Opinions & Musings

BUILD IT, AND THEY WILL COME.

I have been on maternity leave for 8 months, and it has been fantastic.  That wasn’t exactly “The Plan”, though.  When I was pregnant, I had planned on taking 3 months off, then putting the baby into daycare, and adjusting my hours at the salon to accommodate the daycare’s hours.  

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Well, “The Plan” went out the window when I was 38 weeks pregnant and Mr. Heatherland and I decided to relocate from Massachusetts to Virginia.  I didn’t go back to work, I didn’t put the little guy in daycare, instead I have been happily building a new life in Virginia and enjoying time with my baby.

 

But, now I miss hairdressing

That kind of snuck up on me.  I actually didn’t expect to miss it.  I’m pretty sure there’s a part of me that just needs the creative outlet, the conversation, and the feeling of accomplishment.  But unfortunately, there’s the classic problem associated with “going back to work”,  and this is the problem all mothers face, no matter what you do for a living: How do you balance work-life and motherhood? Do you dive back in?  Do you stop working altogether?  Do you try something different? Even if you want to go back to work, or if you have to go back, your heart really does (and always will) remain with your little one.  It’s a bittersweet challenge.   Because you go back to work as a different person, with different priorities, and a different level of commitment.

 

My situation is a little complex because we moved, so I can’t go back to my old salon and pick up where I left off.  I have to re-build from scratch.  Which is fine, I’ve done it three times already, I am sure I can do it again.   But I’ve been pondering, and noodling, and day dreaming, and trying to figure out how the heck I can strike a decent balance.  Typically a hairdresser works late hours, and weekends, but I’ve been enjoying not doing that… So, how do I have my cake and eat it too? 

 

here’s the revelation…

Mr. Heatherland and I recently bought a beautiful new home in the a charming Town of Herndon, that happens to be very walkable to downtown.  And guess what… this house has about 600 sqft of unfinished space in the basement, and it already has plumbing in the floor! (trust me, that’s very important).  What do you think? Can I have a little salon at home?

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We certainly didn’t buy this house with the intention of putting a salon in the basement.  It wasn’t until about a month ago Mr. Heatherland and I were musing, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just work from home…” and I swear actual lightbulbs turned on over our heads.  Why can’t I?  People do that, right?  I googled home-based salons in Virginia to find out what the rules were, and the more I read about it, the more it appeared our house was perfect for it.  

 

  • Needs Separate Entrance, check.
  • Needs Bathroom for Business use, check.
  • Needs Parking on the property itself, not on the street, check.
  • No more that ⅓ the house can be devoted to the business, check.
  • No exterior signage, not a problem.
  • No more than 4 customers a day, excellent!

 

Then the big hurdle was this:  We live in a historic part of town, with pretty strict rules about the general aesthetic of your home and such, and I had no idea if the town’s zoning board would allow a home-based salon where we were.  

 

So, the next morning with my baby strapped to my chest I set off to talk to the zoning department, and at first the conversation was a bit of a head-scratcher for them because they hadn’t had this request before.  But as we went over the rules together, they took a peek at the property, and my plan, and before I knew it I was walking home with a stack of papers to read, permits to file, and a signature from the zoning board giving me the green light to do the build-out.

 

Giddy up!

I get to wear one of my favorite hats of all time: General Contractor!  I have a plan, a few drawings, a long shopping list, a schedule, a budget, and after meeting many, many subcontractors, I have a band of merry men to help me try to pull this together on time.  As much as I would love to DIY, now that I’m a mama there is very little time for my trusty tyvek suits and respirator masks.  On the docket this week: Concrete Floor Polishing. 

 

Oh, and here’s a little sense of what I’m trying to create.  Simple, clean, contemporary.  A space I actually want to spend time in!

Salon Vision Board

If I actually pull this off, this whole “Build it and they will come” idea, I will be such a lucky duck. Getting to work in a space I love, on client’s that I love, and do it “just enough” so I still love what I do.  What could be better?  Plus, I can lead by example for my little guy and show him that if what you need isn’t available, you just have to build it.

Sweet Baby Sleep.

Baby Heatherland has outgrown his nickname, “Lord Fussington”… and was quickly transitioning into a new one: “Lord Neversleeps”.

 

So, I purchased a sleep training plan from The Baby Sleep Site, and we began sleep training about a month ago.  And “sleep training” means different things to different people, so what it really meant for our family was this:

  • No more bouncing/rocking him excessively to sleep
  • No more nursing him to sleep
  • No more sleeping on Mr. Heatherland or I
  • All sleep at home would be in his crib
  • There would be crying involved, but in a controlled fashion

 

Full disclosure: The first 4 months of Lord Neversleeps life he NEVER slept in his crib, in fact… the crib was pretty much storage for the never ending stream of baby products I was trying out. Which meant the first step to his sleep training plan was to create a cozy sleep environment for him. Here are our essentials:

SWEET BABY SLEEP ESSENTIALS

 

ONE: Babyletto Pure Core Organic Mattress, $199.  I was in search of a mattress that was not only comfortable, but was made out materials that were non toxic.  After A TON OF RESEARCH (!!) I found this crib mattress and I couldn’t be happier.  No off-gassing, yes please!  And FYI, I ended up buying this online from Kohl’s during a sale and with Kohl’s Cash, so it was only about $100 including a Babyletto organic cotton mattress pad.  

TWO: Love To Dream Swaddle Up, 50/50, $26. Lord Neversleeps requires a swaddle to sleep.  But, there comes a time when your baby starts rolling all over the place and they need their little arms.  So this swaddle is a multi-purpose product.  It’s unique because the arms are up, so baby can suck on their hands to soothe, but the arms also unzip so you can turn it into a sleep-sack. It’s worked great for us.  I tried the whole Love to Dream line, and he liked having his arms up the best.

THREE: Threshold Light Blocking Curtains, $35/ea. What can I say… I LOVE the drapes at Target.  You can’t beat the price and the fabric is always on trend.  The windows in Lord Neversleep’s room also have blinds on them, so his room is seriously dark when he sleeps.  Without those blinds, these drapes would filter out the majority of light, but not all of it.

FOUR: Nest Cam, $199.  I really can’t say enough about this Nest cam as a monitor.  Besides the great image quality, and easy mount-ability, it also offers your motion/sound history so you can see exactly what time you put your baby down, or what time you picked him back up.  Which, during sleep training, is very valuable information.  However…  I said this before, if you use Nestcam for your monitor, you are beholden to their server, so if it goes down, SO DOES YOUR MONITOR.  So I have a backup monitor on my iPhone with the Cloud Baby app, $5. 

FIVE: Fitted Jersey Crib Sheets.  Soft sheets are the make or break item for a comfy, cozy sleep environment for your baby.  I think a great sheet can make or break a great night’s sleep, so here’s some additional info about my search for the best (and most cost effective), drumroll, please…

 

The Best Sheet

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There are actually two I love.  The first is the Living Textiles Fitted Jersey Sheet, $28.  It’s soft and deep, and is holding up to the abuse of frequent washings.  A close second is Ziggy Baby Jersey Crib Sheet, 2 for $25.  These sheets are half the price of my first pick, but they are almost just as awesome.  The only complaint is they are a tight squeeze for the Babyletto Mattress.

The Bad Sheet

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I have already proclaimed my love for Target (over and over again), but…. The sheet in the Circo Crib Bedding Set, $70, is horrible!  It is so stiff, and so scratchy, I totally thought a washing would soften it, but NOPE!  The rest of the set has been great, so I don’t regret the purchase, but the sheet is total garbage.

The Worst Sheet

 

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I’m quite sad to write this, but I had a disappointing experience with Giggle regarding their Organic Cotton Crib Sheet, $35.  I bought it because it was organic, it was super soft jersey, and it was in a cute little sheep print.  But after one washing the seam holding the elastic to the jersey had ripped in multiple spots.

 

But here’s the thing…I called Giggle, and (shock, horror) they offered me no solution.  They wouldn’t replace the sheet, I was told that they have “never heard of that happening.”, and “your washing machine might be too rough.” The end.

 

So, that’s $35 I just lit on fire.  Quite frankly, that is the first time I have ever reached out to a company regarding a problem with their product (I’m never shy… I call about baby stuff, beauty stuff, home improvement stuff, whatever) and they have not stood behind their product. Bad, Giggle, bad!

 

But, Cest La Vie!  With all this quality sleep training in a super cosy nursery, hopefully Lord Neversleeps will grow out of his nickname soon!

Finding Peace of Mind.

All first time moms are paranoid.

 

Even when we try to pretend we aren’t… we are.  Our paranoia sits like a little imaginary figure on our shoulder, whispering in our ear, telling us to check on our baby.

 

At first I tried so hard not to succumb to the paranoia.  I tried to “be cool” with my newborn.  I tried not to ask every 5 minutes while he was sleeping, “Is he breathing.”  In the beginning, I laughed about my un-founded paranoia.

 

And then it happened.

When our baby boy was 5 weeks old and down for a nap, I looked at him and asked my husband, “Is he breathing?”, since this wasn’t the first time that phrase came from my mouth I fully expected an eye roll as a response, but instead even he thought something was amiss.

 

We touched our son and he did not respond.  I picked up his tiny body and he was limp in my arms, his eyes were open and fixed staring ahead.  I screamed out his name, I shook his lifeless body, my husband called 911…. Had it been it two minutes, or twenty? I have no idea.  But just as the first responders got there, our darling boy came back to us.  He took a breath and started crying.  It was the best sound I have ever heard in my life.

 

At the hospital, he had extensive testing done. We stayed 24 hours for monitoring, and the conclusion was that our son had an ALTE.  I had never heard of an ALTE before, but its an acronym for “Apparent Life Threatening Event”. In layman’s terms it’s an umbrella phrase used for babies who have “appeared to have died”, for no conclusive reason.  And if thats not scary enough, the probability of an ALTE recurring is completley unpredictable.   Although there is no proven association between infants with ALTE presentations and infants who die of SIDS, it has been reported un-officially that almost 10% of babies who die of SIDS had previously had an ALTE. (study here) In fact, in the 1980’s it wasn’t called an ALTE, it was just referred to as “near miss SIDS”.

 

So.  “New-Mother-Paranoia” no longer sits perched on my shoulder, instead it is a beast on my back I carry with me everywhere.

 

Where do I go from here?

I have spent the last 15 weeks recovering from this.  The first few weeks were the hardest.  I don’t think I slept at all.  I tried so hard to “be normal” but every time my mind was at rest I re-lived the events of the ALTE.

 

This is all in spite of the sheer fact our baby is doing great.  Totally fine.  Thriving even.  But I’m not okay.  I can’t relax.  I can’t get past this because I still have so many questions.  And although they may remain unanswered, I need to find a solution to our current problem:  How to I find peace of mind while still forging ahead?  A few weeks ago I started sleep training him but that means he’s out of my sight while he’s sleeping, and each nap I put him down for I can feel the paranoia pumping through my veins.

 

Game Changing Products

I think we can all agree that we live in a world where technology can give you an advantage.  And in this case specifically I have tested products and finally found our winning combination.  With these two products I have basically set up a “nurse’s station” during the day and while I sleep so I can check on him calmly without obsessivly staring at a blurry monitor, or creeping into his room and feeling the hot breath coming from his nose.

 

OWLET

I originally avoided buying this product.  I had received advice from the residents and doctors at the hospital that there would be “false alarms” associated with monitoring products, and those false alarms would be very scary.  But as the weeks wore on, I realized I did not agree with that logic.  I was slowly losing my mind and I needed something more to monitor him with.

 

The most powerful sentance on the Owlet website is this: 

“Why do you get an alert when someone “likes” you status but not when your baby stops breathing?”

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The Owlet is a little sock that contains a pulse oximetry sensor to measure your baby’s heart rate and oxygen level. You put the sock on the baby before you put him down to sleep, and the details are transmitted to your phone, but there is also a base station that will alert you if something is off.

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Yes, there are “false alarms” or alerts, but The Owlet is a superior product because their alarms are color coded.

  • Blue Alert: The sock is unable to communicate with the base station via bluetooth
  • Yellow Alert: The sock fell off or is incorrectly placed
  • Red Alert: High heart rate, low heart rate, or low blood oxygen

All the alerts go off in three distinct ways: Color coded flashing on the base station, text alert to your phone, and an audible alert.

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Ever since the first time I used it, it gave me the peace of mind I have been looking for.  I think it the most valuable product I have purchased and I truly believe that every little baby should have one of these on their foot while they sleep.  If you haven’t checked them out before, I highly encourage you to. (Owlet, $250)

NESTCAM

I tried a few different monitors and it was Mr. Heatherland that brought this one to my attention since it’s not an actual baby monitor, but often times used as one.  The set up was easy and the picture is very crisp, as you can see:

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The advantages are this:

  • The picture quality is amazing, even at night.
  • It can scroll and zoom.
  • You can talk through it.
  • The sound is great.
  • It can be accessed by any device, phone, tablet, computer.
  • It is very small and wall mountable.
  • It uses bank-level encryption so your feed is secure.

The disadvantages are this:

  • You have to be relatively tech savvy to use it
  • It requires your home internet to be very high speed
  • This is the big one: Your nestcam is hooked up to their server… Meaning if Nest has an outage, your monitor won’t work.  Think about that for a bit… If you obsessively stare at your monitor (like all new mothers!) and all the sudden the screen goes dark, how does that make you feel?

But after some trial and error I learned there is no such thing as a “perfect baby monitor”, so I think the Nestcam is as top of the line as you can possibly get. (Nestcam, $198)

 

Final Word

I thought for a long time about whether or not I would share this story.  But multiple times a day I look at my baby and am so thankful to have him here with us.  I feel like we lived through a “near miss”, and despite my feelings of vulnerability and helplessness when I think about what happened to him, I don’t know how I possibly would have recovered if we had lost him that day.

 

So the next time you want to tell a new mother to “lighten up”, or the next time you look at your own baby and feel the paranoia creep in, remember this: we are wired to protect our babies.  The feeling of paranoia exist for a reason, and there is no better tool or technology than your own instincts.  If you feel like something is wrong, don’t ignore it.

 

My heart aches for anyone that had every been affected by the loss of a child.  There are organizations available to research, prevent, or help grieving families.  As tax time is approaching you might be thinking about ways to be charitable, and these causes may not have been on your radar before.

CJ Foundation for SIDS

First Candle

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Okay, that’s all… I’m going to go snuggle with my baby and love all over him.

 

 

 

 

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