Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Preparing for Stafford: The Fun Stuff

Preparing for Stafford: The Fun Stuff

A small glimpse of Stafford's face at his 33 week ultrasound.

It is incredibly hard to take care of a baby when you suffer from low energy levels and post exertional malaise. Over the past nearly eight months I have been doing what I can to prepare and make life as easy as possible after Stafford arrives. Today I’m sharing about some of the fun and practical baby preparations. I hope this will be helpful for some of you who have a chronic illness and a baby on the way. And if you don’t, maybe it will be interesting to see what we’re doing.

In addition to all of the fun baby preparations, I have also been working on things that aren’t your typical baby preparations. Life will be much more tiring for me with a baby, and I know that I won’t be able to do most of my normal tasks after Stafford comes, so I have been working ahead of time on what I can.

Here are some of the things we have done, or will do, to make life as easy as possible with a new baby.

Preparing for Stafford: The Fun Stuff

We put a co-sleeper in our bedroom. This is something new we are trying with Stafford. When William and Adelaide were babies we used a cradle in the bedroom, but I am no longer healthy enough to sit up, or stand up, and pick a baby up out of a cradle on a regular basis. I am hoping that with the co-sleeper I will be able to reach over and bring Stafford close to me while I am still lying down. I hope that this will make it possible for me to do some of the night time feedings and take care of Stafford in the mornings. It may not help enough, and it may only extend my night and morning time with Stafford by a few days or a few weeks. But it is important enough to me that it was worth the money to buy a co-sleeper and give it a try.

We have set up diaper changing areas on the floor in the living room and in our bedroom. I am not able to stand up long enough (or safely enough) to change a baby’s diaper at a changing table, so we have always done this on the floor. My only concern right now is that I am struggling to stand back up after getting down on the floor. So I’m sure there will be many times that I do diaper changes next to me on the bed or recliner.

We will keep bottle feedings at night as simple as possible. In the past it has worked well for us to have a full water bottle and several baby bottles with pre-measured powdered formula in them. Then when Stafford is hungry, we pour in the right amount of water, give a gentle shake, and begin to feed. We don't use a bottle warmer or go to the kitchen to warm up a bottle. We will just use room temperature water.

I have clothes washed and sorted for Stafford for the first year. Babies grow quickly, and I know that I won’t have much energy for buying clothes after Stafford is born. In the fall I went to a couple of rummage sales and bought a lot of baby clothes. We have also been blessed with hand-me-downs and some clothing gifts. I will probably find that there are a few clothing items I am missing as the year goes on, but for the most part I have enough clothes for Stafford for the first year (and even quite a few clothes for the next couple of years!). I have sorted all of the clothes, and they are in labeled bags and plastic tubs in the basement. When I need a new size of clothes, all I have to do is ask Will to go downstairs and grab the next size up!

Preparing for Stafford: The Fun Stuff

We put a cradle in the living room. When I feel well enough in the afternoons, I want to be out in the living room. Walking back and forth to put Stafford down for naps in a bedroom won’t be possible, so he will sleep in the cradle next to my chair.

I have a baby wrap carrier to use at home. I have never tried one of these before, so I am not sure if it will be helpful or not. I am hoping that it will make it easier for me to hold Stafford when my arms are tired.

I will use a Boppy often. My mom bought one of these for me, and it will come in very handy whenever I am sitting to hold Stafford or feed him. I plan to bring the Boppy to the hospital too.

My wheelchair is being kept next to the kitchen so that I can use it every day. It is hard for me to walk around the kitchen and prepare a snack or a baby bottle, even when I am using Cordell (my walker). It is much easier to wheel around in my wheelchair. It saves energy, and it helps to prevent my blood from pooling as badly. I don’t like having one more piece of durable medical equipment to take up space in our home, but it is a necessity. I wish we had wood or laminate flooring throughout the house so that I could use my wheelchair everywhere. That would make getting around so much easier! It is too hard on most days for me to wheel myself on the carpet. But if needed, I can have a friend or family member push me in my wheelchair to get me where I need to go in the house.

Crocheting has been one of the most fun things to do in preparation for Stafford’s arrival. It isn’t absolutely necessary, but it brings joy to my heart. I crocheted a blanket for Stafford this fall. I have also crocheted several hats and shoes. I hope to crochet a few more hats and shoes in the next few weeks. Yesterday I finished a second baby blanket for Stafford. I can’t wait to show you this one! I’ll share about it in a Busy Hands post next week.

I have written and addressed birthday cards for our nieces and nephews for their birthdays this year. The envelopes have sticky notes on them with the date they need to be mailed. If I feel well enough throughout the year, I will also send birthday cards to our brothers and sisters, their spouses, and our parents. But if I can’t, at least the kids will still receive their cards.

I am hoping to have Easter baskets for William and Adelaide and Stafford filled and ready to go by the end of the month. I will hide the baskets in the closet until Easter. I always enjoy putting a few small gifts and some Easter candy in my children’s Easter baskets each year, and I don’t want to skip that tradition this year if I don’t have to. As soon as the stores start selling Easter candy, I hope to be able to get some, fill three Easter baskets, and put them in the closet to pull out on Easter Sunday. But Stafford doesn’t get candy; he gets a onesie and a board book!

I have clothing sorted into labeled boxes for Adelaide for the next two years. Between rummage sale shopping I did this fall, and some wonderful hand-me-downs from a cousin, Adelaide has many of the clothes she will need in the next couple of years. This will be helpful because it will save me a lot of time and energy that I would otherwise have to spend shopping or sorting through hand-me-down sizes later on. This winter I sorted the clothes into boxes that are each labeled with her name and the size. When Adelaide grows, I can let Will know what size she needs, and he can get the labeled box from the basement for me.

I have prepared to pass on the bill paying responsibilities to Will if need be. I am usually the one to keep track of finances and pay bills because it is a task I can do while lying down in bed. But if I become too physically exhausted or brain fogged, then I need to be able to easily hand this stuff over to Will. I have typed up a list of which bills are due when, how they are paid, etc. I hope that I will be able to continue to help Will by taking care of the bill paying, but if I cannot, at least everything is organized and ready to pass over to him.

I have talked with my local friends about what is likely to happen with my health after Stafford is born, and I have shared about the kind of help I will need in the months to come. I have had a few health crashes since moving to Minnesota six years ago, but none of them have been as severe as the crash I had when Adelaide was a baby. No one here has seen me that sick, so it was important to let my friends know what could happen again. Two of my friends have overwhelmed me with their love and support and offers of significant, practical help. I have also let our church know what my specific needs are right now, and what my needs will likely be in the coming months and years. Our church is currently helping us with meals, and they are talking about other ways they can help us after Stafford is born.

Do you have any other ideas to make life as easy as possible with a newborn? I would love to hear! I want to be as prepared as I can be for the challenges ahead!

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