Teaming Up To
Raise Awesome Kids
Image description (alt text unavailable feature): Pregnant belly eclipsing sun forming a halo.
These pants are the easiest pants I've ever made! There's literally 2 seams: crotch and waist. No elastic, no hems, no buttons, no zips. The sweater knit is super stretchy and can easily accommodate fluffy butts.
To make these toddler pants you will need your sewing supplies, a pair of pants that fit your kid to trace and a turtleneck sweater. This sweater is a women's XL and the finished pants are a big 2T. The maximum size of the pants will depend on the sweater size.
Before starting this project, I would wash the sweater however you intend to wash the finished pants. You don't want to shrink your finished piece!
These finished pants seem super comfortable! There is plenty of room for a cloth diaper, as shown by my little model. He is wearing a prefold and a cover under these pants. I could definitely fit these pants over his bulky nighttime diaper. They should be pretty warm and great for winter. I did make them just a tad big so that they will hopefully last until Spring.
Another great part of this project is that I still have the entire body of the sweater left. I'm planning on making the boys a couple matching hats out of the remaining fabric.
If using a wool sweater, this design could be used to make longies to be used as a diaper cover. This pattern could be altered for sweaters without turtlenecks. To maintain simplicity, the waistband could be replaced with waistband elastic. A skirt could also be added into the waistband seam if desired.
For our first birth, I ended up having an unplanned c-section due to stalled labor. We have decided to have another c-section for my second birth instead of trying for a VBAC. Preparing for a second c-section is much different than preparing for a first vaginal birth.
1. Deciding on a C-Section
For most of my second pregnancy, a vaginal birth hasn't been an option. My sons will be born about 15 months apart, making my risk of uterine rupture higher. Also, my younger son has been measuring at over the 90th percentile throughout the pregnancy. From early in the pregnancy, we thought we didn't have an option. So we prepared for a c-section without considering VBAC.
At my last ultrasound, the baby had dropped down to the 87th percentile. My OB informed us that this meant I was now allowed to try for VBAC if I wanted.
Attempting a VBAC has some great benefits. No new scar tissue is being created by additional surgery. Surgeries carry a risk of injury. VBAC also has a significantly better recovery. Even with all these benefits, we decided that a c-section was better for our family. We decided against a VBAC for a few reasons:
2. Writing the Birth Plan
During my first labor, c-section & recovery, a lot of things happened that I didn't like or were traumatic. (From what I've read, this is common. I now think that mental health care should be an included part of treatment for unplanned c-sections.) My goal for this birth is for it to be less stressful on me. To meet this goal, I thought through my first birth experience and made a list of what I wanted to avoid. Once I had my list, I tried to figure out how to change this birth to avoid those experiences. I made sure to include these very important changes in my birth plan. I will also discuss these wishes with my OR team and postpartum nurses.
3. Preparing Siblings
Our oldest son is currently 13 months old. We can't exactly have conversations about the new baby. He can't ask questions or understand detailed explanations. We have been trying to provide age appropriate explanations and to change routines now to account for the new baby.
To begin the process of learning about having a baby, we taught our son the word "baby". We looked at pictures, watched videos and discussed babies we met. He can say baby, and uses the word (mostly) appropriately. We then started pointing at my belly and saying "baby" and "bubba". I also tell him that he used to live in my belly when he was a little baby.
Recently, my mom bought my son a realistic baby doll to practice with. My son immediately explored the doll, and is especially fascinated by the eyes. We have practiced holding the baby and being gentle. He also watches me change the doll's diaper, outfit and swaddle. When we are not playing with the doll, it is sitting in our sturdiest newborn chair. In a week or so, we will set up the pack n play with the bassinet and place the baby there too. Once the baby is born, my son can mimic our behaviors by carrying and feeding his doll. I might even make him a wrap carrier.
To prepare for meeting his new little brother, we have been watching videos of siblings meeting on YouTube. As we watch these videos, I describe what is happening. I use the words "baby", "brother", "bubba", "nice" and "gentle". He is very interested in watching toddlers and babies together.
In watching videos together, we have also been practicing quiet, gentle activities we can do together postpartum. We have doubled our quiet reading time. Coloring is another activity that we've been focusing on because it's one we can do sitting on the sofa or laying in bed. To make this feasible, we got a couple lap desks. Paper can be taped to the desks and then we'll draw using a couple colors at a time. We use the large washable crayons. If crayon gets on the sofa, bedding or clothes, it easily washes off.
In pulling out our newborn gear & setting up, we have worked slowly. This has been to give our older son time to explore and get used to the new things. We pull out about one thing a week. Our goal has been to not have everything change at once. He has "helped" prep the nursery in the activities that are safe for him. He "helped" tape off the trim while prepping to paint. He also "helped" organize our smaller diapers. When we make changes to the nursery that he can't help with, we allow him to come in and see them. He has been very interested in the transformation as well as seeing his old gear. He doesn't seem to care about his old clothes and blankets, but he loves the newborn shoes!
Preparing for a new sibling also includes preparing to take care of both kids after a c-section. Since my mom will be here, she will pick up my older son for me when necessary. We have tried to reduce the amount of lifting that will be necessary in general. To do this, we have set up a portable changing station. Our old changing pad got damaged moving, the straps that secure it to the wall ripped off. Instead of throwing out the changing pad, we saved it to use as a portable pad. A king size pillow case fits on the pad perfectly. To accompany the pad, we have 2 baskets with diapers and supplies: one for each kid. I will be able to sit on the floor with the pad and change either boy.
Another way we've prepared for less lifting is by switching our older son to a big boy bed. He uses a twin mattress on the floor. By doing this, we will not need to buy a second crib. We started the transition very slowly. The mattress was placed on the floor with stuffed animals about 2 months before we actually expected him to sleep on it. This gave him time to get used to the idea. Then we started by having nap time in the big boy bed. We laid down with him to help him know that the bed was a place to sleep. After napping in the big boy bed for about a week, he started throwing a fit when placed in his crib. At this point, we put him in the big boy bed full time. We also added a night light and a white noise machine to our routine. At the initial nighttime switch, he cried for about 20 minutes before falling asleep. We let him "cry it out" because if we came in the room at all, he would start the crying all over again. After about 3 days, the crying mostly stopped. Sometimes, he gets up and plays for a few minutes before going to sleep. We have found that he actually stays asleep better now than he used to. The timing should mean that he won't be upset about sharing his crib. As long as baby #2 comes close to on time, we will have had 2 months before the crib will be used. And since we will mostly be using the pack n play bassinet, it will really be more like 3 months.
The third way we've reduced the need to lift is by getting a little sofa and chair for our older son. One of these can be scooted up to the coffee table to allow him to eat there instead of in his highchair. We have hardwood floors, so clean up is easy. He still sits in his highchair for dinner, but for breakfast and lunch, he eats at the coffee table.
4. Arranging Childcare
Since I am having a c-section, I will have to be in the hospital longer than for a vaginal birth. The general estimate on the length of the stay will be 3 days. This doesn't include the day I have the c-section. The surgery is scheduled for a Tuesday, so I will probably be going home on Friday. For my first birth, we were in the hospital for 5 days after the c-section. Including my labor, we were in the hospital for a total of a week!
Having a c-section means that I will need someone to be in the hospital with me. After a c-section, you can be a bit wobbly at first. I wouldn't trust myself to walk with a newborn until at least the day after the surgery. Not being able to bend at the waist also means that I will need help dressing for the first day or two. We're planning on Dadda staying with me in the hospital, and then going home to put our older son to bed every night. For the 2 hours or so that Dadda is gone, I will try to have other family help.
The majority of our childcare for our older son will be provided by my mom. She came to visit for a couple weeks over the summer to familiarize herself with our routines. She has learned how to use our cloth diapers, wash the diapers and other laundry, our son's schedule, etc. My mom will also be taking home our cloth diapers and washing them.
If my mom needs help or if she is not here and I go into labor, Dadda's niece has volunteered to help. She has 2 younger sisters aged 4 & 2. She has helped a lot in their care, and I know she is trustworthy and capable. At most, she would have to watch our son for a day while my mom travels. We have enough all in one and fitted diapers with snaps so that she can watch him for a day without having to learn to use prefolds or do any laundry at all.
5. Packing for the Hospital
Packing for the hospital has actually been a pretty fun step for me. I enjoy planning and organizing. Having had a previous c-section, I found that what I actually needed was a lot different than what I'd brought. I had originally been planning on a vaginal birth, so I'd packed accordingly. I also over packed, which I'm trying to avoid this time.
I started packing my bags by making a list of the things I thought I'd need. I thought back to what I actually used most and what I ended up not really needing. I've gone through the list a few times, looking with a critical eye and saying "Do I really need to bring this?"
I've decided that I don't really need to bring:
When using certain cloth diaper styles, you might want a separate fastener. Our family uses fasteners on fitteds (for size skipping), prefolds and flats. Since trying both Snappi and Boingo fasteners, we have found that they each have their uses and place in our stash.
Because of the differences between the two fasteners, we have developed a system for when to use each. Due to the plastic gripper coming off the Snappi, we have stopped using it while coverless. We feel safe using the Boingo for going coverless because it grips really strong and it doesn't have any pieces that can be swallowed. Even if the Boingo came off the diaper, the worst that could happen is a bad scratch. Since the Boingo grips better, we prefer to use it under a wool or fleece cover.
For the Snappi, we use it with a wrap style cover. It's especially good with fitteds that have snaps because the stretchiness makes it easier to go around the snaps. The Snappi is also a bit thinner, so it's nice for at night when we use a bulky diaper.
For LO #2 due in a few weeks, we are planning on trying both styles. We're not sure if he will be chubby enough to fit a Snappi. But he might be too chubby for a single Boingo! We have both ready so we're prepared.
Pregnancy is both wonderful and absolutely awful. This is a post about the most awful parts for me. Because each pregnancy is special, what's awful for you might be different.
5. Frequent Urination
I'm sure this is a symptom every woman knows about and is expecting. Frequent urination is very real during pregnancy. It's just super inconvenient. I generally can't go longer than an hour, sometimes less. I can almost never go out anywhere without having to visit a public bathroom. Road trips are awful, it feels like you're constantly stopping. Early pregnancy and very late pregnancy are the worst times because that's when the baby is literally sitting on your bladder. However, once baby starts kicking, be prepared for bladder kicks. A direct kick on a partially full bladder can send you running. This is much worse with baby #2, and I'd assume if I have a third it'll be even worse. Pelvic floor exercises are supposed to help, but I haven't noticed a difference.
4. Pressure for Perfect Pregnancy
There is way too much pressure on women to be perfect mothers. That pressure starts before pregnancy: we're supposed to be as healthy as possible preconception. I'm pretty sure there's a "What To Expect When You're Expecting to Expect" book. During pregnancy, the pressure kicks into high gear. Imperfection can feel like total failure, and it's no wonder with what-all is on our plates.
A few of the things you feel like you must do:
Lower extremity swelling during pregnancy is a very common symptom. With my first pregnancy, it was pretty bad. It started at around 20 weeks and got progressively worse. My feet were so swollen I could barely wear shoes. I found some adjustable flip flops that were a lifesaver. It got so bad at around 36 weeks that I started getting an itchy rash from the skin stretching. Having very itchy ankles when your belly is so huge you can't really reach to scratch is terrible. Both swimming and compression stockings helped, though the relief was temporary.
For my second pregnancy, edema hasn't been an issue at all. I can still see the bones in my feet! The difference is that for my first pregnancy I was working in an office, sitting at a desk. I propped my feet up and took walking breaks as much as possible, but all that sitting just wasn't good for my circulation. Now, I stay at home with my older son. My day is split between chasing him around and taking breaks with my feet propped up. So far, I haven't had to use compression stockings at all.
2. Painful Kicks
I don't think this is a symptom every woman has, and it's one I wasn't really prepared for. But babies kick hard. I have woken up with my ribs sore because my baby was seemingly kicking the exact same spot all night long. On my belly there are a cluster of stretch marks over a spot that my older son repeatedly kicked for about 2 months. During my first pregnancy, my son seemed to get angry when I had a Braxton-Hicks contraction. Almost as soon as one started, he would begin kicking or punching the spot. Not fun!
This symptom has been significantly worse for my second pregnancy for a couple of reasons. First, I have a medical condition that amplifies pain. During my first pregnancy, it was in remission. After I gave birth, it flared up again. The flare up didn't stop before I got pregnant again. So for this pregnancy, every single normal ache and pain is significantly worse. This definitely includes kicks!
Second, I had a c-section with my first birth. The scar tissue formed after a c-section stretches painfully during the second trimester. Now that I'm in the third trimester, the scar pain is much less severe. However, when baby kicks, punches or rolls and presses against the scar, it is super painful.
Unfortunately, there's not really anything to do for painful kicks. Sometimes I can rub the area and get the baby to stop, but kids don't always do what you ask.
1. Rampant Paranoia
Definitely the worst symptom, and one I think every parent experiences. While this is worse with the first pregnancy, it definitely still exists for the second.
What do I mean by paranoia? I mean that you worry about your child, sometimes to an irrational degree. This is part of parenthood, and it doesn't really stop at birth. But at least after the baby is born you can actually check and make sure they're OK.
Some examples: when my c-section scar first started hurting, I was worried that it was going to rupture and that I would lose the baby. I knew that the statistical likelihood of this happening was pretty much nothing, but the thought gets into your head. During my first pregnancy, once my son dropped I worried about getting into a car accident and the seatbelt crushing him. We lived in a third floor apartment during the first pregnancy, and I constantly worried I would fall down the stairs. If I drink unfiltered water, I worry about the lead content.
For my first pregnancy, the paranoia bled over into terribly vivid dreams. Pretty much every horrible thing you can imagine happening during a pregnancy or with a newborn occurred in my dreams. I don't know if it's the hormones or the stress, but the dreams were incredibly real. During this pregnancy, I haven't really had an issue with vivid dreams or nightmares about things that can go wrong with a newborn. I think this is at least partially because now I've taken care of a newborn and I know I can do it. I feel like the dreams I was having during my first pregnancy were partially me working through my fears of being a new parent.
The paranoia about the wellbeing of your child in utero is really just prep for parenthood. Parents worry about their child's health and wellbeing. For me, and I think for most, the most paranoid time is the newborn period. We worry about SIDS, feeding routines, whether poops are normal, slight variations in temperature, etc. The most comforting thing to me is to go look at the statistics. During pregnancy, this means that once I reach 32 weeks I relax a bit. At 32 weeks, there is a jump in the likelihood that if there's a problem the baby will survive and will have less development complications. Obviously, the longer your pregnancy lasts, the better. But knowing that I've reached a point where statistically we get through it OK is very helpful.
Be forewarned: some statistics suck and do not assuage the paranoia. If you've run into a statistic like that, to me the best thing to do is push the odds in your favor. For instance, you can reduce the risk for SIDS by using a pacifier, making sure the crib is empty, not using bumpers and using a low fan to circulate air. Every action that reduces the odds of harm is a comfort.
While parental paranoia doesn't go away, you do get used to it. To me, even though it can be stressful or even disturbing, it is necessary. The better I can foresee possible dangers, the better I can protect my kids from those dangers. I don't know that it makes me at all calmer when there's actually a problem, but at least I can act.