Friday, January 27, 2012

3 Months

My JoJo Bean is 3 months.

Wow. What was I doing 4 months ago? Oh yea - I remember.

Life with a giant sumo warrior princess is awesome! She sleeps well, eats very well, and poops extremely well. She is outgrowing her 6 month PJs. (Grand)mom bought her some 9 month PJs that she's now wearing. She's still wearing 6 month sizes during the day, but I can tell that they are nearing their end, too.

She smiles and "dances" very often! She's happiest after a good poop. (Aren't we all?) She's very good at holding her head and I've even been able to carry her on my hip for a few minutes until she gets super wobbly. Joanna hates tummy time. I'm trying to help her develop her arm muscles to help her crawl but she gets frustrated and just goes "MEEEEEH". Instead, she practices her push ups on mommy and daddy.

She is 100% formula and I still don't regret my decision to stop nursing. The more I look at the photos of her when she was only nursing, the more I am convinced that we made the right decision. My pudgy bugaboo was too skinny.

1 month, 8.5 lbs, and 50th percentile   |    3 months, 15 lbs, and 98th percentile

She weighs approximately 15 pounds according to my bathroom scale and basic Math skills: [My weight holding her] - [my weight] = [her weight]

She hasn't had another major spurt like she did last month but I think we're gearing up for one. I can see a difference in her height and a big difference in her girth. Her diapers are now on the second crotch setting and the third width setting. I fear she may outgrow her diapers before she's potty trained - crap. Literally.

She "exercises" often by dancing around and kicking her feet. Whenever she smiles, she uses her entire body! She dances when we dance, scowls when around new people, and she doesn't like the sun. She's definitely my kid.

Day In The Life: Cooking

I hate cooking but I love completing a task.

In order to complete the task of feeding my family, I use Hamburger (/Chicken/Tuna) Helper. In 2-5 easy steps, I have a one skillet meal that is semi-nutritious and usually provides a leftover lunch for Jonathan the next day.

After the awesome sale and using coupons at Kroger, I snagged 20 boxes of Hamburger/Chicken/Tuna Helper for $.80 each as well as frozen chicken, ground beef, and tuna. I've factored the meals to about $2-$4 each ($2 for chicken and tuna and $4 for beef). I think the only way I could save more money is if I actually made things from scratch. No thanks.

For an average of $3 and 20 minutes, I'm preparing 3 meals without "cooking" and only dirtying a skillet, cutting board, and a few utensils.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day In The Life: Cleaning

Joanna conked out about 30 minutes ago and I've already put plastic bags with vinegar on my faucets and shower head. After they soak, I'm going to scrub the tub, wash some dishes, clean the stove, wipe down the bathroom sink and mirror, wipe out the microwave, vacuum, dust, do a load of diapers, fold the 3 loads of clean laundry from earlier this week, hem some pants, patch some holes, and if I'm feeling lucky I may even go through my pre-prego drawers of my dresser and figure out what clothes I want to keep.

"So what did you do today?"

See above.

I'm not sure why she's smiling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Early Infant Loss

My friend Ashley told me about an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I've spent the last 30 minutes crying from sadness, inspiration, and joy. This organization provides professional photos for families who experience early infant loss. There is a network of professional photographers all over the U.S. that volunteer their time and talents to provide a lasting, tangible memory of a family's beloved baby. At first I thought it was a little weird, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense.

You can't pretend that pregnancy isn't amazing and noteworthy. Treating a stillbirth like a medical condition creates a deeper chasm in an already broken heart. The best way to heal is to acknowledge that it happened and preserve any and all joy.

When little Oliver lived his brilliant one hour, the family was forever changed. Who would have thought that a one pound baby would impact us so deeply? His mom says that they were able to love him his whole life. What a beautiful perspective!  They keep his blanket and his photo in his nursery that he never got to see. They remember him with fondness and love instead of chalking it up to another statistic. He lived and he was so loved.

When the Duggars lost their child at 21 weeks, they utilized NILMDTS' services to preserve little Jubilee's memory. There is an article about it here. There is also a photo of her tiny hand resting on her mother's finger. 

Right now, our baby monitor is sitting on the coffee table in front of me while I sit on a comfortable couch watching cable. My healthy 95th percentile baby is sleeping soundly in her crib. I am beyond blessed. "I know I'm filled to be emptied again. The seed I receive I will sow." I'm going to find more ways to bless others, whether it be giving my time, my possessions, my monies, or just giving awareness to things that are more prevalent than we think. Please join me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stupid Things People Say: Formula Edition

This most recent list is a compilation of things that have been said to me and/or other moms that made the (often difficult) decision to formula feed their baby. Usually it was their bodies that made the choice, not them.

Stupid Things People Say To/About Mothers That Don't/Can't Nurse
  • But breast milk is so much more nutritious!
    • No crap Copernicus. 
    • When my baby was just nursing, she lost weight instead of gaining. I tried and tried but my supply was just never enough for her. So what's better for my growing child: not enough of great food or a full portion of good food? 
  • But nursing is so much cheaper than buying formula!
    • I pay approximately $10-$13 a week on formula using coupons. I also have generous friends that give me their samples that they aren't using. 
    • Meanwhile we've invested over $350 on breastfeeding that we'll never see again: 
      • $35 on a class at the hospital, $200 on a breast pump (normally $300), $10 on a modesty cover, $12 on pads, $75 on a lactation consultant, $25 on supplements, and $30 on 6 boxes of tea that was supposed to make me drip like Niagara Falls. 
  • But did you try [insert something I've tried]? 
    • Yes.
    • See above for the expense report.
  • You just have to keep trying, it will come.
    • It's not always a mystical baseball field of "if they drink it, more will come." I tried nursing/pumping for two months. My supply never increased, only decreased. 
  • It's God's design.
    • I know that's how God designed it. As Reese from Malcolm In The Middle once said, "Women are the cows of people!"
    • Without getting into a theological debate, I'll just say that God's original design didn't include blindness, cancer, or six toes on one foot. Some believe that the presence of sin has created these imperfections. All I know is that I'll have a great body in Heaven and it may or may not include fully functioning udders. 
  • Nursing will help you lose that baby weight.
    • I know. Cardio would help me lose weight, too. And smoking. 
  • Nursing decreases your risk of breast cancer.
    • I know. So does Cardio. And not smoking.
  • Don't you miss bonding with her?
    • .. because I hide her in the closet all day? I have one of the smiliest and most social infants I know. She knows the sound of my voice and smiles when she sees me. I think we're good.
  • But breastfed babies are smarter.
    • To be fair, there are plenty of dumb people that were breastfed. 
  • But breastfed babies are less likely to be obese.
    • True, but the more important statistic is that kids with healthy parents are less likely to be obese. I feel like it's about the parenting versus what they ate as a child. 
  • I could never just stop nursing; I love him/her too much.
    • ... okay, no one really says that, but you can tell that's what they're thinking.

Moms, you may mean well when you try to give advice or say things like, "I'll pray for you that you can nurse again", but it makes me feel like I'm broken and inadequate. I think a better response would be "oh okay. I like Joanna's outfit today." or "You're so lucky that you can actually accomplish stuff around the house."

Even though I didn't plan on using formula and I would love to still nurse my baby, I'm going to look on the bright side of life. So here's my list!

Positive Side Effects of Being a Mother That Doesn't Nurse:
  • I can drink alcohol whenever I want.
  • I can eat mercury-laden fish.
  • Other people can enjoy feeding her. Grandparents especially love this positive side effect.
  • If I worked, I wouldn't have to use my lunch break to huddle in a corner with my black tote bag.
  • I can go out for extended periods of time without proclaiming that I have to leave early to "open the flood gates".
  • My boobs will (hopefully) shrink back to just "big" instead of "holy cow".
  • No more awkward pump noises coming from an inconspicuous black tote bag.
  • Best side effect: I can use the 30-40 minutes every 2 hours I used to spend trying to nurse to spend time smiling and playing with my daughter. 

In other news, who wants to buy a slightly used breast pump? All proceeds go toward buying more formula for my dumb, obese baby! I kid, I kid. But seriously, who wants to buy the pump?

Cloth Diapers: Week Ten

10 weeks already? My oh my!

I still love singing the praises of cloth! At this point, all of the diapers have "that smell" in them for which I've been trying different remedies. The smell isn't horrible or even noticeable unless you're nose is practically touching it to take a whiff, but I just want to make sure it doesn't get worse. First we tried doing an extra rinse (on top of the double rinse) and it kind of worked. There are many home remedies like vinegar, baking soda, etc. We bought bumGenius odor remover that we use to pre-treat the diapers as soon as we remove them from her bum. There's still a little bit of a smell so I'm going to add some baking soda to my next laundry load. I'll check back in a few weeks.

12 bumGenius and 1Blueberry cloth diaper
(Not pictured: 3 more bumGenius and 2 Bum Cheeks)

I discovered a new trick for the poo (until we get our diaper sprayer): Because we have hundreds of plastic grocery bags, I'm now using them to dispose of the poopy wipes as well as "scoop" excess poop from the diapers. We were scraping it into the toilet, but we could never get it all with toilet paper. Instead, I just "scoop" it out with my hand inside of the bag, then turn the bag inside out. It's gross but it sure beats having it sit in the pail then go into my washing machine!

In terms of saved money, I'm adjusting my original calculations based on our Christmas experience. When we used disposables for a full day during Christmas, Joanna went through 10 disposables instead of her usual 6-7 cloth. On top of that, she's now going through 7-8 cloth diapers instead of 6-7. This means we would be going through 3 packs every 2 weeks so we're really saving $18 a week instead of $12. I'm counting $18 a week since Week 4:

Investment: $100
Total Savings: $162
Return on Investment: $62

Because we "earned" $62, I bought 3 more diapers (2 bumGenius and 1 Blueberry that has giraffes on it) and the bumGenius spray. So now the return on investment is down to $2, but that's okay.

Personal Investment: $160
Total Savings: $162
Return on Investment: $2

In 3 weeks, we're going to buy a diaper sprayer with our savings- I can't wait!

No really, I may not wait; her poo is getting grosser by the day!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hospital Bill

On October 28th, my beautiful baby joined the world.

On December 13th, we received our hospital bill: $12,064.50.

Our primary insurance took care of $9,820.21 and my supplemental insurance cut us a $1,000 check. Now we're left paying $1,244.29, which isn't too bad considering I had major abdominal surgery, 3 grilled cheeses, 2 slices of cheesecake, and a full 3-day weekend of hospital care. And a baby.

I asked for a detailed bill and I received a 4 page list of a lot of jargon I didn't understand. Here are the highlights:

$3,675.00 - Private Room and Board
$3,308.00 - Surgical Procedure
$1,614.60 - Labor
$806.40 - Anesthesia
$690.25 - Sterile Supply
$300.00 - Newborn Room and Care ($100 a day)
$274.18 - Pharmacy
$217.00 - Non Sterile Supply              
$69.68 - Drugs Requiring Detailed Coding
$48.34 - Self Administered Drugs

My favorite charges? The four glucose tests they performed on her to make sure she didn't have gestational diabetes. (Because three tests weren't enough?) She also had multiple bilirubin tests in the hospital as well as at the doctor's office. The total for all of her giant baby related and other repeated tests before insurance? $229.25.

Another perk of having supplemental insurance is that I was able to continue getting paid during my 8 week maternity leave. This meant we had an additional $3,000 while I was recovering. That paid for the remaining balance and gave us a little extra to ease us into the next penny pinching chapter of our lives.

Praise God for insurance!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coupon Haul

I don't want to coupon for things I'll never use. That being said, I love when I can score great deals on products I use everyday:

Total out of pocket: $13.83
Estimated retail: $78

Hamburger Helper: $.80 a box (usually $2 each)
10/10 at Kroger, $1 off of 5 from Sunday paper

Gerber Baby Formula: $7.50 each (usually $25 each)
$21 each on sale, $10/2 coupon, $13.50/1 rebate check and a $2.50/1 rebate check.

Huggies Wipes (64 count): $.43 and $.68 each (usually $3 each)
$1.18 each on closeout at Kroger, three $.25/1 coupons that doubled, one $1/2 coupon, and one $.75/1 coupon.

Best of all? A Kroger coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase or more.

After buying everything else on my weekly list (including produce, milk, etc), I spent a total of $52.76 and saved $50.16 using coupons.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diaper Rash

From the fiery pits of Mordor came a guttural yelp from our tiny hairless Hobbit: Joanna has diaper rash.

A few days ago, I put a disposable diaper on her because I thought she was going to poo and I just did laundry. She took longer than usual so I just kept it on until she peed. Little did I know that letting her stay in her disposable for an hour would lead to the worst diaper rash I have ever seen in my life. Yet another reason I am SO thankful we are doing cloth!

Her diaper rash is still here but it's getting better. When we first saw her bright red bum, we didn't have powder or cream because we didn't need it with cloth. After some digging, I found a sample we had from the hospital of Bourdeaux's Butt Paste. If we used disposables, this product would be the best choice ever. Because we're in cloth, I have to hand wash it to attempt to get all the oil off. It made her butt better but nearly ruined the $17 diaper!

So what is a Cloth Diaper-er to do with diaper rash? After some googling, I discovered the best (and cheapest) cure ever: Breast milk! I've been using it anyway on her dry skin. It makes perfect sense that it would work on her chapped bum, too! On some of the more raw parts, I used the lanolin that I had left over from my nursing days. Lanolin can stain diapers, too so I'm letting her bum "air out" with the lanolin before wiping it and putting a new diaper on.

After another day, it cleared up completely! That's more than I can say for the poor cloth diaper. After 3 more turns in the washing machine, it's still stained from the butt paste. Lesson learned.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baby Bullet: Part One

We got a Baby Bullet for my birthday! it sad that I wanted a Baby Bullet for my birthday? I guess this whole motherhood thing has really taken over.
The Baby Bullet is a food processor specially designed for people wanting to make their own baby food. We bought ours for $60 at Bed Bath and Beyond and used a 20% coupon we printed, so it cost us $47. In addition to the items pictured above, we also bought an additional kit with extra storage containers for another $20. (We used another 20% off coupon and paid $14)

Sure you can use a regular food processor, but this one has cute containers that are designed for baby serving sizes. I'll choose convenience and cuteness any day.

Gosh, I haven't been this excited about saving money since buying cloth diapers!

It comes with a book on absolutely everything you'd need to know, including which fruits yield how many servings, how full to fill each container based on how old your kid is, etc. It's so freakin' cool. I'm absolutely geeking out over it! I'm hoping to prepare a week's worth of meals every Sunday (or Saturday) so I don't have to worry about it the rest of the week. You better believe I'll be blogging about my experience with the Baby Bullet.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Squishy Baby

What is it about a tiny version of something that makes it better? Little smokies somehow taste better than hot dogs, tiny corn adorn five star salads while their full-grown counterparts are second-rate side dishes, and little barrettes are always in higher demand than large hair clips.

However, there is one ring that truly does rule them all. Babies are not only cuter than their adult counter-parts, but they are far more endearing. But why? They have no skills or trade. They can't wipe their own butt. They don't even know what a butt is. Yet they possess some kind of supernatural charm that melts people on contact. Kind of like the force.  I think the most powerful aspect of baby magic is that every baby evokes the same response from grown ups: "So precious!" "So sweet!" "Awwwww" "ooooh hai!" "Are you making a poopie?" "Uh oh!" "Oh no, what did I do.."  The baby doesn't have to do anything to create this effect. It just has to simply exist. However, as soon as one tiny sliver of a movement is made, the results are intensified ten fold. Any movement will do. Even a bowel one.

I think God did this on purpose. He knew that life with a newborn would be pretty rough. Parents are so busy taking care of this helpless personification of adorable that they forget to bathe, eat, and sleep for themselves. God made babies so dang cute so that other people will jump at the chance to dote on them while parents can pause and remember that they still exist.

I see what You did there, God. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

No Snow for JoJo

We have yet to see a single snowflake here in Central Virginia. By this time last year, we had two major snow storms. Snowmageddon nearly kept us from going to Las Vegas, which would have meant no JoJo! I want snow for my JoJo. Pronto.

So much so that I did a video. Go.

Honestly, the only reason I want it to get colder is so I can show off Joanna's adorable winter outfits. She's growing so quickly that I fear she won't be able to wear them in time! At least this stellar outfit is now forever captured on YouTube.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


When I got really sick over the holidays, my low supply was in danger of completely drying up. I couldn't consume or keep calories down, so I couldn't produce milk. While recovering, I was only pumping a combined half of an ounce per day. Joanna is now up to 6 ounces per feeding (at 7-8 feedings per day) and I'm now pumping 2.5 ounces a day. Those numbers certainly don't add up to her ditching formula anytime soon. Honestly, using formula is way more convenient than nursing. It's also a great opportunity for other people to feed her. I miss the unique bond that is created while she nurses. But ya know what?  I'm no longer feeling guilty about not solely breastfeeding. I'd rather have my child fed than my ego and self-worth.

My value as a mother is not measured in ounces of milk - it's measured in baby smiles and poopy diapers. 

We use Gerber Formula. We tried Similac for a while but it would give her terrible gas. A gassy baby is heart wrenching! Gerber is really great about sending coupons to new moms in the beginning, but the values of the coupons quickly go down after the first few months. How annoying! I signed up for another account under Jonathan's name so we could get more coupons. I may ask my parents to sign up, too.

The money we're saving on cloth diapers is almost equal to the amount we're spending on formula. My inner cheapskate is cringing at the thought of breaking even. I think the figures will always be the same because the more she eats, the more she poops.

For a post about formula, I sure did talk about poop a lot.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2 Month Checkup

After last month's self-induced guilt-filled appointment, I was nervously excited. I knew she gained weight (obviously) and I knew she passed her birth weight, but I wasn't sure where she should be at this point considering her length is larger than normal. It doesn't do any good googling what weight she should be because the inter webs is full of crap. In case you'd didn't know.

We went in, took off her adorable 6 month sized outfit, and took her to the cold scales with a thin paper towel to provide.. comfort? absorbsion? The numbers computed a la Biggest Loser and we saw the results:

12lbs 2oz

My baby is a bowling ball again! Yay!  Joanna is now in the 90th percentile for weight! She is also 23 inches long (75th percentile) and her head circumference is 16 inches (90th percentile).  We talked about all of the developmental things she's been doing and what her poo looks, etc. The doctor even talked about how he's a fan of the pacifier and that it decreases the risk of SIDS. We're still using it sparingly, but we do put her to sleep with it if she's not already tuckered out from the day.

Joanna at 8 weeks

Because it was her 2 months appointment, it was immunization time! She received her shots with a grimace but was soon pacified with her paci. The nurse cooed with her and kept smiling with her - she made a comment that if she were her grandmother, she would never put her down. Ha, I know right? We're just really good at making adorable babies.

NOTE: Even though I use cloth diapers, I'm not a "no immunizations" kind of mother. I believe that medical advances are for our benefit and I'm thankful for them. Medical advances made my pregnancy bearable, my delivery short and sweet, and helped my recovery not impede taking care of my child. These advances/medicines are now giving my beautiful baby the protection she needs. If you disagree, that's fine. To each their own.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2 Months (and a few days)

Technically JoJo Bean was 2 months on December 28th, but we were a little busy ringing in the yuletide new year.

Sticking out her tongue, smiling, and waving. So much skill!
Joanna is smiling while awake, dancing when others sing or talk to her, and she even babbles back a bit. Her head is less wobbly and her stares are more intense. She uses her pacifier much less than last month which helps me better know when she's hungry. This kid is beyond adorable!  My favorite thing about her in month 2 has been her facial expressions. They change so quickly! I love it!

She's outgrown her 0-3 month clothes and barely fits into her 3 month clothes. Her 3-6 outfits and most of her 6 month outfits fit perfectly. I think I should have kept the tags on her clothes a bit longer, haha. I'm quickly filling two boxes with clothes she's outgrown - a box for those we're keeping and a box of clothes we're giving away. It's too bad all of her cousins will be boys!

Her sleeping has been wonderful! It's no lie that big babies sleep well. She's sleeping for 5-6 hours at a time now. Technically I should be waking her up to feed her, but I have been too pooped to wake up to my alarm. Thanks to a double stuffed diaper, she rarely wets through her PJs, too. (Did I mention that I love cloth diapers?)

She is very comfortable with people and noise. She easily falls asleep in people's arms and can take a bottle from anyone that wants to feed her. She's used to facial hair and glasses on people so neither of those seem to phase her. (It helps that I wear glasses 90% of the time and Jonathan has a great big bushy beard on his face). 

Joanna is a wonderful traveling companion! She can ride comfortably for 3 hours at a time. I'm getting better at changing diapers with her in my lap of the car, too. She seems content to just absorb the world around her, especially lights and bright colors. 

We have an amazing baby. Wow. I don't know how I can give enough thanks for her.

This was our Christmas duet at Week 7

Monday, January 2, 2012

One Sick Mama

I spent the first day of 2012 throwing up in my in-law's toilet. It wasn't the result of drinking and partying; I was just plain ol' sick. I couldn't keep anything down so my medicine wouldn't stay down, which also meant I didn't have any calories to burn for nursing.

I wanted to quarantine myself from Joanna since I couldn't nurse and give her my antibodies. Jon's dad brought up a good point that if she were going to get sick, she would have been sick by now. We hung out for a bit between naps and more barfing. After 24 hours, I was able to successfully digest crackers - yay! I'm now back to 90% and we are back home.

Now that we're home, I'm going to re-start my nursing regimen (with the Mother's Milk Tea and supplements) and she's going to sleep in her crib for the first time this week. Woo hoo!