33 Weeks Pregnant: Dessert Decoration, Dog Deodorizing, and Dutailier

February 2 – February 8: 33 Weeks 0 Days – 33 Weeks 6 Days.

Dessert Decoration

Okay, I admit it: I secretly want to get an over-the-top professional maternity photoshoot wearing a lace maternity gown and a floral crown. I didn’t even know what a maternity sash was before accidentally finding them on Etsy, but now I can’t help wanting one of those too, to… wear around the house, I guess. I can’t really justify the cost of any of these things, but a girl can dream!

This weekend I had my San Francisco baby shower, and I’ll jump at any opportunity to make an elaborate cake. There was one particular maternity sash on Etsy that I kept ogling, so I decided to get it out of my system by making it the inspiration for my cake. Cake-decorating is one of my forms of artistic expression, and it felt great to spend several dedicated hours focused on creating something to honor the baby.


In another feat of not emptying my bank account into the baby industry’s pockets, I bought a beautiful Dutailier reclining glider chair and ottoman on Craigslist instead of getting one new (check that of the to-buy-used list I made a couple weeks ago). I probably didn’t spend any less than I would have on a new one, but I got much better quality for the price. When I tried out the glider chairs on display at Babies R’ Us, at least half of them no longer glided properly or felt like they were about to fall apart. The one I got is built solidly and is still in great condition. I listened to my daily birth prep hypnosis track by Rachel Yellin reclined in the nursery today, and it was lovely.

Dog Deodorizing

The big event of the week was that our dog, Foxy, got sprayed in the face by a skunk. Richard heard her yelp and immediately opened the door and called her in. She showed up at the door barely able to open her eyes, frothing at the mouth, and coughing. We were so focused on rescuing our furbaby that we didn’t put enough thought into containing the skunk odor. By the time we got her eyes rinsed with saline and her coat cleaned with a hydrogen peroxide concoction, she had dripped skunk oil through the house, shaken off in the bathroom before she was deodorized, and contaminated Richard and me so we were spreading stink around the house too. The next few days were spent deep-cleaning the house. I looked online hoping that bleach (a recommended deskunkifier) was unsafe during pregnancy so I’d get out of scrubbing the bathroom from floor to ceiling, but all I found was an article that began: “Unfortunately ladies, most products are safe to use for cleaning during pregnancy. Yes, even bleach.

Foxy listening for the baby

Foxy likes to stand out in the backyard to listen and feel for gophers underground. Before she got banned from the couch after the skunk incident, she had taken to resting her head on my belly. I like to think she knows there’s a little critter in there and she’s listening and feeling for it.

An article called, “The One Thing No One Tells You Before You Have Kids: Don’t Get a Dog,” was circulating Facebook recently. I’m hoping we have Foxy trained well enough that most of the issues recounted in the article wont be problems for us. Also, occurrences like the skunk-ocalypse 2015 make me believe more and more that having a dog is amazing preparation for having a kid. Here are ten way Foxy has trained Richard and me for children:

  1. Developing roles. Foxy forced Richard and me to work as a team to make sure she was getting all her walks, food, and other care. When we lived in the city and she needed an escort for every outdoor excursion, I, the early bird did all the morning walks, and Richard, the night owl, did all the evening walks. I’m hoping that once we introduce bottles we can develop a similar schedule with the baby.
  2. Choosing a “parenting style.” Richard tends slightly more to the “dogs should be allowed to act like dogs” side and I’m a little more in the “training a dog well gives it more freedom in the long run” camp. We a agree on most things, but we have oodles of practice reconciling the things we disagree on (and sometimes reconciling means accepting that we’re each going to do things differently). I think Richard and my philosophies on parenting will be flipped from how we feel about the dog. I’m more of the “let kids be who they are” philosophy and Richard believes in “give the kids enough structure to set them up for success.” Obviously somewhere in between is ideal, and I know from our experience with the dog that we’ll (eventually) reconcile our differences in opinion.
  3. Advocating. Foxy is allergic to poultry, of all things, which means I have to advocate for her when people try to feed her chicken and turkey. And I get a lot of backlash for it! Many people seem to think I’m an overly concerned health-nut yuppie, or that that there’s no way a dog could be allergic to meat (I don’t understand it either, but that doesn’t change reality), or that because she likes chicken it proves she’s not allergic to it. They’re not the ones who have to clean up the vomit and diarrhea for three days afterward. If my child has food allergies (or another condition that makes her sensitive to her environment), I’ll have no problem being as much of a mama bear as I need to be to make sure she doesn’t get exposed.
  4. Not freaking out about health stuff. We didn’t know Foxy had a poultry allergy at first, and she had some scary symptoms: bloody diarrhea, vomiting, not eating for three days, hives. After spending enough money on vet visits, we learned to discern between what we could watch and wait on, and what actually needed medical attention. I hope that I can maintain the same level-headedness when the baby has her first rash or first fever (or at least learn to do so by the fourth or fifth rash or fever).
  5. Dealing with poop. Before I had a dog, one of my biggest concerns about having a baby was that I wouldn’t be able to deal with the icky diapers. I’ve dealt with so much and so many different consistencies of dog poop now that I know I will have no problem with the diapers.
  6. Being okay with not being able to have nice things. I posted months ago about redoing my patio to create a succulent and beach pebble oasis. I was borderline neurotic about the stones being exactly the right color. My kitchen opens onto the patio, so I’ve started a little herb garden out there too. One of Foxy’s preferred places to poop? On my black Mexican beach pebbles! And, the other day I caught her eating my chives and licking my cilantro—remind me to wash those thoroughly before cooking with them. Honestly though, I have a feeling the baby/toddler/child/teenager is going to do much more damage than Foxy has ever done, but Foxy has at least begun to prepare me. Yet another reason to buy used instead of new where possible.
  7. Loss of freedom. Especially now that I live in the suburbs and work in the city, it takes a lot of orchestrating to make sure Foxy doesn’t get left at home for too long (and I’m definitely not installing a doggie door with the skunks around here). Scheduling around the dog has made it clearer which jobs will be sustainable when I have a baby—the job that’s a 45-minute commute either way for one hour of work isn’t going to be worth the cost of childcare.
  8. Learning to trust babysitters. Okay, this is a lie. I don’t trust dogsitters. I do have two sets of friends I can leave Foxy with and totally relax, but I’ve never ever left her at a doggie daycare or in a kennel. However, I recognize that this is something that I need to get over, especially if I ever want to work again after having kids.
  9. Maintaining our relationship. It’s easy for a dog to take over a couple’s life. For a while, all Richard and I were talking about was Foxy, Foxy, Foxy. Eventually, we instated a “no dog talk” rule that either of us could enact if we were sick of rating poop and discussing the merits of various training techniques. It was always Richard calling the rule on me, which was annoying, but it helped us find our way back to real conversations and connection. I’ve heard from many friends that a baby can completely consume your conversations as well, and I’m hoping that our experience with the dog will help us carve out some time for adult discussion (although, during the first few weeks when we’re both at home exclusively looking after the baby day and night, we may need to get some conversation starter cards…)
  10. Caring about a being so much that you do stupid, crazy things to protect it. Like letting the whole house get contaminated with skunk smell to make the dog more comfortable, or paying a premium to take her to a holistic vet (this sounds kooky, but it was actually totally worth it), or prying an aggressive dog’s maws off your furbaby with your bare hands (this was Richard, and it took several stitches to recover). I know with the baby it’s going to be that feeling of love and protectiveness on steroids! I can’t wait to experience it.
33 Weeks Pregnant

At 33 Weeks Pregnant, even my maternity clothes are getting tight!

29 Weeks Pregnant: Nursery Mania

January 5 – January 1: 29 Weeks 0 Days – 29 Weeks 6 Days.

I’m not usually into consumerism. When we bought our house I hit up yard sales, Craigslist, and a friend’s garage to get the furniture we needed—I didn’t buy any large items new. I know that businesses gouge people around big, emotional life events, so when Richard and I got married I made a conscious effort to avoid letting the wedding industry drain our bank accounts. I bought my decorations and (amazing) dress on Craigslist, held the whole event at one venue, chose caterers that didn’t have a special elevated price for weddings, and gratefully accepted help from friends and family for everything from cake-making to officiating. Somehow the baby industry has gotten to me though. I can’t seem to resist wanting the new, the shiny, and the top-of-the-line.

I didn’t initially have a theme in mind for the nursery. In fact, I think themes are kind of silly. Our wedding didn’t have a theme—we had a Barbie and Ken cake, truth or dare fortune cookie favors, and Craigslist personals ad-themed place cards. Nothing fit together, and that was the way I wanted it.


Tree Shelves

My mom bought us this amazing alternative to the tree bookshelf on Etsy for a fraction of the price. (Sitting on easy-sliding cardboard until we decide on it’s final location because it’s heavy as, well, a stump).

When I started working on my baby registry, I quickly found out I couldn’t just add generic “crib sheets” to my list. I had to pick out specific sheets, and the ones with the little forest animals on them were cute, so why not? Add. Then there was an adorable mobile with a fox, raccoon, owl, and hedgehog on Etsy. Add (My sister ended up hand-making me something similar, yay!). Then were sweet fox-themed hooded towels, bibs, and burp cloths. Add, add, add. Then I found out those forest friends crib sheets had a whole matching nursery set. Resist. Aagh, can’t. Add lamp, add hamper, and add area rug. Then I found the $80 (each) handmade wooden forest animal bookends on Etsy—expensive, but if someone wanted to get them for me I wouldn’t stop them! Add. Then the $2100 tree-shaped bookshelf from the same Etsy artist. ADD.

Delta Bennington Dresser

Delta Bennington Dresser and changing top (mine is a little darker to match the crib)

Ladies and gentlemen, a nursery theme and a manic, starry-eyed consumer are born. Once a theme had clearly emerged, I deleted several items from my registry that didn’t fit, and added versions that matched my nursery theme, even if they were a little pricier. To give provide some context to show how out-of-character all of this is for me, nothing matches in our house. In our bedroom, we have a mahogany-colored bed frame, a honey-colored bedside table, and a white bedside table. In our office space, we have two cabinets and two desks, each with a different colors of wood. In contrast, when we started looking for cribs, my first filter was for models I could get in a dark wooden color to fit my forest theme. My second filter was that it had to have a matching dresser with a changing top. I’ve officially been seduced by the baby products industry.

Forest animal outlet covers

I had to admit I had a problem when I observed myself asking Richard if we could hire an electrician to install a different type of outlet in the nursery to fit these adorable outlet covers. Luckily I came to my senses. (If they fit your outlets, the artist who makes them can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/cathyscraftycovers . Send me pics so I can live vicariously through you!)

To cut myself some slack, shopping for nursery furniture is overwhelming and I needed to decrease the search space somehowI stand by getting a dresser and changing table in one—that’s a money saver—but I would have saved more money, new-product fumes, and a disturbing amount of Styrofoam packing material had been less picky about matching furniture and found one used.

Foxy tears up Styrofoam

We had the horrifying amount of styrofoam that came with the nursery furniture all bagged up for disposal (5 bags, ughhh), and while we were out Foxy unwrapped it all.

Nursery themes aside, cribs are the gateway to getting hooked on new products. The experts tell you to buy cribs and mattresses new to make sure they’re up to the latest safety standards. Looking for a new crib funneled me into baby stores full of stainless, unscratched, pill-free baby paraphernalia and furniture. Ogle. It also got me worrying about the safety of used items. There are several baby bathtubs selling for $3.50 at my local baby thrift shop, and even though they look like the exact same one I have on my registry, I haven’t bought one because I’ve been irrationally worried about their safety. Reality check: a baby bathtub is just a big bucket that I would never leave my baby unattended in anyway—it would be hard to go wrong.

Delta Bennington 3-in-1 Crib

Delta Bennington 3-in-1 Crib.

Once I got the superficial filtering out of the way, I did take some time to research and critically compare my favorite cribs (The Consumer Reports crib buying guide was helpful). We chose a crib made of pine, which was affordable, but pine is a softer wood so we can expect a multitude of dents and scratches. I ruled out cribs that contained particle board (common in IKEA furniture) as I’ve read it releases toxic chemicals into the air. However, the crib’s matching dresser has particle board in the back and in the drawers. I thought it would be negligible, but it smells awful! It’s locked away in the nursery-to-be spending some quality time with our purifier. It will be months before the baby sleeps in there, so hopefully it will get most of its off-gassing out of the way by then. The crib has a painfully basic design—it doesn’t have any extravagant nobs, posts, or details that could easily catch a baby’s clothing and be a strangulation hazard. We decided that a crib that converts into a toddler bed (and a day bed, whatever that is) would be enough (some convert into full beds as well). One salesperson advised us that if we bought a pine crib, by the time the child was at full bed age, the wood would be so beat up we wouldn’t want to use it as a full bed (maybe she was just trying to upsell us though).

Selecting a crib mattress was initially confusing (why are there so many??), but I did some research to help me narrow it down (Again Consumer Reports was a God-send). I chose a mattress (the Simmons Kids ComforPedic) with a foam core (instead of coils) because they’re much lighter, which will make frequent sheet changing easier. It also has a waterproof cover for easy cleaning. It’s firm on one side for infants (firm mattresses reduce SIDS risk) and plusher on the other side for toddlers (makes sense to have a two-in-one mattress since our crib converts to a toddler bed). I chose this mattress over less expensive ones because it is Greenguard and CertiPUR-US certified, meaning it is less likely to contain toxic chemical or emit noxious fumes. It’s also got a 35-year warranty; I’ve rarely made use of a warranty, even if something breaks, but it shows that the manufacturers stand by their product.

Now that I’ve bought the stuff that parents are “supposed to” buy new, my intention is to overcome my nursery mania and acquire most of the rest of my baby items used. Here are some of the things I’m looking for, if you have any leads:

  • My Brest Friend nursing pillow (preferably a forest-y color, but I’ll get over it if it’s not)
  • Glider chair and ottoman (non-rickety; many of the seem prone to falling apart)
  • Baby Bathtub
  • Baby Wipes Warmer (I chose the Munchkin Glow on my registry, but that may have just been because it came in green…)
  • Laundry hamper
  • Fitted crib sheets (forrest-y colors and patterns would be irresistible)
  • Sun shades for backseat windows
  • Baby clothes (preferably not pilled and stained)