The Struggle is Real

As a mom of an active 3 year old and an always hungry 6 month old, I’m constantly faced with the struggle of comfort vs style. The struggle is real. Ha!

Honestly though, as mothers we are constantly changing and re-arranging our lives based on the needs of our children. I’m okay with that. Really, I thrive off of my children needing me. However, as a woman I find that after a while I begin to feel down and need a pick-me up. Maybe it’s because I only get 4 hours of sleep a night or maybe it’s because I’m constantly covered in milk, slobber, vomit, poop, and urine (often all at once). I mean, let’s face it, when you choose your outfit, hair-do and food (Guy has a dairy intolerance) based on your kids’ needs, there’s not much left of YOU.

No, I’m not complaining. I’m just saying, every once in a while you need something besides your family that makes you feel good about yourself; something that makes you say, yeah, I still got it! That “thing” could be a new hairstyle or maybe a new outfit. For me, it was a bra.

I was given the opportunity to try out a nursing/pumping bra from The Dairy Fairy. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Up until now, I’d been wearing the cheapest nursing bras I could find and they certainly weren’t cute. When I opened the package and pulled out the Ayla Luxury Lace Nursing and Handsfree Pumping bra, my immediate response was, “umm…its lace!” I don’t wear lacy anything and certainly not undergarments. Don’t get me wrong, it’s super cute but those aren’t comfortable. I’m used to cotton and spandex. Those are mom fabrics. Well, well…let me just tell you. Not only did it make me feel like a hot momma, but it was super comfy and practical.

It’s difficult for me to find a good fitting bra. I have scoliosis and it makes my bras twist and bunch and it’s just overall annoying. The Ayla has a nice band under the cups that fits snug. It also has a mini underwire. If you were to look through my current, embarrassing collection of bras; you’d find that I actually cut-out any underwire that I come in contact with. They dig into my sternum and sides and I altogether just try to avoid underwires. Not this time. The Ayla’s mini underwire doesn’t even wrap all the way around the cup. It only comes to the mid-center and it keeps everything right where it should be.

So, I mention that my son loves to nurse. He’s six months old and still on a feeding schedule of every two to three hours. Yep, he’s a big boy and when he’s hungry, he doesn’t want to wait. Having a nursing bra that is easy to clip and unclip is key to getting my Guy his food when he wants it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to fidget with a nursing clip to get the stinking thing unlatched. Thanks Dairy Fairy for making a bra that has a clip that’s quick and easy to use. Oh, and because the material is thin and flexible, it’s easy to fold down and out of the way while nursing.

IMG_2250_for blog

Besides being a mommy and wife, I have a full-time job that requires me to be away from the kids 10 hours a day. Therefore, I have to pump while I’m away. I recently posted a picture in one of my Lactation Facebook groups of the indentions on my arms from where I hold the flanges while I pump. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Up until I tried the Ayla, I’d never had a hands-free pumping bra and I pumped for over a year for my daughter. Hands free pumping is where it’s at! Wow! I love how I have both hands to look at adorable pictures on my phone of my kids while I pump and I don’t have the painful, unattractive indentions from trying to hold both flanges while I pump. The hidden flange openings make it easy and convenient to pump both sides at once. The openings are small enough to keep the flange (mine are 27mm) in place but big enough to fit them through easily.

I mentioned that comfort is key for me in a nursing/pumping bra. One of the only things I really dislike about nursing is having to sleep in a bra. The 9 months between weaning my daughter and having my son were the most comfortable months of my life as a mother because I didn’t have to sleep in a bra. Needless to say, I didn’t have high hopes for the bra as a nighttime undergarment. Wow! I was completely impressed. The Ayla was actually very comfortable while sleeping. It didn’t twist and bunch and the nursing clip made for easy nighttime feedings.

While I’m not big of shopping for bras and definitely not a fan of spending the $$$ on a bra, I find myself excited to replace some of my old, worn-out, impractical nursing bras with new ones from the Dairy Fairy.

If you struggle to find a bra that’s right for you, try the Dairy Fairy.

Thanks Dairy Fairy for making a bra that is practical, comfortable, and stylish all at the same time.

-Momstracted Momma

 

Ten Products We Never Thought We’d Need:

When you find out you’re expecting you go through stages of emotion. One thought that can send a pregnant woman into a whirlwind of emotion is the BABY REGISTRY. The thought of getting so many cute clothes, fuzzy toys, and fun gadgets and gizmos is very exciting. When you look at the books, the magazines, and the Pinterest posts, reality sets in and you have your first real “pregnant lady meltdown.” How in the world will you ever get all of the stuff you need to care for this tiny, helpless human being? And God help us all if you forget to put something on the registry. Oh, the REGISTRY. Now that’s meltdown #2 waiting to happen. The sales associate follows you around the store asking you what bottles you are going to use, if you will be breast-feeding, if your car has a car seat harness, and a million other questions that have nothing to do with cute clothes, fuzzy toys, and fun gadgets and gizmos. The truth is, you might not get everything you need right away, but it’s okay. What you don’t get from showers and generous friends and family, you’ll get later on down the road. Save your receipts, to everything, and buy what you need as you need it.

There were several things we bought after the fact. Several things we had no idea we would need. Some of the things we had never even heard of. The truth is, even if we had heard of it, I’m not sure we would have purchased it right away anyway. You’ll hear everyone say it and you’ll get tired of hearing everyone say it, “ALL BABIES ARE DIFFERENT.” It’s so true though. We might have had to make late night runs to the baby store or plan a shopping trip while on vacation but Baby Bell is happy and healthy.

Now back to the fun stuff. Like I said, there were things we never thought we would need. My husband, Flick, will tell you I love listening to podcasts, reading mom blogs, and following mom groups on social media. He will also tell you that is where I learn the best ways to empty the bank account. It’s true; I’m a sucker for “new” baby products. However, Flick is pretty good at making me justify the purchase before spending the money.

I compiled a list of 10 different products that we never thought we’d need but later learned they made life a lot easier. I won’t go into great detail as some of these will be posts all of their own later down the line. Certain items, like baby carriers, required a lot of research to determine what was best for us. These are only recommendations. I am not a certified baby product expert in any way. Please do some research of your own before making the purchase.

Baby Carrier

Our favorite: Tula

We actually registered for a baby carrier and got one as a gift at our shower. However, we hadn’t done any research. We basically registered for the most popular brand and the middle-grade priced carrier. I later learned there are different types of carriers and many different brands.  This is a topic I’ve done a lot of research on and will discuss in more detail in a later post but for now this is why we love our Tula baby carrier:

-It’s comfortable for Baby Bell. She loves being worn (carrying your baby in a carrier is referred to as babywearing) in the Tula. She’s even been known to fall asleep in it.

-It’s quick and convenient for grocery shopping, walking around at fairs and festivals, etc.

-It’s so much better for my back than some other types and brands of carriers.

-I’ve learned a lot about parenthood in these very quick 16 months. One being, I’m not a fashionista. Let’s face it, I’m lucky to get out of the house in jeans and a t-shirt with my ponytail straight. With that being said, I like to look nice and I like nice things. I would consider Tula to be the fashionista of babycarriers. The prints are amazing. They are rather pricey but you can find great second hand carriers on social media babywearing groups. That’s what we did!

http://www.tulababycarriers.com/collections/ergonomic-baby-carriers

 

Breast Shells/Milk Collectors

Our favorite: Avent Breast Shells

Let’s face it. Breastfeeding is a task within itself. If you are lucky enough to be able to breastfeed, you’ll learn that EVERY…DROP…COUNTS. I was extremely blessed with more milk than I knew what to do with. That was both a blessing and a curse. I will say that these weren’t helpful when I was engorged and my milk production was at an all-time high, but when I was more regulated and feeding/pumping on a schedule they were great! It was wonderful when I ran across the Avent breast shells and here’s why I love them:

-They are reusable (which means they are a one-time cost). Just wash/sanitize with the baby bottles and pump parts when you are done.

-It fits right into your bra and catches all of the dripping milk from your non-feeding/non-pumping side. That’s a whole ounce that doesn’t soak into your bra and through your shirt. That’s a whole ounce you get to pour into the bottle for baby’s next feeding.

-Don’t hate me for saying this but I never really experienced the sore nipples from breast feeding. I can’t really speak to the benefits of the product in that nature. I can see how they would prevent any rubbing and help keep lanolin from being rubbed off and promote healing.

http://www.usa.philips.com/c-p/SCF157_02/avent-breast-care-comfort-breast-shell-set

 

Swaddle/Sleep Sack

Our favorite(s): Halo Sleep Sack Swaddle, Just Born Wear-a-Blanket, and Halo Early Walker Sleep Sack

Most of you have probably heard of these and will purchase one. You might even be given one in the hospital when you have the baby. I was not. I was, however, lucky enough to be given one by a dear friend from when she had her first baby. There is a funny and memorable story behind why we love it so much.

To begin you need to know that I will be talking about three different products here. While they all serve the same purpose, they are different. The first is the HALO SleepSack Swaddle (we used this particular style until she was able to roll over and move about more).

-Baby Bell spent several days in the hospital being held while tightly swaddled in her Aiden and Anais swaddling blankets we brought with us. Our first night home, I unswaddled her blanket and laid her down safely on her back in the Pack n’ Play beside our bed. She slept for a bit and then began screaming. I picked her up and she was fine. We soon learned she wanted to be swaddled but we didn’t feel safe with her sleeping swaddled in the blanket. I remembered that we had the sleep sack swaddle our friend gave us. Once Flick, in his slumberless state of exhaustion, finally found it, she was immediately quiet. This would soon become our most prized possession, besides our new precious baby girl, of course.

-As I stated before they come in different brands. We particularly like the Halo brand because they come in a variety of different fabrics for the changing seasons.

-It allows for arms in or out swaddling.

http://www.halosleep.com/halo-sleepsack-swaddle-micro-fleece-cream/

The next is the regular sleep sack. While we do have several brands (Aiden and Anais, Halo, Summer Infant, etc.) of the regular sleep sack our favorite is Just Born Wear-a-Blanket that we found at Babies R’ Us. I’m not sure they carry this particular style anymore but you can find it on Amazon. She wore this until she was too long for it and started crawling around in her crib.  And this is why we like it:

-We ran across it by mistake….okay maybe not a mistake. It was on sale. But when we bought it we didn’t realize it had the interior swaddle straps. Instead of the Velcro wrap being around the outside it was on the inside and wasn’t as bulky as the previous I discussed. It was just enough to make her feel “hugged”. Many sleep sacks won’t have the “swaddle band.” This was a gem.

-It has the breathable mesh vents to help keep baby cool.

http://justbornforbaby.com/baby/safe-sleep/

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dbaby-products&field-keywords=just+born+wear-a-blanket

Lastly is the HALO SleepSack Early Walker. We got this as she started crawling and moving around. She is now 16 months and still wears this every night and even at nap time on occasion. We had to buy this online because we couldn’t find it in the stores. We love it because:

-It’s lightweight and has the open feet so that she can move around freely but is still warm without having blankets in her crib.

http://www.halosleep.com/halo-sleepsack-early-walker-lightweight-knit-blue-gecko/

 

White Noise Machine/Soundtrack

Our favorite: 120 Nature Sounds

We live in a small apartment so we didn’t want to buy anything that would unnecessarily take up space. Baby stuff takes up enough space as it is. So, instead of buying a sound machine we bought the 120 Nature Sounds album to put on our digital devices. This is why we love it:

-With a normal sound machine you have about 6 or so sounds to choose from to calm the baby. With this album we had 120 to choose from. The Wild Loon Call is Flick’s favorite. 🙂 Baby Bell particularly likes track number 59, Powerful Waterfall.

-You can download it to all of your devices. That means you can take it on vacation with you, you will have it when she is screaming in the grocery store, or even in line at the bank.

-It can be placed on repeat for continuous play. No sneaking in the room to turn it back on in the middle of the night. We all know what a risk that is.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/120-nature-sounds/id414361678

 

Saline Nasal Spray

Our favorite: Boogie Wipes Saline Nasal Spray

It’s gonna happen. Your baby will get a nasty cold eventually. If it’s not bad enough that your perfect little angel is sick, you can’t give them any medicine to make them better. The best thing you can do is keep their nose clear and moisturized. We tried the saline nasal drops…that was a bust. By the time we got her pinned down to drop it in, we had more drop on us and in her face than up her nose. This is why we love the Boogie Wipes Saline Nasal Spray:

-It’s in a can with a misting nozzle. That means no drops; just a quick spritz and you’re good to go.

-It smells yummy. The cap is scented. It’s a great tool for getting the little one to let you put it up to their nose.

http://shop.boogiewipes.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=0741

 

Diaper Balm

Our favorite: Grovia Magic Stick

-Babies butts will get red and sometimes they will get a rash. It happens. What you do to prevent and treat it is important. There are so many products out there for diaper rash but have you seen the list of ingredients? I’m typically not an ingredient checker but when it comes to my Baby Bell, I try to be more aware of what is going in and on her body. I also don’t have a choice because she is super sensitive and has allergies to a lot of stuff. This is why we love Grovia’s Magic Stick:

In my intro I mentioned that we cloth diaper. We only cloth part-time. I’m still trying to figure out what works best for us and Baby Bell. However, you can’t use just any old diaper rash cream on a cloth diaper. The Magic Stick is cloth diaper safe.

-It’s all natural.

-It’s great for sensitive skin.

-It works on other rashes too, not just butt rashes.

-It helps prevent rashes not just treat them.

-One stick lasts forever.

-Best part of all….it’s not messy.

www.gro-via.com/wipesandaccessories-grovia-magic-stick.html

 

Travel Booster Seat

Our favorite: Summer Infant Travel Booster Seat

Have you ever gone into a restaurant and had the waitress bring you a high-chair that is sticky and covered in cheese from the last kid? Yeah, it happens all the time and it’s disgusting. Sure, they make those fancy highchair covers but what about when the safety belt is broken? A fancy highchair cover won’t fix that situation. Or how about when the highchair is shorter than the table and your baby smacks their face on the edge? Baby Bell got one too many busted lips for me to deal with that happening. That’s why we decided to get a travel booster seat and here is why we love the one we got:

-It’s easy to clean plastic.

-It folds up for easy travel and storage.

-There is a tray that can be used or you can fold that down and just use it as a booster. The tray is nice when sitting in some booths. Often times the bench of the booth sits too far away from the table and can’t be scooted. That’s when we just put the tray up and she has her own little table.

-The adjustable straps fit almost any chair or it can be used in a booth.

https://www.summerinfant.com/booster-seats/sit-n-style-(white-teal)

 

Baby Food Dispensing Spoon:

Our favorite: Boon, Squirt Baby Food Dispensing Spoon

So I’ve read too many horror stories about people finding mold in their kids “pouched” food and drinks. If I can’t see through the container I’m not buying it. I also made all of Baby Bell’s baby food purees. It was super easy, much cheaper and a whole lot healthier than buying it out of the jar. I’m not discrediting anyone that does buy jar or pouched food. We just decided to go a different route. Either way, homemade or store bought, we need convenience when it comes to feeding the babies. We also need less stuff in our diaper bags. This is why we love the baby food dispensing spoon:

-It’s easy to use and clean. Just fill the spoon with any (almost any, some things get stuck in the dispensing hole and we had to use a toothpick to dislodge them) puree, snap on the cap and throw it in the bag. I typically would pack a container of the food and would fill it when we got to our destination but if it’s a quick trip, you can skip this step.

-It cuts down on dishes.

-It’s less messy.

-No bowl for the baby to grab and dump on the floor.

http://www.booninc.com/products/Squirt

 

Something that Smells like Mommy:

Our favorite: Get One, Give One Blanket

-Going back to work after maternity leave was the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It was especially hard because Baby Bell wouldn’t drink out of a bottle. She wanted the milk from mommy. We did have some issues with the flow of the bottle we were using but even after we found one she liked, she would still only drink from it with me holding her. I did some research and found that scent plays a big role in feeding time. Our church gave Baby Bell this little security blanket, a Get One, Give One blanket, when we had her dedicated. I slept with that thing every night for a few weeks and then we would put it across Flick’s chest when he would feed her. After a while, he was able to feed her the whole bottle without feeling defeated. I was still super emotional about going back to work, but at least I didn’t have to worry about her starving while I was away from her. Here are a few more reasons why we love the Get One, Give One blanket:

-Every time you purchase a blanket for yourself or as a gift, another blanket just like yours is made and sent to Kenya, Africa for a child in need.

-They are made with several different types of fabric and have high contrasting colors. This is perfect for sensory development.

-They are small enough (only about 11″x15″) for the baby to grasp and carry around as they get older.

-It helps to support a wonderful organization.

http://etsy.me/14cazWL

 

Baltic Amber Teething Necklace

Our favorite: Momma Goose Baltic Amber Teething Necklace

No, it’s not a necklace for the baby to chew on. It’s something they wear. And I had never heard of it before Baby Bell started teething. Paranoid as I am, I looked into the best options for soothing her sore gums. I read that Orajel is actually bad for them because it can cause rare diseases and is also a potential choking hazard. Yes, I know. My parents used it on me as a kid and I am fine but if there was a safer alternative out there, I wanted to find it. Why not, right? So, I heard about the teething tablets and we started giving those to her. Wouldn’t you know as soon as we did this there was a news report about how they were causing seizures in some kids. Well, I went to my most trusted resource…other moms…specifically on social media. I got lots of good non-medicinal recommendations but the one that I got more than any was the Baltic Amber Teething Necklace…..huh?

It’s a necklace made of Baltic Amber (fossil resin) beads. It is said that the amber releases minuscule amounts of healing oils from the amber when in contact with the warmth of the baby’s skin which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. These oils have anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties that ease the symptoms of teething. Yep, sounds like a load of bull doo-doo to me. But you know what? It’s natural and drug free and I was willing to try anything to keep from dosing her with Tylenol. There are two different kinds, raw and polished. We got polished. I’m not sure if there is a big difference. Supposedly there are different levels of succinct acid (the pain relieving component). After buying the necklace we didn’t give her anymore Tylenol. Actually, I didn’t even realize she was teething when the rest of her teeth came in. It could have been coincidence but I’m okay with that. Here is why we like the Baltic Amber Teething Necklace:

-It has a safety clasp to keep them from strangling themselves. We only allowed her to wear it when she was being supervised and not while sleeping.

-The beads are small enough to not be a choking hazard.

-They come in various lengths. You want to get one that is just short enough that they can’t chew on it.

-They are all natural.

www.growingspurts.com/baamne.html

 

There you have it. Our ten products we never thought we would need. They aren’t necessities but boy did they make life a whole lot easier. As always, I am not an expert on any of these items. Actually, I’m not really an expert of anything. Do your research and ask questions…that’s how you learn.

Thanks for reading and I would love any feedback you have for me. I just ask that you keep it positive.

 

~Momstracted Momma