Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fun Sewing Projects for Baby

I love to sew! I also love homemade gifts...! I have found a few fun and free sewing projects which are quick and easy to do. They are an exciting way to prepare for the little one and they also make great gifts for friends who are getting ready to have babies too! Did I mention that all of these patterns are free online. I hope you enjoy these...! 

Roll-Up Changing Pad with Recycled/Re-Purposed Hand Towels

The blog Handmade Therapy offers a tutorial for this project called Waterproof Change Mat Sewing Tutorial. It is not the same one I used (that blogger has started to sell her patterns on etsy), but these directions are very similar to the ones I followed. 

This project takes about an hour to complete. It is very cute. I made four of them so that I have one for each car and one for each diaper changing basket in the house. You might want to make a few more for laundry purposes. These are great to have because they keep my little guy protected from the surface of the public changing tables and they even help out when you can't find a changing table.


You can recycle/re-purpose a hand towel for the top layer the baby will lay on or you can get the Bobby Changing Pad Liners which will eliminate the need for PUL fabric or water resistant fabric which is recommended in the directions. I highly suggest a thicker loft batting in the middle for extra comfort if you are going to be changing baby on a hard surface. 


Rolled Up 
Unrolled


Boutique Style Burp Cloth

At Crap I've Made you can get some directions for how to make designer style boutique burp cloths on their Boutique Style Burp Cloth Tutorial

A friend of mine was given a set of cloth diapers that were trimmed with cute fabric and ribbons by a lady at church. She said that she always kept them in her diaper bag because they looked better than pulling out a plain one and she always got compliments on them. She also mentioned that they were easier to tell apart from everyone else's and she didn't lose them as easily. I fell in love with them and I learned how to make them and then gave them as baby gifts. When I found out I was pregnant I made a dozen for myself. I also cross- stitched a few of them as well. My grandma used to say that cloth diapers were the only cloth you needed with a baby, I say why not make them cute and special too!

Toys R' Us and Buy Buy Baby sell the cloth diapers rather cheaply, especially if you find them on sale and have a coupon. I bought 24 for $14.00. Since I am a quilter I had lots of scraps of fabric around to use for this project but I have also found that Fat Quarters work really great for this project too. Sometimes you can get Fat Quarters and fabric ruminants on sale for 99 cents. I can get at least 2 burp cloths out of a fat quarter. If you want to get really fancy add a strip to both ends or to the sides rather than to the bottom. I have also reduced the size of the fabric strip in some cases for a little different look or to make my fabric piece go a little farther.

Note: I have you can always edge the diaper with a simple biased strip but I find the pattern above easier to make. Also, make sure you buy fabric that you can wash in hot water and that will not fade to quickly...remember they will need stain remover at some point...! 

Car Seat Cover or Greeter Deterrent

At the Cluck Cluck Sew you can find how to directions for a Car Seat Cover (or Greeter Deterrent).

This sewing project was a huge money saver! The car seat covers at Babies R' Us retail for $25-30! If you make one you can do so for under $10-15 depending on the fabric you buy. I got my fabric on sale and I also used scraps for the backing. I bought fabric that was dark to shield the light but also pick a sleepy time theme so that the message would be even clearer to those who approach. This car seat cover has also acted has a tummy time mat when we were out and about, a nursing cover, and even once as a burp rag. All around it is a versatile project that has served me well!

Nursing Cover

Made by the Mama Monster offers a free nursing cover tutorial.

For this project, the above link is the best set of instructions I found. However, you do not need a full yard of fabric so if you buy a yard you will have extra. The pattern does not specify but you will need the need the 1 1/4" D rings. Nursing covers can be very pricey $35-50 but if you make it yourself it can be a $10-20 project! I made my project for about $13. I will be making a second one because I have the fabric, boning, and D Rings to do so. 

*The instructions for sewing the boning in are a bit confusing. I sewed the top layer in three parts: first after sewing the perpendicular line on the 10 inch marks for the straps I sewed two seams from the outside in-ward (one seam from the left edge to the first 10 inch mark, then a second seam from the right edge to the second ten inch line), last I placed the boning in place and sewed the middle seam which sews the boning in.  It took me about 2 hours to complete.





Diaper Stacker

I found directions for a the diaper stacker below on eHow.com under How to Make a Diaper Stacker.  

I found that this sewing project was one of the more challenging projects I have undertaken. There are not diagrams or pictures so these were not the best directions but I know enough about sewing to power through. If you are a novice this might not be the best set of directions for you. Simply because I like torture, I made things even more complicated by I adding pockets to the front of mine. The direction I am linking you to do not contain front pocket directions. In the end the trouble was worth it because I really like the pockets in the front. They conveniently hold the powder and diaper rash cream.

This project took me an entire day plus a portion of the next day to complete. Diaper Stacker's retail for $20-50 but I made this one for $13. If I attempt to make this one again I will take pictures as I go.




Sewing Book with Lots of Patterns

Simple Sewing for Baby: 24 Easy Projects for Newborns to Toddlers
By: Lotta Jansdotter

While wondering around Joanne's Fabrics one day (pre-baby) and I found a book filled with simple sewing patterns for baby. It has everything from bibs to bloomers. It was on sale so I picked it up. I like this book because of the ideas but I find some of the directions to be less than complete. If you do not have much experience sewing this might not be the book for you. It is based on a minimalist attitude and some of the projects may need a little bit more embellishment to make them cute as well as functional.

Pictures of the Sleep Sacks that I made using a pattern from this book. They worked great and were much cheaper than buying them. 



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mama to be: Frozen Greek Yogurt

This is a yummy frozen, sweet treat! Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt and it also comes in low fat and fat free options. I personally don't like the texture of yogurt but I knew there are lots of great benefits to yogurt. My good friend Vince shared this recipe with me and it fast became one of my staples! For this you will need a Kitchen Aid mixer with Ice Cream maker attachment. I also purchased the small rubber maid containers so that I could freeze individual serving sizes.

Indgredients:

3/4 Cup Suger
1- 35.3 oz container Fage Plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tbsp Vanilla

Yummy Add-Ins Suggestions:
frozen mixed berries
chopped nuts
Nutella
Chocolate Sauce
Pineapple & Coconut (I also add a dash of rum extract to this one) 

Instructions:
Mix yogurt, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Set up ice cream attachment and pour in yogurt mixture. Leave the mixture in for 25 minutes. If you want to add some other yummy stuff add it into the ice cream mixer but be careful not to over flow the mixer! Divide the frozen yogurt into the containers and freeze for at least and hour before serving. You may need to let the frozen yogurt sit out for a few minutes to thaw before you eat it. Enjoy

Mama to be: Grandma's Ramen Salad

This was a salad that my grandma used to make during the summer. It is cheap and easy but very yummy. In my second trimester I wasn't gaining as much weight as I needed too so my doc told me to increase my carbs. This salad came to mind and has been a great addition to my pregnancy diet.

Ingredients:

2 packages Ramon Noodles- any flavor
1 can- canned  white chicken in water
1 package Italian dressing mix (and ingredients for dressing) or a bottle of Italian dressing
1 can cut green beans (no salt added)
1 can mushrooms
1 bag sun dried tomatoes/or sliced tomatoes
1 can olives
1 head of lettuce

Instructions:

Cook the Ramon noodles following the directions, but do not add the seasoning packet! Drain the noodles and let them cool. Drain the chicken (saving the chicken juice for the cat) and the veggies. If you are mixing the Italian dressing do so while the noodles cool. Clean lettuce and line plate or Tupperware container with lettuce. (Note: I  split the salad up during a couple of containers and have easy to grab salad snacks). Put noodles on top of the lettuce, place chicken and veggies on top of the noodles. pour dressing over the salad to taste and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving. You may need to add more dressing after before you eat.

Mama to be: Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad has been a life saver!!! One of the downsides to being pregnant is that you need to eat more. During my first trimester I would feel sick rather than hungry. I found a few important, protein filled foods stocked in my fridge helped a great deal. The last thing you want to do is fix food for yourself when you are feeling a little green. I would mix this chicken salad up when I was feeling good and would keep some ready to go through out my pregnancy. It is high protein and made me feel much better rather quickly. If you watch the mayonnaise it can also be a low fat snack. I hope this helps you too!

Note: I cook to taste...I suggest you do the same! I have also found some flavored mayonnaise in the store, these are great and all you really need is the chicken and mayonnaise. Be careful with them though because they are higher in fat!

Ingredients:

1 can- canned white chicken in water
3-6 Tbsp light mayonnaise
3-6 Tbsp mustard (spicy, regular, Dijon, or honey)
1-2 Dill Pickles or Relish
Poultry Seasoning - to taste
Black Pepper- to taste
Onion Powder or chopped onions
1/3-1/4 cup Fancy Shredded Cheese

Instructions:

Drain chicken- put juice in one bowl and chicken in another. You may need to break the chicken up a little. dice the onion and/or the pickles. Add seasonings, onion, pickles, mustard, and mayonnaise to chicken and stir. You may need to add a little of the chicken juice or add a little pickle juice to the mixture if it comes out too dry from the seasonings. I add the shredded cheese at the very end. Refrigerate and serve on whole wheat bread or crackers. If you are feeling up to it slice a tomato, avocado or lettuce to make a complete sandwich.

**Don't forget to give the left over chicken juice to the cat, dog or spilt between both!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mama's Attacked by French Feminist

While standing in line at the Borders liquidation sale, a headline on the New Yorker Magazine caught my attention "The Trap of Motherhood". I have never picked up a New Yorker before but I know from my creative writing classes that this magazine is well respected for printing poetry and political cartoons. While the cashier was scanning my purchase I read the little preview that it had on the article and knew that I needed to give this article a read. I wasn't disappointed by what I found in the article...well at least I wasn't disappointed with the presentation of the article.

The feminist ideals in the article were not all together surprising to me. My mother is a self proclaimed feminist and some of the arguments I found in the article are the same arguments I have had with her. When I decided to become an English teacher my mother was greatly disappointed. She had "raised me to aim higher than a traditional, subservient female role". If I had told her that I wanted to become a professor or a political journalist that would have been much better, but a regular public school English teacher was below my capabilities. She was further horrified when I told her that I wanted to that career, not only because I am passionate about literacy, but also because it would allow me to be a better mother since I would have the same days off as my kids when they were old enough to go to school...I won't tell you what she said when I told her I was pregnant and taking a few year off of teaching to be at home with my little one. I think it is fair to say that my grandmother, who lived with us, was a Catholic who still expected Mass to be in Latin, and was always the one at home with me, had a greater influence on me then my mother anticipated.

When  I picked up this article I thought I was prepared for the contents. It did not cross my mind that the child growing within me had already affected heart in a deep way. Although, I respect other people's opinions and appreciate that we are a world filled with diverse beliefs, I as really caught off guard by the hostility and animosity that women who choose to stay at home with their children face. I really don't understand why people attack motherhood. After all, if your child grows up to be a serial killer or terrorist you are going to wonder what the mother did wrong. When children behave badly in school and are low performers we look to see the role of the mother in their lives (is she always working or is she there when her child needs helps). We can't have it both ways, mother's cannot be present in their child's life and be away from their child at work at the same time. Note: before I go any further, I am not passing judgement on mother's who work or who have to work. My husband and I are very blessed that I am able to be at home with our baby, but I do not judge a women who works. Our job as parents is to provide the best we can for our children if that requires that we work outside the home, then that is what we must do!

The article reports on the French feminist Elisabeth Badinter who has published many works on feminism in France and these works have been printed in several languages. She is also considered one of the most influential people in France. She happens to be the mother of three children (whom she says in the article "do not discuss their mother") and a "besotted" grandmother who takes her grandchildren every weekend to her country home. Badinter makes several statements about motherhood that seem to contradict her personal life, which makes me wonder if she is just, what do we call them in America, a Shock Jock. Badinter says she wants to affect social change but after reading this article in the New Yorker I wonder if she just wants to stir up dust and cause trouble where their is not trouble. The article also states that Badinter does not publicly face those she opposes, that she writes her opposition to be printed in newspapers.

Badinter doesn't just attack women, she attacks the church, America, and in my opinion, she attacks children as well. She admits to not liking America and claims that when she was asked to come speak at Princeton in the early nineties Badinter claims that she was verbally attacked by those attending her lecture. The New Yorker  interviewed Joan Scott who attended the talk at Princeton. According to Scott, Badinter was saying "banal things about how the French were sexier than Americans, better at sex, how American women washed too much, how they were embarrassed by their bodily odors, by oral sex." Scott admits that they "asked hostile questions" because her comments seemed to be "off the top of [ her] head". I think it is fair to say that Badinter does not play well with others and that she has trouble making friends.

So why is Badinter appearing in the New Yorker? Well, she has published a new book called "Le Conflict" which is slated to be printed in English and will be available in America in January. In this book she makes some heavy statements about what she considers the fall of feminism. In her opinion, she believes that the church, both Catholic and Protestant have "Joined forces to drive independent and accomplished women out of the world and the workplace and into the house, where they will presumably squander their best, and most sexually interesting, years in unremitting slavery to their babies."  Badinter also claims that there is a "spreading cult of "motherhood fundamentalism"  in the West." These are some heavy statements for a woman who takes her grandchildren out to her country home every weekend and while she "always had an Au Pair" when her children were young and took a half time job because she "wanted to be home when they were". The knowledge that she had an Au Pair makes me wonder what she could possibly know about slavery to her babies, she had live in help! I find it hard to believe that she know anything about the demands of a stay at home mother.

When Badinter talks about her children's childhood she states that her children complained about her presence, wanting to know why she was home when they were. She claims that children need to have time to themselves without a parent "nagging" them all the time. I have to admit, when I read this quote I thought, maybe they liked the Au Pair more than her...this coupled with the statement she made about her children not "discussing" her made me wonder if her children wouldn't have anything nice to say about her and therefore didn't say anything at all. More to the point it sounds like Badinter felt rejected by her children and then became deeply resentful of her personal sacrifice for her children. That may have led to her deep rooted dislike for women who choose their children over their careers. She doesn't just attack women who stay home with their babies she also as it in for women who breast feed and the members of La Leche.

Badinter doesn't just seem to dislike women who choose to raise their children rather then work at a career, she also states that "Women can be extremely cruel to each other"-the idea that the world would be "sweetened" if women ran it is preposterous, she says "but there can also be an intimacy, a confidentiality, among women that men don't have". This statement put into context with all her other anti-woman statements says to me that Badinter seems to have some deep and unresolved issues with women, that her statements about motherhood are really her insecurities and hurt shinning through. For a woman that acknowledges that women can be cruel to each other, she sure isn't trying to inspire social change in this social area!

The final issue that the article addresses is the recent legislation inn France against Muslim women wearing burqas in public and at school. Badinter was a very vocal advocate of the ban stating that covering their faces and hair with burqas is part of their "liberty disappearing". She also stated that Muslim women could not be a part of a democratic state if they did not have "transparency of encounter among citizens".  She states that fundamentalism is her real problem, not religion or culture. I personally think that Badinter's problem is her own confusion and inability to resolve her personal issues.

I am not worried about an attack from a woman that has no integrity. Badinter is not a threat to me. Her comments are inflammatory and taking them as anything else is simply silly. It is clear to me that Badinter does not have a moral yardstick that she uses to make her choices. I feel secure in my decision to take a few years and dedicate it to my child. In this decision I also feel that my faith has grounded me. When it comes down to it, it doesn't matter what society thinks about my decision but it does matter what God thinks about my decision!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tips for Buying Maternity Clothes

Navigating through the world of maternity clothes has been a difficult journey. I wish that I could say that I have enjoyed buying new clothes and discovering new styles...but I can't. I have gotten discouraged, emotionally wreaked, and made many returns. I hate to spend more money then I need to and this is one situation in which I hate spending money and not being completely happy with what I have bought. On top of the expense, I have never been pregnant before so picking the right clothing has been full of trial and error.  Here are some things that I have learned along the way...I hope they help you out too.

Note: When shopping for clothes learned maternity clothing stores have special pillows in them so that you can see what the clothing is going to look like when you are bigger, be sure to give these a try, it is fun to see what you are going to look like when you are bigger but it can also save you some money if there isn't enough room in the out fit you are trying on.

Maternity Pants

There are three kinds pants that I have found. Each one has it's up side and each has a down side.

1) Elastic in the Waist Band to extend them: This was the first type of pant that I bought. They fit below the waist and at the time (week 8) they were very comfortable. As I grew bigger I noticed that they made the baby belly look rather awkward and because I am carrying low by week 16 they were uncomfortable and cutting me off at the waist. This sent me on the hunt for new pants. They were great for the transition but not so great once my belly came in. They were great after my C-section when the all spandex topped pants were too big and my pre-maternity pants were too small.

2) The Belly Band with your Non-Maternity Pants: This is a spandex band that you up on over the top of your non-maternity pants. You can leave the the button undone or even the zipper. The band smooths out the button and zipper so that no one knows that they are undone and your pants are held up. The cost on these is about the same as you would pay for a pair of maternity pants ($16-20). The upside to the cost is that you can use them with almost all your regular pants. I personally don't like the belly band. I don't like the way it feels on my stomach and it is hot and itchy. However, if you are on a budget and can't afford to buy a lot of maternity clothes, this may be a great option to buy you more time and keep using the clothes you already have. It was also helpful to have these when I was recovering after the baby arrived.

3) Cotton Waist Band with Elastic and a Draw String: This is my favorite kind of pants but they are very hard to find especially in jeans. These pants resemble the "Granny Pants" you see in the petites section. They fit under the belly and not only have the elastic to gently hold them up but also a draw string. Although I find these to be the most comfortable the bigger the belly gets the harder it is to keep the pants up. The belly just pushes the pant down. I prefer this type of pants to the belly band type (talked about below) and would rather pull my pants up all day verse having the band on my belly.

4) Spandex Band that Covers the Belly: These pants were very intimidating to me in the very beginning. They are still my least favorite type of pants. These pants have an elastic belly band that completely covers your stomach. Since I didn't like the pressure of the belly band with my non-maternity pants, I really didn't like these pants. In the third trimester  had to suck it up and wear these because my options will be very limited. They tended to slip down and have to be pulled up often. As soon as the baby arrived they didn't fit anymore.

5) Maternity Overalls: This is my favorite option!!! They are very comfortable, they have plenty of room, and they do not put any pressure on my belly. Unfortunately, they are not the most stylish and they are not very nice. I am also looking forward to having these around after the baby is born because I will not want any pressure on my stomach after the birth. Note: I was able to find Maternity Overalls at Walmarts online store for $10 each. Shipping was only $2.95. This was a great bargain and the best deal I have found one maternity clothes!!!

6) A Note Anout Maternity Jeans: The hardest piece of maternity clothing for me find has been maternity jeans. A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine from church gave me a bag of maternity clothes and in that bag were two pairs of jeans. At first I was apprehensive but soon found that this bag of clothes was a great gift! What I discovered was Old Navy Maternity Jeans!!!  The Full Panel jeans cover your belly but are made from a soft cotton Jersey material that I find to be very comfortable and not as restrictive as the spandex belly covers. You can also order these jeans in short or long at their online store. The best part is that they are reasonably priced at $34.95, with a purchase of $50 you get free shipping. Personally, a good pair of jeans can go a long way and if you are on a budget and have a lifestyle that allows you to wear jeans regularly investing a couple of pairs is very worth it!!!

Bras or Over the Shoulder Boulder Holders

For me my breast were the first thing to change. Within the first month of being pregnant my breast grew a cup size and remained painful and sensitive until week 13-14. In week 17-18 they became sensitive again and become even more swollen. I am not looking forward to the change in my breasts in the third trimester although my husband is rather excited about the changes.

Note of Caution: Whichever bra choice you choose, make sure that it is providing you with adequate support. The less movement your sore breasts get the less they will hurt. Make sure that the bra you get is not too confining though.

1) Regular Bra just a size bigger: This was a comfortable solution for me in terms of out of the house wear during the first trimester and I continues to wear these larger sizes through the rest of my pregnancy. I did not buy super expensive bras but looked for the ones that provided the best support. The downside to this is that if your breast grow again you may not be able to use these for long.

2) Wireless: This was a hard adjustment for me but it was a source of relief for me in my first trimester and every time there after when my breast began to grow again. I never felt comfortable wearing this type of bra out of the house but I did change into one of these as soon as I got home. This type of bra didn't provide the type of look that I prefer in my bras which was part of my uncertainty in public. To me they were worth the cost for the relief they provided at home and they were comfortable enough to sleep in, which also helped to ease the discomfort. In my second trimester I found a wonderful wireless bra at Soma Intimates. It is flexible enough to double a nursing bra when the time comes (although they are not advertised for that purpose). You can also buy inserts called Comfy Cups to put into your wireless bra if it is not padded to give you a bit more modesty.

3) Nursing Bra: In my first trimester I was not ready to buy a nursing bra. This felt like I was jumping the gun a little bit, but I did change my mind about this toward the end of the second trimester. I only bought one to start just in case my breast size changed again in the third trimester. These bras come with a clip at the top of the strap so that when you are nursing baby it is "easy access". They also have a pocket for the nursing pads that you will need when you are nursing. It is very important to get a quality nursing bra. Your breast will be heavier because they are holding milk, this added weight can give gravity help in pulling your girls down. At the store that I buy my bras regularly Soma Intimates, I found a great nursing bra. They have a both an underwire and wireless nursing bra. Not all locations carry the nursing bra but you can order online.

4) Sports Bra: I already owned a few of these because I work out but I found that some days when I was very uncomfortable that they were too tight. The only one that really worked well is the one that was adjustable straps and back. This gave me the most flexibility and comfort. They offer great support but are not good for everyday, all day use. I think these worked the best for sleeping.

Underwear

I was told by a friend at church that I should not open maternity underwear in the store. That I should take them home and open them when I was in a good mood and feeling strong. Her experience with maternity underwear must have been very different then mine. I broke down and bought maternity underwear on the same day I found myself in the Macy's dressing room crying. I picked my favorite style of underwear and bit the bullet. I took my friends advice and opened the underwear in the privacy of my bedroom while my husband watched...the package said they were going to give me added support during pregnancy and after birth. This encouraged me...until I opend the package....They looked exactly the same as my regular underwear...held up against my current underwear they were the exact same size and cut...the only difference...I paid twice as much for them!!! I took them back the next day for a full refund!!!

I went back to the Internet to see what others had to say about maternity underwear. One site that I found (which I can't find now) mentioned that you should just buy bargain brand underwear at Target or Walmart but buy a size bigger and a style such as bikini or briefs (I like the hipsters personally) which give you more coverage. Not only is this a cheaper solution to the need for more comfortable underwear but they are a much more practical way to approach the need for new undies...You aren't going to feel so bad throwing or giving them away when you are back to your smaller size. Note: make sure that you buy 100% cotton. This is important because you need the right ventilation in your lady parts especially considering the increased moisture in the area.

Shirts and Tops

1) T-Shirts: I had always thought that if I purchased a larger version of a regular shirt that it would work just fine and I wouldn't need to buy "maternity" shirts....boy was I wrong. I also read that you could barrow clothes from friends or family that were larger than you and even shirts from your husband....Since I am petite to begin with I ran into the same problems with that were too big before I was pregnant and my husband although 8 inches taller than I am is a skinny guy. Larger shirts may have given me the room for my belly but when I lifted my arms you could see through the sleeve to get a great view of my bra! The upside with maternity t-shirts is the room is there where I need it but it fits where I need it to fit! You can find maternity t-shirts rather cheaply at places like Target and Walmart. They also have sales on them at Macy's and Motherhood Maternity.

2) Tops: There are several different types of tops that you can buy. There are tops that hug your body and show off the belly, there are tops that act like tents that hide the belly, and there are peasant style tops that tie in the back which fit loosely over the belly but still show it off too. This is completely a personal preference. When my belly wasn't looking like a baby belly just yet I was all about the tent style tops. I have never been into wearing skin hugging clothes but that doesn't mean you can't wear them. Now that everyone can tell I am pregnant I prefer the peasant style tops which just feel the most comfortable to me.

So What Does It Matter What I Wear...?

I personally feel that it is very important for a woman to feel confident and beautiful as much as possible. When you feel good in your skin and you like the way you look, you will approach the world with confidence and a positive attitude. When you are pregnant there are plenty of things to feel uncertain about. When you feel good about how you look on the outside it is easier to approach the world, regardless of how your insides may be feeling. Do what you need to so that you can feel confident and strong as a woman.

The Best Places to Buy Maternity Clothes

Macy's, Babies R'Us, and Target all had great return policies. Macy's carries the fashionable maternity clothes and you can return them at any time. Babies R' Us and Target have 90 day return policies.

Prayers That Comfort Mama

For me my faith is what keeps me going. Although, I have been very blessed with a rather easy and uneventful pregnancy. I praise the Lord for this and remember that He is the source of all my gifts. Even though I haven't had much to complain about in my pregnancy there are still tons of things to worry about. In the first trimester I was terrified that I would lose the baby. Now in my second trimester I can't shake the fear that the baby would not growing right or that some thing will be wrong with the baby. Fear and worry are a natural part of pregnancy, we don't want anything to go wrong and this is a complicated process in which a lot of things have to go right.

When I am feeling overwhelmed by worry I remember this scripture "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well." Psalm 139:13-14.

Scripture reminds us that this process of being pregnant is fearful and wonderful all at the same time!

Here are a couple of prayers that my mother-in-law sent me. They are specific to pregnancy and motherhood and have become very meaningful to me. I hope that they bring you some comfort as well.

Prayer for Safe Delivery
Saint Gerard Majella

O great Saint Gerard, beloved servant of Jesus Christ, perfect imitator of your meek and humble Savior, and devoted child of Mother of God, enkindle within my heart one spark of that heavenly fire of charity which glowed in your heart and made you an angel of love.

O glorious Saint Gerard, because when falsely accused of crime, you did bear, like your Divine Master, without murmur or complaint, the calumnies of wicked men, you have been raised up by God as the patron and protector of expectant mothers.

Preserve me from danger and from the excessive pains accompanying childbirth, and shield the child which I now carry, that it may see the light of day and receive the purifying and life-giving waters of baptism through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Prayer for Motherhood
Saint Gerard Majella

O good St Gerard, powerful intercessor before God and wonder worker of our day, confidently I call upon you and seek your aid.  On Earth you always fulfilled God's designs, help me now to do the holy will of God.  Implore the Master of Life, from whom all paternity proceeds, to render me fruitful in offspring, that I may raise up children to God in this life, and in the world to come, heirs to the Kingdom of His Glory.
Amen.

After being introduced St. Gerard Majella I did a bit of research on him and found a great website called Praying4ababy. com which gave me a great bio on St. Gerard Majella and additional prayers for motherhood and delivery.

At Catholic Online there is also a section that gives additional prayers for parenting and family.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Understanding Pregnancy Weight Gain

One of the biggest adjustments for me has been weight gain. The biggest struggle for me has been allowing myself to gain the weight. After a conversation with my mom, who told me that she didn't think it was a good idea to gain as much weight as the the doctor was suggesting.  So I went through a big research phase. After reading multiple sources I feel better about the weight gain and understand why there is a target number of pounds to gain. I know that this is a struggle a lot of women face. In America, there is a lot of pressure put on women regarding their body image and during pregnancy there are so many changes to your body and the biggest one is that your body gets bigger...!

Here is what I learned about baby weight gain:
(Please keep in mind that your doctor is the best advisor on your weight gain. These numbers are general guidelines, you may be an exception to the rule..!)
  • If you are at a healthy weight and BMI then your target weight gain is 25-35 pounds.
  • If you are under weight with a low BMI then your target weight gain is 28-40 pounds.
  • If you are overweight with a high BMI then your target weight gain is 15-25 pounds.
  • If you are Obese with a too high BMI then your target weight gain is 15 pounds (unless directed otherwise by your doctor).   
You want me to gain how much...? Why is all that weight necessary?
Here is the break down for how the weight is distributed based on a 25-35 pound target. Please keep in mind that some of these numbers will fluctuate but some of them are very necessary, especially if you want to breast feed.

    • Maternal Store (fat, protein, and other nutrients) = 7 pounds
    • Increased Fluid = 4 pounds
    • Increased Blood = 4 pounds
    • Breast Growth = 2 pounds
    • Uterus = 2 pounds
    • Baby (based on an average weight) = 7.5 pounds
    • Amniotic Fluid = 2 pounds
    • Placenta = 1.5 pounds
 For me, seeing the distribution of the weight gain really helped me to understand why I need to gain. When I am feeling discouraged because my clothes are not fitting right, I have to take my wedding ring off because I am swelling up,  or I feel guilty for eating yet another snack; I take a look at this chart and remind myself that gaining weight is exactly what I am supposed to be doing!!!

Okay, so I am going to have to gain some weight...how many calories a day is that...?
The American Dietetic Association  has put some great information out there about nutrition and your pregnancy. This is what they suggest for calorie intake during pregnancy:

  • On a whole pregnant women need 2,200-2,900 calories a day.
  • During the 1st trimester you do not need to increase calories.
  • During the 2nd trimester you need to increase your calorie intake by 347 calories a day.
  • During the 3rd trimester you need to increase your calorie intake to an extra 452 a day.  

How do I navigate the weight gain?
My doctor helped me with some questions to ask myself when I am worrying about my weight gain. I ask myself these questions when I am feeling down about my body image: Do I want to have a healthy baby? Is it important to me to breast feed? Is it important to me to stay healthy and have plenty of energy? How would I feel if I did harm to myself and my baby because of vanity?

I also comfort myself by knowing that I am active and walking every day now and I will not stop exercising when the baby is born. I do my best to make good food choices, if I am not putting super fat into my body so I am not gaining super fat but a healthy baby. I also keep in mind that on delivery day I will loose around 11-12 pounds (Baby, Placenta, Amniotic Fluid,) that is almost half of what I will have gained!

Sources:
American Dietetic Association
American Pregnancy Association
Graves, Ginny; Pregnancy Fitness: Mind, Body, Spirit (pgs 14 & 124)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Helpful Reading for Mama

I am a reader. When I want to know something I run to the bookstore or library. Here are some books that I have read or that I have started to read and thrown to the ground. Regardless of my opinion I suggest that you pick up everything and read as much as possible.When I found out I was pregnant I checked out every book on the library shelf. The more you know the more powerful and secure you will feel in your pregnancy. *For the books listed below I have linked them to Amazon for you to easily access them.

Books About Child Birth

Rediscovering Birth by Shelia Kitzinger
Product Details

I really loved this book. It is a cross cultural study of birth practices around the world and through out history. This book also explores how the westernization of medicine has change the birthing process. I found this book very comforting and at times comedic. It helped me to understand why hospitals are set up the way they are and why I was feeling so uncomfortable about the hospital. After reading this book I actually felt much more confident about birthing my son in the hospital and was able to set reasonable expectations of myself and my husband. I suggest that every woman read this book!

The Essential C-Section Guide: Pain Control, Healing at Home, Getting Back Your Body, and Everything Else You Need to Know About a Cesarean Birth by Maureen Connolly

This was a very informative book. It was full of truthful information and really paints an honest picture of what having a C-Section is like. Even if you are planning on a natural birth you should read this book because a C-Section is always possibility right up until the baby is born. Hope the for best, prepare for the worst.

Your Best Birth: Know All You Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience By Rikki Lake

I found this book full of commentary and backed up with very little research. I felt that this book was written from the perspective of women who didn't get what they wanted in the delivery room and were not willing to face the truth that things do not always go the way you plan them too. This book made it sound like the doctors and nurses are out to get you and deprive you of a magical birth experience. I personally trust my doctor and since I haven't been to medical school I need to listen to the advice my doctor is giving. I wouldn't take it very well if a parent walked into my classroom and started telling me how to teach. Likewise, I won't tell my doctor how to be a doctor.

Having A Healthy Pregnancy

Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Easting Before, During, and After Pregnancy by American Dietetic Association

I really love this book and suggest that you buy a copy and keep it handy at all times. It gives you great nutrition advice and helped me understand my prenatal vitamins as well as the food that I need to be eating. There is also a great section on understanding your weight gain and the pounds you are putting on.

Pregnancy Fitness: Mind, Body, Spirit by the Editors of Fitness Magazine with Ginny Graves

I really love the way this book is organized. It is set up by trimester and advises you to stay within healthy activity levels while pregnant. It also explains why it is important to stay within certain levels and warning signs that you are doing too much. It also discusses changes in your body and how exercise can help ease these changes.

Stretching and Pregnancy by Jennifer Cristuado

This book was helpful but it was also a bit out dated. My husband and I also found some of the instructions confusing. When ever my husband (an aerospace engineer) can't figure the instructions I know we are doomed because he is the Jedi Master of instructions. This book got me started on stretching and prompted me to find Pregnancy Fitness listed above.

What to Expect When Your Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel

So this book seems to be super popular. I however, can't stand it. In my opinion it is horribly organized, has an impossible diet in it, scared me more then in comforted me, and actually caused me to have some panic. When I asked my doctor about good books to read she made it a point to tell me she didn't approve of this book. Every book has it's place, this books place is as a door stop!

Getting Prepared For Parenthood

Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson

My husband picked this book up when we found out that we were going to be having a boy. Dr. Dobson is the founder of Focus On The Family and offers a Christian perspective on raising sons. Dr. Dobson discusses some of the differences between raising sons and raising daughters. He also discusses how boys learn and relate to the world around them.

A Love That Multiples by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar

I enjoyed reading this book. When I have watched the T.V. show I have always been impressed with how polite and well behaved the children are. Although I do not completely agree with their beliefs it was helpful to  hear their philosophy on parenting and how they approach behavior issues with their children. I did enjoy reading this book and have found myself reflecting back on the some of the nuggets of wisdom I found in the book.

The Complete Book of Baby Names by Lesley Bolton

This is a fun book. It has some great food for thought when thinking about names for the baby and it has a ton of names, origins, and variations on names.

Confident Baby Care: What You Need to Know For the First Year From America's Most Trusted Nanny by Jo Frost

I started reading this book in week 17. This was the week that I really allowed my self think about what it would be like to bring baby home. The book is divided into parts for reading the whole book all at once doesn't work all that well...it is set up by development stages and reading to the end of the book is jumping ahead a little bit. In the first chapters it has some exercises for you and your husband to do to get you thinking about what kind of parent you want to be. It also have some practical advice on supplies and preparation for parenthood.

Online Resources for Pregnancy and New Mother's

So here are some online resourse that I have found helpful in understanding my pregnancy, the changes in my body, and the development of my bundle of joy.

All you need to know about pregnancy links:

Baby Center: You find answers to most of your pregnancy related questions.
http://www.babycenter.com/

American Pregnancy Association: You can register with them and they will send you weekly updates. I like that you don't have to navigate to the page everyweek it comes right to you!
http://www.americanpregnancy.org/

Stretching Slide Show: the Mayo Clinic has some great online resources for pregnancy. This link will help to lead you to more great informative links.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy/PR00092

Baby Registry Sites:

My Registry: Add items from online stores, Sync registries from other stores, and leave notes for your friends and family about the items you have chosen.
http://www.myregistry.com/

Babies R' Us: I really don't like the way this registry is set up. It is very disorganized to me. Unfortunately, it has jsut about everything you could need. Be sure to check other sites to see if they have a color option that you like better!
http://www.toysrus.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=2255957

Baby Products Sites:

Bright Starts: I really like the InGenuity Collection. It has high online ratings and has come highly recommended to me by other Mama's. I have even had had Mama's make comments to me about the product when my husband and I have been checking it out.
http://www.brightstarts.com/

Breast Feeding Sites:

La Leche League International: This link will take you to the CA chapter of LLLI. This page offers not only breastfeeding support and resources but also information about CA specific laws. You can find an area specific webpage to find LLLI events and information.
http://www.llli.org/web/california.html

The International Breastfeeding Symbol: Wonderful topics and education on more than just breastfeeding. They offer additional links to sites about breastfeeding laws, pumping, storing your milk, and donating your milk.
http://www.breastfeedingsymbol.org/

Tips for Creating a Baby Registry

During my first trimester I wouldn't let myself think about certain things. The fear that something would go wrong with the pregnancy was always in the back of my mind and I didn't want to make plans, buy things, or start preparations that would get my hopes up and be hard to deal with after a loss. Once I had safely crossed into my second trimester my organization and planning kicked into over drive. I realized that there was so much to do and so many things to consider and I have less than a year to prepare! Starting my baby registry was my first step in getting prepared.

The first thing that I noticed is that there are a million choices to make. There are tons of products to choose from. Some products look like really great ideas and some it is hard to grasp why they are needed. Since I hate to spend money I don't need to spend I found that I needed the time to research the products and see what other Mama's had to say about them.

I found that it is recommended that you have your baby registry completed at least 2 weeks before your baby shower or by the time that your invites go out. Another thing that came to me when I was contemplating my baby registry was that by starting one it would give me and my husband a better understanding of what things were going to cost and just how much we were going to need. It became very helpful to put things into perspective.

What exactly do I need?
There are many lists out there of items that you will need and some of them contain a sales agenda. I have kept this advice, offered to me by a wonderful Grandma (Gloria) at our church when we announced that were pregnant; in mind "Remember, with babies, less is more!" The best list I found to help me get started was ironically at Bright Starts a Fisher-Price baby collection. I originally went to this website because I was interested in their InGenuity Collection. The list is organized into two sections: Must-Haves and Recommended. To me everything on the list made sense so I decided to use the list as a starting point.

How do I know which item to choose?
For me, I did the basic google search for a baby item and then read the reviews listed of the item. I love it that people take the time to review products. This can be very insightful and helpful to a new mommy like me. A note of caution: some reviews are full of emotion and don't state facts. It is important to read the good reviews and the bad and too read at them objectively. I found that after reading reviews I decided I didn't like certain items anymore, which led me to items that looked like they would work better.

Do I really need to register at more then one store and how will I keep that straight?
The obvious choice for a baby registry seemed to be Babies R' Us and Target but this seemed to eliminate family and friends who live in other states. For example in my Grandmother's (and several cousins) home town they don't have either of these stores. I also didn't want to get all mixed up and double register for things (I have a feeling that I won't have time to make a bunch of returns). I also noticed that these stores don't always have product or brand that I want.  This led me to an amazing website called My Registry (http://www.myregistry.com/). At this site you can find items anywhere on the web and add them to your list. You can also sync registries from other stores. When your friends and family log into your registry they can see all the items you want and they are all in one place. One this registry site you can also leave notes about the items (example: The color does not matter it is the product that matters, this item is non-refundable, or toys are recommended to entertain baby, you don't have to buy this toy). Best of all they can order the item online and price compare.

Anything else I should know?
Be sure to consider the season your baby is going to be born in before you register for clothes. Many clothing items and even things like swaddling blankets are seasonal. Also, if you don't know the gender of your baby you may want to delay registering for some things until you do know.

So here is how I decided to do things:
  • start my registry around week 16-17 for the things that are not seasonal
  • Set your due date on the registries for 2 weeks earlier than you are due. The companies will send you coupons and promotions that will be helpful for the purchases that you will need to make right before or right after the baby arrives. This was helpful for the items I didn't get on my registry and still needed.
  • recheck the items again to make sure they haven't disappeared, been discontinued, or replaced with a new model in a couple of months
  • register for clothes and seasonal items two weeks before baby shower invites go out
  • When you get items don't take the tags off right away. Keep all receipts because you may get things that don't have tags that you can't return and might end up with too many of one kind of item. 
Once I started my registry I was really glad that I got a jump start on things. I have heard from many Mama's that waited to the last minute to do their registry that they wish they had more time. There is enough to worry about while you are pregnant, don't let this be another worry point!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Body Isn't Working Right...

So one of the biggest adjustments I have had to make is in my day to day activities. It seems that my body just isn't working right anymore. It started with my breasts, hurting more than I thought they ever could. It was like PMS but one hundred times worse. Then comes the shock and awe that you are pregnant. From the moment that you realize you are pregnant, at least for me, your outlook on everything you do changes. You start thinking about everything you put in your mouth and every action that you take. The one thing that is on your mind is "Is this going to hurt the baby?" or "Should I be doing this?" I am not sure if you ever stop asking these questions or if you ever should stop asking these questions.

The Dreaded Morning Sickness
I feel very blessed that morning sickness was not too big of a problem for me. I didn't start to experience morning sickness until about a full month into my pregnancy and disappeared about week 12 (although, my gag reflex has stayed very sensitive). I did my research and started eating a high protein snack before bed and found that this was very helpful. I made frozen yogurt with Greek yogurt (http://www.fageusa.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=SEM&utm_campaign=Greek_yogurt&gclid=CNOvmbTCi6oCFWc0Qgodw2wNxQ) and my electric mixer's ice cream attachment, which is higher in protein but low fat, and ate that before bed each night.I didn't feel great in the mornings but I wasn't on my knees in the bathroom either. Mornings were slow starts for me for the first trimester but I stayed focused and added a little bit of food to my stomach as things felt comfortable. In the morning all I could think was that "My body isn't working right!". It seems like a huge betrayal that your body won't do what you want it to!

Rescue Remedy: I know that many women have used crackers as a means of combating morning sickness but protein is the best way to prevent and combat stomach upset. I found that morning sickness can hit you at any time of the day. I have kept Luna bars (http://www.lunabar.com/)  in my car and my purse. I also keep chicken salad in the fridge ready to so that when I need to eat and am not feeling well I already have food to eat. My other saving grace are the individually sliced cheese squares call Till-A-Moo (http://www.tillamook.com/products/Cheese/Medium-Cheddar-Tilla-Moos-110.html)  put out by the Tillamook Cheese company. They are a little high in fat and salt but they are perfect if you need a quick protein boost. Don't be concerned if you find yourself eating every two hours but do be worried about what it is that you are eating. Make good food choices and you will be fine.

I Never Like to Eat That Before...!
For me my tastes for food changed rather quickly and was one of the first things I noticed. I have never been a fan of spicy food. I don't even eat the salsa they put on the table at the Mexican restaurant. Once my hormones started to kick in I found that I wasn't satisfied with bland food. I needed to kick it up a notch. This pleased my husband because he loves spicy food. The other surprising change was that my sweet tooth disappeared. I found myself turning down desert for the first time in my life. I used to eat chocolate silk cream pie for breakfast and then I find that I can't even get through more than a couple of bites of something sweet. Even when I do eat sweets I find they need to have a touch of bitter or savory to them (i.e. coffee ice cream, or dark chocolate covered cranberries). It was a struggle to come to terms with the change in my food preferences. Then to add insult to injury the doctor gives you a list foods you can't eat and that you should avoid. Not only do I want to order new things off the menu, some of my old favorites are now off limits.

Rescue Remedy: Don't worry about your change in tastes unless you are craving foods that are very bad for you. Also be aware that if you are eating foods you don't normally eat they upset your stomach, so don't leave home without your Tums! I have also done some research on foods that are good for you and foods that are not so good for you while you are pregnant. You should be aware of how many calories you should be eating a day and remember that protein is your best friend!!!

I Don't Look Pregnant but My Clothes Don't Fit!
One of the biggest struggles I have had is accepting my increasing body. I am a petite woman and I have worn the same size clothes since high school. By week 8 I was getting very uncomfortable in my pants. At dinner one night I shared my discomfort with my husband who promptly took me to Target and bought me maternity pants. By week 10-11 my regular clothes, even the bigger ones, were just not working as well and I need a maternity specific wardrobe. I have always taken pride in being physically fit and slim. I haven't been unhealthy in caring for my self image but I have paid attention. However, when your clothes stop fitting and you don't look pregnant yet it can be hard to accept the changes in your body. Even though we know we are going to gain weight during pregnancy we are also conditioned by society that we are not supposed to be fat. The transition time between first and second trimester is awkward and filled with unease. Fortunately, you have the joy of knowing that there is a special little life growing within you and the last thing you want to do is cause that little person inside of you harm.

Rescue Remedy: Maternity clothes can be difficult to shop for, especially when don't quite look pregnant yet. It can also be costly to purchase a whole new wardrobe. There are some things that can help. Keep your shopping simple and down to only a few pieces to start with like jeans and pants. If you know that you are planning to get pregnant then you may want to shop for clothes that will be helpful in the transition, (i.e. peasant style tops that are loose and leave you room to "gain baby"). I have found that many maternity only shops are rather expensive, they are capitalizing on the fact that you want to look good while you are looking pregnant. I have found that places like Target, Walmart, and Macy's are the best places to shop. Target and Walmart are cheaper and it becomes more justifiable for the short term wear. At Macy's you can find the boutique labels but your can get the rewards for shopping loyalty that you can't get at the maternity only stores. These stores also offer great online shopping options. I know from personal experience that if you are going to have an emotional melt down (like I did in a Macy's dressing room) while shopping for maternity clothes it is better to do it in the privacy of your own home.

Why Can't I Roll Over?
Around week 10 the changes to my middle section became more noticeable and I started to notice that I was not moving with the same ease as before. Once you pass the awkward stage of not looking pregnant to looking pregnant your body still will not work right. Your muscles are relaxing (that's what allows your uterus to expand) so your hard earned abs are missing and there is also heartburn to contend with (and sometimes a leaking bladder when you laugh or sneeze)! Then one day you are laying in bed and you realize that are having trouble sitting up, rolling over, and even slipping in and out of booths at restaurants. Once again your body is not working right and no one bothered to mention that one day you might realize you have taken rolling over in bed for granted.

Also, by your 12th week you are supposed to sleeping on your side. Sleeping on your back can cause pressure to be put on your Aorta and Vena Cava which can limit the blood supply to the baby. You can use pillows to prop yourself on your side, but I suggest getting the Snoogle Total Body Pillow (http://leachco.stores.yahoo.net/snoogle.html). Be sure to shop around for this pillow because prices do vary. Don't pay more for the pillow then you need to!!!

Rescue Remedy: There are several books and online resources that teach you how to stretch to help keep you more limber. I only do these stretches when my husband is home in case I need help getting up or getting out of a position. He enjoys being the knight and shining armor.

I Never Had to Catch My Breath Before
My next favorite change to my body has been the shortness of breath. As the baby moves upward in your body the baby starts to put pressure on your diaphragm, lungs,  and stomach. This can cause you to have shortness of breath when you do something as mundane as walk slowly up the stairs. I have also found that when I am walking it is harder to talk while I am walking. I have learned that while pregnant if you can't talk while walking then you need to slow your pace. This is still an adjustment, there are so many changes taking place in your body and now even the simplest tasks can't be achieved without difficulty.

Rescue Remedy: I really wish that I had a rescue net for this one. All I can say is slow down. You need to keep exercising for your health as well as in preparation for labor. There is nothing wrong with slowing down, just doesn't stop completely (unless your doctor says so)!

Why Am I Crying Over Hot Dogs?
For every woman the emotional roller coaster is different. I have not found myself to be over emotional but I have had my moments. The strangest moment for me was when I teary eyed while trying to decide on which hot dogs to buy. The tears will just come out of the blue, without any warning, and they don't last very long. Is it inconvenient? Yes! Will you get embarrassed? Yes!

Rescue Remedy: There is really isn't anything that you can do to stop these moments. Just savor them and allow yourself to process these emotions. Keep some tissue in your purse and let some one hug you if they offer. You will be surprised how many people are nice when they see your belly.