Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hospital Packing List Updated... Now with 20/20 hindsight!

Forever ago (seems like) I made a packing list for going to the hospital to have Jim.

Now that I've been-there-done-that-paid-the-hospital I have created an updated list for my friend Gil - she's set to deliver in a few short weeks! Go give her some luv.

The NEW List, with commentary:
You will want to pack two bags for the hospital or birth center: a small overnight bag for the items you'll both need during labor and a larger bag for everything else that you'll need to be comfy for a day or 2. In our hospital it was required… They wouldn’t allow us to bring more than a VERY SMALL bag into the OR prep room. Even if we’d had an L&D room we couldn’t have checked in with much more. You might check your hospital’s regulations.

**To make sure you don't forget items that you may use daily and won't have packed until the day you leave for the hospital, attach a reminder to the bag that lists the item(s) to add.

**Be sure your bag includes telephone numbers for: OB Doctor, back-up rides and support people, and arrangements for pet care.

Mom List:

  • Flip Flops for when they let you walk/shower - great idea
  • loose comfortable sweats to come home in - great idea
  • toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant
  • your favorite snacks and beverages & sports drinks - great idea
  • A hair tie / Hair clips
  • Something to read

Baby List:

  • A going-home outfit
  • Infant car seat
  • Baby book for recording baby's first footprint/handprint
  • Clothes for hospital baby photo

Dad List:

  • The list of folks to call when labor starts, during labor (friends and family), after baby has arrived (extended family and friends, Insurance, FMLA/work-related contacts)
  • Chargers for Cell phone / Camera
  • Change for the vending machines and/or soft drinks
  • PJs for the hubby, change of clothes
  • favorite snacks and beverages - great idea
  • music you guys both like – this is good whichever kind of delivery you have
  • toiletries, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant
  • something to read during the early stages
  • Your own pillow (use a patterned or colorful pillowcase)
  • Laptop was useless in our hospital – no wireless – check in advance
  • It's always nice to pack a few extra ziplocs to hold wet items and dirties.
  • Sports bottle to keep water handy for yourself

Everything else from our list was just fluff... :)

Oh, while we were in the waiting room before my c-section I talked to a Mom that was checking in to have her 4th child. I noted a total lack of bags, while we appeared to be going on a vacation. She laughed and said, I did that for my first baby too. Now, I just bring my purse - most things I really need are in there anyway. Everything else, the hospital will provide (or hubby can go get) if you ask nicely. So, there you go...

I figure planning to have a baby is kind of like planning for a wedding. You think "I will just DIE if I don't have that whosiwhatsit I want...", but when the big day comes you don't really notice the object you so coveted, instead something you never could have imagined becomes the one thing you desprately crave.

Two last tips:

The mesh panties - they are the ONLY way to go... I've seen people talk about how horrible they are, and they suggest you bring your own reg from home. Well, we can just agree to disagree then. There is NO WAY I want even my worst underwear to have that amount of blood and yuck in them. You would have to throw away every pair you put on. Feel free to pack your own, if you want though. :)

The Birth Plan – this was such a joke… do one for you, if you want, but the nurses will just laugh at you if they find out you have one. EVERY birth is different, and while planning the higlights might be good (like do I want drugs/no drugs) - the real details kind-of work themselves out of necessity. Plan to be surprised... Especially when it comes to how willing you are to get naked in front of strangers. :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

First Hand Tips On Flying Solo with A Baby/Toddler...

So guys, this is a GUEST HOST post from my hubby. He flew solo with Jim from Atlanta to D.C. for a weeklong trip. He did a lot of research and planning before he left, but still learned some hard-won knowledge by doing. Feel free to send any questions/comments to him through the comment section and he'll try and answer them.

Note, this list of tips is kind of long, so there is a "key notes" section at the very bottom if you just want to skip to the bulleted list...

Easing Your Travels:
To buy a seat or not buy a seat - that is the 1st question... I chose to buy a seat so my tips are based on my experience... I read up online and many, many people give great reasons it is well worth it to buy a seat for baby. It gets them off your lap, let's the seat do the restraining, gives them a comfortable and familiar place to sleep, keeps them safe during turbulence, and you have your seat with you when you arrive (doesn't get lost or mangled in baggage claim).

Travelling with baby is like going to a strip club in one way: you're going to need a lot of $1 bills. Useful for tipping when you need help, for renting an extra luggage cart, skipping lines and buying water from a machine, etc.

Buy your trip-long staples at your destination. There's not much reason to carry 40 diapers and a full block of wipes across the country. Locate the Babies-R-Us, Target, Wal-Mart, grocery or whatever before you go. Bring directions on paper, and (if you have a smart phone/PDA) electronically.

If you're renting a car, might look to see if the rental company is on airport property - makes it a little easier. If not (mine wasn't), you'll likely ride the shuttle and have on-the-bus/off-the-bus wrangling to do. You brought the $1s for the cart and the tipping, right?

Before bringing baby-gear like pack-n-play, bouncer, stroller, high chair - realize that on most airlines you have to pay to check each bag (or every bag over 1). Each piece of baby gear counts as a bag! In most cases, it is about the same $ to buy new or consignment when you arrive. Check with your family/friends too, they may have gear you can borrow.

There are baby-gear rental companies in larger cities!! Check with Google PhD and type in "rent baby gear (the city)", you won't believe the number of hits you'll get. In many cities they will meet you at the airport with the goods, in other's they will deliver it to the place you are staying. You COULD set it up for the day before you arrive, if you are staying with family/friends. No need to waste your precious vacay time with delivery/setup.

If you're making multiple visits to this locale, you want to consider buying an umbrella stroller and a crib you can leave behind (unless you're visiting us, in which case you can use ours). I picked up the $20 "Especially for Kids" stroller from Babies R Us in DC and thought it was tremendously well-engineered for the price. (this one: ) No place to put the diaper bag (wrapped the strap around the handles once the kid was in to counterweight), but otherwise, an excellent spare stroller for the price. Raved about it all weekend.

Before you go, locate a kid's urgent care near your destination, and the nearest kid-friendly ER (they really do have special tools and techniques for dealing with kids - you want a kid facility). Good to have these ready and hope you don't need 'em. Might check with your pediatrician for advice on this.

Packing for The Plane:
Pack in carry-on extra clothes for you and for baby in case you have an on-plane or in-airport wet/poop/sick-event. And carry-on a small/thin towel. As Douglas Adams said: "Everyone should know where their towel is".

Don't pack much more food, wipes or diapers than needed for the flight and a short delay. A kid can usually get by for 3 hrs with 1 extra diaper/bottle. Don't overload yourself...

Pack some plane snacks for yourself, and realize you might not have time for a bite yourself, migh get stuck at the airport overnight or on the plane on the ground for hours. Plan for enough diapers and wipes. The airline/airport should be able to provide an extra beverage for the kid, but kid snacks, grown-up snacks can help get you through.

Bring empty quart- and gallon-size ziploc bags in carry on. Useful for parking wet trash, containing ripped-open bags of Goldfish, keeping loose snacks off the floor, all kinds of stuff.
Brought a nite-light, didn't use it. Brought the baby monitor, came in handy.

Bring empty bottles/sippy cups! Rememer, a bored baby can drink bottled water (provided by your steward) and entertain themselves for 15 mins. :)

Packing for Baby:
If you think baby might play in the water, bring some swimmer diapers and a suit, and one for baby's chaperone. (voice of experience - I didn't, found a new spray park at my boyhood playground)

Baby has the same luggage rules as Mommy or Daddy if baby has a paid seat. Baby's car seat is a carry-on item, that makes the diaper bag the "personal item". Those rules are on United - check with your carrier.

At the end of your trip, if you have extra stuff to send back (we did - big toy from Grandpa), you can pay to check it as additional baggage often more cheaply than you can ship it, and it will (is supposed to) arrive with you. United was charging for each checked bag when we went (no bag allowance at all).

Car seat:
If the kid's as mobile as Jim and you can afford it, get him a seat on the plane and fly baby in the seat. Would've been very rough with Jim on my lap and a neighbor (VERY rough). Our Britax Marathon fits in a standard airline seat (even with the BabyGo wheels attached - great!). They were worried about turbulence on one of our flights, and that struck me as a great reason not to be trying to hold the kid in my lap.

Your seat must have an "approved for use on aircraft" sticker before you can use it on the plane. The Marathon is, most other major brands are, but check it out first. It's also a good idea to have a copy of Advisory Circular 120-87A from the FAA which defines what you can take on the plane, car-seat wise. Good to have the facts handy if you get in a beef with plane staff.

Helpful FAA Info:

If you're taking a seat (and it's not a baby-bucket carrier), get the GoGoKidz BabyGo wheels - it's a perfect match for the Britax Marathon, and fits a number of other seats as well. About $79 at BRU and it made it so I didn't have to drag the seat around (heavy, lotta walking) and the kid, AND a stroller. The BabyGo handle stretches way out (I'm 6+ ft tall, no stooping!), and I was able to slide a laptop case onto the handle, and "net" the diaperbag to the handle as well. The wheels make the car seat an airport stroller and they work fantastic.

"net" for the diaper/carry-on bags: visit a motorcycle shop and get a helmet-size bungee net. Cargo nets you get for a pickup truck are too big to be helpful. A helmet-size net is very handy, can strap down an extra bag to your luggage or the kid's seat/stroller to free a hand or shoulder.

Putting the seat in the plane: if you're attaching rear-facing, the guy/girl in front of you won't be able to recline. If you're putting it in front-facing, make sure you're in a row that can recline (rows ahead of exits don't). This got me big-time on one leg of the journey! Check for info on your seat.

Each car seat is different, but for the Marathon, make sure you ask the gate attendant to have the stewardesses get you a belt extension - makes forward-facing installation of a convertable type seat much easier. You want to attach the extension to one end of the belt, recline the plane seat, thread the belt through, tighten, then bring the plane seatback up.

It takes time to install that seat, and it won't roll down most airplane aisles (has to be carried empty above the seats). A stew should be able to help with this. All this means you're now in the "people who need a little extra time with boarding" group. Get to the airport and to the gate plenty early and set this up with the gate attendant (as well as getting the belt extension set up) so you have time to do this.

On the trip up, Jim sweat/wet/pooped (a little) through his clothes and into the seat and we rode around in DC with a blanket in place in the seat for him to sit on. Doing this over, I'd put a receiving blanket in the seat, with a plastic bag under it, to make a waterproof disposable layer for the trip. Good, cheap and easy-to-install insurance.

Getting Through Security - leave plenty of time:
Most convertible-stype car seats (including our Marathon) won't fit through the X-ray machine, and require a hand-search. I thought it was that the wheels were attached, but no, it just won't go. Count on extra time for hand-search.

You may already do this when you fly, but if you've got a backpack or some other carry-bag, set up before you get in line, have all your metal, coin, electronics, stuff you'd normally throw in the plastic tub tucked into your carry bag BEFORE you get in the security line. Have your ziploc bag of liquids/gells, ID and boarding pass out as long as you need 'em. You'll have extra time wrangling the hand-search for the seat, and you'll have to carry the kid through the metal detector, so you want to be doing as little disassembly of yourself as possible.

Note, they'll want kid's shoes off too, not just your own.

If you're carrying formula, there are some special relaxed restrictions about it, but it makes sense to get to the airport early and check it out before you get to the security checkpoint. You may have to declare it if it's in a diaper bag.

Kid's meds and saline, toothpaste, etc. are all "liquids or gels" and you may forget (as I did) to pull them out and bag 'em and present 'em. "Graduates" carry-meals are in cardboard boxes, which made me forget that they're effectively tubs of "liquid or gel". This caused a delay on one leg as they took extra time taking the diaper bag apart and re-x-raying it several times before they told me what they were looking for.

Once You're through security - remember:

  1. Get milk* (or water to make formula) in a reclosable container on the concourse.
  2. Get with the gate agent early about extra time to board.
  3. Ask the gate agent to have the steward get you a belt extender if your car-seat needs it.
*Burger King and Starbucks each provided milk on my trip. BK had theirs in a container with a screw-on lid, Starbucks provided a cup, which took up my free hand as I boarded the plane - tippy and messy. Being plenty early at the airport allows you to pick and choose. Remember the airport services close pretty early if you're on a night flight.

If you're on a long-haul flight, you probably don't have to deal with this, but: to get on my CRJ-700 plane I had to walk down steps to the tarmac from the gate, then up steps to the plane with Jim. I hadn't thought about this possibility and came to the top of the steps with my carry-on set up on the car-seat wheels and Jim strapped into the seat. Would've done this differently. Had to look around before someone would help both times. Eats into your "extra time to board". (which for United in DC turned out to be about 10 seconds extra time - gate agent was a jerk).

The car-seat won't roll down the aisle of the plane, so one of you (or a steward(ess)) must carry it over the seats. If someone offers to be kind at the steps to the plane and offers to "help you" with the car seat, make sure the helper doesn't try to gate check it while your back is turned (happened to me at Dulles this trip). People don't automatically realize you're trying to bring the seat into the passenger compartment.

You spend a lot of time getting in, seated, installed, settled. This means you probably want your own luggage to be quickly stowable. I took a laptop and a day-pack, as well as Jim's diaper bag. Lesson learned: I could put stuff under the seat in front of Jim in the car seat, but couldn't easily access it in flight. Oops...

Jim was a mess during boarding, scared at the trip down to the tarmac, up to the plane, the noise, the strangeness, but settled down once we got him in his seat and once I sat next to him. The stew on the flight to DC was a lifesaver - helpful and kind.

You need to have a bottle ready for takeoff and for landing. Letting the kid suck the bottle helps equalize the pressure. Wasn't a big deal for Jim (but we did use the bottle). None of the ears/screaming nightmares you hear about. If your child has been sick recently, good idea to see the doc (or at least call) to make sure the tubes are clear enough to fly without ear damage (Jim had a regularly scheduled checkup a couple days before the flight). I pushed the bottle as the plane left the ground, but could've waited a few minutes. Someone said "let your ears be your guide". I agree with this, but also suggest you watch for signs of discomfort that you don't feel. Noted ear-pressure right after takeoff to get-out-of-town altitude, not much change for a while, then a good bit of change as we topped out to cruise altitude.

Saw a suggestion online for "ear filters" that slow the pressure change. Doc thought Jim didn't need 'em at his age and in his shape (15 mo and healthy, no recent colds).

To do the takeoff bottle, you'll need to get milk or make formula or get water or something on the concourse after you've passed security.

When they do beverage service on the plane, ask the stew if (s)he can return with a little bit of water (or milk, if you're lucky) in time to make a bottle for descent. If not, get extra water during beverage service. Helps to have a clean bottle/sippy handy to hold this. Same drill with bottle on descent: you'll start to go down as soon as you hear them dial the engines back bigtime, but you won't need the bottle for a few minutes.

We flew up at 6AM and back at 9PM, so I got away with only one new toy for the trip up. Jim didn't sleep 'till the end of the first flight. I'd brought 3 new toys (a car, a little cushy ball, a blow-up beach ball) and 2 books, but we only hauled out the cushy ball. I looked at my watch to allocate our time (90 minutes in the air, distracted with takeoff and bottle for the first third, playing with the cushy ball for the next third and a little more, playing with my iPod, asleep and then occupied with the bottle for descent.

I brought a laptop with some kid-videos and a DVD, but didn't get it out. Had my hands full and no space. If you're on a long-haul and have a screen in the seatback ahead of you, and you can get a kid's video, this is probably quite helpful.

Jim wanted to kick and push off on the seat back of the person in front of us. I spent a lot of time asking/helping him not to do so.

You know those people who use porters in airports? You just became one. You still have some of those $1 bills, right? You didn't use them ALL yet did you?!?! Heh... Trust me, these guys are worth it - by this time you and baby will be wired, tired, cranky, or all three - you'll be so happy to see their shiny porter-caps bouncing through the crowd that you'll feel like you've just spotted a long-lost friend.

Key Notes:
  • Bring lots of $1 bills for tipping
  • Your kid's car seat counts as a carry-on item and may count as a checked bag if they don't have a seat - it isn't necessarily a "luggage freebie".
  • There are baby-gear rental companies in larger cities!!
    Before bringing baby-gear like pack-n-play, bouncer, stroller, high chair - realize that on most airlines you have to pay to check each bag (or every bag over 1). Each piece of baby gear counts as a bag!
  • Make a friend of your steward(ess). (S)he is going to be enormously helpful on the plane, from getting the seat down the aisle, to getting you settled, to providing a distraction if you need it, to making sure you've got milk/water for landing.
  • Pack in carry-on extra clothes for you and for baby in case you have an on-plane or in-airport wet/poop/sick-event.
  • Get the wheels for your car seat - $ well-spent.
  • have a bottle ready for takeoff and for landing
  • When they do beverage service on the plane, ask the stew if (s)he can return with a little bit of water (or milk, if you're lucky) in time to make a bottle for descent. If not, get extra water during beverage service.
  • The car-seat won't roll down the aisle of the plane, so one of you (or a steward(ess)) must carry it over the seats.
  • For the car seat - consider bringing a blanket, and a plastic bag to put under it, to make a waterproof disposable layer for the trip

That's more than a little info, but I hope this helps. Questions? Ask away...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shocked and Saddened...

I have had few things in life shock me like getting the IM at work that Michael Jackson was dead.

I don't know about you, but I expected some kind of punchline. Really.

I immediately went to my online news outlet of choice and was in much pain to realize there was no punchline coming, just the punch. I sat there, shocked for a few minutes. I couldn't wrap my head around it...

When I did come around, I couldn't help but imagine this was much like my Mom must have felt hearing that Elvis had died. Maybe it is how we all feel when someone that has excited our youth is suddenly dead...

I've spent the better part of this evening taking a walk down memory lane, with the help of You*Tube. I was saddened most by the songs that were the hottest in my middle school years.

I can still see the gym/theater/auditorium where we used to have recess on bad-weather days. They woud move out all the chairs and we would play games and jump rope. In my last year they started letting us have "free time" during recess, which really meant the teachers took a break from us. :)

WE, however, launched into full Michael Jackson tribute zone. There was Beat It on the boombox, red jackets on the guys, and one lone glove on every cool kid. There were impromptu moonwalking contests on the stage, breakdancing on the gym floor, and lypsyncing to a hairbrush in every corner of the room. Those who pulled out all the stops won the day - whether they be boy or girl.

I think that was the beauty of his style... We ALL wanted to be him - it didn't matter if you looked or sounded like him. He was the idol of the age.

For me he will always be in a red, heavily-zippered jacket and tight black pants with white socks and black shoes. Heh. Not too many people could pull of that look, but he did it so well. Beat it, Michael, it doesn't matter who's wrong or right...

A lot of people have spent a lot of time ridiculing him for his questionable choices in life... I think it's time we let him RIP.

MJ... thank you for some good times and the gift of your music.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

...Is This Thing On? ... Testing! ... Testing!

Well, that was a long bathroom break, huh?

I bet you all thought I was gone! I wasn't sure myself, but here I am...

Really, I have just been living and let-living. I've been reading all the same blogs, and finding new ones, but I just haven't felt like blogging. Sure, I think of things to say now and then. From time to time I've even saved a draft post. I've just not "felt it" lately. Then there is the whole privacy thing I've been mulling over. You see, I want to share juicy Jim pics, but I also want more anonimity. As it is, a crafty person could surely track us down. I just hate that...

So, I guess I'm done mulling it over, and I'm planning on trying to do more blogging, but I probably won't post too many pics. We'll see...

Let's see... What's new...

I'm taking BCPs so we can start a FET this coming month. We only have one embrio in storage, so we are taking a BIG chance with doing a cycle. Our odds are really, really crappy. According to the stats we have something like a 5-10% chance of baby. Not so exciting, huh? Yeah, I'm not thrilled either. Then again, we made the deal when we started this that we would use ALL the embrios we created and we DO want at least 2 kids. So, here we go!

We were supposed to start the suppression cycle in June, but my body didn't cooperate with the whole ovulation thing. So BCPs then I start Lu*pron on the 4th of July. I laugh when I think - way to be independent, body. Can't do it by yourself, huh? Well, here's a shot for ya!! Heh, would be funny if it weren't my tummy the shot was going into! If the suppression check goes well the 2nd week in July we'll be on our way! After that we have the "thick lining" check, and if all is well we'll need a small miracle for this embrio to thaw and survive for a transfer. I know.... one thing at a time...

In lighter news...

Jim is 15 Months old now! That's a fun and exciting kind of new, becauase he's fast becoming a little boy instead of a baby. He's so cute and fun, and it is wonderful to see him growing. Then again I miss the 6 mo old baby, too... I'm so glad he's getting more interactive, but it's both sweet and sad.

Let's get you guys up to date on his stats:

- He's been walking since ummmm... seems like forever! He started just after Christmas, so it's been a while.

- He's just over 26 lbs and 31 inches at last check - people keep thinking he's two, which isn't handy as you might think. Instead they don't understand why he's not acting like a "big boy". Duh!

- He talks - A LOT! Then again so do Bo and I. Eh, what can you do?

- Oh, and before you read the vocab list below and think I'm gloating because he can talk alot - just let me say, my boy is NOT athletic in any way. What I would give some days for him to have an athletic bone in his body. The boy can't climb to save his life. Especially when that is CLIMBING DOWN! I mean the boy can be a foot off the floor and he's unsure of how to get down. He also trips over rugs - any rug - even the flatest most non-threatening rug ever made - he will fall down trying to cross its threshold, I kid you not. We love him, but we aren't signing him up for sports anytime soon...

- He now says:

  • Ball
  • Bite - Bite or Bitey
  • Box
  • Mommy, Daddy, Kitty (the main family)
  • Car
  • Duck - "Clack Clack"
  • Peeese (please)
  • Sssho (shoe)
  • Ba Ba
  • More
  • Thank you - really, he does this on his own!
  • Night Night
  • Nana and PatPat - my parent's nicknames
  • Ganba - sounds kinda like "grandpa"
  • Mana Mana - this folks, means Banana, but cracks me up everytime as I launch into the MUPPETS! Ha!
  • PuuPeeee! - he always says this like he is terribly excited at the idea... oh, and all stuffed animals are puppies btw.
  • Go
  • Bye Bye, Mwah! Usually these words are a set, but occasionally they get used alone. :)
  • Dat - means "that"
  • Da - which of means "yes" and is sometimes said as a question when he wants to do something he isn't supposed to and knows very well he should not even bother to ASK! Da?
  • Tent - he LOVES the tent we got for him from Ikea... LOVES it I tell you.
  • Down
  • No no - usually he only says it as if he's reminding himself NOT to do something he's about to do when he KNOWS he shouldn't.

I'm sure there are more, but really, you get the point... He's talking up a STORM. It really is cool as all get-out that he can communicate so well. Of course, the down side is that he gets really frustrated when he can't get his point across. Boy, can he throw a tantrum! I'll put my 15 mo old against your 2 1/2 yr old any day - bring it on!

- He has 8 teeth now!! No wait - he has two molars breaking through too! So, I guess that's 10! Wow... that sounds like soooo many.

- He's off of bottles since March, when he turned 1 we started moving him to sippy's and found that the soft silicone ones did the trick. Once he started on those he quickly transitioned off of bottles one feeding at a time. I know, we're lucky... I've read the stories!

- He mostly feeds himself - and he eats most things. *knock on wood!! He has started to "graze" a bit. Usually this involves announcing he is "done" then coming over to Mommy and seeing what is on HER plate. If he's interested he'll beg to get up in my lap and help himself. It's cute, for now. :)

Really, that's probably enough stats and updates for tonight. I'll maybe find some way to get more posts in more often. Don't know... I hope you guys haven't all taken me off your blog rolls!

Here's a little bit of cuteness for those that made it this far! Here's what happens when you say the same word over, and over, and over and you GET what you are asking for everytime! Now let that be a lesson to you... young man. Yeah, I did have to chase balls all over Target once he busted out!