Archive for December, 2010

Saving money by reusing, recycling, buying used baby gear.

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Believe it or not, one of the many deciding factors for having a second baby so soon after the first was that we still had all the baby gear.  Veteran parents can sympathize with how much “stuff” costs.  Other than diapers and wipes, we have spent very little extra with our second baby.

Oliver still remembers his play gym, but is graciously sharing with his sister.  Since the kids grow out of their toys so fast, most all of his stuff is in excellent condition.  Another way we were able to save money was from the help of very generous friends and family members who have donated baby clothes for Evelyn.  Again, newborn and infant items are usually in mint condition and can be passed from family to family for several babies’ benefit.  Our daughter thanks her fairy godmothers for the cute outfits or she would have been in all of Oliver’s blues and browns if her parents had their way.

If you truly need something that you don’t have, buying used is a great way to save money.  Yard sales, Sunday ads, consignment sales, and are all great ways to find good condition baby items.  We bought this swing for a third of its retail value from Craigslist and it works great.

I know quite a few people who would never buy used baby items.  They’re worried about hygiene, safety issues, quality, whether or not it matches what they already have, etc… Some are also worried about some sort of stigma that they perceive with second hand things.  Well, I’m here to tell you that there are some great, high quality, fashionable, and safe things out there.  Babies phase through their first year’s equipment so quickly that most items look brand new. 

Frugal Tip of the Day:  Don’t be afraid to give second hand a shot.  Reuse, recycle, and save a pretty penny.  Also, don’t be afraid to let people know that you are looking for things.  You will be amazed how mothers pull together for each other.  Someday you will have the chance to do the same.

Baby 101: What to take to the hospital when you have the baby

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

You are getting ready to have a baby and have no idea what to bring to the hospital! 

I’ve been in your shoes.  The first time around we packed everything but the kitchen sink.  We literally had 6 or 7 bags of stuff that we hauled to the hospital.  We had our labor and delivery bag, our post-partum bag, my husband had a bag, we had a bag of pillows, a bag for the boppy and breast pump, a bag for food, and a bag for misc. other stuff.  We left with more bags than we came if you can believe that!

This time around, we’ve pared down the list.  We brought one suitcase for both of us, one bag with our pillows and boppy, one paper bag with snacks, and my husband brought his work laptop. 

To help the mommy-to-be’s out there, here is my take on what to bring to the hospital.  Take note that each hospital is different.  Using my list of what the hospital provides as a guide you may be able to find out if your hospital does the same.  Also, each labor and delivery is different.  I will explain how mine went, which will give you the background as to why I packed what I did, or didn’t, as the case may be.  I’ve had both an epidural and a natural childbirth.

Labor and Delivery:

At our hospital you cannot check in until you are at least 4 cm dialated, which equates to contractions every 2-4 minutes.  By now you have already spent the longest part of labor at home, work, etc… and the time for playing board games, cards, and reading books has passed.  Immediately upon check in I was asked to strip off ALL clothing and to put on the hospital gown and the hospital socks in case my feet were cold.  I was then stuck with an IV, a belly strap that monitored the baby’s hearbeat, a fingertip device that monitored my heartbeat I’m guessing, and something that kept taking my blood pressure.  (Note: This was done regardless of what I had in my birth plan.)  All the contraptions pretty much limited any walking that I wanted to do and even limited movement on the bed because my baby’s heartbeat was hard to track.

At some point you will have to decide if you want an epidural or not.  Perhaps it is too late for you to have an epidural and you will have to go au naturale.  If you do not have an epidural then you really won’t be reading, playing games, etc… because you will be in pain and working through your contractions.  If you have the epi, then perhaps you will be in the mood for a game of gin rummy?  More than likely you will fall asleep and rest until it’s time to push.  By the way, once you get the epidural you will not be allowed to leave the bed.

I’ve heard people say, “Don’t wear anything that you don’t want ruined,” and I have to admit that it’s true.  While they do put a huge plastic bag under your butt that will catch most the fluids, blood, and goo, there is still a good chance a mess will be made somewhere.  With my first baby, I threw up three times after I got the epidural.  All I could do was turn my head sideways and barf into a cup that someone held.  Ick.  Also, when you get to hold your little one, he or she isn’t the cleanest thing in the world and you or your significant other might get gooed in the process.  My hubby also got the umbilical cord stain on his shirt and it does NOT come off.

With all this in mind, here’s my list of the essentials that you need to take in the labor and delivery room.  I fit all this stuff into my purse.

Insurance cards
Driver’s licenses – yours and his
Cell phones
Cameras – make sure it’s charged and video cameras – if your hospital allows it
Any gear that you will use to get through labor – ex. mp3 players, teddy bear, focus object
Pack a small snack for your SO if he or she wants one
Bring some dollar bills for the vending machines
Bring chapstick, hair ties/hair clips
Makeup, Toothbrush/toothpaste if you think you’ll want to freshen up – for me, freshening up was the last thing on my mind.  However, a travel mouthwash might have been nice.

If you are cold, ask them (the hospital) for blankets and socks.  If you are hot, ask them for ice packs and a wash cloth to cool off your head.  If you are thirsty, you will get ice chips.  If you are hungry, you will get ice chips.  Some hospitals let you snack, but there’s a very good chance that you will barf that up and they worry about you choking.  My hospital had cable tv in the room, but we were too busy to watch.  When I did have the epidural with my first baby, I was too busy sleeping to do anything for entertainment.  I guess if I were awake, I could have read or something for a couple hours.

Post Partum Care:

The first 12 – 24 hours after you give birth will be busy.  You will be poked and prodded by someone every 4 hours for the first day.  You will also be sore, dirty, hungry, and tired.  If your hospital allows rooming in, your newborn will be wheeled into your room the minute you get there and left to your care – scary for first time parents with zero to little baby experience.  Depending on what time you gave birth, people will also want to visit with you in the midst of all the poking, prodding, baby fumbling (a.k.a. breast feeding), and cat-napping. 

The second 24 hours will be easier.  The poking and prodding will cut back to once per shift (unless there are problems).  You will have probably showered and are wearing some comfy clothes from home.  Breastfeeding might be a little easier or at least you will see the lactation consultant on the second day.  The baby is a little less foreign and you have successfully changed your first meconium filled diapers by now.  I was more tired the second day after coming off the adrenaline high from the first 24 hours.

Here’s a list of things the hospital provided for us: (Note – your hospital might be different)

Hospital gowns and socks
Blankets and pillows
Maxi pads, squirt bottle for cleaning, pain relief spray, ice packs, flushable wipes, and mesh underwear
Towels and washcloths
Diapers, wipes, receiving blankets, long sleeve newborn t-shirts, newborn hat, samples of baby toiletries, pacifier (if you want one), and a nasal suction bulb
Newborn infant gift – these vary from place to place.  They are usually provided by one of the major formula providers and include a bag of some sort packed with formula samples.  Sometimes there will be a CD of lullabies, bib, rattle, etc…  With my first child I got a diaper bag, which I still use, and with my second I got a tote bag.
Cable TV
Food for the mother – I was able to get breakfast, lunch, and dinner and our nursing pod had soda, juices, and small snacks like graham crackers and cereal.
Breast-pump and supplies if needed – the breast pump will stay at the hospital, the supplies you take with you.
Lanolin – if you need it, the lactation consultant will provide you with samples.
Ibuprofen, other pain relief drugs, stool softeners, or laxatives.

Here’s what I brought to the hospital that were helpful to us:

2 big pillows with colorful pillowcases – to differentiate from the flat hospital pillows

Toiletries – bring toothbrush/paste, soap/shampoo, hair stuff, make-up, etc… contact stuff/glasses if you wear them.  Don’t forget stuff for dad.

Inflatable donut to sit on – this was helpful since I had to get stitches.  BTW, the Boppy is excellent to use as a cushion those first 2 days.

Breast feeding pillow – a Boppy or My Brestfriend (I highly recommend My Brestfriend).

Snacks and Drinks – Pack cookies, crackers, fruit, etc… to eat between meals.  Pack your favorite drinks in case your hospital doesn’t provide any.  You will be hungry.

Gas-X or Tums – I forgot this my second time and had to send my hubby for some.  You will have bad gas pains.  Don’t forget to ask for a stool softener if your doc forgets to prescribe one.  This is not the same thing as a laxative and made all the difference in the world between my first and second child.

A notepad/journal/baby book and a pen – If you want to record memories, etc… or make notes of things.  I took a little flip notepad and a pen.  I didn’t really have the time to journal.  I never thought to bring a baby book, but the nurse can do the footprints in it if you want.

Electronics – Don’t forget your camera, camcorder, cell phones, batteries, chargers, and memory cards.  We brought a power strip to power all the devices/chargers.  You won’t have to hunt all over the room for extra power outlets and it makes packing easy – you won’t forget your cell phone charger for the 10th time!

Chocolates or other treats for the nursing staff – We bought 2 bags of Lindt truffles and a thank you card.  The nursing staff is at your beck and call those 2 days in addition to keeping you healthy and comfortable.  They did everything from teaching us how to change diapers, answered frantic calls of “my baby spit up and I don’t know what to do”, helped with breastfeeding, brought us extra blankets, and even provided tips and tricks for bringing baby home.

Busy stuff – The first time I brought a book and didn’t have the time or the concentration to get into it.  The second time I brought “trashy” magazines like Cosmo and Glamour -much easier to flip through.  I also brought an mp3 player that I didn’t use.  They had cable TV and that kept me busy enough.  Other times I just tried to sleep, sleep, and sleep.  My hubby brought a laptop, which kept him busy with work, internet surfing, and games.  Our hospital had free wifi which made it nice to post pics and update Facebook.

Baby stuff – You will need an installed car seat, a going home outfit, and a blanket to cover the baby after you pack them into the car seat.  Our hospital provided all the care items.  You might want to check with yours to see if they do the same.

Clothes – I saved this for last.  Your significant other will want to pack a couple changes of clothes in addition to their toiletries and some slippers/flip flops to wear at the hospital.  I suggest that the new mommy wear the hospital gown and mesh underwear the first 24 hours after giving birth for ease of the constant poking and prodding, breastfeeding, and bleeding/leaking of fluids that you will have.  I went through 2 hospital gowns my first day and had to get the bed sheets changed once.  Depending on timing, say you have visitors coming, you might want to shower and get into some comfy clothes.  Make sure you can get your blood pressure and vaginal area checked easily.  Tops you can pull up or open up for breastfeeding are helpful.

Here’s my list for clothes:

Pair of flip-flops – to wear in the shower/bathroom and to walk around the hospital in.

Robe – to wear over your gown or pjs when you walk around the hospital.

A pair of comfy clothes/pajamas to wear in the hospital.

A going home outfit – you will probably look 6 months pregnant so bring your maternity pants.  Don’t forget some underwear unless you really like the mesh spanks.

Nursing bra and a couple nursing pads

Slippers – if you don’t want to walk around in flip-flops.  The hospital is a dirty place and we trashed our slippers when we left.  My flip-flops I just washed and brought home.

Dad needs a change of clothes too…

Anyone out there want to add to the list?  What did you bring to the hospital that you couldn’t do without?

Frugal Tip of the Day:  Be frugal and save some money by finding out exactly what your hospital will provide for you.  The first time around, we ended up bringing stuff that we could have gotten there.  On the flip side of the coin, find out if you will be charged for certain items that you can provide yourself for a lower cost.  Example: They might provide baby diapers/wipes and maxi pads, but will they charge you?  If so, you can bring your own and save money.  Lastly, take advantage of the supplies they offer (bring home everything you are entitled to) and of the food service they provide (I ate better in the hospital than I did most days at home!).

Toddler helps decorate for Christmas.

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Sorting Christmas decorations

Last year my son was too young to help with the Christmas decorations.  This year, we couldn’t keep him away from the tree!  We stuck with simple ornaments – all non-breakable – and put up our frugal tree. 

Decorating the Christmas tree at his height

We bought this little tree at a black friday sale last year for 20 bucks.  While the kids are small, you can’t beat the investment.  No pine needles or watering accidents and our tree is more flame resistant than the real trees.  Plus, for 20 bucks we’ve already saved bundles in 2 years instead of buying a real tree.  Someday, when the kids are older, we might spring for the big 8 foot blue spruce, but for now our frugal tree is fine.

All the ornaments went into one spot at his level.  It was the cutest thing ever.  When he was done he stood there grinning, clapping his hands and stomping his feet.  My hubby discreetly rearranged them later on.

His sister wasn’t as impressed and slept through the entire thing.

Frugal Tip of the Day:  Instead of buying a real tree and spending anywhere between $25 – $100 every year, invest in an artificial tree.  Buy one after Christmas or on Black Friday to reap the biggest savings.  You can get really nice looking trees for $40-$60 and can be used for years and years.  If you really want that pine scent, hang some car airfreshners on the inside of your tree.  Voila! Instant pine forest in your living room.

Week 4: A month has passed already!

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

I can’t believe a month has passed already.  I can barely remember how we spent the last 4 weeks.  Oh wait, it’s coming back to me now… A mountain of dirty diapers, 28 sleepless nights, and lots of Evelyn crying and sleeping.  When she isn’t crying from the gas bubbles, she has quiet moments of intense curiosity.  She’ll stare at anything that she can turn her head to and just sit there quietly contemplating it.  She has also started making the cutest sounds that I need to capture on video.

Oliver is doing better with her now.  It helped that we bought a used cradle swing from Craigslist.  I let him gently rock her and he gets the biggest kick out of it.  He even pats her head while she slowly swings.  He will give her kisses on her cheeks if you ask him to and give her little high fives.  SO CUTE!  We encourage the heck out of those behaviors and frown upon the eye poking that he also likes to do.  The poor guy gets so stressed out when she is crying and starts crying too when she throws a fit.  Those are the “fun” days when the hubby comes home to a very disgruntled momma.

Speaking of “fun” days.  All the grandparents have left now and we had our first week alone.  Wow.  Thank goodness for baby gates.  On the nights that I get 4 hours of sleep or less, I have really bad days that follow.  Poor Oliver gets little to no attention and I can’t help but feel like a bad mother.  Those days suck.  On a good day, Evelyn will sleep for 2 or 3 hours at a time and I can play with Oliver.  He especially likes playing outside, even when it is only 40 degrees. 

My hubby has been good about not complaining about the house.  He even jumps right in when he gets home and has cooked dinner almost every night this week.  He also has a knack for getting Evelyn to sleep at 4 in the morning after she has been up screaming with me for 2 hours.  I think there just might be something behind that phrase “daddy’s little girl” after all.

Zooming out to the big picture, the kids have been fed, clothed, diapered, and bathed this week.  I’ve gotten Oliver back on his teeth brushing schedule and we’ve managed to do it every day this week.  I’ve also taught him to wash his hands in the sink after we get back from places.  We’ve sent out our thank you notes, ordered our Christmas cards, and are ready to decorate for Christmas tomorrow.  I also got 3 loads of laundry done and managed to buy groceries.  We even did a little xmas shopping today using our huge 2 seater stroller that we picked up at the last consignment sale.  Now that I’ve typed all that out, I guess we did okay our first week alone after all.  Phew… how many more weeks until they can stay home by themselves???

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