Archie is 3 months old today! We made it -- high fives all around. Y'all, I love my little munchkin, but let me tell you, the first 3 months (aka the 4th trimester) are hard. And some have it a whole lot harder than others. And with that being said, some have it easier, so don't let me scare you! Every baby is truly his own unique person, and you really have to take time to get to know him -- it doesn't happen over night! A friend gave me this little nugget recently: "Everything is a stage -- nothing lasts forever." When things get tough, just take a deep breath and know that this too shall pass. And all the cute little milestones pass quickly as well, so try to enjoy each moment as much as you can. Whoever said "the days are long, but the years are short" is so right! While some days in the last three months felt like an eternity, they've gone by in a flash overall. I'm always picking my friends' brains for tips and scouring the Internet for answers to my baby-related questions -- there are so many products and books and toys out there that I thought I'd share what's worked well for us at our house these last few months.
Here are my top 10 4th trimester must-haves:
1. Medela Breastmilk Storage Solution -- I received a Medela pump by way of our insurance, so I bought this storage solution set for pumping. I love the variety of pieces it comes with; especially the containers with lids that show the day of the week and time of day to help you stay organized with your milk supply. Another pump accessory I recommend: a hands-free bra (you will feel
ridiculous like you should be a character in 50 Shades of Grey funny in it at first, so just have a good laugh. And maybe a good laugh with your husband, too.) I have this one, but you can also make your own or cut holes in an old sports bra!
2. "Moms on Call," Kindle edition: I say Kindle edition because it was nice to refer to it on my iPhone quickly any time of the day, and it's cheaper than buying the print version that comes with a dvd in a bundle. The book is short, easy to read and includes chapters on basic baby care -- it answered so many of my questions! Best of all, it includes chapters on scheduling your baby during the day. We started an eat, play, sleep schedule with Archie at 4 weeks. Of course we have to be flexible during growth spurts, but getting on a schedule early has helped us as parents and I think helped Archie, too.
3. Solly Baby Wrap -- Baby wearing for the win! Admittedly, sitting on the couch with Archie for those first few weeks while he slept and ate slowly started getting to me. I am not a "sit on the couch" kind of person -- I tend to go stir crazy, and fast. Since he didn't like being put down much at first, wearing him was my solution to getting up and getting moving with my hands free to do other things -- cook, clean and even get back to work! I loved the Solly Baby Wrap for when he was little and the Moby Wrap for when he started to get a little bigger. The Ergo is another favorite -- it offers back support and I like that you can wear baby on your back when he has head control!
4. Halo Sleep Sacks: Archie was a big baby and from birth was very strong. The day after he was born he was holding his head up for several seconds at a time! Swaddling proved difficult from the get-go. He made his way out of every swaddle imaginable, including the Miracle Blanket, which friends recommended. Halo sleep sacks have Velcro, which he couldn't -- and still can't -- bust out of. We're almost out of the woods as far as the Moro reflex goes, so he should be able to sleep with his arms outside of the sacks soon.
5. "The Nursing Mother's Companion": I think for the first three months my web browser history only included queries for how to get my baby to sleep and what on earth was normal when it came to breastfeeding. I struggled with breastfeeding. Not because of Archie's latch or because of my supply, but because I really disliked it at first. It's kind of taboo to admit that, but it's the truth. Yes; it's a way to bond with your baby. Yes; it's convenient. Yes; it burns calories and helps you lose the pregnancy weight. These are all reasons why I stuck with it. But breastfeeding is hard -- let's not kid ourselves. And oh the guilt. You feel so much guilt when you don't love it and wonder why it doesn't seem to be the beautiful experience you imagined. (Please read this post by Stephanie Sprenger on keeping it real re: breastfeeding and other new-mama challenges. I read it a half a dozen times to ensure me I wasn't alone in how I felt about many things those first few weeks.)
Of course, with time things got better and they're getting easier as we speak.
Archie eats all. the. time. He loves to nurse. Which is great, but I had questions. So many questions. Why is my baby always hungry? How long should my baby nurse? Is my baby using me as a human pacifier? (yes) Why isn't this lanolin working?! (Get a prescription for APNO. I don't think that's in the book...but do it before your ta-tas are a wreck.) While Googling info about breastfeeding is fine -- Kellymom is a great site -- there's so much conflicting information on the topic online. "The Nursing Mother's Companion" is a great book, straight forward, and it really answered all of the many questions I had at first. I still refer to it from time to time.
6. My Breast Friend pillow: I liked this breast feeding pillow because it has a snap to go around your waist to keep it secure. Bonus: the side pocket for snacks or a water bottle.
7. mamaRoo swing: Great because it takes up minimal space, comes with built-in sounds and a place to plug in your iPhone to listen to music through its speakers. Archie loves swinging in it for short stretches while I take a shower, cook or eat (/ drink copious amounts of coffee.) It helps that it's a super sleek, attractive design, too!
8. Fisher Price Rock n' Play Sleeper: So my mom bought me the most beautiful bassinet for Archie to sleep in, and guess what? He hated it. The first week I got literally no sleep because I wasn't prepared for Archie to dislike his bassinet and sleeping on his back. I was desperate for sleep myself and didn't know what to do -- I had no information on co-sleeping or falling asleep with a baby on my chest, and of course everything I Googled on the subject was terrifying. I was sure I'd fall asleep and smother my baby in the process. So, what did I do? I sat up in a chair and let Archie sleep on my chest (the only place he'd sleep), and tried to stay awake. When James got off night shift at work or my mom was ready to help me during the day, I'd get a couple hours of sleep until Archie was ready to eat again. A word of advice? Don't do this unless you want to see how crazy you can become after a week with no sleep (let me tell you: bananas. crazy. Mix some postpartum hormonal crazy in with no sleep crazy, and you have an insane person.) Friends recommended I buy the Rock n' Play Sleeper, and since I would do anything to try and get my baby to sleep somewhere besides my chest at night, I bought it with no hesitation. I'm not kidding -- this thing is a miracle product! Archie was sleeping in it immediately and for 2-3 hour stretches. Finally I got some sleep and stopped feeling like a crazy person. Everyone was happy. If you buy anything on this list, this should be it!
9. Washable breast pads: So comfy and washable. I have two packs and I'm constantly washing and reusing them -- they're great.
10. White noise machine: The best way to keep baby asleep! White noise blocks out other noise and is comforting since doctors say it's similar to what babies hear in the womb. I've gotten quite used to it myself, and I think it helps me stay in a deeper sleep longer. Buy one that has a continuous setting that won't switch off after a couple of hours. And don't be afraid to turn it up as loud as it will go!
Other "honorable mentions" that I think are great for new moms:
- Nursing tank tops. I have a few that I honestly rotate and wear almost every day. I like the Cantaloop brand best; sometimes Zulily sells them discounted as well.
- This adorable bath time cushion by Skip Hop is so great and protects your knees from tough tile, and it's pretty cute, too. I just noticed Pottery Barn Kids sells it in grey!
- 4moms Breeze Playard is amazing. Seriously, ONE STEP and it's open and set up. Watch the video via their website to see what I'm talking about. It's pricey but worth every last penny.
- I also love the 4moms infant tub. I like that it filters the dirty water out of the tub while you're bathing baby.
- Latchy-Catchy: A genius little handmade gadget that allows you to creep in and out of baby's room quietly. Get one here.
- "Happiest Baby on the Block" DVD: James and I watched the "Happiest Baby on the Block" dvd the afternoon before I was due to check into the hospital (last minute, much?), but I'm so glad we did! Everyone should watch it -- it's full of helpful information on how to calm a crying baby, aka the "5 S's." If you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out. You won't be sorry. We still shh Archie to calm him down and shh him to sleep and it works like a charm.
- Crib/changing table liners: Some have a tendency to roll-up, but a friend bought me the Munchkin brand at Target and they're awesome. Another friend recommends this disposable kind as well.
- My dad made this DIY baby gym for us and Archie loves it! I like that we're able to easily carry it around the house with us, clip toys on and off, and put it away when it's not in use. We've kept him busy playing with it on his back and sitting up in his baby carrier. He loves to look at all the toys and bat at them with his hands. It's a cheap alternative to those expensive baby gyms that are on the market.
- Toys: Archie isn't quite to the stage where we can tell how much he loves certain toys, but some hold his interest a lot longer than others. He loves this Lamaze peacock, this Baby Einstein octopus, and crinkly books. He seems to enjoy anything that plays music or makes noise. We hang toys like the peacock from my dad's DIY baby gym and he's entertained for quite a bit!
That's my list, but I'd love to hear what products you love that helped you survive the 4th trimester and beyond! I'm about to enter the teething stage, so mamas, say and prayer for me and spill your secrets about how to get us through!
xo -- Natty