Monday, October 20, 2014
Babies R Us is one of the best places to register because they offer lots of incentives to new parents.
The first thing you need to do is create a Babies R Us registry. You can do this in a store or online, but if you register in the store you get a free bag of samples. If you do register online, stop by your local store and let them know that you started your registry online and see if they will give you the free gift after the fact. My local store was happy to give the the free gift. It was full of sample and coupons.
When I opened my registry in January 2014 there was a registry incentive that gave me 10% of the value purchased from my registry, after my baby was born, maxing out at $200. They great thing is that you can put anything on your registry and it doesnt matter if you buy the item or if the item is purchased as a gift. I was able to earn $173 in store credit! I received my credit via email about 2 months after my baby was born. Babies R Us has made this incentive program even better since I originally signed up. Now they have a program called "Endless Earnings." You can earn 10% back on your registry, but there is no longer a limit!
There is another program offered by Babies R Us called Rewards R Us. This is a free rewards program and once registered, you earn 1 point for every $1 spend in Babies R Us or Toys R Us. After earning 125 points, you get a $5 off coupon. You can also link your rewards number to your registry so that you can earn points from items purchased off your registry by people who would not nomally have access to your rewards number. By being a rewards member you will also get special coupons in the mail and email.
A month or so before your due date you will receive a registry completion coupon in the mail. This coupon can be used 1 time and gives you a discount off anything on your registry. This coupon is normally for 10% off, but I have heard of some people receiving up to 20% off.
On the day you close out your registry make sure to sign up for a Babies R Us credit card. On the day you sign up for the card you get a 15% off coupon. This coupon is only good for one day. You do have to put something on the card, but you can pay it off right then if you want.
What makes Babies R Us so amazing is that you can stack your coupons! The day I closed out my registry I had my 10% registry coupon, my 15% off credit card application coupon, $60 in rewards point coupons, a 20% off furniture coupon (one of my special rewards program discounts), a 20% off one item coupon (from my special rewards member mailing), several merchandise coupons (ie. lanolish, pampers, little tummies, playtex, etc). They also price matched my breast pump. For an extra bang for our buck, we scheduled our trip around the Babies R Us sales paper....by doing so we went when our stroller was marked down $50 off.
Now some of my coupons said not to combine or online only, but I went to the registry desk and they staff was more than happy to override any issue and give me the best deal possible.
Also, the website says items have to be on your registry for a certain period of time before you can use the registry completion on them, but this is not true! When you go to close out your registry ask the registry desk for a scanner and add things as you go. Anything on your registry when you reach the registry will get the discount!
When when finalized our purchase, we saved almost 50% off our purchases! I also got additional rewards points to be able to use on a future purchase!
*Note this is not a sponsored post. This is truly based on my experience. I had a great experience at my local store, but I cannot promise that all Babies R Us stores are this helpful.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
My pregnancy was pretty mild, but there are a few things that either I read and didnt really grasp the fully or no one told me. Everyone mentions the heartburn (which I only had a couple of days) and the cravings, and the waddling, but no one warned me I would swell up like a balloon, be unable to go to the bathroom for week(s) at a time, or be so exhausted that getting through the day was a chore. Everyone said that I would feel pregnant forever and it actually seemed to go by really fast with the exception of the last month. No one warned me that I would miss being pregnant when it was actually over though.
The Hospital, Labor, and Delivery
I over packed for the hospital, but I dont regret packing anything. The items I packed and didnt use were: make-up (powder, eye shadow, and blush), extra clothes, and books. I think if my labor hadnt been so intense I might have used these things. I could not get out of bed on my own (without excruciating pain) until the day I left, which was 4 days post-postpartum. Because of this I never changed clothes or put on makeup. I also spent most of my time napping when I wasnt nursing, since I was taking pain medication that made me drowsy. If I hadnt been so sleepy, I would have read the books I brought with me.
I regret that I didnt brush my hair after delivery for the few pictures our family took of us. I feel like I would like the pictures so much better if someone would have brushed my hair (I did labor for 20 hours!). I also wish we would have taken more photos. I feel like I was in shock most of my labor and so I was distant from much of the experience with the exception of the pain. I wish we had learned more about how our hospital handled labor, because we were surprised (and a bit dismayed) that my husband had to do so much of the work.
I had read mixed comments about the mesh panties and pads that the hospital would give me for postpartum bleeding. They were fine at the hospital because I stayed in bed the whole time. However, once I was home I started using Depends and I would 100% recommend them over the hospital pads or regular pads. Had I been more mobile in the hospital, I would have preferred using the Depends there too.
The First Month as a Mom and Life with a Newborn
Sleep, Nurse, Sleep, Nurse, Sleep, Nurse.
During the first two weeks I wanted to be alone with my husband and baby. While most people complied with my wishes, there were some who didnt. Being alone during the first week was ideal. I felt horrible and we didnt have a routine. I was still in a lot of pain and taking pain medication for the first week or so we were home. Also during the couple of weeks it really hurt to sit, walk, and use the bathroom. In fact, going to the bathroom normally involved screaming from pain. In hindsight, I came home from the hospital with a bladder infection that was probably the cause of a portion of the pain, but I know a lot of it was a result of my 2nd degree tear. In fact, I am now 6 weeks postpartum and going to the bathroom is still uncomfortable, although rarely painful now. Why did no one warn me that post birth pain would last so long?
Breastfeeding really hurt for the first 2 or 3 weeks, but after that the pain was mostly gone. The gel soothe pads were a must have for the first few weeks! I tried Lanolish, Medela, and Motherlove nipple creams. Beware, nipple creams do NOT help with the pain (which I was mislead on). They do help with keeping them from being dry and cracked. Lanolish was my least favorite and Motherlove was my favorite, although I wish it came in a squeeze tube instead of a pot. FYI: nipple cream stains! No one warned me about this and my nursing tanks are ruined! I am so glad I bought my nursing bras and tanks early! They have been a lifesaver and I cant imagine nursing without them.
Sleep when you can! Some days I feel like I sleep all day, but its in 1 hour incriments (at best). You never feel rested an nursing takes a lot of energy! Dont feel bad! If your baby is taken care of and happy, sleep when she sleeps! Dont worry about chores! If I manage a load of dishes or laundry a day, then I feel accomplished!
1st Month Favorites
Diapers: Pampers Swaddlers for Newborn and Huggies Snugglers for Size 1 (I like the Pampers diapers, but right now Pampers size 1 are too big in the legs). I tried Honest Company diapers and I liked the way they fit and they are super cute, but the lack of wetness indicator is a huge detractor.
Wipes: Water Wipes, Lanolish Wipes, and Burts Bees Wipes. (We tried Huggies Pure and Natural and hate them. My husband says the are too dry and while I dont think thats the case, I think they stink terribly!)
Pacifiers: Mam and Soothie (Mam pacifiers were the only ones I found that came in a Newborn size, in addition to the 0-3 month size that is the standard starter size in most pacifier brands. Soothies really didnt start working for us until 4 or 5 weeks). We also love the Paciplushies! I prefer them to the Wubbanub because I can change out the pacifier and wash them easier.
Bassinet: I didnt think we would really use one, but it has come in handy, especially since it has wheels and can be moved around the house.
Mittens: Luvable Friends (these are the only ones we found that had a tight enough wrist band to stay on infant hands)
Sleepers: Faded Glory, Children's Place, and Kissy Kissy ( Faded Glory and Children's Place brands zip instead of button and I prefer the zippers because they seem to fit slimmer and they are quicker to get on and off)
Gowns: I hated the Carters gowns, but all other gowns I found worked well for us. The Carters brand gowns were to narrow (and we have a skinny baby). Gowns that button up the front are hands down better than the ones that pull over the head!
Swaddlers: Woombies are hands down my favorites. I love the Aden and Anis swaddle blankets, because they are soft and versatile, but I Genevieve seems to wiggle out of a blanket swaddle at night. I have tried a few velcro swaddles and havent found one I like yet.
Blankets: Carters and Aden + Anis
Soothing Toy: Fisher Price Snugapuppy Bouncer
Lotion: Shea Moisture Baby Unsented and Honest Company
Diaper Bag: Jujube BFF (although I am finding that I over pack and I think I would like to try the Jujube Be Prepared). I also love the Jujube accessories: Be Quick and Pacipod. I love the Initials Inc Stash and Dash as an overnight/travel bag/diaper bag/car bag.
Nursing Bras/Tanks: Bravado Simple Embrace Nursing Bra, Anita 5051 Nursing Bra, and Cantaloop Nursing Tank (This tank is long like a tunic. I wish it was shorter, but it is the only nursing tank that goes up to a J cup), and Simple Wishes Hands-free Pumping Bra (I have a very large cup size and these are the only ones I found that worked for me)
Car Seat Cover: I wasnt originally going to buy one of these, but the first time I tried to go to the grocery store it rained and my decision changed fast! There are lots of cheap versions of these, but the cheap ones dont fasten. I love the one I ordered from SooShabbyChic on Etsy.
Apps and Websites: ThisLife (for photos) and Baby Connect for tracking feedings, diapers, and meds.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014
|In labor and just arriving at the hospital|
Overall our birth experience was not what I expected, although I will admit, that I didnt really know what to expect. We came prepared with a birth plan, but even though we attended all the birth related classes the hospital offered, we werent really prepared. I think that my birth experience was colored by the shock of going into labor, since we didnt expect to go into labor on her due date. Although we had many unexpected experiences, we were so glad that we were able to finally meet our little girl. Our hearts are so full of love and joy at her arrival.
|One day old|
Friday, August 1, 2014
We had our first doctor's appointment on December 18th (7 weeks 1 day) and our first ultrasound was scheduled for January 9th (10 weeks 2 days). Michael wanted to tell everyone right away, but being a Librarian and reading too much for my own good, I was scared to tell. I managed to convince him to wait until Christmas to share our news. It drove him crazy, but he agreed to wait.
|8 Weeks (Belly is 40")|
My first obvious symptom was hormonal anger which started at 5 weeks, but didnt last long. I quickly went out and bought the books What to Expect When You're Expecting, My Pregnancy Week to Week, Baby Bargains, and Baby 411. I started feeling nausea and bought a pregnancy journal, What to Expect Pregnancy Journal and Organizer, at 6 weeks. We told my mother-in-law our news on December 24th with a picture fram and she was thrilled with the news. I told my mother and Meme on Christmas day, also with picture frames. We werent able to follow through with our normal Christmas tradition of going to see my dad's parents and family since we were in the process of organizing funerals for both of my sister-in-laws, but my dad and step-mother came by before they left to see my grandparents. They were both thrilled. My step-mom's jaw dropped and my dad cried. It was wonderful. We sent announcement picture frame gifts with them to pass on to my grandparents, since we couldnt be there when they celebrated Christmas.
I experienced the most extreme of my nausea between 7 and 9 weeks, but I didnt actually get sick. The nausea was only better when I was eating and I let myself get hungry the nausea came back in full force. The only smells that really bothered me were chicken and our dog's pill pockets. I didnt have any serious cravings, but melon was definately on the top of my "want" list.
I bought the first of my maternity clothes in January because my skin was super sensitive and I couldnt stand anything to be snug and the button trick to make your pants fit better never worked for me. In fact, I hated the belly band too.
At our first ultrasound at 10 weeks, we didnt get to hear the heartbeat, but we were told it was beating at 162 bpm and much to my husband's disappointment the scan showed one baby, not two (he was hoping for twins).
Not long after our first ultrasound we received the first bill from our OB. I was really surprised, but they want us to pay the full balance before the baby arrives! I guess on the plus side, its one less thing we have to worry about after the fact.
On January 24th I made a huge decision. I took off my wedding bands because I was already swelling and I was afraid they would get stuck. I feel so naked without my rings on and I am always rubbing my hand expecting to find them.
By week 13 (the end of the first trimester) I had gained 4lbs and my belly had grown 2 inches. I was craving lemonade and melon and my biggest symptom was constipation. We also decided on our nursery theme: Nautical / Ocean.
|Swollen Hands at 12 weeks|
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Gluten free products are hit and miss for tasre and texture and living in a small town makes finding good gluten free products even harder.
Hodgson Mills Muffins: I tried the apple cinnamon version. They have a good texture and are pretty goid, but denser than non-gf brands. I did add extra cinnamon to my muffins.
Glutino White Bread: good, but better toasted. In fact, toasted I couldnt tell it was any different from non-gf bread.
Schar White Bread, Hamburger buns, and Hot Dogs: Really good bread. Hot dog and hamburger buns are some of the best gluten free options I have found.
Zena's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookies: I did not like these at all. The texture is good, but they have an odd aftertaste.
Enjoylife Sunbutter Chewy Crunch bars: terrible texture and flavor. I couldnt even choke down a second bite.
King Arthur Muffin Mix: I added blueberries. I think these would have been great, but I used too many berries and I think it threw the texture off. I bought anotger box and I expect my 2nd attempt will have better results.
Glutino Table Crackers: amazing substitute for saltines! Love these crackers!
Friday, July 11, 2014
Furniture: Crib, Chest, and Double Dresser from the Baby Cache Montana collection in Driftwood Purchased at Babies R Us, Baskets inside double dresser purchased from Dollar Tree, Aqua decorative drawers with starfish purchased at Home Goods, Diaper Caddy in Coral and Grey (size XL)purchased on Etsy from Yoon1206greene.
The Graves Family Birth Plan
Mother-to-be: Ashley Kendall Graves
Partner: William Michael Graves
Due Date: August 5, 2014
Practitioner: Jenny Gregory
Baby's Name: Genevieve Estelle Graves
Hello, Michael and I have been together for 5 years and we are excited and nervous to be welcoming our first child, Genevieve Estelle, into the world. We live with 3 dogs who have been our babies up until this point, so we hope they adjust well.
I am a Librarian and Michael is an Engineer, so by nature we both like information. We would prefer to be given all the information possible about every step in the labor and birth process. We consider ourselves fairly well informed, as we have attended the hospital classes and read several books, but please assume we want to know more!
I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis for which I take .150 mcg of Synthroid and I eat a gluten free diet.
For the most part we want the standard treatment provided by the hospital, but we do want to be included in the decision making processes. There are a few things that we do have options on, and while we know that the health and safety of our daughter may cause changes in our plan, we would appreciate consideration of our preferences.
1.) My husband and I want to be the only non-medical persons present at the birth, visitors are welcome during labor and after delivery.
2.) We want at least an hour to bond with our daughter after delivery, and after that we are willing to have guests again.
3.) Please preform all medical interventions (shots, tests, etc) as soon as possible to ease our minds and prevent interruptions in our bonding.
4.) My husband wishes to cut the cord, but other than that, neither one of us wishes to watch the delivery happen (ie. no mirrors).
5.) Please wipe off our daughter before handing her to us, after the delivery.
6.) We plan to breastfeed, so please do not give our daughter formula or other supplements without asking us first.
7.) We are non-smokers and do not wish our baby to be exposed to the by-products of smoking. We ask that any smoker wash their hands after each cigarette and that they brush their teeth as well. We have purchased several toothbrushes and toothbrush cases to provide to all those who may need them (we know this is an odd request).
8.) We have brought our own toiletry products for our daughter and we wish them to be used over the products provided by the hospital (lotion, wash, and wipes).
9.) We plan to donate the baby's cord blood through the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas and we have the collection kit with us.
First Stage (Labor): * Clear fluids. * Ice chips. * Please offer me pain medication, as soon as possible. * Regular Epidural
Second Stage (Birth): * I would prefer to tear than have an episiotomy, but please use compresses, massage and positioning. * Cord Blood Donation * No mirror
Baby Care: * Prefer partner to cut the cord. * Immediate medical treatments * Breast feeding only * No formula or glucose water
Other Baby Care Requests: * Use the toiletry products we brought with us * Brush teeth and wash hands after tobacco use
Medical Needs: Ashley has Hashimoto's and takes .150 mcg of Synthroid and eats a gluten free diet.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
It wasnt that I didnt want children, I just never thought I would be in a place in my life where children would fit or that I would be in a relationship stable enough to support children. I never thought I would want to be married before I met my husband, but after meeting him I quickly knew that I wanted to marry him. That I wanted to spend my life with him. Learning that I wanted children so dearly, was just another part of this journey in self discovery.....
My husband and I got married on October 6, 2012 after having been together since 2009. We did everything backwards to the traditional relationship milestones: 1.) date, 2.) buy a house, 3.) raise a child (we got custody of our 16 year old nephew), 4.) get engaged, 5.) get married. We loved our life in rural Arkansas with our 3 dogs (2 are ours and 1 we are fostering for my brother in law).
When we got married I was 29 and my husband was 30. We knew that we wanted a family and we knew that we weren't getting any younger. Most of our friends and relatives our age have had kids for many years now. I told Michael that if we had more than one child that I wanted them to be about 3 years apart.
Knowing that I didnt want to be giving birth and raising an infant after age 40 (in an ideal situation) and that in a perfect world, we didnt know how long it would take us to conceive a child, we started trying to get pregnant right away. I quit taking my birth control pills a few days into our honeymoon.
I am a librarian, and what do librarian's do? We research. So that is what I did. I found and read message boards, I learned about ovulation cycles and basal body temperature. I read What to Expect Before You are Expecting and several other books and articles.
On our 1 year anniversary we still hadnt managed to get pregnant. I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, so I had my Endocrinologist run extra labs to see if there was anything thyroid related preventing us from getting pregnant. He found nothing he felt was causing our infertility.
I have always been curvy and big chested and have heard my whole life about my "child bearing hips" and I couldnt get pregnant. Yes, I know there are people who struggle for years with infertility. I know several and I know my struggle was no where near the trial that they had been facing, but I still felt inadequate.
We made an appointment with a fertility specialist in October that was scheduled for December, but after learning that my insurance would only cover the most basic testing once per lifetime made us reconsider our options. We choice to cancel the appointment and keep trying on our own until my annual exam at the end of January. We decided that if we still hadnt conceived by then we would ask the doctor for her recommendations.
As it so happens we got a positive pregnancy test on December 1st (15 cycles of ttc)! I was so nervous and excited. I took two tests to be sure. Michael wasnt home when I found out, but months earlier I had bought a super cute t-shirt that said "Daddy est. 2014." I put this t-shirt out on the bed along with my two positive tests and when he got home I told him to come into the bedroom because I had a present for him.
He was so shocked and so excited. He hugged me and asked "are you sure?" He wanted to shout the news from the roof tops, but I asked that he wait. I wanted to tell our families at Christmas and I wanted to wait til the end of the first trimester to tell work (I live in a small town, so once one person knows the whole world knows).
We met with a nurse at my OB/GYN clinic on December 18th which was basically just blood work and we meet with the doctor on January 9th.
This blog entry will post to the public on January 22nd, and their might be a few follow up posts that go hand in hand with this one that will post around that time too. After that point, all blog entries about my pregnancy will be posted the same day I write them. I am so excited for this journey!