Thursday, May 30, 2013

Getting Out There

Since Karlie Jean mentioned my Meetup experience on For All Momkind today, I figured I should probably write about it...

When Rory was a newborn, his pediatrician recommended that we not take him out in public until he was 5 or 6 months old. In Utah, RSV and Whooping Cough run pretty rampant, and the effects are devastating. I had read enough horror stories online that I completely agreed and vowed to never take him out except for doctor's appointments. Over the next few months I pretty much stuck with my decision, we did end up taking him to grandparents houses a few times to be babysat, but that was it. By the time he was 2 months old, he had only been in 4 total places.

When we arrived in Washington, I set out to church by myself while Dalan stayed home with Rorasaurus. Everyone at church was shocked when they heard I was keeping my 2 month old home. Apparently its not something you do up here. When I took Rory to his new pediatrician she was also shocked, "Why wouldn't you take him out right now? He'll just sleep in his car seat, it's not like strangers are going to walk up and lick him."

With all of my postpartum hormones causing havoc, we finally decided one day to get out of the house. We took a trip to IKEA, and it was the best time I'd had in months. Rory was totally chill and didn't mind at all. No strangers walked up and licked him, at most he got a few waves. And I was in mommy heaven. You know that high you get when your kid is perfectly behaved and you think "I totally rock this, I could have like 12 kids, no problem." it's always short-lived, but those moments are absolutely the bomb.

I attempted to make friends at church, but my social anxiety always seemed to get in the way. I would try so hard to be extra bubbly and smile a lot, but thats not who I am, and I ended up even more uncomfortable.

I ended up turning to the internet, as I usually do, and I came across a group of moms one town over, who meetup to talk over coffee. I attended one of these meetups, and still felt so out of place (with my carmel apple cider), the demographics from their town were so much different from my own. Most of them had a summer and winter home, trips to Hawaii planned, and an au pair to watch their kids. They were nice enough and let me officially join the groups online website. This was hosted thru

After I had taken a few minutes to navigate the website, I found out that there was a lot more than just this rich mommy's group. You just enter your zip code, and it will give you all of the meetups within a certain range. You can set preferences and interests so it suggests new groups for you as well. In my area there are literally hundreds of groups and they cover all different interests. There are groups for photography, hiking, dog lovers, stay at home moms, single parents, religious parents, non-religious parents, geeky parents, browncoats, trekkies, etc. Desperate for some friends, I promptly joined 4 different groups and hoped that I would find some kindred spirits.

Immediately after joining a group for young couples with young children, the organizer emailed me and asked about my son's name. "Did you by chance name him after a character from Doctor Who?" She went on to explain that she and her husband were expecting and were planning on naming their baby after Rory's wife on the show, Amelia. Not only was this a funny coincidence, it really helped with my social anxiety, I knew I had something in common with her, and I was able to communicate with her via email a few times before we met in person, which made a huge difference. Although we don't have a ton in common beyond our love for the show, we had now made our 'Doctor Who' friends, and I was excited to go out and make some more.

Another group I joined on Meetup was for moms in my city. This group actually had sub-playgroups that were organized depending on your child's age. I was able to join one with 7 other mamas and babies. This group has been the best thing thats happened to me since we moved out here. All of the babies in our playgroup were born in 2012, so Rory is one of the youngest. I'm able to vent with other moms who have had, or are going thru, the exact same things as me. With 8 moms and babies, its impossible to not find something in common with someone. We meet once a week, and Rory and I both enjoy ourselves thoroughly.

Once I felt established in our playgroup, I started venturing out to other meetups within the local group. The meetups are created by the members, and then posted on the website for others to RSVP to. Now that I knew a few people from playgroup, I could attend other meetups along with one or two of them and feel comfortable enough to meet new people. This has started a chain reaction that is really helping my social life. The more people I meet, the more meetups I want to attend so I can see my new friends. At the meetups I meet even more new people, and so it goes. I was experiencing a new mommy high at this point, and when a few of the organizers of the local group announced they were leaving and looking for replacements, I jumped at the chance.

As a member of the organizer team, I feel like I have a little more purpose than just cleaning the house and taking care of the baby. My duties are very similar to my pre-baby job, and I get to do some of the things I really love like create reports, track website activity, and manage Facebook pages. It just takes a few hours every week, and I can usually get everything accomplished during nap time. I feel so much more fulfilled now, I have new friends, many opportunities to get out of the house and play, and I get to spend a few sans-baby hours every week doing something I love. I've even bowed out of most of the other meetup groups I had joined so far, not that there was anything wrong with them, but I've found my best fit and want to spend my energy improving this group.

I highly recommend that you check out and see if there is anything that interests you in your area. If not, you should think about starting your own group, chances are someone else is interested in the exact same things as you, and just waiting for the right group to come along!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

10 Baby Items I Couldn't Live Without

#10 - Nuk Pacifier

I always assumed a baby would prefer whatever pacifier you started them on. They gave us a Soothie at the hospital and Rorasaurus seemed perfectly content with it so that's what we stuck with at first.  

After a few days, he didn't show much interest in the pacifier, so we just figured that he didn't want/need one and stopped offering it. One day when I was alone with a screaming baby who wouldn't calm down I tried the Soothie and (as usual) he spit it right out. Out of desperation I reached for a Nuk that a friend had given me and badabing soothed baby. Now he requires his pacifier for every nap and bedtime, but I don't really care since when he has it, 95% of the time it takes less than 5 minutes for him to fall asleep.

#9 - Charlie Banana Cloth Diapers

I had every intention cloth diapering my baby. I read every article I could find on the internet (multiple times) bought a few different brands to try (with plans of purchasing more once I knew which type worked best for us), and talked extensively with my cloth diapering friends. After the baby was born, turns out he would never nurse, and I ended up pumping exclusively for 4 months. I didn't have time to sleep longer than an hour and a half, there was no way I was in any state of mind to add an additional load of laundry. So I decided to bag the whole idea. When Rory was around 5 months, I pulled out the cloth diapers again and decided I should give it a go. He had already outgrown most of them (anyone interested in some newborn - 15lb sized cloth diapers btw?) and all I had left were some Charlie Bananas that I purchased from Zulily for a really great price. I don't know if all cloth diapers work this well, but I am in love. We have a pack of 6 and Rory goes through about 8 diapers a day. I have been keeping him in a disposable at night, and since his bowel movements are pretty regular, I make sure he is in a disposable during that time. So far I absolutely love them and am getting ready to branch out and buy some more so we can move closer to that coveted 'exclusive' status. I've been dragging my feet waiting for another sale.....

#8 Baby Oatmeal

I don't know the exact reason for this, but I'm going to give the credit to oatmeal. Rory has had HORRIBLE reflux since he was about 3.5 months old. We dealt with 6 weeks of him screaming if he was in any position besides completely upright, or asleep on an incline. It could be his age, medication, or increased solids in general, but ever since he started eating oatmeal regularly, his reflux has hardly bothered him at all (he still spits up more than the average kid, but he isn't in pain because of it). Oatmeal has also been his favorite solid so far and he can't get enough of it!

#7 - Rhino Toys Oball

When Rory was about 3 months old he saw an Oball at a friends house. He had shown little to no interest in any toys so far and he was fascinated by the ball. It was really easy for him to pick up and he enjoyed the bright color and rattle. 3 months later its still one of his favorite toy, only now he spends his time picking it up with his toes and trying to fit it in his mouth.

#6 - Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym

I absolutely LOVE this play mat. The fabrics are so pretty and Rory would rather spend time on here
than in my arms.

This turned out to be a very good thing with how much time I had to spend with my pump and Rory got to play by himself on the floor.

#5 - Flannel Blankets

You know the kind I'm talking about. The blankets that the ever-talented ladies at your work or church give you, and it seems before the baby comes that you have more than you know what to do with. I've found now, after baby, that I can't get enough of these blankets.

We even have one that is double layered, it's the bomb. These blankets are thick enough to set on a hard ground under the baby, absorbent enough to mop up baby messes that are too much for a burp cloth, make a very nice toga in the instance of a blowout, can be folded up for a makeshift pillow, and can even be used by Mama to keep warm while watching TV after baby has gone to bed.

#4 - Swaddle Me

On Rory's second day home from the hospital he had a major freak-out. He had recently been fed and changed. We knew he was tired, but he just couldn't fall asleep. Dalan was 'in charge' at the time (I am one of the luckiest Mom's ever, I got my husband home for a whole month to help with the baby, so we would take turns with the baby) and he finally tagged me in once his patience was wearing thin. I didn't know what to do either, but in an act of desperation, I finally just stripped Rory down to his diaper and set him on the bed completely sprawled out. It was like a dream. he stretched as far as he could, and immediately fell asleep with his limbs stretched out in every direction. At that point, we decided that Rory didn't like being swaddled, and we promptly gave up on that idea. For the next few months, he would just fall asleep in the middle of playtime, and we let him nap on the floor. 
3 months later, Rory promptly stopped taking naps on his own during playtime. I was at a complete loss with how to get him to nap. I was an absolute mess and read all kinds of literature to help me, but I only figured out that Rory wasn't going to get into college one day, if I couldn't get him to nap now (postpartum hormones sure are fun, aren't they?). I finally tried swaddling him with a Swaddle Me that was still in the package from before he was born. It was a pretty tight fit for my 98th percentile height boy, but we made it work. And he actually fell asleep. The whole nap epiphany for us is a completely different story, but we still use the Swaddle Me to this day (in a much bigger size, imagine my embarrassment when after I cut holes in the feet of his newborn one and squished him in, I found out they actually come in different sizes).

#3 - Burpy Bibs

Burpy Bibs are by Aden and Anais and they are AMAZING. They are so absorbent. They can be used as a burp cloth, but also have a snap to become a bib. It's basically like a cape, and makes lunchtime so much easier to clean up. I actually need to purchase a few more of these, now that Rory is eating solids regularly, we can dirty a few of these every day.

#2 - Infantino Flip Front or Rear Facing Baby Carrier

I purchased a trendy, patterned infant carrier shortly after Rory was born. I used it a couple times, but it only worked well when he was very small and could fall asleep in it. One day, when I was on a 'get me out of the house and away from the baby right now' Target trip, I saw the Infantino carrier and bought it on a whim since it was cheap. This was one of the best decisions of my entire life. Rory and I both love this carrier. He loves that its outward facing and he gets a really good view of everything that is going on. During the 6 weeks that his reflux was virtually unbearable, I spent hours every day going for walks/hikes with Rory in the carrier. Being upright was the only position he felt comfortable in, and getting out of the house was the only way I didn't end up completely batty from all of the screaming. He'll let me stretch and massage his neck for physical therapy when he is in it. He never gets upset or cries when he is in the carrier. I use it with him at least once every day, and usually more. I could really go on for pages about how much I love this thing.

#1 - Rock and Play Sleeper

We received this for a baby shower gift, and it has been a lifesaver. Since we were living with my parents at the time, and his crib was in WA we had him sleep in the sleeper. From day one (well if you want to get technical, I guess it was day two) he has loved it.
I think the shape of it snuggles him enough that it makes him feel secure to fall asleep. When Rory was about 2 months old, we switched him to sleeping in the Pack 'n Play to get him ready to transition to his crib when he moved into his old room. His Plagiocephaly (flat head) became much worse from sleeping in the Pack 'n Play. Once his reflux kicked in full force, we reverted back to the sleeper and kicked ourselves for ever switching in the first place. While Rory was sleeping in our room, I just had the sleeper next to my side of the bed, if he ever fussed or woke up, I could easily reach over and rock him a few times to soothe him back to sleep. I even got coordinated enough so I could feed him, then pump and rock him back to sleep at the same time. This saved me so much time in the middle of the night!

Rory now sleeps in a custom-made wedge for his reflux, but is still more than happy in his sleeper. If we have company he sleeps in the sleeper in our room. We recently made a trip back home, and I was really worried about his sleeping situation. I was scared to take his wedge on the plane, especially since he and I would be flying alone. Luckily enough, my friend had a Rock and Play Sleeper for her baby that she let us borrow. He slept just as well as if he were at home, and it made our vacation so much nicer to have a well-rested baby!

So, there you have it. The top 10 baby items that I couldn't live without!