Netflix #StreamTeam - What Helped Me Lazily Prepare for Birth.

Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix #StreamTeam so I will be writing one post a month about movies and shows that have made me happy to have in our family queue. To be totally forthcoming, I have been compensated with a streaming device and a one year streaming subscription to Netflix, but this is a service that I have used at minimum four times a week for the past four years (and at many points in the timeline, everyday) so you can say that I am definitely excited to be partnering with them. 

As I just mentioned, I've been utilizing Netflix Streaming for four years. It all started when I had to watch a movie for my French film class my last semester of college. The movie was available in the library which was all the way across campus, and I would have to hope no one else was watching the movie when I got there. My professor had noted in the syllabus that the movie was also available on Netflix so when comparing the pros and cons between signing up for a free one month trial with Netflix and trekking to the library, I quickly got myself a Netflix account and watched the film from the comfort of my own bed (and my dorm bed was actually very comfy thanks to an excellent mattress pad, but I digress).
Just me, Netflix, and my poor interior decorating skills, fall 2010

From then on, I pretty much have a Netflix movie or TV Series to go along with the memories of the past few years. I designed, stamped, addressed, and stuffed our wedding invitations while watching every romantic comedy Netflix had to offer. Our time in Chicago had Grey's Anatomy in the background whether I was writing one stack of 300 thank you notes, making dinner or folding laundry after work. I unpacked to Private Practice when we moved to South Bend. I watched Tangled way too many times for an adult to be able to during its stint on Netflix. The summer when Ryan was a baby, my brother-in-law put Cheers on everyday he got home from class. Downton Abbey in two days two winters ago. And don't get me started on 24! Anyway, last fall was no different; I had a Netflix soundtrack, if you will, yet again, and it turned into a makeshift birth prep cheerleader. 

I mentioned in my last post and here that even though I had already gone through labor and delivery with Ryan, I was still pretty nervous for our second because 1) I KNEW how much it hurt and 2) what if the first time was a fluke? I planned on reading the Bradley book again as a refresher, but other than that, I had no other plans to up my confidence even though I needed it. 

Here is how Netflix helped me via a British television series. 

Call the Midwife.

One day, I read somewhere that if I liked Downton Abbey, I would love Call the Midwife. As luck would have, I saw it pop up in the Netflix New Releases one day when I was flipping through. The BBC series is based on the memoirs of a nurse midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s. It follows a group of nurse midwives based out of a nursing convent as they tend to one of the poorest parts of London both when mothers are giving birth and when the neighborhood's residents are ill. The series is not always happy, but there is a sense of optimism throughout the times of heartbreak; maybe it comes with the territory of new life. Chris does say, "If you were to hear Call the Midwife from another room, it would be the least relaxing mix - babies crying, women screaming and my wife crying from watching it," but I found it fascinating and confidence building. The history in itself is interesting, but seeing women give birth in all kinds of circumstances was incredibly motivating. I'd think, if she could give birth in a shack full of fish, I can give birth again in my sanitary hospital. If she could give birth aboard a ship, I can so do it in a spacious labor and delivery room. The third season has been up for a bit, and I'm finally rewarding myself by starting the third season. I highly suggest it!

Other films that helped me prepare and that are only available through Netflix DVD:
The Business of Being Born: this is an extremely biased documentary, but it did provide some food for thought and prompted me to do much more research about our options. 
BABIES: this documentary follow four babies and their mothers who are each in completely different environments and cultures. It is not an incredibly active piece, but I enjoyed it because it calmed me down about pending parenthood. The babies were happy and healthy whether they were in Mongolia, Japan, Namibia or San Francisco. 

Any other Call the Midwife fans out there?

Do you have any genres you would like to hear about during the #StreamTeam series? 

That Mother Forgetfulness

I have a pretty good memory. It could almost be called uncanny, but the number of times a day I search for my keys keeps its ego in check.  I don't forget much, but I'm grateful for the universal ability of mothers to be forgetful of one very specific and monumental thing - birth and the time soon after. 

Following his birth, Ryan was going to be an only child. That long list of baby names I had at the ready for our passel of future children was now useless. Maybe we could use it on pets down the road. I couldn't do it again. Sure, he was worth it. Father, mother and son, we fit. Yes, we fit well together. Still, the scent of his new life was only addictive to a point; it was as calming and heavenly as it could be, but it lacked mind-wiping powers. I couldn't do it again. 

I operated in a blur of shock, a blur dotted with many adorable moments, but a blur of memories that made me feel like a deer in headlights. It was too much. It being the lack of progressing, the three hours of pushing, the ring of fire, the stitching up as little as I needed to be stitched, the starting the marathon of parenting at 4:58am immediately upon crossing the finish line of the marathon that is birth, the stinging and painful recovery, the tick I was close to developing if  my peri bottle weren't near, the fear of the going to the bathroom, the process of peri bottle, patting ever so slightly, but never delicately enough, pad change, numbing spray, tucks pads, the waddling back to bed, the burning each time after he latched, the contractions that ripped through my back while we nursed, the cluster feeding, the distaste for any clothing or bra because my nipples were sore and raw, the terror of imagining I wouldn't be able to find that precious tube of lanolin, the sharp tingly let down, the swing of hormones, the severe engorgement with no relief, the lying down on the floor next to our closet with white noise roaring from our bathroom vent each night, the overwhelming and overheated feeling when nursing a fussy baby around other people, the watching your poor baby being stuck over and over by an inexperienced ER nurse at six days old, the keeping vigil under the bilirubin lights, the feeling tremendous guilt and sadness from learning at two weeks that he had been suffering from a broken collarbone from birth, the hurting from the clogged duct from Hades and more and more and more. That was it. And that was it

New motherhood was raw. I needed some time to stew. 

Three months later, he was maybe going to be an only child. Six months later, the baby fever had taken over. Excellent job, mother forgetfulness. 

That Sunday when I was sick, when our child that wasn't going to be was tucked in against me, I realized that I was very happy we hadn't used the name Conor on a pet. 

Birthday Wish List for a One Year Old

Okay make that birthday wish list for a one year old's mother ;) Or it could be called: what my kids try to sneak home from their friends' houses. Or it could be called: what won't end up in the donation pile. 

My brother, Conor's godfather, asked me a bit ago what to get Conor for his birthday. I answered with books! because we can never have enough good books. We'll give Conor an extra bath and some streamers on his birthday, but we aren't going to buy him any presents because ... he is one. Maybe we are weird. Sorry, boys, maybe you drew the short end of the stick on this one! But, just because we aren't going to buy anything ourselves doesn't mean that we don't thankfully accept gifts from doting grandparents and the like.  I rounded up a bunch of quality items that my boys always make a bee line for at other people's houses starting around this age. I could make this whole thing books, but I will refrain for another day. Here is a budget-friendly list of classic toys + regular items that the baby will love, should last for the long haul and that won't make the you recoil at the thought of the annoying noises that will plague you post-birthday.

Toys Under $15
1)  Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Alphabet I think you will find these on many, many refrigerators in this country. You can't go wrong with a good way to buy some time for cooking dinner without someone hanging off of your leg. 

2) Hape Tambourine This one is easy to hold and lightweight so shake, shake, shake! 

3) The Original Toy Company Pop Up Fire Truck . The peg fire fighters are cute, but I love how much Ryan would concentrate when pushing down to get the pegs to pop up. 

4) Stacking toys --> Adorable stacking turtles from Etsy or the Melissa and Doug Geometric Stacker. Stacking toys have been a hit over here. 

5) Inflatable Beach Balls - I know they are meant for the beach, but I'm picturing these bringing lots of entertainment through the long winter. Like most babies, Ryan and Conor love balls and these have a low likelihood of knocking anything over. 

Toys Under $25
1) Melissa and Doug Classic Bead Maze. A true classic.

2) Learning Resources Jumbo Farm Animals. Again, going with animals is kind of a guarantee in our house. I like that these are life-like and a bit bigger so they aren't as easy to lose. 

3) Pacific Play Tents Find Me Multi Color 6' Tunnel  This would be another winter lifesaver. Lots of energy  

4) EverEarth Jr. Size Ramp Race. It pretty fun to watch the baby's eyes go back and forth, back and forth as the little wooden cars race down.

5) Plan Toy Push Toy. Another one for exercise. Tire those babies out!

Items You Probably Already Have 
1) Solo Cups. Right? Baby's favorite.
2) Water bottles, plastic or metal.
3) Measuring cups and spoons. If you get sick of having to counting how many 1/3 cups you added to your cooking because some cute baby snagged your 1 cup, just find a set for the baby at a garage sale or thrift store. 
4) Sunglasses. It's nice that it seems that giving away free, cheap sunglasses at events to be a thing because we somehow have many pairs Ryan and Conor can wear/break without a care. 
5) Empty wipes containers. Conor has been trying to push things into the wipes slot, but you can also fill it with scraps of fabric so your baby can pull them out. 

You can normally find any of these toys at a local consignment shop so check there first before buying new! 

Last note - make sure you keep the boxes because we know those are really the golden ticket to those babies' hearts. 

So tell me, what other items that aren't even toys are great for you? What toy has been a hit? 

I originally intended to just list five toys, but then it grew and grew. But the sets of five still make it eligible for Five Favorites, right? Go see Jenna for more

Weaves + another indication that I have grandma ways

Another day, another post with WEAVES, I mean LEAVES. But, hey this is what we've got! We may have a dreary perma-cloud in the long, long winter, we may not have awesome waterfalls to jump off of (I can only imagine the competitions that would have ensued if all the Harrington boys were there with my brother-in-law), but we have weaves. Lots of weaves. 

When I posted the cross stitch pattern that I stitched last fall, Bonnie had sharp and flattering eyes and asked if I could share the pattern for the the silverware cross stitch that was also hanging on the wall. Here you go, Bonnie! I hope this helps someone out there who needs a pick me up for their kitchen or dining room or needs an easy homemade gift idea. Go forth and stitch.