Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Preparing for Baby

So I lied. I promise THIS is the last post before the nursery. Yesterday I hit 35 weeks!! Only 5 weeks to go? How is this possible?? I've been counting down the days till Christmas because, well...for one it's Christmas and the most joyful time of the year and I'm an elf...and two, because our baby comes right afterwards! Well, Christmas is in like a week! OMG! This is getting so real and I'm beside myself. These next 5 weeks need to go by fast because we can't wait to meet our daughter. 

I mentioned before that right when I found out I was pregnant I started a pretty extensive to-do list. It has all of the things I was/am hoping to get done before the baby arrives. Most of it's finished. Just a few little odds and ends to tie up now. I wanted to share a few things with you that may or may not be helpful if you're expecting or just want to get yourself together. I feel like I've been in a state of "nesting" since I was about 3 years old but lately it has taken on a new meaning. I've become a mad woman around the house. I know it's completely unrealistic but I just want everything to be perfect when she gets here. Like she's going to notice. A little over a month ago my super pregnant self decided I hated all of the interior door hinges downstairs and ordered new ones on Ebay and replaced all of them while Matt was gone one Saturday. Stupid things like that. Once I get something in my mind that bugs me I HAVE to fix it. It'll drive me insane until I do. I hear you're never truly prepared for a baby. I know I'm going to be in for a rude awakening once she gets here but at least I can try. So without further are a few ways I prepared for baby:

To-Do for Baby:
  • Get baby apps
    • I did a lot of research on the best apps to have when you're a new mom. I obviously haven't tried them out yet so I don't know which ones are more helpful than others but here are some that I've downloaded so far:
      • The Wonder Weeks
      • Mom Maps
      • My Baby
      • Eat Sleep
      • My Baby & Me
      • iVaccine
      • Baby Soother
  • Baby proof the house (outlet covers, cabinet door locks, gates, etc)
  • Wipe down his/her toys with Clorox wipes
  • Wash his/her clothes/blankets/sheets/towels/etc with baby/hypoallergenic detergent
  • Sterilize bottles, pacifiers, spoons, etc in steam bags/boiling water and organize food items in the kitchen.
  • Sign up for childbirth classes at the hospital and fill out all paperwork months before your due date. I did mine online and it only took a second. I'm giving birth at Baptist East. This takes the headache out of having to do it when you get to the hospital. Probably the last thing you want to think about when you're in labor. They'll be ready for you when you arrive. You're OB insurance rep will direct you on how to do this.
  • Read up (ie What to Expect When You're Expecting)
  • Sign up for free stuff online
  • Do some research and make your registry list of things you need (mine coming soon). I registered at Target, Babies R Us and Amazon Baby Registry. 
    • Target isn't very good with returns without a gift receipt just FYI. I got a lot of repeat stuff because when someone bought something it wasn't marked off the registry. Without the gift receipt you get the sale price if it went on sale sometime fairly recently. I returned some stuff right after Black Friday when everything had been on sale so that stunk. 
    • You get a giftbag with goodies including freebies and coupons at Target and Babies R Us (BRU). The BRU people were cool and taught me how to use the scanner and gave me my bag of goodies. I knew I was supposed to get one at Target but they didn't want to walk in the back and get it I guess. I asked about it and they reluctantly went and got it. So ask if they don't give it to you automatically! It had some good stuff like pacifiers and an Avent bottle. The Target people didn't really know how to work the scanning machine either. They just handed it to me and expected me to figure it out. I did but that was weird. My point, Target wasn't very helpful but hopefully it was just an off day for them.
    • Target also has a special app for your registry that IS helpful. If you go to Target and want to register for more things you can just pull up the app and scan it on your phone and it'll upload to your registry. That way you don't have to get the fancy scanner at customer service. You can also pull up your registry's status at any time and mark things you get as purchased if it isn't marked when the gift-giver buys it (which happens often). You can also create a single barcode of all of the things that have been purchased on your registry. This comes in handy because it acts like a gift receipt if you have to return something. The only negative is that if the person doesn't have them scan your registry code to mark it off your registry as purchased when they checkout it doesn't count. You can mark it as purchased later yourself but it HAS to be done by the buyer at checkout for it to show up on the barcode. It does other cool stuff too. Downloaded it and take a gander.
    • I returned repeat stuff right away so hopefully I could get the right price for it (definitely return things that are switched out often asap like clothing). Once something goes on sale you're going to get back the sale price instead of what was probably paid for it. Wait to buy stuff with your credit after all of your baby showers so you can really see what you have left. Also, stores often will send you a coupon for a percent off the rest of the items on your registry. So if there's something big you want (or small) add it to your registry before it's too late. Then you can use your coupon with your store credit to get the most for your money on your leftover items.  I have a 10% off the rest of my registry items at BRU coupon and Amazon gives you 10% off what's left as well. Haven't heard from Target yet but I want to say they gave me a coupon after my wedding for the rest of the items on my wedding registry. Babies R Us also mail me coupons monthly. Like 20% off one item and I've received a lot of free Dr Brown bottles with any $15 purchase coupons. They let me double those too. So I'd get a $20 item and use my 20% off coupon AND get my free bottle. If you want something big like a high chair or stroller, get it with your 20% off coupon. 
      • NOTE: Learned this after I already used my 10% off total registry items coupon and it made me sad. After my showers I had a big credit at Babies R Us from returns (duplicates) and I got a lot of gift cards. I picked up a few things that weren't on my nursery and I also got a different size pumping bra than I had on my registry. Those items didn't receive the discount. For the 10% to come off of every item at checkout they all have to be on your registry (sizes of things you register for must be the same as well). I'd use the Babies R U app and just scan and add them to your registry before you checkout. I ended up owing just 2 cents and bought about $250 worth of stuff so it ended up being awesome but just for your information. 
      • Also, they didn't have 3 things in store that I wanted (nursing cover, fabric wrap carrier and jumperoo) but I wanted to use my 10% off coupon on them. If I bought them online at home I couldn't have used my coupon there and when I went into the store (you can only use it once). I told a worker and they said it was no problem. They took me to the registry desk and I told them the items I wanted to order. The manager came over and actually just gave me 15% off of those items that I had to order with free shipping. Then I was able to use my 10% off coupon when I checked out with my other things at the register later. Always ask!
    • Register for all the things at all the places. For instance, a bottle warmer. Don't just register for it at one place. Register for it everywhere. You get a better chance of receiving it and if you don't you can get it with your percent off what is left coupon that I mentioned about above.
    • Make your returns/exchanges and make sure you have all of the things that you need most. Maybe save some of the store credit to use after your baby is here so you can really see what you need.
We got so many great gifts. We're so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. This is my loot from one of my showers.
  • Write thank you notes! After each shower I sat down for a few hours and wrote them. I don't like things to pile up on me and also everything is fresher on your mind. We're so thankful for all of our wonderful gifts and it's important to tell people how much you appreciate it. You also don't want to come home with a newborn and have 50 thank you notes to write on top of adjusting to your new life. I have a feeling I'll be spending me free time sleeping.
  • Sit down and figure out how to work the darn carseat and stroller. Mine is a Graco Click Connect and not hard to use once you get the hang of it but it took a while to figure out HOW to use it. I pulled up the manual on their website to figure it all out. It took over and hour but I feel confident in my baby transportation knowledge now. Just figuring out how to adjust everything to fit your baby's size as they grow and how to collapse the stroller and attach the carseat to the stroller and the carseat to the carseat base in the car is a challenge. Believe me, it's complicated. You're going to want to know how to do this BEFORE your baby gets here. Also, about a month before your due date put the carseat in the car. You never know when you're going to need it and it's one last thing to have to grab on the way out the door to the hospital.
  • Take notes and pictures. Every week I've written a journal entry for my daughter to read one day with a picture of my belly that week. It's written specifically to her and not something I'm sharing with anyone else. So, I also have another little scrapbook with just weekly pictures of my belly to document the changes that anyone who wants to see can see. I'm probably the only one who will ever look at it but it's nice to have. AND I like to go a little overboard and got on Shutterfly and made a pregnancy album. They have a pregnancy book layout that's really cute and you can get the book for free if you use coupon codes (like I said you get awesome ones from Destination Maternity and lots of other places when they find out you're pregnant). It's a great way to document everything throughout your pregnancy from cravings and aversions to baby showers, etc. I work on it every few weeks so that when she's born I'll just have to add a few finishing touches/pictures to it and it'll be ready to order. Here's an example of how I've been taking my weekly pictures. I got the chalkboard for like $4 at Hobby Lobby.
  • Find a baby book you like. I found one on Amazon. It's Happi by Dena brand (which I'm obsessed with already). I asked for it for Christmas. It's a little over $20. This is a place for me to record all of my baby's firsts and special occasions/events separate from our family scrapbook. It's something she can look back at and enjoy without having to go through picture of hundreds of other things that happened in her first year of life.
  • Find a photographer! I searched and searched for a photographer for newborn pictures after she's born. They are so expensive!! If you want a full-time photographer to do it you're looking at around $1000+ with prints. Not exactly in the budget. The idea of a maternity shoot was nice but after just seeing newborn prices that was definitely out of the question. Then it occurred to me! My sister-in-law takes incredible pictures. She majored in photography and has a really nice camera that she knows how to use really well. I asked her about it and she was so happy to do it. Made me so happy. I did some research and sent her a lot of picture ideas and styles I liked. She nailed it. She took maternity pictures for us when I was 30 weeks and they're so beautiful. We hit the jackpot on that one. We are so excited to see her beautiful work on our newborn pics after baby gets here. I've been buying/making props and I'm super excited to see her in them.

  • Lastly and importantly, make his/her nursery beautiful!
House/Misc To-Do:
  • Fix up random things around the house that have been buggin you. I'm not going to bore you with my specific list because yours won't be the same but once the baby comes you're going to have significantly less time/energy/possibly resources to do it. An example I mentioned before were our interior door hinges downstairs. They were brass (handles are nickel) and 40 years old and dirty and covered in paint. I got to the point where I couldn't look at them anymore. No one else would ever notice but me but I just feel so much better now. I also touched up some paint, hemmed some curtain panels that were a tad bit too long, added doorstoppers to all of the doors in the house (the previous ones were all broken off), etc. Again, pretty much all things that only I would notice but made a huge difference for me. You might not have OCD tendencies and might not have anything like these things buggin you in your house. To that I say YOU'RE LUCKY! My brain legitimately drives me crazy always looking for things in the abode that could be improved or changed. Always a project somewhere. So yeah, fix little (or our recent backsplash redo) things in the house that bug you before the baby comes. 
  • Rake leaves/make the yard look semi-presentable. Matt wouldn't let me help due to my size and current status but he raked all of the leaves in the front yard and it looks great. So nice to have that taken care of. The backyard, on the other hand, is a different story. Just don't think about it, Katie. 
  • Clean the carpets. The thought of my baby rolling around on dirty carpet gave me the willies. Of course I'll put down blankets for her sit on but I still love fresh, clean carpet. My aunt and grandmother were getting rid of their super nice carpet cleaning machine and I quickly claimed it. Dream come true. I've always wanted one of those. Like my first birthday as a married woman when I asked Matt for a steam mop I saw on TV once. The greatest. In our old house we had hardwood floors but a lot of big rugs that I cleaned probably twice a year. I would rent Rug Doctors for about $20 from Kroger to do it. 1000 times cheaper than having a professional service do it. Not as good of a clean but definitely gets the job done. It's best not to use the machine with your rug directly on the hardwood. So every time I'd move everything off of them and move them to the kitchen on the linoleum to clean them. Such a pain but totally worth it. In this house we were lucky in that the previous owners replaced the carpet right before putting the house on the market so it's less than a year old. I vacuum it weekly and it's brown so it never really looks dirty. I used my carpet cleaner in July for the first time and was amazed and disturbed by how black the water was when I went to pour it out. THAT was in my carpet?? YES! I felt so purged and clean when I was done. 6 months later and right before my due date I felt the need to do it again. So last week I cleaned the carpets again with my fancy machine. Again, black water. Definitely something I'll be doing twice a year from now on. Just my upstairs has carpet and it takes about 1.5-2 hours to do which isn't so bad. We have 2 big rugs downstairs I do as well. We don't have real wood floors so it doesn't hurt them to clean the rugs right on top without moving them. Carpets and rugs are ready for baby!!
  • Purge your house of unnecessary things. I've been doing this like a mad woman. Getting rid of unwanted clutter. I had a garage sale, sold stuff on my church's resale email thing and put a lot of clothes and things on Ebay. Nice way to make a little extra cash and get rid of stuff you don't need. The rest is going to Goodwill because I just don't want to look at it anymore.
  • Get caught up on the scrapbooking. I have so many different scrapbooks. I make a Shutterfly book for every trip we go on. We recently went to Alaska so I got that done and ordered. I have a scrapbook that I actually cut and paste pictures into as well. I started in 6th grade and it literally has everything documented up to last week. If I'm behind on my scrapbooking I feel like I don't have my life together. One of those weird mental things. At least I'm willing to admit that I have a problem. Once I get through the end of this year, however, it's all digital scrapbooking for me. Shutterfly all the way. I'm pretty good now at maneuvering around the site to get things how I want them to look. With coupon codes they're not that expensive. Probably less expensive than doing it by hand and you can do it at your computer in your bed without all of the extra mess. There will always be something endearing about my 15 handmade scrapbooks, but this is the 21st century. I gotta get with the times. 
  • One weird thing I did that has actually already turned out to be really useful is make a list of recipes Matt and I love that are easy to whip together. I try and make a menu for the week every Sunday so I can make a grocery list and go shopping on Monday. I hate having to go through cookbooks and try and remember things we liked and where to find them, etc. I just get lazy and make a whole lot of Hamburger Helper and green beans. I sat down and went through my cookbooks and made a single list of things we love and where to find them. I organized them on my list by category (crockpot, pasta, meat, etc). It encourages me to do more cooking (which is not one of my favorite things) and takes a lot of the time out of preparing. When we first got married I signed up for Emeals that was really great. It's a site that prepares the weekly menu and grocery list for you. I tried to be a good wife and I cooked a ton right when we got married. This was great motivation for me since I was a full-time college student and nannying weekly. They have lots of different meal plans like low-calorie, crockpot, kid friendly, gluten free, simple gourmet, etc. So much to choose from and really affordable. I got my meal plan emailed to me every week and I printed them it out. So now I have all of them in a binder that I put together that I can go back and refer to. I starred things that I made that we really loved and included some of those things on my quick-reference sheet. 
  • Stock up on house supplies! This is also one of the first things that I did and I'm so glad. As you probably know by now, I like to find the good deals. So I like to coupon! CVS is a great place for that. I made a stock pile list of house necessities, did tons of online coupon browsing then went shopping! I did pretty good. I filled up my spare bathroom closet. One less thing to think about with a little person running around. I used,, and I found out about this later but is supposed to be great as well. These sites have apps available as well. I use CVS and Kroger all the time because you can load coupons onto your card without having to print anything. They automatically deduct from your transaction at checkout! Here's my stockpile list:
    • Shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, shaving cream (mens and womens), razors, deodorant (mine and Matt's), bars of soap, toothpaste, cu tips, moist wipes (for the bum),diapers, wipes
    • Paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, trash bags, dish washing detergent, laundry detergent, baby laundry detergent, dish soap, napkins, paper plates, bleach, Clorox wipes, lightbulbs, ziplocks, Wet Jet pads
    • Keurig coffee cups, dog food

Some of the pile

Right Before the Due Date To-Do List:
  • Freezer meals! I've been wanting to do this for forever but the thought scared me. I finally did my research, went shopping and did it! We now have 14 meals in our freezer waiting to be popped in the over or Crockpot on days where I just don't want to cook. Here's how I did it:

  • Backup my computer (documents, pictures, etc), ipad, and phone onto my harddrive. I do this often and it really pays off. I keep things super organized on the harddrive but I have to put everything on there manually. Every few months I plug up all of my devices and start organizing and storing everything. I empty my phone of pictures and run all of my updates then put all of that on my harddrive. I did this like a week before our old house was broken into last year where they stole our laptops. One of those things that I know God has his hand in. Everything was just backed up so I didn't lose any pictures or documents. I also always give Matt all of our vacation photos right when we get home from somewhere. He backs stuff up in like 100 different places including an off-site backup so I know that unless the Apocalypse happens we won't lose the pictures most important to us. 
  • Deep clean the house. I'm talking mopping (which I never do), wipe fan blades, scrub bathtubs. Things I usually don't do in my weekly cleaning endeavors. 
  • Wash our bedding. Every once in a while it's just nice to clean more than just the sheets. I'm talking duvet cover, comforter, and pillows (which should be washed often anyways). When I do have the chance to enjoy my bed once the baby arrives I want to do it right and be as comfy as possible. 
  • Wash last bit of baby stuff including carseat things, towels, crib sheets, etc.
  • Clean the car. I don't want to bring my baby home in a yucky car. A trip to Boomerang carwash and a quick wipe-down/declutter will do the trick.
  • Pack the hospital bag. Again, post on this to come.
  • Make a trip to the dry cleaners. Matt sometimes wears suits and fancy slacks to work that need dry cleaning. 
  • Get a haircut/eyebrow wax/ mani pedi. I hear you don't exactly look your best during/after you give birth but at least this will make you feel a little put together. I got a mani pedi for my birthday in October and I've been saving it till closer to my due date. My feet hurt a lot now so it'll be nice to have someone massage them too. 
  • Charge the camera. For obvious reasons. And don't forget to put it in your hospital bag!

So there you have it! Just a few of the things I did to prepare for baby. Most of it is probably entirely unnecessary but I feel good about it so that's all that matters, right? So ready to get this show on the road. 

After she's here I'll tell you about my registry list and hospital bag list. It'll hopefully be more of use to you after I see what I use/don't use and like/don't like. I know everyone prefers different things but I always like hearing other people's opinions who have recently been where I'm going. I did a lot of internet research coming up with those lists on what to gather and ask for. Until next time when I'm a MOM!! Well, I already am but when I can actually hold my baby in my arms and give her 1493 kisses a day!

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