Monday, July 22, 2013

Attitude Adjustments

So much changes when a baby joins a family, but I think some of the biggest changes of all have been in me (which I am most grateful for!).

1 - Patience

     I've never been a very patient person. Not so much in the sense that I hate waiting for things, but more that I get impatient and quickly annoyed with people when they do things that irritate me. I think this is one of my biggest character flaws and one that I know I need to work on.
     Having a baby has definitely forced me to be more patient (and hopefully not only with her, but with others too). When she is having a hard time going to sleep or is crying for some unknown reason, I don't very often find myself getting frustrated with her, which has come as a surprise to me. For some reason (maybe it's just because I'm her mom) I find it easy to be patient with her (I'm guessing this might change once we hit toddlerhood...haha), whether it's helping her get to sleep, holding her and rocking her while she cries, or putting up with her endless squealing as she learns how to use her voice. I truly hope that this more patient attitude will transfer over to my other relationships as well.

2 - Babies aren't convenient

     We live in a world that is obsessed with convenience and ease, and it can be a bit of a rude awakening when we realize that babies have their own schedules that sometimes require us to adjust our own plans. For the most part, we've been blessed with an extremely easygoing baby. It also helps that we're both the kind of people who prefer to be at home rather than out, but when we do go out, we quickly learned that a simple outing now requires a bit more planning than it used to. Not only do you have to remember to bring more stuff (diapers, wipes, soother, extra change of clothes, etc), but often the timing of outings has to be coordinated around feeding and nap times. This has definitely improved as our baby has gotten older and as we've become better adjusted to life as parents of a baby, but in those early days, it was often just easier to stay home, which sometimes meant giving up things we wanted to do.
     We also now need to consider someone else's needs before our own when making plans and sometimes that means plans get put on hold or abandoned altogether. I was out doing some errands when Tessa was about 3 or 4 weeks old. I had already been to the grocery store and she was doing great so I decided to make a quick stop at Costco. We were in the store and I already had a few things in my cart when she woke up and decided she was DONE with shopping NOW. She didn't even give me any warning, just went straight from sleeping peacefully to screaming bloody murder. I did what any other brand new 3-week-old mom would do in the middle of Costco with a screaming, inconsolable baby - I panicked. I left my cart right where it was, took my baby and got out of that store as fast as I could. I felt terrible that I had tried to cram one more thing in, because I was already on that end of town and it was convenient for me, not giving much thought to how much my newborn baby could take. Of course, I don't mean to imply that life stops when a baby comes along, but it does take on a whole new dimension - one that is hopefully much less self-centered.

3 - I GET to do this - not I HAVE to.

     I have heard about and personally know people who have lost babies, either to miscarriage, stillbirth, or illness. I also know people who have struggled with getting pregnant and being uncertain if they would even be able to have a biological child of their own. I don't pretend to know what these parents have been through, but I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who has lost a child or is struggling to have a child would give anything to have a sleepless night with a baby of their own.
     In my early weeks as a mom, I read a fabulous book that pointed out that there are no guarantees in life. There is no guarantee that we will have more children, and for that matter, there is also no guarantee that we will have tomorrow or next week with Tessa. This was a wake-up call for me when I read it, and helped to shift my mindset from "I have to..." to "I get to..." Instead of being irritated when I had to get up at 3am, I now found myself feeling grateful that I had the opportunity to do so. I began cherishing those middle-of-the-night feedings, and even though I still don't enjoy being tired, I count it a blessing that I GET to be tired because I am fortunate enough to have a precious baby to care for.

     These are just three examples of some of the major changes that have taken place in my heart since Tessa joined our family. We've both done a lot of growing these past 6 months. I am so grateful to God for the gift that she is and for His refining work in my life through her in this new season. I pray that He will continue to use her to shape me into something beautiful in His sight.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

6 Months In...

Wow. I can't believe that I've been a mom for half a year. I know I've already written a lot about how fast time is going, but I feel like it really can't be said enough. It's strange, though. In some ways it feels like I've been doing this forever, and at the same time, I'm certain Tessa was just born yesterday.

Challenging, exciting, humbling, exhausting, wonderful, nerve-wracking, perfect. Those are a few of the words that come to mind when I think back over the last 6 months. But the word I would choose to sum it all up is amazing.
  • I'm amazed that after a long, seemingly sleepless night, I can still get up and somehow have enough energy to make it through the day.
  • I'm amazed that my body has been able to nourish and sustain another human life, first through pregnancy and now breastfeeding.
  • I'm amazed at how much Tessa has grown and changed in 6 short months, and how tightly she has already woven herself into our family.
  • I'm amazed watching her through all the changes and milestones, watching her grow up and getting to see a little personality emerge.
  • I'm amazed when she wraps her chubby little arms around my neck and gives me her sweet toothless smile.
  • I'm amazed when I watch her daddy love his little girl and when her face lights up when she sees him.
  • I'm amazed that God has entrusted us with this precious life and by all the love and support that has surrounded us these last 6 months.

There have been so many amazing moments in these last 6 months. I've learned so much about myself and about being a mom (Tessa isn't the only one who has been growing around here), but I know I've only just begun to scratch the surface of all that it means to be a parent. Thankfully, we've got another 18 or so years (and then some) to keep working at it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Why We Cloth Diaper (and love it!)

     I had always been interested in the idea of cloth diapering before Tessa came along (I'm a bit of what you might call a treehugger), and was pretty sure I wanted to at least try it. So when I was pregnant I did a TON of research, got my husband on board with the idea, and we took the plunge. We started cloth diapering Tessa when she was around 4-5 weeks old and haven't looked back since (the only time we use disposables is when we're going away overnight or longer). I absolutely LOVE cloth diapers and can't see myself doing anything else for any of my children. Here are the top ten reasons we chose cloth and love cloth:

1) Cost savings
     Once we compared the cost of cloth to the cost of disposables we were both convinced. The savings alone was reason enough for my husband to agree that we should go with cloth. I've had people tell me that what we spent on our "start-up" diaper stash (24 diapers, wetbag and pail) is what they spend on disposables in 6 months. Our stash will last until Tessa is potty trained and can then be re-used when baby #2 comes along. We had Tessa in disposables for her first few weeks and with every diaper change, I felt like I was literally throwing money in the garbage, especially when she filled the diaper minutes after it was changed.

     Some people may argue that the money you save on diapers and wipes goes instead toward extra water and electricity to wash & dry your diapers. Not true. Since starting full-time cloth, I wash a load of diapers every other day in our high-efficiency washer. The diaper shells are hung to dry and the liners take maybe 20 minutes in the dryer on medium heat (or when the weather allows can also be hung outside to dry). I've compared our before and after water & electric bills and have seen virtually no increase in our consumption.

2) Environmental impact
     There's no questioning this one. A newborn goes through anywhere from 8-12 diapers in a 24 hour period (sometimes more) and those diapers go straight to the landfill, after only a couple hours of use. Fun facts:
  • Over 4 million disposable diapers are thrown out EVERY DAY in Canada alone. That's almost 1.5 billion diapers per year. And that's just Canada!! source
  • It may take anywhere from 250-500 years for a diaper to decompose in a landfill. The diapers you use today for a few hours each will outlast you, your baby, AND your baby's babies!! sources here, here and here
  • In households with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste. source
  • It takes huge amounts of wood pulp, water, and petroleum to manufacture disposable diapers. sources here and here
     We only have one planet and it's my personal conviction that we all need to do what we can to preserve it. To me, cloth is the logical choice from an ecological standpoint.

3) They're easy
     The belief that cloth diapering is more work is a myth. Modern cloth diapers are designed to be easy to use and have velcro and snaps instead of having to fold and pin diapers like our mothers and grandmothers did. Yes, you have to do a few extra loads of laundry each week, but really, it takes minutes to throw a load of diapers in the machine and turn it on. I also don't have to worry about running out of diapers in the middle of the night or having to remember to buy more every few weeks, since I always have at least half my stash washed and ready to use.

Extra inserts and diaper pail lined with wetbag
     A lot of people think that cloth diapering is gross. In my personal experience, cloth is no messier than disposables, at least not with a breastfed baby. Their solid waste does not need to be flushed as it is water-soluble, it simply gets thrown in the diaper pail like all the other diapers and dissolves in the wash. Once baby is eating solid foods their poops do need to be flushed down the toilet, which I agree is yucky, but there are ways around this - either a diaper sprayer attached to a toilet, a special scraper designated for poopy diapers, or biodegradable flushable liners can be used. (As a sidenote, did you know that you are actually supposed to remove solid waste from disposable diapers too? (source) Our landfills are not designed to handle fecal matter, and it's possible for any viruses or bacteria in the baby's poop to seep out of diapers and into the soil & ground water. (source) Now that's gross!! So, to use disposables properly as the manufacturers say to and as law requires, you'd have to handle poop too!)

4) I trust my diapers
     Speaking of gross, I'd much rather scrape a bit of baby poop into the toilet from a cloth diaper than have to clean it off my baby's back and neck when a disposable diaper has failed to contain it. In the 6 months that Tessa has been in diapers, I've had exactly ONE up-the-back poop blow-out and it was when she was wearing a disposable. I feel totally confident that all poopy messes will be completely contained in her cloth diapers, whereas when she is in a disposable, I'm nervous the entire time.

Homemade reusable wipes and solution
5) Cloth diapers are toxin-free and gentle on delicate baby skin
      Would you like to wear paper or plastic underwear all day? I can't imagine it would be very comfortable. I think cotton, bamboo and other soft fabrics are much more comfortable and gentle on a baby's skin.
     Also, disposable diapers contain fragrances, dyes, and chemicals (tributyl-tin and sodium polyacrylate (the gel substance that absorbs moisture), and possibly traces of dioxin, a known carcinogenic source). The diaper maufacturing industry is self-regulating, and manufacturers are not obligated by law to reveal to consumers what components make up their diapers. (source) Since my baby is going to be wearing diapers right next to her skin 24 hours a day for about 2+ years, I prefer that they be as chemical-free as possible.

6) No diaper rashes
     Tessa has yet to have a major diaper rash, and I credit the gentle, moisture-wicking fabrics of my cloth diapers. Also, due to the fact that cloth diapers need to be changed a little more frequently, it's less likely that she'll be sitting in pee or poop for hours on end, thus, fewer rashes.

7) She doesn't stink
     Anytime I've had Tessa in a disposable, I can tell almost immediately when she's wet or dirty by the smell alone. Maybe I have an extra sensitive nose, but I never smell her pee or poop in cloth and that makes me happy.

8) Variety
     When it comes to disposables, they're pretty much all the same. I know parents have their favorites based on cost, fit, and how well they contain messes, but from what I can see, there's not a lot of difference from one brand to the next (maybe this is my lack of knowledge of disposable diapers showing here...). When it comes to cloth, there are SO MANY options to choose from, it's actually overwhelming at first. There are different styles (all-in-ones, pockets, prefolds, fitteds, hybrids), different fabrics (microfibre, cotton, bamboo, hemp), different closures (velcro or snaps), different sizing options, not to mention the hundreds of colors and patterns to choose from. Each brand has its own unique features and selling points, and you can really customize your stash based on your baby's needs.

9) Doesn't have to be all or nothing
     Even part-time cloth diapering saves money and is good for the environment. It may be intimidating to jump into the cloth diapering world with both feet, but you don't have to. It's so easy to start small, by buying just a few diapers in a variety of styles to give it a go before committing fully. Even if you decide you like it, you may not want to cloth diaper full-time. I know people who do half and half and find that this works best for them. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

10) Cuteness factor
     Okay, maybe this one is a bit of a stretch, but I think that poofy cloth-diapered baby bottoms are just so stinking cute! All my diapers so far are plain colors, except for my swim diapers, but there are some ADORABLE patterns out there. It's so much more fun than plain old white!

      I want to be clear that my intent is not to make anyone feel guilty for not choosing cloth. These are simply MY reasons for using cloth diapers. As you see, I'm pretty convinced that they're the best! But I realize and completely understand that they may not be the best for everyone, and someone could just as easily write a post with their top ten reasons to NOT cloth diaper (I would actually be interested to read it!). To each their own. Parenting is all about making the choices that you feel are best for your baby and your family. For us, that's cloth diapering.

     Parents, do you cloth diaper? What are your reasons for choosing cloth? On the flip side, what are your reasons for NOT choosing cloth? Leave a comment...I'm interested to hear both sides!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What We've Been Up To...

It's been a couple weeks since my last post. We've been busy! It seems like the summer is already in full swing. We had visitors one weekend and went away the next. Here are some highlights:

Grandma & Grandpa Rempel came for a quick visit. 

Canada Day weekend, we were in Edmonton to see Grandma & Grandpa Reimer, Uncle Ira & Auntie Cristina, and Uncle Steve & Auntie Pam. Cam ran the Spartan race on Saturday too.

Tessa's first real interaction with dogs. She seemed to really like them.

Then, on the way back from Edmonton we stopped in Calgary for a quick visit with some very special friends who we haven't seen in almost 2 years. Nancy & I have been friends since her family moved in across the street from mine in Swift Current when we were 6 years old. Now we get to hang out with our own kids! So fun!

We had already decided that when we got home from our trip to Edmonton, we would be starting Tessa out on solids. She's been very interested in watching us eat, grabbing at food on our plates and just seemed ready for it. We started her with rice cereal on Monday, and she had a bit of banana today. She's doing great and seems to enjoy getting to eat real food. Now I get to start trying my hand at making baby food!

Not too sure about bananas yet!

 And of course, we've been keeping up with Wimbledon!

We're so excited that summer's finally here, and are looking forward to spending more time outside, visiting friends and family and just relaxing together as a family.
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