Five on Friday: Baby Essentials

I love lists and I like to think my blog is an outlet for me to share my thoughts and opinions without anyone feeling obligated to actually listen.  So, here's my first Friday five list!

There are a million lists out there for what you should buy for your baby.  Me, being the minimalist that I am, researched and scoured the internet until I had whittled down my list to just the essentials.  Aside from the obvious purchases you need for a newborn, these items are the ones that J and I love the most.  J loves some of these so much, he's practically a walking commercial for them, and that's saying a lot because you don't generally hear of guys just randomly raving about baby products.

1. Fisher-Price Newborn Rock n' Play Sleeper - Best thing ever!  It cradles the baby so well!  Austin has been getting a lot of use out of this.  If he's not in someone's arms, he's probably hanging out or sleeping in this.  I love that it's super light and portable. It comes with us all over the house and to our families' houses too.  He sleeps like a champ in it and it's nice for him to be right by us when we're in bed.  We're working on getting him to transition to the bassinet, and eventually the crib, but in the meantime, this has been perfect.

2.  Blooming Bath - J loves this thing!  I wanted a baby bath tub that wasn't going to take up a lot of space.  This fit the bill!  It's flexible and comfy!  Austin gets baths in this cozy flower in our kitchen sink.  When we're done using it, we squeeze as much water out and then throw it in the dryer and then I can hide it in the cabinet, unlike the big bath tubs that just sit there taking up space!

3. Summer Infant SwaddleMe - I never thought I'd be a big swaddle advocate.  But, swaddles, especially in the first couple weeks and at night, have been a huge help for us.  If he's fidgety, swaddles generally calm him down quickly because, let's be honest, it's a straitjacket for babies; at least that's what J and I call it.  We had a number of different swaddles we tried.  We really, really liked the Miracle Blanket and the Woombie; and even tried the standard receiving blankets and the Halo Sack, but these ended up being our favorite.  They are easy and straightforward and we haven't had any issues with Austin trying to escape from them or them coming undone.

4.  Angelcare Movement Monitor - If you want peace of mind when baby isn't sleeping in your arms or in your line of sight, you need this! This helps us relax when Austin is sleeping in the bassinet, because it alarms you if your baby every stops moving or breathing.  Yes, it's that sensitive.  Just slip it under the mattress and you're set! We use it in conjunction with the Motorola MBP43-2 Video Monitor, so we're covered on all bases.  Note: There was recently a recall for the movement monitor due to the cord, but I think they have now started releasing the updated product.

5. Boppy Bare Naked Pillow - This one is already a popular product in the baby industry, but it's worth having on the list.  Sure, you can get by with pillows, but this is just so convenient!  Whether you're breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, snuggling or doing tummy time, the Boppy comes in handy.  I also recommend the PB Kids Boppy Slipcovers with the soft chamois fabric, they are really soft!

Honorable Mentions:
Zipper Onesies (with mittens and footies) - Aside from the one or two cute outfits, Austin has lived in onesies.  And zipper onesies are the best.  No dealing with the snaps, snapping up the whole outfit just to find out you misaligned everything, or the onesies where the snaps are positioned all weird because the onesie can turn into a sleep sack.  Zippers are the way to go...but with mittens and footies.  No dealing with lost socks and loose mittens that they can pull off. Carter's has lots of Zip-Up Sleep and Play onesies, and they're carried at Target, Kohl's and a lot of other stores.

Baby Carriers (Baby K'Tan & Baby Bjorn) - We're not super big baby wearers, but they can come in pretty handy when you're out and about or just at home and want to cuddle but want to also have your hands free.  I really like the K'Tan because it's not structured and seems a lot easier to put on than the Moby Wrap.  J really likes the structure of the Baby Bjorn and he thinks it's not quite as girly to wear.  Whatever.  Baby gets held and we're all happy. 

Austin's Birth Story

 I had never really thought out a birth plan or imagined how labor and delivery would go whenever I dreamed about having children.  But after my sister-in-love, Lessye, had her first daughter and described her experience with having an all natural delivery, it inspired me to consider it (check her story out here).  After Jason and I researched the benefits of an all-natural delivery, we decided that, barring any medical complications, it was the route we wanted to take.
I'm not sure I'll ever forget the words coming out of my mouth that evening..."my water broke.......Jason, my water broke."  J woke up in a panic, trying to process what was going on.  It was 1:30 am on Monday, December 16th. We had gone to sleep around midnight. I had been sleeping lightly and somewhere in my dreams or my subconscious, I genuinely knew a few minutes before my water broke that something was going to happen. My contractions began immediately and were between two and four minutes apart and lasting over a minute each.

For the next hour, we prepared to leave to the hospital. I took a shower and tried to calm Jason down while he frantically ran around packing his things.  Despite the fact that we knew I could go in to labor any day, I think the fact that it was the middle of the night and the realization that our lives were about to change made him a little frazzled. 
So after trying to relax with a shower and take it all in, and cleaning up the spill that occurs when your water breaks (thank goodness for waterproof mattress covers and for it not happening in public!), we loaded up in the car and headed to The Children's Hospital at OU.  Initially, I had wanted to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital, but because my water had broken, Jason was too nervous to stay at home as he did not want to risk delivering a baby on the side of the road or dealing with me in serious labor while driving.  So, I obliged.  I definitely didn't need an even more stressed out hubby while laboring, and the contractions were a little more intense than what I had imagined, so I definitely wasn't opposed to going to the hospital.

Right before heading to the hospital!
While it wasn't ideal that we had not gotten much sleep, the drive to OU was nice since there was no traffic. We arrived there at 3 am and I was admitted to triage. There they checked me and I was a dilated to 5 cm and completely effaced. I was pleasantly surprised, as I had refused any cervical exams prior to going in to labor.  Apparently my weeks of frequent Braxton Hicks contractions had done some good and I wasn't starting from ground zero.  So, I told my doula and my parents to go ahead and head over to the hospital.  Baby was definitely coming today! Which was so exciting! After having thought he might come even weeks earlier, I was happy that he at least decided to come before his due date of the 19th and not after. I was ready to meet him....and, let's be honest, to be done with the discomfort that comes with having a huge belly. 

While waiting to be moved to the delivery room, I labored with Jason. He did his best to talk me through the contractions until my doula, Brandy, was able to arrive. She immediately got to work getting me to change positions and getting me more comfortable.  I labored for a while standing up and holding on to Jason while Brandy stood behind me helping relieve the pain in my hips.  Contractions became a bit more bearable.  Before heading to the room, the doctor on call checked me again and I was at a "good 6".  I was a bit discouraged. We had been in triage for 2 hours and I had only dilated a centimeter more. 

Around 5 am, after walking to my room, Suite 17, I immediately got into a tub, in a dimly lit room that Brandy had prepared for me, and labored in there with my iPod playing music in the background. Let me tell you, laboring in the tub was one of the most comfortable, if you can call it that, ways to manage the contractions. I was able to work with the contractions a lot better and relax. I barely said anything to anyone the entire time I was in labor, other than the occasional "I don't know if I can do this" and "I just want this to be over" pleas, but J, Brandy and my mom were constantly encouraging me.  Through it all though, I kept thinking, I could not be doing this without Brandy, our doula.  I never would have thought to labor in the tub or labor in some of the positions she suggested, and I'm almost certain I would have caved and gotten an epidural.  So, we were both extremely grateful to have her guiding us through the process.  Because, as much as I had read and tried to prepare, it's really easy for all your plans to go out the window when you're in the heat of the moment.

After laboring for three hours, I finally was offered by my nurse, Jacqui, to be checked again. I was nervous to know where I was at, because I didn't want to be disappointed again, but at the same time, I needed to have a goal in mind. So, they checked...and I was complete! 10 cm fully dilated and at 0 station. I could start pushing to move the baby down to a positive station.  And looking back and talking with Brandy afterwards, I think I was probably at a 10 for a while in the tub, because I admitted to her later, that I had urges to push, but I kept ignoring them because I didn't want to find out I wasn't as far along as I had thought and I figured it was all in my head since I was so ready to just be done with the whole laboring process.  While in the bed, we switched up positions several times trying to find the most comfortable position, then I finally got settled in and started pushing. 45 minutes later, I had my 8 lb, 10 oz. baby boy on my chest! 

When it's all said and done, I'm happy with my whole labor and delivery experience. I was in active labor for 7 hours.  I had been nervous the entire pregnancy that I would end up with a c-section.  My mom had c-sections with both my brother and I, and her mom had also had c-sections with both daughters, so I felt like history was against me.  I am so thankful to have the experience of naturally delivering a baby, and with no complications!  My entire support team was wonderful, from the doctor, to the doula to my wonderful husband and mom.  I really don't think there's a whole lot I would change from my experience and I thank God for allowing me to have such a smooth delivery.  I still love replaying that whole day in my head, it was special in so many ways, with Austin being the best part about it all!