Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Excuses, Pictures and Videos

Chairs are not my friend these days. Most of them are uncomfortable, and the few that aren't make me too likely to just slouch and lean back, which apparently can lead to our little one turning breech... which would be bad. So, most of the time I am sitting on the ground, or on our exercise ball, which is currently downstairs.

Neither of these good positions are a possibility for when I am typing on the computer. This is my first excuse for why I don't post half as many blogs or Grace updates as I would. I know I am verbose, and when I set out to write a blog, I don't limit myself on words, but know that it is done while I am definitely feeling uncomfortable.

Secondly, my photobucket account is rapidly filling, and so to slow down my wonderful free space on that website from filling up, I no longer upload every single picture I take on my phone, instead picking through my phone pictures for what to upload. This means that while I could just sit down and type up a blog about life, or pregnancy or cloth diapers or any of those such things, it wouldn't include pictures. To have a blog with pictures requires the extra step of uploading from my phone, and then sitting down to write, and most days, that seems like too much effort.

The final excuse/reason for why Grace centered picture blogs are so rare is that (as mentioned previously) I simply don't take as many pictures as I used to. Life has developed at least somewhat of a pattern. We do very similar things every week, and so I don't think to take pictures unless something strikes me as exceptionally cute or significant. I still enjoy the moments, but don't think I need another picture of her coloring, or playing with her blocks, or doing any of the number of things she does often during the week.

Enough excuses. Today, as promised, I got some pictures and videos uploaded for everyone's viewing pleasure, and I will have some captions as well.

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She is becoming a girl after my own heart as far as books are concerned. She loves books, and will often during the day go to where her books are, pick one out, and bring it to me to read to her (she will say "Me?" as her way of asking). This picture was taken at a moment that particularly showed me that we are developing a little reader- she had decided, on her own, to go to this chair with her book, pull herself up, and read the book herself, with her little snacks next to her. So cute! Other times I see her laying on the ground "reading" her books, frequently with the books upside down.

Her favorites are the touch and feel kind of books- Touch and Feel Wild Animals, or Farm Animals, or Pets. She loves books with animals, even if they aren't touch and feel too.

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We are still attending princess ballet, and have one class left next week (the last 15 minutes will apparently end with a performance...I don't expect Grace to actually do anything like she is supposed to, but contact me if you are family and want to see... but I guarantee nothing). In the last few weeks, we had some good times and some bad times, most classes having at least some of each, a tantrum or two and at least one dance that she does.

Today we happened to have an exceptionally good day, with very few tantrums, and her trying (without my overt prompting or moving her body) to do the movements the teacher wanted her to. She does have a good heart though, as the thing she is probably best with in the class is following the "Give your teacher the ____." She eagerly and happily walks over to the teacher to give her the bean bag, scarf, wand, tutu or other object as requested at the end of the song. I think her favorite is dancing with the scarf. I do know that she was likely too young to do this class, especially as it was intended, but I think that it was fun to do together (when she wasn't screaming), and more importantly taught my little toddler some of her first lessons about having to listen, follow directions, take turns and not take other people's things.

One last thing which I think is adorable about dance class is that tonight, every time Blake asked her if she did dance today, she starts to dance around the room, and does better with the stuff that she is supposed to do in class than she does during class! For example, she is supposed to go on her toes at one point in class... and I can never seem to get her to do it then, but she does it as part of her dancing for him, like they do in class.

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As the time for her brother approaches, we have been trying to talk to her about babies and how to hold babies, and there are times I think it is sinking in. She actually is showing some interest now in her dolls, and will hold them nicely if prompted to. I don't think the whole brother thing will really sink in until it is happening, but at least we are making some effort.

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The dogs and Grace have always had a good relationship, and here is one of the many photos I could show demonstrating both our dog's patience with her, and her lack of fear of our dogs (even though they are many times her size).

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Here she is laying on the floor playing a harmonica. After multiple attempts, she now is fairly consistent at making noise by blowing through it, very cute.

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This one I took because it was funny to me how she just randomly had a leg up while playing.

This video shows a portion of her vocabulary for those of you who haven't seen it in person. She demonstrates her asking for more, saying please and at the end, though it is hard to hear, she says her version of thank you. It comes out more like "tee tu" but she uses it correctly as thank you often at home.

This video was taken on Sunday. Sorry about the background noise, but I just loved the moment between Grace and Blake and decided to film it.

So there are my updates, complete with pictures. :-D

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Adventures in Cloth Diapering

Disclaimer- This post is about diapering... hence the title. If you don't want to hear about diapers, or information regarding my daughter's bathroom experiences, you can skip this blog. Again (sorry!) there are no cute pictures of Grace (next one, I promise)

Back in 2009, when we were planning what we would do with our baby (that we were positive we would be expecting soon), we had decided to cloth diaper. We knew it was better for the environment, and long term more cost effective for us too.

We never lost this thought process entirely. It wasn't immediately feasible with Grace because we didn't know what size she was going to be at homecoming. Then life got busy with her at home, and who had time to research and buy cloth diapers in the first weeks and months of learning how to parent?

As it came time to register for new baby, I decided that now was the time to research, put the diapers I choose on the registry, and start cloth diapering both kids when he arrives.

Okay, so this week I will be about a month from my due date, and just two weeks from what is considered term (i.e. he wouldn't be considered premature if he arrived then). However, our latest big box purchase of disposables for Grace started to run low last week. We had to choose to jump into cloth diapering or to order another big box (not cost effective to do small packages).

We went for cloth diapers! Very exciting.

We made our choices and ordered what I thought we needed, and waited for them to arrive.

There are a lot of great posts about cloth diapers out there, and this is not intended to be one of those, but just our experiences.

So, we had 3 diaper covers from a friend to start. We ordered 6 gdiapers, 12 cotton cloth inserts, 3 hemp inserts, and one bumgenius freetime all in one. In addition, we ordered a few other items to help facilitate cloth diapers.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am NOT the most patient person. The adoption process helped grow me in this area, but still, I don't wait well for things, especially if I don't have to. So, the cotton inserts and the one bumgenius arrived before the gdiapers. I felt that thanks to my friend's three covers, we could make it on the four. I was wrong. I needed the gdiapers.

Day 1- Started the day with diaper cover number 1 and an insert. I had to replace the insert once, but overall this diaper combo did good for a while... and then it leaked, so I had to change the cover as well as the insert. No problem... went to a second diaper cover, this one that fastened with velcro. Trouble is, I have a toddler... who kept undoing the velcro. Which means that 1- I had to keep chasing her down to refasten it and 2- Diapers are not very effective when they are only half on.

Okay, no problem, I went to my bumgenius (since the other remaining diaper cover was also velcro, and would have the same problem). Guess what... she chose this time to go #2. The problem with this is that while the diapers that are covers and inserts can just have the insert replaced, the bumgenius are called an all-in-one... which means when it has to be changed you have to change the whole thing.

For those of you doing the math, this does mean that by 2pm on my first day trying to cloth diaper...I was out, and back to disposables.

I really liked the bumgenius, so I decided to run out to a store that I knew carried them and buy three more, especially since two of my three covers were not going to work with my daughter.

Day 2- Now equipped with four clean bumgenius diapers and one possible diaper cover (though it was actually a bit small, and I think that is why it leaked) I felt confident that today, I could make it.

She started the day in diaper 1... and went number 2. Goodbye diaper 1.

Diaper 2 went on, and was worn until Grace and I needed to leave for errands. I wanted to make sure I had the best chance of success at no leaks and the same diaper for the errands, so I changed diaper 2 before I left, and even added an insert to diaper 3 for good measure. Worked great.

Got home from errands, and changed diaper 3. I knew I was in the last bumgenius, but with the cloth insert, it lasted so long in the morning, I was feeling good that we MIGHT just be able to make it to dinner time or close to it (which means her bath and the nightime diaper that we haven't switched over to cloth yet because we still had a lot of them). Nope. #2 strikes again, and for the second day in my cloth diapering adventures... I only made it to the early afternoon before she was back in disposables.

However, I DID get my gdiapers order on this day, so I knew we could make it the next day.

Day 3 and 4 went well now we had 6 extra diapers. We start the days in a gdiaper, so that her first #2 only gets an insert dirty, and we can keep using the cover. We replace the insert a few times during the morning, and then around lunch switch over to the bumgenius, which I like better and are more absorbant thanks to more layers. If needed, I can switch back to gdiapers by the end of the day, and keep going through the inserts till bath time. I think both days ended with two gdiapers and two bumgenius diapers used, which gets me to my goal of every other day wash (as opposed to every night which had been the previous few days). Good stuff.

The added benefit of the gdiaper is that they also sell disposable inserts for them, so we can do a hybrid cloth/disposable diaper for people watching her to not have to worry about what to do with the cloth insert, and they can just dispose of the insert like normal. They are velcro, but the velcro is in the back (smart people there) so she can't undo it herself. They do need to be changed more often though.

The bumgenius is more absorbent, and so can last longer without needing a change, and also is a good value for its ability to be different sizes, and the same diaper can grow with your child, or in our case be used for both children, even at their different ages, depending on how you snap it.

I think we will stick with our combination of gdiaper and bumgenius, and though it is a little early to tell, at this point, both Blake and I feel that the change was not that difficult, and we will be able to continue cloth diapering, even when our son arrives.

For those of you who need a visual- here is what the bumgenius looks like:

and here is a gdiaper:

The white in the picture is the waterproof liner with various options for inserts inside it. The outside is just cloth.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

34 Weeks- The thoughts of a pregnant lady

Most of my posts revolve around my daughter, which makes sense since most of my life revolves around her too. But for the last eight months, I have also been hard at work growing a new life, and this post is dedicated to my thoughts on that topic... i.e. no cute Grace pictures this time.

The main feeling of the first 10 weeks or so of pregnancy for me were shock, disbelief and fear. While we knew it was possible, after three and a half years, I really wasn't even thinking about it from month to month. I know I spent a lot of my first ten weeks occasionally saying to Blake, "Can you believe I'm pregnant?" and even more time saying it to myself. Nobody is showing yet at that point, and since I was fortunate to have light nausea/food aversions I could get away with having frequent moments where I forgot that I was pregnant... only to come back to reality with another wave of wondering, "Really?" to myself, yet again.

But those first weeks were also full of fear. I know that miscarriages can happen, and they aren't even a super rare thing, and my heart goes out to those who have had to live through that. My son might not have been planned... but he was wanted, from the minute that I saw the positive line (and laughed :-D). As much as I wanted him, I was afraid that something would happen, and I would lose this precious gift, and go back to feelings of discontent that I had eliminated years ago. Before the positive test, we didn't even know if it was possible, so I was able to get to a point where I no longer expected it or hoped for it. But if I lost the pregnancy, I would know that it was for sure possible to get pregnant, and I know it would have been very difficult to come to terms with that.

My fears were also not entirely unfounded. In my first 12 weeks I had two different incidents where I saw red, and had to have an ultrasound to confirm everything was still okay. One of those was accompanied by a painful, cramping night's sleep, where I would have sworn that everything was going wrong and I was sure I was going to lose him. It was that bad. But thankfully, both times, he was fine, and after a few days, my body stopped scaring me in each instance.

The teens were weeks of sharing with others, and allowing them to be excited with me, as I went totally public on week 12 after I saw everything was okay, and the risks go way down.

By week 20, the shock was gone, the fear was gone, the nausea was gone, and even the surprise of others knowing was gone. I would say that weeks 20-30 are the "golden age" of pregnancy. I was far enough along to be showing, not just "extra cookies" showing, and as I just mentioned I was past a lot of the problems of the early weeks. At the same time, I knew I still had a ways to go before my due date, so I wasn't quite stressed about caring for a second child yet. My organs still had some space, so my bladder, stomach and back weren't too badly affected. All in all, I was contented pregnant, I had accepted my pregnancy, and just felt like I was just waiting for time to pass for him to arrive.

There is something about week 30. Ten weeks to the due date is still a long time, on paper. It is more than two months, but at the same time, I very much was aware of the upcoming conclusion to pregnancy at that point. I think it was around that week that my research happy self realized that it wasn't enough to read about pregnancy and labor... I had a newborn coming... and I hadn't read anything about that yet at all! So I went to the library and checked out a good twenty different books about babies that I am working through now and am starting to feel confident that I will be able to successfully care for our newborn son when he arrives.

This panicky feeling of "I am down to my final ten weeks" also came with the need to get his room ready. When I was only twenty something weeks along, it was easy to think that we had all the time in the world, but now we are driven to getting something accomplished every week towards having it ready for his arrival (though Blake constantly reminds me that we don't really need to have it done before he arrives since he won't even be using the crib for months).

I would guess that it was also somewhere around week 30 that I went from contentedly pregnant to uncomfortably pregnant. I previously mentioned the heartburn, but there is also just the fact that I have to stop eating before I want to because I feel like I run out of space. My bladder is also feeling the lack of space and I feel like I am constantly having to use the restroom (this includes at least a once a night trip). He is so much bigger that instead of cute little flickering movements, he has big movements that at best make me comment on how weird they feel or how active he is, and at worst make me feel like he is trying to break his way out of there through my stomach! Oh, and he likes to stretch out, so I feel uncomfortably poked in two different places at once.

I can add to this final segment of pregnancy that I have been feeling more Braxton Hicks. For those unfamiliar with the term, they are contractions that don't actually make progress towards labor. It is like my uterus is practicing for the main event. For some women they are painless, and they don't even notice they are happening. For whatever reason, I am not one of those women. I wouldn't say they were painful though... more just uncomfortable (sensing a theme of the thirties yet?). I feel like my normally "inflated" belly gets to a point where if it was a balloon, you would be worried it would pop because it is stretched so tight and hard.

Most women who have lived through this stage say that it is to help get you over the fear of labor, because you are just so uncomfortable, you don't care what it takes, you want the baby out and your body back. Blake and I talk often about how we both look forward to me not being pregnant, on the other hand we will have two kids... so it's a trade off. I commented this to my friend today... and she said it is way better having the child out than the end of pregnancy.

Around week 27 or so, I started looking at statistics of "if he was born now, his chance of survival would be ____." I guess it is somewhat morbid, but I think it was just another manifestation of my need to research to feel prepared. Every week, I would see how the expected time in NICU goes down, and the survival chance goes up. At my current week, if I went into pre-term labor, most doctors wouldn't even try to stop it because the newborns do so well as long as they have "baked" for this long. At 37 weeks, just three weeks from now, if he decided to make an early arrival, he wouldn't even be considered premature!

For first time moms the average gestational length is 41 and a half weeks. So, I am more likely to go past my due date than before it, but it is crazy to think that he is so close to being ready to enter the world! (And makes me antsy to get his room finished).

I have been reading copious amounts of birth stories (in addition to my baby research reading) and the number one, most common element that I have picked up on is that you never know how your birth story is going to go. There are, of course, many accounts of people whose story went how they anticipated, but for every one of those there are two or three that didn't. Women who wanted epidurals, but labored too fast to get one. Women who had intended to go without pain meds laboring too long and giving in to getting them. Women who went to the hospital too early, and had to go back home first, women who had to be induced, and many, many other variations.

I do have a birth plan, but the concreteness of it is very similar to a lesson plan. As much as in my power, I tried to follow my lesson plan for the day, but as a teacher you learn to be flexible. The kids may not have understood the math concept, so math has to take longer, so history gets cut shorter, and parts of the plan get cut or moved to the next day. But it doesn't mean that you never have a plan... you just plan as best as you can knowing that modifications made be made on the spur of the moment. In a later post, I might share what my plan is, but even so, I know that it is only a hope, and anything could happen as I live it.

P.S. To those who made it through my novella, congratulations!

P.P.S. I would like to mention that I write these blogs in the "stream of consciousness" style, with no outline ahead of time. I write to inform friends and family and to share pictures etc. but also because it is very cathartic for me to write and because I want to be able to look back and know my thoughts and feelings from that point in time. All this to say, I don't worry about length (unless I have a time constraint), I write until I feel I've come to the end of what I want to share, and never feel offended if you don't read the whole thing. I know they can be long.