Week in Review 4/6 – 4/13

This past week was a doozy for me.  And probably for John too.  It was my first official week back at work so the whole family had to adjust.  We were busy and routines were thrown off.  But it was a good one!

Sunday I had to work an outreach event for work.  John needed to get things finished for his work so I took the baby with me to the event.  I wore her in the moby the whole time and she was pretty much asleep for every minute of it!  The event was outside and it happened to be freezing that day  – no fun!  We had a lower turnout for the event than expected but we were still kept pretty busy the whole time.   Babywearing is where it’s at — it kept both of us nice and toasty warm and I was able to do so much while L didn’t have to miss her afternoon nap.

Monday I was back at work.  I already wrote about that day in detail.  It went pretty well.  L didn’t nap like she normally does but I kind of expected that.  It was a hard day for both of us.

Tuesday was John’s first day alone with L for 4 hour stretches.  I think L did a bit better this day because she’s more familiar with her dad and it was her second day doing this new routine.  Did I mention that two days a week, Monday & Wednesday, my mother-in-law watches L?  SHOUT OUT TO IRENE!!! :)

Wednesday was the second day with grandma and she did so much better this day.  She took her morning and afternoon naps this day and it went better for everyone.  L turned 3 months old this day too!

Thursday was better than Tuesday for John and Friday was even better.  John and L even visited me at work briefly Friday afternoon.  L is still not taking to bottles like she should which has me worrying while I’m at work.  I think she has naturally stretched out her morning feeding but she still needs something in the afternoon.  When I come home for lunch she is taking almost my whole lunch break, a half hour, to nurse.  And she has not nursed that long for a single feeding since she was 2 weeks old — she’s always been an efficient eater.  I think she’s trying to store up more at that time, but she is also definitely comfort nursing some during that time as well.  Whichever it is I’m happy to have her stay as long as she wants so I can snuggle her close and get some kisses in before I have to go back to work.  All in all, we still have some kinks to work out for our weekday schedule, but the end of the week was definitely better than the beginning.

Friday is our pizza and movie night.  We always get this pizza and we think it might be our favorite ever, including pizzas we’ve had from restaurants.  We started this tradition, eating pizza and watching a movie that we have never seen, a couple months ago and it’s fun.  We both tend to be repeat watchers so we have to force ourselves to watch something other than a true blue favorite film.  In the future I’d like to try making some different kind of pizzas, but until then Amy’s is the best.  The movie we watched this week was The Desolation of Smaug.   We are huge LoTR fans — HUGE and we  love The Hobbit but we did not get to see DoS in theaters because I was hugely pregnant and not wanting to sit in a crowded theater for a long time in a cramped seat.  We’ve been waiting for DoS movie night for a long time and we were thrilled to watch it.  We both liked it.  However, I’ll have to watch it again before I form a proper opinion because I missed parts while I was getting L to sleep.

Saturday I had to work another event so it was my 7th day in a row of work.  When I come back to work full time I come back with a bang apparently!  This event, unlike the one on Sunday, had beautiful weather.  It was so nice outside and it was well-attended.  John took the baby for most of it so she wouldn’t get overheated or be in the sun too long.  He brought her back to me to nurse in the middle of the work period and then came and picked me up when it was over.  The rest of Saturday was spent doing laundry, dusting, and vacuuming (me) and yardwork (John).

Sunday was a fabulous day.  It was gorgeous outside and we finished up some yardwork and we rearranged the furniture in our bedroom.  I’m so glad John is on the same page as me when it comes to rearranging.  We both just need to change things up.  I’d say at least twice a year we change our bedroom layout and at least 4 times a year we change the living room layout — the two rooms we are in the most.  I got the itch for change a few weeks ago and finally John felt it too so we went to it and we love it!  Sunday night we were also asked to visit our birth instructor’s home and share our birth story with her new class.  We were a bit worried for how L would do since it wasn’t until 7pm and it would go past her bedtime, but she was fabulous.  She made us look good because she didn’t meltdown at all.  We got lucky.  You never know how babies are going to do when you start messing with their sleep.  But I just nursed her a couple time while we were there and cuddled her and she was great.  She didn’t start crying until we were about halfway home!  It is always wonderful to hear birth stories and to get to share ours was just lovely.  Our birth instructor has always said to us that it’s important that women share their stories to make other women aware that they have options other than the standard medical birth and to empower women going through it.  We definitely feel the same way.  I want people to know that the labor and delivery process is something women are so lucky to get to experience instead of just something horrible they have to get through.  All the couples we spoke to were so sweet and I’m just so excited for the journey they are on.  We also got to have a small discussion about cloth diapers — one of my favorite subjects now!  Haha!  We are speaking at another one of her classes in a couple weeks.  I’m glad we are speaking again because we love our instructor and because I thought of a thousand things I left out, the next time we speak I’ll remember to share.

That was our week!  Hope you had a great one too!

one of my new favorite pictures -- Michael Scott is in the background!

one of my new favorite pictures — Michael Scott is in the background!

Month Three

Our little lady turned three months old yesterday.    I would like to do a monthly update on here but I didn’t for months one and two — I might just make posts now and back date them?  We’ll see.  Or we will just start with month three.  MOVING ON…

L is three months old and she’s delightful.  The coolest thing about having a baby is watching them develop.  The first weeks there is just radical development.  You wake up one morning and all of a sudden they are tracking your movement, or smiling, or laughing, and it just is so crazy fun to watch.  Humans are so cool.

I’ve been trying to take pictures of L on the 9th of every month with the same blanket in the background.  I usually get one or two good ones that aren’t blurry.  Here’s the progression of posing for the camera…

l1Somewhat happy looking/kind of looking toward the camera. 
I usually get a smile or two at the beginning (not posted because they were blurry)

l2Then she starts to squirm a lot and get annoyed.  
I keep re-positioning her and she just gets frustrated with me.

l3And then we meltdown.  
The meltdown photos are the ones I post to instagram for her #monthlylyra 
because I think they are just so darn cute. #badmom

Okay, so now you’ve seen how I torture my daughter to get a picture each month.  This third month has been pretty amazing.  I feel like I’m going to say that every month until Month 156 because then she will be 13 and probably going through her “my mother is sooooooooo laaaaaame” phase but I will still love her and embarrass her and she will just have to deal.  Also, I’m not really going to be doing monthly updates that long. So yeah.

In this third month she is really rockin the tummy time.  I swear she wants to crawl so badly.  She squirms around so much.  She can roll from tummy to back and from back to side.  She can sit ever-so-briefly up by herself before she completely topples.  Her neck/head control is really great now.  She loves to “stand” and will try to push herself up when you are holding her so she can bear weight on her legs.  She talks a lot.  She smiles so much, especially in the mornings.  She laughs a little — it’s harder to catch the laughs but I feel like we are only days away from lots of little giggles.  She still hates bottles and pacifiers. She loves to grab things, especially her bunny lovie and any of her burp cloths.  She loves to suck on her owl carseat straps and her burp cloths. Bath time calms her down instantly — especially if we are co-bathing with her.  She’s starting to take an interest in the animals — before she ignored them but now she watches them intently.  She loves when you sing and dance for her.  She basically sleeps through the night; she usually nurses once in the middle of the night, sometimes twice, but she doesn’t fully wake up for it so it’s almost as if she stays asleep for the whole 11 hours at night.  When I nurse her in the evening before her bedtime, she always looks up at me and gives me these sweet, sleepy smiles that completely melt my heart.  Still doesn’t have much hair, although it is a bit longer and it’s looking more and more red.  I don’t know exactly how much she weighs or how long she is because we don’t have another doctor’s appointment until four months but I’m guessing she’s about 12 1/2 pounds and 23ish inches long?

So that’s three months.  Onto four!

the best twelve weeks

Maternity Leave OHHHHHH Maternity Leave, how I love(d) thee!

The main thing I got out of maternity leave with the tiny babe was how much I’d love to be a stay-at-home mom.  It’s not for everyone — some people crave that adult interaction and need it to fill their tank so they can be the best high-performing mom, but I think I could feel just as happy and fulfilled if I were a stay-at-home mom.  I don’t hate that I had to go back to work, on the contrary — just read my last post — but I’m just saying that if I didn’t have to work I would love to stay home with my little one.

I got addicted to morning shows — The Today Show, Kelly & Michael, and back to the Today Show with Kathie Lee & Hoda.  Hoda is my girl!  I’ll miss the morning shows a lot now that I’m back at work.  I’ll also miss being able to do essentially whatever I wanted for the day.  Newborns are so portable — at least if you have one that likes to be worn and is good in the car; thank goodness L loves her carseat and car rides.  Each morning was something new and I could make the day be whatever I wanted it to be.

There are some days that I felt like a super hero.  An actual hero with a cape and a fake identity and secret hide-out or whatever. (Here is where you get mad at me because I can’t stand any of those avengers movies so I don’t really know the intricacies of super heroes. Send me to the chopping block!)  I mean, I would get so much stuff done during the day all while keeping a tiny human alive and happy.  By 8AM I had fed & changed a baby, got her into clean clothes, folded a load of laundry, made the bed, fixed myself breakfast, fed all the animals, cleaned myself up and vacuumed the upstairs.  I’d sit down to play with L and look around and be like “damn girl, you’re awesome!”  To be clear, I said that to me, not my daughter — although she is awesome and I would say that to her without the expletive.  Days like this I would also prepare some meals, take the baby for a walk outside (if it was nice), get in some exercise while she’s taking a nap, when she woke up strap her to me and finish vacuuming, take care of all the animals, do a few more loads of laundry.  I was unstoppable.  I would get a kind of small runner’s high.  FUN FACT: I now know what a “runner’s high” feels like and not because I’ve ever run but because I gave birth without any drugs and felt fantastic afterward — the hormones are freakin’ amazing and I’m guessing that’s how one feels when they experience a “runner’s high” — although I’d like to think that giving birth is harder than running many miles. ;)

Of course there were other days that were just as delicious but not nearly as productive.  Days when L and I would take a looooong nap together and I would spend the day with her just soaking everything in, going through things slowly.  Never getting out of pajamas or lounge clothes, not touching the laundry.  I still counted these days as successes because I managed to keep a tiny human alive and happy one more day and I’d still give myself a “damn girl, you’re awesome!”  I think these days are just as important as the super hero days.  I once read a poem that I always keep in mind.  The last stanza is this:

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Whatever day I had I always tried to cherish each moment with L.  Days when I strapped her into the moby and we got a thousand chores finished and went to the grocery store and took long walks and I got my sorry butt off the couch and did a toning workout.  And days when I slowed down and held her and we went through the motions slowly and quietly and we took long naps in the bed together and I spent all of my time just staring at her.  Babies grow so quickly and having the line “babies don’t keep” in my mind helped me keep the right perspective.  Whatever day I had, just remembering to soak in all the baby-ness I could manage.  If she’s fussy, if she’s smiling, if  she wants to nap by herself, if she can only sleep when I’m holding her.  I loved those 12 uninterrupted weeks with L and could easily do it for the rest of her baby- and toddlerhood… but alas, earwax!

Maternity Leave you were good to me, girl — you did me right and I will remember our time together fondly!  Until the next baby…

back to the grindstone

And just like that I’m back at work full time.  Today is my first full day back at work.  I didn’t think it would be too hard because I’ve been coming in for small amounts of time several days a week for a while now, but boy oh boy was it hard.  L started to get weepy right before I left for work which made me so sad because I could only comfort her a tiny bit before I had to head out the door.  I teared up on my quick drive but tried to pull myself together before entering the office.  Once I got to work a sweet coworker left a kind note and some chocolate for me as a “welcome back!” and “I know it will be hard on you” gift and I started crying when I went to tell her thank you for her sweet words & gift.

I am so blessed when it comes to my work environment — I’ve said this time & time again on here and I know the word blessed is overused but I can’t think of another word here.  If I have to go back to work, and I do mostly for health insurance reasons but also some financial, I have a great place to go back to.  I love – and truly love as in I say I love you to them – my coworkers.  Maybe that’s weird to some people but the best way of putting it is that they are people I would choose to hang out with even if we weren’t thrown together for work reasons.  I am beyond lucky.

I was also surprised at work with a big, beautiful bouquet of spring flowers sent by my mom with a note attached to let me know she’s thinking of me.  She said it’s probably harder for me than for L and to keep that in mind.  I suppose it helps to think that but it’s hard believing it.  I’ve loved being at home with L during maternity leave and can’t help but feel a little like she feels abandoned by me.  I know that is probably the harshest way to put it, but oh it’s hard leaving your baby.

I now start life as a Working Mom.  Weird.  Sometimes it’s still hard to think of myself as a Mom, but it’s now a “hat” I wear.  Aside from Wife, it’s the most important “hat” as my relationship to John and to L are the things that make my life worthwhile.  I love them so much.

 

 

*Tomorrow – and yes, it will actually happen tomorrow because I’ve already started the draft – I will write up a post about maternity leave and what I enjoyed doing staying at home with my newborn.

Fourth Trimester

The first twelve weeks of an infant’s life are often referred to as the Fourth Trimester.  The transition period from womb to newborn to infant.  Lady L will be 12 weeks on Thursday and she will be officially out of our fourth trimester.  Human babies should really stay cooking in the womb longer but due to our large brains, they come out earlier than other mammals.  I think technically to be on the same page as other mammals humans should gestate for a whole 9 months longer?  Don’t quote me on that though!  But the first twelve weeks with a baby are supposed to be the hardest; it takes a lot of time for them to adjust to life on the outside.  Their every need is immediately met while in the womb where they are always warm and enjoy a nice rocking sensation as you move throughout the day & night.  Transitioning out of this environment, becoming an air breather & milk drinker that has to be changed and isn’t constantly connected to mom is tough.  I feel so bad for babies.  One of the reasons why we wanted the birth that we had was to (hopefully) make the initial transition as natural and comfortable as possible.

My relationship with L is still very symbiotic.  We are very attached to each other and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Pacifiers, swings, vibrating bassinets, swaddles — all are substitutes for mom.  We use and love some of these things (L hates pacifiers, after she turned a month old we did try to get her to take one; and she doesn’t like the swing as much) and are not against them, but when it comes down to it, babies just need their mom.  They need to be held, to be close, some skin-to-skin time every day, they need to eat on demand and to comfort nurse when possible, they NEED you — not other things during this transition period.  You cannot spoil a newborn, it is impossible.  I think understanding the concept of the fourth trimester made our first 12 weeks a lot easier than some have it.  We were prepared to hold her a lot, to be near her constantly, for me to feed her whenever she wanted.  Keeping this in mind during “the witching hour” or whenever she would get fussy helps so much — this phase is a transition and will not last forever.  The first twelve weeks are hard on baby and you — we kept this in mind constantly to try and make it as smooth as possible and it helped us know that things will get easier.

Due to this “fourth trimester” we are advocates for attachment parenting guidelines.  A major part of that is co-sleeping.  We have enjoyed co-sleeing/bed-sharing with L and will definitely continue to do so for many months.  This makes nighttime feedings a breeze and all three of us get a great amount of sleep.  Sleeping through the night (STTN) for newborns is technically 5 hours and L has been STTN for so long now that I don’t remember when she didn’t.  Her long sleep stretches are about 6 hours on average, sometimes as little as five and as much as eight hours (although that has only happened once, but we’ve gotten many 7.5 hours).  I 100% credit this to co-sleeping.  We knew from the start that we would do this so we invested in a new king size mattress last year — we have a nice firm bed for L to share with us, it is very roomy and we can all get comfortable on it.  I think this is the best “baby item” we purchased.  Had we kept our queen size bed we would’ve purchased a cosleeper that attaches to the side of the bed so it just kind of extends the bed — I think those are pretty neat.  Sleep sharing, as Dr. Sears calls it, is just so nice.  I love watching L fall asleep after I’ve nursed her, she often gives sleepy smiles as she’s drifting off.  And I love waking up to her — she is in her best mood first thing in the morning, so smiley and adorable.  Bedsharing also makes middle of the night feedings so easy because I can just pull her to me and feed her, neither of us have to sit up.  And, no, I’m not nor have I ever been worried about rolling over on her.  We follow proper guidelines for sleep sharing and I am hyper aware of her, even when I’m sleeping.  In the first few weeks I’d even wake up clutching blankets as if I were holding a baby — it was weird.

Wearing our baby has also been a major help during the fourth trimester.  She is snuggled in close to our chests when she’s in the moby or ergo and she almost falls right to sleep, if not asleep she is quietly content.  This gives you some hands-free time to get things done around the house if she is being fussy and not wanting to play by herself or sleep by herself in the bassinet.  By the way — she does both of these, she doesn’t only sleep with us.  She naps in the bassinet part of the pack-n-play downstairs (our bedrooms are upstairs in our house) often during the day.

The last fourth trimester help is on-demand breastfeeding.  Our breastfeeding relationship has always been great and I am so thankful for that — we never even counted on that not working out, so I don’t know what we would’ve done had we had to go to formula.  Formula is so expensive — they keep it in locked cabinets in grocery stores; the penny-pincher in me would’ve been very sad to have to start budgeting for that. On-demand means what it says, baby sets her schedule when she demands to be fed.  It has helped my supply and she is satisfied.  The first time she cluster fed at night it was a bit tiring for me and I got a little frustrated, but I just had to keep telling myself that she needs this right now and feedings will space out regularly again.  Once again, keeping in mind that this is just one period in her (our) life and I will miss her newborn-ness so I need to soak it all in, even the frustrating parts.  Eventually she pretty much set a schedule for herself so transitioning back to work when I know she’ll have to be on somewhat of a schedule hasn’t been too bad.  Although we are still working on getting her to take a full feeding from a bottle — she only takes a little bit from a bottle and then refuses.  When I am back to work she will have to have at least one feeding from a bottle if not two.  She gets better each time she is presented with a bottle so hopefully she’ll get the hang of it and be a pro soon.  I heard a story from a nurse that said one mother she worked with had a baby that just flat-out refused anything from the bottle — nothing AT ALL and would starve herself for 12 hours while her mother was at work and just make up for the feedings when her mom came home.  Luckily I won’t be away from Lyra for that long at a time and that she is taking something even if it is only a small amount.  Some babies are just more stubborn than others I suppose.

I’ve loved the fourth trimester but from what I hear it only gets better from here on out.  L is no longer considered a newborn.  *sniff sniff*

 

March!

Well, well, well — it’s been awhile.  Lady L is two months old (and a week and change) now and getting bigger and smiley-er every single day.  She’s so cool, one of my very favorite humans.

L’s two month appointment went well.  She’s chunking up nicely and perfectly healthy.  I cried when she got shots.  And, yes, even though we are pretty “crunchy” (for lack of a better term) when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing — we are not anti-vaccines, but we do think a delayed schedule is reasonable.  To each his own and all that, right?  But in my line of work I hear about babies dying in my neck of the woods from diseases all too often because we live in a little pocket of NC where the anti-vax movement is strong.  I have read about too many baby deaths because of whooping cough and I just don’t want to chance it (we also do not believe that autism is caused by vaccines — that research is bogus and Jenny McCarthy is crazy).   You have to do what you think is best for your family, we totally get not vaccinating, we just decided we wanted to.  I did however take many supplements the week before all the way to the week after to help Lady L absorb the vaccines so they were hopefully not too bad on her liver and to help with any pain at the injection site.  She did not get a fever but she was sleepier than normal the day of the shots, back to normal sleeping patterns within 24 hours though.  So I would call this a success.

We switched from disposables to cloth diapers when she was one month old.  We did not invest in any newborn sized cloth diapers and instead opted to only by “one-size” adjustable diapers because I thought that made the most sense economically for us.  We just had to wait until she chunked up a little so she could fit in the one-size.  Plus in the early days of getting used to caring for a newborn I didn’t want to have to worry about dealing with cloth diapers on top of everything else — and they use so many diapers when they are teeny.  However, I love cloth diapering so much that I think for Baby #2 I might invest in some newborn sized diapers and get that baby out of disposables a little earlier, and we will still be able to reuse all the one-size we bought for L.  I LOVE CLOTH DIAPERING.  I just yelled it at you because I love it so much.  She has never had a rash, they are so much softer on baby’s skin, and they save so much money.  I have not found the extra laundry to be much at all.  I mean, I’ve never really understood why people complain about laundry in the first place because it’s one of my favorite “chores” — it takes no time to throw things in the washer and then switch them over to the dryer/hang out to dry.  I guess people mostly complain about the folding/putting away, but I don’t mind that task either.  And stuffing diapers (we mostly use pockets, although we do have some hybrids and all-in-ones — cloth diapering jargon you will understand once you research) doesn’t take much time at all.  We have enough diapers where I only have to do diaper laundry every 3 days.  We recently made the switch to cloth wipes as well and I might love those even more than the diapers because I feel like they clean so much better.  Had I known that, I would’ve made the switch to cloth wipes much sooner.  And the wipes go right in with the diaper laundry so you might as well clean those too!  So as far as going cloth/reusable is concerned — it’s a definite RECOMMEND from me.  You will save thousands of dollars and it is better for the environment and better for baby.

Let’s talk about babywearing.  Lady L loves it and we love it.  We have a Moby and an Ergo.  When she was fresh out da womb we exclusively used the Moby.  It’s a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to tie the fabric but once you do it once or twice it’s easy as pie.  It does take a little time so you do have to consider that, but for me it takes less than a minute to get it tied on with L plopped in it now.  If we were going out and knew we wanted to use it, one of us would just tie the Moby on before we left the house, that way once we got her out of her carseat at our destination we could just plop her in right away.  The Moby does get a bit warm though — which is certainly not a problem and actually a benefit when you have a baby during the coldest winter in decades but once spring truly hits (we’ve had a few days where it’s peaked it’s head out, but today there is ice everywhere and schools are closed, imagine that in the south, jeeeeeeze!) we will probably gravitate toward the Ergo more.  I have just started L in the Ergo and I absolutely love this too.  It’s easy to use and it has a little sun shade and pockets to put things.  I think John prefers this to the Moby too.  This will come in handy as she gets bigger because I think it will be more comfortable than the Moby and it will not get as hot.  Babywearing gets an A+ in our book.  We can take her out in the stroller and she either loves it or hates it but when we wear her she always loves it and more often than not goes immediately to sleep.  If she doesn’t immediately go to sleep, she sits quietly mesmerized by everything around her and then falls asleep.

I have started going back to work.  Only for two hours at a time and only for 2-3 days a week.  I started doing this a few weeks ago because, A.  I missed my coworkers, B. I figured I could go in and earn some extra money and help out at work, and C.  L can handle it plus it gave John a chance to have real one-on-one time with her.  I mentioned before that babies can smell their moms and it’s totally true.  You have to legit get out of the house sometimes so they won’t want to be just with you.  I think it’s been a good transition because I think just all of a sudden jumping into four hours away from her from zero would’ve been too traumatic (more for me than her probably).  Next week I’m going to start going three hours away and then in a few weeks I’ll be back to work full-time.  Oh my word, does time ever fly!

Overall I feel like John and I have really taken to this parenting thing.  It gets easier each day.  I love seeing L’s little personality starting to emerge now that she’s not just a squishy, wrinkly newborn that only wants to sleep and would just rather be back in the womb thankyouverymuch.  She’s very alert and responsive and smiles all the time.  I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.

and the beat goes on

Hello friends!  So much to update.  First of all — I basically have a new computer.  My 7 year old iMac got a big facelift with more ram and (finally) a new operating system.  It feels like I have a completely new computer but for much cheaper.  Plus Macs just look so sleek and nice that you’d never think the computer was as old as it is — I’m definitely a Mac through and through — they hold up so well.  And now that it is nice and new(er), I’ve found myself getting on it more.

Life is good.  My baby will be 7 weeks old on Thursday which is just crazy to me.  My maternity leave is a tiny bit more than half over which makes me want to cry.  I love and miss my coworkers dearly and can’t wait to be a regular part of their lives again, but I just want to take L with me.  I wish that were possible.  I’m going to be a complete mess when I have to leave her for 4 whole hours at a time.  I am extremely lucky though because I live one minute from work (seriously — a car ride takes a minute) so I will be home for lunch breaks to feed her before going back for another four hours.  So the longest I have to leave her is only for four hours at a time.  But still — I’m sad.  I wish we had any other developed nation’s maternity leave allowing me to stay home for longer and paid(!!!!), but what can ya do?  I’m thankful I got 12 weeks off at all.

Having a baby is rad and I recommend everyone do it.  Seconds after L was born I said I could have 5 more babies and 7 weeks later I’m still saying the same thing.  John and I think we should always have a baby in the house.  Move over Michelle Duggar!  But seriously — we kind of want a lot of kids now.  Obviously we have to consider finances and space, but you can expect at least one more kid outta this duo. At least two more?

Everything is going great for mama, daddy, and baby.  We are all happy and healthy and have (knock on wood) not had any problems.  L is gaining weight like crazy and as healthy as can be.  She’s a happy baby and, luckily, I think we missed out on colic — I’m pretty sure if it hasn’t presented itself by 7 weeks old then she’s not going to be colicky.  We haven’t been putting her on a schedule because I’ve been on-demand breastfeeding, but she’s kind of made her own schedule which is nice.  She eats and plays and sleeps ~around the same time everyday and she’s sleeping for longer stretches at night.  We do have what we call “the witching hour” which is in reality several hours.  Almost every night from around 6-10PM she cluster feeds and can only be calm when she is walked around or by mama — sometimes she just has to be near because she has to smell me, did you know babies can smell their moms from 20 feet away???  Isn’t that kind of amazing.  But those four hours can be a bit tiring before she finally dozes off for her first long stretch of the night.  It was much harder in the beginning when she was starting this routine but now that we know to expect it, it’s not so bad because you know in just a few hours she’ll be out like a light and you’ll get a nice amount of uninterrupted sleep.  I’m sure a change in routine is just around the corner; babies like to keep you on your toes!

Who does she look like?  The jury is still out.  She looks so different in her pictures than she does in real life — I think it’s easier to see each of us in her in pictures.  She definitely has my facial expressions, but I think overall she favors John more.  Her eyes are lightening every day it seems and her peach fuzz (although it’s growing) is white blonde looking most of the time (so it’s hard to see in pictures), but in the sunlight it does have a red tint, so I think she will end up having light strawberry blonde hair when it decides to grow more.   Don’t worry — I’m going to do a mini photo dump at the end of this post whenever I decide to stop talking. :)

John’s been back at work since L was a few weeks old and I’m happy to say that on Monday when he’s gone all day, I’ve totally got this.  The first time I was a bit worried, but I managed to get every living thing (we still have our fur babies too!) cleaned and fed and happy.  I’ve tried to take L on walks every nice day we’ve had.  We did have some super cold weather and snow a couple weeks ago.  (I thought we lived in the south?!)  I’ve started exercising again which is nice.  Breastfeeding really helps you lose weight but I still have some major toning to do.  I’ll get there though!

Speaking of breastfeeding — it’s going so well and I never imagined how much I’d like it.  However, I do have to say it might be going a bit too well because we’ve tried to give L a bottle with some breastmilk in it a few times and she refuses.  She’d rather have the boob plain and simple.  But the last time I tried, with a specialty bottle, we did make some headway — she’d actually suck and get a little but then it’s like she realized what was happening – that we were trying to fool her – and she’d  smack the bottle away and start crying.  So we’ve got work to do where that is concerned.  Luckily I still have a month and a half before we have to worry about her taking a bottle.  But even when I do go back to work, I will be home after four hours so it might not be much of an issue because she can eat when I’m home.  It would be nice for her to take a bottle for emergency situations though.  This so far has been our biggest problem.  That she likes breastfeeding so much she doesn’t want a bottle — so I think we are pretty dang lucky.  I’d take this frustration over any other any day of the week.  I want to breastfeed for at least a year (but I’m totally letting her decide when she wants to wean) and it looks like we can do that if we keep at it.

Okay — time for some pictures!  Here’s an assortment.  If you follow me on instagram you’ve probably seen most of them.  Sorry for that.  I was going to try and hold out and show you some we had a friend take of us with her fancy camera(s) but we still haven’t received those from her so they’ll have to wait.  They are all iPhone because that’s all we have for now!

Here she is fresh out the womb, just a few seconds old!

Here she is fresh out the womb, just a few seconds old!

Four hours old and going home. I don't know if I mentioned that another benefit to the birth center is we could go home after four hours -- it was awesome! We spent more time at the birth center with L out than in -- so crazy!

Four hours old and going home. I don’t know if I mentioned that another benefit to the birth center is we could go home after four hours — it was awesome! We spent more time at the birth center with L out than in — so crazy!

Two weeks old and sporting one of her classic faces.  I loved this outfit but she outgrew it so fast.

Two weeks old and sporting one of her classic faces. I loved this outfit but she outgrew it so fast.

Took these when she was one month old.  She was sad/worried/angry that I was making her pose for pictures.

Took these when she was one month old. She was sad/worried/angry that I was making her pose for pictures.

Our little family bundled up on one of the snow days.  That's L in the white baby bear snowsuit.  We took her out on a short walk in the moby wrap.  She loved it so much she slept the whole time.

Our little family bundled up on one of the snow days. That’s L in the white baby bear snowsuit. We took her out on a short walk in the moby wrap. She loved it so much she slept the whole time.

She makes this serious face a lot.  This is how I know she is my daughter (this face is one I make a lot).

She makes this serious face a lot. This is how I know she is my daughter (this face is one I make a lot).

But I promise, she's really a happy baby.  She smiles and laughs a lot now which is the best ever.

But I promise, she’s really a happy baby. She smiles and laughs a lot now which is the best ever.

One of the most recent photos I've taken.  We call this "the turtle" because when she lies on your chest she sticks her neck out and makes this cute face right before you kiss her all over because she's so delicious. :)

One of the most recent photos I’ve taken. We call this “the turtle” because when she lies on your chest she sticks her neck out and makes this cute face right before you kiss her all over because she’s so delicious. :)

Shew — I’m tired after all that!  Thanks for letting me spill my guts out and then dump some photos of my child, internet!  TTFN (that’s Ta ta for now, if you don’t speak Tigger)!

a birth story

Time for a birth story.  I believe I’ve edited out most of the “whoa, tmi” details.  John wrote the chunk of it with my two cents attached, so that is what is below.  It was the most incredible and spiritual experience of my life.  I knew even before I became pregnant that as long as I was healthy and my baby was healthy and we had a “low risk” pregnancy, that I wanted to have a natural, unmedicated childbirth.  That was always my goal.  We decided to have a Certified Nurse Midwife and have the labor & delivery at a free standing birth center.  The birth center is a very homey environment where I’d be free to labor however I wanted.  The rooms have a big bed, low lights, a shower & tub (should you want them), birth balls & stools, bean bags, anything you could want.  The nurse and midwife are the only ones in and out of the room and they are only in as much as they need & you want them to be.  You are allowed to eat and drink freely — they encourage it, labor is hard and you need to keep up your strength.  An epidural isn’t an option there.  They have some mild pain meds that they can give if you want, but I told them I wasn’t interested in knowing what they were and for them to not offer them to me unless I asked (spoiler – I never asked. I went into the experience thinking it wasn’t an option and the thought of not being able to do it without pain meds never even came into my head – I think it helps if you just don’t consider it an option at all.).  John wanted to be able to catch the baby, to be the first person to hold our daughter and the birth center allowed this also.  They put her on my chest immediately for skin to skin and delayed exams so we can bond, they delayed cord clamping, they encouraged breastfeeding as soon as the baby was ready (in my case, not too long after she was on my chest.) — all the things we wanted and could not necessarily get in a hospital environment.*

From Rhianna —

John is much better with words than I am – he is the talker in our relationship, so I let him write the birth story because I know he’d say it better than I ever could.  But here are my two cents…

John told me later that our birth story was almost boring.  Of course it is far from it, and he did not mean that in a negative light at all, but everything was so very calm and went so smoothly that it really isn’t that exciting of a tale as far as drama goes.

I had no clue on Wednesday (January 8th) that I would get to see our baby the next day.  I had been having increasing Braxton Hicks but nothing worth noting and certainly not strong & regular so when things picked up very slightly there was not a thought of “this might be early labor.”  However, my water broke and I knew it was actually happening.  Once active labor started I turned inward and was in my zone.  I didn’t want to be touched during contractions and didn’t want music or anything.  I did not know what I would be like during labor but I am a fairly introverted person who spends a lot of time inward, so it did not surprise me that I hardly spoke and stayed in a zone.  I can only describe the feeling as being in some sort of spiritual trance.  My body was doing the work and I calmly let it.  When it came time to push I remember pushing feeling good.  Fulfilling the urge that I got felt right and I knew I was close to meeting our daughter so I started to get excited.  The feeling when Lyra was placed on my chest, with her extra-long cord, was the greatest feeling in the world.

Here’s the birth story as told by John —

I have no problem elaborating on a story (like the one about the time I got arrested at a Motley Crue concert— no charges!), but the fact is, because of our preparation and Rhianna’s unwavering strength and focus, our birth experience was simple, calm, and pleasant.

Rhi’s water broke at 9 pm on Wednesday night. The amniotic fluid was clear, and she hadn’t experienced any contractions of magnitude yet, so we just went right to bed, excited that we’d be parents by the next night. A few hours later, she had some more significant contractions, tried out a bath, but went back to bed, calmly laboring at home, the two of us watching tv and reading until around 1 pm the following afternoon.

Then, however, things started to escalate. Rhianna went from a birth-ball to her hands and knees, handling the contractions expertly, though no longer able to chat through them. After another hour and a half, it was time to head out, Rhi having told me that our 40 minute trip to the birth center might not be tolerable after much longer. When we arrived a little before 3 pm, the initial cervical check saw Rhianna at 4cms. Instead of being a little anxious or discouraged (everyone wants to go in and be told to just start pushing, right?), Rhi and I just sort of took a few deep breaths and quickly wrapped our heads around what we assumed was going to be a very long process. After about half an hour in the shower, Rhi went back to bed, lying on her side, changing positions whenever Emily or Nicole (our wonderful midwife and nurse) suggested she should. Nicole and Emily were only encouraging, and the next few hours just sort of floated by on our collective positivity, Rhianna vocalizing throughout intense contractions, resting—almost sleeping—in between them, her eyes closed, practically in a trance. She stayed on the bed, she breathed through the work, and she remained calm and focused to a degree I just haven’t ever seen before. She didn’t yell at me, or speak to me crossly (which is good, because unlike her, I would have burst into tears); in fact, she barely spoke at all. Around 6:20 that evening, Maureen came in to check on Rhi, having heard some change in her vocalization during contractions. She asked if she could perform a second cervical check and we agreed she could, although—as noted in our plan—we didn’t want to know the number. But after checking, she said, “I don’t have to tell you the number, but are you ready to start pushing?” Rhianna went from 4cm to 10cm in a little over three hours—and at 7:32 pm, I helped catch our daughter, Lyra.

I am, and will remain, unabashedly grateful regarding our birth process. Lyra’s heartbeat never wavered, and although she had a quadruple nuchal chord, Emily instantly unwrapped her and handed her over to mom. Everything went so well that Rhianna, just a few minutes later, remarked, “That wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I could have five more babies!” Emily and Nicole made sure to compliment her efforts again, and said she was welcome back any time— I, however, am now keeping an eye out on Craigslist for quintuple bunk-beds.

Overall, our process was enjoyable (albeit in an unorthodox way) and straightforward—Rhianna knew the work she had to do, so she did it. She was in utter control throughout, and because of her strength, her trust in her body, and some bit of great fortune, our birth process was wonderful, and, thank goodness, quick. And Lyra’s been pooping and peeing up a storm; she took to nursing quickly, and isn’t even too rough on us at night. Other than the fact that I can’t run to the grocery store without tearing up and yelling, “I miss you!” as I walk out the door, everything is going just superbly—which is, I’ll admit, nothing more than I’d expect from my beautiful wife, and now, my beautiful daughter.

*I would like to add here that in the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) of North Carolina, most of the hospitals are becoming more and more natural birth friendly which is awesome!  It’s a great place to give birth.  Also — I understand that all interventions are sometimes necessary and I was open to any and all of them should I really NEED them.  I think a lot of time they are given without being needed and I wanted to try my hardest for as natural a labor process as possible.  Luckily, and I am truly so so so grateful, the baby and I were safe and healthy the whole labor process so no interventions were needed.  This is such a touchy subject and I’m not trying to sound as if my way is the right way for everyone.  After a lot of research, tons of research, John and I decided this is what we wanted and what was best for us.

woohoo!

Hello February!

I have to first say, I have a draft that I was working on during the first (full) week of January about being pregnant and what I liked about it because I was still pregnant and starting to not want to be pregnant anymore so I figured it’d be a good way to keep up my spirits by reflecting on the great things.  BUT THEN… I went into labor 5 days early and it was glorious!  So… that post will remain a draft forevermore unless I decide to someday reflect again.

Yes — we have a baby and she’s amazing!  Her name is Lyra (that’s “lie-ruh” if you are confused, although I don’t understand why you would pronounce it another way because of the unofficial rules of pronunciation but ya never know).  I will probably continue to refer to her as L or Lady L (here is a reference for that!) on this here blog because it skeeves me out with how much people put about their babies on the internet these days.

I feel like I have so much to say and I should’ve started blogging about this earlier but I have a newborn and when I’m not attending to her needs or mine or the animals or hanging with my husband all I want to do is snuggle her up so getting on the computer has not been a priority.  I know you understand.  I’ll probably break some posts up.  I have a pretty good routine going with the tiny lady so during some nap time throughout this week I’ll tackle posts I want to go into detail about.

Here’s a quick breakdown –

She was brought forth earthside on January 9th after the best labor & delivery experience ever.   I was so excited that I got to meet all my birth goals and I had a wonderful natural unmedicated childbirth and John got to “catch” her.  It was awesome
and I immediately told my midwife that it made me want to have five more babies.  John and I wrote a birth story that we shared with our birth class but I’ll have to edit that heavily before I share it on here because that was a totally different audience.  An audience that wants to know crazy details of things like my bowel movements and I just don’t think I’ll put that out here on this public blog ;)

L is a healthy little girl and these past few weeks have been dreamy.  Someone asked what we thought was the most surprising thing about childbirth/having a newborn and John kind of summed it up by saying that it’s not nearly as bad as people say it is. People love to share horror stories. Don’t get me wrong — it’s probably the hardest work we’ll ever do but it is the most worthwhile work too and it balances out so it’s been so pleasurable.  We haven’t once felt stressed or overwhelmed.  We’ve just been enjoying this special time together because babies don’t keep — L is already growing out of most of her newborn sized things.  Sadface.  The upside of this is she is gaining weight like a champ as our breastfeeding relationship is going splendidly.  SO thankful.

More Lady L posts coming up this week along with pictures when I upload some to a computer.  I want to talk about her birth, adjusting to life with a newborn talking specifically about the first few days, and I want to do a one month update since she will be 1 month this weekend.  Time is flyin’!  Stay tuned :)

two zero one four

Happy Twenty-Fourteen!

John and I were originally going to host some people at our house for NYE but plans started falling through so we ended up cancelling.  Instead we made a big fort in the living room like we had last week and snuggled in that, watching movies & tv with the animals.  We popped open some sparkling juice so we could feel a bit fancy and we were mostly asleep by 11.  Party animals!  But when you’re nine months pregnant celebrating a holiday at midnight is kind of hard.  In my defense, John was asleep before  I was! :)

The first day of the New Year we met up with friends for lunch and ended up staying out with them talking most of the day.  It was a wonderful way to start 2014.  We mostly talked about Breaking Bad because John and I – tardy to the party as ever – finished the series last week.  I was hesitant to write about it at all anywhere on the internet because I know everyone is obsessed with it and I was afraid if I just mentioned it someone would give me spoilers.  Now I can talk about it because it’s over.  I hated the show but I was also crazy for it and had to keep watching – if you watch the show I’m sure you know how that goes.  I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a character harder than I did for Jesse Pinkman and I don’t think I’ve loathed another character as much as Walter White (I had to take several days long breaks from the show because I was so upset with him).  I desperately wanted there to be a follow-up after the finale about Jesse, but it’s okay, in my mind after the last scene faded to black text came up and said “Jesse left New Mexico and spent some time in Alaska where he met his wife and they started a family.  He is a successful carpenter and wonderful husband and father.  He has been sober for 10 years and is still going strong.”  I need that, okay?  I’m still dreaming about meth some, but most of those dreams are gone — thank the good Lord.  Breaking Bad gives you all the bad dreams, even if you make an effort to look away during the violent parts of the show, you still hear it and you still know what happened.

HOW DID THIS END UP BEING ABOUT BREAKING BAD?!

I meant this post to be about the New Year but I guess I needed to talk more about that show.  It’s so fun to analyze.  There’s a couple different theories John and I have been exploring.  Anyway.  With our friends on New Year’s Day — so we didn’t just talk about BB but we also talked about Easter and our plans for it and I’m so excited.  We have one friend who is an Internet Researcher Extraordinaire and she is finding out accommodations for us as we speak.   We do a lot of other holidays with family on the holiday and then do a Friend Holiday before or after but Easter is strictly Friend Easter and it’s pretty boss.  (I make myself laugh when I use words like “boss” instead of cool.)  That may have to change as babies come into the picture, but this year we are holding to the Friend Easter still.  I’m excited for our plans.

Resolutions???  I got ‘em.  John and I haven’t nailed them all down yet, we are going to do that tonight.  But some of my goals (only mine, John has his and then we have some as a family) are to read at least ten books from our personal library — we have SO many books that we haven’t read now and I’m, of course, allowed to read more than ten, but ten have to come from our library.  I also want to journal (hand journal) every day in my planner — I changed planner designs for 2014 so each day includes a small journaling page.  When it came to getting a separate journal out to write in, I just wasn’t doing it consistently, but I ALWAYS look at my planner each day so I want to jot down a few things.  I’ll consider it a success if I just write down ONE thing of note each day, but hopefully I’ll write more than one thing.  That’s all I can think of so far, most of my other goals are our family goals and I’ll share some of those once we have them set.

Oh, yes, I’m still pregnant, I have a week until my official due date so I could theoretically give birth anytime.  First babies are usually on time or late, so we’ll see what she decides.  It is crazy to think that I will definitely have a baby sometime this month — some way or another! ;)  She’s dropped nice and low which is fun for my bladder and my hip joints – ha!  But breathing is a bit easier.  Braxton Hicks contractions are more noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable but I’ve had no real signs of impending labor.  She’ll come when she’s ready and not a minute before or after.  I can’t wait until she is Earth side!