miles up he was always so tired (from crying? From not napping?) Those few precious hours that I got to spend with him in the late afternoon weren’t with the smiley boy I know him to be. Pretty soon I started finding countless things that felt so very wrong. And so, we decided to end it.

I dreaded telling the nanny. I agonized over it and cried more than a few tears. Finally, I made the call. And you know what? She already knew what I was going to say. It didn’t matter what reasons I dug up to explain to her why it wasn’t working. She’d worked with enough parents before and was experienced enough to know why it wasn’t working. I wasn’t ready. The moment she said that I felt a weight I’d been carrying for weeks—long before we started bringing Miles there—melt away. She said exactly what I was unable to recognize in myself. She. Was. Right. I wasn’t ready.

Still, I felt silly. Countless new moms return to work even before I did and somehow make it work. It doesn’t mean that it’s easy and it doesn’t mean that they want to, but they do it. Why couldn’t I? I guess the fact that I don’t have the expectation of showing up in an office every day has something to do with it. I didn’t have to power through these feelings and so I couldn’t. What’s more, if I lived in just about any other part of the developed world I wouldn’t be expected to be separated from my baby so soon. There’s good reason for that. Understanding this has helped me put a little less pressure on myself over the fact that I don’t want to leave my baby for eight hours a day.

After speaking to the nanny, I called Robert at work and apologized. I don’t want to stifle our son. I want him to be social and adventurous and independent. Being the most understanding human being on the face of the planet (seriously people, I married a saint), Robert reminded me that Miles can’t even sit up on his own yet. It’s okay to want to be there for him, to have him nearby. It makes sense.

IMG_5724So what am I doing? I’m still working full-time. But for now we have a babysitter coming to our house during the workday and it already feels like a better fit for us. I’m able to work upstairs while she takes care of him downstairs, but I can pop in for baby smiles, giggles, and kisses any time I like. I should’ve known this was the right path for us from the very beginning, but I also realize that it was impossible to anticipate how I was going to feel.

So there it is: I’m ready to work, but I’m not ready to be away from our little guy. And that’s okay—for now at least. We’ll get there. One step at a time. Maybe by the time Miles leaves for college : )

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Newborn Favorites

BABY STUFF!!! If I told you how much time I spent reading blogs, researching, and perusing Amazon and Buy Buy Baby while pregnant, well, I’d be a little embarrassed. To be honest, though, I think that doing so actually helped take my mind off of the fear and uncertainty I often experienced about our baby’s wellbeing because they allowed me picture him using them some day. That kept me positive and hopeful.

Of course, raising a baby is about so much more than STUFF, but some things are necessary (hello, bottles!) and some just make life a little bit easier (thank you, Rock n Play!). It was all a wild guess as to how well these items would work for us until Miles was actually here. Now that we’re nearly four months in, I’m happy to say that my hard work and time paid off. So today, I’m sharing our favorite newborn items plus one big flop (thank goodness for returns!)

{Sidenote: I was going to make a fancy collage like I did for my Pregnancy Favorites, but then I remembered how many hours went into teaching myself how to do it and then I had a nice little laugh about how I used to have so much time to do whatever I wanted. HA!}

Rock n’ Play Any swing or cradle-like device will work, but what I love about the RnP is how light and portable it is. We have one on our main living floor and one on the floor where our bedrooms are located and I’m often moving them from room to room so that Miles can be near us. He loves it! It’s so important to have some kind of contraption in nearly every room—or at least on every floor—where we can safely put baby down whenever we need to (bed and couch = danger!) Even if it’s for just a few seconds while I put on my shoes or feed the dogs, I always know that he’s safe and comfortable in there. Speaking of the dogs, I like that he’s a little higher off the ground when he’s in the RnP so they’re not all up in his business like they would be if he were closer to the floor.

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Green Mountain Diapers unbleached newborn prefold diapers and Thirsties Duo Wrap Size 1 diaper covers Well, this is something I never expected to write about on what was once a food blog, but we LOVE cloth diapering. (Btw I hope to resume writing about food some day…) Briefly—and without getting all gospel-y about it—here’s why I love cloth diapering: I love the idea that we aren’t contributing to diaper waste, we’re saving a lot of money (we’re talking in the thousands–especially if we add to our brood some day), and we’re avoiding exposure to the chemicals in disposable diapers. Plus, the fluffly cloth-diapered bum is just so darn cute! If you have any specific questions about cloth diapering, our laundry routine, or anything else please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me. And if you think we’ve lost our marbles, that’s cool, too : ) For the newborn stage, prefolds and covers were one of the most economical options and we’ve had great success with these items. We have 24 newborn prefolds (he outgrew them at about 3 months old), 24 small sized prefolds (that’s what he wears now), and about 10 Thirsties covers (which is actually way more than we need). I do one load of diaper laundry every other day and it’s no big deal. Other cloth-diapering supplies we use and love: GroVia cloth wipes (oh yeah, we went there) and Planet wise pail liners.

Thirsties diaper cover & Wubbanub (described below). OMG he's so tiny here I'm going to go cry buckets now...Newborn prefold + Thirsties diaper cover + Wubbanub pacifier (mentioned below). OMG he’s so tiny here I’m gonna go cry buckets now…

Baby’s First Year Calendar I love the idea of a baby book, but I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with one. But a calendar where I write one little thing every day and record his milestones? Easy peasy! In fact, my mom did this for the first two years of my life and gave me the calendars at my baby shower. When I saw something just like it I knew I had to have it. We have this calendar hanging in Miles’ room and at the end of each day I jot down something from that day that I want to remember.

Solly Baby wrap I think I’ve waxed poetic enough by now that you already know how much I adore my Solly wrap. It’s so soft and comfortable, but most of all I love how close Miles feels to me when I wear him in it. It’s nearly as good as when he naps on my chest, but allows me to get stuff done at the same time. I tend to use the Solly when I’m wearing Miles around the house, but when we’re out and about or Robert’s wearing him we use the Lillebaby, which we also love.

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The First Years Infant to Toddler Tub with Sling Bath time is one of the things I looked forward to most about having a baby and it’s even better than I imagined. Miles loves his baths! He’s so calm and relaxed in there, you’d think he was at the beach. Robert and I even have a song that we made up (spa day…) and sing whenever he’s in the bath. (Yep, we’re totally those parents.) There are a lot of fancy tubs out there, but in my opinion this one has everything you could possibly need and transitions easily from infant to toddler. We’ve been using it ever since Miles was a week old. We keep it in the bathtub and fill the water to just below the sling before putting Miles in it. It’s so simple and practical and will last a very long time.

Born Free Nighty Night Nursing Light File this under Ridiculous Things That Work Really Well. And you don’t need to nurse to use it. Basically, it’s a dim light that you can clip onto your shirt, though I just left it on my bedside table. It gives off just enough light so I could check on Miles when he was sleeping in our room without turning on a lamp and waking everyone up.

In addition, here’s a quick list of items we have, love, recommend, and use all the time that need little explanation:

Finally, there’s one thing that I thought would be a lifesaver, but for us was a total fail: The Momaroo. I debated getting one for a really long time and finally took the plunge shortly before Miles was born. I ended up returning it. Some babies adore it, but we didn’t use it often enough to justify the cost or the space that it occupied. Miles only lasted a few minutes in there at a time before he started to fuss. Ultimately, I found that keeping him near us in the Rock n Play or wearing him in the Solly were far more effective than putting him down in the swing, which isn’t very portable. What can I say? The baby loves to be held and this mama is more than happy to oblige.