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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

labor tracking APPS

OK a couple months ago I promised to post a review of the free iPad apps I downloaded for tracking my contractions.

There were two free ones when I found these (back in May, I think?) but there are a few more now.  The ones I tried are "Stage 1" and "Contraction Timer Deluxe"

Overall, they both function about the same - once you open the app, there is a button to START timing a contraction, and then you press the STOP or END button when the contraction is over.  Both create a history and a chart or graph duration of the contraction AND the interval in between.

Contraction Timer Deluxe start button

Stage 1 start button & chart

Overall, I like the look of the summary chart on Stage 1 better than the one on Contraction Timer Deluxe, because the Stage 1 chart shows both duration AND interval on one chart.  The Contraction Timer Deluxe only shows one at a time.  

Contraction Timer Deluxe

Other than that, they are both really easy to use, and they store all the information you will need for the hospital when checking in, or for your doctor/midwife.  Also an awesome keepsake for the baby book!  The iPad lets you take a screenshot to save as a picture, and of course you can email those pictures to any email address. (or post them on your blog! ha ha ha)

The Contraction Timer Deluxe has a feature that I haven't yet used, but can see the potential for needing/wanting it: when you press STOP at the end of a contraction, it gives you the option to add a note to the contraction record before saving it to the chart/graph:

Like, I don't know, noting if a contraction is suddenly way stronger (or way weaker?) than the ones before it?  Or maybe note the exact time that your water broke?

Stage 1 has a feature I like, that you can set a background picture behind the 'focal point ticker' (which can be turned ON or OFF in the settings) However, I chose a picture of my hubby for this background, and the ticker looks disturbingly like the target inside a rifle scope.....I'll have to figure out a better background picture or just turn that feature off.

Stage 1 with no background picture for focal point

Stage 1 with recent photo pf hubby...NOT keeping this one on there!

I am looking at one more free app, simply called "Labor and Contraction Timer" (or CTX Timer?) but have not really used it much yet.

I think I am most likely to use the Stage 1 timer, but all of these are WAY better than trying to write it on a notepad and figure out the duration between contractions, etc.  Anything that simplifies labor is a plus in my book! Especially if it's FREE - my favorite four letter word.

Monday, August 23, 2010

35 weeks down, only 5 weeks left!

I had my 35 week checkup the other day, and all went VERY well.  I had a sonogram to measure baby's growth, because he was measuring big a few weeks ago - like 3 WEEKS bigger than he should have been at that point.  This time he measured only a LITTLE BIT large, like less than a week ahead of the 'norm'. 

My OB seems somewhat paranoid about delivering big babies, so if this one is going to be HUGE, she will use that as an excuse to induce labor as early as 37 or 38 weeks.  I think I am good with that :) 

Baby's heart rate was perfect, and he moved a lot during the exam.

I had forgotten how uncomfortable/painful a pelvic exam could be.....but am SO HAPPY that she did one, because I have been having a lot more contractions.  Still nothing all that regular, but they've grown more intense and some have lasted as long as a minute.  Anyway, the exam showed that I'm dilated to 1cm (which is nothing....I spend the last 3 or 4 weeks of pregnancy at 2cm anyway) and I am 50% effaced!  OMG!  Normally my stubborn cervix will not thin out until I am IN active labor. 50% effaced at this point, 5 weeks ahead, is a VERY VERY VERY good sign, especially if I need to have labor induced.

I posted my birth stories awhile back detailing the first three births...the most recent one occurred ten days after a FAILED INDUCTION.  Prior to that experience, I had never heard of such a thing!  I figured, once they induce labor, that's it, you're having the baby.  But I went a full day on pitocin in the hospital at the end of my last pregnancy, and had lots of really GREAT, really REGULAR (and really painful) contractions......which did nothing AT ALL to my cervix. It was one of the most raumatic experiences of my life.  I'm relieved to see that my cervix is ALREADY being more cooperative this time

My OB is out of town this week, so I am trying to re-train my brain to focus on NOT having this baby yet.  I've been wishing for awhile now for an early delivery, as long as baby is safe & OK. Now I have to tell myself, "be careful what you wish for!"

After my doctor gets back from her vacation, I will have weekly checkups in the final four weeks....I can't believe it's getting so CLOSE!  :)

Yes, I am excited - can you tell?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

unofficial product reviews - part one

OK first a little 'disclaimer'...I have not been compensated in any way for my opinion on these products - just wanted to share!

First product:
Chicco Cortina stroller with Chicco Keyfit infant car seat

I bought this system after reading several online reviews, and of course after physically testing the car seat at the store to make sure it would FIT in my little car (2007 Honda Civic Hybrid).  Of course I made sure it exceeded the safety standards, as well - which should really go without saying.

The assembly of the stroller was incredibly easy, even though it involved several parts.  There were clear drawings to follow every step of the way, and the instructions made perfect sense.  Personally, I like a little more detail in the written instructions, but the simplicity in these probably appeals to MOST mommies (and daddies, who are most likely going to be doing the assembly....)

Both the car seat and the stroller have very easy child restraint buckles.  The stroller even has a 5 point harness, instead of the typical 3-point harness seen on a lot of full-size strollers.  This is important to me, as I am a school crossing guard and DAILY see idiot drivers ignoring the crosswalks or running stop the event of a collision, the most dangerous thing to a baby in a stroller is not the impact from the car itself - it is the impact with the GROUND when the baby is thrown from the stroller due to inadequate (or improperly fastened) restraints.

The base for the car seat was very easy to correctly install in my car, using the LATCH system (which, by the way, I did not even realize that my car HAD until I read about it in the car seat instructions!)  The 'level' display to check for proper angle is easy to read from either side of the base, and the adjustable foot makes it fast and easy to adjust if the angle is not right.  In fact, this part was SO easy, I am pretty sure that I could do it while holding a baby, or at least wearing him in a front-pack carrier or sling.  The base would normally be a one-time install, but if you have more than one car and don't buy the optional 2nd base, you would probably want to move the base any time you are changing cars.  The car seat CAN be used without the base, but it is harder to ensure proper level without the base.

One thing that really excited me with this car seat vs. the ones I used for my first three children is how EASY it is to adjust the shoulder straps as the baby grows.  There are 'newborn' inserts to pad the seat for a tighter fit for small infants (up to 11 pounds) and both inserts can be removed without taking the whole car seat apart.  As baby gets taller, shoulder straps can be adjusted without having to do any complicated threading of the straps through a series of holes and loops - my old car seats were all a PAIN in that area.  The pull-strap on the front (at baby's feet) makes it simple to tighten the shoulder harness with baby in place, and the lever that loosens the straps when taking baby back OUT is easy to access.  I've seen several models that sort of 'hide' this lever or make it hard to reach - so glad Chicco doesn't do that!

Of course the car seat locks securely into the base, as well as into the stroller (I actually saw a woman pushing a stroller at Costco last week, with her infant car seat/carrier perched on top of the stroller - but not fastened on in any way....she took a corner too fast, then stopped suddenly, and her baby's carrier actually fell OFF of the stroller onto the floor!  Baby was not hurt, was simply scared, but that mom needs a little safety lesson or two....).  The lever to release the car seat when lifting it out of the base (or the stroller) is also really easy to access.

The stroller itself is easy to fold one-handed, and it opens up one-handed, as well.  The handle adusts for comfort depending on the height of the person pushing it.  The canopy could be larger, but does offer reasonable shade over baby.  The parent tray at the top has a cup holder and a small compartment for keys or sunglasses, and the child snack tray in front of the seat has two cup holders and a shallow recessed area for baby's snacks.  The best part of the child's tray: It has an insert that can be lifted out for cleaning!  The front double-wheels swivel for easy one-handed turning in tight spaces (for you mall-walkers out there!) and they can also be locked into place for better control on rough surfaces like grass or gravel.  The brakes can be applied/locked at the rear from either side, with a single tap of the foot. 

For me, there are two down-sides to the stroller:
1) for a full-size stroller, the cargo basket underneath is really quite small, and
2) this stroller takes up my entire trunk space!  OK so that one is really a gripe about my CAR, not the stroller.  :)

But aside from those two factors, so far I absolutely LOVE this whole travel system!

It is a little pricey, but you really do get what you pay for - I HIGHLY recommend it.

Next product review:
Baby blanket and binky-leash from "Baby Battle Rattle" on

(photos are from the etsy page for BabyBattleRattle)

I bought a custom baby blanket from Baby Battle Rattle, and got a 'binky sling' too.....

The blanket is made with a super-soft minky-dot fabric on the back, and the same fabric in squares on the front alternated with squares of USMC 'desert mar pat' fabric.  It normally comes with either pink or blue minky dot fabric, but I specifically requested a lime green fabric instead; this was to match our current nursery  colors, and to keep the blanket gender-neutral, making it easier to pass on to another baby when we are done with it.  The expectation that it will be handed down was my reason for NOT adding the optional custom nametape (though that would have been SO cute!)

My blanket is pictured above, with the teddy bear in the car seat :)

The quality and craftsmanship on this blanket were both AWESOME, but I was really disappointed to see how small the blanket actually is.  I didn't ask ahead of time about dimensions, and they weren't listed on the etsy site, so this is really my fault for not even ASKING how big the blanket was.  In the pictures, it looked more like a crib-size blanket, but in reality it is smaller than most receiving blankets.  The double-layer design makes it too warm for baby to sleep with here in so-cal, but it will be a great car-seat/stroller blanket this winter, for sure!

The 'binky sling' is exactly what it sounds like - it fastens to the handle of baby's pacifier at one end, and then fastens to the car seat, or stroller, or baby's shirt, on the other end - so if baby spits the binky out, it sort of hangs there clipped to whatever surface you choose, rather than dropping to the floor.  In this case, the binky sling is made from a military uniform nametape, which I thought was a REALLY COOL idea!

One thing I don't like about this one - and I intend to fix this - is that the velcro on the end for the binky does not fasten well - it looks like both sides of the velcro are the 'rough' part, instead of one rough surface clinging to one fuzzy/soft surface.  I have plenty of velcro squares (and circles, for that matter) so I will be fixing this by hand ASAP.

Overall, I recommend this seller, as she was flexible with me when I wanted a custom color, and she made and shipped the item right away, as soon as I had paid for it.  I thought the blanket - given its small size - was overpriced at $35 (plus shipping, which I felt I was overcharged for), but still know that my husband will LOVE it.

Now this makes me want one of those cool diaper bags made from hubby's old uniforms :)  Anyone have an etsy seller they can recommend specifically for this?

***UPCOMING REVIEWS:  Sony baby monitor, Summer Right Height Bath Center, Avent Isis Manual Breast Pump, and the Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail***

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My maternity pics are up on my deployment blog - CLICK HERE to see them.

THANK YOU TARA, for taking these great shots!  I know we will cherish them forever.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Baby Shower

Last week was my baby shower, and it was AWESOME!  Emphasis on the "Aw" of course.

My younger sister came (the one who is also pregnant, due a week and a half ahead of me) and we finally got a picture of our bellies together.  My mom was there too, and has had a round belly for as long as I can remember (after 8 kids, this is not really a shocker), so the picture of the three of us together looks pretty funny.

My sisters who live out of state couldn't come, but they sent gifts anyway - I feel so SPOILED!  More than half of my bunco group came, and a few girls from my old job.  My hubby's mother and sisters both came too, and stayed the weekend at my house.  Hubby's sisters painted the nursery for me after the baby shower, so I've spent the week working on putting the room together - pictures coming SOON!

Here are the pictures from the shower though:

the diaper candy bar game (gross but always fun!)

My in-laws (hubby's sister Lisa, their mother, me, and youngest sister Laura)

My bunco girls :)

Otilia & Syliva (from my old job)

My sister & me, with our big baby bellies
(she was 34 1/2 weeks here, and I was almost at 33 weeks)

My sister & her beautiful kids, with my mom and me
(Mom wearing the shirt I made her for The Price Is Right when I surprised her with the news of my pregnancy.....and it should say "Grammy of 25" counting the one my sister is working on)

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Another week gone by with no posts - I am SUCH a slacker!

Oh, wait, this is the perfect time to use the "I'm pregnant" pass!  Not an excuse, really, but its about all I have.

I have been away from internet (*gasp) a lot in this past week, but promise to post some new stuff SOON!

For now, quick update:

32 1/2 week checkup went great today!

Baby shower is less than 48 hours away, and nursery will be painted the next day, thanks to my husband's awesome sisters.

Maternity photo shoot will be done in about 3 days, by my lovely friend Tara - I am SOOOOO excited about this one!

More posts soon, much love and all that jazz, and for you fellow mommies-to-be out there, STAY COOL & keep your feet up.