Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All About Cloth Diapers - My Favorite Things Giveaway

Just wanted to take a sec to tell you to check out this wonderful site: All About Cloth Diapers. It is a great resource for anyone who is currently using or even just thinking about cloth diapering. It has been a great help to myself in the past year and a half-ish that I have been CD-ing. It is run by a WAHM, and right now she is hosting a 12 Day Giveaway of her favorite things. Check her out on Facebook too!

Doh! Next Time Read Carefully

By now you have all read about my struggles with ammonia and HE washers, as well as my quest for the perfect cloth diaper detergent, inspiring me to try my hand at making my own. In the meantime, I needed to find something to use in lieu of the Clean B. We've all tried Rockin' Green, and I still had some of that left, but I wanted to see if I could find something that left behind a scent. So I bought some Ruby Moon.

At first I was neither pleased nor displeased with it. I found it to be as effective as the Rockin' Green but also without leaving behind any kind of fragrance. Ever solidifying my decision to make my own detergent, I continued to use the Ruby Moon in the interim while I continued to research the detergent making process. But as time went on, I noticed that my diapers started to have that horrible ammonia smell again, and my poor baby boy started getting horrible ammonia burns :( I had mostly kept the ammonia at bay with the Clean B and the Rockin Green, so I assumed the problem was the Ruby Moon as that was what has changed about my wash routine.

Then, when I read the packaging more clearly, I realized that I had made a horrible mistake! Instead of buying the Ruby Moon Diaper Wash, I bought the Ruby Moon Laundry Detergent! BIG difference! So after realizing this, I decided to strip my diapers in hopes that this would rid them of the stink. Well, it's been 9 hours and I'm still trying to rinse suds out of them! Hmmph!

So when purchasing new detergent, make sure you're reading the details very carefully or else you might end up in a similar situation! Has anyone else's mommy brain done something similar lately? I always love a good phone in the fridge story....not that I've done anything like that...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Poor Customer Service = Possible Business Venture For Me?

A while back I wrote a rave review about Clean B Detergent. I still feel it is the best detergent for cloth diapers out there, however there have been many issues with this company and shipping. I don't want to get into all of the details here, or bash another working mom, but suffice it to say that she has many, many unfulfilled orders, including mine.

That being said, obviously this detergent is no longer an option for me. I have tried several others out there...Rockin' Green, Charlie's Soap, Ruby Moon, Seventh get the picture. RNG & Ruby Moon are decent brands, and the diapers do come out of the wash very clean and unstinky, but nothing leaves behind a nice, fresh scent quite like Clean B does.

So I did a little research, and as it turns out making your own detergent is not very difficult! There are some standard ingredients that you need to avoid for use with cloth diapers, and I'll have to play with the amount of fragrance I put into it, but I think I'm going to give it a shot! If it works out well, I may consider selling it - there is definitely a market for cloth diaper detergents! We'll see what happens when I get all of my ingredients together and start experimenting :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Catch It With Cloth

Everyone who has kids in diapers knows about the dreaded poop explosions. This is when that wonderful breastfed baby poop seems to go everywhere but inside the diaper. It happened constantly with my daughter, K, when she was an infant, and it's one of the reasons I wanted to give cloth a try. I had heard good things about a cloth diaper's ability to keep the mess in place, but we didn't start using cloth until K was over a year old. So when my son, R, was born I was anxious to see how the cloth diapers compared to the disposables.

For the first few months we were absolutely fine. No leakage from either the disposables or the cloth (we still use disposables at night or if we are going on an overnight trip). Then about 2 weeks ago we had our first spillage incident. It was with a disposable diaper. We continued to have leakage with the disposables, yet absolutely no problems with the cloth.
I think that it has to do with the material of the diapers themselves. With the disposables, I noticed that when I would go to change R if there was a large quantity, it would still be sloshing around in the diaper when I opened it - even after allowing a few minutes to settle. In some cases, this actually led to a mess all over the changing table even if there was no actual diaper leak. The second I laid him down it would spill out the top back of the diaper. However, with the cloth diapers, even if I change him directly after the explosion, everything has already been absorbed into the diaper! No leaks out the top, no leaks at all!
Like I said, it's only been about 2 weeks that the leaks have been happening at all, so I realize that anything can still happen. But for comparison, just about every poop in a disposable lately has lead to some sort of mess outside of the diaper. We have had no such incident with the cloth. So for those of you still on the fence about switching to cloth, here's yet another reasn to do it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Special Mommy Time

A while back I blogged about my trepidation on having some "Alone Time". Going back & re-reading it, having been a mother of two for the past 5 months, I am very glad that I decided then to spend the night at home with my daughter. She was asleep when I got home, but I was there when she woke up.

I have since spent 1 single night away from her - the night my son, R, was born. Those days of napping with her are gone. Those days of giving her 100% of my attention to only her are fleeting. Our relationship has changed a bit since the arrival of my son, and I am so happy that I had the foresight to cherish those last few months/weeks/days alone with her.

That being said, now that there are two of them it is even harder to find a moment to myself to just be in my own head for a while. I put one child down, the other one needs me for something else. I get one to sleep and the other wakes up. I set K up to eat and R decides he needs to nurse right then. As constant as motherhood was with one child is has intensified drastically with two, and I found myself starting to come apart a bit at the edges. My need for a break was greater than it was before and I wasn't liking the person I was becoming. I was jealous of people who got to do all of these things outside of their families, like play in a band or go back to school or take a yoga class. I found myself getting bitter with Laura because she got to go to the gym at least once a week. Heck, I was aching to have the hour long commute she so often complained about; a full hour by myself in the car where I could listen to whatever music I wanted to, as loud or as soft as I wanted to. I could open up all of the windows if I wanted to without fear of who's too hot or too cold. I wouldn't have to worry if the wind was too much on someone else. Or I could sit in complete silence if I wanted to. Sounds like a treat to me, what is she complaining about??!!

I had this feeling of "stuck", like I was always waiting for my break in the day to come and it never did. In the morning I was overlooked in our routine, hoping to have 5 minutes to wash my hair without rushing because someone is crying for me. A chance to take clothes out of my closet & put them on my body before someone comes along and spills rice milk on it. Or do something as simple as wash the dishes in less than 5 and a half hours. Eat? What does that mean? So many days go by where I'm not putting anything in my mouth until dinnertime or when I feel like I'm going to pass out. I felt trapped, always waiting for the next part of the day to come because it always promised a break for myself. A break that never came.

I just have to get the kids dressed & fed. Then I can take a shower & get dressed.
But then I realize that nobody did the dishes last night & now I can't function in our kitchen. So I feed the kids & then do the dishes so that lunch will be easier. Then diapers have to be changed & potty must be gone to. Just get through (fill in the blank task). Then you can make yourself a cup of coffee. But then laundry, and who spilled something, and somebody inevitably poops on something they shouldn't have so everything must stop so we can deal with that.

You get the idea.

And while we did make some much needed changes to our schedules & morning routines, somehow I always got left out of things. If we were running late it was me who got less time because I didn't have a job to be at at a specific time. Laura had her set night that she went to the gym because it was important to her. Other nights she has to work late or has a business dinner or is gone to another state for a week. Don't misinterpret - I was a part of the schedule making as well. I told Laura that if she needed gym time that it would be done. It was me who wasn't pushing for the me time for myself. I thought it would be fine. I thought I could do without it. But I felt the need for it creeping in. And it bothered me the more I didn't get it.

So I thought about what it was that I wanted. It took me a while to figure it out & I considered pretty much all of my options. I didn't want to go back to work. R was still waaaayyy to young for that and I wasn't ready. As I mentioned in the other blog, it stresses me out to be away from my babies for too long while they are still nursing. I spend all of my "me time" worrying about how they're doing and if I need to be pumping, etc. and it just becomes more of a headache than it's worth. So I knew I couldn't do something too far away or that would take too much time either.

Then I found it. It literally appeared to me in the mail one day. An ASL course. It's one hour a week, 20 minutes away. I was of course worried about being able to afford it but we decided that it would be worth it, and let me tell you it is 100% worth it! On the way home the first night I was so happy I was in tears. I had my alone time in the car. I sang at the top of my lungs with the windows down & the sunroof open. (Yes, I am a crazy person). I had the class itself, which is something I've wanted to do for years & years now, and something I've been a little intimidated by to be honest. Being out of the game for so long has kind of made me question some of my abilities as of late. But the teacher is deaf and she does not speak at all, so we are forced to learn how to communicate with her. The fact that I have figured it out gave me a confidence boost.

Everything about this special mommy time is perfect. It is a set time for me - Laura knows not to plan work stuff on the nights I have class. She has some time where she is alone with 2 kids and gets a taste of what I do all day long. It's a long enough break for me so that it is, in fact, a break. But it's not so long that I start to worry about R. By the time I get home, he's gearing up for bed anyway so it couldn't time out any better. I have time to be my own person, to learn something that I want to learn. To interact with people as me, as Bel - not K & R's mommy or Laura's wife. I am relevant as me. I am able to prove to myself that I can still pick up a new skill and that whatever doubts I was starting to have in myself for being home for so long are unnecessary and unfounded. I'm still smart. I'm still able. I'll be able to transition out of this part of my life when the time is appropriate.

This really does give me the boost in my life that I was lacking. It resets me and my mind and my mood and lets me shine. When this class ends I will do something else and I will make sure that I never lose touch with myself again because I don't like the person I become when I fade into the background of my own life.

What do you do in your life to keep you going? What is your special mommy time?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Did It! R's Birth Story

Every birth has its story. I blogged about my daughter's birth and so I will blog about my son's birth, especially since they were such different experiences for me.

To understand his labor & delivery, you must understand that his was a unique pregnancy, to say the least. I am generally a healthy person. I was not considered a high-risk pregnancy, and none of my complications were dangerous to either myself or the baby, thankfully. But there were some complications. Without getting into too much detail here about that (trust me, you'll thank me), I'll just say that there was a lot of prolapse going on and things were very uncomfortable for me. To top it off, the baby was sitting very, very low and in the last few weeks I ended up with a separation in my pubic symphysis. His movements even started to become painful to me, I guess due to the lack of room in there and the fact that everything was so low. Needless to say, it was not the most comfortable pregnancy & I was looking forward to the end of it!

At my 36 week appointment, my Dr. told me that I was 99% effaced, 1cm dilated and at a station of -1. She was pretty sure I would go into labor within the week!! Yay!! I was so excited that the end was near!! And she told me this again at my 37 week appointment, my 38 week appointment, my 39 week appointment & my 40 week appointment. I should also add here that I started having some intense braxton hicks contractions around the 30 week point too. Some were consistent & timeable, but never amounted to anything. Yet they stayed for the rest of the pregnancy. Every day I had contractions and every day no baby. I started to believe that I would never go into labor & was coming to terms with the thought of being pregnant forever.

On June 2nd, my due date, I had some contractions earlier in the day but they went away as usual so I thought nothing of it. Around 2pm my 2 year old daughter, K, and I took a nap together. At the time, that meant that I sat in a recliner with my legs up & she bear-hugged me until she was asleep. Yes, she was right on top of the baby. He's fine. Don't judge me. That day I could not take a nap because his movements were "just very painful" as I described to Laura on the phone. At one point, I started having actual timeable contractions, 5 minutes apart for about 25 minutes but again, nothing came of it. Around 5pm I asked Laura when she was coming home from work because it was just a very uncomfortable day for me & I wanted to try to lay down for a little bit, which is impossible with a rambunctious toddler in the mix. No more actual contractions, no signs of labor, just general discomfort & somewhat painful baby movements. This went on for the rest of the afternoon into evening, but neither of us was all that concerned because, like I said, this was all par for the course for this pregnancy.

After dinner Laura took K outside to play and I stayed inside to relax by myself for a little while. I don't know at what point the contractions started, I don't think I was even aware of it. I don't know when I transitioned to the labor ball either - it was not a conscious decision - but when Laura came inside somewhere between 7 & 8 pm, I was face down on the labor ball! Laura came in and said to me, "So, we're in labor then?" and it wasn't until that point that I had even consciously registered it as a possibility! She timed my "twinges" as I was calling them, as I relaxed to the sounds of Empire Records playing in the background (no one bothered to turn off the TV and frankly, sexy Rexy is a great way to keep you relaxed and laughing).

I held off on calling my mom to come watch K because I wanted to be sure I was in labor. My biggest fear was getting to the hospital too soon and either getting sent home or laboring for a longer than desired time at the hospital. But it's a good thing that Laura convinced me it was time to call her because by the time she got to our house my contractions were about 3 minutes apart, lasting about 45 seconds each!! Yet for whatever reason, I was STILL not convinced that it was time to go to the hospital! I was hoping to be about 5cm when we got to the hospital, but I was already at 7cm!! Up until the car ride, labor was relatively "easy", as far as labor goes. The techniques I learned in class really helped me get through some of the bigger contractions, and I felt good about being able to go through with the natural birth. The car ride to the hospital was probably the worst because that's when the labor pains moved to my back. But I was amazed at how much more bearable they were as soon as I remembered to relax and release the muscles in my back, even though my body wanted to tense them up. When I relaxed them, the pain was nowhere near as bad! But as the contractions got closer together it was becoming more difficult to relax through them since there was barely any let-up and I could not find a comfortable position in the car. And not wanting to leave the car unattended at the ER entrance in Camden, we parked in the garage a block away and walked through the hospital, probably helping progress my labor even further (thanks Laura), haha!

Honestly, I couldn't have had a medicated birth this time around even if I wanted one! When I came in, I was at 7cm, and by the time they got me up to the L&D room, I was at 9! There wouldn't have been time for it! There was only 1 split-second that I started to doubt my abilities, and it was when the nurse was getting the Dr. I looked at Laura and said, "Tell me I can do this?". She did, and that was it. The thought left my mind as quickly as it had entered.

I think what surprised me the most about this time around was 1. How FAST it was, and 2. How crazy the urge to push is!! With K's birth, I had an epidural and so I never felt an urge to push, they just told me it was time and I pushed for over an hour and a half. This time, there was no denying it. I was the one telling them it was happening, and NOW! It was amazing! It was surreal, it was primal, it was almost animalistic, but it was definitely automatic. I absolutely understand what they say about how your body just knows what to do - I had no control over it, I couldn't stop it (like they had asked me to) and something just took over me and I was on autopilot. There was no questioning how to push or if I was doing it right, or if there was any progress, it all just happened on its own. All I had to do was not interfere, LOL.

In the HypnoBirthing classes, they showed films of women laying peacefully in tubs of water or in beds or wherever they were when the baby came. They were tranquil, in a sleep-like state and in 100% control of their bodies & that gave them peace and empowerment. I was not like that. I was not in control of my body at all. My baby was. And I was OK with that. I DID feel empowered; I trusted that my body would know what to do and I let it happen. After I told the nurse that I was ready to push she told me to wait until the Dr. came into the room, and I just sort-of laughed at her. And so R was born without the doctor there. An intern delivered him and the resident showed up just seconds after he arrived. Yes, it was that fast. I could feel where he was the whole way through and I knew when he was getting closer. It was such an amazing experience and there really are no words to describe it.

There was a bit of commotion at first while the NICU team checked him out (he had passed some meconium while in utero & they wanted to make sure he didn't inhale or ingest any of it) so I did not hear that he was a HE until Laura told me! They held him right in front of me while they checked his airway for a few seconds & then placed him on me as requested. I could not believe that I did it!! Even though I was confident, I guess a small part of me still thought that a natural birth was going to be this painful, horrible experience. And while it definitely had its moments of pain, it was nowhere near what I had originally feared. It was the most amazing moment of my life, and I am so thankful that I had the courage to do it this way. I saw his face and my heart melted. It was the same feeling I had after K was born, and yet so much different at the same time. My body is amazing. I can do anything.

Everything else that followed has proven to me that one decision can affect many, many things in a chain reaction. For me it was the epidural. With K, I had it and I know that this slowed my labor down. And since I couldn't 100% feel how I was pushing my recovery was awful. I was in a lot of pain and I needed Percocet to keep it at bay for about a week. That caused her to be sleepy and she wasn't very interactive and she didn't want to eat, which led to nursing issues and weight loss. Which led to high biliruben levels and jaundice and required us to go back to the hospital for more tests for her. I dreaded going home, not knowing how I was going to manage everything without a staff of nurses to bring me ice & medication. I didn't leave the house for over a month, save the dreaded doctor appointments. With R, there was no epidural. Recovery was almost a breeze. I managed my pain with some Tylenol & Advil when I needed it, which was only for about 3 days. He was happy and alert and took to nursing immediately. No weight loss issues. No jaundice. I couldn't wait to get home, so they discharged us the day after he was born. We were out & about bringing K to Little Gym less than a week later. I do not think that this is a coincidence.

So while I didn't have the serene HypnoBirth that I had planned for, I am more than thrilled about the birth that I did experience. I am so happy that I found the confidence in myself to follow through with a natural childbirth this time around, and if I have a third child I am certain that this will be my goal as well. My body is amazing. I can do anything.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


It's been quite a while since my last blog post & I must apologize for this. Since my last post a lot has happened, including the birth of my son, R. Although this was my second birth, it was incredibly different from my daughter's birth. Had I known then what I know now, I think K might have come into this world a bit differently.

With my first pregnancy I was simply ecstatic for the first month or so, and then I spent the rest of the pregnancy freaking out about how this kid was going to make its way into the world. I was completely terrified of birth in any way - medicated, unmedicated, natural, caesarian - you name it, I was scared of it. Mostly because all that I had heard from women was how awful their birth experiences were. I even found myself in tears at my doctor's office talking about birthing options, I was so terrified! It seems so silly to me now, but that fear really had a grip on me and prevented me from having a better birth, and I don't think this is an uncommon experience for a lot of women.

So when I got pregnant again, I decided that this time was going to be different. I had already been through one so I knew I was physically capable of it, I knew I would survive it, and I felt I knew what to expect. Overall, I was just more comfortable with the idea of giving birth at all this time around. And after going back and looking at my experience with my daughter, I was able to see where I could have made better decisions for me and I knew the things that I wanted to change. I knew that the epidural probably caused me to be in labor for 22+ hours. It was probably a large part of the reason my recovery was so awful, and why we had some nursing problems as well.. So this time I knew I really wanted to try for a natural delivery. Of course, there was still that small fear of "can I really do this?" and I did feel somewhat unprepared. I knew I wanted to take some kind of birthing course, but I didn't know what.

Then I was talking with a friend of mine who was also expecting, and she told me about hypnobirthing. Yeah, it sounded a little hokey at first. Hypnobirthing? What, are they going to hypnotize me to have a baby? I had visions of being in labor with someone swinging a pocket watch in front of my face while I clucked like a chicken & pushed out a baby. But she assured me that it's not like that at all, so I did a little research.

Basically, it gives you techniques to relax through the physical pain and ways to cope with it. For me, it empowered me to have more of an active role in my birth experience instead of letting the doctors decide everything for me & me blindly going along with it. It took the fear out of birth for me. Yeah, an unmedicated birth was probably not going to be the most comfortable experience of my life, but it wasn't something to be afraid of either. It showed me something other than women writhing in pain & screaming different colors of words at their husbands. These women were relaxed and confident and happy. It gave me something to strive towards and it gave me an image of what my second birth could be like. Honestly, just having confidence in your abilities & what you are doing is what makes all the difference.

So call it hokey, roll your eyes & giggle at it if you must. But hypnobirthing empowered me with tools to willingly do something that I was so afraid of not that long ago. It gave me the confidence I needed to do what I should have done the first time around.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Clean B Detergent Rave!

By now we're all well aware of the ammonia problems I have been having with our cloth diapers. Since I have mentioned that I am a smell person, I have just been sucking it up & spending 6-7 hours a load to make sure that everything smells OK. And by that, I mean that my nose doesn't burn when I take the diapers out of the dryer. I would not say that they smelled "good" by any stretch of the imagination. At best, I wasn't lurching & running away from them.

With that being said, there was one detergent in particular that I was itching to try: Clean B. I had heard of it some time ago, even before we started using cloth diapers. And a friend of ours highly recommended it as well. So when we got the diaper funk, I went right to the website to place an order, but there was one catch - this detergent is handmade by a Mama who was taking a break to give birth to her 8th child. So no orders were being accepted for several months. By the time she was back into the swing of things, we had already spent money on other detergents & solutions & couldn't rationalize spending more money again. Luckily, my mother was feeling generous and bought us a large bag!!

It took several weeks to come in since each batch is made to order, so I have only done 2 loads of diapers so far. However I can already say that this stuff is AMAZING & I hope that my love for it lasts!! Not only is the ammonia smell completely gone, but when the diapers are done they actually smell GREAT!! I can put my nose up to them, take a whiff & be HAPPY with how they smell!! And when my daughter uses them, they're just wet - no more ammonia smell as soon as she goes! Like I said, it's only been 2 loads so I hope that sharing my delight isn't too premature, but time will tell.

What I love most about this detergent is that there are TONS of scents to choose from, including some familiar ones like Bounce, Tide & Downy!! We opted for the Bounce scent and while I don't think it smells anything like the Bounce dryer sheets at all, I do like the way it smells & the important thing is that the scent stays with the diapers. Other detergents that I have used have a faint, light scent to them that is pretty much gone by the time they're done drying. But not Clean B!

The down-side: It is a little more expensive than other detergents & it takes quite some time to ship, so make sure you order well before you actually NEED to use it. Other than that, so far I can't complain! This stuff is amazing & I hope it keeps our ammonia problems at bay.

(**I was not asked or paid by Clean B to write this review, I am doing it of my own accord** I am not a paid blogger, however if you are someone in a position to offer me a paying blogging job, I am all ears!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Alone" Time: Healthy Or Stressful

I think I'm having attachment issues.

I've been in this weird place lately where I have been struggling to define myself outside of being Mommy to someone. "Struggling" is a bad word for what I'm feeling though. It's not a struggle, I am not unhappy per se, just a little lost. For the past almost 3 years, I have been either pregnant or nursing. My body has not been entirely my own, and everything I do to it, everything I put into it, every decision I make effects another human being in one way or another. In a lot of ways I stand in awe of myself because my body -- MY body -- sustained another human life entirely for quite some time, in the womb & outside. What I have been able to do is fantastic & I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

But because of those decisions, I haven't been away from my daughter for more than a few hours at a time. I'm actually kind of proud of that - I was there for all of her firsts. I watched them myself & didn't have to hear about them from someone else. I am there when she goes to sleep at night & I am there when she wakes up in the morning. She is my world. Of course, it is also healthy for both myself & K for me to go out and have some separate time from her. As mothers we need a mental break every now & then to gather ourselves & regroup, and our children need to experience their world without us right there beside them. And while I have taken advantage of some "alone" time in the past, it has usually just consisted of a few hours out in the evening, or an extra hour or two of sleep on a weekend morning. It never occurred to me to spend an entire night out somewhere, and it hasn't really been an option in the past because K was still nursing.

But she's not anymore. She's not nursing & I don't HAVE TO spend as much time with her. Realizing this & knowing that I won't have an opportunity like this again for at least another year or so, I made plans to visit my cousin in NYC for her birthday - My first overnight trip away from my daughter EVER, and an entire 24 hours to just be me, as an adult. Without having to worry about anyone else but me. I was really looking forward to the mental break.

Until I actually thought about it. I haven't spent an entire night away from my daughter since she has been born. Do I really want to do that now? I knew she would be fine, leaving her in the capable arms of Laura, my wife & K's Marmy. It wasn't her care I was worried about. But the thought of sleeping in a completely different building in a totally different state as K was making me very emotional & I didn't know why at first. But it's because she's becoming independent from me and a part of me feels like I am already about to lose her, so why spend any more time away from her than I have to? Since weaning, she has pushed me to the side in a way. She is reaching for Laura more & more and is not as dependent on me. So I am trying to cherish the little time that is left with just her & I at home before Baby #2 arrives. It won't be long before I can't give her 100% of my attention because there will be a new baby to care for. It won't be long before she doesn't want to nap with me anymore (and I don't know if I will be able to nap with her once a sibling comes into the mix). It won't be long before she starts preschool & starts learning things & spending a larger amount of time away from me. It won't be long before she grows up. Realizing all of that, do I really have to spend a night away from her now?

I kept hearing, "She'll be fine, just go & enjoy yourself" or "You need to do this for you, you won't have a chance to do this for a while". But the truth is, I didn't WANT to spend the night away. It was causing me more emotional stress than it was worth just thinking about being away from her for that long. I had a similar issue when she was much younger & still nursing. I would go out for a few hours in the evening, but my head would never really be where I was physically. I was constantly wondering how K was, is she hungry, is she taking a bottle, should I have pumped before I left, and sometimes it was more mentally & emotionally draining to be away from her than it was rewarding or healthy for me. It wasn't worth the effort or worry because I wasn't getting out of the night what I should have been. It wasn't really a break & I didn't feel any better for it.

Faced with the same dilemma regarding a sleepover, I decided against it. Yes, I wanted a break. Yes, I needed to get away on my own for some time to be just me. But I did not need to have a sleepover to achieve that. Just a long day would suffice. And if I'm not ready to do an overnight away from my daughter then I shouldn't do it, regardless of what others think is "good" for me. I know what's good for me and what I can handle, and I can't handle an overnight yet, and that's OK. There is plenty of time for that in the future.

As with all things, there has to be a balance. Alone time is great & healthy for everyone. But not if it causes stress. The reward must be greater than the sacrifice for it to be beneficial, otherwise it defeats the purpose. And for me, right now, it is worth it & healthy to spend a very long day & late night in NYC as me. But a sleepover would defeat the purpose.

Have you had a situation where you needed to re-evaluate what was beneficial and what was detrimental? How did you decide where that fine line was?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Great Wipe Debate

Apparently there is a big debate going on over whether or not to use cloth or disposable wipes. Is it worth it? Do they work as well? Is it something I should be doing? So I decided to weigh in on the issue.

The truth is that I am torn. As with anything, there are pros & cons to using cloth wipes. I think it ends up coming down to what is most important to you and what works best for your lifestyle.

The Pros:

1. Less waste. Anything that is reusable instead of disposable has this advantage, so this should be no surprise here. It also means less guilt about having to use several wipes in one change. If your spouse is like mine, they use one entire wipe per swipe of the tush, which can add up pretty quickly. So in the end, it's a financial saver as well.

2. No digging through icky mess to remove the disposable wipes before tossing into the diaper pail. When there is a big mess, it is much easier to be able to toss everything into the pail all together. With disposable wipes you really shouldn't be putting them through your washer/dryer, so you would have to remove them to toss into the trash before dumping the diaper. This can be quite a messy situation.

The Cons:
(I should preface this section by saying that I am not using actual flannel cloth wipes. I received a money saving tip that using baby washcloths works just as well & they are much, much cheaper than the wipes are. So I think that some of these "cons" might be reduced by using cloth wipes actually intended to be wipes.)

1. I feel that they are harsher on my baby's bum than disposable wipes. Not the solution I am using, but the material of the wipe itself. I feel that it is more abrasive than I would like. I have used the non-scrubbing side of the washcloths & I still feel it's not as gentle as it could be. I do plan on purchasing some flannel wipes with Baby #2, and I think that might help with this.

2. They stain fairly easily. Shouldn't be a big deal, but this makes me not want to use them for other messes, such as pasta sauce on my daughter's face. The cloth wipes should be versatile so that you can eliminate all disposable wipe use entirely. But I am not comfortable wiping my daughter's face with something that has a poop stain on it. Even though I know it's perfectly clean. So I still buy disposable wipes to handle the other messes, and I carry 2 wipe cases in the diaper bag when I'm going out. I have considered buying a set of wipes & designating it for "other" uses and not for diapers, but I think it would get confusing while out & about & everything would end up mixed-up together anyway, and it's not eliminating the need to carry around 2 wipes cases.

The Unclear:

1. They can get expensive initially, on average about $1 a wipe - the same cost as a prefold diaper. As I mentioned before, someone gave me a tip to use baby washcloths instead and it did save me a lot of money, about 1/4 of the cost. Instead of $12 for 12 wipes, I paid $3 for 12 washcloths. But I am not 100% satisfied with my wipes, so maybe it is worth it to break down & buy the flannel ones.

2. Many people claim that cloth wipes clean your baby's bottom better. I don't feel that either one cleans any better than the other. Some moms claim that they can clean up a big poopy mess with 1 cloth wipe as opposed to 4 or 5 disposable wipes. I don't agree with this. If it's a big mess, I am going to be using more than one wipe so that I feel that my child's bottom is clean enough, regardless of whether it's disposable or cloth. I think the clean-up difference is in the diapers; I think that some cloth diapers wipe the poop off the butt better than disposables, but it depends on the diaper & it depends on the poop. We all know that some poops are just explosive & it's a project to clean them up! However, I do enjoy that clean-up can be a mini bath on her bottom. I make our wipe solution at home out of mixture of water & very tiny amount of gentle soap. So if she's particularly dirty, I can get the wipe really wet & fight the urge to toss her in the tub for while!

3. I find that you can't let clean wet wipes sit for very long without them getting that milew-ey, wet sponge smell. As I have said previously, I am a smell person and bad smells make me crazy. So this was something I had to play with. I didn't like spraying the wipe or K's bum with a pre-mixed solution - I just didn't think it got clean enough. So wetting them before the change was the way to go for us. I find that you can have wet wipes around for about 2 days before they start to stink, and can usually push it to 3 days if I have to. So every morning I douse a number of wipes with water & that gentle soap and store them in the travel case. If I overestimate, I can just use them the next day before I wet any more, but I have to make sure I use them first. So another part of the CD routine to add. Not really a positive or a negative, just another thing to consider.

So overall, I am undecided on how I feel. I will continue to use my cloth wipes because I have them & they work fine enough. I do look forward to the softer wipes with Baby #2, but K is almost out of diapers so I am not investing any more money into CD-ing for her.

How about you? Do you use cloth wipes? If so, what do you like & dislike about them?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mommy "Misery" Blogging - Unhealthy For All

There seems to be a trend going on with mom bloggers lately, and I am not a big fan. There is this ongoing purge of negative feelings & self pity presenting itself in a number of the blogs that I follow. It's not the venting of struggles that I mind, it's that it goes on for weeks at a time, taking over several posts.

Yes, motherhood comes with many challenges. Some we are made well aware of before taking the plunge, like lack of sleep, leaky poopy diapers, and endless mounds of laundry. Others are a complete unwelcome surprise to us, amidst our sleepless, hormonally challenged haze of existence. No one told me it would take me over 3 weeks to heal after delivery (turns out that is abnormal). No one told me that if your nipples are bleeding during those early nursing days it is possible for your newborn to spit up blood all over you. And most of all, nobody told me that some of the choices I would make might be the more difficult routes, and others might make me feel, "Well, this is what I chose. I deserve to be miserable" because of them.

And yes, we should be able to let our feelings out. It is important to feel that we are not alone in our struggles and know that there is someone else out there going through the same thing we are, especially in cases of complications. As moms, we do need the support of other moms instead of the judgment, instead of the competitive glaze of faux perfection leering down at us from upturned noses. But it is also important to let go of the sadness & self pity and move on.

Once we feel that sadness and start feeling sorry for ourselves, it is very easy to get stuck in a cycle where we are actually making ourselves feel worse. And unhappy mommys mean unhappy babies & partners. I'm not saying to bottle everything up or that every day should be sunshine & rainbows. Acknowledge that there is a struggle, get the emotion out, and then move on. Figure out a solution or a way to get past it and find something positive to focus on.

The reason I bring any of this up is because I am finding myself at a strange crossroads that I did not think would have as much of an emotional impact as it is having on me. Since the summer of 2008 I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding. I am finally at a point with my daughter where I have some of my 0wn freedom, however I am halfway through my second pregnancy & I know that the small amount of freedom I have gained is going to be taken away once Baby #2 gets here. If I sit and let it get to me, it can be very depressing. It is easy to slip into that selfish mode and dwell on the fact that I have not been allowed to completely be my own person for almost 2 years. I have been at home alone. We live an hour away from most of our friends & family. It has been very isolating. I miss the simplicities of my old routine, like a morning radio show accompanied by a latte, knowing that I would see the same people every day when I got to work. I miss having clothes that actually fit me and a little extra money to buy ones that do. It could be very easy to let that get me down day after day, and I almost let it. So instead of focusing on what I am missing out on, I need to see everything that I have gained!! I will not add to the overwhelming blog negativity of SAHM's!! Instead, I will post this about my current situation:

I have not worked in almost 2 years, and we are still alive!! Our house has not been foreclosed on, we still have our cars in our possession, and we are not at risk of losing any of those things anytime soon. And had I stayed at my old job, I would have been laid off by now anyway as the office closed. I have not been away from my daughter for more than a few hours at a time, and when I have she has been in the care of either family members or very close friends. I have been able to see all of her major milestones myself. K nursed for 18 months; although it was very trying at times, I am amazed that I was able to hang in there for that long, and she has exhibited many signs that she is all the better for it. And while I will miss being able to be "myself" for a few hours at a time, I also currently miss the bond that nursing brought us & I look forward to having that back with Baby #2. The next few years will be rough, but once they grow up, that is it. This special time I have with however many children we are blessed with is limited & I will cherish it for however long I am able to do so. But I have to take advantage of it now, while I can. There will be plenty of time for lattes and radio shows, but afternoon naps on the couch together are fleeting.

Whatever your struggle, whatever your situation, you are not alone & there is an end in sight. Things will get better, but you have to believe that in order to get out of the negative headspace. You need to see the good that is in your situation as it is now - I promise you it is there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ammonia Problems & HE Washers

Sorry for the lapse in posting folks! I know that all 6 of you have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my latest thoughts, ha! My half-dozen readers :) The end of 2010 brought with it lots of excitement; some good, some interesting challenges & some not so good.

Our first "interesting challenge" was when we developed an ammonia problem with our diapers. I had deduced that it stems from us using dryer sheets with some of our other laundry loads. They create a build-up inside your dryer which transfers onto your clothing. Normally this isn't a problem for regular clothes & blankets, etc. But with cloth diapers, build-up = ammonia stink and can lead to leakage problems down the road. It also causes rashes on those sensitive baby bums (probably part of the rash issue I was having). The easy solution was to clean out the dryer & discontinue the use of dryer sheets altogether but I certainly wasn't ready to do that! We have waaaaayyy too much static in our house during the winter & I am not willing to suffer through it or make anyone else do so. Plus, I'm a smell person. Not only do bad smells greatly upset me, but they have different meanings to me. I LOVE the way our dryer sheets smell and the way the clothes smell right after they come out. It brings me right back to my childhood & wrapping myself up in a nice clean blanket, fresh out of the dryer. It's a comforting constant for me. I have associated that feeling and smell with clean laundry & I want to be able to experience that still and possibly have my children experience the same. So I needed to find another solution.

I tried bleach first. It did get rid of the ammonia smell but it came right back. I did not want to be bleaching the diapers every time I washed them, nor is it recommended to do so. I needed something that I could use with every wash, that was environmentally friendly, that wouldn't destroy the diapers after x amount of uses, and that wouldn't add any time to my already 2 hour wash/dry routine. My research turned up Dawn. Yup, a few drops of regular blue Dawn dish detergent in the initial rinse cycle. This solved the problem right away, kept the ammonia stink from coming back & best of all it was really easy and I didn't have to change anything about my wash routine! Yay! Bliss for about 2 weeks!

Because our second "interesting challenge" came about when our beloved washing machine went kaput the day before Christmas Eve. We had no choice but to replace it, and luckily there were some fantastic sales the day after Christmas. After much debating, we decided to purchase our first HE washer/dryer set. I was a bit apprehensive at first because I remember reading about some people having difficulties with washing cloth diapers in them because they use significantly less water, but I also knew that there were plenty of people who got through it so I was prepared to do some research. It has taken a while, and we did have a lot of problems getting into a routine that worked for us, but I think we have found something.

The first wash I did like I would have done normally in the regular machine. Cold rinse with a few drops of Dawn. Hot wash cycle with Rockin' Green detergent and cold rinse with nothing. Then an extra cold rinse, again with nothing. The new machine has a setting to automatically add an extra rinse to any wash that you do, and there is also a cycle that is just a rinse & spin. You would think that this would make things easier, but really it just made everything more confusing, especially since that first load came out still stinking of ammonia! Then I followed advice to try a full normal cycle with a few drops of Dawn in the liquid soap dispenser & white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser, followed by a "Sanitize" cycle (the washer heats the water up to 150 degrees killing any bacteria that may be in the diapers) with the Rockin' Green, and then a rinse & spin cycle, adding an extra rinse to each load. This did work for the stink, but it took me 6 hours just to get everything into the dryer!! The Sanitize cycle alone is almost 2 hours long! This was not going to work at all. I tried every suggestion I could find. I tried regular Tide for HE machines even though it is usually considered a HUGE no-no for CD-ing. I tried white vinegar. I tried extra rinses, extra detergent, different detergents, low or no spins. I bought a diaper spray (not a diaper sprayer - a microbial spray that you spritz on every diaper before you toss it in the pail), I bleached, I tried an ammonia bouncer.

And then I took the best advice I have found so far: STOP OVER-THINKING!! The CD industry has decided somewhere along the line that caring for diapers has to be a rocket science; a delicate process that can easily be interfered with by the littlest additive or chemical imbalance. Women have been using & washing cloth diapers for years & years without worrying about half of this. They did not buy different detergent. They did not spend hours laboring over the laundry. They did not have the internet to research the million different ways we can make ourselves crazy. They kept it simple. Obviously I have to account for changes during the advent of HE appliances, but I need to chill out.

One normal cold wash with ammonia bouncer & Dawn. No spins, no extra anything. One normal hot wash with detergent (sometimes Rockin Green with a scent because it smells nice, sometimes Tide, sometimes whatever I feel like. But switch it up - don't stick with one thing for too long). No spins. One cold rinse & spin with nothing. That's it. That's my routine & I have everything in the dryer in about 2 hours. It's a little longer than my original routine with a regular washer but I can live with it because once everything is in the dryer I can leave it be & not worry about it until later that night. While I prefer to do it all in one foul swoop & have everything folded & put away in the morning, it's not the end of the world to fold & put away later at night (with the help of my wife if she's willing!) If I have extra time & feel inclined, I will do a Sanitize wash maybe once a month.

The moral of the story? As with many things in life, keep it simple. There are a million things we have made more complicated with "advances", from talking on the phone to making food to washing diapers. Life is supposed to be easy and the best way to reaiz e that is to keep things simple.

What have you simplified in your life?