Wednesday, 25 September 2013

On documenting my pregnancy

I had an Anne Geddes pregnancy journal with each of my first two children.  I haven't filled in all of either of them but it's nice to have some thoughts and memories written down for the future.  And to keep the different pregnancies clear in my mind!  With Isaac, we also took a belly photo every week from about 20 weeks onwards but I still haven't done anything with them yet!  A friend of mine had The Belly Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal for her pregnancy and it seemed a great choice for my next time round.
There's a page for each week (up to 39 weeks so this baby better not be late!) with a little bit of writing and a space for a belly photo.  So I'm taking photos with my phone (almost every week) and printing them at home to stick right in.  It's fun seeing how my belly shot out so quickly and has kept growing since.
There are also pages for food cravings and aversions, scans, midwife/hospital visits, maternity clothing and lots more.  The book is split in to trimesters and has a longer writing space at the end of each one to record your thoughts and feelings.  And of course, there's a labour and delivery section at the end with space for baby's vital statistics and first photo.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

On going with your first choice

I've not done much scrapbooking in the last few months.  There's currently a six week gap in my Project Life album with a couple of missing weeks since.  And I hadn't made a 12x12 page in ages until a couple of weeks ago.  It felt really awkward getting back into things, like my stash just wouldn't go together in my head or on the page.  I made a half-finished page, which is still waiting for a title, journalling and embellishment.  The second page, I used a sketch having watched some scrapbooking videos for ideas.  It helped to have some recent photos with a story that I love to tell.
I had some time to spare and a little bit of new stash that arrived this week so I decided to just go with it and not overanalyse my decisions.  I chose some photos from Anna's first birthday that would go nicely with the Hello Again collection pack from Carta Bella.  And I tried to go with my first decisions; if I found something that looked good, I didn't keep looking, I just used that.  Even if there might have been a 'better' choice hiding in there somewhere.
I enjoyed the process actually and it definitely sped things up.  My biggest problem is letting go of my perfectionism and making something that's good enough.
 I added some Studio Calico wood veneer hearts, flowers and enamel dots from my stash & freebie ribbons from A Trip Down Memory Lane when I bought the collection pack.  The centres of the flowers did give me a little trouble - I had a grey enamel dot in the middle of the pale blue flower but it really didn't look right.  The only navy button in my jar had a design on the front so I turned it over and added some twine to make it work.
The title is some really old Sassafrass letters and some newer October Afternoon little tiles.  I put them a bit higher up initially but changed my mind when I couldn't think of anything to fit the gap next to the bigger letters.  So I added another piece of paper and put the OA stickers on top.
The other thing I didn't do was try to save things for another page, like rationing!  I love the stickers in the collection pack and they really fit the sentiment of the page.  Better to have things on a page where you can see them than in a bag, under the desk!  And I think it turned out well for a quick and easy page.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

On keeping it real

***This is one in a series of posts about our switch from disposables to cloth nappies.  You can read the others here***

So we've talked about the rationale and we've talked about the cuteness, here's the real dirt; our experience over the last month or so.

The biggest differences I've noticed are an increase in the number of washloads I do each week and a decrease in the amount of rubbish accumulating the bin in the nursery.

I'm washing nappies every other day, mostly in the evenings.  Everything goes in together for a cold rinse and then I separate the load into two parts.  I wash nappies, boosters and liners at 60 deg and wraps & wet bags at 40 deg (I'm not convinced the higher temperature is good for them and they don't need as much cleaning as the nappies).  Initially I was washing everything at 40 deg but Anna started to get a bit sore & smelly so I upped the temperature and things have been fine since.  Usually everything gets dried on an airer in our kitchen but a couple of times, I've timed things wrong and had to tumble-dry things to have them ready in time. (I'm not using that much more detergent because each load uses less than half the normal amount for a wash.  I have bought some colour catcher sheets so I can wash everything together.)
I haven't noticed any difference in the condition of Anna's skin either from closer contact with detergent-washed fabrics or urine.  Her skin is slightly damp in the mornings but otherwise, pretty much the same as with disposables.  I think the fleece liners I'm using are responsible for that.  The other little trick is putting the most absorbant booster furthest away from the skin to wick the moisture outwards.

I've had a couple of small leaks, around the legs, and one major blow-out.  I guess when a cloth nappy goes, it really goes!  To be honest, I did exactly the same with a disposable the week before during our weekly supermarket shop.  And I knew I should have changed her before I put her in the car to go home!
You do need to be reasonably organised to use cloth nappies economically; washing every 2 days reduces the number of nappies you need to buy and it can be tricky to pick up extras or replacements quickly given that you can't pick them up in many bricks & mortar stores.  (That said, larger Boots stores have recently starting stocking some Tots Bots nappies and accessories at reasonable prices.)

We're having a few problems getting trousers that will fit over her bum.  Frugi make "cut for cloth" children's clothing but I haven't tried their range yet.  Anna's just going up a clothing size so at the moment, we're ok and leggings & tights have a lot more stretch to them.

And the last problem, is not confined to cloth nappies but was a real nightmare for about 2 weeks.  Anna has learned to take off her nappy.  She can do with with disposables too but she really likes the pop when she pulls the cloth ones open.  Every evening, after we put her to bed, she pulls the whole lot off and leaves it in a heap on the mattress.  We tried everything we could think of; explaining, cross words, smacking, pajamas, Isaac's pants over the top.... And someone very wise suggested back-to-front babygros!  Which is working (so far)!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

On the vast world of cute new things to buy

***This is one in a series of posts about our switch from disposables to cloth nappies.  You can read the others here***

Some people collect cloth nappies.  I can understand it, there's an awful lot of cute out there.  I remarked to Andy that I didn't need an expensive, space-using hobby and had to correct myself - I don't need another expensive space-using hobby.  That's the premise that I've used to decide what to buy for our cloth bum adventure.  We currently have enough of everything, as long as I'm organised with my washing & drying and it's all pretty darn cute!
I used the Nappy Lady's advice and bought one of most of the things she suggested, to see what I liked.  There are more cloth nappies available on the high street now, but my scrapbooking experience tells me that in niche markets, there's much more variety and quality to be found online.  I ended up sending some things back because either I didn't like them or they didn't quite suit our situation.  And that's my second rule of cloth-nappying; get what works for you and what you like.  A couple of friends have offered me their secondhand nappy systems and I've managed to be a brave girl and turn them all down.  (And you know what, we're just as good friends now as we were before.... Odd that.)

I tried nappies from Blueberry, Tots Bots and Little Lamb & wraps from Blueberry and Motherease.  I bought some basic bamboo boosters and fleece liners, both of which I love.  I bought a trial pack of disposable liners and then picked one of the three I liked to try in a bigger pack.  I had great fun trying the different styles and settling on what I liked best.  (I did try to involve Andy in my decisions but, while he's completely supportive, he really isn't excited about trying cloth nappies.)
So now we have a two-part system for night-times; Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch nappies (bamboo - lovely and absorbant) with Blueberry wraps (I like these for their patterns and their size, they're a lovely fit on my tall Anna); and a selection of all-in-ones (AIOs) for daytime use.  All the nappies I've bought are birth-to-potty, or one-size.  This means that they're adjustable to fit from birth to... well, potty-training.  In theory, these nappies will do for Anna now and the baby when it arrives in the new year.  Two part nappies are very similar to the old-style folded terry cloth nappies and plastic pants that my mum used when I was small.  You can buy flat nappies but I've opted for shaped nappies with Aplix (Velcro) fastenings for convenience.  Instead of those nasty plastic pants, you can now buy polyurethane laminate (PUL) wraps, which either Velcro or popper up around the absorbent nappy.  AIOs are much more like disposables, consisting of a shaped nappy with attached absorbent bits covered with PUL for waterproofing.  Some AIOs are also pocket nappies, i.e. they have a pocket that can be stuffed with boosters to improve their absorbency.
Our daytime nappies are a mix of Blueberry AIOs (again, a lovely fit for Anna with some really cute patterns) and Bumgenius Freetimes (these are slightly different, the blue one in the picture, they have their boosters attached at front and back.  I chose these to make things as simple as possible for our childminder or anyone else who might be looking after our children).  I also have a Tots Bots Easyfit v3, which is lovely but a little too short for Anna (I'm planning to buy some more of these to use for the baby) and a Bumgenius v4 (another pocket nappy, lovely but the fit of the Blueberrys was better).  I use Little Lamb bamboo boosters and cheap plain fleece liners with some disposable liners for nappies I think are likely to end up pooed in!
At the moment, I have 12 daytime nappies and 5 night-time nappies, with 3 wraps.  This allows me to wash every 2 days and line-dry my nappies without worrying about running out.  I could manage with fewer, but this was the best balance between economy and stress!  I also have more boosters and liners than I have nappies, mostly because it was more economical to buy them in packs of five or ten.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

On embarking on a fluff bum adventure

***This is one in a series of posts about our switch from disposables to cloth nappies.  You can read the others here***

I considered using 'real' nappies when we had Isaac & decided it was too much, too soon.  I decided to concentrate on establishing breast-feeding and learning to care for a baby first and then think about adding in reusable nappies.  So, unsurprisingly, it never really happened.  I thought about cloth nappies again when I was pregnant with Anna but decided that it wouldn't be financially worthwhile for just one baby.  We loved Pampers but switched to Asda's Little Angels nappies after we had Anna.  Having two children in nappies was much more expensive and produced a heck of a lot of waste!
So when I fell pregnant this time, knowing we're likely to have another baby after this one, I decided that now was the time to try cloth.  It occurred to me that using cloth nappies for the first time on a todddler, with predictable toilet habits, would be much easier than trying to cope with adjusting to three children and a new system of nappying all at once.  Helpfully, I had a friend also trying cloth nappies for the first time and her instagram feed inspired me to have a go.  It's amazing how many secret cloth users come out of the woodwork when you start to talk about making the switch.
The world of cloth nappies is immmense.  There are loads of different companies out there, all producing slightly different products and systems.  Thankfully, there are also some really good resources for people considering what nappies would be best for them.  I personally used The Nappy Lady, first for advice and then for pretty much all of my purchases.  Their small team can provide an individual recommendation based on some reasonable detailed questions and their prices are competitive with free delivery over £15.  Friends also recommended BabyKind who loan nappy trial kits for really reasonable prices.  Both these sites have great advice on what's out there and how to make best use of it.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

On cravings and aversions

In each of my three pregnancies, so far, I've completely lost interest in coffee and alcohol for the first few months at least. I like to get to work 10 minutes early to make sure I get my coffee in before handover starts. I love to share an instant latte over a chat with friends. A caramel cappuccino is a real treat when we're out & about. I've even tried out different decaf instants to see what l'd like best during this pregnancy.

But sadly, this time round, I'm 5 months pregnant and still completely uninterested in a cup of my favourite coffees. The smell doesn't make me nauseated anymore, though it did in the beginning. I'm just not bothered.

As for cravings, I've never been troubled by anything particularly weird but I have been desperate for fruit & veg. With Isaac it was peppers. With Anna, nectarines & apples. This baby seems to like clementines. And salad. I can't get enough.

And I'm drinking water like a... fish? Seriously, at work, where we have chilled filtered water coolers on each ward, I'll drink 2 litres in a shift. Even on a night shift, when I'm notoriously bad at remembering to drink enough. The only problem is making sure I get enough at home.

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