February 24, 2014

Product Review: Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump

View on the Ameda Purely Yours on Amazon.

The Ameda Purely Yours breast pump retails around $160.00. My insurance company actually covered the cost of the Ameda Purely Yours breast pump in full but I was highly disappointed. This breast pump is very inefficient. It fails to create suction over half of the time, pumping little to no milk at all.

I like that this pump is lightweight and easily transportable. I like the ideas behind the Ameda Proven Airlock Protection technology. According to their website, Ameda has the world's only breast pump kit to provide a protective barrier to prevent air flow between expressed milk and pump tubing. This allows for milk purity.

Unfortunately, the silicone diaphragms do not inflate and deflate properly. This is essential to create suction and express milk. I was constantly removing the top caps in the middle of pumping in order to deflate the diaphragms entirely. The pump would work for one or two more suctions before I had to undo the caps again. I checked for rips and tears in all pump parts and ensured that all parts were completely dry before use. It did not help. I do not know why the pump worked one session and not another. I was even told that a lactation consultant did not recommend this specific pump. (Unfortunately it was a little too late though!)

This pump caused a lot of unnecessary stress for a sleep deprived mother, in pain from engorged breasts. I ended up in tears multiple times trying to get this pump to function properly in the middle of the night. I ended up giving up entirely after one month and acquired a Medela Pump in Style Advanced breast pump, which was a huge relief. I am not receiving any compensation to promote Medela but I highly recommend Medela breast pumps for mothers who plan to breastfeed and work full time.

February 23, 2014

Mini Photoshoot: Miss A at 2.5 years & My Little Fox at 7 Weeks

Thanks again to the wonderful MeMe for letting me borrow her camera again to capture these little faces. I am so happy to be able to borrow this camera while Oliver is still teeny tiny! I can't believe how gorgeous Miss A's pictures turned out today. She is one pretty little girl. Oliver was quite the fuss bucket but I managed to capture a few grins along with a number of angry faces... and yawns! You can tell he was ready for his nap! They still make for good keepsakes though.

Who says boys can't use pink backdrops?

I don't want to do this anymore Ma.

Okay ma, I'm done.

Hurry up.

Maybe I do like this.

Yeah, HI I'M CUTE!

Nope, I'm tired.

Do you see this face?

Tiny little hand!
What a beauty!

These next three with the Hershey's Kisses are to show appreciation to the Hershey's chocolate company for sending me a free, large bag of kisses inside my Influenster J'adore VoxBox!

Now for cute little brother and sister time. As usual for boys, Oliver was just not with the program! :P

That's all for now! I have such great children. A lot more pictures to come. =)

February 21, 2014

Breastfeeding Mistakes: Learning From My Past Experiences

I want to give my children the best start possible. That is why my breastfeeding goals are the recommended first full year of life. I was unsuccessful with my first baby, breastfeeding for only five months. I significantly lost my milk supply during the fourth month because of my own errors. I was new to breastfeeding as a first time mother and did not truly understand what was required to maintain a steady milk supply. I am slightly embarrassed and feel guilty about the mistakes I made with my first child. My second baby is definitely getting the better deal as I am more experienced... and more mature!

My first mistake was introducing the bottle too soon. I was so ready to drink again that I decided to introduce the bottle at only two weeks of age.  There was no issue with nipple confusion, like some babies experience but I really started to enjoy the breaks that bottle feeding offered. I started bottle feeding with breast milk. That alone will not necessary decrease your milk supply. However, it is necessary to pump if you give your baby a bottle.

The second mistake was introducing formula. I don't remember exactly when I introduced formula to my first baby but it was within the first month. I did not keep a large milk bank in the freezer for babysitters so I let them use formula. I also had easy access to formula because I could receive it free from the WIC program. If you supplement with formula, it means you are not using your milk supply; therefore your body does not produce the exact amount of milk needed to nourish your baby. Your baby completely controls the amount of milk your body makes. If the formula is nourishing your baby, why would your body even need to produce milk?

The third mistake was skipping pumping sessions.  I started off pumping every time that my baby was fed a bottle. However, I slowly started to give my baby more bottles throughout the day and my pumping sessions grew further apart. If my baby was at a sitter, I might not have pumped to mimic my baby's feeding schedule. I ended up breastfeeding 75% of the time and giving formula the other 25%. My body was only used to making enough milk to feed my baby 75% of the time.

I started to worry and look into ways to boost my milk supply. I tried Fenugreek and More Milk Plus by Motherlove herbs (shown above) known to boost milk production but it did not work for me. You have to take a lot of capsules in order for the herbs to be effective and I simply could not keep up.

Eventually my milk supply completely dried up and I was left with only formula to feed my baby. I remember the last time feeding my daughter and it was one of my saddest memories ever. I lost that connection and special bonding experience that only mothers get to cherish. I was very disappointed with myself. Therefore, I am very adamant about strictly breastfeeding my second baby. I do not want to make any mistakes.

View on Amazon.
Current Breastfeeding Goals:
  1. Minimal to no bottle feeding until I return to work.
  2. No formula ever.
  3. Pump directly after feedings to boost milk supply. 
  4. Keep a large milk supply in freezer.
  5. Continue nursing for at least one year. 
At 7 weeks of age, my baby boy is nursing extremely well. It is exhausting to feed him around the clock, but I know how important it is to my son's health and my well being. I have grown to truly enjoy looking into his little alert eyes between 1:00-5:00am!

When I return to work full time, I plan on pumping at work a minimum of three times per shift, as many times as allowed. Then I would like to continue nursing at home. I don't want to lose that special bond and I want to do everything possible to keep a stable milk production that fulfills my baby's needs. I plan on taking Fenugreek herbal supplements just in case. I would also like to try the special teas that help boost milk production too. I will probably choose either Organic Milkmaid Tea or Mother's Milk Tea. Amazon has pretty good deals so I will be purchasing the tea soon, before returning to work. 

I am fully optimistic that I will be successful this time. I have a Medela Pump In Style Advanced with the On the Go Tote. I initially had an Ameda Purely Yours breast pump, which was the worst pump ever. More on that later. But if I do run into the slightest problem upon returning to work and breastfeeding, I will attend a breastfeeding support group and/or speak with a lactation consultant immediately.

I will not fail! I am keeping my fingers crossed for luck. If anybody has any additional breastfeeding advice, especially about returning to work, please share below! It would be greatly appreciated.  

February 20, 2014

How to Save Money on Baby Expenses

We saved a lot of money with our first child and plan to save even more with our second baby. We cut back on literally thousands of dollars, making raising babies significantly more affordable. It has been said that the total cost of raising one child is around one million dollars. Regardless if that is true or not, parents know that raising children is still very expensive. With our student debt accumulation, it is essential that we save money in any way possible.

Here is a quick break down on how much you can save on baby expenses before I go into greater detail.

Total Savings (Bare minimum! There is potential to save even more.)
  1. Cloth Diapers: $1901.70 (1 child) or $4197.40 (2 children)
  2. Laundry Detergent: Pay $1.76/ 178 loads ($0.00988/load) instead of the average $8.00/ 160 loads ($0.05/load)
  3. Cloth Wipes: $110.68 (1 child) or $221.36 (2 children)
  4. Breastmilk: $1795.23 (1 child) or $3590.46 (2 children)
  5. Nursing Pads: $14.95 for the first month of breastfeeding only
  6. Other savings ideas listed below
Use Cloth Diapers: 
    • The average child goes through 8149 diapers from birth until potty trained. 
    • The average cost to use disposable diapers for one child is $2444.70. If you have two children, you pay $4889.40. Triple or Quadruple for even more babies... Ridiculous! 
    • Stats from Awesome Beginnings 4 Children
    • We decided to buy a hybrid type of cloth diapers called gDiapers. They were a little more expensive than other brands of cloth diapers but they will be used for two children. (Unfortunately we stopped using gDiapers around 7 or 8 months and switched to disposable so our diaper costs rose significantly. We bought disposables for our first child for 16 months!! It makes me sick... but we are still saving a lot by using them for 7 months and for the entire diaper period of our second child.) See the breakdown of total gDiaper costs. You may even be able to save more by switching to a different brand.
      • Total: $692 for laundering costs & gDiapers instead of $4889.40 for two children
        • gPants: $140 for 12 gPants & 12 liners in two sizes up to 28lbs
        • gCloth inserts: $240 for all sizes, 48 cloths
        • Extra liners: $46 for all sizes for 12 liners
        • Disposable liners for use when solids/formula are introduced: $5.50/100ct, ~$60
        • 20% discount with free shipping from Diapers.com. Use my promo code for the same deal: MXNE9597
        • Order in bundles to receive further discounts. 
        • Total gDiaper cost: $400
        • Laundering costs are estimated to be $73 per year or $292 for 4 years.
        • If we need to buy a larger size, above 28lbs, we will only have to spend $70 on 6 more gPants. The other accessories accommodate the larger size gPant. (This number is excluded from total costs.)
Make Your Own Laundry Detergent: All detergents only require 1 tbsp per load of laundry! I have tested the dry and cloth diaper detergents below and they produce clean clothing. The detergents can be enhanced by adding a few drops of essential oils.
    • Clothing: Dry Detergent for use with hot water only (Fels Naptha will not melt in cold water.)
    • Clothing: Liquid Detergent - $1.76/ 128 loads
      • Recipe is the same as above except it is cooked and you add water. 
      • Use Budget101.com's Recipe found HERE.
    • Cloth Diaper Safe Detergent - No Soap
      • 1 cup Borax
      • 1 cup Washing Soda
      • 1 cup Oxyclean (I use the sensitive skin version that is free of dyes and perfumes.)
Use Reusable Cloth Wipes: If you are already using cloth diapers, then it is not any more difficult to add cloth wipes to your laundry. In fact, it is easier than using disposable wipes because it eliminates the need for a trash bin next to your changing station. You can buy them or make your own.
    • 8149 diaper changes results in a minimum of 8149 wipes. 
    • Wipes in bulk at Walmart cost $9.00/500ct. 8149/500 = 16.298 boxes required for $146.68
    • Buy handmade cloth wipes for around $1 per wipe on Etsy. You should only need 24-36 wipes total. $24-$36. 
    • Sew your own: These are cheaper and easy to make. Stick to clearanced flannel!
      • For 1 layer wipes, cut a piece of flannel approximately 8" X 8" and serge around the edges and wash with cloth diapers.
      • For 2 layered wipes, cut 2 pieces of flannel and serge the two layers together. You can also sew the right sides together and flip right side out and top stitch if you do not have a serger.
      • Tip: You can sew terry cloth on one side for more "wiping power". 
    • Cloth Wipe Solution: (I am not calculating cloth wipe solution costs because you already have to buy baby wash and you only need a minimal amount.) 
      • 2-3 cups water, infused with chamomile if desired
      • 1 tbsp baby wash
      • 1 tbsp baby oil (optional)
Breastfeed Your Baby
    • It is recommended to breastfeed your baby for one full year. Breastfeeding is FREE. All nursing supplies are optional.
    • It costs $1795.23 to buy formula. 
      • Assuming your baby drinks the average amount of 10,104.5 fluid ounces in one year. 
      • Assuming you spend $15.99 per can of formula that makes 90 fluid ounces.
      • I used a chart from Kellymom.com that lists the average amount of formula consumed by babies daily based on their age.

Use Reusable Nursing Pads
    • In one month, I used 5 boxes of Nuk ultra dry disposable nursing pads 50ct that costs $7.19. Total costs: $35.95
      • Sew your own nursing pads
      • You have to continuously buy nursing pads for as long as you leak. Each woman is different but you could end up using them for as long as you breastfeed.
    • Phillips AVENT washable nursing pads (6ct) cost $6.99 on Amazon. If you bought 3 packages, you pay about $21.00 and get to reuse them again and again. 
    • Nuk reusable nursing pads (6ct) cost $3.89. I bought 2 boxes for $7.78 and made my own thicker pads with left over fabric I had from making cloth wipes.
      • Sew your own: Cut (2) 4-5" diameter circles of flannel and (1) 4-5" diameter circle using an old towel or other thick terry cloth. Place the flannel on the outside, sandwiching the terry cloth and serge around the edges. 
Do not use milk storage bags!
    • Fill an ice cube tray with expressed breastmilk, placing 1oz per cube.
    • Remove cubes from tray when frozen and place inside a sealed gallon freezer bag. You can buy 108 Glad gallon sized freezer bags for $11.97.
    • Lansinoh milk storage bags cost around $10.00 in stores or $8.59 on Amazon for only 50 bags that hold up to 6oz of breastmilk. 
Thrift Shop for clothes!
    • Shop only when stores are having a major clearance sale, like at the end of the season.
    • Garage Sales
    • Craigslist or local Facebook garage sale sites
    • Sew your own... If you are talented and know how to find good fabric deals. 

February 15, 2014

Giveaway: Smile Brilliant's LED Teeth Whitening

{Read with sad, depressing voice. Think Eeyore.}
Do you long day and night to rid the yellow from your grungy teeth?
Do you feel your self consciousness eating away at your soul?
Do you feel a constant rejection due to your unpleasant appearance?
Well I am certain that the statements above are true and that means it is time to change reality.
Smile Brilliant is here to save you from your sorrows! 
One lucky reader will have the chance to brighten their smile and make their dreams come true.

Funny? Okay, maybe not. Let's be real though and I will show you what Smile Brilliant has to offer!

Smile Brilliant created an affordable product to whiten your teeth using a high intensity LED accelerator light and 22% carbamide peroxide professional strength whitening gel. It is a superior alternative to other over-the-counter teeth whitening products based on thousands of personal reviews available on the internet. The whitening gel works by removing stains that lie on the tooth enamel, the protective coating that covers your dentin. It helps to reveal the natural color of your dentin, which varies from a bright to off white color depending on the person. Over 95% of users will achieve some level of whitening while using this product.

Each kit contains an LED accelerator light, 4ml whitening pen with 22% professional strength whitening gel, lip guard, and a detailed instructional brochure. The gel lasts 2 years if refrigerated and 1 year at room temperature. If you only whiten your front teeth there should be enough for 5-8 applications.

Take a look at beautiful me turning my life around! ;) I have already completed one 30 minute application and found that the process is very simple to use.
  1. Apply the gel to your teeth.
  2. Insert the lip guard.
  3. Place the LED light in front of your teeth and wrap your lips around the plastic guard. 
  4. Perform each LED light session for 20-40 minutes and if desired, leave the gel on for 1-3 hours. 
I am very excited to do further applications. I have never experimented much with teeth whitening products because I have not felt the need. However, thanks to my two little children, I have grown into a coffee addict. No coffee equals no motivation and minimal patience! And as you probably know, coffee stains teeth and ruins a white smile. I figured I would use this teeth whitening system to give my teeth a fresh start, since I will not be stopping the coffee intake anytime soon! Nor will I stop my casual red wine soirees... which also contribute to stained teeth.

Please feel free to check our their website for additional information.

And then enter the giveaway! Good luck to you!! =)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 12, 2014

Benefit of Postpartum Sleep Deprivation: Dreaming

I have been under the impression that postpartum sleep deprivation is one of the worst things in the world! It is one of my many reasons for only wanting two children... it's not the top reason but still... Before continuing, it is important to say that I absolutely love looking into my baby's sweet little eyes while feeding him at 1am.. and 4am... and 7am...! He is such an innocent little bundle of joy!

On to the topic. The most unanticipated and best benefit of postpartum sleep deprivation is dreaming!

Dreams, as in dreams in your sleep, come alive and to their fullest potential at this stage in your life. At least mine do... and with good reason. I have recorded my dreams for as long as I can remember. I logged them continuously for years and talked about them a lot to my family and friends. That alone will help anyone remember their dreams but another trick is constantly waking up at night. According to studies in cognitive psychology, people experiencing nocturnal awakeness are also more likely to recall their dreams. I find that to be entirely true because after feeding my newborn I fall back into a deep sleep, have an intense vivid dream, and wake up again remembering it in full detail. I repeat this cycle 2-3 times a night thanks to my newborn's nightly feedings.

Lately, all of my dreams have been unpleasantly vivid. I actually died in my dream a couple nights ago. Murdered by a paranormal psychopath. I also regularly dream about the world ending and everyone dying all around me. Over the past year and a half, I have had over a dozen zombie-style, end of the world dreams where I am one of few people left running for my life. A couple nights ago, the world ended differently and I watched a huge sinking ship of people fight for their life until they drowned. There was nothing I could do to help because I wasn't even apart of that dream, just a bystander from some unknown dimension. I was also rummaging through abandoned department stores for supplies because, once again, I was one of the last survivors. Can you tell that I watch The Walking Dead? Or is there some greater meaning? Yikes. Last night was by far one of my worst dreams ever. My husband and I were splitting up and the real devastation was felt. I felt every bit of it, like I do in all my vivid dreams. It was gut wrenching and just awful, which made waking up to our newborn extremely relieving and joyful.

So, why is it a benefit to experience all these terrible nightmares? I have always been a huge fan of learning about dreams so even if they are terrifying, I believe they help you understand yourself a little better. I psychoanalyze them by looking at patterns to find some greater lessons. I generally end up failing to understand entirely. But regardless, I hold value to my dreams and believe that some of them have deeper spiritual meanings behind them.

To all new moms out there,
Happy Dreaming!
May you seek solace in the eyes of your new angel.

February 7, 2014

Oliver's Five Week Check Up

Little Oliver had to visit his doctor today for his five week check up. The doctor stripped him down and poked and prodded at his little body. Oliver did not seem to mind at all. I assume it was because he got to sit on a super cool polar bear table. He was pretty happy... until the doctor started messing with his goods. She told me he has a hydrocele, or fluid collection in the scrotum, and was forced to poke around the area in search for possible masses or lumps. The fluid is supposed to go down on its own but needed to be watched just in case it doesn't. Unfortunately, his doctor found a small lump that needed to be further examined. SO, that meant we had to go to the hospital to do an ultrasound. Apparently it is common for babies to develop hernias, which is what a mass in the hydrocele could mean. If he had a hernia, we would have had to schedule an appointment with a pediatric surgeon to get it removed. After waiting around for three hours at the hospital, we finally got his scrotum and testicles thoroughly examined and discovered that he has a cyst. He does not have a hernia but we need to keep an eye on this cyst to see if it goes away on its own. If not, we will have to do another ultrasound in a couple of months and keep a close eye on it. I really, really do not like the sound of my Oliver having a cyst... That is very scary! Poor little baby. :( On a positive note, he does not appear to have any pain radiating from the area... or any pain at all.

Oh, and he didn't mind getting an ultrasound done either. He made himself quite comfy on the heated blanket they laid him on. (I fed him right before so he was feeling great!)

Besides the cyst, Oliver is having normal bowel movements and wet diapers. He is eating very well, still every 2-3 hours around the clock, though he did go 4 hours without eating three times. (praise jesus) He is growing like a champ! He has grown three inches and gained 4 lbs 7 oz in five weeks. Seems extreme to me!!

Birth Weight: 7 lb 6 oz
Birth Length: 21 inches
5 Weeks Weight: 11 lb 13 oz
5 Weeks Length: 24 inches

My son has gained almost 1 POUND PER WEEK since he was born! That is pretty crazy! He is not even that chunky (yet), he just gained weight to fill out his extra 3 inches of length. I am determined to raise a Michigan State Basketball player. Miss A is on her way already.
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