Thursday, November 21, 2013

MaterniT21 and Me

So about three weeks ago we had our 20 week anatomy scan on the spawn. When my midwife gave me the ultrasound requisition form she had checked "suspect fetal anomaly" but she told me that they just check that so that insurance has to pay for it, not because they had any reason to think something was wrong. No one goes in for their 20 week scan thinking that something is wrong. They go in all happy and excited to see the baby and find out if it's a boy or a girl (or not, whatever your pleasure).

So Jeff and I went to the ultrasound and we found out that it's a boy. They also found out that he has a single umbilical artery, normal cords have three vessels- 2 arteries and a vein. Well Liam has one artery and one vein. Apparently it's not terribly uncommon and they recommend having two additional ultrasounds in the third trimester to make sure there is no growth restriction. My first thought was, "Well, I had a 10 lb 4 oz baby the first time, maybe a little growth restriction would be alright!" The SUA is also apparently a soft marker for other abnormalities and genetic conditions so they did an extremely thorough scan of all of his organ systems to check for other anomalies. They found no specific birth defects. Finally at the end of the scan they explained that when they did all of the physical measurements, his femur came up short in relation to his head size. Another soft marker for Down's Syndrome. They recommended that we talk to a genetic counselor about the findings.

After much back and forth in my mind we decided to see the genetic counselors. My arguments with myself were:
  • All of his measurements were within the normal range except for his head, which was in the 91st percentile, so basically his femur was normal length and he had a massive head. I have a massive head. Jeff has tiny T Rex arms in relation to his height. He's probably fine. 
  • Even if he does have Down's, he has no physical birth defects (heart, bowel, etc) beyond whatever mental deficiencies might exist and I wouldn't terminate the pregnancy because of that so why bother?
  • I will not do an amniocentesis because of the risk of miscarriage, however small it may be.
So basically, I just asked Jeff, do you want to talk to them? He said yes, so I made the appointment.  
So we went off to the far off land of Beechwood to talk the the UH Genetics department. Basically, we talked for awhile about what the realistic odds of Liam having Down's Syndrome were. I did not have the quad screen done so they estimated my starting odds based on my age at about 1/890. Two soft markers on the ultrasound moved the odds to about 1/560 or about 99.5% probability that everything was fine. Then they went over our family history, no genetic conditions except Marfan's Syndrome (which they now want me to go get another echo, even though the one I had six years ago was fine). Then they told us about a new way of testing the unborn for chromosomal anomalies called MaterniT21. Basically, there are pieces of his DNA floating about in my bloodstream and this test separates the fetal DNA from the maternal DNA and then runs standard genetic testing on it. The only downside of this test is that it's new and it's still expensive after insurance. With our insurance plan, they said it would cost no more than 200.00 but it's non invasive, no risk of miscarriage and would give us a definite answer rather than a probability. 

We thought about it for a few minutes before deciding to go ahead with the test. Even though I had no intention of doing anything other than preparing for a special needs child if the results came back positive, I had no desire to continue torturing myself with "what-ifs" for the next 4 months. So the vampires took my blood, sent it off and told us they would let us know in 7-10 days. 

Well it's been a long 13 days (9 business) but the results finally came in this afternoon. Liam is fine. He has no extra chromosomes (21, 18, 13, X or Y) and he is definitely a he. Now all I have to do is relax and make sure he continues to grow on pace with that massive head! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Recycled Crayon Ornaments!

So I'm not one to discuss Christmas before it's due time. Which is not before Thanksgiving. However, I'm making an exception this time for two reasons:
  1. It's a craft and you need time to make it before your schedule gets crammed with holiday parties, concerts, shopping, baking, decorating, etc. 
     B. I wanted to take part in the latest Pintester Movement which is Christmas themed this time

I first pinned these ornaments even before I heard about the Christmas ornament theme because I saw them and I was all "OMG, THOSE ARE SO AWESOME!!!! MUST MAKE THEM!!!!!!!!!!" then forgot them until this came up.

So finally, last night, Makayla and I got ready to make them.

First, we sorted through her art roll (which is my amazing idea for organizing writing implements, if I do say so myself) and took out all the broken pieces of crayons. Then we peeled all the labels off the crayons and took the tops out of clear glass ornaments.
Photo bomb by Makayla

 The original post says to use a hair dryer to heat the bulbs but I have approximately 27lbs of hair and it takes about 3 hours to dry it with a hair dryer so I wash it at night and let it air dry. After the last hair dryer I had crapped out I didn't bother to replace it. So instead I decided to heat the ornaments up in my amazingly wonderful anniversary present counter top oven. I started out by setting it at 150F.

I let the preheat for a couple minutes while Makayla picked out some colors to go together. Then we broke off some chunks, put them in one of the ornaments and put it back in the oven.

We waited for the crayons to melt.

Cranked the temperature to 250F and waited some more until finally they started to melt. I waited until the crayons were mostly melted and then grabbed the ornament and swirled the hot wax around until the entire inside was coated. I should mention that to most people, this would probably be too hot to do bare handed. I'm not most people. I lost sensitivity to heat after spending a few years in powder coatings and being too lazy/ impatient to find the tongs to take the hot panels out of the oven after curing. So you might want to grab them with a towel or something. Definitely don't let your little fellas do this part. They cooled down pretty quickly and then we put the tops back on. They actually came out really great!

 I particularly loved how the white crayon added really nice highlights to the darker colors. Unfortunately, it seems that white was not a commonly broken crayon so we only had one of those. We tended to stick to three colors per ornament but more might be nice too, just keep in mind your color mixing or you might end up with a lot of brown ornaments!

Overall, I am thrilled with how awesome they turned out! We still have a sack of broken crayons to use so maybe I'll get some more clear glass ornaments and make another batch!

Monday, November 4, 2013

What you REALLY need for a baby: The Nursery

When I was pregnant with Makayla I spent weeks pouring over "registry checklists" and baby guides trying to decide what I really needed to buy/ register for. I had no experience with babies outside a couple baby sitting jobs when I was 14 and really had no clue what I needed. I ended up doing pretty well overall but there were still a few essentials that I missed and a few things that I really never needed. With Number 2, I did a quick mental inventory of what I had and what I hated and finished my list in less than a day. For fun, I went back and compared that to the registry checklist at Babies R Us and realized that there is a lot of fluff in there that you really don't need. So here is my very own guide to what you really need for a baby as well as what is nice to have and what you can skip. As I was writing this, I realized that to put everything in one post would be way too long, so I'm starting with the stuff needed to set up the nursery. Future posts will cover other areas of baby products.

The Nursery- Must Haves

Crib: I know some people do the whole co-sleeping thing but it's not for me. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against co-sleeping as it may increase risk of SIDS or death by suffocation from blankets and pillows on the bed, etc. With Makayla, I also had a bassinet that she slept in for the first three months in my room. I didn't really need it. We lived in a one floor duplex and it would have been just as easy and quick to walk across the living room to the nursery as it was have her in our cramped little room. In our current house though, the nursery is on the second floor and I know that I'm not going to want to walk up and down the stairs every couple of hours to nurse him so I will be using both. As far as what crib to use, drop side cribs are out- they're not safe and have been recalled so if you have a hand-me-down crib and it has a drop side, don't use it. Personally, I love the convertible cribs that go from a crib to a toddler bed to an adult bed. I've gone through all of the iterations with Makayla and they have all been easy enough to convert to and I haven't had to buy multiple pieces of furniture every year or so as she outgrows the previous one. I bought furniture that is built to last, and I have not been disappointed. The only downside to a convertible crib is that you need a new one with each baby. 

Crib Mattress: It seems self explanatory but cribs don't come with mattresses, you have to buy that separately. I bought a two sided mattress, infant and toddler. Theoretically, the infant side was firmer and the toddler side was more like a standard mattress. I'm fairly certain the infant side would have sufficed for the toddler years. The important things to remember about crib mattresses are: they need to be firm and fit tightly in the crib. There should not be a gap between the walls of the crib and the mattress. Gaps are suffocation hazards for newborns.

Bedding: If you haven't heard, the latest in crib safety says that cribs should have nothing in them except fitted crib sheets. No bumpers, no blankets, no stuffed animals or toys. All of these things are said to increase SIDS risk.

  • Fitted crib sheets: Most lists that I've seen recommend a large number of fitted crib sheets. I personally needed no more than two. One to be on the bed, one to be in the washer. 
  • Waterproof mattress pad: Depending on the type of crib mattress you buy, this may or may not be necessary. Many mattresses are already waterproofed. If yours is not, buy two, one for the crib, one for the wash.
  • Wearable Blankets/ Swaddling Blankets: I tried several types of swaddlers and the only one that I liked was the Halo Sleep Sack with Swaddle. They have velcro positioners on the back to keep them from riding up and you can swaddle easily and securely. I never got the hang of swaddling with just a blanket and I hated the Kiddopatumus swaddlers, they didn't stay put at all. 

Dresser/ Changing Table: I am a big fan of the combination dresser/ changing table. A separate changing table seems like a complete waste of money. After the baby is out of diapers what are you going to do with it? I've seen several types of combo dressers, as long as it's at a comfortable height, you can put a changing pad on top of any dresser.

Changing Table Pad: I've used several different changing pads. My favorite was one that was made of a dense foam (Kuster Jelly Baby mat) that wiped up easily. Several of the cheaper ones that I bought simply fell apart and shredded in a short amount of time (LA Baby, Summer Infant).

Glider/ Rocker & Ottoman: You need somewhere to sit when you're feeding the baby, reading stories or just snuggling. Choose whatever type of chair you're most comfortable in but make sure you get some type of footrest, especially if you're breastfeeding. It just made things so much more comfortable.

Nightstand/ Side Table: Somewhere to put a lamp- no one enjoys a bright overhead light in the middle of the night. Also useful to set up a monitor on and a white noise/ music player. It shouldn't be near enough the crib that the baby could pull the stuff inside the crib as it grows, it's more convenient and useful to have it near the chair, in my opinion.

Lamp: Like I said, no one wants to be woken up with a bright overhead light. A simple lamp is a necessity.

Hamper/ Laundry Bag: You need somewhere to put dirty clothes!

Trashcan/ Diaper Pail: I didn't go for an expensive diaper disposal system the first time around- I just used a smallish Simple Human trash can (small so that it had to be emptied before the smell got too bad!) and was as happy as one can be with a diaper disposal system. After Makayla was mobile, I found that I needed a locking lid because ain't nobody got time for toddlers playing with dirty diapers. I added a stick on lock designed for baby proofing things like refrigerator or washing machine doors. I know that Simple Human makes some now that have locking mechanisms built in. I used disposable diapers so if you're using cloth, I've got nothing.

The Nursery- Nice to Have Extras

Diaper Stacker/ Changing Table Organizer: Having an organized system to hold diapers, wipes, lotion, etc. is nice to have. It makes things easier to find and more functional. Plus it looks neater.

Curtains/ Window Treatments: Black out shades can be nice to have, especially if you have a baby who doesn't like to nap with too much light. Decorative curtains are cute and make the nursery prettier. Whatever type of window treatments you choose make sure they are cordless. If you have standard mini-blinds, take them down and figure out a cordless solution. Babies/ toddlers can strangle themselves not only in the pull cord of mini-blinds but also in the cords that lace together all of the blinds.

Storage Bins/ Closet Organizers: Bins can be helpful to store toys and stuffed animals (which you will always have too many of) and there are lots of nice closet systems that make things neater and easier, but they're not really necessary.

Decorations: While not strictly necessary, most parents will want some type of decor in the nursery.

Sound/ Light Machine/ CD player: Something to provide background/ white noise can help some babies sleep better. Makayla had a CD player with a CD of lullabies and a ladybug nightlight that put stars on the ceiling. She still can't fall asleep without them.

The Nursery- Things you DON'T Need


  • Sheet Savers: Sheets are easy to wash. Don't waste your money.
  • Bumpers: I know they're cute and I know that you're worried about your baby getting an arm or leg stuck in the rails but soft, pillow-y bumpers are a suffocation risk. If you simply must have a bumper, they make breathable mesh bumpers that prevent arms and legs from getting through the rails
  • Quilts/ Loose Blankets: Loose blankets and quilts should also not be used in the crib. If you want to have one for decoration, so be it but really, babies shouldn't be too warm anyway and most babies stay plenty warm with a wearable blanket. 
Changing Table Pad Covers: Changing tables are for changing diapers. Changing table pads will get poop and pee on them without fail. It's far easier to just wipe up a waterproof surface than it is to change the pad and wash the dirty ones.

Of course, not everything needs to be new. If you are using hand-me-downs or purchasing things from thrift stores check to make sure that the used item has not been recalled.