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Lately, I've been stressed out for a number of reasons. Wes and I have been trying to manage care for Zoë on our own without having to look to daycare. In order for us to do so, I've been working mornings to early afternoon, and Wes has been working from late afternoon to night. That already is kind of a bummer, because it means we don't get to spend too much time as a family. However, it's worse because his employer hasn't been very understanding of our situation (the need for both of us to be employed) and they've been scheduling him to where it conflicts with my schedule. Fortunately, my job has been understanding enough and my dad has also been available to help out with Zoë when he's off.

Not being able to work full-time, though, has created another stressor: funds. I work for a smaller company and they failed to inform me that I'd need to compensate for my insurance that they paid for while I was on leave. I mean, it makes perfect sense, but being a new mother, I didn't really think about that and them waiting over four months to tell me this means I didn't have the chance to pay them while I was out and more than capable. Now, I owe my company almost $2000 which is being pulled from my bi-weekly paycheck on top of the current fees to keep my insurance. Because of all of this, I'm making half as much as I normally would and that's a lot less!

I've been in a desperate search for new employment either working a graveyard shift or finding a job I can do from home. The problem with that, though, is there aren't many jobs out there that offer a graveyard shift and there are so many scams for work from home jobs. I know a girl who started freelance writing a while back and asked her about how I could get into that. She sent me a link, but before I signed up, I wanted to see if I could find out more information about the company. In doing my research, I came upon a website called Work at Home Adventures. It's a very cool blog that offers reviews, news and leads for jobs where you can work from home.

I've applied to a few jobs that I discovered from this website, and I'm hoping to get a response soon. Though I enjoy writing, the freelance writing positions are all technical and revolving around things that I don't know about and/or don't care to know about, so I opted out of it. 

I'm hoping that something works out soon. I'm eager to get back to taking care of Zoë. She's growing up so fast and I don't want to miss anything. 
 
 
It was Zoë's first Halloween this year. We decided that we didn't want to take her out since the weather is getting cold and she's still a bitty one, but that doesn't mean we didn't dress her up! 

We were trying to win a baby carrier in a Halloween costume contest so we figured we'd incorporate our current baby carrier in the outfit! We found this cupcake costume at Babies R Us, slid it over our Beco Gemini baby carrier, made a couple of baker's hats for Wes and me, plopped her in and we were set to go! 

I'm looking forward to the years of her trick-or-treating though and next year, I'm hoping to be a little more inventive and less rushed to get her costume together. What did your family dress up as?
 
 
Even though she's so small, it's hard not to buy toys for Zoë. My mom always picks out the best toys, it's unbelievable. Recently, she ordered a new doll, Corolle's Elf Grenadine's Heart, from Amazon. I asked why since Zoë wouldn't really be able to do anything with it. Mom, I stand corrected.

As soon as we took it out of the box, Zoë reached out for it. That was the first time she ever really reached for anything. In the past she'd kind of gesture, but she didn't have full control to directly grab for whatever she wanted. 

What I didn't know about this doll, was that it was specifically designed for babies from birth! Only 9.5 inches tall, this little doll has tons of parts for tiny hands to grab and the soft, plush body is perfect for cuddling...or as Zoë prefers sticking it in her mouth. It has a soft rattle in the head to help her with sound recognition and the face is vanilla-scented.

My absolute favorite thing about this sweet, little doll is that it's machine washable so we can take it out with us and not have to worry about it getting dirty...especially since I do a load of laundry for her on a daily basis. 

Corolle offers a few other options for dolls: Miss First DollsLilis First Dolls and Babipouce First Dolls. Which one is your favorite?
 
 
We've bought Zoë quite a few developmental toys for her to stimulate her vision, dexterity and hearing, but my absolute favorite (and Zoë's, too) is the NogginStik, who we've since dubbed Mr. NogginStik. We came across it on a trip to a local toy store.  It's funny, because I almost put it back after realizing it was about 20 bucks, but I'm really glad I didn't. It was well worth the price. 

The NogginStik encourages stimulation for babies from birth. The head lights up to see, promoting the ability for your baby to follow with her eyes. The handle is the perfect size for tiny hands and is textured to allow her to feel. There is also a rattle at the base helping your baby to locate sound. 

As I said, earlier, it's Zoë's favorite toy. If she's crying, we bring out Mr. NogginStik and light up his head and she is instantly quiet and captivated. It's greatly improved her sight and ability to track objects with her eyes and is really the only toy that she can hold for a long period of time without dropping. I really recommend this toy!
 
 
PictureVideo calling Zoë.
I started back at work this last week. Boy was that tough. When I was growing up, I always thought there was no way I could be a stay-at-home mom. I always figured I'd just go crazy being at home all day. But now that Zoë is here, I realize how crazy I was to think that. Even though I leave for work while Zoë is still fast asleep and get home in the early afternoon, I still can't help but wish I were at home with her every second of the day. Not to mention, the chores have gotten much more difficult to keep up with as well (when you factor in the fact that I need sleep to function). 

I've been desperately searching for a job with a graveyard shift so that I can be at home with Zoë during the day and still continue to work. Of course, the job market isn't too great out there, so it's been a bit of a challenge. But persistence is key, right?

I'd have to say the worst part about returning to work is that I have to pump. I know there's some mothers out there who probably can't wait to share the feeding duties with someone else, but I LOVE that special time with Zoë. Don't get me wrong....the first couple of weeks, I was DYING to share the duties, but now, it's so relaxing and just the two of us. 

Pumping is so much WORK! I've got to clean and sterilize all the parts for the pump (after every use), then I have to clean and sanitize the bottles. Plus, I have to put on a special bra so I can at least have my hands free while pumping. The worst thing, I think, is that it's a reminder that I don't get to be with Zoë like I normally would. 

As you can tell, I'm totally stoked to be back at work...not. But, we gotta pay the bills, right? 

 
 
My mom is a big advocate for major sun protection, so it came as no surprise when she wanted to make sure Zoë was super protected, especially since infants under 6 months cannot wear sunblock. We had already bought her a sun protective hat, but she went a step further and found this company called Sunsnapz. Sunsnapz sells blankets with UPF 50+ fabric, but what's better is they have these snaps along the edges that allows you to "snap" them around your stroller, car seat, even your baby! You can even snap it around your neck and use it as a nursing cover which just might be my favorite thing about this blanket. We use ours most often when we're out at the zoo or on a trip to Disneyland. So it's nice to put Zoë in my baby carrier and wrap the Sunsnapz blanket around my neck and be off. It gives me privacy and keeps her shielded from the sun without any bulkiness! You can see other ways to use the blanket here.They carry two sizes in the blanket, a midi and maxi. We own one of each right now, but I'm definitely exploring the idea of getting a second of each. We purchased them in a bundle that actually came with one of their bandanas, too! We don't use that as much right now, but only because Zoë's still so small and it's hard to tie it around her head without her squirming. 
 
 
We've been pretty lucky to avoid diaper rash with Zoë, but recently, she got one. After some careful research, it seems it was a mild ammonia burn. It seemed to have started once she started sleeping through the night. She wouldn't wake for a diaper change for 7 hours! The rash hadn't caused her any pain, as she wasn't fussing or anything, but we certainly didn't want things to get to that point. 

Cloth diapers are great, but the one downside is that most of the common diaper rash creams are not compatible with cloth diapers. I started searching the internet for cloth diaper-friendly diaper creams and came across this website. It was very helpful in showing which creams were good, acceptable and bad for cloth diapers. 

I also read, however, that over time, cloth diapers can have an ammonia build up and need to be "stripped" about once a month. Stripping is basically a deep clean to remove any unwanted build up in your cloth diapers. Stripping is easy, but timely. While I stripped all of Zoë's diapers, I put her in disposable and put some Aquaphor on her bum to start the healing process. 

Since I'm not a fan of disposables, I continued to look for a cloth diaper-friendly cream and came across Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm. After looking at the retailers, I sent Wes out to the Vitamin Shoppe to acquire some. Once the diapers were finished "stripping," I applied the Bottom Balm and we were on our way. During the next diaper change, I noticed her bum was even redder than before. I assumed she had an allergic reaction to the balm and quickly stopped use. It was back to the drawing board.

I tried California Baby's diaper cream next since they sold it in stores like Buy Buy Baby, Target and Whole Foods. I really liked the smell, but again, it was causing a reaction on Zoë. She already has eczema on her legs and it seemed to be developing where we placed the California Baby as well.

Finally, I settled on CJ's BUTTer because it mentioned that it was also good for eczema and double points was on Amazon Prime which meant I'd get free 2-day shipping for it since I'm a Prime member. In the mean time, I used a fleece liner (I just bought a yard of micro-fleece at the fabric store and cut it up to make liners) with the diapers and used Aquaphor again. 

Since getting the CJ's BUTTer, it's helped her rash and her eczema. I'm thinking of getting her a separate tube for the eczema on her legs as well!


 
 
When I was pregnant, I was so bummed out because Zoë kept measuring large and the Ob-Gyn had told me there was a good chance she would be 9-10 lbs. upon arrival. Naturally, I didn't love the idea of that since I'm rather small, so they told me to back off a lot of different things to help keep her weight at bay. The worst one was the brownies... I don't usually have a sweet tooth, but I just couldn't get enough brownies. 

Well, I kept away from the brownies (and other goodies) with the thought that once Zoë was born, I'd be able to satisfy my craving. Not so much... I've learned that Zoë has a very sensitive stomach, which means I have to really watch what I eat and what might be causes of her upset tummy. It's safe to say that almost all of my guilty pleasures are a "no-no." Chocolate, dairy, fried foods, Indian food, foods with garlic...even orange juice. My mom joked and said that I'd be sure to lose weight fast on the Zoë diet. 

I'm sure there are still more things that Zoë won't react nicely to, so I keep a food log and write down everything I eat so that if she has a bad reaction, I can more easily depict what it was that upset her in the first place. In the meantime, I deal with a lot of laundry. I don't mind it so much. It's fun to see her in different outfits. 

However, at night when she spits up over and over, that's a different story. What baby likes being undressed and re-dressed, swaddled and unswaddled in the middle of the night? To speed up the process, I've started laying out an extra swaddle and nightgown along with her diaper so that I can make for an quick change and, hopefully, not arouse her from her slumber. 

I'm sure she'll grow out of her sensitivity to foods at some point, and I'm willing to hold off on all of those delectable treats I miss until she's done breastfeeding. Small sacrifice for such a sweet little thing, don't you think?
 
 
I don't know about other mothers, but I absolutely LOVE wearing Zoë. Wes loves wearing her, too. In fact, we sometimes "fight" over who gets to wear her...but because Wes is so great, I usually win. :)

It's one thing to hold her, but for some reason wearing her feels like she's so much closer to me! Perhaps it's because it reminds me of being pregnant with her. To be honest, I never thought I'd miss being pregnant because pregnancy was pretty miserable for me, to be honest, I'll save that story for another time though. I do miss being pregnant, though, and baby wearing gives me a little taste of that feeling again.

Aside from that, however, there are a bunch of benefits to baby wearing also! It's said to promote healthy mental and physical development, help babies cry less, be good for baby's emotional development, bonding with your baby, advance your baby's learning abilities, enhance your baby's social development, and prevent "flat-head" syndrome! Not to mention as an added plus, it allows you to be hands-free and gives your arms a rest.

I'm a big fan for all of these reasons. I often use mine when we go out shopping, on walks or to fun places like the zoo! Zoë is a pretty curious little lady and it allows her to see things since she is too young to sit upright in a stroller. I love watching her gaze at things as we walk about.
 
 
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I remember telling a good friend of mine how I was tired and bored during my last month of pregnancy and how I WISHED Zoë would just come early. I'm sure many mothers come across this feeling. However, if I really would have grasped HOW tiring being a new mom is, I probably would have welcomed even a late arrival. I mean, how often does a grown adult get to just lounge around and be waited on hand and foot?

It really was exhausting being a brand new mom, though, especially a brand new mom who's breastfeeding. Breastfeeding babies need to be fed every 2-3 hours and when Zoë was a newborn, she was demanding every 2 hours, sometimes even a bit sooner. The thing is, that time starts at the BEGINNING of a feeding, not at the end. Well, when Zoë was a newborn and before my milk came in, our nursing sessions would last easily 30-45 minutes. If you do the math, that's only an hour and 15 minutes in between. That's not a whole lot of time to sleep.

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I learned that the key to being a new mom, though, was to sleep when she slept. Not an easy task, I tell you. During those brief sleeps when your baby's sleeping, you feel the need to get things done! Laundry, cleaning, organizing... I remember reading about how a mother might "nest" towards the end of pregnancy, but I'm still nesting, I feel. However, mothers need lots of rest, too. Exhaustion is never good for anyone. So do yourself (and whoever is around you) a favor and find time to sleep!