Ending Breastfeeding, Weaning Mommy

I read a lot about breastfeeding before having both my babies but I don’t remember seeing much about the weaning period beyond: “Stop when you’re ready to stop,” “Gradually decrease the number of nursing sessions,” or the less helpful, “Just breastfeed as long as possible.” Well, Bugaboo is over a year old and certainly showing no signs of stopping, but mama is ready. So what now?

We’ve been nursing before naps and at bedtime, often (unfortunately) in the middle of the night too. Skipping nursing sessions usually only works if my husband is home. If I’m holding him, Bug literally pulls the neck of my shirt to try to cram his head in, face first. In less desperate moments, he just sticks his (usually cold) hands down the neck of my shirt. I get the message loud and clear: nurse now or your shirts will never be acceptable to wear out in public again! (Yeah, he knows my kryptonite).

Sure, you say, I just need to buck up and let him cry a little. It won’t really last very long and he’ll get over it. But here’s the kicker – when I do give in and nurse my baby, my toddler actually, I always get the same reaction: his eyelids flutter, his eyes roll back a little, and he breathes out a tiny moan of total pleasure along with a deep sigh as though I’d been starving him for days and broke his fast with a 5 star dessert. He is so completely content and it’s the simplest thing I could possibly do – really I just sit there and enjoy a few minutes of uninterrupted reading time. I don’t usually feel the typical “mommy guilt,” but that does it. Why on earth would I take nursing away from him?

Because I want my boobs back, for one. Because I have a bunch of very cute non-nursing bras waiting for me. Because my son very slowly increases the pressure with his teeth so that by the end of many nursing sessions, I have four well-defined marks around my nipple. Because I’m scared he’ll still be nursing years from now (I have no problem with moms who nurse older kids, I just don’t want to do it myself). And because I want to sleep through the night for once!

It turns out none of those reasons are good enough to break the spell my son has on me, though. I still haven’t done much proactively to wean my son. I guess I’m really hoping my son will just decide on his own that he’s done with nursing and it’ll be a nice, peaceful transition. That happens sometimes, right?

Advertisements

Potty Training Tip – Beware the Fancy Diapers!

toddler upsidedown $

Beware the fancy diapers!

I thought we were doing my daughter a favor by getting her the really soft disposable diapers. Sure they were more expensive, but she was our firstborn, our baby! I gathered up all my diaper samples from the various baby expos I’d attended and did a complete, almost scientific, brand test. Some of the diapers leaked on us, some were so papery they crinkled every time she moved and I worried the rustling would be loud enough to disturb her sleep (yes, I was paranoid), and some just seemed really scratchy. Didn’t we love our daughter enough to spend a few extra dollars to prevent an itchy and uncomfortable feeling that we wouldn’t put up with ourselves? Well, when you put it that way…

I later discovered our fancy disposable diaper brand also had a loyalty rewards program with some pretty cool “free” stuff we could earn (with points from our purchases) and I’m a huge sucker for that kind of stuff. So that, plus the fact we had no complaints (no rashes, etc), kept us from switching brands as she got older. We did eventually get a big plastic Little Tikes grocery cart for “free” which I still find totally awesome (please do not reply with logic about how with all the extra money we could have saved by buying cheaper diapers we could have bought 10 grocery carts – I don’t want to hear it. It was free I tell you, free!!).

cart 076

It was free I tell you, free!! (doll not included)

Then came potty training. Or it should have. We passed her second birthday and her third and still my daughter had no problems being wet or poopy. Like no problems whatsoever. She would have stayed in one diaper for the rest of eternity if left to herself. As I scoured potty training guides and parent manuals, many said the first step was for your child to show readiness, meaning discomfort being wet or soiled, or at least notifying you in some way before or after. Of course this is all usually supposed to happen a lot sooner too. We got nothing. I might have tried the “run naked and free until you feel pee dribbling down your leg” method but we have carpet throughout our house so I stuck that in the last resort file. I also read that rushing potty training can seriously backfire (constipation, taking longer to train overall, etc.) so I just kept telling myself, it’d be fine, no one goes to prom in diapers.

minnie potty chair

Our 3rd potty – the self “flusher” that says “hip hip horray” made this one the winner

We decided to move our daughter into Pull-Ups even before she was “ready” to potty train because 1. she was too big for the changing table, 2. we wanted to associate the changing table with babies, like her brother, not big girls like her and 3. we wanted her to get in the habit of pulling her diaper on and off by herself. But we stuck with our expensive brand out of habit. I tried giving O lots of liquids and asking her to try to use the potty every 10 or 15 minutes but she would go in her diaper directly before or after sitting on her potty. I tried demonstrating for her. I even tried a different potty that mounted onto the big toilet. Still no success. I think she knew exactly what I was asking for, but her body wasn’t cooperating; it just hadn’t clicked yet.

CVS brand pull up diapers

CVS brand pull up diapers. AKA not fancy.

Then we went to a CVS I’d never been to before due to a mix-up with a prescription at the pharmacy. I have a secret love for drugstores like Walgreens or Rite Aid; stores where there’s a little bit of everything and you never know what you’ll find, and where there’s always a holiday section filled with cheesy adorable themed knickknacks you don’t need (I always end up buying 1 or 2). While living in Boston, I discovered that very CVS is different, so I’d always wander the aisles whenever I was in a new store or just had time to kill (this is all related, I swear). While wandering this time for new and interesting products I didn’t know I needed, I noticed a super sale on the CVS brand pull-ups and I swear a light bulb clicked on above my head. What if the super plush, super absorbent, fancy diapers were part of the problem? What if she needs a flimsy, cheap diaper to feel that she’s wet and that wet is not good? What if she needs an uncomfortable diaper to motivate her to switch into comfy cotton undies? I still had fears about leakage but the sale was enough to prompt me to give it a try. Wait… what are my design options? Adorable alien monsters and/or pink butterflies? Ok, Sold.

It was like magic. Once we started wearing the cheapy diapers, O started telling us when she wet her diaper. So we started regularly asking her if she had to go, or to just sit and give it a try, and finally she successfully used the potty. I went the bribe route by offering m&ms for every attempt which worked sometimes but O was still going in her diaper frequently. The turning point was when she had 2 total leak-through accidents within 2 days (something that would never have happened in her expensive pull-ups) and suddenly the switch in her brain flipped. She’s been using the potty like a pro ever since. She has actually requested to wear her undies at night too and has stayed dry (5 nights and counting!!).

So there’s my cautionary tale. Should have saved this post for Halloween, haha. Beware!!

Planning our Itsy Bitsy Spider First Birthday Party

spider label collage watermark

Unbelievable. It’s almost time for Number 2 (aka Oren)’s first birthday. I admit I used to roll my eyes a little every time someone said it with a nostalgic sigh, but one day it’ll hit you – the time really does fly! Funny thing about time though: when you’re looking forward to something it can move faster or slower depending on what you don’t want it to do. Ten more minutes until the school bell rings takes forever because you want the day to be over. But I’m so excited to be planning this party and loving every minute of it and then all of  sudden I’m like, “Wait… what?! It’s already Thursday?!! I only have how many weeks left?!”

Anyway, Grandpa in California decided he wanted to throw the big 01 party this year and we needed to check off a long-overdue visit on our end, so that decided things quickly. Nana Mark’s monster theme is going to be spectacular but I obviously don’t want to miss out on a second opportunity for cake… I mean, I don’t want to miss out on having a party with my east coast friends masquerading as a party for my one year old who won’t even remember it (except in pictures – which is what I have to keep reminding my husband to prevent it from turning into a lame single balloon and sheet cake type of event). So… we’re having 2 birthday parties; bi-coastal celebrations!

P.S. Since I’m so cool to be having an east and west coast party for my son, I’m also going to pretend to be a movie star as we schlep car seats, a stroller, diaper bags, gobs of toys, suitcases, 2 children and god knows what else through the airport. I’m pretty sure all I need is a funky new infinity scarf, big sunglasses, new books on my Kindle and a secret Godiva stash. I have an excellent imagination.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider theme for the east coast party came about because it’s the first song that ever really caught Oren’s attention – stopped him from squirming on the changing table or fussing while getting into a car seat – and it became a favorite. Unfortunately, the minute we stop the song he usually goes into hysterics, so there have been some memorable never-ending musical adventures. Plus spiders are cool (and my 3 year old is totally into bugs right now – every time we go outside she tries to force an ant to hitchhike on her hand to destiny unknown).

Sorry this post has serious ADD! Anyway, when I started buying things for the party, I realized that most of the adorable shops I love that sell printable invites, etc., didn’t offer Itsy Bitsy Spider themed items. For such a popular nursery song, I was really surprised. Most of what I could find was in Halloween oranges, purples and black – not the happiest colors. But I had already fallen in love with the spider idea and nothing else seemed right for Oren.

So, I made this Pinterest board and decided to emphasize the “out came the sunshine” and “down came the rain” parts of the song. First, I made the color scheme bright blue and yellow – nice, happy colors for a little boy’s birthday party. Then, I focused on those 4 visuals: rain, clouds, sun, spider (I’m pretty convinced there’s no way to make a water spout look good on anything but the invite). There are actually lots of “You are my Sunshine” themed party printables so I tagged a few as something I might be able to use with slight alterations (just add spider, right?). But eventually I decided to enlist the help of a talented graphic designer on Etsy to design something original and adorable for me. Etsy has this great feature where you can request a custom order from sellers that are willing to do accommodate them – so no matter how crazy your idea, someone out there will probably help you make it happen. Luckily my idea wasn’t so crazy (for once).  ;)

Here’s what Mia at thepartyfairydesigns on Etsy, came up with for me (also pictured at the top of this post):

spider party xtra collage watermark

clockwise from top left: invite, t-shirt iron-on design (!), treat bag toppers, party hat

And this is just a VERY small part of what I got for only $32 ($12 for the invite and $20 for the rest of the custom party package). Mia even made me a personalized coloring book page for Oren and his little guests, a welcome sign, a custom happy birthday bunting, and more. Click here to see the amazing amount of stuff she’ll make for you in a custom party package.

So the decor is mostly done, just need to do some printing and cutting, buy a tablecloth, plates, streamers and such. Now I can move on to trying to figure out what we’re going to serve our guests to eat. I give Mia total credit for coming up with rainwater as a beverage idea (and I’ve got a cool label to go with it) but I’ll need a bit more than that. Wish me luck! And please, comment if you have any ideas – I’d love some suggestions!

Wiggle Monsters at Bedtime

I wonder if it’s just hereditary. My husband always sleeps with his head cocked at an unnatural angle, has a history of talking in his sleep and sometimes sleepwalking (well, more like sleep fixing cars). My parents, on the other hand, always joked I could sleep through an atomic bomb (that ended abruptly when I developed the mommy sixth sense upon having a baby). So it’s definitely Daddy’s fault, let’s just be clear before we begin, haha.

My oldest was always an excellent sleeper as a baby; like right out of a paid infant sleep program infomercial. She went down while still semi-awake, would chatter to herself for a while, and then sleep for 6-8 hours straight. (I know!). So whatever she did after we put her to bed we had no idea except that she would often be completely flipped around in the crib in the morning.

Turns out she must have been turning somersaults all night. Since her transition to a big girl bed, when we’ve become aware of these nightly escapades, it seems that flopping around like crazy, illogically as it sounds, is necessary to calm herself down to sleep. She pushes her butt up in the air so that she’s semi standing on her head, she lays on her back with her legs straight up in the air, she fiddles with her hands, then she flops side to side until she passes out. I’d say it’s restless leg syndrome except it effects her entire body. And she has fits of wiggles punctuating the night too.

Obviously my husband and I knew we could not possibly have the same sleep luck with a second child. And since I was able to breastfeed Number 2, our sleep routine was necessarily different as well. I learned about his wiggle addiction much earlier. As he’s nursing to sleep, Number 2 has to kick his legs (Has to. I’ve tried holding his legs against me, in a you’re safe and secure way, and he’ll struggle to get his legs free; not because he wants them straight or he’s getting into a comfy position, just to continue kicking). He also has to open and close his hands repeatedly. Usually he’ll grab around a finger or part of my nursing bra but lately he’s been going for skin (ouch!). He’s also been known to repeatedly smack himself in the face with an arm while nursing and almost asleep (not joking). And of course he doesn’t even flinch, self-inflicted face smacking doesn’t wake him up in the slightest, but I drop a blanket softly over his legs and he’s instantly awake. Anyway, he doesn’t stop moving some part of his body until he’s dead asleep and even then I’m convinced he’d still suck forever if he could.

On one level I’m thinking that all this wiggling doesn’t seem to bother my babies so why should I care? I almost want to liken it to the habit of a dog who has to turn exactly 3 circles before laying down on his designated end of the couch to sleep. Just one of those odd things, but if it makes you feel better, go for it. But on another level I’m in the shallow end of irrational paranoia predicting diseases that haven’t even been named yet. My daughter has also recently started having night terrors with no known trigger (you know, where your peaceful child wakes up in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder and then fall back asleep like nothing ever happened with no recollection of it the next morning whatsoever? fun stuff).

So I wonder if this restless routine of fighting sleep is somehow related to sleep problems in general (current or future). Or maybe it’s just something lots of kids do? Or, like I said at the beginning, maybe it’s just a way of being that runs in families. I didn’t find much in my searches online. Anyone else have a wiggle monster at bedtime?

Boring Babies

first easter

I was looking at my adorable little lump of baby flesh the other day, wondering when he will start being a little more person-like. My mom laughs at me for this. I love babies, but if I’m totally honest, I think they’re a little boring. Of course it’s not my baby’s job to entertain me, but I just love watching their personalities develop and I’m obsessed about milestones – I look forward to each new milestone like it’s Christmas. I try to enjoy these fleeting baby moments that disappear faster than you can imagine, but I can’t get rid of the “I can’t wait! I can’t wait!” feeling bubbling around inside me.

There’s nothing better than the moment your child really starts talking: being surprised at the words they copy in their babyish tongue and later the actual, independent thoughts that come out of their little mouths (!), listening to them chatter to themselves while playing, and the silly things that make them collapse in giggles (my preschooler still thinks that covering my face with my hair and watching me pffft it away from my face is about the funniest thing on the planet). Almost every day I write down something new or funny my daughter has said.

In second place for the best baby moments of all time, I’ll put the moment they start being mobile. A lot of parents shared sympathetic looks with me when they saw O starting to pulling herself up on chairs and said, “Oh, here comes the hard part – when they start moving around on their own!” Usually I murmur something agreeably, but in my head I’m shouting, “Are you kidding me?! I am SO excited! This is the part I’ve been waiting for!”

I get the sympathetic looks even earlier now. When we’re out and my preschooler is walking next to the stroller, it’s like everyone feels they must warn me of the hell that is assuredly coming now that I have 2 children. If I tried to explain how I really felt, I’d probably come off like an evil scientist rubbing her hands together with a manic smile – “It’s going to be amazing!”  Of course there are also times when I want to rip out my hair in frustration (the tantrums, oh god the tantrums). But they don’t last long, I forget about them just as quickly as my daughter does (squirrel? squirrel? sorry, Pixar joke) and even the worst episodes I’ll look back on one day with a sigh about the “good times.”

So, anyway, I was looking around for information personalities characteristics manifesting in babies. I remember O was just always such a happy baby – she honestly didn’t cry unless she was hungry or tired (even being wet didn’t really bother her, something that has actually backfired now that we’re at potty training time…) – she took a regular 1-2 hour nap twice a day would entertain herself happily for blissful amounts of time. I guess because it was always just so easy to say she was a happy baby, it was easier to feel like I knew her. Now that I don’t have a simple, one word explanation for my second baby’s personality, I’ve been asking myself what Number 2 is really like? Do I know him? What kind of preschooler will he be? The quiet, shy child who hides behind my legs? The kid that runs circles around his parents and never seems to stop moving? Is it too early to know this stuff?

Parenting.com had this article about the 9 traits researchers believe babies inherit and which reveal themselves from birth and over their first few months of life. But no mater what type of personality your child has, the article states, knowing this “you can help him realize his full potential by providing him with the opportunity to experience and discover what best suits him.” The traits are:

  1. Activity level
  2. Regularity
  3. Sociability
  4. Adaptability
  5. Intensity
  6. Disposition
  7. Distractibility
  8. Persistence
  9. Sensitivity

Going through these with Number 2:

  1. high activity level definitely – he’s bouncing at every available moment and wants to be entertained 24/7. We’re lucky to get 5 minutes of self entertaining
  2. pretty regular in his eating and sleeping habits
  3. he’s not around a lot of other people since we’ve been winter shut-ins but he definitely has moments when he wants his mommy and no one else (like the minute I take him from Daddy or Mimi, he stops crying)
  4. he seems to tolerate changes pretty well: falling asleep in places other than his crib, accepting new foods, etc
  5. very intense. He goes from laughing to omg-I’m-going-to-die-of-hunger screaming in 1 second flat
  6. it’s fairly easy to get him to smile but he also seems to be an observer. Especially if his sister is in eyesight, he’s always watching her and mirroring her emotions.
  7. I would have said very distractible earlier, but lately he’s been having clear favorites/interests and voicing his displeasure when things are taken from him.
  8. I’d say not very persistent. He seems to get easily frustrated when he can’t reach a toy but this might change once he can move around better.
  9. He is fussy but I’m not sure whether it’s because he’s sensitive to his environment

I’m still not sure how to collect all that information into a single word or even a basic idea about what it means for Number 2’s personality, but it did give me lots to think about. The article on Parenting.com concludes, “In the end, it’s your perceptions and reactions to his traits and behavior that will go a long way toward shaping your baby into a happy, well-adjusted child…”  Absolutely.

Ocean Nursery Update 4 – Under the Sea Crocheted Baby Mobile

We had an ocean themed nursery for our first baby, and we’re continuing that theme for our second. Since I crocheted O’s baby mobile, and since I think it’s still comforting for her to have it hanging from the ceiling above her bed (it has been there all her life), I didn’t think it was really fair to cheat baby number 2 out of a mobile of his own. Of course, I decided this way too late so I’ve been crocheting every night until my hands ache. But at least it paid off and I (just barely) made my deadline (yes, I’m hanging the mobile the night before my c-section).

So, first I needed to come up with a new list of colorful underwater creatures that weren’t entirely impossible to crochet. The first mobile had: a lobster, mermaid, humpback whale, octopus and a striped fish. After much debate and pattern searching, I decided on: a sea slug, angler fish, stingray, starfish and seahorse (lot’s of S’s strangely). After deciding on a way to hang the mobile, I ended up needed a few more creatures so I added in a penguin and more starfish (since they were easy and looked good in lots of different colors).

my sea slug

my angler fish

Don’t you love how my sea slug looks like he might also be going to an underwater disco? (I used Martha Stuart Glitter Eyelash yarn). On the angler fish, I used glitter safety eyes from this site and a cool lace for his teeth to make him a little more friendly. The stingray below has pipe cleaners in his “wings” and tail to give them a nice shape.

my stingray

my seahorse

my penguin

my starfish

If you’re crafty-inclined and want to try out some of these patterns too:

  • Sea Slug – $4 pattern from edafedd on Etsy (well written, easy to follow patterns!)
  • Angler Fish – free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn, taken from the book 75 Seashells, Fish, Coral & Colorful Marine Life to Knit & Crochet.
  • StingRay (or Manta Ray minus the mouth flaps) – free pattern from Roman Sock
  • Blue Starfish – free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn
  • Seahorse – free pattern from Mausica’s Magical Menagerie
  • Amigurumi Penguin – free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn

And here are pictures of the original ocean mobile I crocheted for O (email me if you’d like links to the patterns I used for the first mobile and I’ll try to dig them out for you):

octopus (well, pentapus)

whale

lobster

striped fish

mermaid

O’s mobile

The second thing I had to figure out was how to hang the mobile. Ah memories… I remember giving my husband and his work friends the next to impossible task of drilling holes of equal height and equal distance from one another into a large wooden egg for mobile number one. I’m so proud of him for totally pulling it off! But I think he’s already has enough “fun” project memories from this pregnancy, so I wanted to hang this second mobile in a more simple way. I think the easiest hanging options are a wooden cross or a circle or maybe multiple tiered wooden bars (there I go getting complicated again). I found some hanging examples below on Etsy (and, by the way, if you click on the pictures, I linked back to Etsy where you can purchase them):

by LovelySymphony on Etsy

by Yarntoybox on Etsy

by Lovelygiftforkid on Etsy

But, as luck would have it, I came across a gray Pressa Octopus Clothes Drying Rack from IKEA that I’d had lying around the house for a while (it was in my Christmas stocking) and my mom suggested I use that for the mobile… brilliant!!! (and also – duh Nicole!!!). I took off all the clip hooks and I just used the existing plastic loops to hang the mobile pieces from.

Drumroll please…

Ta-Da!

And the all-important baby view of the mobile – a purple starfish is going in the empty spot

Ocean Nursery Update 3 – The Squid Dresser

We’re getting close to the finish line with this pregnancy so I’ve been insane about finishing up all our little projects for the nursery (also called nesting)- the good news is that most of them were started long ago and are just waiting on a few final touches. For example, the dresser. The dresser was delayed because of super humid days and lots of rain which didn’t work out so well for airbrushing with water-based paint (i.e. on humid days, it seemed hours of work could come right off if you just breathed too strongly on it). Luckily, the weather finally cooperated!

The dresser re-do only had 4 steps:

  1. changing the ugly drawer pulls
  2. painting the dresser blue
  3. airbrushing a cool design
  4. clear-coat to protect it and seal in any VOCs from the airbrushing

The drawer pulls were originally brass but are pictured below right after we tried painting them blue to match the dresser. Still ugly and too busy looking, so we decided to replace them with really simple round knobs. Also my husband and I both hated how noisy drawer pulls like these are (especially when your toddler figures out how to lift and drop the handles). Unfortunately, the screw holes from the original drawer pulls were too large (and although we could have suffered, the outer holes seemed too far apart and the inner holes too close together) so Nick drilled new holes for our knobs and puttied the old ones.

New dresser knobs

old dresser handles – didn’t like them in blue either

Step number 2 was to paint the dresser blue in our fabulous No-VOC Mythic Paint (we went with the Blue Cadet color). I love how just changing the color made it immediately look so much happier! I was originally voting for a white dresser but I’m glad I let Nick change my mind. And I never really noticed the cool scrolling on the bottom of the dresser until after we’d painted it – kind of like some edgy design you’d see on a piece at IKEA. (yes, I love IKEA).

dresser and daughter in blue

And the final step was my husband’s vision. He decided on a squid, in keeping with our ocean theme, and when I mentioned that the white splatter-like detail on his tentacles reminded me of a view of the universe from space, he was inspired to add some stars as background (also our little Muffin absolutely LOVES stars).

finished squid on dresser

Forgot to drill holes for knobs on the test drawer – oops.
And sorry about the lighting (we have a yellow sun light in the bedroom) but Ta-Da!

Now Entering the World of Sweater Vests

Since we learned we’re having a boy this time around, I’ve started taking a closer look at baby boy clothes. I found myself wanting to look into and test some of these silly boundaries that are restricting choices for boys. Maybe start a clothing revolution!! … but let’s start small.

According to clothing manufacturers (based on what is for sale in any department store or children’s clothing boutique), the items listed below are what seem to be the general consensus for acceptable imagery references sorted by gender (NOT my personal preferences btw and not a complete list, feel free to add).

  • For Girls – butterflies, flowers, ballerina, cats and kittens, horses and ponies, hearts, moon, cupcakes, ladybugs, zebras, pink, rainbows, strawberries, watermelon, popsicles, “princess”
  • For Boys – robots, dogs, camouflage, dinosaurs, monsters, cars and trucks, pizza, sharks, alligators, baseball, football, lions, firetrucks, “hero”, worms, motorcycles, rocket ships, surfers  (*and for some reason WAY more shirt/pants separates for infant boys v.s. more onesies for girls – can anyone explain that to me??!)
  • Gender Neutral (mostly on infant clothing) – frogs, monkeys, ducks, turtles, birds, stars, soccer, bears, elephants, bananas, giraffes, guitars, green, yellow (However, do note that all the animals will have a bow or a flower if it’s a “girls” outfit).

At J. Crew Kids

At The Children’s Place

Carter’s at Macy’s

So what if your little boy that really likes cats? Sorry, you’ll have a hard time finding them on a boys t-shirt unless they’re much larger felines like a lion or tiger. Or what if your daughter likes big trucks? (mine is a huge fan of buses and garbage trucks). Well, it’ll be near impossible to find a shirt with a big truck in the girls section unless, if you’re lucky, there’s maybe a pink one.

I think few people would say it’s wrong for boys to appreciate the beauty of nature, so why isn’t it “masculine” to have a bunch of flowers on your little guy’s onesie? And every kid I know, boy or girl, will go insane for a rainbow sprinkled cupcake, but only girls get those pictured on their outfits (girls actually seem to have a lot more food images, interestingly). And zebras are only for girls but elephants are fine for either gender, apparently. Who decided this stuff?!

Clearly, graphics on baby clothes aren’t really about what the child likes – or even necessarily what the parents like. Instead it seems baby clothes are designed just to present an image, as early as possible, to announce to the world in no uncertain terms that your child is definitely a boy or a girl (although as my mom likes to tell me, she had me dressed completely in pink and people would still come up to her and comment on what a cute little boy I was – apparently the curse of a totally bald baby). But the more brands stick to the same colors and graphic formula, the easier it is for most people to know what gender baby you’ve got without having to ask and the easier it is for parents to “safely” pick out clothing. But why is this so important? So you brought home a zebra print outfit for your little boy with red hearts on it – are the other 6 month olds going to burst into tears if you dare place his confusing ensemble on the same tummy time mat as theirs? Will he or any of his drooling friends even remember what anyone wore back then?

I remember hearing about a couple in the UK who decided not to tell anyone the gender of their child to prevent outside bias and to let him/her make their own discoveries regarding personal interests and preferences (gender neutral toys, no TV, etc) – people went insane about it! Psychology lecturer, Dr. Daragh McDermott, said in the linked article above, “It’s hard to say whether being raised gender-neutral will have any immediate or long-term psychological consequences for a child, purely because to date there is little empirical research examining this topic.” But the public had certainly already decided it definitely would harm the child – why are we so sure? Why is it so important to make sure your child knows that they are definitely a boy or definitely a girl before they can even speak? Especially when it’ll probably become pretty obvious to your observant toddler that they have parts that look more like either mommy or daddy, and when sexual identity during puberty, or sometimes even before that, can throw a loop in even “simple” gender identification.

Dr McDermott added, “That being said, the family setting is only one source of gender-specific information and as children grow, their self-identity as male, female or gender-neutral will be influenced by school, socialization with other children and adults, as well as mass media.” So it sounds like no matter what parents do, kids are going to eventually be exposed to this super gender emphasizing culture we live in anyway – and yet the majority still felt that withholding the child’s gender was tantamount to child abuse. Very interesting.

In theory I don’t think there was anything wrong with what that UK couple did (I don’t know all the details of what their everyday life was like, etc. so I might be opposed to some of the specifics, but let’s not go that deep into it). If you want your child to feel free to explore and like the things he/she likes without someone saying they can’t, just because of their gender, that’s great! And I do believe it’s extremely hard to avoid unintentional bias from other people (I can’t even count how many times has my daughter been called a princess by strangers).

Green Toys Tool Set in Pink

Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Doll – Boy

Fisher-Price Classic Doodler

Actually I think lots of people try to be a little gender neutral; there are always neutral clothing and bedding sections in baby stores filled with green and yellow – and nobody complains about that. But unfortunately, after baby is born and as they start getting older, parental attempts at gender neutrality are usually directed more towards girls than boys. People now have no problems saying, “oh, I don’t buy pink stuff for my daughter” or “We only give our little girl Legos and tool kits to play with”, but you hear very few people say, “Of course my son can wear a tutu if he wants to.” And you can see this in society too – it has been socially acceptable for women to wear pants and to show more than an ankle for years, but men still cannot wear skirts or even show their legs off in shorts if they’re in a professional business setting!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to hid my son’s gender from him. I am hoping, though, that having an older sister will expose him to things he might not have been exposed to if he were an only child. For example, I might not have just gone out and randomly bought him baby dolls, but if his sister happens to have one and it becomes his favorite toy, fine. Likewise, if he never wants to go near any typically girl things, at least I’ll know he had the chance to do so – and I’m equally not going to suggest he drop the toy cars and cardboard swords and play with something else just because they’re too typically boy-ish.

I just hope that I can at least instill in my son the confidence that he can like and play with whatever he wants, no matter what anyone says (which I think boys have a much harder time with than girls). I want my kids to be happy. And I want them both to know that while there are a few things that are only for girls or only for boys: (childbirth, unfortunately, still only for girls) a pink backpack or a scary dinosaur lunchbox, ballet lessons or a pet tarantula, these can be for anyone.

Visit my Pinterest boards too for my ongoing exploration of these ideas.

Save

Necessities for Baby Number 2 and Gifts for Second Time Moms

Adorable sibling set by kelseymcmargaret on Etsy
(Love that the big sister shirt isn’t completely pink)

A blogger at Project Nursery posted a list of their Top 5 Baby Gifts for Second-Time Mamas and I totally disagree with her gift ideas! Although they are all very nice products, there’s nothing specifically useful for a second time mom. In fact, 4 of the 5 things she suggested I already have and don’t need any more of: aden + anais swaddles, awesome diaper bag, handmade blankies galore, hooded towels/washcloths – mine aren’t personalized, but definitely don’t need more. The remaining item on her list, a new lovie, is the only thing I agree with. Older siblings are already going through a lot by suddenly having to share mommy and daddy – we shouldn’t expect them to share toys too, at least not immediately.

I’m weird about a lot of things, but I believe most moms preparing for a second child would agree with me here. So, I thought I’d share my working list of the things I need to get to be prepared for my baby #2. Hopefully it’ll be helpful to other second time moms in the planning stages and/or be a good idea list to anyone attending a second-time mom’s baby shower.

  1. Clothes – since my first was a girl and my second is going to be a boy (but read more about that here)
  2. A brand new coming home outfit of his own
  3. Bouncer to replace the one we got rid of (darn it)
  4. Another crib (off Craigslist!) since we’re turning O’s into a daybed for her
  5. New organic baby mattress (not going to reuse a mattress even if they give it to us with the crib, eeew)
  6. A second changing pad and cover (since baby’s crib will be in our room for a while)
  7. A second diaper pail (same reason) – the Ubbi?
  8. Newborn diapers
  9. Shrinkx Hips – did it with #1 and I did fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes (eventually) – but I know some moms never get back to their original size, so not sure if it was the Shrinx Hips or just my body, but I’m not risking it. No idea where the first one went.
  10. Another mirror to attach to the backseat of the car
  11. Pacifiers – in case he wants to use one, definitely wouldn’t reuse old pacifiers even if we had kept them. I really believe some babies just like to suck more than others so I’ll get one to have on hand just in case and then more if needed.
  12. New baby bottles and nipples – I’m going with glass bottles this time. But even though my first child’s bottles were BPA free plastic, it’s probably not a good idea to reuse any kind of plastic that much especially when it’s getting warmed up and cooled down constantly. I’m going glass this time.
  13. A new Baby K’Tan (since I just found out my old one is horribly stained with spit up) – I think I’ll opt for the Breeze version this time which is mesh and cotton so it’s more breathable and not as hot to wear (although the original all-cotton version wasn’t bad at all)
  14. Baby bathtub for the sink – I’m thinking the Puj tub  (we just took our 1st in the bath with us but I’m worried that might cause some jealousy this time and/or overcrowding, haha)
  15. A gift for our firstborn (definitely don’t forget them at baby shower time too!!)
  16. Baby mobile of his own (made it myself)
  17. Infant Carrier Arm Pad from Itzy Ritzy. Awesome invention! Though we didn’t end up needing it though since we decided to go with an all-in-one carseat.
  18. New burp cloths and bibs – yes we could reuse the ones we have, but brand new, unstained ones would make a nice gift and you can never have enough of these.
  19. Extra crib sheets and waterproof pads – since both our kids are using the same size mattress
  20. Belly cream or oil – mamas can and maybe should still use this stuff for a while even postpartum and it won’t hurt to use it any time on any body part so it makes a great shower gift. I especially love Mama Mio Stretch Mark Butter
  21. Eventually we’ll need a jumper (we got rid of our first one for space reasons)
  22. Probably a Glider board for our Baby Jogger City Mini stroller – our 2 year old doesn’t use the stroller much so a double stroller seems like a waste

Another cool sibling set by
KoolKidzClothing

Your ideas?

One of the 5 Best Pumping Stories at Moms Meet

I just found out my random submission was selected to be one of the 5 best pumping stories in a contest held by the Moms Meet. I won a grab bag of natural and organic goodies. Woo hoo and thanks! Do you have a funny pumping story to share? I’d love to hear it.

Here’s a link to all 5 winning entries but I copied mine below:

I actually pumped for one year (almost to the day because, man, was it annoying!!). My baby never wanted to latch on, I couldn’t get help, we were both frustrated after trying for 2 weeks, and I was working full
time anyway so I figured, why stress about it? My baby was going to get all the nutrients and benefits of breast milk with pumping exactly as if I was breastfeeding from the boob and this way, daddy could handle some of the nighttime feedings – bonus! But I was SOOO glad to be finished (and yet, I still decided to have a second baby, where’s the logic there? haha).

Here’s my brief pumping story – My husband and I went out for our first date night away from the baby and we decided to do dinner and a movie. At the time, baby was feeding every 2 hours so I was pumping every 2 hours in order to keep my supply. We were going to see a movie first but we missed it because we were too slow leaving the house. So we had a leisurely dinner and then walked around the mall waiting for the next movie showing. That plus the drive was about 3 hours. Then we went to the 2.5 hour movie.

Less than half way through, I was feeling uncomfortably full, but by the end of the movie I was ready to cry. I had no idea how much pain engorgement could cause, and of course, I hadn’t thought to bring anything with me because the original plan was to be gone maybe 3 hours tops. I thought I remembered reading something about being able to the relieve the pressure manually. So I sat, in the movie theater bathroom, playing and squeezing my nipples to try to get milk to come out to ease the pain. Some milk did come, but it
turned out it was not enough to do anything for the pain – I usually got quite a few ounces out of each machine pumping session.

But while I was figuring that this wasn’t going to work, I made a huge mess all over the bathroom stall because I didn’t think about needing something to CATCH the milk before starting this. So I’m sitting there
with wads of toilet paper just disintegrating in my hands, on the verge of tears, and god knows what the other people in the stalls around me were thinking. When I realized I was wasting my time, I cleaned myself
up, told my husband to floor it, and moaned in pain until we got home. Good times, haha.

Lesson? After this, I bought 2 manual Medela hand pumps and permanently stored one in each of the bags I used (work bag and diaper bag). Those pumps break down really small so they barely take up any room, are super lightweight, only cost about $30, and not as big a deal to use as you’d think – even though I was used to my nice big pumping machine at home. They were lifesavers (or rather boob-savers) on numerous occasions.

%d bloggers like this: