Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cloth Diapers and Paperwork

Nearly every day Brian and I look at each other and comment on how much the baby has grown overnight. I suppose that's because he is literally growing overnight. At his eight week check up he was 12 lbs 5 oz (5.6 kilos) and 24 inches (61 cm) long. Now nearing the 90th percentile and outgrowing many of his clothes!

We're using cloth diapers on Riker and we're really happy with them. We used disposables for the first week so we wouldn't have to wash those tar-like first poos out of cloth but since then he's been in cloth. We decided to use a very simple cloth diaper system to start - prefolds and covers. There are some very fancy cloth diapers out there but we decided not to invest in any of those before he was born and we could find out what type would fit him best. Prefolds also fit a newborn better than some of the other styles out there. The set we are currently using was a gift from Heather and was purchased on ebay for only $55. That's a pretty good deal considering the price of disposables and the price of some modern cloth diapers! In the last couple of days we decided to use up the newborn disposables that were given to us before he out grows them and find them to leak more and not provide any additional convienence. Here's our stash including Chinese prefolds, Pro-wraps, Thirsties and Snappis:

With prefolds, you simply fold the absorbent cloth square and secure it with a Snappi fastener:

Then you cover that with a waterproof cover. This is my favorite style (Thirsties brand). They're very soft and come in lots of fun colors!

Once the diaper has been used, it goes into a dry bucket (no rinsing required) and then the whole bucket goes into the laundry once a day. Easy. We're also using cloth wipes and they just go into the same bucket as well.

We like the prefolds so much that we might just stick with them instead of getting the more expensive pocket diapers. I'll have to order a bigger size by the time he reaches fifteen pounds or so but that's still significantly cheaper than pockets which can be $20+ per diaper. I have ordered a few just to try them out though. I settled on a brand called Nubunz which appears to be a knockoff of some of the name brand varieties like BumGenius, but at $9.50 each, a much better deal.

There's quite a bit of paperwork to do when having a baby overseas. We have to travel to Sydney to get a Consular Report of Birth and then we have to get a Social Security number and a passport which is sizable stack of paper and requires amongst other information for both of us to list everywhere we've every been in our lives. We thought we'd take a shot at taking his passport photo ourselves and here are some of the cute ones:

Finally, a funny video of the little guy asleep in his rocking chair hitting himself in the face:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Birth Story of Riker Donald McMillin

Seven weeks old and I've just managed to finish writing the birth story from my perspective. Fortunately we have our midwife's notes from the event because I'm in no way claiming that my version of the story is temporally accurate :)

I had originally said that I would post the birth story here in its entirety once it was completed but it turns out to be seven pages long. So if would like to read the birth story, I'm happy to share the gory details...just leave a comment or send me an email and I'll forward it to you.

Monday, December 14, 2009


A few images from week six:

So in love...

Oh those little toes!

In his Green Baby onesie from Auntie Liz and Uncle Keith. Appropriately, he wore this to a BBQ with my workmates this weekend :)

Almost a smile...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Six Weeks and Growing

The tricky thing about breastfeeding, I find, is that you never really know how much milk you are producing and in turn, you never really know if what you are producing is sufficient for your baby. So I've spent a fair bit of time over the past six weeks worrying whether or not he's getting enough to eat. I was worried because he had a somewhat traumatic birth and then we had some difficulties establishing breastfeeding so I wasn't feeling very confident about the whole process. But all along he's had wet and pooey diapers and seemed happy and content. Today I took him to the local community clinic where you can drop in to weigh your baby and chat with a nurse. And I'm very pleased with the results! Here are his vital stats:

Birth weight: 3.9 kilos or 8 lbs 10 oz
Six week weight: 5.2 kilos or 11 lbs 8 oz
33% increase!

Birth length: 53 cm or 20.5 inches
Six week length: 57 cm or 22.4 inches
10% increase!

He's in the 75th percentile across the board. That's my boy - growing up before my very eyes....

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Master Riker

I just received new insurance policy cards since Riker was added to our plan and I quite like them :)

Wikipedia tells me that Master is an English title used for young and teenage or unmarried boys and that they are not to be called Mister until some undefined age, generally around thirteen. The title is mostly used for formal correspondence or invitations but feel free to call him Master Riker anytime :) You can also call him Number One as some of you have affectionately suggested :)

Photo of the day:

Master Riker is finally asleep and it's 12:30 so I can eat lunch at a reasonable time today. Maybe that will help to mend my clearly dysfunctional brain. Today I found my wallet in the refrigerator. I'd put it in the grocery bag yesterday and the whole thing just went into the fridge when I got home. Ah, that's a funny story too. Yesterday I had coffee with an American woman who lives two blocks away in Lyneham, has a twelve week old baby (girl) and a nearly identical birth story (posterior, brow, forceps), a husband who works at CSIRO (same organization as Brian) and she is from the Cleveland area. Funny eh?

Last random tidbit that shows I'm operating on auto pilot. Brian told me that in the middle of the night I was snoring loudly, awoke abruptly saying "sssshhhhhhhhh" to the baby and then went promptly back to snoring.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sleep and Smiles

The days continue to fly by and some semblance of order is emerging out of the chaos. I'm getting a bit more sleep as the baby has been sleeping pretty well at night for the last few days. He's been getting about 3-4 hours sleep and is then up for an hour before going back to sleep for about two hours. Who'd have thought I'd ever think that that qualified as good sleep? Everything is easier with some rest and I even cooked dinner the other night for the first time in five weeks!

Here is the first smile photo I've managed to capture:

In his bouncy seat in the sun:

Babywearing mamas. At the Birth Centre annual picnic with Amy from our birth classes and baby Emily. Riker and Emily both happily cocooned in wrap slings.

On the ANUgreen veranda for Mitchell and Ailis's farewell party before they move to Atlanta. Ailis and Riordan, Barry and Riker.

Barry and Riker. Having heard his voice next to me in the office for all those months, they're mates already.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Four Weeks Old Already!

Today is Riker's four week birthday! The first three weeks are a total blur for me. Brian went back to work on Monday leaving us to fend for ourselves and while I was dreading the day, it's actually gone pretty well. Feeding is getting easier. Feeding the baby that is. Feeding me has gone down the priority list amongst the all-consuming tasks of nursing, settling and changing diapers. When I was pregnant I wondered how it could possibly be that a baby could take so much time. I mean really, there should be time for a shower and casual lunches with friends - or so I thought. Now the days pass and I realize I haven't changed my clothes in two days. It takes 2-3 hours to get ready to leave the house and I'm lucky if I get a load of laundry done in a day. So you'll forgive me if your emails remain unanswered and your phone calls unreturned. Is that a word? Spell check says no. On with the cuteness....

Note, lately I've been compressing images before posting them on my blog so if you ever want a high resolution image, just let me know and I can email it. Some of the images aren't the best quality to begin with as I take lots of them in the middle of the night when I'm trying to pass the time!

Monday, November 23, 2009

All this with one hand...

I just re-read my first post about the baby and had a good laugh that I thought I would ever have two hands free again!

A few images to review the last month. This is probably the last photo of me while pregnant, just two days before the birth:

With Brian and Heather on her first day in Canberra:

Riker's first bath:

Deep in thought sleeping baby:

Daddy time:

Self portrait with a tired mama:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The moment you've all been waiting for...

Some of you may have noticed that we've had just a wee bit of trouble in settling on a name for our newest family member. Therefore I'm pleased to announce that as of last weekend, we have made a decision!

Introducing Riker Donald McMillin:

In the end we decided that Brian could choose the first name and I would choose the middle name. Brian really liked the sound of Riker and chose it for its originality and Donald is in honor of my late father.

All is well and the last three weeks have flown by in a blur. We are still sorting out some breastfeeding challenges and dealing with a general lack of sleep but I think we're getting the hang of this parenting thing bit by bit.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The First Week

A few more photos...the best I can do with one hand!

Going home from the hospital:

And a selection of sleeping cuteness:

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Introducing baby McMillin! Our healthy and happy baby bundle arrived at 6:04 am on the 29th of October. That was 2:04 pm on Wednesday the 28th, Minnesota time. He weighed in at 8 lbs 10 oz and is 20.5 inches long. Birth was somewhat more difficult than imagined as bub was posterior and face up and therefore stuck in the birth canal - forceps assisted in the end so you'll notice the cone head in the front and some serious bruising. Going down already.

Here are some highlights...more to come after I get home and have my camera cable and both of my hands available :)

My incredible birth team: midwife Natasha, Brian and his sister Heather.

Very alert and content!

Name negotiations in progress :) Thanks for all your good wishes!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

38 weeks

I've been on maternity leave for just over two weeks now and I've managed to stay away from the office for all but about one full day. I had to go in on Monday to interview for my replacement. After three rounds of applications, we finally got several good candidates so that's encouraging.

I'm still feeling really good for the most part though I'm starting to understand the waddling that inevitably plagues pregnant women. Not only do your hips start to do something pretty uncomfortable, you actually lose the ability to use your abdominal muscles so movement in general becomes awkward at best.

Baby is moving around like crazy and clearly getting stronger and bigger every day. Brian is so excited for him to arrive that he keeps telling him to come out and play. I tell him not to listen to his daddy (just this once) and to stay in there for another couple weeks. I'm really enjoying the time to myself and Heather doesn't arrive for about a week.

I realize I haven't posted belly photos for a couple of weeks. Here I am at 38 weeks just before going out to dinner with all of my workmates and their partners at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. What a terrific evening! I so love my team and am already sad to not see all of them every day.

I've been keeping myself busy power cleaning the house, shopping, cooking nice food and doing loads of baby laundry. It's been raining off and on for weeks so today I finally had the chance to get everything out on the line. How cute are all of these little itty bitty things?

And now for the best part of being on maternity leave - afternoon napping!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Anniversary / Babymoon

September 21st was our seventh wedding anniversary(!) and to celebrate we spent the weekend at a beach house on the coast. Below is the view from our verandah and just behind us is an enclosed full size hot tub with the same amazing view. Oh, and in case you're wondering, that's cherry juice in my wine glass :)

We had a really nice walk on the beach when we first arrived and were fascinated by this cuttlefish we found as we'd never seen one before. Some gentle prodding revealed that it was full of ink, lots of eggs and an undigested fish!

Unbelievably enough, we were up the next morning for sunrise and got these great shots before having our first breakfast of the day and then going back to bed.

I've always wanted to paint my nice round belly so Brian got to be the artist and created this cool design. The little red thing on what was once my belly button is the baby surrounded by us on either side. I really like this photo even though I look like somewhat of giantess :)

Not sure yet what the plant below is called but we'd never seen anything like it - it towered above our heads and nearly reached the second floor of the house.

And to top it all off, we saw dolphins in the bay on Monday when we were packing up to leave. Not the best photo but so nice to see, I just had to include it.

So, a lovely weekend was had by all. We'll celebrate again when the harvest moon appears on October 4th and roll out the Neil Young. Crazy to think that it's been just the two of us for over eight years now and in five weeks there will be three of us....

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Birth Classes

Last night was our second in a series of five childbirth and parenting classes at the Birth Centre and we continue to be incredibly grateful for being able to have our baby there. The midwives are just wonderful and we’re starting to meet the others in the north team who could be present at the birth should our midwife be on her weekend off or be up all night the night before. Apparently, though we have an 89% chance of having our midwife present.

Other things we love about it - the BC has a really low rate of interventions and Cesarean rates are way below the national average. The centre itself is very comfortable with couches and photos of babies born there all over the walls with notes from grateful parents. The rooms have huge baths, dimmable lights, oil burners (for aromatherapy), balls, mats and a button that brings emergency assistance within sixty seconds – all good things! The staff treat you as if you are the most important people in the whole process who are capable of making intelligent decisions and best of all, fully capable of birthing your baby in your own time. There is absolutely none of the fear you often find surrounding the issues of birth and no one will be saying "well you're not progressing according to 'schedule' so lets induce!"

The first birthing class was all about breastfeeding and we found it really informative. Last nights class was on managing the first stage of labor and we learned about all of the crazy things a woman’s pelvis can do! The midwife even had a hand knitted uterus as a prop :) I only expect you to appreciate that if you’re a knitter by the way. We also talked a lot about the support person’s role in labor, which is, of course, to do anything the woman asks and give lots of massages and positive reinforcement :) Brian is going to be a terrific support and the midwife even had to tell him (nicely) to shut up at one point because he’d been doing his homework and knew all of the answers to her many questions. I was glad he was with me :) Also very pleased to have my dear sister-in-law Heather coming over for support as well. I’m feeling very confident in my team and in my ability to do this rather miraculous act! But not for another eight weeks.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Standing in the rain for a voice in the house

I've just accidentally taken almost the entire day off of work and since the emails (surprisingly) haven't piled up, I thought I'd take the chance to post. Today was the national Homebirth Rally at Parliament House and I'd been planning to attend for weeks, but waking up to a very wet and rainy day, I was considering staying in. Except that I remembered that women were flying and driving in from all over the country to attend this event and that I probably should make the ten minute drive to get myself there! So my friend Janette, a midwife in a local hospital, and I donned our rain gear and were pleasantly surprised to see that thousands of other people didn't let the rain deter them either. Here's a nice shot of the crowd full of moms and dads and kids and baby bellies:

The rally was held to protest federal government plans that would effectively make homebirthing illegal. The Labor party introduced laws into parliament in June which proposed, among other things, to establish a national midwifery register. However, in order to join, midwives must be insured, but private insurers no longer provide cover for homebirthing. So hundreds of independent midwives would face fines of up to $30,000 if they would continue to practice next year.

The issue of course is that everyone deserves to be able to make the decision about where they will birth their babies. And if families choose to birth at home, then they should have access to qualified midwifery care and back-up medical services if required. The introduced law, if passed, would essentially send homebirthing underground and that's not in anyone's best interest. And making it all somewhat ridiculous is the fact that homebirth statistics have excellent outcomes with far fewer unnecessary interventions than hospital births and parents report very high levels of satisfaction with homebirth. So, the crowds came out to say "We demand the choice."

One of many terrific banners:

And excitingly, my friend Ela (a homebirth midwife) drove to Canberra all the way from Byron Bay for the rally, about fourteen hours! I wasn't sure if she was coming until we managed to find each other at the rally. Yay!

And since she'd come all this way and was going to start the drive back tonight, I thought the least I could do would be to spend part of the afternoon having a nice lunch with her and some of her friends in the homebirthing and homeschooling community. So that's how I accidentally took the afternoon off of work for a very good cause.