Nov 15, 2017

Life with N: 3 Months

N 3 Months

(If I don't stop editing and changing this post, she'll be four months old. We are now at 3.75...)

Aaaand we made it through the fourth trimester! Just like my updates before, I have many thoughts that I don't feel like putting into paragraph form, so you get a list instead. I thought I'd try and avoid any of the cliche sayings like, "I cannot believe time has flown so quickly! How is she three months old already?", but they are cliche for a reason. I think the one the rings the most true is that I sure do miss that little peanut we brought home from the hospital. I find myself scrolling through photos of her from the past three months and wondering where my baby went. I am definitely mourning that newborn stage that I once thought was so scary.

1. Breastfeeding and Pumping and Feeding. Ah man. I might write another post dedicated to my many thoughts on this topic, but I haven't decided. I shouldn't dwell on it because it's a sore subject for me. Basically, after battling clogged duct after clogged duct (I seriously lost count - they were happening at least every two days and they were like a 10 on the pain scale), my supply dropped. A lot. I went from exclusively pumping 34-36 ounces a day to being just about dried up as I write this. It was heartbreaking to say the least. I tried everything to get it back up, but my efforts were wasted (and extremely time consuming). I had a very few emotionally hard weeks and I'm now in a place of acceptance. In fact, I was just thinking the other day how my supply dwindling was actually a blessing in disguise. As you know, pumping was making me miserable. I felt like it was a necessary evil and I absolutely hated the time it took away from N. But, I don't think I would have ever stopped if I still had a good supply and I would have kept on being unhappy, because we all have heard that breast(milk) is best. And of course, I wanted what was best for her. So yes, drying up was not what I wanted to see happen, but it did force me to step away from the milk machine and enjoy my baby...which, in actuality, IS what is best for her. And me.

We introduced a bottle of formula at 11 weeks and she's been doing great on it, which I'm so thankful for. I still have about 100 ounces of frozen milk and I'm spacing it out a bit and mixing with the formula, since it has a bit of a lipase issue (smells kind of metallic, though totally safe for her to drink). I've had various friends recommend Holle formula to us, which we buy from Organic Start.

Motherhood has taught me that nothing, nothing, goes as planned and you have to learn to let things go. I still have lingering moments of sadness about breastfeeding not working for us, but at the same time, I am grateful for pumps and bottles that enabled me to give my baby breastmilk up until this point. I'm also grateful that for the first time since she's been born, she's actually sticking to her weight curve and we are no longer up at night worrying about her weight. It was very very hard for her gain weight on breastmilk alone, so thank you formula!

If you are having trouble breastfeeding, I highly recommend you find another mom friend to reach out to to talk about it. Having someone to chat with that knows exactly how you feel and is patient with you as you continue to lament on the subject is a blessing. Chances are, you have a ton of mom friends who went through the same issue. I have found that those moms who claim breastfeeding is easy are few and far in between, so I really don't think you have to search hard. I have grown so much closer to friends and coworkers by talking about the subject. I texted my best friend a few weeks ago about how upset I was regarding breastfeeding and she immediately called me to tell me her story. I had no idea she went through the same thing! Don't be afraid to talk about it and be a bit vulnerable.

N's suck is improving, so bottle feeding is getting so much easier! The days of hour long feedings where struggled to get every ounce in her are a thing of the past. She loves the Dr. Brown's original bottles and takes anywhere from 4.5 - 5 ounces per feeding and eats six times a day now. Back when we were dealing with bottle latch issues, my lactation consultant suggested that we lay her on her side on a pillow to feed - a position that closely mimics how you hold a baby to breastfeed. (We confirmed with her doctor that this does NOT cause inner ear infections by the way.) She's gotten so used to this position, that it's a bit of a problem when we aren't home. She gets distracted so easily and doesn't seem comfortable eating elsewhere so it does make it a bit stressful when we are at a friend's house and she won't latch to the bottle. Girl has a serious case of FOMO. I've left places a bit early a few times because of this and yes, it stinks. But, we are working on it and like most struggles with babies, this too shall pass.

Besides having friends to chat with (Rachel, you are worth your weight in gold), I also found these three articles that helped me get through the emotional highs and lows:

Time Magazine: Motherhood is Hard to Get Wrong
Erica Chidi Cohen for Cup of Jo: Ten Things I Always Tell Pregnant Women
Happy Home Fairy: Rest in Peace Pump

Phew. Feeding. So many thoughts. All the feelings. Let's talk about the good stuff now. Like how amazing my baby is. No really. She is.

2. Milestones Are What I Live For. She's starting to laugh out loud and I will do every single silly thing on the planet to get her to giggle. She likes it best when I blow raspberries on her (incredibly cute) little belly. I swear every day, she learns something new and impresses us with her mad skills. She's rolled over a couple times from belly to back, but sometimes I think it more closely resembles falling over since her head is a bit giant. She does end up in all sorts of crazy positions in her crib at night, so movement is happening. She's talking to us in her little coos and babbles and I'm pretty sure she knows exactly what she's saying. Her grasp is strong and deliberate and she is showing interest in some toys over others, which is fun. It's fascinating to watch this little person learn and develop.

My favorite part of the day is when I go get her from her crib in the morning as she always greets me with a HUGE smile and giggle that moves her whole body. It's the best thing in the world and I could just eat her up when she does it. It makes waking up a bit easier (though definitely not easy by any means...).

3. Postpartum Body. Postpartum, from a physical standpoint, continues to go well for me. I am fully recovered from the c-section and have been cleared for a few weeks to exercise, though I really don't do anything structured. I think I might start doing a short workout on Saturdays or Sundays while Brandon can watch her. I'm not rushing into it. We do take a lot of long walks, so at least I'm getting some sort of physical activity a day. One thing I haven't touched on is my postpartum body. I very quickly lost most of my pregnancy weight (I gained around 30 pounds by the end), which I attribute to breastfeeding since I was hangry in those first few weeks and was pretty much on a No Carb Left Behind Diet. Breastfeeding hunger is a beast. I'd get mild panic attacks if I went too long without eating and I'd be up at 3am shoving zucchini muffins and cereal in my face.

Since then (and losing my supply), my metabolism has slowed down considerably and my appetite has gone with it, which is good because some days, I honestly don't have time to eat! It was one of those things parents tell you before you have kids that I never believed, but it's is not a priority sometimes. I have about 5-7 pounds left to lose, but it really doesn't bother me at all, besides two things:

1. My engagement ring and wedding band still do not fit. I don't know when I should throw in the towel and get them resized. I gained a lot of water weight when pregnant (my poor hands and feet were so swollen!) and I'm guessing maybe my body is still holding on to some? I'll wait until my milk is fully dried up and then see where it goes from there. I miss wearing them so much!

2. All of my maternity clothes are too big but my old clothes are too small and not comfortable. Even some of the leggings and yoga pants cut into my stomach in the wrong place. Eeep. It's just very frustrating to feel like I have nothing to wear, which makes it all too easy to just stay in my lounge clothes the entire day and look like I have given up on life. I really don't want to do that. All of my shirts fit fine, but the pants department is hard. I have one pair of jeans that fit me with the hair tie trick, though I wouldn't want to wear them out all day. I purchased a pair of leggings and a pair black linen pants in a size up, but they are kind of too big, whereas the size down is too small. Also, I'm all about the high waist these days. While my c-section scar does not hurt at all (it never really did), it is sort of numb and it bothers me to have something rubbing against it. Low rise pants really irritate me for that reason and some mid rise pants bother me too. Argh. Help. Any favorite super forgiving, comfy, but put together pants you like?

4. About My Job. Brandon and I decided that I would give notice and stay home to care for N. It was a no brainer and something we had planned on (though we did check out daycares just in case), but it's officially official now. I go into the office this week to collect my things and say goodbye to everyone. I feel extremely blessed that I have this option and we were able to make it work financially. It's very surreal that I won't be returning back to that old way of life anymore and I'll miss the coworkers like crazy (I already do, they are like my second family), but I must say that this new life is pretty darn sweet and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

5. Sleep. What N struggles with in regards to eating, she makes up for in the sleep department. She's always been much more interested in sleeping than eating. She's been sleeping through the night (8/9pm - 7:30am) for weeks now. We used to have to set an alarm to wake her for a 3am feed, but since she's gaining weight so well these days, we stopped that. I think she's starting to show signs of going into the four month sleep regression though as she's had a couple nights where she wakes up super frustrated and restless. I can usually get her back to sleep by walking her around, but sometimes she does get a small bottle. Last night was by far the worst. She was up from 2:45 - 4:30. She has never taken a pacifier, but we broke it out last night and eventually, she took it and fell asleep. We've been trying to transition from the swaddle to the sleep sack and I know that doesn't help matters. We are using the Love to Dream 50/50 swaddle and the Halo Sleepsack swaddle. She loves to be carried and bounced to sleep, which can be exhausting (especially since she is going through a stage where she only wants me - not Brandon). So, I broke out the ab ball I had used during labor and use that to bounce her. Works great!

She's still sleeping in our room in the Nuna Sena Aire and I don't think we plan on moving her anytime soon. Her nursery is really really far away from our bedroom and I don't think I could stand having her sleep on the opposite end of the house.

6. Playtime. We love love love books. A new book will bring us life. Truly. We have our favorites, which happen to be N's favorite books too (wink, wink): The Pout Pout Fish, The Little Blue Truck, and Goodnight Moon. They are read, on repeat, day after day. N is really starting to show interest in toys, too. She loves the Infantino Jittery Elephant, Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes (what baby doesn't have and love this toy?), her stuffed Very Hungry Caterpillar, and she will play with her Lots of Links for at least 20 minutes at a time - they have been instrumental in helping her learn to grasp. I hook them to her bounce chair or on her playmat gym.

When we aren't running errands, visiting friends, going to library storytime or taking walks, N is usually in her bounce chair, on her playmat gym, or we are on the nursery floor doing tummy time/reading books. She also loves when I put her in her Leachco Podster and glide her across the hardwood floors, singing "chuga chuga choo choo" like an idiot. She loves when I'm an idiot. But...we are kind of at the point where I run out of things to play with her during the day. Maybe I'm not creative enough? I feel like we need another type of toy or baby gear for her to play with to give her variety, especially since it's getting colder. Any suggestions for this age?

7. Travel. We went on our first road trip when N was about 8 weeks old and this past weekend we went to Placerville, CA for our annual fall tradition - Apple Hill. I'll be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of traveling with her. Obviously, staying at home is so much easier. Travel makes me a bit anxious and the amount of stuff we have to bring is outrageous. That being said, trips are important to us and if we want to travel more with kids in the future, we have to suck it up and do it. I do love that it gets us out of the house and N seems to do really well in the car. She loves her carseat and I think she loves seeing new places, which makes it all worth it. I will say this trip went much better than the first one and I'm so happy we went!

We have our big trip (first plane ride) coming up next month for Christmas. I'm already making packing lists and trying to figure out how we are logistically going to do things. Any advice? I cannot wait for her to meet more of our family members and celebrate the season (she already has two pairs of Christmas PJs...), so I keep that in mind when I get overwhelmed by the trip. I think we'll buy as much stuff as possible on Amazon and have it shipped there (Pack N Play, cheap bouncer chair, cheap high chair, diapers, and wipes) to alleviate all of the luggage. What we are stuck on is her stroller. We love her Vista, but it's so big and heavy. We considered buying the travel bag for it ($120) and gate checking it, but we also considered buying a smaller stroller (maybe the City Mini GT?). Anyone have any experience with this?

8. Holidays. Speaking of holidays, N celebrated her first Halloween and it was so much fun! She was "Nora Ingalls Wilder" and I found a cute calico dress, boots, and a bonnet for her to wear. Brandon came home early that night and we all handed out candy. I got a kick at how excited the little kids were when they saw her at our door. We even had a kid say, "I don't want any candy, I just came by to see the baby." I hear ya kid, she's pretty darn cute.

As far as Christmas goes, we are putting up our tree extra early this year so she can enjoy it and we picked out a stocking her for. I'm not sure what we are getting her as far as gifts go, but we'll probably do a book and PJs for her Christmas Eve gift and then Want, Need, Wear, Read for her other gifts. I know our family will spoil her to no end, so we'll keep it nice and simple. I am ridiculously excited about starting new traditions with her and teaching her the reason for the season.

And that's all I've got! It's been quite a ride these past three months with my Spunky Brewster and I cannot wait to see what the next three bring us! She's such a joy and a blessing to us.

Sep 28, 2017

Weird Little Baby Products We Love

Weird Little Baby Products

We had a terrible heat wave come through over Labor Day Weekend. It was 108 degrees outside and 90 degrees in our house (our a/c conveniently went out on the second night of the heat wave). We were sitting out on our back patio at 8pm, absolutely drenched in sweat and I just lost my cool (har har) and starting calling local hotels. They were all booked. I was almost in tears. I was most concerned about N and how uncomfortable she must have felt, despite Brandon telling me that babies have survived for eons without a/c. I promptly ignored him and texted my boss who I knew would understand (us anxious crazy people stick together). She immediately said, "Pack your stuff and come stay at my guest house." Within 15 minutes, I had everything we needed for N and ourselves packed and ready to go. In the heat of the moment  (oh my gosh, stop with the puns already), you realize that babies don't need much. Diapers, wipes, some clothes, a blanket, a carseat, and milk. That's pretty much all we brought. Oh and all my pump stuff of course. Ugh.

So yes, there are some things that babies need and then there are things that make your life easier, hence the list below. I didn't expect to love and find these weird little things essential, but I do. Also, take this list with a grain of salt. I have come to realize that every mom and baby are so different and like different things. So even though N loves her stroller and I found the Boppy useless, it doesn't mean that you'd feel the same way. I also plan to do a list for what I've found to be helpful for an exclusive pumping mom, but we'll save that for another day. It's a doozy.

1. BabyBum Diaper Cream Brush

I don't know if all babies get diaper rash, but I'm going to assume a good many do. We change N all.the.time. (I've even changed her when there was nothing in there...just to be safe) and she still gets a small case of diaper rash here and there. Triple Paste clears it right up and is my favorite out of all the products I've tried. So first, get that. Then, get this brush. It's such a fast, easy and clean way to apply diaper cream. It seems like overkill when you can just use your finger, but I absolutely love it and will make sure that all my new mom friends have one. It applies the cream evenly, smoothly, and you don't end up wasting any cream that is stuck to your finger. We wipe it off with a wipe afterwards and pop it on the changing table using the little suction cup at the bottom. I have one in her nursery, one in our bedroom (where we do most diaper changes), and I even bought a mini one for her diaper bag. That's how much I love it. You can get it from Amazon, but I just realized it's cheaper at Babies R Us, Target, or Buy Buy Baby. The reviews tell me that everyone else loves it just as much as I do.

2. Piyo Piyo Baby Nail Scissors

I have three devices for clipping N's nails (which, if left unattended, are sharp and deadly, you should see my poor chest) and these are hands down my favorite. It seems really scary to use them at first, but I've gotten far less nicks with these than with the traditional clippers (the first time I nicked her, I cried and felt like the world's most terrible mother - please tell me you've done this) and they are much faster to use. I found that the key was to clip them during her naps (risky, but worked fine if she was in a deep sleep) or when Brandon was feeding her a bottle. But yes, get these over the traditional clippers.

3. Honest Co Soothing Baby Bottom Wash

I find that as N grows, the diapers that do and don't work change with her. For a few weeks, Honest diapers were fitting her great and no blowouts (currently, they aren't so great so we are liking Andy Pandy and Parasol)! So I ordered a bundle and if you sign up for their bundle service, you get 25% off any of their add-on products. Always a sucker for a good deal, I decided to added this bottom wash (and their baby wash - another love) and it's been amazing! We use cloth wipes on N (super easy to do and not really all that much more work) and despite that, I still feel like sometimes she needs a bit more cleaning after a few of her diaper changes. I simply spray this on her bottom or I spray it on the cloth and it works really well. It's very cleansing and has a great scent. I'm super picky about my fragrances (I've quickly realized that you cannot go all fragrance-free products with babies - they umm, smell) and this scent is very natural, subtle, and fresh. I also think that it helps calm and prevent diaper rash, so that's another win.

4. Saline Drops + Nose Frida

N's doctor said that many babies have nasal congestion when they are a few weeks old and N was no exception. While we use a humidifier at night when it's really dry, I also found that these saline drops did wonders for her stuffy nose! I hated using them on her at first. I was so scared I'd spray too much and she'd choked, but her doctor assured me that these would not hurt her in anyway. So I profusely apologized to her (she totally understands me, okay) and just went for it. It gets easier with each application and they work RIGHT away. She even starts sniffing it back as soon as I put in the drops, which helps her even more. I sometimes use these in conjunction with the Nose Frida (another must-have) and it makes that device work even better. I still gag though. No product will help that. The Nose Frida does make her laugh (I'm not kidding, it's hilarious), so it's worth the dry heaving.

5. Skip Hop Bath Cozy

This is definitely not essential, but I really adore this product. Actually, everything we get from Skip Hop is a favorite. Love that company. Anyway, this little bath cozy is genius. When I get her bath ready, I dip it in the water and the whale on it turns white (if the water is over 93 degrees). That's when I know that water is nice and warm. I put N in the bath and drape this over her body. It keeps her warm, comfortable, and the best part is the whale turns blue if the cloth starts to get cold, so I warm it up in the water again. Again, totally unnecessary (you could use a wash cloth), but we just love it. It's one of those things that make our parents shake their heads and roll their eyes. I don't care. It's fun and N seems to really like her bath!

Sep 21, 2017

Exclusively Pumping: 8 Weeks In

I've been working on a post about some of our favorite baby things, but I just cannot seem to finish it. I will eventually, but right now I just want to talk about breastfeeding and my life as an exclusive pumping mom, because it's something I think about all the time. It's still really hard, you guys.

N's latch has improved over the past few weeks (she's now 8 weeks old - holy cow!), but we still are not in a place where we can exclusively breastfeed. In fact, I don't think it will happen, if I'm being realistic. She's not ready and I'm not ready for that, as much as I'd like to be. Latch issues aside, while N's doctor is not concerned and says she's a perfectly healthy little gal, it is hard for her to gain weight. That means that breastfeeding is a little too risky for me at this point. I need to know that she's getting adequate amounts of milk in order to keep growing. My intuition says that when she breastfeeds, she's not (and I've weighed her before and after feedings to confirm this). I just want to make sure she's properly fed and we can measure it. That's my top priority and now that her bottle latch is improving too (after working with an occupational therapist with daily exercises), feedings are so much easier. She'll take down four ounces (sometimes five now as she gets older) in 10 minutes and that used to take 40 minutes. So we are super happy about this. We bought a scale to measure her weight, because we are anxious parents who cannot wait for doctor's appointments, and she's gaining weight at a great pace. We are hoping to finally see 10 pounds by her 2 month birthday. Fingers crossed! Girl has her dad's fast metabolism!

I'm so so so thankful that she's doing well and I know that's all that matters. I count my blessings every single day and I still don't know how it's possible to love her as much as I do. It's really quite insane. I'm completely obsessed.

But dude. Pumping her milk is a big undertaking. My day is ruled by the pump. Up until recently, I was pumping about four times a day, which I know, is amazing (most exclusive pumpers - EPers -pump 8-10 times, bless their hearts), but my sessions were really long and I never could seem to empty my breasts. I'd pump for 40 minutes and the milk still would flow. It was beyond frustrating because I don't have time to sit for these long sessions when my baby still sometimes naps only 30 minutes. Also, the biggest issue was clogged ducts, due to the fact that I couldn't empty fully. I'm on my second clogged duct and it's so painful. I take hot showers, use heat compresses, massage like crazy, and drink a ton of water.  My lactation consultant wants me to start pumping more often during the day for shorter sessions. So yay. I am adding pump sessions. Sigh.

I do feel like 20 minutes, 6 times a day (my new schedule), feels better physically (engorgement isn't bad) and besides more washing pump parts, feels loads easier than sitting for 40 minutes knowing I couldn't empty and getting frustrated.

On a good day, I'm really quite fine with it all. I'm giving my daughter life with my milk. How cool is that? Those little rolls on her wrists? I made those. My supply is still great (we bought a deep freezer to hold all the extra) and I am beyond thankful that pumping just seems to work for us. She takes the bottle well now and she's getting the immunity and nutritional benefits of breastmilk. Why should I complain? Some days, her schedule coincides perfectly with mine and my pumping doesn't interfere with the time I want to spend with her. I get a boost of confidence and think, "Yeah. We got this!"

On a bad day, I secretly cannot wait until she's old enough to drink cow's milk. I find myself looking forward to the day that I can wean myself off the pump and have my body all to myself again. And then I feel so guilty about thinking this that I could cry. Of course, I don't want time to speed up! I want to enjoy her baby stage. I want to embrace having her fall asleep on my shoulder (oh my gosh, it's my favorite). I don't want to ever forget her gummy smiles when I sing to her and the way she stares at her hands like they are the most fascinating things she's ever seen.

But, sometimes, I just really want to go Office Space on my pump.

And you know what? It's okay for me to think that way. I have to remind myself I don't love my daughter any less because I hate pumping milk for her. In fact, it's because I do love her so much that I continue to do it. And if I decide to stop? It'll be because I love her so much that I don't want to spend x amount of hours each day tied to a pump instead of spending quality time with her. Which is one of the biggest reason why I hate that darn machine. I hate that it takes me away from her at times or I can only be half engaged with her. I hate that I can only half join Brandon while he plays with her because I'm pumping...again. I hate that when he's warming up her bottle and I'm trying to comfort her, she sometimes starts rooting on my chest and screams with anger when I cannot offer it to her (it throws off her bottle latch game).

There are times that I get so so frustrated that breastfeeding didn't work out for us and we quit trying so soon. But then I know that's not fair. We tried. We tried for every two hours, on the hour, during ever single day and night in the hospital. We tried through raw, blistered nipples. We've tried through tears and extreme sleep deprivation during 3am feedings. I've seen her choke on my letdown, gag, and be so frustrated that her face turns red and my heart breaks in two.We've seen lactation consultants who, with a huge sigh, give me a sad look and say, "Go home and look up exclusive pumping". No, I cannot say that we gave up. This is the hand we've been dealt, so getting frustrated about it does us no good. But man do I get jealous when I see breastfeeding work out for others. I'm trying to work on that jealousy because I don't want to feel that way. I'm sure those breastfeeding moms are fighting their own battles with motherhood that I know nothing about.

I don't really have a point to this post. Just wanted get my thoughts on the topic out of my head. As with all aspects of motherhood, there are really good days and really good moments and there are also hard days. Not bad days, necessarily, just challenging ones. And that's my relationship with the pump. There are pump sessions that fly by while she naps and I read a few chapters in my parenting book. Then there are sessions involved spilled milk, chapped nipples, and tubing that falls off every 10 seconds. It's life. It's being a parent and it's sometimes really messy. Until we reach my goals with pumping (realistic goal of 6 months and reach goal of a year), I'm going to take it day by day and session by session. We are going to celebrate the little victories and milestones, for which there are many. And I'm going to continue to soak in those gummy smiles, naps on my shoulder, and those lint-filled (oh my gosh, how does this happen?) tiny hands.

I'm not including photos in this post, because eww.

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