Eden – A Birth To Remember

I started writing this shortly after being released from the hospital.  I was very surprised to realize just how emotional it was for me.  I hadn’t thought that Eden’s birth and our hospital stay had been as hard for me as it was coupled with a very difficult pregnancy and I guess it was just a little much.  As I began to write I found that I would need to stop and come back to it several times because I just didn’t have the energy to revisit the experience.  I persevered though, mainly because I don’t want to forget these details – as hard as they are.  I want to remember it all – the beautiful moment they took her out and announced she was a girl, the difficult moment of being wheeled away from her – I want to remember everything.

So without further ado – our birth story.

We walked into the hospital to check in for our c-section and my husband looked at me and said:

You look so relaxed, so fresh!

He couldn’t believe that on such a big day I was acting so calm, he most certainly was not feeling calm.  Several people after that asked if I was nervous, and my response to them – not at all.  I was all in, 100% ready to meet this miracle baby that my body fought both for and against.  I was eager to be on the other side of pregnancy, ready to take on life with a newborn.  Besides, I’d been through this before and although there were some “complications” for lack of a better term, I was determined that regardless if the same complications happened I would be ready for them and they wouldn’t catch me off guard.

We checked in and the nurses did a non-stress test and gave me my gown to change into.  Carlos and I talked and laughed and decided on names (can you believe we hadn’t even discussed names before that day?!), took some pictures and he changed into his white coveralls, head covering and booties.  We were ready, and they were ready for us.

Our nurse walked us up to the OR and we waited in the holding area surrounded by patients and family members there for various procedures.  Each one being visited by their anesthesiologist and surgeon as we waited for ours.  Finally our anesthetist came out to chat, immediately I saw the kindness, care and professionalism in this man and I breathed a sigh of relief.  He was going to be a major player in this surgery and I knew I needed a kind, caring individual.  I saw that he cared about every single detail, most importantly he cared deeply that this went as smoothly and as closely to my wishes as possible.  I have since spoken with my OB and she said that he is one of her top two anesthetists and if she needed any procedure done she would want him – this just confirmed what I was feeling that day and I’m so thankful for him.

We talked for what seemed like an eternity, we went through every single detail and possible complication.  He had already combed through my file and taken in all the important details.  He explained our options for anesthesia – spinal, spinal/epidural, or general anesthesia.  I made it very clear that a general was my worst nightmare and I wanted to do everything possible before going down that road and he promised that he would exhaust all options before doing that.  We talked about my last section and the excruciating chest pain that I experienced.  I explained that I was 100% sure that this would happen again since I had been having chest pain on and off from 19 weeks that despite everyone’s attempt at trying to explain, could not be explained.   I told him that I wanted to try to get through the pain without too many narcotics so that I wasn’t drowsy afterwards.  I could tell that the whole situation concerned him and I could see the wheels turning in his head.  We decided together that we would try a spinal first because an epidural carries a higher risk of complications post and because of my Marfan Syndrome those risks are even higher.

Next my surgeon came out – and I was surprised and slightly disappointed to see that it was the physician that I wrote this post about.  I knew from speaking with many nurses and admittedly browsing reviews that in fact he was an excellent physician but just one that I didn’t particularly “jive” with.  Although disappointed I was also grateful to have someone who was slightly aware of my case and someone I had met before and I knew that we were in good hands.  In the end I was so grateful it was him, he was nothing but kind, professional and perfect for this birth.  We talked briefly and he returned to the OR and I followed with my nurse shortly afterwards, leaving Carlos in the holding area until I was draped and ready.

When we walked into the OR the anesthetist said that he had thought it over again and reviewed things one more time and thought we should try a spinal/epidural.  His rational was that with an epidural we might have a chance at getting a block high enough to control the potential chest pain.  I was agreeable to whatever he thought would be best.  Next he prepared me and attempted the epidural a few times all of which caused extreme pain in my hips and down my legs.  After three attempts at inserting the catheter he said that due to the curvature and nature of my spine an epidural was proving to be far more difficult.  So we abandoned that and tried a spinal.  I was a bit nervous that the spinal wouldn’t work either, but he gave me a higher dose than normal and after a long wait it finally worked.  They prepared me and draped me and brought Carlos in – he had been pacing holes in the floor because the first part had taken a good 20-30 minutes.

Carlos came and sat down and then it was go time.  I felt nothing at first other than the surgeons gently massaging my belly moving Eden down.  At the same time they were cutting and also narrating.  At one point the surgeon said – your baby is waving at us through the water bag, and in the next minute I heard “IT’S A GIRL!”  During the prep the conversation revolved around Ezekiel and how he wanted a sister and wouldn’t be satisfied with anything else and so when Eden came out the whole room cheered.  It was a moment I hope I never forget.  They passed her by my head on the way to clean her off and make sure she was fine.  I did here her cry when they took her out and wasn’t paying much attention to what was happening with her but she did have low APGARs initially but recovered well with suctioning.

The actual birth of Eden was everything I had hoped.  I was relaxed and fully present, the physicians were gentle and communicative.  With Ezekiel’s birth they were anything but gentle and I don’t remember any communication (though admittedly my memory could be foggy).   I was so thankful for the way the birth went, it’s what comes after that makes this story interesting.

During the entire procedure my anesthetist was looking over the curtain then looking back to me and asking how I was doing.  Up until this point I was doing fantastic and feeling great and he was very relieved.  After she came out he even said – “we made it through!” I replied with – “not yet we haven’t.”  Then about two minutes after that I said – “there it is!”  The chest pain that I had been anticipating and he had been dreading had shown up.  It started the moment they began cleaning out my uterus and removing the placenta.  The more they worked the worse it got.  I would get moments of a tiny bit of relief when the pain would go from a 10/10 (or more) to a 6/10 but from this moment forward the pain was pretty constant.  They finished with my uterus and were moving on to my tubal ligation.

Interlude to talk about ligation –

Early on in my pregnancy I had begun thinking seriously about a tubal.  I’ve only ever taken birth control for two months of my life and never wanted to restart – something about chemically altering my hormones that don’t function properly on their own just doesn’t feel right.  Also I will never have an IUD, I’ve heard one too many horror stories both from doctors and friends who have had one.  Trying to “be careful” obviously didn’t work out well for us – thankfully! My husband would die before being drug in to have a vasectomy.  So if we decided that we were done I was pretty sure I would want a tubal.  Then as the pregnancy went on it was clear that we were only going to have two children regardless of the outcome.  Honestly, I’d do it all over again for another baby (probably to the horror of every doctor that cared for me during this pregnancy) but it’s not just the difficulty of pregnancy that I need to think about.  My cardiac status thankfully stayed stable during this pregnancy but that’s just pure luck.  Another pregnancy could be the one that killed me, literally and so after a lot of discussion with a lot of doctors I decided a tubal was the best option for us.

Back to the birth:

So they moved on to the right fallopian tube.  The exact moment they cut the tube my pain skyrocketed.  It was so bizarre, I could literally feel them cutting my fallopian tube in my chest and it was excruciating.  I was trying my best to breathe through the pain, the anesthetist at one point had to remind me to breathe because the pain was so bad that I was holding my breath trying to get through it.  I could hear the surgeons repeatedly saying “I’m so sorry Ashley, you’re doing great.” I could also hear, “just sew it up as quickly as you can.”  It was very clear that although they deal with labouring women in pain on a daily basis they were very unfamiliar with a patient yelling in pain on the operating table, I kind of felt bad for them in some twisted way.  After the right side was done the pain decreased slightly and they asked if I wanted them to continue.  I adamantly said they better not close me up without making me completely infertile.  They asked if I was absolutely sure and then said something about me being a trooper.  The left side didn’t hurt nearly as bad but the chest pain never left.

Eventually they closed me up and then cleaned me up and it was done.  The nurses were amazing and doing their best to distract both Carlos and I from the pain. Also, sometime during everything Carlos got up and went and got Eden and brought her over to me.  He laid her beside my head so I could talk to her and kiss her.  Although I can’t remember at which part of the procedure this happened I know it’s a moment I’ll never forget.  It’s a moment that I really wanted in both of my births but with Ezekiel the room was frantic due to my chest pain and it just wasn’t an option.  I love that I got to have this moment and I love that it’s captured in pictures.

I wish this was the end of my birth story, I wish after this everything would have been normal and not worth writing about but it only got more exciting after the actual surgery.

They moved me to recovery and my nurse got to work doing everything she needed to do – check vitals, check bleeding, check the spinal block, check on my pain, get baby skin to skin and to latch.  Vitals and the spinal block were great, Eden latched and sucked like a pro right away and actually stayed there for 20 minutes or so.  My pain was very slowly subsiding but my bleeding was picking up.  Eventually they had to give me oxytocin for the bleeding.  My pain only subsided for a bit and then all of a sudden picked up back to 8-9/10.  The anesthetist came and checked on me a couple times, then the OB, they tried to get a hold of my cardiologist but couldn’t and eventually called the cardiologist who was on call.

Quite quickly I had a couple residents at my bedside, they began to go through the motions of getting the story.  They were only there for a few minutes before this small, young, feisty female physician literally barged in and interrupted them (as nicely as she could I’m sure) saying she wanted to hear everything and ask the questions.  This started 2 hours of pure chaos, I’m not even sure I can recall it all because it was just so chaotic.  She was lovely and very concerned, doing her due diligence to make sure I was getting the best care possible and I’m very thankful for her.  They did blood work, an EKG, and chest x-ray to start.  While that was happening the cardiologist was on the phone to the radiologist trying to get me a CT scan ASAP as well as trying to figure out who was going to take me there.  She wanted me connected to a “life pack” – a machine that traces the heart and is capable of shocking patients out of arrhythmia’s.  The problem was that my labour and delivery nurse was not trained on that machine and neither were any of the recovery nurses.  They tried getting a cardiac nurse but there was no one available – so the cardiologist took it on herself to escort me to CT.  She literally steered my stretcher to the CT, sat beside me and charted while we waited, sat in the CT control room while I got my CT and then steered my stretcher to the cardiac ICU.  Yep you read that right – I had an attending cardiologist escort me personally around the hospital, if that’s not VIP treatment I don’t know what is!

My poor labour and delivery nurse was so great during this whole ordeal.  When I say it was chaotic I mean it was just so over the top dramatic.  I had cardiologists assessing me while my nurse was also assessing me and the baby, on top of that I had techs coming for all the tests.  I just imagined myself in my nurses shoes and felt so bad for her! 

Before going to CT we discussed that the cardiologist wanted me on the cardiac unit to be completely safe given that the postpartum nurses were not trained in cardiac complications and there was no cardiac monitoring on the postpartum unit.  There was discussion with everyone – and many phone calls to both units – about Eden accompanying me or not.  The cardiologist fought hard for Eden to be able to come with me but when I left recovery it was still up in the air.  What I didn’t realize was that when she was talking about the cardiac unit she actually meant the cardiac ICU.  I was very surprised to look up as they wheeled me through the doors and see the letters ICU.  I knew that my chest pain was not cardiac related and I was certain this was overkill, yet in the same moment I was so grateful that despite my own intuition my situation was not being taken lightly.  I also understood that even though they also knew that the likelihood of it being a cardiac incident was small that they had to take every precaution to be sure I was safe.  What I didn’t know and wasn’t told while inpatient (and never asked about) was that on the CT my aortic root actually looked like it had expanded and so that fact coupled with pain gave them more cause to worry.

I spent 24 hours in ICU and although I am grateful, it’s also the part in my birth story that makes me the most emotional.  I went through this pregnancy always thinking I was going to have a preemie and I prepared my mind and heart for not having my baby at my bedside just like with my first.  Once I hit 37 weeks I let go of that and began to be very excited to have at least one aspect of this whole 9 months be “normal.”  Once the c-section was over I was just going to be a normal mom with a healthy baby and I was so ready for that.  It ended up that Eden was not allowed to be with me – staffing issues – and I had to fight to even get a nurse to bring her up to see me.  What was worse was that they would give her formula before bringing her to see me instead of allowing me to breastfeed.  At one visit I got pretty upset and made it clear that breastfeeding was incredibly important to me and I would appreciate them to at least bring me a pump so I could provide milk for her.  I was crushed that once again I sat in one hospital room while my baby sat on a completely different unit.  I was so disappointed that things still weren’t normal for us.

The 24 hours in the ICU were anything but restful, being in a  room with glass doors that face the nursing station make it pretty impossible to get any sleep. On top of that I was up every couple hours to pump.  The nursing was amazing though.  My night nurse actually brought me down to see Eden overnight which I was so thankful for.  The next morning the doctors made their rounds and everyone was happy to let me go down to the postpartum unit and I was elated to be able to be with Eden.

I could write and write forever about this I’m sure, but I think I’ve done enough rambling.  I’ll save the rest for later.  If you’ve made it this far – BRAVO!

Birth is rarely easy, and every woman is attached to their stories on different ways, this was harder for me than I thought it would be but I am so thankful for every moment.  Thank you for reading and sharing in my story.  

 

 

It’s a GIRL!

Well, we made it! We actually truly made it to our scheduled C-section date of March 17, 2017! I’ll save the full birth story for another day but I wanted to do an announcement post for all you out there that follow along on our crazy journey.

Eden Bonandje (bon-an-jay)
March 17, 2017 @ 0938
7lb 8oz
20 inches

My entire life I’ve always been quite vocal that I would love to be a boy mom and wouldn’t mind if I never had a girl.  Regardless I was never curious enough or cared enough to find out the genders of my babies because in the end what really mattered to me was that I had a baby.  Early on in this pregnancy I had a strong feeling that I was carrying a girl, but by the second trimester I was back to the “who knows” mentality.  Still I often found myself referring to the baby as a girl in my mind.  I think there might have only been one person who guessed that the baby was a boy and the rest – even complete strangers – were convinced baby was a girl.  Ezekiel was beyond adamant that he was going to have a baby sister and you could not even try to entertain the idea that it just MIGHT be a boy.  My husband  really really really wanted a daughter and thought that since my pregnancy was so riddled with excitement that it had to be a girl because boys just don’t demand that kind of attention :).  I just continued on in the mindset that either way I would be happy.

When they pulled her out and announced excitedly that she was a GIRL the joy and pure happiness that flowed through me took me by surprise.  A girl, a daughter, my last baby is my baby girl.  I still tear up thinking about it and probably will for years to come.  I didn’t know how deeply my soul needed this girl.  She is pure perfection and we are completely smitten.  I find myself dreaming of raising her, of the values I want her to grow up with.  The fears I had about raising a girl were swept away when I looked at her and replaced with the joy I’m feeling at the privilege I have of being able to raise a strong, confident, capable and wonderful woman.

I’m so happy to have been blessed with something I had no idea I needed so badly.

 

 

 

 

Time IN vs Time OUT

A few days ago I browsed a blog post that talked about the difference between time-in’s and time-out’s (this isn’t the exact post but something similar I found because I couldn’t find the exact one).  I had of course heard of putting children in time-out’s and have used that strategy 4 times in the past year with great results.  However I had never heard of time-in’s and I was intrigued.  Essentially a time-out means separating your child completely and a time-in is like a time-out for you both together.  In a time-out you put your child alone in a designated spot, for time-in you sit with your child in that designated spot.

Ezekiel is 2, at that age where he is learning that he has the ability to say no and fight for what he wants.  He’s a fairly reasonable child – I can usually talk him out of a temper tantrum if I catch it right at the beginning.  He can be distracted by something equally as tempting as what he wants to do which is a strategy I use often (Ezekiel I’ve asked you to stop touching the things on the shelf, how about you come help me with supper instead).  He also understands and follows rules if I implement them consistently – the most recent one being no toys at the table.  In the beginning there were many meltdowns over that rule, but now he’s satisfied with placing his beloved toy at the foot of his highchair to play with when he’s done eating.

Side-note – meltdowns are absolutely allowed in our house, these are different from a temper tantrum.  Being upset because you really want something is different then thrashing, hitting etc. because you didn’t get what you want.  In the event of a melt down I simply allow him to cry for a while and then ask him to take some deep breaths, try and distract him by singing his favourite songs and continue to reinforce the rule he is upset about.  That strategy works 99% of the time.  1% of the time it turns into a full blown tantrum.

Of course he’s still a two year old and still gives in to so many temptations breaking rules here and there.  My general rule is that if he is breaking a rule and I’ve asked him to stop – he demonstrates he understands by stopping and then continues when I look away – if I have to ask him three times then he goes upstairs to his room for 2 minutes.  We are now working on “sorry mom I didn’t listen to you” so I go upstairs and ask him to say sorry – sometimes he outright refuses in which case I leave for another two minutes and repeat the process until he says sorry.  This specific instance has only happened once. Usually he listens and stops what I’ve asked him to do before the third time.

There have been times of complete uncontrollable temper tantrums – 3 that I recall.  All of them have happened after coming home from the dayhome before supper.  He’s exhausted and very hungry and controlling emotions is something that is just not going to happen.  I get it, I totally understand but I also get very frustrated in those moments.  Two of those times happened last summer and I put him in his room until he calmed down then went in and we snuggled for a good 15-20 minutes and from then on he was happy and I quickly fed him so he’d stay that way :).

Yesterday was the third instance.  I knew he had a rough night with my husband the night before while I was at work and I knew he would be tired.  When his emotions are extreme it indicates his level of tiredness – usually it’s overly happy, running and yelling and laughing and dancing.  He reminds me of those times as a teenager when you’ve pulled an all nighter with your friends which was usually spent laughing at nothing because when you’re overtired everything is funny.   When I picked him up yesterday his level of happiness was OVER THE TOP which is always nice when you’re child is extremely happy to see you but I also thought “we definitely need an early bedtime tonight.”  We got home and it was nice out so I let him play outside while I tidied before getting supper ready, somehow within 10 minutes he went from happy to frustrated with something (I still have no idea what) that he was not able to communicate with me.  The situation very quickly went in a downward spiral as I asked what he was upset about and he got more and more upset without trying to explain.  In that moment I decided playtime outside was done and he was MAD – over the top, more than I’ve ever seen him.  I took off his outside clothes while he thrashed and screamed bloody murder.  I knew this was not going to be controllable on the main level of our house so I marched him upstairs thinking I would put him in time-out but then I remembered the article on time-in’s and thought I’d give it a try.  I went to his room, closed his door, sat on the floor and made him sit down facing me.  I held his hands in mine and asked him to take some deep breaths, he instantly calmed down in less than 30 seconds – still upset but not thrashing around.  Then I grabbed our homemade lavender coconut oil lotion and rubbed some on his chest and feet, he helped by putting some on his feet.  By that point the pouty lip had stopped and the tears were done.  I asked if he would like to read a story, he promptly got up, grabbed a book and ran to me happily ready to read.  We read two books and he got up and I asked if he was ready to go make supper, he ran to the door laughing.

What an amazing tool! I couldn’t believe the response I got from that strategy.  It shows him that temper tantrums are not tolerated but that I’m willing to help him out when he can’t seem to help himself.  It shows him that crying and screaming doesn’t get you what you want but that there’s always other options to what you want to do.  It gives him a choice with his mom by his side helping him out with that choice.

I will still use time-outs for those instances of outright disobedience because I know very well that Ezekiel is capable of following direction and listening to rules but when it comes to uncontrollable emotional outbursts I will definitely use time-in’s.

What is your discipline strategies? Any tips for this momma? I know down the road the frequency of discipline is likely to increase exponentially!

Being a “PERFECT” Parent

  
Ah.

This topic can be such a difficult thing for so many people.  There’s a lot of internet chatter about expectations, and mommy guilt.  Some people find it difficult to be on social media amongst the well curated photos that portray a “perfect” life, home, mom, kids, dad, dog… and the list goes on and on.

Here’s the thing though.

There is no such thing as perfection in our humanity.

End of story.

Maybe that’s why I don’t really struggle with mom guilt.  I’m not aiming to be perfect – that’s so unattainable that my type-A personality can’t handle it. Sure I have my moments but for the most part I think I do an OK job – and if I’m not, if somehow I’m messing it all up – well God’s got that under control.

Here’s the other thing.

I was created specifically to be Ezekiel’s mother.  Me. No one else.  So if I was created to be that person then I can only assume that I’m adequate for the job.

I’ve been thinking about this so much lately.  I realize that I’m a bit radical in so many ways when it comes to my parenting style – no TV, no sugar, organic food, wood toys, cloth diapers, extended breastfeeding etc. etc. Not only am I a bit radical but I’m also VERY talkative and I fear my constant chatter makes it seem as though I believe my ways are better than others.  While it’s true I generally feel like no TV, no sugar and more organic food will benefit everyone (not just children) that’s such a SMALL portion of being a parent.  Those decisions? Those are the minute details in the grand scheme of things. Loving your child fiercely, allowing them to grow up dreaming and teaching your child to respect and love humanity? That’s huge – far greater than what you let them watch or eat.

I have so many blog posts written in my head about parenting and I have been just waiting on when to post them.  I feel like I’m coming into a place where I can start to jot it down.

More than anything my prayer and hope is that when I write I’m conveying the deep conviction I have when it comes to parenting.  God created you, He created your little one(s) and He did that ON PURPOSE and FOR A REASON – trust in that always and things will always work out.

Caught Not Taught


Happy Belated Canadian Thanksgiving! I’m sitting here in our newly designed office feeling thankful for everything in my life.  I had an unexpected and at first unwelcomed day off yesterday, but it turned out to be so very wonderful.  I was able to catch up on all the cleaning and laundry that got left to the wayside as I enthusiastically finished the office this weekend.  I do a lot of reflecting while I clean because I do the majority of it while Ezekiel is sleeping and I try to keep the house as quiet as possible so it leaves me to my thoughts.  Today I was reflecting on something my husband said to me yesterday and the concept of things being caught not taught.

Before you continue on let me just put a bit of a disclaimer at the beginning.  I’m going to talk about how we parent and what we value as we raise Ezekiel.  While I think this is the best for us and I wouldn’t really write about it unless I thought you could glean something from it as well, I also recognize and celebrate the fact that parenting is as unique as each person involved (children included).  You are you, and your children are your children each with their own personalities, quirks and needs and in the end the best expert in that is you.

I’ve been working most Sunday’s for quite a while now and every Sunday I call Carlos on my break to see how things are going.  Inevitably I get a response to the effect of “Ezekiel won’t let me do anything.” To me this translates as, “I’m trying to do homework, I’m trying to watch soccer, I’m trying to check my e-mail, I’m trying to……”  Carlos has been endlessly frustrated with the fact that Ezekiel is obsessed with computers and phones – if he sees it he wants it even though he knows it’s not allowed.  Carlos up until this point has been unable to understand why – despite my continued attempts to tell him that Ezekiel just wants to do what he sees daddy doing.

Sunday night when I came home Carlos was telling me about their day and of course the same ramble about how much he didn’t get done was happening and then he said, “you know, I think it’s our fault.” To that I responded, “what’s our fault?” and he says, “that Ezekiel always wants the computer, we should put them away when he’s awake and just play on the floor with him.”

DING DING DING

He gets it!

Yesterday as I was cleaning I was reflecting on this revelation my husband had and was reminded of a phrase I came across not to long ago – things are caught not taught.  I began to file through all the ways we interact with Ezekiel and I started to see how very true that statement is for us.  Ezekiel really does just want to be next to us at all times, doing whatever we are doing.  He loves to clean with me, do dishes with me, cook with me, garden with me, do laundry with me etc.  He is definitely my little side kick, and with every action I see his little brain going a mile a minute watching my every move and usually he picks up one little thing each time he’s with me, whether that be putting things from the washer to the dryer, or putting away the cutlery.  He sees and he takes in far more than I could even comprehend.

Yesterday I began to wonder if the way that Ezekiel responds to frustration and being upset has something to do with the way we respond to our own frustrations and the way we respond to his frustration.  I’m really conscientious of how I handle Ezekiel’s frustration and this comes from my own observations of friends and people I’ve watched parent their children.  I try my best to catch his frustration at the very beginning and I get down to his level and talk it out with him and I started doing this before he probably could even understand.  I try to be as persistent and consistent as possible – right from when he could move and get into things I would be right there with him directing him in what was OK to touch and play with and what was not ok.  I never respond to his frustration or anger with my own frustration or anger (a lot of the time this takes a GREAT deal of self discipline and lots of deep breaths).  This is not to say that my child does not have outbursts or bad days – there are plenty of those, but they last very short amounts of time and he’s always able to redirect himself.  I do recognize that part of the equation is his personality and demeanor – he’s a pretty chill kid, but I hope that as he grows and as I try my best to be aware of my own actions that he catches the things that are not just actions.

I hope he catches love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

The concept of being caught not taught puts a whole new level of responsibility on parents that I am willing to accept.

Must Have Baby List for the Minimalist

We are coming up on Ezekiel’s first birthday so I thought it would be a great time to make a must have baby list for minimalists.  When I found out we were expecting, I knew that I wasn’t going to find out the sex for a few different reasons.

  1. I knew I would be having a scheduled c-section so I wanted something to be a surprise (little did I know Ezekiel surprised us anyways 4 weeks early).
  2. I knew that if I knew the sex that I would spend a lot of money on unnecessary things simply because I would be so excited.

So we bought very few things before Ezekiel arrived other than the essentials, and we didn’t add much after he was born.  I have always vowed that my house would not be overtaken by a baby.  I didn’t want toys and “things” cluttering up our living space and I’m still adamant about that.  The things we did buy we loved and I would do the same all over again.  Did I want lots of pretty, and expensive things? Yep.  Thankfully our budget was so small that I couldn’t get any of those expensive things and so our house remains baby clutter free.

So if you’re expecting or planning on starting your family and want to keep things simple this list is for you.

  • Bassinet
    • Ezekiel had reflux bad enough that he was choking at night so he slept in our room in his bassinet until he was 4 months old.  My parents bought our bassinet as a baby gift and so we got the one I had my heart set on from Restoration Hardware.  If we were buying it ourselves we probably would have bought something a lot cheaper but I really really love the one we have.  Anyways, I guess if you are co-sleeping you wouldn’t need one (although I’m not a fan of co-sleeping) but the bassinet was essential for us.
  •  Crib
    • Of course you will need a crib – unless you are planning on co-sleeping then disregard this.  I had my heart set on expensive cribs but I knew we couldn’t afford it so I searched Kijiji for weeks waiting for a great deal on a great crib.  I found one I loved for $75 (new it would have been $600) and I painted it to match the crib I actually wanted.
  • Change Table
    • This is something a lot of people will tell you that you don’t need.  I disagree.  To go along with my house being overtaken by baby things, I didn’t want diaper stations all over my house.  I wanted one station, and given that we did cloth diapers it made sense to have one station.  I have never changed Ezekiel anywhere in our house but his room and I love it that way.  I love that the change table is organized and has everything we need.  Our change table also doubles as a dresser, which I think is a smart use of space.  We keep anything that doesn’t hang in the dresser including linens.  Again I bought this on Kijiji for $50 and painted it the same color as the crib.
  • Rocker/Glider
    • Some people will tell you not to waste your money.  Ours was given to us as a gift and it is possibly the most used piece of furniture in our house.  Since we have roommates I have nursed Ezekiel in his room since February and now he resists nursing anywhere but that chair. For me it’s comfortable and convenient, especially in the middle of the night.  I can’t imagine not having our glider.
  • Nursing Pillow
    • If you are planning on nursing, this is a must have.  I still use mine every time Ezekiel nurses and it makes it so much more comfortable for both of us.  I never got the hang of nursing without it.
  • Noise maker/Fan
    • We got a Sleep Sheep as a gift and have used it since day one.  For Ezekiel it’s a cue that it’s time to sleep and it works for him! We also use a fan in his room as white noise to distract from other noise in the house.  Before we had the fan he had a difficult time after moving into his own room to sleep beyond his first sleep cycle.  I’m guessing that it was because I’m really quiet during the day, there’s not a lot of noise in our house so when he was trying to transition between sleep cycles a little noise would wake him up fully.  With the fan it’s a familiar noise for him and it drowns out other noises.  You don’t actually need to buy a noise maker, you could use a radio with light white noise or just a fan.  The downside to the sleep sheep is that it turns off after 45 minutes but we still use it as a cue for him.
  • Swaddle Blankets
    • I am a huge believer in swaddling and for Ezekiel it was essential.  He was so jerky with his movements and it took a long time for him to grow out of it.  We bought 8 swaddle blankets, 4 small ones and 4 larger ones all Summer brand (the cheapest ones we could find) and they served us well.  As he moved on from needing to be swaddled we used them as spit up blanket.  We did have burp cloths but I don’t think we needed them – Ezekiel was a puker not a spitter upper (pretend those are words haha) so we needed more than just a cloth.  I know people rave about the more expensive swaddle blankets but honestly, you use them for a few months and then put them away, I say just buy the cheapest ones and save yourself some cash.
  • Sleep Bag
    • I always planned on using a sleep bag and we have been using them since he stopped being swaddled. Ezekiel is now to the point that when I put him in the bag he knows exactly what’s going on, sometimes he’ll protest but more often he’ll be excited to nurse haha.
  • Bounce Seat
    • Ezekiel spent a lot of time in his seat – when I was showering, when I was making dinner, and anytime I needed to put him down.  He loved it and I loved the convenience of it.  Again we bought the bare minimum and cheapest one we could find (Summer brand again) and it worked so well that I couldn’t imagine spending any more than we did.  I refused to get a swing because they are so bulky and take up an entire room and I didn’t miss it at all!  So I suggest bounce chair over swing for sure!
  • Play Mat
    • We got a play mat as a gift and it was super simple and pretty small and Ezekiel loved playing under it.  Along with the bounce seat, once Ezekiel was about 3 months old we started alternating putting him down in the seat and on the mat.
  • Jolly Jumper
    • I wasn’t sure about getting a jolly jumper but we tried one out at a friends house and Ezekiel loved it so much that we decided to go ahead and get one.  It provided hours of entertainment for Ezekiel! The best part was that it easily folds together and can be stored out of sight when not in use.
  • Baby Walker
    • I was determined to get a baby walker so my parents brought us one from the states.  We got it in April and Ezekiel has been using it daily since then.  At first he was too small to move it but still enjoyed sitting and playing in it.  Once we got the walker we gradually stopped using the bounce seat.  This is one of the bulkier items in our house but we have a perfect parking spot for it in the living room and it doesn’t stick out too much.  Ezekiel LOVES this walker and now that he can move it around he cruises everywhere on our main floor.  He can spend up to an hour in it without ever needing anything from me.  It’s brilliant! He goes from the front entrance to the back entrance, watches the laundry, looks out the kitchen windows, and every so often he’ll do a circle in the kitchen just to come say hello.  Other times he’ll follow me every where and run over my toes, the days that he needs to be around me more the walker is great too! He can be right at my feet and visit while I am cooking or doing dishes or whatever.  This item is an ESSENTIAL for us! Although I must say if you have open stairways it’s not safe in your house, in our case our basement has a door on it so there’s no way for him to fall down them.
  • Good Quality Stroller
    • I wanted a good quality stroller and needed a bassinet with it (we bought a convertible car seat because of my c-section I wasn’t going to be able to take a bucket car seat in and out of the car) but I wasn’t willing or able to pay $500+ dollars.  So of course I took to Kijiji for weeks waiting for the best deal.  I had my mind set on the Bumbleride Indy and did find one second hand for a great price.  I’m not sure if I would go with this brand again, but it has served us well and we do really like it.  I have taken many many walks, and even jogged with this stroller.
  • Baby Monitor
    • We bought the cheapest one we could find and it’s worked for us just fine.  Really, you don’t need to see your child every moment they are asleep, just need to make sure you hear them when they wake up!

So those are the big items that are on my must have list other little things that are needed:

  • Towels – we do fine with 4
  • 1 pack of face cloths – you don’t need any more than that
  • Cloth diapers (go here to read about our experience)
  • Blankets – we bought one before Ezekiel was born and had many gifted to us, so I wouldn’t suggest buying many or any at all.

I think that’s it! Other than clothes (admittedly we like to buy good quality clothes but we make sure to only buy during sales) you really don’t need much else to get by with a baby.  We only have a small basket of toys for Ezekiel and have never actually bought any of them.  He enjoys all his toys, but most of the time would rather play with the kitchen towel, an empty water bottle or plastic container, so don’t waste your money on all those cute toys out there.  Especially for the first year, your baby is going to learn more from your interactions than from playing with the toys.  We do have books and Ezekiel LOVES story time. When I sit down on the floor and take down a book he automatically sits or lays on his belly in front of me all smiles and giggles waiting for the story to start.  It’s probably my favorite thing ever, so if I was going to spend money on entertainment for Ezekiel I would buy him books at this age.

Do you have anything to add to this must have minimalist baby list?

 

Days Like This

Hey Friends!

I’ve been posting less often the last week and a half.  I’ve really just been laying low, relaxing and focusing on enjoying my last month.  It has been B.L.I.S.S.

Today however, is off to a ROUGH start.

Patience are wearing thin.

Buttons are being pushed.

As I type this Ezekiel is screaming in his crib, protesting sleep, after 1 hour of screaming and yelling and throwing fits before nap time.  He’s even refusing to nurse in an attempt to not sleep.

If I know one thing it’s this: he.is.persistent.

If I know another thing it’s this: I.am.stubborn.

We’ll see who wins this battle.

I actually woke up this morning early to do some yoga, shower and enjoy a cup of coffee before Ezekiel woke up.  I thought “this is brilliant, we are going to have such a great day.”

Don’t you hate when your expectations are thwarted, and worst of all it’s completely out of your control.

It’s mornings like this when I really need to stop, take a breath (or two or three or a thousand), bring myself back to a place where I can calmly deal with a screaming child while not inwardly losing my mind.

It’s days like this when I really need time to pray, read and reflect to keep my energy up and enjoy the moments when Ezekiel isn’t screaming in my face.

It’s days like this that I really need to practice gratitude.

Screaming or not, this miracle boy is everything and more that I ever dreamed of, and in every moment I will be grateful for his presence.

What are your challenges lately? How do you overcome them?