Pregnancy and child care

Articles about pregnancy and child care

Eliyahu's new car seat!

We finally decided on a car seat for Eliyahu after all our deliberations. I strongly dislike shopping for major purchases, particularly online. I like to be able to look at and touch the different products. (That's one reason I've shyed away from buying any cloth diapering things online.) And with major purchases, I always worry that I'm making the wrong choice.

But after lots of research and discussion, we decided that several factors also come into the picture.

For one thing, we don't do a lot of driving. We'll occasionally (like maybe once a year) make a trip of 2-3 hours. For the majority of the year, the children are in their car seats for about an hour each week. Ultra-comfortable car seats aren't really a necessity in our situation. The infant carrier I was using for Eliyahu had expired and was not very padded at all. (Less than any of the seats they sell these days.) So I figured anything we bought would be better than the one we had!

I really had just two main desires in a car seat, and that was that it would hold children in a rear-facing position up to the 30-pound range and have a 5-point harness system. We also don't have extra money right now, so I knew I needed to be wise. And from everything I read, spending more money doesn't necessarily mean greater safety.

These things considered, we purchased the Cosco Scenera convertible car seat.

Since this seat's weight limit is 40 pounds, I tried it on both Yehoshua and Eliyahu. I'm not sure of Yehoshua's height in inches, but at 2.75 years of age, he weighs 31 pounds. I was pleased to discover that the top setting for the shoulder straps was well above his shoulders and he would have plenty of room to grow in this seat, had I purchased it for him.

It (obviously) fits Eliyahu well, and was easy to install rear-facing in the backseat of our car. I'm actually very happy with the decision we made concerning which car seat to purchase. While this isn't a luxury seat and doesn't feature the extra padding or other perks, I think it will be suitable for our needs. :) Eliyahu loves it! And I'm just thankful for straps that don't squish him down in the seat. :)

Emotional Miscarriage

I received this email today from a lady who used the Confirm Clearly pregnancy test

I wish I had read your blog before buying this test. I was unaware of this company's irresponsibility and had a false positive result.

Unfortunately for me, it coincided with what turned out to be a very late period and I thought I had a miscarriage! I'm sure that you can imagine the emotional rollercoaster that my husband and I and our families have been on.

We have been trying to get pregnant for several months, so of course when we found out and all the other signs were there (which were actually symptoms of my late period) we were elated and told our families.

Now I feel humiliated and devestated and am too embarrassed to even let anyone outside of my husband and I know the truth. WE WENT THROUGH A MISCARRIAGE! Our family thought we had a miscarriage!

I found out about the false positive from my doctor from blood work she did. Anyway, that is my story. Thank-you for sharing yours and feel free to post this ~ best wishes~ Laurie

Laurie, my heart went out to you as I read your email. I know first-hand what an awful experience it can be to get a false-positive from one of these tests.

Emotionally (if not physically, as well!), miscarriages are traumatic. Add to that the embarrassment and humiliation of being deceived/mistaken, the disappointment and devastation of not being pregnant after all, the sadness and hurt of realising that your whole pregnancy was "nothing", and the frustration at the fact that women are still unknowingly using these tests and experiencing emotional trauma as a result.

It is truly a difficult experience to go through, and we will keep you in our prayers. Recovery from a miscarriage doesn't happen overnight. 

Friends, please continue to spread the word about the defective "Confirm Clearly" pregnancy tests to others. I was excited when I heard that these tests were being voluntarily recalled by the company (see here and here). Unfortunately, it seems they are still being sold (see here) and women are still getting false-positive results after using tests they have bought. I know I personally stashed the tests in the cabinet for a number of weeks before using them. I had no idea that they could be defective until after we started announcing that we were expecting.

Thank you so much to those of you who have told others in email or through your journals and blogs about this issue. I have tried to reach as many people as possible with the information that these tests are faulty. I don't want even one more person to have to experience an emotional miscarriage because of the Confirm Clearly pregnancy tests. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

Car seats...

I think I just used up my evening "computer time" researching car seats! There's just so many choices, and trying to decide how much to spend and exactly what to get can be rather tiring!

Eliyahu has outgrown his infant car seat, so it's time to buy a bigger one. I would like to get a convertible one, so he can continue to be rear-facing for another year or more. And then theoretically the convertible one could be used for a future newborn, should we be blessed with another child. :)

So, what sort of car seats do you use for your children? Do you buy a brand new seat every time you need to upgrade?

Do you use the 5-22 lbs infant seat, and then go straight to the forward-facing, or do you use a convertible one? Has anyone tried using the convertible seats with no carrying handle (that are for 5-33 lbs rear-facing) for a newborn?

And, joy of joys, we realised in our research that since our car doesn't have shoulder belts (only lap belts) in the back seat, the options for 40+ lb children aren't all that great. I guess since Yehoshua is only 31 lbs right now, we have a bit to figure out the next step. :)

Review of Shaklee Vita-Lea with Iron (multi-vitamin)

About 6 weeks ago, I posted about a new multi-vitamin I was starting to take. I've been using Shaklee's Vita-Lea with Iron since that time, and am very pleased with the effects!

I had heard good reports about this multi-vitamin, but was not honestly expecting to notice any real difference in energy level, alertness, etc.

 Shaklee Vita-Lea with Iron

I don't believe in "miracle supplements". I've always felt that good physical and mental health is a result of good nutrition, exercise, and a relationship with our Creator.*

So when I began taking these vitamins, I didn't hold my breath for special magical physical changes. I wasn't disappointed, because there weren't any immediately stunning results. I had been experiencing fatigue and tiredness but I did not (and do not) expect a dietary supplement to cure the effects of not getting enough sleep every night. Wink

However, after about a week of taking this vitamin, I realised that I was feeling unusually perky, chipper, and awake. I had more energy and thought to myself, "Wow! I've felt great these past few days... what have I been doing differently?"

I hadn't been exercising. I hadn't been eating differently. I hadn't been drinking more water. (All of those things are on my list of changes to make... but one thing at a time!) I hadn't even been getting more sleep.

I realised that the main thing I was doing "differenly" from the past, was that I was taking Shaklee's Vita-Lea with Iron every morning!

I am more than satisfied with this multi-vitamin. I'm delighted to have found a good-quality multi-vitamin that doesn't contain artificial colors or impossible-to-absorb nutrients. I am definitely going to continue taking this product!

I still don't believe it's a "miracle supplement", but I do think it has helped boost my physical well-being! If you have a Shaklee distributor in your area, I recommend trying this multi-vitamin! Laughing

*I'm not saying that Christians are magically healthy all the time, but rather that having the peace and joy of knowing Yeshua contributes substantially to mental well-being, which in turn affects our physical health. Smile

Update about the Confirm Clearly pregnancy tests!

I have good news! The defective pregnancy tests "Confirm Clearly" are being pulled from retailers!

Confirm Clearly pregnancy tests: no longer being sold  Yesterday someone left a comment on my blog with the letter they had received from the company. The Confirm Clearly website has been reduced to simply a contact page. And today I received a call from my cousin who is a Kroger pharmacist and she said that they are indeed being pulled from shelves. 

I'm so glad that these tests are being recalled. Thank you to everyone who helped tell others about these faulty tests while they were still being sold! I'm not even a little disappointed that this probably means that... my husband... isn't pregnant after all. Wink

Supplies for a home birth: What we used and why!

Here is a comprehensive list of our home birth supplies, including what we order specially and what we gather from around the house!

Birth supplies can be ordered from In His Hands, a Christian family-owned home-based business seeking to help home birth families, birthing centers, and midwives locate affordable medical supplies. We've ordered from them twice, with great service, and we know that a lot of home-birth midwives use that company as well! Here are all the products they offer.

First, here is a detailed list of what we order from In His Hands. These items are located on their birth supply products page.

15 Underpads/Chux pads, 23x36 size (.35 each) -It's good to have plenty of these, just in case! We always had a lot left over.

Povidone Scrub Brush (1.00) -For cleaning and sanitizing hands and under nails.

2 plastic-backed sheets, 40x72 size (.75 each) -We only needed one, but we had two just in case.

Bulb syringe, 3 ounce (1.90) -One was used at our first child's birth but wasn't needed with the second child; newborns don't need routinely suctioned. 

2 plastic cord clamps, sterile (1.25 each) -With our first birth we used two; with our second, the midwife used a metal (sterilized) clamp for the end that stayed with the placenta. I've also known people who used a shoelace to tie the cord!

1 peri bottle, 8 ounce (.50) -This was VERy handy for using to rinse with water after the birth. This is definitely a must-get for afterwards! :)

Stretch briefs/Mesh Panty, unisize (1.40) -These were like large panties that were easy to deal with for post-partum discharge. I liked using these and used them for the first day or two. They're comfortable and hold as big of pads as you need. They're washable/re-usable, so I bought a pair for the first birth and re-used it at the second.

Povidone/Iodine tincture, 4 ounces (1.50) -I used this with the first birth; I added a squirt to the peri bottle, filled the bottle the rest of the way with warm water, and then used to rinse after going to the bathroom. I used it for the first day or two with the second birth. If you think you might want/need this, it's a good idea to order it with your birth supplies and not wait and try to just get some at the store, because the store's little bottles are substantially more expensive! :)

Large pads for heavy afterbirth flow (.75 each) -I used several of these, but didn't have heavy bleeding for very long.

Pads, Non-Sterile, Contoured, 5X11 w/adhesive, peach-colored (.40 each) -These are really nice, not-too-large but not-too-small pads. I liked them a lot. I think I ordered about 20, and would have ordered more if it weren't for the cost. :)

Items our midwife used 
For the first birth, our midwife brought these items; for the second, we ordered these from In His Hands. It just depends on what your midwife wants!

Lube jelly (3 grams), sterile (.05) -Actually, I can't remember exactly what this was used for! Maybe it wasn't even used at my births. I know I have some left in my birth supply box! :)

Gloves, sterile and unsterile, singles and pairs (various prices and sizes) -These are needed and important. However, depending on the labor and delivery, several pairs might be needed (like with my first baby) or only one (like with my second baby). It's best to have plenty on hand. Our second midwife told us what size/kind she preferred.

Alcohol prep pads (.04 each) -Can't remember much about these... I think we still have some leftover. We ordered 4 or 5, I think.

Other birth supplies 
This is the fun part, where I gathered things from the grocery store or around the house! :)

Infant hats, clean 100% cotton -I had several on hand and we used those. The first one gets a little messy, so you need at least two, preferable more, hats, since newborns have difficulty maintaining their body temperature. :)

Birth Certificate -We used one that can be ordered from In His Hands. You could make your own, too! This is just a memento, not an official birth certificate from the government.

Foot Imprinter -Both times, our midwife used her ink, and we put the foot prints on the birth certificate.

Tape measure, for measuring the baby -You can buy them for .05 or use a fabric tape measure of any sort.

Infant thermometer -We have this, but the midwife used hers.

Hydrogen peroxide (takes blood stains out of fabric) -This wasn't needed at either birth, but I did have a bottle in the bathroom cupboard. :)

Inexpensive plastic shower curtain liner -I got one at a dollar store.

Set of clean old bedsheets -Now, the normal method is to make up your bed with a clean set of sheets and then cover with the plastic shower curtain. Then, make up the bed a second time (over the sheets and curtain) with older sheets in case of stains.

I did this the first time, even though nothing ended up getting on the bed, because we used the underpads and such. The second time, I wasn't in the bedroom at all during labor (because our bedroom is upstairs, away from any bathroom) and I didn't make up the bed. If you're not sure where you'll give birth, it's best to prepare the bed.

Plastic pillowcases -Most of my pillows are older, so I didn't bother with plastic coverings for the pillows. Nothing got on them at either birth.

Old clean pillow cases -I double-cased my pillows.

Old clean bath towels, washcloths, 100% cotton receiving blankets -Various uses. It's nice to have old towels or receiving blankets that can be tossed instead of laundered after the birth, although I don't think I threw away any towels after my babies were born. There was about one load of laundry from the birth, and someone else washed it for me. :)

Roll of paper towels -The midwife used these, but I can't remember exactly what for. :)

New bottle of olive oil -This was used on the perineum during the birth (our second midwife used another kind of oil, but I can't remember what kind she said it was!), and used on the baby's bottom after diaper changes until the meconium was gone. Olive oil on baby's bottom makes it much easier to clean off the meconium! :)

Bowl or ziplock bag for placenta -Placenta can be buried if you wish; with our first baby, we gave the placenta to one of the midwives for her younger siblings to dissect as a science project! :D

Sanitary pads -I got overnight and regular, just whatever you would normally use for your monthly period. I got several packages from the store.

One handy tip for easing perineal pain after the birth, is to take a fresh thick pad and run water onto the center. Place pad in the freezer until frozen and then remove and use for a comforting, cooling compress. I did this a lot after my first baby!

Cotton balls or Q-tips and rubbing alcohol and/or powdered goldenseal -For umbilical cord. With my second baby, the umbilical cord hung around for over a month, and the powdered goldenseal was what finally coaxed it to dry up and completely heal.

Large garbage/trash bag or empty laundry basket, for soiled laundry

Lined trash can, for trash -We just used our kitchen trash can :)

Newborn onesie, sleeper, diaper, socks, and receiving blanket(s) -- baby's first outfit! I always get excited when I'm gathering my birth supplies and I get to this part! It helps me realize that there's a real baby inside me and we're going to have a newborn soon! :D

Lansinoh breast cream -I didn't end up needing/using this

Contract-Ease --This is an herbal tincture for easing the pain of afterbirth contractions when nursing the new baby. I had this on hand but didn't use it, so I don't know how effective it is or anything. :)

Rice Sock, birthing ball, heat or ice packs --We didn't use this stuff. We did have a rice sock on hand at both births (fill an old tube sock with rice and heat in the microwave or oven for a warm, heavy pack). I didn't like/use it either time. :)

Herbal after-birth bath, 16 oz. (Comfrey leaf, Lavender flower, Shepherd's Purse, Uva Ursi leaf, Plaintain leaf, Red Raspberry leaf, Yarrow flower, and Sea salt) $7.75

And I think that about covers it all! :) Questions? Ask away! :)

Update from Confirm Clearly: My husband is pregnant!

Confirm Clearly pregnancy tests are defective

I now have all the proof I will ever need about these "Confirm Clearly" pregnancy tests. Joshua used our last re-fill this morning on his urine, and guess what -- it tested positive.

Please, don't trust these "Confirm Clearly" pregnancy tests, and please tell others about their false-positive readings. See more here.

Confirm Clearly Pregnancy Test: Clearly Worthless

Confirm Clearly pregnancy test: DO NOT BUY!!!  We're having a new baby! Or are we? Before you trust this new kind of home pregnancy test called Confirm Clearly, get ready for an emotional roller coaster ride.
How home pregnancy tests work 

We all know that home pregnancy tests work by detecting a hormone, hCG, in the urine. False-negative test results are fairly common; it simply means you haven't been pregnant long enough for the hormone levels to rise to the detectable level. False-positive test results occur only when medication or illness of some sort causes hCG levels in the urine. Home pregnancy tests aren't difficult to take properly, and are accurate approximately 99% of the time.

NEW Update from Confirm Clearly: My husband is pregnant! (Includes photo)

My "Confirm Clearly" experience 

About a month ago, I thought I was having pregnancy symptoms. I was still exclusively breastfeeding my 9-month-old baby, and hadn't had a period since the birth. I know it's quite possible to conceive again without ever having a period after the previous baby, and it had been 9 months since the birth, which is a very reasonable time frame for fertility to return.

So, we got a package of Confirm Clearly pregnancy tests. This brand of pregnancy tests is marketed as an easy-to-read, re-fillable pregnancy test reader. You put the test strips into the reader, test in your urine, and either a bright blue + shows up or a bright yellow -. Simple, right? And 99% accurate, according to the package and notes.

The next morning, I took the first test. The results were negative. We were disappointed, but figured that I was just imagining my "symptoms" and that if the symptoms continued, we'd re-test in a week or two. I also started taking a new vitamin supplement that week, and was feeling a remarkable amount of energy. Thoughts of pregnancy went to the back of my mind, as I stored the unused tests in the medicine cabinet for future use.

A few weeks later, my friend Crystal announced her pregnancy! My husband and I were both very excited for her. I started wondering if I, too could be pregnant. After all, I hadn't been having periods and wouldn't have anything to go by. I could be pregnant and never even know! The days passed and I kept wondering if I should re-test. I didn't want to waste a test. But I also really wanted to just see the result so I could either forget about being pregnant or else get excited!! :)

So, last Friday morning I took another test. It was positive. I was shocked! I really hadn't felt pregnant, and I was actually almost sure that the result would be negative; I just wanted the peace of mind.

I read over the Confirm Clearly instruction leaflet several times. It had worked exactly as described: first, a flashing green hourglass symbol and then a bright blue plus sign! There was no mistaking, it definitely said I was pregnant! I have used First Response and Equate (Wal-mart) brand pregnancy tests in the past with accurate results. I thought about re-testing, but decided that would be a waste of a test! Besides, false-positives only occur if you're ill, on medication, or have some sort of abnormality.

I left the test on the bathroom counter and when my husband got up, we rejoiced together and thanked our Heavenly Father for a new little blessing in our family! We told our children that there was going to be a new baby! We were so excited! We called our parents and grandparents, and decided we'd tell everyone else right away, as well. We were so excited, and I put the unused re-fill tests back in the medicine cabinet for later.

We called a couple friends, and we started emailing a few people each day, telling everyone our good news. I planned to announce it on my blog so everyone would know!

When I emailed my friend Crystal (yes, the pregnant one!) to tell her our exciting news, she wrote back asking for all the details! When I mentioned getting the test at Rite Aid pharmacy, she wrote back and said she had heard that the Confirm Clearly pregnancy tests had been giving some people false-positives.

I read her email and felt sick. I ran to the bathroom and took another test. It was negative. I knew that I was not pregnant. I immediately woke up my husband and told him. We started calling and emailing the people we had told, letting them know that we had been mistaken. I googled "Confirm Clearly pregnancy test false positive" and found shocking results. (See notes below) We told our children, "No new baby. No baby in Mommy's tummy."

I called Confirm Clearly using their toll-free number from the package instruction leaflet. I talked to a very friendly and courteous lady who said they would refund my money. I asked if there had been other complaints. She said there had been a few complaints, but not a very big percentage.

She also told me that this test uses a new technology which has only been on the market since August, 2006** and that unlike the "old" pregnancy tests***, it can give a false positive result.

I said to her, "The package says this test is 99% accurate. Is it really 99% accurate?" Her answer was that in laboratory studies, it was. This is because in their laboratory studies, they use urine samples that are either definitely pregnant or definitely not pregnant. When normal consumers start using the tests, it becomes less accurate because of the varying levels of hCG hormone.

Now, I understand that occasionally things can cause the detection of the hCG hormone without there being a pregnancy. But for no apparent resons, these "Confirm Clearly" tests are giving false-positive results. I don't think it matters if the tests did prove 99% accurate in their studies, because real consumers are experiencing a much greater rate of inaccuracy.

Why is the possibility of a false positive result (for reasons other than taking certain medication or having a "rare medical condition") not mentioned in the instructions? They do say to see your doctor if you receive a positive test result, but all home pregnancy tests say that. I realise that if Confirm Clearly were honest in their labeling, and told consumers that this is a new product and is less accurate than standard home pregnancy tests (and gives false-positives), no one would buy them.

However, I personally feel very strongly that no one should use these "Confirm Clearly" tests. If you do take them, you can NOT trust the results. Why waste your money on this "smart pregnancy test" (from the Confirm Clearly box) when two (or more) tests are needed and then a doctor's visit is needed to confirm a pregnancy? Save your money and either just see your doctor or, better yet, get a pregnancy test that isn't going to give you a positive result when you're clearly not pregnant.

These "Confirm Clearly" prgnancy tests can and are causing emotional damage to women, couples, and families. We know people who have been trying desperately to get pregnant. Imagine them seeing their first positive result on a home pregnancy test, only to find out later that it was false.

Think about the unnecessary grief and heartache caused by a false-positive test result when a woman's period returns a few days later. She thinks she miscarried and will never know whether or not she really was pregnant.

In our case, it was just 5 days of believing that we were having another baby. I can't imagine being "pregnant" for a month or more before finding out that these tests are defective.

Confirm Clearly pregnancy test: DO NOT BUY!!! Confirm Clearly pregnancy tests are inaccurate and emotionally harmful. Do not buy them. Do not use them. And please, PLEASE tell everyone you know about this product before one of your friends or family members starts announcing a pregnancy that isn't.

**Apparently this new technology is still being developed and, in my opinion, should not be sold as a pregnancy test for the unaware.

***I have to wonder what the problem was with "old" pregnancy tests, since I never had difficulty reading them and they didn't give false-positive results.
 

For more info (links open in new windows):

Pricegrabber.com ratings: 1.5 stars out of 5 stars 

Drugstore.com reviews (1 out of 5 stars) 

Epinions.com review (1 out of 5 stars)

False positives on Confirm Clearly digital test ongoing issue; current as of September 2006 

Real facts about false positive home pregnancy tests (this is why I believe the Confirm Clearly tests are defective and not just inaccurate!!)

Forum posts with warnings:

"Confirm Clearly" tests = garbage

BEWARE of the FAR confirm clearly pregnancy tests!!! False positives! (5-page thread)

Confirm Clearly Pregnancy Tests - Worthless!

2 false positives in a row

Confirm Clearly says positive (twice), other brand says negative

Various:

False Positive #1

False Positive #2

False Positive #3

5 false positives

10 negatives test results + 3 positive results (read comment #72)

3 positives and 2 negatives

Positive and negative, doctor says not pregnant

Confirm Clearly tests are unreliable

Preparing for a new baby: What worked for me!

Newborn Eliyahu When I was expecting my first baby (3 years ago now!) I was very excited and optimistic. When confronted with poor attitudes, stories of doom, and the usual "your life will end, just you wait and see", I would listen politely and think to myself, "I will never end up like that!"

I was going to love being a mom! I wasn't going to mind all the extra work. I would never complain, and I wasn't going to hire others to care for or babysit my children all the time. I wanted to care for my own children. And besides, newborn babies slept all the time, anyway. How hard could it be?! Those "other people" are just selfish!

But I think I was probably just a little over-confident. Wink

I do love being a mom! I don't mind being busier; in fact, I can't imagine not having little ones to care for all day! I don't usually complain, but, I do sometimes need to adjust my attitude a little. (Still working on that, you know...) And we rarely hire sitters because we do enjoy being with our children all the time! I couldn't imagine sending them away to school "just to get them out of my hair" like so many people say they do. The "terrible twos" have been full of exciting new moments and so many leaps in learning and communication. I truly have enjoyed motherhood immensely. :)

However, because of my over-confidance, I really didn't prepare much for having a newborn baby. I read lots of great books about childbirth, and geared up for an exciting home birth. I somehow didn't realise that in the end, 12 hours of labor would seem... easy when compared to 3 days of engorgement or staying up all night with a new baby... for a whole week.

 

I thought that planning an easy dinner like taco salad would be quite feasible with a newborn. I mean, I'd just cook and clean while the baby slept, of course. Wink 

Where did I get the idea that all newborns slept all day?! Mine sure didn't. So there I was, unable to do much of anything besides nursing 12 hours a day, changing diapers, and holding my baby, who refused to sleep by himself, or sleep much, period! 

I had thought that having a newborn baby to care for would be pretty easy, and that everyone else just liked to complain. I found out that, depending on the baby, it might be a real challenge!! But no one told me that if I prepared adequately, it could be easy, or at least, easier. I had thought I was prepared. I knew I could have done more things before-hand, but I wasn't sure exactly what or how, and no one really offered advice on what they did to make a smooth transition between pregnancy and newbornness. And I was too confident to ask. Wink

Eliyahu, newborn

So a year after my first baby was born, we found ourselves blessed to be expecting a second baby! Right away, I determined that I was going to prepare. I was going to plan. I was going to do everything I could before the baby was born.

I imagined things like having to hold a fussy baby for the whole entire day, and needing to make dinner and having two 5-minute blocks of time in which to make it. I imagined not being able to do anything besides take care of my two children (diapers and feedings). I imagined the absolute worst-case scenario, and decided to prepare for that!

I figured it couldn't hurt... after all, if I did get a typical baby (who decided to sleep for 16-20 hours per day) I would just have plenty of time to relax and have fun with my toddler!

So I worked and planned and our second baby arrived, and I must say I didn't regret an ounce of the preparation I had done. I think that because I prepared for the most challenging outcome possible (while still keeping an optimistic outlook on life and motherhood!), the transition between having one child and two went really well.

I'd like to share what worked for me! It may not work for every family, but if you're looking for ideas about what to do before your baby arrives, these are my suggestions for you to consider!

First, one important thing to remember is to be content. If we aren't content with whatever is going on in our lives right now, we won't be content tomorrow, either.

I think one of the things that helped me was the fact that I did my best to enjoy every moment of pregnancy (yep, all 10 months of it Wink) until my baby was born. Then, I tried to enjoy every moment of having a new baby. It's easy to look ahead and think "if only". If only my baby were here... if only my baby would sleep through the night... if only my baby were potty trained... Don't long for the future, and don't wish for the past. Enjoy your life just how it is, right now!

I also had the mindset that I was going to prepare for the worst that could happen. I realised that babies are wonderful, fun, and exciting... and can be most enjoyed when one is adequately prepared. :D Even if my new baby slept 20 hours each day, I was still going to be prepared for a full-time job (with overtime: a 2-year-old!).

Little Eliyahu...

On a practical note, here is what I did in preparation for the new baby!

1. I tried to train Yehoshua (who was 20 months old when I had Eliyahu) to be as independent as possible. I taught Yehoshua to get things for himself and to help me with things. We had already been working on helpfulness and obedience with him, but I tried extra hard to get him to do things that I might otherwise have continued helping him with. I knew he would be too heavy for me to lift right after I had a new baby, so I encouraged him to climb into his high chair by himself, or things like that.

I also didn't want Yehoshua to feel as though the new baby was the reason that he had to do more things for himself. So, we started early and made things fun, mostly with praise or verbal encouragement. :)

2. I made menu plans and used my freezer to prepare food ahead. We have a small freezer, so I had to be careful in my planning. I planned a 2-week menu of easy, homemade meals. Then I did everything I could do in advance for those meals. (We couldn't afford to eat out, and indeed, we didn't eat restaurant food at all after having Eliyahu.) I repeated the 2-week menu as needed for the first 6 weeks. I'll go into more detail on this one below.

3. I cleaned the house thoroughly. I sorted through everything and got rid of a lot of stuff. I also did things that I very rarely do, such a cleaning the ceiling fans or moving furniture to clean behind it. I started the housecleaning about 2 months before the baby was born, and did a room or part of a room each day until it was finished. I also re-arranged the children's bedroom (to fit in a second crib). :)

4. I made some homemade thank-you cards to have ready to send out to those who gave gifts or helped out. I made lots of these, for which I was thankful, since a couple months later when Yehoshua broke his leg, I wouldn't have had time to make any. (I also had food prepared ahead in the freezer still, which was a real blessing when taking care of a 3-month old baby and a 23-month old toddler in a spica cast!) :)

5. I got some paper plates, cups, and silverware to use after the birth. I had done this the first time around, too, and thought it had really helped. However, we dislike most disposable dinnerware, and I couldn't afford to buy expensive disposable stuff.

I found that since I had prepared meals in the freezer, there were very few dishes from making the meal and that the two plates, two bowls, and two forks we dirtied while eating dinner really wasn't much work to wash. So, most of our disposable dishes didn't get used after all. I'm glad I had them on hand in case it was a help, but for a small family like ours, we just preferred real dishes. :D

6. Since we live in a two-story house, and I planned to stay off the stairs for a while*, I brought some of my clothes downstairs in a little suitcase. I had everything in there for after the birth, too, and it was nice to have it all in one location.

Our washer and dryer are located in the basement, and I used post-its to mark where to start the washer or dryer and what temperatures to use for things. (I normally do all the laundry by myself.) That made it easier for whoever was loading the washer for me, and I didn't have to give instructions over and over. :)

*Every woman is different in regards to this, although it is generally recommended to stay away from stairs for 1-2 weeks regardless. After both of my babies, I had lochia for 8+ weeks that was greatly increased by even one trip up the stairs or any heavy lifting. I felt perfectly capable of climbing the stairs or lifting things, but saw the effects of it the next day. So, I refrained from using the stairs for a full 6 weeks after delivery.

7. I used my hand-held DustBuster for little messes instead of the upright vacuum. It takes a lot of strength to push the vacuum around, not to mention the time it takes to get it out! So for little messes, I really appreciated my DustBuster, which I was capable of using, rather than needing to ask someone else to vacuum. I did have someone else help me by vacuuming the entire house once a week, but the DustBuster worked for small messes in-between vacuumings. :D

8. I paid some of our bills in advance. We write checks for our monthly bills, and as finances allowed, I wrote a check for 2 months' of those bills so that some of the bills that were arriving around the time of the birth had already been paid and just had to be filed away. If you do online automatic bill payment methods, you wouldn't have to worry about this, though! :)

9. I took people up on any offers of assistance, but was also non-committal before the birth. We didn't want a lot of visitors right away. We made it clear to people that we would let them know when it was a good time to visit! When someone offered to help, I told them, "Sure!"... and then said that I would get back with them about a good time. :)

I was blessed with a lot of assistance after Eliyahu's birth. My mom came over once a week and cleaned the house. My mom sent over extra food, especially the first week. My mom also watched Yehoshua for a few hours each day during the first week. Other people came and helped with cleaning or played with Yehoshua. I felt so blessed to have so much assistance, because I know many moms are very alone and completely overwhelmed after having a new baby!

10. I planned to get "nothing" done for at least a month. :) I planned a day full of diaper changes (I had two in diapers then!), feedings, and basic things like taking a shower or going to the bathroom. I planned on about 10 minutes of meal preparation and 15 minutes of clean-up afterwards. I planned no internet time (and indeed, enjoyed a 7-week internet break!).

As my baby got a little older (I think around 3 or 4 weeks of age) I would plan one "project" per day. That could be anything from giving baths, cooking something (that hadn't been frozen ahead or pre-mixed), writing thank yous, paying bills, or washing my hair. I took "baby steps" and felt very accomplished when I had gotten even just one "extra" thing done!

I basically set myself up to feel like I was making progress and accomplishing things, rather than remembering all the things I did before I had a newborn to care for. :) I set my "goals" low so that I wouldn't feel as though I was falling behind and becoming overwhelmed. :D

How I prepared Yehoshua (20 months old) for his new sibling

Yehoshua gets to hold Eliyahu for the first time... 

We always talked with excitement to Yehoshua about his new sibling. He loved to pat my tummy and say "baby!", which was one of the few words he sopke at that age. :) He wasn't really aware of what was going on, but he knew it must be something fun and exciting! :)

When Eliyahu was born, I would have Yehoshua help with diaper changes by taking the used disposable diaper to the trashcan and throwing it away. He was very good at this and liked to help.

Yehoshua also took Eliyahu's dirty clothes, bibs, etc. to the laundry hamper for me. Any ways that I could have Yehoshua "help" kept him out of trouble and made him feel really important. :D

Whenever I sat on the couch to nurse Eliyahu, I would ask Yehoshua to bring a book. He would sit beside me and we would read together. He loved this, and again, it kept him out of trouble while I was busy. Reading stories while nursing was a challenge at first, because Eliyahu was not a "natural" at nursing. He got lots of air and it was often a two-hand job to nurse him. Yehoshua wasn't old enough to know how to turn pages in the books for me. But we made do and then after a few weeks Eliyahu was better at nursing and we had lots of fun reading stories together. :D

We also let Yehoshua use "Eliyahu's blanket". This started out as an accidental discovery, when one afternoon Yehoshua didn't want to take his nap. We took a receiving blanket that Eliyahu had used and said, "Do you want to use Eliyahu's blanket??!!" Yehoshua got very excited about that, and from then on he always used "Eliyahu's blanket". I think it made him feel special because he was getting to use something that belonged to his little brother. :)

So, what actually happened?

Well, my second baby was a pretty average baby. He slept about 14-16 hours each day when he was a newborn. I actually got a little sleep myself that first week!

Things weren't perfect; there's always that little unforeseen twist like incurable diaper rash or the umbilical cord that refuses to fall off. (Oh, yay! ;D) I sure still had some moments when I felt like caring for two children was a pretty overwhelming task. But I also had lots of moments of rest and peacefulness.

 Eliyahu's first tub bath! Yehoshua helped, of course!

And it wasn't long at all before I was thinking "I wonder when we'll get to have another baby!" ;)

Things I wish I would have done

1. Boosted my milk supply during pregnancy. Yehoshua weaned himself at 16 months, and I would have liked to nurse him longer.

2. Exercised more. I felt so tired during pregnancy, I wondered how in the world I could manage caring for a new baby. As soon as I had Eliyahu, though, my energy returned and I felt so much better! I still wish I would have managed to beat the tiredness and get off the couch to exercise a little more though.

3. Gone to bed early. ;) Let's just say that I kind of regretted staying up until 11:30 pm before having a baby at 5:30 am the next day. After 2 hours of sleep, I asked myself, "Why in the world did I ever wish that I would wake up in labor?!" :)

Meal planning and cooking: What I did before the baby was born

Since I already had my "two-week easy meals menu" made out in advance, I prepared the things listed below and was able to have a home-cooked dinner on the table with very little preparation time (usually just by boiling some pasta, shredding some cheese, or cooking up some frozen veggies as a side dish)!

1. I made homemade mixes for things like whole-grain muffins, corn bread, etc.

To make these mixes, I measured the dry ingredients into zipper sandwich bags and labeled them. On an index card, I wrote down the recipe name, the wet ingredients needed, and the baking time and temperature.

For my homemade corn bread, this meant that I just needed to add some oil, egg, and milk to my dry mix. Then I had fresh, homemade corn bread which had taken me about 5 minutes to mix up.

This was really worth the time involved before-hand, since it meant that I didn't have to get out 5-10 ingredients plus measure everything for homemade baked goods. I liked this method so well, I still do it, for every-day use!

2. I made plenty of homemade granola to have on hand: nurtitious, filling, and full of fiber (I needed all I could get!).

3. I cooked beef and chicken and froze it in small portions.

Here is how I make my cooked beef and taco meat. Having pre-seasoned, pre-cooked taco meat made taco salad a lot easier and quicker!

For my bite-sized cooked chicken chunks, I simply made one of Joshua's favorite meals (oven-roasted chicken) weekly. I took the leftover meat off the bones, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and froze it. Then I could thaw the meat to use in casseroles or soups.

Since I was low on freezer space, I didn't freeze a lot of fully-prepared casseroles like lasagna or cheesy chicken vermicelli. I froze the meat and then made what I wanted, later.

4. I made extras of things and froze them in meal-sized portions.

Some other things I made ahead and froze were soups (all kinds), pre-baked homemade pizza crusts, cookies, fully-cooked homemade meatballs, and mashed potatoes.

Tea Review: Nursing Mother's Tea by Full Circle Herbs

Nursing Mother's Tea

Crystal at Biblical Womanhood sent me a couple packages of this tea to try. Nursing Mother's Tea, by Full Circle Herbs, is a natural (and partially organic) herbal tea with ingredients to help boost and maintain a mama's milk supply as well as helping with gas and tummy upset in babies.

This tea comes loose in a fold-open plastic/paper bag. Included in the bag is a cloth (muslin) drawstring bag for brewing the tea. I haven't used the bag, because I find cloth teabags to be messy (I only use one in a pinch!). So instead, I used my wire mesh teaball to brew my tea.

The directions say to use a heaping teaspoon of tea per cup, and to brew for 15 minutes. I usually use a very heaping teaspoon, and use 2 cups of water, because I like milder tea, and I figure I get more water that way. ;) This tea has some spearmint in it, which gives it a great flavor. I can also taste the fennel seed flavor. Other ingredients include lemon balm, red raspberry leaf, blessed thistle herb, nettle leaf, and catnip.

I've been drinking this tea for the past 6 weeks or so, two servings (which I make into four cups of tea) every day. The first few days I did notice an increased milk supply. However, after the first week of drinking this tea, I wouldn't say that I felt as though I had more milk than I normally do. I have never had issues with low milk supply, so I generally do have plenty of milk for my baby, and I still do have plenty, but I just haven't noticed a drastic difference.

I've used about a bag and a half of this tea now. Perhaps I will try stopping and see if I notice a milk decrease. At any rate, should we be expecting another child before Eliyahu weans, I definitely plan to use this tea to keep my milk supply up. I want to nurse Eliyahu longer than 17 months, which is how old Yehoshua was when he weaned himself! :)

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