All you wanted to know about cloth diapers

If you have zero interest in cloth diapers, just ignore the writing and scroll for the cute pictures.

I’ve been interested in cloth diapering since before I even got pregnant. I’ve had a few friends who have gone the cloth route and did some reading online that got me really interested. The main benefits to us were the cost savings (we spent a little over $200 for our entire stash), the comfort for her (less diaper rash and blowouts), and the environmental factors (our few weeks of using disposables quickly showed us how much trash they generate!).

We used disposables for the first month of her life. And as we were using them I began to get really worried. They were easy! Would cloth diapers be so hard that my early experience with disposables would spur me to go back? Bella reached the nine pound mark right as we ran out of newborn disposables though, so the time came to give our cloth diapers a try.

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Backtracking a little…we picked out our cloth diapers, the BumGenius 4.0, back when I was around 20ish weeks pregnant. I researched and researched trying to make the best choice. The BumGenius brand got almost universal positive reviews. They also seem to hold their re-sale value the best which was reassuring in case they didn’t work for us. The 4.0 is a pocket diaper, which means that you stuff it with a microfiber insert. We were also contemplating the Elemental or the Freetime, both all-in-ones, but I read online (and my friend Kate verified) that they took a really long time to dry. Since we didn’t want to have to buy a ton, and we didn’t want to have to wash them every day, we decided to rule all-in-ones out. So when a good sale came along, we were able to pick up 22 diapers online and have them shipped to our house.

microfiber inserts

microfiber inserts

bumgenius 4.0 covers

bumgenius 4.0 covers

Luckily, the transition to cloth was way easier than I thought it would be. Once they are stuffed, it is really no harder than a disposable. As long as Bella is exclusively breast fed, her poop is water soluble, which means it can go directly in the washing machine. With each diaper change, the dirty diaper goes in our wet bag and a new diaper goes on her. We also use cloth wipes which go straight into the wet bag as well.

the wet bag that receives all dirty diapers

the wet bag that receives all dirty diapers

Every other day, I dump the contents of the wet bag and the bag itself into the washing machine. The washing routine (pre-wash cold no detergent, wash hot with detergent, extra rinse) took some time to get used to, but after a few weeks it is like old hat. When they finish in the washer, the inserts and the wet bag go into the dryer, and the diapers go onto a drying rack to air dry. Right now, I do the laundry every other day starting first thing in the morning. Once I go back to work, we’ll switch to doing it in the evenings.

As for what Bella thinks? She hopefully likes them! They certainly look cute on her. They are definitely bulkier than a disposable, but my worry that her clothing wouldn’t fit over them so far seems to be unfounded. I think we benefit from her shorter build with chunky thighs. I could see how fit might be an issue with a tall and skinny baby. Right now, she also only needs one insert and can sleep for eight hours straight at night without a leak. When she starts having heavier wet diapers, we can add in the second insert that they came with or even invest in some super-absorbent hemp inserts.

So far, my impressions of cloth diapering and specifically the BumGenius 4.0 are great. The work hasn’t been nearly as bad as I thought and its nice to not have to run out and buy diapers and wipes all the time. Her daycare has agreed to use her cloth diapers (as long as we send them stuffed every day), but that will be an adjustment that hopefully goes well when the time comes. We’ll also see how it goes to travel with them. I’m definitely not opposed to using disposables when we travel if it is more convenient. We did survive our first out-of-home cloth diaper change the other day when she had a come-apart at the mall.

We’re happy with our decision so far, but I’ll definitely continue to update as things change.

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happy baby girl!

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What’s In a Name?

We did not have the easiest time deciding on Bella’s name. Well, I should say we didn’t have the easiest time agreeing on Bella’s name.  In fact, we didn’t firmly decide on her middle name until about an hour after she was born!

I’d been insisting on the first name of Bella since we found out that I was pregnant. My late grandmother Bella is my hero. Growing up, she was the typical fun grandma. I loved listening to her stories (my favorite was a story from her childhood in Poland where she fell out of a buggy into a bunch of snow and no one knew she fell out because the snow was so deep), enjoyed all of her home-cooked meals (she may have been Polish, but her spaghetti and meatballs were the best!), and always looked forward to our trips to visit. But on top of that, my grandma Bella was a strong, brave woman who escaped from a Nazi concentration camp with her sister and lived in the woods before making her way to Germany and then America.

Sidenote: I was really upset when the Twilight films surged in popularity a few years back and all of a sudden the name Bella was everywhere! I had always thought I’d have a nice, unique name for my daughter. Oh well…we’ve actually met less Bella’s then I thought. 

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It has been more than nine years since we lost my grandma Bella, but it makes me so excited to be able to pass her name on. I cannot wait until the end of March, when baby Bella gets to meet my grandfather Bill. Their love story – meeting in the woods after both escaping Nazi concentration camps – is something that has always inspired me, and I think as Bella grows older she will enjoy hearing stories about her namesake.

me and my grandma Bella, circa 1982!

me and my grandma Bella, circa 1982!

As for Bella’s middle name, Avery, the story is far less interesting. The reason Lance was hesitant to use Bella as a first name was because we were having so much trouble finding a middle name to “go” with it. As in, we probably tossed around several hundred middle names. I had a few I liked that Lance didn’t, and he had some that he liked that I downright loathed. So I think around 35 weeks we worked together to make a list of our 8 favorite middle names to go with Bella. We then separately ranked the 8 names. Three names came out at the top (Madelyn, Mackenzie, and Avery). We then decided that we’d wait until she was born to make a firm decision on the middle name.

Bella Avery it is

Bella Avery it is

When we got into the recovery room, the decision was made. Bella Avery was officially part of our family…and now I can’t picture it any other way!

The day my heart broke

Today is Valentine’s Day. It also marks one year since at our 11 week appointment, we unexpectedly found out that our first pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage. I’ll never forget the way that I felt that day. Our appointment was first thing in the morning, and after calling work in tears saying that I wasn’t coming in, I returned home and got in bed and stayed there for the rest of the day. “This is it,” I thought. “I’ll never get over this and Valentine’s Day is ruined forever.”

Thankfully, about two and a half months later, I saw that second line and knew that just maybe my heart would be full again.

Lance and I have never been much for Valentine’s Day. We always go out for his birthday five days prior, so it has never been a priority for us. But this year, there is a ray of sunshine in our lives. A little rainbow after the storm that ensued one year ago. She has helped us love in a whole new way. So this February 14th, my heart is full of love and gratitude for my husband and baby girl, and I’m looking forward to making this a happy day from here on forward.

My valentine is learning how to smile!

My valentine is learning how to smile!

With that sweet face looking at me, how can I not?

Time is flying

If you are sensing a theme with these posts, I cannot believe Bella is already six weeks old. Had I not secured 12 weeks of maternity leave, I would have been going back to work today. That just seems crazy!

It is amazing to watch the changes and developments in Bella each day. She has recently started grasping with a purpose, rather than just grasping a finger that you stick in her hand. She’ll now grasp my shirt while nursing (so cute!) and as of today, may instead grasp my hair. She has also really discovered her hand, and will try and suck on her fist to soothe herself.

Yesterday, we tried to put her in her crib awake for the first time. She started screaming after about five minutes so we quickly aborted. She then laid on Lance until she fell asleep and we transferred her to her crib. Tonight, I figured I’d try again and this time it actually worked! She again started crying after about 10 minutes, but in the minute it took me to get into her room she had stopped and was back asleep. Then she cried again about 20 minutes later and again, by the time I got there she was back asleep. I’m watching her on the monitor as I type this and *knock on wood* it seems as if this time she is actually asleep.

We’ve also seen our first few smiles this week which have been amazing. They are always brief but it makes me feel good. I can’t wait until they become a more regular occurrence.

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sleeping on mommy is a daily thing

Lance’s parents visited over the weekend which was really nice. They got to spend time with Bella and we celebrated Lance’s stepdad’s birthday Friday and Lance’s birthday on Saturday. The best part about the birthdays? Taking advantage of some of Durham’s best cuisine. We hit up Only Burger (the shop not the food truck) Friday evening with Bella in tow. Then Saturday we headed to Rise for their amazing donuts for brunch, and then Saturday evening, with the grandparents babysitting, Lance and I had our first date since Bella was born – an amazing dinner at Nana’s.

date night!

date night!

The other big happening this week was our switch to cloth diapers. We’re on day six and so far, so good. We’re lucky that she just happened to hit a good weight to start the cloth diapers right when we ran out of newborn disposables. I’ll definitely post more on how this is going after we’re a little further into it, but at least at the start it hasn’t been nearly as bad as I thought.

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so cute in her Bum Genius 4.0s

Sorry that this post has been all over the place. I really thought I’d have more time for blogging during maternity leave but since Bella won’t nap anywhere outside of my arms during the day, it has been hard to get much of anything done!

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I told you

 

 

5 weeks of Bella

On Monday morning Bella had her one month doctor’s appointment. Amazingly, that was our ninth visit to the pediatrician’s office – yet she hadn’t been in 13 days. We have certainly spent much of her first month at the clinic, which makes me happy that I chose an office three miles from home. Despite the hassle and stress associated with all of the weight check visits, the benefit is that our pediatrician really knows our family. She knows what my husband and I do for a living (amazing considering how many patients they have) and she is great about remembering everything about Bella. This is a huge improvement from my OB practice, where since they have seven doctors and you see all of them throughout your pregnancy, you’ll get a question like “have we met?” from the doctor that told you that you miscarried and performed your D&C. How about peeking at my chart and seeing your name on it before you walk in? But I digress.

Bella’s pediatrician is great. She is caring and sweet and she’ll ask three times in the course of an appointment if I have any more questions. Plus, this week she was able to see that in the course of the 13 days between her visits, Bella continued to gain over an ounce a day and tipped the scale at 9 lbs 7 oz! Amazing. She jumped all the way up to the 54th percentile in weight. She also grew an inch to 20.5″, which is the 25th percentile. Guess she is going to be short like her mommy and daddy. Her head maintained its 90+ percentile, which makes me somewhat thankful for the c-section.

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our 9.5 lb baby!

The best part about her great growth? We are now exclusively feeding on demand! No more alarm clocks overnight. No more waking her at exactly 2.5 hours between feedings during the day. I can now just feed her when she wants.

I was excited to see what happened when we went to bed Monday night, but apparently a little too excited. I slept horribly! I kept wondering when she’d wake herself and slept very lightly. I ended up waking up at 5 a.m. after she’d slept for six hours straight. She wasn’t even crying – but I heard her stir and was alarmed that she hadn’t gotten up yet, so I just woke her and fed her. Then she went back to bed for another 2.5 hours and we started our day around 8. Yesterday she wokeup at 4 a.m., ate, and went back to bed until 8. I will definitely take this schedule!

During the day, we’ve been running lots of errands and going for walks. I had my postpartum visit yesterday and I’ve been cleared to resume exercising, so I’m looking forward to my first trip to the gym and seeing if I still remember how to run. I seriously haven’t run a step since May. It is going to be slow going for sure!

Tomorrow, Lance’s parents visit and then this weekend he and I will take advantage of having babysitters and take our first night out without Bella to celebrate his birthday. The weeks and days are continuing to fly by – but I’m trying not to think about my return to work and focusing on enjoying each and every day.

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I have to leave this sweet face to go to work?!

 

1 month old!

Bella is one month old today!

1 month

In some ways it feels like the month has flown by and in others it seems like she has been with us for ages. Her physical growth in this timeframe, especially considering the weight gain issues we had for her first 3 weeks of life, seems so great. Case in point, we had to fight to squeeze her into the newborn outfit above!

weeks 1-4 collageWe’ve been taking a picture of her each week. The first week’s picture is too zoomed in as we were still figuring out the best way to do this, but you can really see how much tighter the onesie is even between weeks three and four! I would not be surprised if we see 9 pounds on the scale at her one month appointment on Monday.

Overall, the month has been great. I think Lance and I are starting to get the hang of life as parents – understanding that obstacles will come and go, and just trying to remember that everything is a phase.

Looking back, here are a few insights into Bella’s first month.

IMG_5718SLEEP : We swaddle her every time she goes to sleep overnight, and almost every time we get either a single or double punch out. Lance and I like to take bets on what state we will find her in. Above, it appears she attempted a double punch out but was thwarted. Overall, she has slept great for us. I nurse her before we go to bed (between 10 and 11), and then she sleeps a four hour stretch in the bedroom with us in her Rock N’ Play. After a middle of the night feeding, she sleeps in her crib anywhere from 2-4 hours. Then I nurse her again and put her down for one more stretch. We usually end up starting our day (i.e. no more trips back to bed) between 9 and 10. I’d love to move this routine forward, but she is generally wide awake between 8 and 10 pm. We’ve decided to let this ride until six weeks and at that point we’ll see if she is ready for an earlier bedtime.

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BATHING: With her cord stump finally off, Bella had her first bath this week. When we first put her in, she screamed at the top of her lungs. Once we realized that we probably didn’t have enough water in the tub and filled it up further, she settled down and actually seemed to enjoy it. I’ve read a lot about bedtime routines and how a bath is a good part of one, but at this point, I’m not sure I understand how that would work given that she screams her head off when we take her out. Do they calm down and not mind as much eventually?

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TUMMY TIME: Bella actually prefers being on her tummy to being on her back. Lay her on her back unswaddled and she will typically begin screaming within minutes. Put her on her tummy, and she looks calm and happy, and as of this week, will find her hand to start sucking on. We put her on her playmat daily but she isn’t recognizing the toys or mirror yet. She did startle me by flipping from her front to back earlier this week – but I don’t think it really counts because she started with an arm tucked under. I still can’t believe she had the strength to get over! Her neck strength has also taken great strides in the past 10 days and you can really see how much steadier it is.

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TITAN:  Lance loves to let Bella (and any of our friends’ babies for that matter) “ride the dog”. Bella isn’t so sure about it, but she is definitely getting used to spending time with her big brother. It is not uncommon for Lance to have both of them on his lap when sitting on the couch.

IMG_5698FUSSINESS: I just had to include this picture from one of our weekly photo sessions. Definitely one of my favorites pictures that I’ve taken! Ever since Bella woke up and figured out how to eat, she has also become a lot more fussy. When she is asleep, she sleeps great, but when she is awake, it is hard to keep her content for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. She will go from totally happy to screaming in the blink of an eye. We’re not sure what causes it and there is really no pattern. Luckily, we’re starting to learn tricks to at least temporarily calm her, and I’m sure this is just a phase that will pass.

The first month has been a wonderful adventure. As first time parents, there is a huge learning curve, but I think we’re doing OK. We’ve started running some errands with her and even ventured to Panera for lunch the other day, I’m looking forward to being able to take her out more often and continuing to introduce her to our friends and family.