Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wish List: Fuzzi Bunz

More about cloth diapers. I can't get enough! Don't think I mentioned it before, but my babysitter is da bomb. She doesn't mind cloth diapering my son while he's in her care, and I really can't express how much I appreciate that. We still provide her with 'sposies for whenever she can't or doesn't want to use a cloth diaper, but she's on board and even washes them for me! Because she uses them during the day with Derek, we haven't had to buy a pack of diapers since we started with the cloth diapers. I'm sure I'll make up for it by buying more cloth diapers, though!

And that brings me to the message of this post. I've always regretted not starting to cloth diaper sooner with my son. I picked up a few items here and there - some covers, some inserts - but didn't start until he was right at a year old. Now I'm realizing why it would have been better to start sooner; I missed out on a lot of that learning curve about which diapers to use, what inserts work best, how best to buy used, etc. So I've been doing some catching up, and I realize now that I should have just started with something, anything, so I could start to learn what works for us. I've made a couple of purchases that, in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have made. I'll just have to chalk those up to learning experiences and go on to make better choices. I can always try and sell what I'm not using.

My most recent purchase was from Cotton Babies. I'd heard about the site, namely that they had good 'seconds' (new and sometimes used diapers with manufacturer's defects) on their clearance page. So I bought two Bum Genius 3.0 seconds. I haven't been able to find any defects so far, and we've been using them for about a month now. They didn't come with inserts, but I had extra so no problem there. Paid about $5 less each than retail. Good deal! Now I'm on the market for some Fuzzi Bunz. I like it that they have snaps instead of Velcro (for reasons described in a previous post), and wonder if they won't be quite as bulky as the Bum Genius can be. They also seem to be cheaper than Bum Genius on a lot of sites. I am also thinking of buying a few more diapers from the local lady (also discussed in a previous post) who sold me a few that needed a cover and didn't have pockets for inserts. Those diapers weren't bad otherwise. I still use them as backup. She's got the material now to make cover-free pockets and I'm interested to see what they will be like.

My hope is that I can up my stash just a bit more with some great diapers, without spending way more than I would have on disposables. Wish me luck! ;P

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

So I finally tried them out

The cloth diapers, I mean. I'd been trying to decide what type of detergent to wash them with, and after reading a couple of charts (here and here) rating the various detergent options, I finally decided that the stuff we already use on our clothes would be fine (Arm & Hammer Essentials Free).

I really can't say enough good things about the Bum Genius one size pockets. I use them for overnights and have never had any problems with leaks. Maybe a tad bulky, but that's a good excuse to replace our nighttime onsies that my son is growing out of anyway with some legitimate PJ's. Another complaint that I've read frequently about (but haven't experienced for myself yet) the BG diapers is that they use Velcro instead of snaps. Apparently after repeated washings, the sticky side of the Velcro can get worn out or covered over with lint to the extent that they no longer stick. So that would be a pretty big problem, but surely a quick sewing job could fix them right up. I really, really like these diapers.

Once our overnight BG adventures were well underway, I decided to get a bit bold about all this cloth diapering business. I bought some USED diapers! I know, sounds gross, like - is that even sanitary?? But, these did not have a stain on them and looked and smelled great, so that was good enough for me. I got three Green Acre Diapers and liked them immediately. They have snaps instead of Velcro, so that was something I was eager to try out.

I'd previously bought some hemp inserts from a lady on Craigslist who said she bought the wrong size (got a great deal on those, too!). Now that I had these three diapers, I was ready to use the hemp inserts. I read that hemp needs to be washed like up to 5 or 10 times in hot, hot water in order to strip it of its natural oils and prepare it to be absorbant. I only washed mine maybe twice before I tried them out. I had some trouble with leaks at first, maybe because of not enough washing beforehand, or maybe just because that's the way hemp can be. Apparently it's very absorbent, but not very quick to catch fast-running pee. So the mama who sold me the diapers suggested I use a rag or other insert of some sort to catch the pee and let it slowly absorb into the hemp. This has worked better, but I still am having some trouble with leaks toward the front of the diaper. I do think there might just be a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to the inserts, so it might just be that I'm not changing him soon enough.

After all this, I started getting excited. I started to see why it is that there are a bajallion choices in cloth diapering all over the internet and why cloth diapers are now showing up in large retail outlets. These things are so addictive or something! I love them! That diaperswappers forum? I could hang out there all day, seriously.

I started scouring Craigslist for some more diapers to feed my new found addiction. I ran across a posting from a lady waaaay out in the country who was making cloth diapers for her daughter. She was selling them 3 for $15 + shipping. That's pretty darn cheap. Downside to those diapers were that they would need a cover to keep my boy's clothes from getting pee soaked. Luckily, I had some covers that I'd bought when I was pregnant and wanting to get a stash of diapers going but never ended up using. They were size small, but I thought they'd probably work, and they do. Plus, she was super fast on the shipping. They were at my house in two days. Now she's even got a little website for her CDs.

After getting that last batch in the mail, it was almost the weekend. I figured I'd see if we could get through a whole day using only CDs. Sure enough we did! In fact, the only 'sposie used that weekend was when Daddy changed our boy so I could sleep in on Sunday morning. An acceptable trade-off, I suppose.

I'm not sure what about using cloth diapers makes me feel so good. I mean, since we still have to keep disposables on hand for babysitter and whatever else, we're not actively saving any money, yet. But I guess it does feel good not to have to throw all those diapers away all the time. And it feels good knowing that my son's most private areas (and most important if I'm ever to be a grandmother!) are well kept, far away from all the bleaching and gel and plastic and chemicals in the disposables. Maybe not all the time, and maybe not for too much longer since he's already a year old. But, it feels good for now. And it will be a good excuse for me to have another baby, that I have such a large, varied and impressive stash of diapers . :P

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cloth Diapers? Yes, please.

I have wanted to cloth diaper my son since before he was born. I started doing some research about it and found that there are many, many more options for cloth diapering than back before disposables were available. No more fold-and-pin, or hiring a diaper cleaning service. These things today are what I call "fancy pants" diapers. The problem is that there are so many options that it really makes the mind spin. I read reviews, got advice from other moms, but never could decide on what to get for my little guy. The result of my indecisive attitude has been cheap disposables covering my son's bum since his birth. Well, we had a few packs from the baby shower but that was over in like a month. Since then we've spent a little over $20 a month to keep my boy in diapers. Conservatively, that's over $200 so far! Considering he very well could be in diapers until after his 2nd birthday (I really don't know when most kids start going potty), we're looking at probably another $300, and again that's a conservative estimate. As the child gets bigger, disposable packages of diapers cost the same amount, but the trick is that there are less and less diapers per pack as you increase the size. So I would imagine that we will easily surpass last years' expenditure on diapers this coming year.

Now. Let's talk fancy pants diapers. These things are cool! I finally talked myself into buying some when the local SuperTarget (MWC for you local folks) started carrying BumGenius all in ones. I'm up to two in my arsenal now and would have more if the Norman SuperTarget would ever get with the program. Unfortunately, because I have been indecisive again regarding which detergent to use in washing them, it has kept me from trying them out. But I think I've finally got it figured out and will post on my progress.

The great thing about this is that with a couple hundred dollar investment, you can save yourself money in the long run on disposables. AND you can use them on subsequent children, or sell them secondhand on Diaperswappers, possibly getting back some of your initial investment.

Pretty cool junk.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My New Favorite Word

I guess that would imply that I have an old favorite word, which I don't. But anyway I'm totally in love with the term "nursling" for a nursing baby/child. I paid for a membership to the LLLI and in return receive their quarterly publication "New Beginnings". It has lots of stories from many a breastfeeding mom about every facet of breastfeeding you can imagine. Many of the mothers describe their breastfeeding child as a "nursling" and I just think it's precious.

My son's father argued with me that it wasn't a real word like "spiderling" or whatever. In response to that I post the following definition from The Free Dictionary:
1. A nursing infant or young animal.
2. A carefully nurtured person or thing.

My nursling, asleep at my breast. So sweet.

Monday, September 15, 2008

OMG Cry-it-Out!

I am sorry to report that illness has thwarted our sleeping progress. I'm tired. Just about every other night my son is fussy, restless and irritable - all night long. Last night he slept soundly for the first two hours. Didn't hear a peep from him. Then, I decided to go to bed. So I guess that means it's time to wake up and cry for a while! Even though I went to bed just before 11pm, I didn't actually get to sleep until after 1am because of this. I would nurse him down, and a few minutes later he would be awake, wriggling and whining, for no apparent reason. He wouldn't settle down good, even if he was right next to me in bed.

Everyone around me, including my child's father, is encouraging me to let him cry it out. I am disappointed and discouraged by this lack of support - now when I really need it most. These people know that I have never wanted to let him cry it out. I could have done that months ago! Why would I try so hard to help my son develop positive sleep associations if I was just going to throw him in the crib and leave him alone to freak out until he passed out? I feel all alone in this.

I guess I'm just a do-gooder, tree-hugger for wanting my kid to be able to fall asleep without crying his little head off.

God, I really hope things get better soon. I'm really tired. And emotionally unstable.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Some Sleeping Success!

In an effort to figure out why my kiddo isn't sleeping well through the night and to try and help him sleep better, I've been reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantly. She offers up a bunch of helpful tips to help moms (mostly) and dads encourage their child to sleep better and for longer periods.

When I made my original entry about our sleeping troubles, I'd read the book but hadn't had any time to implement any of the suggestions. Well, now it's been about three weeks or so that we've been working with some of her ideas and we are seeing positive results!

Some of her ideas include introducing a 'lovey' or something the child can snuggle up to in lieu of needing mom to settle back down upon awakening; breaking the child of his breast/bottle sleep association by using the "Pantly pop-off method" (gently popping him off the breast before he is completely asleep), and making sure your child's sleeping area is comfortable and safe. Another rather important suggestion is to make sure your child has a bedtime routine and a fairly rigid napping schedule.

As mentioned in my prior post on this topic, we implemented a bedtime routine at about 6 months of age and did see some positive results with it. But my son has never been a good napper, so that continues to be a struggle, especially with our recent change of daytime caregivers. I've been allowing my son to use a pillow in his crib, which is still pulled up 'sidecar' next to our bed, because he seems to enjoy having his head slightly elevated (and the elevation will cut down on the potential for ear infections if he gets a runny nose). I put a pillow case that I'd been using for a few nights on his pillow. This really seemed to help, since my scent is all over it and right next to his smeller all night. Kind of a substitute for the 'lovey' Pantly suggests. The next change I made was to make better use of the mounds of soft, fuzzy blankets I was given for him during my pregnancy. Crib mattresses are pretty firm and don't seem very nice to sleep on, so one fuzzy blanket goes under and another which is nice and warm covers him. Those two changes alone seemed to go a long way in making my child more comfortable in his crib.

The biggest change I have made is encouraging my child to break his (firmly intact) breast / sleep association. He won't even take a pacifier, he is so in love with my busom. Using the pull-off method has been trying at times, but we have actually seen some pretty significant results in response to my efforts. When I started this process, he was waking up every 45 mins to an hour in the 2-3 hours before I would come to bed. Now, in just three short weeks, we are pretty regularly getting at least 2 hours out of him before he wakes and needs my assistance getting back to sleep. Another indication of positive change has been that, if I can get to him fast enough after he wakes, there are times that I don't have to offer my breast for him to settle back into sleep. I just gently place him back on his pillow and comfort him until he's nestled and resting again. Proof positive that these methods are breaking the breast/sleep association!

Last night, after having gone to sleep at 7:30 pm, he woke about every 2 hours. He woke at 11:30 pm and went back to sleep easily with my assistance. He then slept until 3 am! That's almost 4 whole hours of uninterrupted sleep! He wiggled again at 5 am and wasn't easily settled back at that time, and was up for the day at 6 am.

The book actually suggests doing sleep logs and having a written sleep plan in place to help follow your progress, but I'm lazy and haven't done that - yet. I'll probably get all hardcore about it in the coming weeks, so I can try and get him sleeping soundly ALL NIGHT LONG. I guess I just wanted to see if any of the methods would even help, and now that I know they do, I'll be taking her suggestions a little more seriously.

What a relief!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Singing the Praises of Breastfeeding

I'm sure this won't be my last entry on the experience of breastfeeding, but I do have a few thoughts I'd like to share.

Breastfeeding my son has been wonderful. I never imagined that the simple act of nourishing a child could be so emotionally fulfilling.

Sometimes I ponder why more women don't even begin to try and breastfeed their newborn child. Are women that irresponsible that they can't take a few minutes to do a simple web search to find out the pros and cons (if there even are any) of breastfeeding? Case in point: I have a cousin who recently gave birth to her first child, a son. She didn't even attempt to breastfeed, citing that she'd heard it hurts your nipples. Seriously? Because it might hurt? Perhaps I'm being extreme, but pregnancy isn't pain free, and certainly childbirth doesn't come without some amount of pain; even a medicated birth isn't free of pain altogether. Why would you have a kid in the first place if you were worried about pain?

Does breastfeeding hurt? It can, at first especially. But that is usually resolved within a few days or so, and with proper latch-on techniques. They have all sorts of gunk out there to smear on your nips to keep them in good shape for feedings. Lanolin, for example. Most hospitals have lactation consultants on staff in order to assist women with their first feedings. But honestly, babies have an instinct to suckle at the breast. My child, once he got going with it, latched perfectly, by instinct. I'm sure in premature or low birth weight babies, this could be more of a challenge, but it wouldn't be a battle fought and won without significant rewards.

Another mother I spoke to said that she doesn't breastfeed because she "wanted her body back" after the child was born. Once again, why would you have a kid at all if you expect it to be 40 weeks and then - zip! Back to normal! Nothing goes 'back to normal' after you have a child, breastfeeding or not.

Even adoptive mothers can breastfeed. Allowing baby to suckle stimulates milk-producing hormones in the new mother and after a few weeks, mom can produce some milk, but in most cases not enough to completely sustain baby. This can be accomplished by use of a Supplemental Nursing System, and a whole lot of love and patience. The closeness and attachment between mother and child I'm sure would outweigh the inconvenience of using a supplemental nursing system.

We are not talking about what's easiest or most convenient for the here and now. We are talking about actions that provide overwhelmingly significant long-term benefits to baby and mother, the greatest of which being the incredible bond that's formed between the pair.

Here are a few quick bullet points on the physiological benefits of breastfeeding:

For baby:
  • Protects against many illnesses & aids in the development of immune system
  • Lowers risk of allergies, asthma & ear infections
  • Lowers risk of SIDS & life-threatening diarrheal infections
  • Lowers risk of diabetes & obesity in children
  • Enhances vaccine effectiveness
  • Babies who breastfeed may have higher IQ!
For mother:
  • Helps shrink uterus after birth
  • Helps protect against postpartum hemorrhage
  • Reduces risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  • Helps mother lose weight
  • May prolong return of menstruation and fertility
  • Since breastfeeding is free, encourages pocketbook stability!
A more comprehensive list of benefits can be found here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Let us begin

I should probably disclaim this post (and future posts) by saying that I am in no way claiming to be an expert on these topics; rather, this information is gleaned by what reading I have done, conversations I've had with other parents and my own experiences rearing my son.

Man, we had kind of a rough night last night. We have had the baby in bed with us since his birth. At first, we did it out of convenience for me, since he was up every hour or two for the first month or 6 weeks of his life and having him in bed with me allowed me to actually get some sleep through all the feedings and changings. He does sleep for longer stretches now, but, at almost 10 months old, is still in bed with us. I do love having him there. After having gone back to work when he was 6 weeks old, it seemed a simple and effective way of keeping my close bond with him firmly intact. But now that's he's a bit older and biologically (theoretically, anyway) capable of sleeping through the night on his own, I am yearning for a bit more personal sleeping space and a bit fewer nighttime interruptions, even though I literally sleep through most of our feedings.

At about 6 months old, I decided it was time for a bedtime routine. We chose 8 pm for bedtime, and at around 6 pm I would feed him a little solid food, maybe play or read a book for a while as time allowed, bathe him and then nurse him to sleep by 8 pm. At that time we had the crib on the other side of the room, but it hadn't been used much since he'd been napping mostly with me or on the couch (not exactly safe, I know!). He had gotten to an age where he was much more active and it just really wasn't working to have him napping and going to sleep at night with us doing whatever right there. He needed some quiet time for these things. He took right to the routine; it was great! All of a sudden his father and I had a couple of hours in the evenings to ourselves. The downside was that he wouldn't stay asleep for very long...sometimes (ok, almost all the time) within less than an hour he was awake and fussing. I would quickly go to his bedside and comfort him, offer him a binky or a little rocking, and back to sleep he would go for another hour or sometimes even two. When I was ready for bed, sometimes I would just go ahead and bring him with me, and other times I would wait until he woke up and then bring him in.

Somewhere down the line, I thought that if I brought the crib right next to my side of the bed, and removed the rail, he would surely sleep in his own space, all the while remaining close enough to me for comforting or easy night nursing. This is generally called a "side-car" arrangement with the crib. They even sell "co-sleepers" for this purpose, but I think those are best for a less-mobile child.

Yeah, the sidecar thing is just not really working. We left the rail up on the crib when we initially moved it next to our bed, since he is quite mobile now and we needed to know he wouldn't be crawling out of bed when he was put down at 8 pm. The major challenge with that is actually getting him laid down after nursing him to sleep. It's an acrobatic feat, to go from nursing with a 20 lb child on your lap, to standing on your knees so you can lean over the rail and ever-so-gently lay the child down in the crib. I'm usually able to accomplish this only once a night; after his first waking, he just ain't havin' it, and I end up having to lay him down in our bed, which just defeats the whole purpose of the sidecar and causes me to worry that's he's going to crawl off the bed and break his little neck. Doesn't exactly make for a stress-free evening.

So yesterday I requested that the 4th rail be removed. We have one small bed rail, a bunch of pillows and a monitor, so I figured that would probably be enough to alert us of his waking before he could get to the edge of the bed. I nursed him to sleep and laid him in his crib; he was out. 30 minutes later, he's awake again (grr)! It has become more and more frequent that he will have no part of going back down in that crib, and it was apparent last night that even without the rail, he's not happy about it. After a crying session of about 30 minutes, I finally got him to lay down in his crib and go back to sleep. I went to bed at about 10:30 pm. He woke up pretty much as soon as I laid down, so I nursed him back to sleep and moved him over into the crib again. Almost fell asleep by about 11:30 pm, then he woke up and crawled over to me, crying and wanting to nurse, again. So, we repeat the process, again. He was rather fitfully staying put at this point, so I'm having no luck getting to sleep. Almost fell asleep again at around 12:30 am, but the stupid freaking cat decided she wanted to go sleep in the crib (which, in her defense, was her bed for the first 6 months of my son's life), so I'm up kicking her off the bed, so as not to wake the baby. I remember being awakened at about 1:30 am, Derek crying and wanting to nurse again. At this point I give up on the crib thing, since I'm exhausted and sick of messing with it. I bring him next to me and we sleep. He was pretty pissed the rest of the night though, tossing and turning; pouting and crying in his sleep. I had to nurse him back to sleep about 4 or 5 times because he was so restless and upset. On a more normal night, he might nurse 2 or 3 times tops after he's in bed with me.

I think it was working better when the crib was across the room. Starting to feel like a failure! Today, I'm just tired, and I don't know what we are going to do tonight. Is it worth it to give it a few nights without the rail and see if maybe he's able to adjust? We'll see, I guess.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


So, I'm Burnice, aka Jenny.

I'm starting this blog so I can explore topics of interest to other parents who want to provide their children with an organic, wholesome upbringing. I would like to do an actual podcast or radio show, but having a 9 month old son and full-time job keeps me too busy, for now.

Since the birth of my son, I have been basically obsessed with all things pregnancy, birthing and babies. I belong to several yahoo groups, attend La Leche League meetings when I can, and just generally hang around other mommies and families who choose to live a more "radical" parenting life.

I'm sure there will come a day when I won't be as obsessed with such topics, and the Bullhorn will focus on more political and freedom-related matters, but this just where my life is right now.

In the coming weeks and months, I hope to cover controversial topics such as hospital birth v. midwife center birth v. home birth v. unassisted birth; Breastfeeding v. formula feeding (and the tons of sub-issues that come with each); Disposable diapering v. cloth diapering; whether or not to vaccinate your child.

Surely this blog will also be used for me to get stuff that pisses me off out into the world and not on my chest.