May 2008

After careful consideration of all the baby products we have used, we’ve compiled the following list of our Top 10 product recommendations.  These are our absolute, must have, you’ll die without it things you’ll need for your own Bean or Dervish during their first year of life.

We’ve used all of these products and love ’em – but would appreciate any other recommendations and/or feedback that you have, too!  Drumroll, please….. 

TOP 10 PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS (in no particular order)

  • Swaddling blankets – Duff is a big fan of the extra large Amy Coe swaddling blankets, while Fitz swears by the SwaddleMe by Kiddopotamus velcro versions.  Either way, your baby will love being snuggled tight in these warm and cozy blankets.
  •  Transitions Womb Sounds CD – While any kind of white noise will help to settle a fussy baby, Duff swears that this CD helped her and the Dervish navigate through many a colicky night.
  • Medela Advanced Pump In Style – This pump is fantastic for any mother who is looking for a way to express milk without actually nursing.  It’s efficient, powerful, easy to use, and comes in a (kind of) stylish carrying bag.  It’s pricier than some other electric pumps on the market, but worth every penny.
  • Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers Diapers – The Pampers brand has been tried and true for decades, and we’ll give them our diaper loyalty any day of the week.   With cute Sesame Street characters and amazing absorbency, how can you go wrong?
  • Graco SnugRider Infant Car Seat Frame – This stroller is extraordinarily convenient for doing errands and popping about town with your baby in a bucket seat.  It’s not the best for long walks or rough terrain, but nothing beats it when you’re trying to navigate through a crowded store.
  • Playtex Drop-Ins – We’ve tried more expensive and more complicated bottles, but not many have come close to the convenience and sanitation of the Playtex Drop-In.  They come in a variety of sizes with expandable liners, which means they last longer than some traditional bottles.  In addition, they are completely BPA-free without being $10 each.
  • Papasan Chair – This type of chair is critical to have on hand!  You’ll use it for naps, for baby’s down time, and in a pinch, as a subsitute highchair.  The Dervish loved her Fisher-Price brand chair, while the Bean swears by the Boppy brand.  No matter which brand you prefer, definitely have one of these chairs in the house!
  • Carter’s Sleepwear – Cute, comfy, and warm sleepers and pajamas for babies and kids of all ages.  Carter’s washes very well, is generously sized, and quite reasonable at $5-$10 per pair. 
  • A&D/Aquaphor – A must have for diaper rash, drool rash, minor cuts and scrapes, or as a way to help clear nasal passages during cold season.  Bonus: it’s also great for curing Mom and Dad’s calloused feet!


Posted by Fitz

In my eyes, the most difficult thing about motherhood (to date – let’s not kid ourselves!) is that it has completely and utterly challenged my sense of self.  I always considered myself pretty with it before having The Bean…I traveled the world to work with high-powered executives of multinational organizations, had a big group of friends that was always ready for fun, and could throw a dinner party or an outfit together with minimal stress.  I still have the friends, but on some days I wonder if everything else has gone by the wayside.

It’s tough to redefine yourself as a mom, no matter how much you wanted to be a mom in the first place.  Your life is different, no matter what you were doing before, and people (especially you!) start to have all of these expectations about your parenting philosophy and behavior.  What happened to the woman who was known for being able to get all 5’s on a client satisfaction survey?  Where’s the woman who could sell a million bucks of business in the course of a year? 

A few months ago, in an attempt to feel like I was accomplishing more in a day than singing This Old Man a thousand times and attacking the necks of onesies with my trusty Dreft spray, I started to place unfair expectations on myself.  Baby food?  Well, it was all homemade and organic.  House?  Clean as a whistle!  Body?  Working out like a demon and only eating lean protein and veggies!  Husband?  Happy as a clam!

You can probably guess where these expectations led me….I was burned out within a month and went back to my normal ways of doing what I can, when I can, and hoping everyone is happy.  After a long talk with the people who are most important to me (The Bean and the husband), I realized that I was the only one who thought my maniacal expectations were helping our family.  All they could see was a stressed out, hungry mom who was acting a little bit crazier than normal.

I’m telling you all of this not to say that living up to those expectations can’t be done – I know plenty a mom who can make it all happen and whip up a chocolate cake from scratch afterwards – but that they don’t have to be if they aren’t working for YOU.  Looking back, I was trying to recreate my work environment, where I was praised according to how much I could accomplish and how easy I made it look.  And then I had the epiphany…I don’t work for that place anymore!  My new job isn’t going to evaluate me on how much I do, it’s going to evaluate me on how happy my family is.  And they won’t be happy unless I’m happy.

So, ladies, to make a long story short….ease up on yourself.  You’ll figure out who your new self is in time, and you’ll eventually appreciate the journey that gets you there.  Take a deep breath, look at your own Bean, and give yourself a break.  You’ll figure it out.

Posted by Duff

The Dervish and I failed to reach an understanding for the first four months of her life. Possibly the only thing we had in common was that we were both frustrated with the status quo.

I felt guilty that, despite my best intentions, this early time wasn’t all duckies and bunnies and I wasn’t The Mom I’d Envisioned. It made no sense, since when she was born, she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and we spent that first night just staring at each other, content.

24 hours later, colic started.

Experts say that colic starts around three weeks, but having earned a PhD in the Dervish’s colic, I say day two. Man alive, did that begin the Summer (and Fall) of her discontent. Nearly every time we were alone together, and for the duration of that time, the Dervish was auditioning for slasher films, and I was her understudy. As I watched my husband drive away to work, I felt the closest thing to dread I’d ever experienced. With clumsy, sweaty hands, I would call my mother, and before any pleasantries were exchanged, Nana Bear would hear screams (a la Dervish) followed by sobs (mine).

This is when I switched to waterproof mascara. I didn’t want anyone else to know that we were floundering.

As I Bjorned concentric circles around a house that proved to have the wrong floor plan (each time I slowed for stairs the Dervish would kick me in the pelvis and make a sound oddly close to ‘MUSH‘!), I wondered if we had done her a disservice — having brought her into a world that so obviously made her miserable.

Nana Bear laughed. She said my daughter was quite like her mother at the same age, and she promised that when the Dervish found her own words and a way to move herself from A to B, that would be obvious.

Colic evolved to reveal that the Dervish has a rather expressive (albeit persistent) temperament, and one sweet day, she beamed at me in such a way that I felt a glimmer of hope. Suddenly, I wanted to understand her. I wanted her to know that she could count on me to try.

Bottom line, the Dervish did not wish to be an infant, and it frustrated her to no end. She hated being confined to any sedentary baby gear or being unable to X, Y, Z, and she most certainly would not be placated with toys. She wanted a bird’s eye view and constant changes of scenery. She wanted to touch what I was holding and taste what I was eating.

Honestly, I’m not sure I see that much of myself in her — she is far too Dervish to be too much anyone else. But I finally understood that as hard as it was for me to adjust to my role as a new Mom, she faced the Herculean task of becoming a new person. When I try to imagine the world through her eyes, I’m not surprised she came out swinging.

In fact, I’m grateful she did.

Posted by Duff

How do you know you’re ready to have a child?”

My mother, who I would describe as practical, frugal, responsible, said, “You just know. And don’t wait until you have enough money saved, because you’ll never have enough.”

Surprisingly Zen advice, and easy for her to say, since her kids are in their thirties, balanced-diet-eating adults who say ‘thank you’ and have never been incarcerated. She can say whatever she wants with been there/done that credibility.

So I waited to just know. I used to believe in signs, to the foolish point of seeing them where none existed. So nowadays, signs have to club me over the head.

There are those who were born knowing they wanted to become parents and those who are shocked to find out that they will be parents at all. But if you’re the third kind, like me, there’s a journey to reach that state, quietly punctuated with sign posts. A small child might make eye contact with you, unblinking, and smile. Suddenly, pictures of your colleague’s new baby are of interest, and you’re not just being polite. But if you’ve listened to a new parent talk about sleep deprivation or tub poopies and you still aren’t doubling up on birth control, it’s probably time.

My sister-in-law told me: “I asked myself, what’s preventing me from having a child? So, I like to take naps after work. I’m not going to have a child because I’d miss an occasional nap?”

She and my mother were onto something, by the way. There would never be enough money in the bank, assuming a college education will cost more than my home is worth in 2023. I don’t sleep in anymore, but as far as my daughter is concerned, I’m on par with Lenny Kravitz. I can tell you no amount of sleep (unless it’s during the newborn stage) feels as good as being the Dervish’s rock star.

Sure, I miss certain things about my life pre-child. Most of them have to do with sitting still or doing things slowly. But none of them is nearly as rewarding as watching the Dervish discover a bug or succeed at getting an entire forkful of rice into her mouth without dropping a single grain. There is no substitute for watching miracles happen.

So, along with my mother’s eyes, I plan to pass along her advice to my daughter (hopefully once she’s 30, has done a few things she can always look back on and say “those were some great times, just for me” and has found a partner who loves her as much as her parents do). She will know when it’s time.

So, how do you know you’re ready for #2?

When your 22-month old pulls Babies and Other Hazards of Sex by Dave Barry off the shelf, holds it open to the chapter entitled “Are You Ready for Another?”, calls “Mommy!” and points to the burning question. On Mother’s Day.

Did I say signs had to club me over the head? That one left a mark.