I Did It!

I Did It!

As of 2:30pm (Brisbane time) on the 29th of September, I am a stay at home mom. I advised my now-former employer of my decision not to return to my role as a student progression advisor, updated Centrelink of the change to our circumstances, and promptly experienced 15 or so minutes of subsequent doubt as to the wisdom of my choice. Questions of career progression, how we’ll ever afford to buy a second vehicle, and general money rubbish swarmed around my tired brain, halted only by my daughter’s blood-curdling “my teeth are trying to bust through” scream. I rubbed some homeopathic teething gel on her sore gums, kissed her fuzzy head, and the doubts that moments earlier seemed so, so important kind of just faded away.

Where else can I be but right here, in my little home, doing laundry at an alarming rate and singing to my diva of a blessing as she fights her nap? There are moments when I’d rather be at work, where I’m praised and productive, but that’s not where I’m called at this point in life.

Harli and I decided early in our marriage that, should we have children, I would stay home with them. I firmly believe that motherhood is a high calling, and that my child(ren) deserve to have me put as much of my energy into their early development as possible. That said, actually saying the words “I won’t be coming back” was near agony for me. I know how incredibly blessed I am to have the ability to be at home, and I don’t want to take a moment of that for granted.I guess what I’m trying to communicate is that it wasn’t really a choice for our family; I’m at home because it’s what we believe is best, and we will make any sacrifice necessary to ensure that it stays this way.

Because I have an anxiety issue, and don’t want to offend anyone, please know that I have the highest respect for parents who have to return to work for a myriad of reasons, and can truthfully say that there are some amazing child care providers out there who pour so much into the kids in their charge. I have fond memories of my day care friends, one of whom is sort of my benchmark for life (check out teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com – Paige is a peach!) so I obviously came out alright. Yea?

So, friends, I did it! Stay tuned for regular updates on our single income life, punctuated by informative posts related to immigration, media recommendations, and the gaggle of creations that pop out of my sewing machine each week. ๐Ÿ™‚

img_3595
Harper’s celebrating! See how happy she is…?
Australian Baby “Must Haves” (First 12 Weeks)

Australian Baby “Must Haves” (First 12 Weeks)

Yes, yes, long time, no post. I’ve been busy. Busy working 60 hours a week, busy with a semi-surprise pregnancy, busy making sure my cat adjusts to my daughter, and of course, busy being Mummy to my little bumblebee girl.

So, yes, moving on with business. From the moment I saw that faint second line on a cheap pregnancy test one Saturday afternoon, I began compiling a list of all the ‘stuff’ I’d need to acquire to accommodate the new addition to our family. Ok, I may have started making the list a few months before that day. What? Pinterest is a dangerous place.

While attempting to put together my master list, I quickly came up to the roadblock of not living in North America. In case you didn’t know, the majority of the internet is geared toward residents of the US or Canada. This shouldn’t matter, except for the fact that when you live in Australia, many (read: MOST) of the products aren’t available. Similarly, money-saving tips aren’t applicable due to the lack of coupons, and generally higher cost of living here. The number of times I’ve added “Australia” to search criteria, only to find that a book or toy that is $12 in the US retails for $57 here, is high enough to make me grumble like a curmudgeonly panda. From Youtube to Pinterest, finding Australia-specific baby gear, pregnancy products, and postpartum advice proved too difficult a task, hard as I tried.

In the hope of easing this tremendous burden, I’ve pulled together a list of the products I’ve loved the most during Harper’s first three months of life. Obviously, this might change as she gets older, and not everything will be available throughout the country. I’m located on the Gold Coast, and have easy access to several “baby” shops, along with the usual haunts, like Kmart, Target, Big W, and major supermarkets and department stores. Where possible, I’ve included links for your use, as I currently lack all semblance of photography skills. On with it!

  • ALDI NEWBORN NAPPIES! ($4.29 per pack of 28)
    • This is my #1. Seriously, they’re amazing. Trust me; my daughter wears cloth nappies part-time, so I’m pretty diligent about what goes on her bum.Not only are these nappies cheapest, they’re soft, super absorbent, have an easy to read wetness indicator, and fit perfectly. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t rave about the performance and quality of Aldi nappies. The package says that they’re meant to fit babies up to 5kg (11 lbs), but Harper successfully wore them until she was seven weeks old, and she weighted in at 6.02 kg at her checkup that week. We received some Huggies as a gift prior to her birth, and she was never able to wear them. We shoved one Huggies newborn nappy on her, watched the poo shoot out the side, and gave the rest of the package to my sister.
  • DYMPLES SCENTED NAPPY SACKS ($6 for 400 at Big W)
    • As Harper’s bum is clad in cloth nappies part-time, I didn’t want to invest in a nappy bin that required refills. Instead, I use an inexpensive lidded trash can, and nappy sacks. Big W has the cheapest prices, and given what they’re used for, I don’t see the point in paying more than I need to.
  • Waterwipes ($7.50 per pack of 60 wipes at Woolworths or Coles)
    • No soap, fragrance, or other chemicals are present in these wipes. Just water. I’m all for having the least impact possible on my baby’s skin, and shy of usingย  a washcloth dipped in lukewarm water, this is it. The first six weeks are especially important in this regard, but we’ll be using the Waterwipes indefinitely. (EDITED 30/09/2016: My post originally promoted the Curash Simply Water wipes, which are touted as being 99% water. I’ve since learned that part of the other 1% is Methylisothiazolinone, which is linked to a host of nerve and skin-related reactions, and is banned from being in baby wipes in the EU. We promptly swapped to Waterwipes.)
  • GAIA BATH PRODUCTS (cost varies, found cheapest at Chemist’s Warehouse)
    • Organic, sweet smelling, gentle, and effective. Ok, and a little expensive. But, do you know how much product a baby goes through? Not much. It will take my daughter ages to go through the big bottle of Hair and Body Wash. In fact, I’ll probably have to help her use it up before it expires. I believe in spending my money where it matters most, and this is one of those cases. Harper loves “getting some Gaia” each day, and I can feel content with what I’m putting on her sensitive skin. Plus, the Moisturiser smells like Fruit Loops. Win!
  • TARGET ESSENTIALS WHITE BIBS ($12 for a pack of 10 from Target)
    • Boring, but invaluable. My mom picked up a pack for us when she came to visit several weeks ago, and I’ve used them every day since. They’re sooo soft, wash well, and fasten on the side instead of behind the head. When your child is screaming, flipping them around to velcro a super cute bib is low on your list. When Harper’s tongue tie broke a few weeks ago, one of these bibs was sacrificed in the name of having something soft to shove in her mouth to avert the trauma that was taking place. Take my advice, and buy these bibs.
  • ADEN & ANAIS BAMBOO SWADDLES (cheapest online at http://www.babybabyonline.com.au)
    • There’s a reason these muslin blankets are mentioned in most “baby must have” lists. The internet can’t be wrong, folks! ๐Ÿ˜‰ These muslins get softer with each wash, serve approximately 1388 purposes (swaddling, tummy time support, light blanket, extra sun protection in the pram, etc.), and come in beautiful patterns and themes. We still swaddle Harper at night, and have tried just about every “swaddle” blanket, sack, or suit, only to find that the Aden & Anais muslins work best.
  • BONDS ZIPPY WONDERSUITS ($20-$25 each at Big W, Target, Best & Less, etc)
    • Ah, the Bonds Wondersuit. An Aussie favourite. Yes, they’re expensive. And, yes, they’re worth every cent. Miss Harper has outgrown all of her size 000 Zip Wondersuits, so I’ll be picking up at least one in size 00 in the next week or so. I’m so impressed by the quality of Bonds clothing, and loved the two way zipper, and fold over feet and hands for the moderately chilly days that Queensland calls “winter.” Plus, they come in adorable patterns, and who doesn’t love an adorably-clad baby?
  • BONDS LEGGINGS ($12-$15 per pack of two at Target)
    • Again, Bonds. I bought two packs of size 0-6 month leggings, and they’ve become staples of her daily wardrobe. They’re super soft and stretchy, and again, certainly worth the money. I’ve found that Bonds clothes are pretty generously sized, so I’m certain that the leggings will last another few months, despite Harper’s rapid growth pattern.
  • BOPPY (Approx. $100 new online at chicco.com.au, or less if buying used)
    • I didn’t actually buy my Boppy. A lovely friend gifted me with several boxes of clothes that her daughter had outgrown, as well as a Boppy and an extra cover. While it wasn’t on my list, I figured I’d at least use it as I figured out a nursing routine. More on that below, but in short: I’ve never used the Boppy as a feeding pillow. Instead, it lived on our couch, and served as a safe and comfy place to lay Harper in the first few weeks of her life as I was recovering from a c-section, and had to minimize strain. She used it for naps, and lounged in it most evenings. Now that she’s moving more, and loves to wriggle herself away from any constraint, however minor, the Boppy is seeing less action. Still, I couldn’t have done without it, and can foresee using it more as she begins sitting up.
  • LEKA BABY GYM ($45 from Ikea)
    • I can’t stand garish baby stuff, and gravitate toward natural materials, so this wooden gym was really the only one I looked at. I love that it encourages midline play, and doesn’t attract fur the way fabric toys do. Harper began using it almost immediately, and it has been so much fun to see her find new ways to play. This super sweet toy comes out most mornings while I’m sterilising bottles and loading the dishwasher, and can usually entertain Harper for 20-ish minutes. The dangling toys can be switched around or removed to encourage her to look from side to side at the spinning dials (her favourite part- she’s been spinning them like mad since she was about 10 days old), and its free standing structure means it can be used with any soft surface.
  • BRIGHT STARTS SAFARI FLOOR MIRROR ($15 from Kmart)
    • Harper is insanely strong, and has been a tummy time champ from the start, but was growing irritated by her current inability to actually crawl, making her a very grumpy girl at times. Enter this cheap and cheerful, baby safe mirror. My daughter has clearly inherited my vanity, because as soon as she caught a glimpse of “that pretty baby,” she became all too eager to resume her tummy time routine. I love that the mirror folds flat and doesn’t pose any danger to her, should she decide to head-butt it, and she loves looking at herself and whoever is playing with her.
  • BRIGHT STARTS BOUNCER ($17 from Kmart)
    • We have an Ingenuity automatic bouncer that has an adorable toy bar, and plays music and white noise. It barely gets used due to the fact that the bounce isn’t strong enough for Harper’s liking. The cheap manual bouncer, on the other hand, sees plenty of action. I lug it from room to room when I’m cleaning or taking a shower, and Little Miss has occasionally taken short naps in it. Truth be told, I’ve bounced her with my foot while baking cookies, folding laundry, and using the toilet. Seriously, buy the cheap bouncer- your baby likely won’t care about the snazzy features of more expensive options, and I kid you not when I say that our inexpensive bouncer works the same as the sleeker $199 Baby Bjorn version.
  • AVENT NATURALS BOTTLES ($11-$12 each at Baby Buntings or Target)
    • I planned on breastfeeding. Thanks to Harper’s severe tongue tie and high arch, and some minor complications related to my c-section, which necessitated medical treatment that left me unable to pump, that didn’t happen. I’m so glad that I bought these bottles prior to her birth, and recommend them to everyone. She’s never had a moment of reflux or colic, and the bottle design is recommended for mixed feeding, so I would have been comfortable using them had I been able to breastfeed and pump. We’ve also used Avent Classic bottles, which are a bit cheaper at $10ish each, but prefer the Naturals shape.
  • BELLAMY’S ORGANIC INFANT FORMULA ($25-$28 for 900g at Woolworths)
    • Accompanying the Avent Naturals bottles is our formula of choice. It’s comprised of 97% organic ingredients, and was a lifesaver when we were transitioning Harper from the formula provided by the hospital, which wrought havoc on her little tummy. Bellamy’s is the only organic formula that is readily available in supermarkets, and is roughly half the cost of other organic brands available online. To be honest, I’m not super thrilled with the ingredient list, particularly the inclusion of organic palm oil, but it’s the best option I’ve found. I toyed with the idea of homemade formula, but wasn’t able to source raw milk or cream, so Bellamy’s Organic it is.
  • BOON GRASS & ACCESSORIES ($40 for the mat, $8 for accessories at Baby Bunting or Target)
    • Oh my word, do I love Boon Grass. This drying mat is a cute addition to our counter top, and provides some much-needed organization when prepping bottles each day. We have two separate mats for the bottles- a small one purchased when I planned on bottle feeding on an occasional basis, and a larger one added later- along with two Twigs, a Stem, and a Fly for hanging the bits and pieces to dry. Bonus: it’s fantastic for drying glassware, as all liquid drains into a reservoir under the mat.
  • BOBA SLEEPY WRAP ($75 at http://www.babycarriersaustralia.net.au)
    • This was a hand-me-down from my sister in-law, and it’s been invaluable. My c-section incision was very tender for the first two months or so, and this soft stretchy wrap allowed me to wear Harper without discomfort. I’ve tried a few other wrap carriers, and the Boba is far and away my favourite. I still use it on a daily basis, especially when she’s fussy or I need to get off the couch and move a bit. I love having her nestled close to me, and she’s been known to nap in the Boba for three hours at a time when she’s feeling particularly sooky. The one downside of the wrap is the heavy fabric, which sometimes leads to a very sweaty baby, and will make using it in summer less than appealing. I’m hoping to find a cooler alternative for the warmer months, but for now, the Sleepy Wrap is still king.
  • ERGOBABY CARRIER ($169ish at David Jones or Baby Bunting)
    • Harli uses the Ergo whenever we go out with Harper. He prefers the structure it provides over the stretchy carrier, and we both appreciate how simple it is to use. It’s so sweet to see the bond that he and Harper have thanks to baby-wearing; she cuddles into him, and he talks to her about all the noises and sights around her. Again, she likes to sleep in the carrier. Without the Ergo, errands would be a much more difficult task. It’s really handy to not have to worry about loading and unloading the pram, or making room for it in shops. There are several versions of the Ergo, and I’ve yet to hear a bad report on any of them. We have the X-tra model because we’re both tall, big, people, and prefer the longer shoulder and waist straps.

Not listed, but required just the same when your baby begins their invasion: a freezer full of meals that you’ve pulled together ahead of time (things like burritos, casseroles, pasta bakes, and shredded chicken for salads and tacos are all super helpful when you’re too tired to make dinner), a simple meal plan when you do feel like cooking, at least two pairs of comfy leggings, and a good book to read while your bub is eating.

In a few days, I’ll post my pregnancy and postpartum recovery favourites. Stay tuned ๐Ÿ˜‰