A Minimalist Becomes a Diaper Bag Convert

IMG_2213 (1)When I had my first baby, I didn’t really understand diaper bags. “How could one need so much space?” I wondered.

Though I had a bag for diapers when Liam was a baby, it just didn’t have enough structure to work as a diaper bag, and I could never remember whether I had everything I needed. Plus it was hard to dig down into the bottom to find things. I wrote about my super simple purse situation once Liam was potty trained. I am a minimalist when it comes to going out, and I also prefer to be hands free. Adding another baby (and diapers!) to the mix again was a little daunting because I remember always feeling so scattered when we went out during the baby phase.

Last winter when I was pregnant, Liam and I did a lot of fun outings. Every time, I wished that I had a backpack. I needed a place to put his coat when we were indoors, and I also really wanted to be even more hands free.  Plus, while I loved my small cross body Fossil bag, I knew it wouldn’t work for a new baby.

I finally bought the Lily Jade Shaylee bag after Christmas. It was by far the most I’ve spent on a bag and yet totally worth every penny.

I hesitate to say something changed my life, but this bag totally has. When I go out, I’m not scattered. Before, I was constantly losing stuff. Were my keys in my jacket pocket or in my purse? Did I leave my phone in the car? I sometimes wished I had room for a change of clothes for Liam. And the car contained a plethora of extra stuff that wouldn’t fit in my purse—clothes, snacks, etc. I spent a lot of mental energy trying to decide what to take with me and what to leave in the car.

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A dedicated diaper bag has been the solution to the frustration I felt anytime we left the house.

Before we go further, let me say that this post is in no way sponsored. I hate blog posts that make people want to go buy stuff. My heart is already so covetous that I eventually have to stop following such blogs.  So rather than saying you need this exact bag, this post is an encouragement to have quality tools that work for you, whether it's a diaper bag, a laptop, or a notebook.

Having a dedicated diaper bag has changed my mothering.  I now stay organized, have what I need, and actually feel excited about going out. I didn’t realize that not having the proper bag (tools) was one reason I was so overwhelmed by outings. I am far more organized and far less stressed with two kids than I ever was with one, and a huge part of that is this diaper bag.

When it comes to purses and shoes, I want one that works nearly all the time. I hate switching. I know some people love having tons, but I like to be able to keep one bag clean and organized and know that it’s there for me. The Lily Jade bags are marketed to be a go-to, all-the-time bag.

One of the most genius parts of Lily Jade bags is the diaper organizer. You could get it to use with any bag, but it snaps right in my bag and keeps it so much more organized.

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I also love the look of the Shaylee without the organizer. I chose this bag because I loved the look of it as a bag I could use in my everyday life even after I don’t need a diaper bag. The Shaylee is one of the smaller Lily Jade bags (although it still seems huge to me!).

So here’s my updated system.

The little Fossil pouch (which unintentionally matches my bag perfectly!) holds keys, phone, chaptstick, money, and a pen. I’ve even keep my chapstick in it when I’Processed with VSCO with f2 presetm at home so I always know where it is.

In my bag, I keep cloth diapers, covers, wipes, a spray bottle, a regular diaper or two, toys, and a change of clothes for the kids. I try to keep it as light as possible (sometimes I’ll even leave extra cloth diapers in the car) so I can add my rolled up Ergo on top (or kids’ coats in the winter). For grocery shopping, I keep my Fossil pouch on my wrist and keep the bag on my back. 

I can fit my water bottle in the diaper bag (and if it leaks, the inside will be fine!). I love knowing I have everything but not having to have the “everything” take up precious space on my hips or front (where I’m often carrying kids).

I love how quickly it transitions from my back to my arm. I love that it’s something that will last. I love that it zips and closes all the way (stuff was always falling out of my other bag in the car).

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For me, the peace of mind I feel when we go on trips—whether to the beach or just the grocery store—has been wonderful. I’m such a better mother when I’m not having to think about whether we have everything we need and which bag has which.

As much as I love tiny bags (or no bag!), I needed a bag that was big enough that I could add stuff. Sometimes we go on longer outings, and it’s nice to just be able to add to the bag. My bags were always crammed full on ordinary days because they were so small. I still don't carry a ton of stuff, but I love knowing my bag has plenty of room (and you just always need enough diapers!).

Plus I just love how it looks. I’m happy to carry it, care for it (just a little leather conditioner every few months), and use it constantly. As I try to spend money carefully, I like to buy products that I love and that will last (you can think of it as cost-per-wear if you want).

If you see me happily using this bag fifteen years from now, don’t be surprised. My (at that point) twenty-five-year old Chacos will probably be on my feet too.

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P.S. For more about baby products and registering, check out the most recent Coffee + Crumbs podcast. I loved the discussion!

Walter's Birth (or my non-induced labor)

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Like most birth stories, this one is long, but I share it because I love birth stories. My first labor was induced because my water broke and contractions didn't start within the time frame the OB/GYN's office allowed (you can read it here).

On Wednesday, January 20, I was feeling frustrated. I was 41 weeks pregnant and facing a biophysical profile (and probably would be asked to choose a date for a scheduled induction) the next day. I didn’t mind being pregnant past my due date, but I started to get antsy once induction was becoming a possibility (especially after those Pitocin contractions of Liam’s birth). Also I kept having a feeling that this baby would come early, and when he didn't, I did feel a little anxious. 

At 9:56pm, I had just gotten Liam to sleep. I felt a tiny pop, and when I stood up, I realized my water had broken. I was shocked and trembly, and went to tell Jon. I sat on the exercise ball in our sunroom, praying my contractions would start. I remember I just wanted to feel pain so I would know for sure that this was it—the my body was going into labor on its own and I wouldn’t have a repeat labor of last time.

Pretty soon, I was having contractions every five or ten minutes, and they lasted for about 30-45 seconds. Jon eventually went to bed, and I alternated between sitting on my birth ball and watching Fixer Upper, lying in bed cuddling Liam or reading, and once or twice, showering to take my mind off the pain. But I was thrilled to be having true contractions.

Around 3:15am I called my midwife to check in, and she seemed unworried. So we thought we would stay home as long as we could. The contractions were getting harder to rest through, so I eventually took a shower which woke Liam up around 6:30am. He asked for stories in bed and I told him a few, pausing for contractions. After a little while, I asked if he wanted to get up, and he did. I told him baby was coming, and he said he was excited in a high-pitched voice.

I called Mom and woke up Jon to go get her. It was really icy on our deck, but the roads were mostly okay. I made Liam his croissant and egg breakfast. He got really fussy after a few bites and started screaming. That’s when I realized I could not cope with the contractions and anything else.

Thankfully my mom and Jon arrived soon (after Jon had gotten the ice off the car), and I eventually went to lie down. This part is a bit blurry because the contractions were really intense. They were painful, but they didn’t seem to be increasing in length, which frustrated me.

We decided to go to the hospital around 9:30am. The contractions had been every 5-10 minutes all night lasting for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The gushes of water made me feel generally unpleasant, and I was feeling nauseated. I wanted to be in more serious labor before we went to the hospital, but being at home was equally frustrating. I think I subconsciously feel safer in the hospital because I know there are people to help if things go wrong.

I had texted some friends on the way because I was so discouraged and in so much pain. Their texts and prayers helped tremendously. I knew labor wasn’t intense enough yet according to my books, but I also knew I was reaching a place of doubt (which traditionally doesn’t happen until near the transition phase of labor).

We were all checked into the hospital by 10:30am. We went through triage, and they checked my progress. I was 3cm, which was what I expected (though I secretly hoped to be further). After an hour, they confirmed that my waters had broken (which seemed obvious), and we went to a room. We had the best nurses and contrary to all my fatalistic fears, my midwife decided to let me labor without any IVs and with only 20 minutes every hour spent on the fetal heart rate monitor. I was elated; I was so afraid they would recommend induction to speed things along.

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Jon and I had expected to have some early labor chill time in the room, but the contractions were really painful already and took a lot of focus. My timer app mostly shows contractions coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting for 30 seconds to just over a minute until 3:15. Around 1:00, they started being consistently longer than a minute (though there were still some short ones in there). I labored on the ball, in the bed, and in all sorts of weird positions. I prayed just several words over and over at a time, like chanting. It was tough. I didn’t remember it being this tough until the end last time.

Jon held my hand through some and let me hang on to him and rock. Or he would support me as I sat on the ball. It was strange because I didn’t feel like my contractions were close enough or long enough at this point, but each one left me feeling so discouraged and thinking that this was impossible (mainly because I was afraid I had hours and hours ahead of me!).

Around 3:15, I hopped in the shower before my second check and the next hookup to the monitor. I stood under the water for so long and felt like I had to push with each contraction. This was odd because before, I had texted Mom that I just could not do it anymore. I knew this all was a sign of nearing the end, but I couldn’t believe I was actually near the end.

What I remembered was the Pitocin contractions of my first labor. Those induced contractions consistently got harder and longer, sometimes with no breaks. These contractions were very painful, but they still did not seem consistent enough.

When I finally came out of the shower and was checked, I was 6cm. This was discouraging in some ways. I told the nurse, Kelly, that I couldn’t do it. She was pleased though and said when people say that, it is near the end. She left at 4:15, and I texted Mom my progress. I thought I still probably had a ways to go because last time, I progressed so steadily through each centimeter.

When Kelly came back in the room minutes later, I told her about the urge to push and she taught me how to breathe in a way that would keep me from pushing. Then all of a sudden, things took off. They were rushing my midwife and saying I was super close and bringing in all the gear for the delivery. I was shocked, thinking they were just trying to encourage me.

When I was checked again (probably less than twenty minutes later), they said I was almost fully dilated, and Katie (my midwife), said I could go ahead and try pushing. The next hour was so intense, much more intense than what I remembered with Liam. I pushed and groaned and screamed. I felt much more in control of the pushing than I had with Liam, but this was kind of scary too because I had to decide when to push (I guess the Pitocin the first time made it impossible not to push, and I was so out of it after those intense Pitocin contractions all day).

With every contraction, the baby made progress, but I so expected him to be born quickly. We went through several of “I can see his eyebrows… almost done!” but after each one, I would say, “I can’t do it!” They all were so encouraging, and Jon was awesome at encouraging me. They all were so excited when we could see and feel his head.

At 5:29 after another push, Walter was born and they put him on me immediately. I felt his umbilical cord pulse with his heartbeat, and helped wipe him off. He was so beautiful and loud, and I was fully present suddenly. Nothing was a blur. I was laughing while my midwife stitched a tiny tear. It was so much more peaceful than with Liam. With Liam, I was elated but also a little bit out of it. This time I felt really, really good. 

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We were shocked that he was 10lbs, 5oz. Everyone in the room laughed, especially considering how big he looked lying on me now. 

After a while, Mom and Liam came. I teared up as my little boy toddled in wearing his penguin sleeper, all quiet and happy to see his brother. People told me he might look so huge and old, but really he just looked like my sweet little Liam. We let Liam give Baby his book Honk, Honk, Beep Beep and Baby gave Liam The Ultimate Book of Construction Site Vehicles. Liam came over to pat Walt’s head and see him. Liam sat with Jon for a while, and eventually when they took Baby Walt to the nursery, Liam sat with me. I was still in the delivery unit and hooked up to Pitocin (to prevent hemorrhaging). Eventually, Mom and Liam left and we waited to be wheeled into our room.

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Before they left, Liam said, “Roo might need you, Mama” so bravely and he teared up. It was so hard to realize this was his first night without me, but I kept reassuring him that he would be fine. He seemed so little and sweet.

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Getting up for the first time was not nearly as bad as when I had Liam. Then we finally arrived to our room around 10. We couldn’t wait for them to bring Baby Walt, and it wasn’t long. We had a relatively peaceful night (though little sleep). During the birth itself, I would never have said it was easier than my induction with Liam. I still don’t. Birth is just hard.

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But I do think recovery was better and the moments after delivery were much better without induction. The pushing was also better in the sense that I was in control and didn’t tear badly at all. Though the contractions were just as painful as the Pitocin ones and not nearly as predictable, the resting in between made it bearable. The ability to shower was huge in getting me to the very end. And the quick progress in the last hour of labor shocked me after my more consistent progress on Pitocin.

We were thankful for an uneventful birth, and I'm so glad I could compare induced vs. non-induced birth. I'm also so thankful for the hospitals and their staff--we have had awesome, confidence-boosting care both times. It's also funny that my water broke both times the day before my biophysical profile was scheduled.

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We went home twenty-four hours after Walter was born and loved getting cozy in front of the fire while it snowed outside (perks of a January baby!). 

P.S. This post overviews what I did to prepare for labor the second time around.

The Second Pregnancy

My first bump picture (looking fresh at six weeks with Liam and rough at eleven weeks this time!) As I sat in Liam's room rocking him last night, I noticed how big his toddler body is. I remember rocking him when I could hold him against my shoulder with one hand. It seemed bittersweet to feel his weight against the new baby growing inside me, and I nearly teared up thinking about Liam not being my only baby. At the same time, I'm thrilled to be expecting, and I am so happy that we are having another son and giving Liam a brother to grow up with.

Like most moms, I often find myself comparing this pregnancy to my first pregnancy with Liam. Here are a few things I've found.

I was/am much more nervous about the baby this time. 

I had an even harder time believing I was pregnant this time. I think it was mostly because I remember the last part of pregnancy the most clearly--feeling the baby kick constantly. I was very fearful about this baby. I think that since having a baby, I've heard many more miscarriage stories.

Oddly, though, we announced the pregnancy earlier. 

Nearly a week after the first positive pregnancy test, we told most of our family members. After our 13 week ultrasound, we announced the news to friends and on Facebook. Last time, we waited until 10 weeks to tell anyone and until 22 weeks to post it on Facebook. This is because we were planning to quit our jobs as teachers and move last time, and everything felt very uncertain. This time I realized that if something happened to the baby, I would want family and close friends to know anyway.

The nausea has been worse; the fatigue has been better.

I remember reading that being distracted by a job made the nausea better for some moms. That was definitely the case for me. Teaching all day helped keep my first trimester nausea much lighter. On the flip side, though, teaching all day made me totally exhausted (mothering a toddler does not compare to the exhaustion of my teaching days.). So this time, I have tried to keep myself as distracted as possible for nausea's sake. But I do feel a lot less tired even though Liam is still up often at night (or maybe I've just come into a state of permanent exhaustion and now remember nothing else.).

I wasn't as anxious for the bump to grow.

Last time, I wanted a bump so badly. This time, I was excited about the bump and about showing but okay with taking my time getting there (and still hoping to avoid those dresses that made me look gigantic last time although maybe I just was gigantic).

As most moms say, the bump seems to grow faster the second time. However, I feel like it has evened out now. I was super excited to pull out maternity jeans this time--the button trick that worked for a while last time lasted all of two minutes this time.

I am much more excited about meeting the baby (I can picture it more easily).  

Last time, since I knew the baby would come eventually, I was in no rush. I went to forty-one weeks and had no urgent feelings about giving birth. We had just moved and finished our year of teaching, so all the time to rest before the baby came felt good.

This time, I know how much fun it will be to have a baby and meet him, so I just can't wait! I also feel both more confident and less confident. I feel more confident because I know a little more about babies (and have to buy very little!), but I also realize each baby is so unique and there's no predicting what will happen.

I don't have to worry about becoming a stay-at-home mom this time, though, because I already am one. I think that was a much harder transition than I expected. Also, moving right before the baby came was intense.

I'm more relaxed about life with baby. 

Last time, there was such a focus on stuff we would need. I remember being stressed about getting a crib and mattress before the baby came, even though Liam didn't sleep in his crib at all for months (and still not through the night). This time, we already have clothes, seats, cloth diapers, strollers, a carseat, etc. I hope to get a bassinet and we may eventually look into double strollers, but I realize now that stuff is so secondary and you can get it quickly after the baby comes.

I am failing at the bump pics.

I vowed not to be a mom who stopped documenting after the first baby. But I definitely have not kept up with weekly bump pictures. I think part of this is because I've already seen my bump grow weekly (also the first baby means my computer storage space is quite limited). Also, though having a toddler is not as exhausting as teaching was, it does consume most of my daily hours. I've also only written one letter to this baby, and we've bought only one thing (a penguin bath towel Liam picked out to go with his own monkey one).

Preparing for Birth

One of my greatest fears EVER was giving birth. I ignored it for my first trimester last time. But then, I started researching and reading and became interested in a natural birth, which made me much less scared. I did as much as I could to prepare my body and my mind.

Even though I had to be induced after my water broke and my body did not go into labor, I was able to labor without drugs (mostly because the thought of a needle in my back was AT ALL TIMES worse than the pain of labor itself) and deliver without a C-section, which was what I had hoped. I know that all births are different, and there is no way to predict what will happen. I think I hold my hopes more loosely this time.

At the same time, I want to do everything I can to prepare for a healthy birth (and I would love it if my body went into labor on its own this time!).

I'll share the things I'm doing to prepare tomorrow.

Baby Number 2 is...

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And we are so excited! Most people assumed we wanted a girl to even out our family gender-wise. While we would have been delighted with a girl, we were secretly hoping for a little brother for Liam. At our thirteen week ultrasound, the ultrasound tech and I agreed that Baby looked rather like a boy. But is was so fun to have it confirmed earlier this week. I never expected to have boys! I generally babysat girls--or at least families where the girl was the oldest as I am--so I pictured our family would have mostly girls. It's been the best surprise to find out how fun it is to be a boy mom, and I can't believe I ever pictured it otherwise.

The baby was opening and closing his mouth throughout the ultrasound and wiggling around. We loved seeing the look of a smile on his face. I've felt little flutters for a few weeks now, but they are becoming more solid kicks now. I can't wait to feel him move more and more beneath my stomach.

We're pretty sure we have a name picked out, but we don't usually decide 100% until the baby is born. We are so grateful for this new little life!

Now I just need to finish Liam's baby book so I won't be behind when the new baby comes. I can't wait to share it with you.

Long Time No Post

Since I last wrote, a lot has happened. We've been in full swing summer mode. And we're expecting a baby! IMG_0534

I'm due in the middle of January, and we are super excited. I'm nineteen weeks along (though thirteen in the picture) and so glad to be feeling human again.

We found out we were expecting at the beginning of May. I took a pregnancy test--thinking it was too early--right before small group. There was only one line. I took a shower. When I got out, there was a very, very faint second line. We did some Googling (what else do you do?!), and I concluded that any line is a line, however faint. Jon was not convinced until we repeated the test a few days later and got a slightly darker line. We were super excited, and Liam immediately started talking about the baby (though I don't think he has any idea what it really means!).

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As I was writing my last day-in-the-life post, the nausea was starting to hit. But I thought that it might pass me by this time. Then it really got me for the next few months. I finally adopted the motto, "Fake it til you feel it," hoping that if I just lived life, the nausea would go away. While that motto worked for my energy levels, eating was still a challenge. Oddly, the thought of writing and the sight of certain books made me super sick as well until the nausea passed a few weeks ago.

Every time I thought of blogging, the nausea would intensify. So I finally stopped worrying about it and decided to live my life. We had a wonderful summer, made even better because my sister was in town. We made a bucket list, which helped us really live up the summer. My sister is super good with kids, and Liam adores her. It was life-saving having her here. We were very sad when she left to go back for her third year of teaching.

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Here's what I've been thinking about and reading:

Old age: I'm reading (well, listening to) Being Mortal, which is a crucial read for everyone. It's about how we deal with aging and death as a culture and as individuals. Gawande, a doctor, does not hide from the complexity of the issue, and I've learned so much about the history of nursing homes, what it means to live in a mortal body, and the goals of youth vs. age.

How we raise babies: It's no secret that I'm hesitant about our typical views and expectations of infancy. Our Babies, Ourselves looks at the evolutionary aspect of infancy and shows that much of parenting is based on culture, not biological needs. Interestingly, America may be one of the most out of touch nations when it comes to the physiological needs of babies. I loved this post on breastfeeding infants, as well, and it typifies a lot of my struggles in the early weeks. I also love "The Thing (in your head) That Might Change Everything."

Pregnancy: I've been thinking a lot about faith and hope, especially in the first trimester. I worry so much more than I remember (although Jon assures me I was just as worried about the baby the first time) and can't wait until we get to the point when I often feel the baby kick during the day.

Other fabulous reads include: The Royal WeLouise Penny's Inspector Gamache seriesGlittering ImagesUnbroken, Rules of CivilityCrossing to SafetyDesign Mom, Fangirl

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A Few Other Links: 

  • I love the parenting around the world series at Cup of Jo. Recently, she talked about mothering in Spain.
  • This article that forces us to rethink disciplining kids has been making the rounds and will give you a lot to think about.
  • We just renewed our Costco membership, and I loved this article about how one woman shops there for herself and her husband (and she doesn't focus on freezing stuff!).
  • Have you seen this article on how to estimate the wealth of a city from space?
  • I loved reading this teenager's take on various forms of social media.
Here's what I've been doing:

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We've been taking walks, spending time with family, redoing our deck, and growing a baby. Liam is at a fun age, and I see his preferences get stronger each day. We celebrated his second birthday, and I still can't get over the difference language makes in everyday life. I love being able to communicate with him. He is still a terrible, newborn-like sleeper, so we've got to work on that this fall before the baby comes.

I finally finished our family photo album for 2014 (and almost ordered it with a big 2015 on the front cover, but I realized my mistake at the last minute). It is over eighty pages, which might be overkill. I'm using Blurb this time, and I will post all about how it turns out.

After all the blogging aversion, I started to slowly miss it, and it forced me to clarify again why I love blogging so much (especially as I kept up with other blogs and reread tons of other early pregnancy posts!). In early summer, I was having doubts about whether my writing matters and whether blogging is significant. I was tired of the resistance I found in Liam when I tried to write with him around. So it was helpful to take a break. But the break showed me that I miss this space and the conversation that takes place online.

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Coming up: I plan to share a list of some of the best picture books for children, our most recent family photo album, and some thoughts on church and parenting.

Follow me on Instagram for more daily snapshots into our lives.

How was your summer?