Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Breastfeeding

I guess I'm in a swing and want to share some of my adventures with you. Yesterday, it was cloth diapering. Today, it's breastfeeding. Tomorrow, I'll probably talk about crunchy mothering taking over the world. Okay, no. I will not do that. Promise. Here's the thing: Other than praying for a healthy baby when I was pregnant with Bean, I prayed for a baby who would breastfeed. And I prayed that I would have enough milk and that I could get through the challenges and make it work. You see, I didn't breastfeed Little S. I tried so hard, but lacked knowledge and support, so ended up quitting after about 3 weeks. BUT, I pumped for the entire first year! We did have to supplement a little bit each day (2-4 ounces of formula per day, depending on how old she was). I was really proud of myself for diligently pumping for the entire year so Little S could get all of the benefits of breast milk. But I really felt like I missed out on "that bond" everyone talks about with breastfeeding your baby. Don't get me wrong, I'm SUPER close to my big girl. But I just didn't get to experience that skin-to-skin, baby looking in my eyes while I'm doing something for her that no one else can do feeling. And as much as I tried to enjoy the bottle feedings, knowing she was getting my milk, it was hard to be calm and relax because I knew I'd have to go pump as soon as she was done.
With Bean, I've been so blessed. The beginning was very, very difficult. She nursed around the clock. I mean, if she wasn't velcroed to my boob, she would scream. I don't know if she was working hard to get back up to her birth weight after we came home or if she was needing comfort. She wouldn't sleep unless she was in my arms and I literally thought I wasn't going to make it because I couldn't get a moment to myself. Poor Little S was needing my attention and I cried all the time because I missed her. After all, it'd been a year of me having her 24/7 and then... BOOM. It wasn't just me and her, anymore. She has adjusted well. After Bean turned about 8 weeks old, she started being a tiny bit more independent. She's not had a bottle or pacifier (a blessing and a curse), yet and is almost 11 weeks old. I still can't leave her because she hasn't had a bottle, won't take a pacifier and nurses on demand (I feed her when she's hungry, not on a set schedule). So, I tote an infant with me, everywhere. I have an extra 6-7 ounces of milk to pump after each morning feeding, so I have a great stockpile for emergencies or for when I start feeding her cereal. I'm so thankful to be able to nurse and wish I was more comfortable to do so in public. I'm fine with a wrap or cover, but I wish I was one of those supermoms who just didn't care and could flop my boob out anywhere for the sake of my child's hunger. I usually hide in the air conditioned car.
Bean is now measuring in the 83rd percentile, so she's getting plenty of milk and her night time feedings are becoming few and far between. We shall go forth and conquer!
What challenges and successes have you come across while nursing? 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On Cloth Diapering

Hubs and I made the decision to cloth diaper before Bean came. My best friend, Jackie, got me on the bandwagon and Melanie helped encourage me. Jackie is CDing her third girl and it's her first time. Melanie is an advocate of all things green, healthy, and non-toxic (which is why she sells Ava Anderson!). I jumped into cloth diapering head first and while I thought it was the best idea since sliced bread, it hasn't come without challenges. And we're only 10.5 weeks in.
There are 8 zillion brands that all fit differently, regardless of same sizing. Some have snaps, some have aplix (like Velcro), there are pockets, all in ones, all in twos, flats/prefolds/covers, fitteds... So much to choose from and some people literally have to try EVERY kind before finding what works best. I did what every cloth diapering expert says not to do. I read up on all the types of diapers before Bean was born and decided I wanted to use pocket diapers. All in ones are the easiest, but they're also the most expensive and apparently take forever to dry. Pockets seemed like the next best option for us, so I bought about 35 of them- some new and some swapped on a Facebook cloth diaper swap page. I learned all about washing them, drying them, and caring for them. And once Bean was here, I was blessed that Jackie let me borrow her newborn stash so I didn't have to purchase two stashes (newborn and one size). 
Well, the small fry is out of the newborn sizes and while I can't afford the "in between" sizes like smalls and mediums, I tried to go straight to one size diapers (they have snaps to change the rise to three different sizes). NONE of these suckers fit! The leg holes are all too big, even on the smallest setting. So, trial and error has led me to start using flour sack towels (a glorified kitchen towel, available in Walmart or Target) with covers and I've sold back several of the new condition diapers we used once or not at all. I'm saving up the money I make from the sell-backs to invest in a few different types to try. Hopefully we'll find something because the challenges are discouraging. 
And storage... I wish mine could look like this setup I found on Pinterest:
... but it doesn't. Because I haven't found something that works, yet, I have also not found a storage solution that works. As gung-ho as I am about cloth diapering, I want to give up sometimes! Washing and drying them, stuffing pocket diapers, and caring for the diapers as a whole doesn't bother me at all. I just pray that we can find a system that works best for Bean and isn't a total hassle. Husband likes all in ones or pockets that I've already stuffed. He doesn't like snaps, but the aplix versions break Bean's belly out. So, wish us luck on keeping the disposable diapers at bay while we continue this crunchy challenge that I'm standing my ground on! 
Who else cloth diapers or plans to do so with their future children? We didn't with Little S, but I really do love it for Bean!

Don't forget to enter for your chance to win $20 to Ava Anderson non-toxic by Melanie!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ava Anderson Giveaway Extension

Good morning, all! I have lots of pictures from our vacation to share and some exciting things to show you from around the hizzle, but due to family visiting last week, I don't feel I gave the Ava Anderson giveaway enough publicity. Therefore, I'm extending it to this Friday, August 31, at 11:59 pm ET. I'll be posting reminders throughout the week on my facebook page and on twitter. Please check the original giveaway post for all the information! 
ENTER HERE for a $20 credit to Ava Anderson Non Toxic!

*I have to purchase more photo storage space! Otherwise, I'd share an awesome photo of Ava products to you. :) Let me get my bank card out. *ouch*

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Little Bean is Famous!

... okay, not really.
But who needs to write a blog post when someone's already done a perfect one for me?
Most of you know that Jackie is my best friend and is also a professional photographer. She's been gracious enough to do my maternity pictures and newborn pictures for both girls and Bean's newborn(ish) shoot is up on her blog, today!
Thanks, best friend! I love them!

Don't forget to enter my Ava Anderson $20 credit giveaway!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ava Anderson Saved Our Vacation {& a Giveaway}!

A few months ago, I was introduced to Ava Anderson products by my friend, Melanie. This is the same person who taught me how to make my own laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and helped me pin a zillion things on Pinterest to help get me through cloth diapering. She is gung-ho for using products without toxins and chemicals and has our entire bible study group searching the Skin Deep cosmetic database to make sure we're using safe products as often as possible.
You may know that I took the girls on a 16-day vacation over the last two weeks and because Melanie just became an Ava Anderson consultant, she was kind enough to let me try the diaper cream, which is one of the only all-natural cloth diaper safe creams out there and I also purchased the sunscreen, which is safe for babies under 6 months (I asked our doctor)! All I have to say is these products literally saved our vacation.
Halfway through the first week (at my parents'), I gave up on cloth diapering, temporarily. My parents have hard well water that turns their whites an iron/rust color. I was making every other daily trips to the laundromat, which was not air conditioned, with two small children, running three wash cycles for a load of diapers. When I bit the bullet and switched to disposables, Bean broke out in a rash for the first time, ever. I was devastated and immediately broke out the Ava diaper cream

Not only did the diaper cream save the day when Bean broke out in a rash, but it also cleared up her cradle cap that had creeped down to her forehead and eyebrows. I was told that this stuff was a miracle cream and that men even use it for aftershave! I'm totally convinced and although the price might seem a little steep, trust me, it's worth it. The tub is huge and a little goes a long way. The consistency is super thick and creamy and I'm even considering using it on my eczema.
Then, there's baby skin and sunshine. My family went to a resort last week for our yearly vacation and I was so concerned that Bean would get too much sun or that we wouldn't be able to enjoy ourselves because I'd have to stay under an umbrella or inside the whole time. Insert Ava's sunscreen, which is all natural and doesn't have any toxins or pore clogging agents that would be unsafe for a newborn's skin. Because I was able to purchase this right before our vacation, little Beanie was able to enjoy her time outside and even take a few dips in the pool. I still kept her under the umbrella 95% of the time, but indirect sunlight scares me, so I kept her lathered the entire week. I even used it on mine and S' faces because it didn't leave any oily residue. (S and I used Coppertone Pure & Simple, only because our bodies are bigger and I couldn't afford enough Ava sunscreen to cover all three of us for an entire week upon departure). Anyway, Bean is still pale like Snow White and this sunscreen feels like you're slathering yourself in a little slice of Heaven. Two thumbs up!

Why do I go on and on? Well, because like I said, Ava products saved our vacation. And I care about mine and my childrens' future. We deserve to be healthy and not drive toxins into our bodies. We also deserve to be educated about the products we use, which is something I really love about Ava Anderson. The company isn't pushing their products on me (or you, for that matter). Their goal is to educate us about personal product ingredients so that we are able to make better choices or at least informed ones. For instance, the European Union bans 1300+ toxic ingredients in their personal care products. The US bans 9. NINE. So those other 1291+ ingredients are unsafe, but the US passes them, anyway? Did you know that cosmetic companies like Maybelline and Cover Girl have different formulas to sell between Europe and the US because they are required to remove several of the ingredients and if necessary, replace them with safe ones, for European consumers? Nice.
But why should you get excited?
Because your girl (ahem, me) hooked you up with her girl (ahem, Melanie) and one lucky ALBOT reader is going to win a $20 credit to Melanie's Ava Anderson store. You can use it to get one item $20 or less or use it toward a purchase of $21+. Lucky you!
+1 {Mandatory} Follow this blog and go to Melanie's Ava store and leave a comment on this post with which product you'd like to try.
+2 {Optional} "Like" Melanie's Ava Facebook page and let me know in a comment.
+2 {Optional} Leave a comment with a question pertaining to Ava Anderson products.
+5 {Optional} Make a purchase from Melanie's Ava online store and let me know in a comment.
Please leave ONE comment per entry and I will take point value into account in my spreadsheet. ie: Don't leave five comments if you make a purchase - just one and I'll count it as five!
Giveaway open to US readers, only. Ends Friday, August 24, 11:59 pm ET.
Winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Saturday, August 25.

*disclaimer: Ava Anderson diaper cream was provided to me for review by the consultant. All opinions are honest and true to my experience with the product.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Part Works Winner!

I can't believe I forgot to post the winner of last week's Party Works giveaway! Between traveling with the two girls by myself on Friday and being out of our element for two weeks, my brain is total mush!

Congratulations, Kaity! I'll send you a Facebook message for your address!