{Top 10} Diaper Bag Essentials

When you pack your diaper bag for the first outing I am willing to bet that you soon realized you over packed. Or perhaps you have an empty diaper bag just sitting there and you are unsure what to pack! Here are 10 diaper bag staples that should always be in your bag.

1. Coach Diaper Bag ($150)I know this is the diaper bag but I thought it was imperative to show a diaper bag since we are talking about them. This is a Coach diaper bag. Before you skip this, I must tell you I DID NOT pay full retail price of $598! I got it at the outlet store for $150. I know it is expensive, but since it is leather it will last, and once I no longer need it as a diaper bag I can use it as an over sized purse. So to me it was worth it. Oh and it is a bag my husband is not embarrassed to carry!

2. Diaper Genie On-The-Go ($5.98) : This little thing is great! It has a roll of bags inside and clips to your diaper bag. Don't you hate when you are changing your baby in the middle of nowhere (meaning not near a trash can)? No one wants to shove a dirty diaper back in your diaper bag, so now you can place them in these scented bags! Very handy!

3. Water Bottle (CamelBak $15.98): You should always have a water bottle on you. It is good, especially when breastfeeding, to stay hydrated. It is also good if you are formula feeding to have water to mix the formula with. I like the CamelBak because there is no screw lid, you can open it with one hand.

4. Cliff Bar ($0.99): Along with water, you should always have a few snacks with you. I would suggest something with a little lasting power like Cliff Bars. They are packed with filling ingredients that will keep you full while on the go.

5. Travel Baby Wipes: Obviously you must have baby wipes in your diaper bag, but it is great to have them in a refillable container. I do not like the travel wipes you can buy then you dispose of the package when you're done. I love my Huggies refillable containers. They are thin and hold a lot! Plus they shut tights so all the wipes stay wet.

6. Nursing Cover ($25-30): I bring my nursing cover everywhere with me. I love it because it covers my baby and me up but it is also great because my baby gets distracted when nursing in public, so it keeps him on task. I got my from UdderCovers.com, and it is of great quality! Check out my review HERE. And if you don't mind being exposed, then it can serve as a blanket as well!

7. Nursing Pads: I always have disposable nursing pads with me in my bag. You never know when you'll need them, and they are small enough where they won't take up any room.

8. Aden and Anais Swaddle ($35-40 pk of 4): These muslin swaddles are AMAZING! They are so soft, light weight, and very large. You can swaddle with them, use them as a burp cloth, nursing cover, or as a blanket. The more you wash them the softer they get. They are worth every cent!

9. Diapers: It doesn't matter what kind you use, but I would suggest having enough for 2 for each hour you are gone. So if you will be gone 3 hours, have 6 diapers. That way you won't run short!

10. Change of clothes: I always pack a onesie and shorts for my little boy. So if they pee, poop, spit-up, or get wet you will have something to change them into. I would also suggest an extra shirt for yourself as well.

What No One Told You About {Labor & Delivery}

Congrats! You've made it through the 10 months (or there abouts) of pregnancy. You had the awful bouts of gas that you blamed on the baby, you most likely were not that 1% that had the actual coveted "pregnancy glow"(sorry!), and I bet you have tried at least one form of natural labor-inducing fad.
We all know that contractions hurt and labor can be messy. You have probably been told horror stories about labor and been told by every other mother out there how to handle it. But there are certain things that veteran moms, baby books, and your Ob/Midwife may leave out if not directly asked. So here it is....

You may think you're prepared...but you're not!
Sure, you're hospital bags are packed, you have a pet sitter on the ready, and you have your birth plan in hand. That is all well and good, but that moment when you do go into actual labor, I promise that you will not be ready. You spend 10 months dreaming of this moment, but when the harsh reality slams you in the gut, you will find yourself second guessing everything. Did I pack everything, am I sure I want a natural birth, am I timing the contractions correctly (even though you practiced a million times with your "Full Term" app during your Braxton Hicks), are just a few thoughts that will swirl around your head like a raging tornado. 

All modesty will go right out the window!
I am a very modest person. I do not change in front of people, I do not show a lot of skin, I do not talk about bodily functions (until now!) and I certainly do not flash my whooha to the world. Well that all changed once I was in active labor. I started my labor in a nice black Victoria's Secret silk bathrobe (seriously who was I kidding?) but once I hit a certain point I figured all bets were off. You will have so many cervical checks by many different people then you will be spread eagle to about 6-7 others that you just don't give a care anymore! So, don't even think "I'll be covered up" because you won't. You will be sweating and want to rip off every article of clothing on you! So please, please, please do not go out and buy a special "delivery gown"since you wont wear it and if you do it will be a bloody mess by the end.

Yup, that's right! No woman wants to admit that she pooped during labor, and some many never even have been told, but trust me, it is inevitable. Think about this for a moment, you are pushing a 7-9lbs baby out that is pushing on your rectum, and if pushing correctly, you push like you're pooing. There is no way around it and to be honest, you won't give a crap (see that I did there... hehe). I told my loving husband to not tell me if I do pass a little solid, but part way through I quietly asked him and he looked at me wide-eyed and said "oh yes!" but I didn't care. It actually will give you a sense of relief (yes in every meaning of the word) to know that you're pushing the most efficient way you can. So be proud ladies!

You will bleed.... a lot!
How could you not, you just had a baby come sailing out of you then you had the placenta ripped from your uterus, and your baby's lifeline cut from you. But no one prepares you for how much. I had asked this question to many women, just to be prepared, and clearly I never, not once, got a straight answer, many of them downplaying it (you know who you are!). So here it is: you bleed buckets worth. You will need assistance the first few times to use the bathroom (thankfully my husband was the one to help, as he met his traumatic limit earlier during birth, so this didn't faze him). It doesn't magically stop once you walk out of those hospital doors either. Oh no, it goes on and on for a solid 4 weeks (lighter as time goes on). But here is the silver lining, they give you mesh undies and massive pads to wear at the hospital. Seriously, if I had thought ahead I would have gotten Depends, they would have worked better and I would have felt more secure (plus when I peed by surprise I wouldn't have to worry!). Oh well, next time. 

You may not be immediately overwhelmed with joy.
The movies have really skewed our perception of labor and delivery. It is not glamorous. It is painful, tiring, long, and down right taxing. So after hours of going through all that, of course you are excited to meet your little one that you cared for over the past 10 months. Just don't expect it to be a party. You will be exhausted and will have to go through all the "clean-up" associated with the delivery. This is NOT to say it is not the most amazing experience of your life, but it's not the movies ladies. It's okay if you don't get that overwhelming joy that you associate with giving birth right away. You are a basket of hormones and a bucket of yuck at that point. Trust me, you have plenty of time to feel all that joy! Some do right away and some it may take a few moments for it all to sink it, neither is wrong nor right, just reality.

Your baby will not be perfect!
Okay, in your eyes he/she will be, but on closer inspection and a few hours later you will see all the imperfections. When people think of babies, they think perfect head, perfect skin, and just a bundle of perfection. Well, most babies have some sort of deformed head that will normally correct itself by the time you head home (mine had the biggest cone head with a side of bruising). Their skin is far from perfect. A lot of babies come out with little whiteheads all over their face (Milia). It will go away within the first few weeks, don't worry. Some get cradle cap and others peel from head-to-toe. But in your eyes they will be perfect, so try to look past that, just don't be surprised when they don't come out looking like a Johnson & Johnson commercial. 

Breastfeeding hurts!
Women often think that just because something is natural, that it naturally happens. Well, this can't be further from the truth. Some have an easy time breastfeeding from the moment their baby latches after delivery, but most have to work at it. It is a massive learning curve for you and baby. Take advice from the lactation consultant. But do understand, it will hurt. If your baby latches correctly, then it should only hurt for a short period of time until your skin gets adjusted. But don't get discouraged! If it continues to hurt, ask for a nipple shield. That saved mine and baby's breastfeeding. Make sure that you use some sort of ointment (I used MothersLove since it was oil based and not lanolin based). Oh, and make sure you always have a huge glass of water near you. When you breastfeed it triggers your body to crave fluids to replenish what the baby is taking from you. I got, and still get 4 months later, an insatiable thirst the moment (no joke) my son latches. 

What No One Told You About {Pregnancy}

When you first find out that you are expecting, you go out and buy all the books, magazines, scour websites, and ask veteran moms what to expect. You will read about how pregnancy is really 10 months instead of 9 (who knew!?), mom's will tell you their morning sickness stories, and you will start to compile a list of questions to ask your doctor on the first prenatal visit. But once your pregnancy is over you realize that the books leave out a lot and mom's seem to forget to tell you certain things that would have been nice to know about pregnancy. So here you are, here are a few things that I had to figure out along the way, things I wish someone, anyone, would have told me!

 How your relationship changed instantly. 
Once you get those two lines indicating that you're expecting you start to go into baby mode. Everything is baby. You talk about baby, you shop for baby, you plan for baby, you revolve around baby. You go from being married (or dating) to becoming all consumed. But not only does it all revolve around baby, everything seems to revolve around you too! You get ALL the attention since you're pregnant (which gets annoying after a while, trust me). So you really have to work hard to make your man not feel neglected *sigh*.

 Not everyone gets the 'glow'. 
It's true. Though some people can wear pregnancy with such grace and beauty, the majority of us look like a busted can of biscuits covered in acne, mousey hair, chips nails, and oily skin. In between bouts of morning sickness and constipation, you use all your energy just to take a shower. So when people tell you that you have the pregnancy glow, and you are not that %1 that actually does, just smile nicely but know that they are just trying to make you feel good.

 You WILL get sick of pregnancy advice
I never got sick of the pregnancy advice that I sought out from sites such as BabyCenter.com or from books. I got sick of unwanted, unsolicited, baby advice from veteran mom's who "know it all", because they don't! Mom's love to tell you how they kept the weight gain down to a minimum by exercising through pregnancy (I sat there listening while shoving cake down my throat), they loved to share "their birth stories" as though their way of giving birth way the only way to do it. You get the point, they are annoying, and after you have your baby you will be one of those mom's giving advice. It's a vicious cycle. Oh and I will slap the next person who say's "you just wait" to every statement I make about what pregnancy is or isn't like.

 You will pee your pants at least once! 
I was never told that I would possibly be peeing my pants in the process of growing my little bundle of joy. There I was at work, laughing at something my student said, and out came a little pee. Yup, 27 years old, and I peed my pants while teaching high schoolers. Good thing I was wearing black yoga pants (yeah I lived in yoga pants...cheaper than maternity pants!) No where had I read that this would happen. I thought that was left to babies and old people, not young, healthy, pregnant women. Be warned!

 You WILL be an expert at peeing in a cup by the end of your pregnancy! 
I absolutely loved and looked forward to going to my midwife for my prenatal appointments. The one thing I will not miss is peeing in a cup as soon as you walk through the door. They give you cups that are so tiny, and being women, we don't have the same kind of aim as men do. After the first few months and many accidental splatters, drips, and misfires, I finally became an expert. It's a good thing I was always drinking water and could pee on command!

 Your husband will have pregnancy symptoms too! 
I thought when you were pregnant you were supposed to get all sorts of crazy cravings. Well that didn't happen to me. The only thing I craved was cake, and lots of it. My husband on the other hand craved cake, McDonalds, ice cream, ect. He also started to feel nauseated in the mornings and got heartburn. All classic signs of pregnancy. I was starting to feel a little jealous that he was getting all the cravings and I was not. Also, I couldn't be the only one who was feeling like crap and he taking care of me since we both were.

 You don't have to break the bank on maternity clothing! 
I went throughout my entire pregnancy and never bought a stitch of maternity wear, seriously! I went shopping in the beginning and realized what a gimmick it all was. Highly over priced with a limited selection that you were soon to grow out of. So I went a different route. I bought Green Apple yoga pants (which are amazing bamboo pants). I Already had a pair so I wanted a few more. They stayed up around my waist as I grew and always kept their shape. I still wear them and they never got stretched out. I also bought the Bella Band so I could wear my pre-regnancy jeans - life and $$$ saver! Then I hit the Old Navy clearance rack and bought a bunch of shirts a size bigger (so it would fit in length over my belly) for $2.95. No need to spend so much money on clothing that is ugly! (plus you can say you wore your regular clothing your entire pregnancy, ha!)

 You might have more, way more, gas than usual! 
Oh that's right ladies, every time you bend over to grab something or each time you cough, you will let out a noisy bout of air (sometimes associated with that obnoxious dribble of pee we went over earlier). For those next 10 months you will have more gas than a teenage boy about to hit puberty. But here is the good news: you can blame it on the baby! You heard me right, when you let it rip just utter the words "the baby has gas" and trust me, no one will question it, and if they do it will probably be one of those awful pregnant women who have the "actual" pregnancy glow....so just waft it their way!

Wives tales are just that....TALES!
When you enter the last few weeks of your pregnancy and you've about had it with he lack of mobility, kicks to the ribs, and the 5 midnight pee sessions, you will get advice from various people to try out different ways to start labor. From eating 3 pineapples a day to having sex, nothing will start labor unless your baby is ready. So don't waste your time stressing that you haven't gone into labor after having spicy mexican food, or if you feel like you are, most likely it is just gas ;) So sit back and enjoy those last few moments of solitude and know that your little bundle will come, guaranteed, by 42 weeks!

Top Ten Baby Shower Gifts

Ever stuck as to what to buy someone for a baby shower?
Look no further!
Top ten items that will fit everyones budget!

1. Munchkin Diaper Changing Kit ($15) - This kit makes it so easy to change your little one out in town. It holds plenty of diapers and wipes. It also is easy to wipe down. It is a must have for any mother!

2. Diapers ($12-48 depending of count) - Everyone gets diapers at a shower. If you want to give some, stick to a larger size like 1 or 2 even 3. New mom's get so many newborn sizes that are quickly out grown, leaving mom with boxes of unused diapers.

3. Diaper Genie Elite ($28)- Some will say that it is unnecessary, but I diagree. It really keeps the smell of those poopy diapers under wraps. It is easy to use and you only have to change it every couple of days. I highly recommend it if the mother-to-be isn't in to taking the trash out every day (what new mother has time for that?!)

4. Baby Clothes Hangers ($8) - These are a must! When you get clothing as a gift most people take off the hangers, which leaves you with a lot of clothes sans hangers! They are cheap and eliminate folding those little onesies!

5. Boppy Pillow ($28 naked/$39 with cover) - This is the best nursing pillow out there. Some like the Breast Friend, but I like the Boppy since it is very soft and moldable. My husband even uses it to bottle feed. And it works great for a travel pillow too! Once your baby get's a little bigger they can use it to help them sit up and do tummy time on.

6. Homedics SoundSpa Lullaby ($26) - Best noise maker out there! It has sounds of the ocean, river, and nature. Plus it has lullaby songs. It also has a projector with 3 different slides to project on the ceiling. My baby can't sleep without it! And it is small so it can fit anywhere.

7. Plain White Onesies ($10 pk of 5) - Every baby needs a bunch of these! They are easy to clean since you can just bleach them. They go with everything, and if they do stain them, you can dye them! A must have for every new baby. And just like diapers, get larger sizes!

8. Fisher Price Rock 'N Play ($75) - This product is a life saver! It cradles the baby so they feel secure, it rocks, and it has an incline. So if your baby has reflux like mine did, it will will help keep your baby from spitting up. It is also a great place for your newborn to sleep those first few nights. We keep ours in the living room now as a place for our boy to hang out! Oh, and it comes with a little monkey toy, which he can't go anywhere without!

9. Boba 3g ($120) - This is the best Soft Structure Carrier on the market! There are no infant insert to buy, since you just snap a few buttons and presto! it fits your infant. It can also hold a child up to 45lbs. And it is very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Check out my video review HERE

10. Motorola 2.8" Color Video Monitor With Pan/Zoom/Tilt Camera ($189) - This is the best monitor out there! It has a large screen to see your baby. It also will scan the room, has an intercom to talk to the baby from the handheld device, and you can add more cameras at a later point. We use this every night and the picture is amazing. You can also zoom in on your baby which is great! 

Letting Go Of All Expectations

When you decide to have a baby (or you find out one is on the way) you start to set plans in motion. If it is your first, like mine, you become consumed with the latest baby products, the new "rules" of car seat positions, to use crib bumpers or not, or to delay cord cutting. It can be overwhelming and exciting all in the same breath. You will have veteran moms trying to give you advice, since every mom is an expert (or so they think). Being a soon-to-be new mother, you'll surely soak it up!

As those months fly by and your due date is right around the corner, you shift into overdrive. Just a few months ago my husband and I sat down and really talked about how we were going to raise our son. I had done all the research and I knew what I wanted. I would never co-sleep, he wouldn't even lay his eyes on the television until he was in pre-school (and then it would be PBS only), and everyone was to wash their hands before touching him (just to name a few).

Well it is 3 1/2 months after the delivery of my son Reece and let me tell you, I co-slept for the first 3 weeks since he wouldn't sleep anywhere else. I plop my son in front of the television every morning for 10 minutes so I can get myself breakfast and make coffee. And as for washing hands....I tried to implement that rule, I did. But seriously, after the first 2 weeks I gave up. Just don't wipe your nose on your hands then touch my baby and you'll be fine. I figure it's strengthening his immune system, right?

Looking back at my pregnancy, I did everything I could to plan, but until your little bundle of joy is here you don't truly know what you will do. I co-slept, which I was highly against, because he would scream if he wasn't by my side. It broke my heart. I made sure I did my research and talked to my midwife on how to do it safely, but I did it. Now that he is sleeping in his crib every night all night, I truly miss co-sleeping.

I realized that you have to let go of all expectations. Nothing will go as planned. I got my first glimpse of that during delivery. Reece came on his due date, something no one expected, and I didn't get my water birth. I had planned from day one to have a water birth but that all changed the moment I got into the tub. I jumped out of that tub faster than a cat would when thrown in water. That was the beginning of letting go of everything I had planned for.

There are no hard and fast rules to parenting. Things change from minute to minute. To be a parent means to be flexible and ever adapting. The only thing that I am adamant on is safety. When the car seat rules change, change with them. They set those rules in place for your child's safety. Place your babe on their back for sleeping, it's for their safety. And use breathable mesh bumpers, again for their safety. People will disagree, stating that their child's needs are different, and they switched them to front facing in the car early or placed them on their belly to sleep since they won't sleep on their back. My thought is, if it's for their safety, do everything you can to insure that. Your child doesn't have a say in their wellbeing. Okay I'm climbing down off my soap box now...

Being a new parent is such a learning experience, not only for you and baby, but for you and your spouse. I have learned so much about my husband since our boy was born. It has been amazing to watch them grow together and hear his opinions on Pampers vs. Huggies (Huggies winning every time).

As my midwife told me right before my delivery, "Always have a preference, never a plan. Plans are written in stone and preferences are open for change." She was one smart lady!