Thursday, January 30, 2014

Product Review: Halo Sleepsack Wearable Blanket

I don't know about you, but the East Coast is having QUITE the winter this year with numerous snow storms and frigid temperatures. Even though I'm really looking forward to Spring, I don't really mind the winter we are having. I have always held the opinion that if it's going to be winter...be winter. I love the look of snow on the ground, and I hate when the temperature hovers just above freezing and stays cold and rainy rather than cold and snowy! I also don't mind hibernating in our house this winter seeing as I have Natalie to snuggle up with on these cold days.

We received a few different types of swaddle blankets at my baby shower. By far, our favorite was the Halo Sleepsack swaddle. Made much like a straight-jacket, it was impossible for Natalie to get out of it, and she always slept very soundly in this swaddle.
She's already grown out of the first swaddle so we are onto the next size; the Fleece Animal Friends Fleece Swaddle has been keeping her warm and swaddled every night. I also wanted something warm that she could wear comfortably during the day. Luckily, HALO Sleep Innovations sent me a Halo Sleepsack wearable blanket in micro-fleece for Natalie to wear on these cold, chilly days! The fleece wearable blanket in ladybug arrived to our front door last week and Natalie was very excited to try it on...well as excited as she could be for a 9 week old!
Since 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested the use of wearable blankets. Today, HALO Innovation’s SleepSack products are used by over 1,000 hospitals to promote safe sleep, and by millions of parents nationwide to help babies sleep safely from the start. HALO Innovation's offer a range of SleepSack wearble blankets, from SleepSack Swaddles for newborns to SleepSack Big Kids for toddlers, offering your little one comfort and safety at any age.
Natalie has been spending her days warm and toasty in this wearable blanket. All I need is my own snuggie and we'd be quite the pair! Of course, she looks much cuter in her sleepsack than I will ever look in a snuggie!!

I like that this is very long so she will be able to use this for a long time and get great use out of it. It beats having to constantly wrap her in a blanket. The only thing I've found annoying is that I have to take her out of it if I ever want to buckle her into the bouncer or the swing, because I can't put the buckle through her legs when she's wearing this. Other than that, it's been really nice to have, and I love how it looks too!
HALO Innovation’s SleepSack® wearable blankets have become the standard for hospital nurseries and parents alike. Today, 1,000 hospital nurseries use the HALO SleepSack Swaddle instead of blankets through the HALO Safer Way to Sleep Initiative. HALO Innovations also offers free Safe Sleep Practices kits to childbirth educators to help further the cause of SIDS prevention.
Halo Sleepsacks are available for purchase at target.com, amazon.com and babiesrus.com. If your interested in learning more about the Halo Sleepsacks be sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter @halosleepsack, and Pinterest.

For your reading pleasure, here are some Safe Sleep Tips from Halosleep.com:

ALWAYS 
  • Place baby to sleep on his or her back at naptime and at night time.
  • Use a crib that meets current safety standards with a firm mattress that fits snuggly and is covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet.
  • Remove all soft bedding and toys from your baby’s sleep area (this includes loose blankets, bumpers, pillows and positioners).
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using a wearable blanket instead of loose blankets to keep your baby warm.
  • Offer a pacifier when putting baby to sleep.
  • If breastfeeding, introduce pacifier after one month or after breastfeeding has been established. Breastfeed, if possible, but when finished, put your baby back to sleep in his or her separate safe sleep area alongside your bed.
NEVER
  • Never put your baby to sleep on any soft surface
  • Never dress your baby too warmly for sleep; keep room temperature 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Never allow anyone to smoke around your baby or take your baby into a room or car where someone has recently smoked.

I received one HALO wearable blanket to review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Breastfeeding

I've been putting off my post about breastfeeding for a while now. This was a hard post to write. I want to be a strong and positive advocate for breastfeeding to any fellow friends or readers out there who are considering breastfeeding in the future. I don't want to strictly highlight the positives without being realistic in stating some of the "difficulties" that can come with breastfeeding (notice I didn't state these as negatives), but I would never want stating these difficulties to be the reason someone decides not to breastfeed.

I want to preface this by saying that I realize there are a million reasons out there that some people either chose not to or simply cannot breastfeed. With that said, I am extremely passionate about breastfeeding. In this day and age with all that we know about breastfeeding, I can't understand someone not wanting to at least give breastfeeding a try in the beginning, even if it's for a few days, before coming to a conclusive decision after that as to whether or not to continue.
Not succeeding at breastfeeding wasn't an option for me...we were going to figure it out no matter what, unless of course, it came down to a matter of Natalie's health or well-being. It is a huge commitment, more of a commitment than I thought it would be or was prepared for. But even when it got hard, or stressful, or painful, I never once thought "Hmmm, maybe I won't do this." I think the fact that my body will produce every ounce of food my baby needs for the next 6 months, and continue to supplement beyond that is truly remarkable. I can't imagine not feeding my baby the way nature intended.

With that said, breastfeeding is hard-work, and after two months, we are just now getting into a comfortable routine together. Surprisingly, I didn't do a ton of research or reading on breastfeeding before I had Natalie. I had two books on hold at the library for my entire pregnancy, but I was hold #452 or something crazy like that and I never got them in time to read. I do wish I had read some more books prior to her arrival, but I also think it was material that I wouldn't really grasp or be able to wrap my head around until I was fully "in the game." My general feeling was that breastfeeding wasn't something I wanted to overthink or overprepare for...I felt it was something that should come naturally and instinctually to us.
For the most part, it did. I had a nurse help me with my first feeding and Natalie seemed to take to it right away. I did a feeding and then that first night, we slept 6 straight hours in the hospital. The nurse suggested that we just sleep after the long day of delivery and take up with breastfeeding the next day. (Babies can go the first 24 hours after being born without being fed at all!). The next day I was diligent about feeding her every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, by the end of the day Saturday, I noticed that she was really struggling latching onto the left side. I asked to have a lactation consultant stop by to give me some pointers and tips. When she did stop by, I wanted to do a feeding in front of her, but she said that any of the nurses were trained to help me with breastfeeding and she would just talk me through what to do.

Big annoying mistake. I really wish I had been more adamant about her and all of the nurses helping me. The next two nurses I had were NOT helpful. When I asked one of the nurses if Natalie's diaper output was what it should be, she literally said "Um...let's see, is it 8 diapers a day or 8 feedings a day...I always get confused....Yea, I think you're fine." I'm not joking, exaggerating, or changing these words for emphasis. That was literally her response...verbatim. I could have googled for the answer myself, I just figured a nurse working in post-partum maternity at a hospital would know such things off the top of her head. Un-freaking-believable.

By the time she was 3 days old, Natalie was feeding like a champ off the right side, but I still couldn't get her feeding properly on the left. I thought for sure I was either all dried up on the left, or if I wasn't already, I would be soon.
By day 4 I started to panic. We took Natalie to her first pediatrician appointment and I ended up bursting into tears talking to the doctor about it. Natalie's weight was down from 7 pounds 7 ounces, to 6 pounds 12 ounces, which is normal even for a healthily fed baby. There was no concern there, but she did need to start putting her weight back on, and I was so afraid that I wasn't going to be able to do that if she continued to only feed from one side. The doctor gave us some suggestions and the phone number for a lactation consultant.

I called the lactation consultant as soon as I got home, but she didn't have any availability until the following Monday!! Um...my baby could die of starvation by then!! Panic and tears set in even more. I called La Leche League International and got the phone-numbers for 8 local La Leche League representatives who could help me. I called and left tearful messages for most of them, before I finally got Danielle on the phone. I cried to her and explained my situation. She said that I probably had a slow let-down on the left side that was frustrating Natalie and causing her to prefer the right side.

"What is a let-down," you ask? When a baby starts a feeding, the sucking starts a reaction and the milk will literally rush down to start the feeding process. For the first two weeks, I could very intensely feel this let-down feeling...it's like a big rush, a natural high really, and very calming. I'm used to the feeling now and only recognize it once in awhile when I'm not distracted by anything else.

The let down on my left side was definitely slower than on my right, so what she suggested I do was start Natalie on the right side until I felt the let-down reflex, then quickly switch her to the left so she would realize she could get milk there too. I tried it, and it worked!! For the next two weeks, I had to literally start her on the right side every time I wanted her to feed from the left. It was annoying, but it was working and that's all that mattered. Danielle is my HERO, because I never would have thought to do that on my own.

Eventually, either my body started reacting more quickly, or Natalie got the hang of it, but she now goes onto the left side without me having to trick her into it, so we definitely overcame that hurdle!

But then...by the third week my left side started to hurt really badly. Feedings became really uncomfortable and painful. Every time she fed on that side it was like knives were shooting through my nipple. For a day, I was convinced that I had thrush, but I really wasn't showing any signs of it, other than the pain. My mother-in-law sent her friend, who works in maternity and has helped countless women breastfeed, over to my house to help me out. She was extremely helpful. She assured me that I did not have thrush, and that I was doing a fantastic job: Natalie was feeding well, and she showed me a few techniques to help get her properly latched. I felt fantastic after she left and was sure that Natalie and I were on the road to being the perfect breastfeeding companions.

We still struggled with latch for the next few days, and my left nipple continued to hurt for the next 5 weeks. Read anything and you'll see: Breastfeeding isn't supposed to hurt. If it's being done correctly, you should not be in pain. When she fed on the right side, I practically didn't feel a thing, but I dreaded every time I had to move her over to the left.

As long as she was eating and gaining weight, that was the most important thing. I knew that she was getting what she needed and she was gaining beautifully, so if we were going to have a problem, I was glad it was something that I just had to deal with and not something that was affecting her health or well-being.

The pain had pretty much subsided by around 6 weeks, and now, I am completely pain free on both sides. I just have a little dryness that I'm using motherlove nipple cream to fix.

What I wasn't mentally prepared for at all was the frequency in feedings - the first 2 weeks I was feeding every 2 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours at night. Natalie is still pretty much on a 2 hour schedule for about 25-30 minutes each feeding. I've gotten good about getting things done during these feedings on my phone, ipad, and sometimes at the computer. Other times, I like to just sit down with her, with nothing else: no tv, no ipad, no computer - and just enjoy the time together, or sing to her.

The every two hours, or sometimes every hour in the evenings, can be very taxing, and time consuming. I'd be lying if I said I haven't complained here or there about it, or had a rough day, but still, my commitment to it remains unwavering. I'm also starting to realize that sometimes, especially at night, she's not even really feeding - she's just soothing herself on me. AKA: using me as a human pacifier. So I'm trying other tactics to keep that from becoming a habit. So here is my breakdown on the "yays" and "nays" of breastfeeding:

The pros:
  • You can read about all the health benefits of breastfeeding here. There are many, many health benefits.
    Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.
    That's one reason the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months (although any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial). And scientific studies have shown that breastfeeding is good for your health, too.
  • Never have to heat up a bottle, or pack up food and supplies. My "supplies" are always ready and always with me. I don't have to turn on lights or heat anything up in the middle of the night.
  • Breastfeeding is a guaranteed cure-all for the crying baby. We have not had a night (since the first week) where we were up all night with a crying baby. If she gets to a point where we can't get her to stop crying, I just start feeding her. Breastfed babies can't be overfed, they will take what they need. It's nice to know that when all else fails, there is a sure-fire way to get her to stop crying.

    She typically wakes up once during the night for a feeding. We've also gotten so good that I can feed her in bed while lying down. Then I put her back to bed - or, if she has an early morning feeding like at 4 or 5 a.m., I usually just let her stay in bed with us until we get up around 7 a.m.

  • Pumping. I've gotten much better with pumping and have figured out way to maximize my time and what-not. Many people think that since I can feed my child pumped milk it totally frees me up. But...that's not really the case because in order to keep my supply up, I have to pump at each missed feeding. So if I feed her a bottle out at the mall, I technically should pump at that time or close to that time. Well then, I might as well just feed her directly! If I want to store up a freezer supply, it also means pumping in between feedings at home - That means feeding, pumping, and feeding again right after another. I only pump about once a day in the mornings to add to my freezer stash, and then again if Chris gives her a bottle in the evenings. Pumping has been great for Chris to par-take in feeding her a few times a week, too. Pumping also goes quicker than a feeding session, which is a huge plus! 
  • Instant bond and every day bonding time.

  • Contracts your uterus back down to normal size and no period! (at least for me so far)

The "Difficulties":
  • It is a HUGE time commitment - but having a CHILD is a huge time commitment. If you think breastfeeding isn't right for you because it's too much of a commitment...are you really ready for a child in the first place?
  • Breastfeeding in public. I have a lovely breastfeeding cover that has been a life-saver when company is over or we go places. I haven't had the need to use it in any restaurants, shopping malls, or other public places yet, but I will get there, and am prepared to do that one day. I will never breastfeed in public without the cover. I believe in breastfeeding in public, but I also believe in having some discretion while doing so. If I'm not comfortable to breastfeed in front of my dad or father-in-law, I'm not comfortable to do so in front of strangers.
  • Pain for a few weeks - Again, if you're afraid of pain, are you sure you're ready to have a child? Did you think this would be painless?? I swear it goes away after awhile!

Of course, I could also say that breastfeeding is cheaper than using formula, but truth be told, even if breastfeeding was more expensive than formula feeding, I would still breastfeed.
I've finally gotten to a place with Natalie where I feel confident in saying "I love breastfeeding." I think I was waiting to post on this particular topic until I was able to say it...because for the first few weeks, this probably would have been a very differently written post. Sometimes I am amazed by how fast 2 hours goes by, and sometimes I feel bad for taking her away for a feeding from yet another person who has come by to see her. But I am lucky that everyone is 100% understanding about what I need to do, and I won't feel guilty for it. By now, I have probably googled every single question there is to ask about breastfeeding and feel that I have become quite versed on the subject. I still need to calm down if we go longer than 3 hours, and I still need to realize that I won't "dry up" if we had one day where she didn't eat at much. Sites like La Leche League International and Kellymom.com have become invaluable to me. If anyone out there is breastfeeding, or thinking of breastfeeding and they have questions, I do hope you'll ask me. Breastfeeding is a real gift, and I hope that everyone can at least give it a try.

littlemomentsbigmoments@gmail.com


What are your thoughts on breastfeeding?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cardstore.com

Even though I sent out a ton of thank you cards with my holiday cards, Natalie still received countless gifts throughout the holidays and beyond. I had to order some new thank you cards to thank all the wonderful people who thought of her through the holidays.

I was contacted by Lauren at cardstore.com, a site I honestly had never heard of before. She asked me to check out their selection of baby shower thank you cards and I was really impressed with the adorable selection they had on hand!

I ordered the Pink Chalkboard Thanks card, and was so happy that I had yet another use for the professional pictures we had taken of Natalie when she was 10 days old.



Inside and back:


It arrived very quickly in this wonderfully colorful box, and the card looks adorable! 

Cardstore.com has a huge selection of cards for any occasion. I thought the website was very easy to navigate and ordering my cards was a cinch! You can order individual cards and have them mailed directly to a recipient too: something to keep in mine for your friend or family member's next birthday! I will definitely consider cardstore.com as an option for my future card, invitation, or stationary needs.

What online card and invitation sites do you tend to purchase from?

In exchange for this post, I received 50 free thank you cards. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mal and Eric's Wedding

Even though my friend, Mallory's, wedding was 4 months ago, I couldn't not post about the wonderful time Chris and I had at the wedding...even if I was 8 months pregnant at the time! I was very nervous about how I would be able to handle a full day affair as pregnant as I was. This was the final big event/weekend/obligation we had before the baby's arrival, so it was a bit of a milestone weekend for us as well.

We arrived to the Joseph Ambler Inn, in North Whales, Pennsylvania on Thursday, October 23rd. This place was just about the cutest little hotel I've ever seen in my life. The property is laid out with many different cottages, with individual rooms in each cottage. We had a nice sized suite in one of the cottages. This cottage also had a separate party room, which provided the perfect setting for the wedding's after-party as well!  
Our Suite, complete with patio and jacuzzi tub!
We had rehearsal and rehearsal dinner that night after we arrived at the Inn. It was an early night for us because I knew I had to be well rested for the wedding the next day. We had a bright and early start on Friday morning to get ready for the day ahead! We had a wonderful basement space in one of the cottages to get ready in.
Poppin' champagne!
8 Month pregnant. My seamstress did an AMAZING job with my dress!

Writing her vows before the ceremony

Adorable bridesmaids - they had a LONG day!

I thought Mal's Bridal bouquet and bridesmaids bouquets were unbelievable! I loved the wheat and the sturdy wheat stems. It was such a perfect Fall bouquet!

The ceremony and reception was held at The Manorhouse at Commonwealth in Horsham, Pennsylvania. This place was gorrrrgeous. It was so quaint and beautiful!
 Mal looked stunning in every way!


The altar for the ceremony was made by the groom, Eric, and his friend. They completely assembled it from scratch and it looked amazing at their outdoor ceremony. Even cooler? Mal and Eric plan to incorporate pieces of this into their house now that the wedding is over. From a headboard for their bed, to a dining room table, all the wood will be reused in their new home. How green, and how awesome!?

The wedding ceremony was officiated by each of their brothers. I don't usually declare "best of's" for weddings because I love each wedding I go to for all different reasons and such, but I do have to say that this ceremony was one of the best ceremony's I've ever witnessed. Personal, sweet, tearful, genuine, hilarious, and serious all at the same time. It was a beautifully well-done ceremony.
After the ceremony, the cocktail hour kicked off inside, followed right by the reception...you know...as you do.

Mal's personal Fall touches - ceremony programs, centerpieces, seating cards, card basket
The bridal party was announced. I don't have a picture of my entrance...all I have is a shaky, hard to see video, but I was determined to get my split into this wedding somehow - I didn't keep it up throughout my pregnancy for nothing!! So when my bridal-party-partner and I were announced, I waddled in like I was having trouble walking...then started dancing like crazy in the middle of the dance floor, finally ending in my straddle split! The crowd went wild! (Did I ever mention I'm incredibly shy? teeheehee)

Mal and Eric were announced and shared their first dance as husband and wife to Never My Love by the Association.


They danced with their parents, Mal danced to Your Smiling Face by James Taylor and Eric danced to My Wish by Rascal Flatts.
After that, it was time for the cake cutting:


Cake Smashing! (Though they didn't actually do it)
Then there was LOTS and LOTS of dancing fun!

Mal did her bouquet toss and her brother's girlfriend caught it!!

At the end of the night there was a french fry bar complete with three different types of french tries and tons of toppings for said french fries!!!!

Favors were these delicious, and beautiful cupcakes in individual boxes:
I made it all the way to the end of the night and even danced quite a bit out on the dance floor! But I have to say, by the end of the wedding I was exhausted and quite a bit swollen from being on my feet for so much of the day. We headed back to the hotel, and went to the after-party for about an hour before calling it a night. I took a nice bath in the jacuzzi-tub and then promptly passed out the second my head hit the pillow. We had an awesome time celebrating two very good friends, and feel so lucky to have been a part of their amazing day!

It's totally crazy, but I counted it all up and this was the 20th wedding Chris and I had been to together since October 2009. I feel like we've seen it all and have had a blast at so many wonderful celebrations for the people who mean so much to us in our lives. To read some other recaps of the weddings we've been to, check out the "My Wedding" tab at the top of this page and scroll down to the wedding recap section.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Natalie: 2 Month Update



Name: Natalie Claire

Weight: 8 pounds 12 ounces at last check-up - my guess is you are a little over 9 pounds by now.

Health: Very good health! You got two shots at the doctor and cried your first actual tears! It was a very difficult doctor visit! You breathe very loudly sometimes, but this article explained this nicely for me: 6 Reasons Why Newborns Have Stuffy Noses

Sleep: Much Better! Sleeping on your own (in the pack n' play in our room). You wake up about once a night (somewhere between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.) to feed for 15-20 minutes before you're back asleep until somewhere around 6 or 7 a.m. I never really know what to expect when I go to bed each night. But for the most part, you are sleeping really well and I don't feel like I'm not getting any sleep.

Social: Not so great for our social life. You attended your first dinner party and it didn't go so well!
You ended up non-stop crying after dinner...but of course as soon as we left, you were fine! We tried again the following weekend, hanging out at the same friend's house and things went MUCH better! I'm finally starting to get comfortable taking you out places. I finally feel like I know what makes you tick, and how to calm you down (which is usually to just start feeding you.)

Diet: EBF (Exclusively breast-feeding) - You take a bottle of pumped milk a few times a week so daddy can feed you too!

Clothes: Exclusively in newborn clothes. You are JUST about transitioning into 3-6 month clothing.

Baby Gear Love: I love the bottle sanitizer and bottle warmer. You love the boppy pillow and the SWING, which we FINALLY set up! You pretty much always fall asleep in the swing...which is good, but I wish you could just stay awake and calm in it at the same time!

Crying: I've learned that 95% of the time you're crying, it's because you're hungry. Or at least pretending to be because as soon as I start feeding you, you're fine.

Likes: Pacifier, being swaddled at night, driving in the car.

Dislikes: Not being fed

Nicknames: BUG, little bug

Postpartum: Finally into a routine. The holidays totally delayed us, like a lot. I've started to do work-out dvd's in the morning which has been great! You like to sit on the floor or in the swing and watch me while I do crazy, funny moves in front of you:


Milestones: First social smile. You've started to smile and take notice of facial expressions a WHOLE lot more! This interaction with you has made things so much more fun and exciting!
*Went out to your first restaurant: Tony Roma's in honor of the 2 month anniversary of Mommy and Daddy eating there the night before you were born! You slept through the entire dinner. Success!

*Took your first trip to Manhattan to meet Mommy's boss and coworkers. You were a gem and totally turned on the charm. Everyone loved you!

*Made your first Baby friend. This is a fried of a friend's baby who we had lunch with last week.

*Closed on a house and you pooped all over yourself at the closing! (more on that later this week...but yes, we closed on our first house!! Woot!)

*I can't believe how much you're growing. I sometimes feel like I can actually feel and see a difference in you each and every morning when you wake up. You are definitely starting to get your own little personality and it's so fun and exciting to watch unfold!

And just so you don't think taking these weekly and monthly pictures is a piece of cake....