Thursday, October 2, 2014

E is One!

On September 20th E turned One! Honestly, I've looked forward to this for years! Celebrating a baby, my baby turning one, having birthday's, growing up, growing as a family. It all is very exciting.

Nate couldn't understand why I wanted to have a party, why people needed to come over, why all the decorations, why all the work, why all the fuss. But that is just him, he is a homebody and doesn't like to have people over. He did finally get into it as people were arriving though.

I planned a themed little red wagon party, sent out invitations and made my own decorations. A friend made the cake though. It turned out pretty great if I do say so myself. There were about 15 people. Nate's parents came. And I got some great pictures.

I made these invites in Word, I'm sure there was an easier way, but it worked out ok
I borrowed the wagon and made the 1 out of cardboard and then painted it
I made an about me page and posted it about the food table
There were various radio flyer toys around for the kids to play with, they did get moved outside
I ran paper bags through the printer and printed wagons on them for treat bags

I laid out make your own treats in my red white and teal pyrex dishes

There was homemade puppy chow and store bought carmel corn in pyrex on the tables
The drinks were in ice in yet another borrowed wagon
I printed, made and hung a Happy Birthday Ethan banner
I printed, made and hung a "Pin the wheel on the Wagon" game
Nate did all the grilling
There was a wagon cake made by a friend, that E had to play with and destroy, also, there was a wagon for presents, you can see it in the background
There was a smash cake made by the same friend
And Ethan got a wagon
And he got some cups and a another wagon (times two actually) with some blocks
And he got a push wagon
And we all had a great time!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Almost 1...almost

Ethan turns 1 next Saturday. I can't believe it. "They" are all right, "they" say that time flies when they are young. The sleepless nights, the early mornings, the few hours I have with him before and after work, the entire weekends I spend with him, none of it is enough. I can't get enough of him! This year has gone so fast. I love my not-so-little-anymore baby/almost toddler so much can't fully express it.

As I began to plan the party for his first birthday I realized how much I want to share it with all of you. All of you went through my journey with me to bring him here and I feel that you should be involved in the celebration of his first year of life. I can't believe I haven't been on here more to post about what is going on in my life. With our move to Albuquerque, I have realized how much I rely on the online friendships I developed through this blog. I have had so very little time to make new friendships in real life. Once Ethan goes to bed, I hop online to see what all of you are up to. I so eagerly await any new post that any of you write! However, over the last few weeks I've had so very little to read. Many have moved on and I know that summer is a busy time, but I can hardly reprimand others for doing exactly what I am guilty of. I've slowly drifted away from this space, but it doesn't mean I need it (and all of you) any less.

I hate to say it, but I'm addicted to comments. It makes me feel heard. But just as I'm a horrible long distance friend, I'm a horrible commenter. I read, I enjoy, I celebrate your families and your accomplishments, I laugh with you, I cry with you, but heaven forbid I acknowledge that I am doing so. I can make all the excuses I want, but overall I really am going to make the effort to be better. I'm going to start with a return to this space. 

So...see you all soon (I promise it won't be months between posts).

Monday, August 11, 2014

9 month update: Breastfeeding

I have to say, I wasn't sure that we'd make it this far.

Ethan was 9 months old on June 20th. He continues to breastfeed like a champ.

We did start solids at 7 months 2 weeks. As expected, he was much more interested at this time than he was at 6 months. He was sitting up unassisted (even if it was only for a minute or two, not 20+ at a time), he was watching me eat things, and he was putting things into his mouth with accuracy.

Although him eating makes me nervous, he does a pretty good job mashing things up when he puts it into his mouth by himself. We did a bit of a combo of finger foods and semi-solid purees and food pouches. The most difficult thing for him is when we spoon feed him things that have chunks. He tries to swallow anything from a spoon without chewing and then gags/coughs. His favorite thing has to be yogurt. He loves it and gobbles it down. We made an effort to try new things only sporadically, but he has had no reaction to anything, so we've become less cautious and he continues to do well. He doesn't quite eat what we do, but has joined our meals most of the time.

Ethan continues to breastfeed multiple times a day, usually around 7 AM, 5 PM and 7 PM, and usually once in the middle of the night, rarely twice in the middle of the night. He has yet to sleep through the night at this point. I don't mind it though, I love hanging out with him and once in the middle of the night is just fine by me. He also still gets 2-3 bottles of expressed milk in a bottle while I'm at work and he's hanging out with Nate at home. I pump at lunch at work and usually at 5 PM.

Ethan got his first two teeth the day that we moved into our rental (May 2nd) at about 7.5 months. Both bottom front teeth cut the same day... ;( ... it was rough for all of us. Then 6 weeks later, he got his top two teeth the same day (June 16). I got a pick the night before...owie!

Also, I have been bitten. He never clamped down without teeth, but he tried his luck a few times with those sharp little daggers. I wasn't ready for it the first time and may have reacted poorly. I yelped, it scared him. I broke the seal and put him in his crib crying a bit. It took me a minute to make sure I wasn't bleeding. When I was sure I was ok, I picked him back up and we continued. He was a bit tenuous at first, but didn't bite again that night. He's probably tried 2 more times, but I was more prepared and noticed he tried when he is done eating and bored and ready to go to bed.I hope we can continue without any biting!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

6 month update: Breastfeeding

I started this post a while ago, but it was right when we were moving and I never did publish it.

Ethan is now 10 months old and still breastfeeding like a champ. I plan to post a 9 month update....shortly.

Here is the 3 month update on Breastfeeding.

Now for the 6th month update.

Not much has changed in the way that Ethan is breastfed from 3 months to 6 months. He still eats regularly on a 3 hour schedule. I have been trying to wake him at 10:00 PM to give him a "dream feed" where he is not totally awake but takes a full feed. Sometimes he wakes enough to do it and some times he does not. If I am especially tired, I will give him a pumped bottle of milk so that I can get a few extra hours a sleep in a row. I still pump twice at work at 10:00 and 2:00 and Nate gives him bottles around those times, sometimes I also pump at noon because Nate gives him a bottle then too. However, I am not pumping after he feeds only instead of feeds when I am at work. Ethan breastfeeds at 6:30 AM, 5:00 PM, 7:00 PM and is up usually 2 times at night. Lately it has been 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM. Usually I wake him to feed him at 10:00 PM to, so that is still 8 times a day or so. I feed on demand at night and on the weekends so it does vary. This however means that I am still in a sleepless zombie state at 6 months postpartum. I guess you do adjust to it and it's not so bad as in the early days.

At 5.5 months, Ethan decided that we didn't need to use the nipple shield any more. He pulled it off in the middle of one of his "dream feeds" and latched without it. We never turned back and he never needed it again. I hated that freaking thing and am glad to be rid of it. I tried to wean him off of it and he could not latch without it. I tried several different kinds of nipple shield (Nu.k, Tom.mie Ti.ppie, and, who knew that each company made their own and that they were so drastically different). The Nu.k and Med.ela were the best.  Regardless of nipple shield E could just not do without it. I really feel that I had flat nipples. There was a short period of time around 4 months where I believe that Ethan's suck became strong enough to break the adhesions that were keeping my nipples flat. Breastfeeding was uncomfortable after a long time of it being fine, even with the nipple shield, for about 2 weeks. I gave up on actively trying to wean him off of it. I would try at the beginning, middle and ends of feeds to see if he would do without it and we never got a latch that lasted more than 30 seconds or so. I'm glad he is able to do without it, because it was such a pain. You have to clean it and have it with you at all times. Heaven forbid you leave the house without it, you have your boobs but can't feed your child!!! I hope I never see one again!


I am now able to feed Ethan in bed sometimes, I have to get burp cloths ready and tucked in to catch leaking, but it means that I don't have to be fully awake to feed him.

The spit-up, however, is outrageous. He can soak a swaddling blanket in no time flat. He spits up all day long (never at night though). Sitting, laying down, being held, in his swing...anywhere and everywhere. It is not's just a lot, a whole lot! It really is impressive to see how much comes up. I asked his doctor about it, he seems unconcerned. He is not uncomfortable and is gaining weight appropriately, so the doctor called him a 'happy spitter" and said that it was more of a laundry issue than a real problem. I would agree, and since I don't want to put him on another medication (he is still on his hear medicine) we agreed to do nothing for now. I was frustrated by it and brought it up at a La Lec.he Le.age meeting. Although the empathized they all seemed to think he would grow out of it, I agree that he likely will. The leader even said that her daughter used to spit up but "look at her now, she's 4 and doing just fine" it was very funny at the time and did ease my fears about it.

I've done a lot of research about starting solids and I know that most will say that it's ok to start at 6 months and that babies will show signs of readiness, I simply don't think that E is ready just yet. He has no teeth, he still has a tongue thrust reflex, he is not sitting unassisted and his coordination in getting things to his mouth is not great. I think we will hold out and reassess in 6 weeks (the number of weeks he was premature) and see if maybe he is ready then.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Where have you been?

I guess the better question is where have I been? I keep meaning to get on here to post an update, but can't find two spare minutes to put together to do so. I know that some of you already know this because you follow me on facebook, but I thought that I'd write out some of the details. Because this blog isn't entirely anonymous, I've revised what I'd originally written so as to be...more positive...should inquiring persons decide to search for just such a post at some point in the future.

When Ethan was 3 months old, I went back to work. I had 14 weeks of maternity leave due to the combination of 8 weeks of planned leave and delivering 6 weeks preterm. I went back to work thinking everything was hunky-dory, when it really wasn' really, really wasn't.

A co-worker took over my schedule while I was gone. She was previously my student and had just been hired on after her graduation. She was licensed for a mere month before I delivered and she had to take over everything. Given that she was so new to it, she took over seamlessly and did a great job.  Her sales were high, patient's were happy, boss lady was happy, all was good. When I returned though, sales opportunities were not distributed evenly. Patient's were actively moved off of my schedule and onto hers and no one seemed to know how it was happening, fingers were pointed in every direction and I was getting screwed. After 3 months of essentially no income for our family, I didn't make enough sales in January to earn commission for the first time in nearly 6 years of working there.  I thought it was a fluke, many patients had awaited my return before coming in for a variety of issues and my schedule got bogged down with the nonsense. I really do rely on sales for income. So when February ended with yet another month without commission, I knew something was amiss. I was being phased out.

Nate had been on my case to find another job since the whole debacle of Ethan's birth in Las Vegas, but I had assured him that things would be fine once I returned to work. They weren't.

I actively sought out another job for the entire month of March. I received many offers, but nothing that would work for us. Everything I was getting required some major change, such as moving across the country. Finally, on March 26, a job in Albuquerque fell in my lap, a previous co-worker had left 5 years ago for the job, worked there ever since, and recently resigned to go elsewhere to work part time. I received the final offer on March 30th (a Monday) and the planned start date was March 16th. I went to work that Monday and planned to resign from my current job that Wednesday to give myself 2 weeks to close up shop and finalize patients. I was surprised to be called into the boss's office at the end of the day. After rather minimal conversation, I resigned on the spot and was asked to leave that day rather than at the end of 2 weeks. The message was thanks but no thanks for your 6 years of blood, sweat and tears.

Well ok then.

I contacted the new boss and accepted the position let him know that we were getting ready to relocate and that I was not required to do the final 2 weeks of work that I had planned. He asked me to come early....

Nate and I ran around like headless chickens trying to get things planned out. We got a house in ABQ to rent but couldn't move in for a month. We decided to rent because we were not at all familiar with the area and had no idea where to live. We were very limited on rental options due to having 6 dogs, but did find a place rather quickly, all things considered. So the new boss man rented us a house in Santa Fe and I commuted the 1 hour drive every day for a month. Then we moved into the rental house in ABQ at the beginning of May.

We are finally settled and unpacked. So I figured it was time to unpack this blog too and get all of you updated!

Considering changing the blog name to "Greetings from Somewhere, NM", because we no longer live in the middle of Nowhere, but I've had the old name for so long...Opinions?

Friday, March 14, 2014

3 month update: Cloth Diapering

I don't know what I'm waiting for, I wrote this post almost 3 months ago and never posted it. Sorry, it got a little long, but I hope that someone finds it someday and reads it and says..."Hey, I can do that!" I included a lot of detail so that someone could follow step by step and come to the same conclusions that we have: Cloth diapers are great!

I knew that we would cloth diaper long before we even got pregnant. They are cute, functional and a whole lot less expensive in the long run than are disposable diapers.

My husband calls me "crunchy" and "fanatical". This is not just in response to cloth diapers, but his typical response to anything that is not considered mainstream. However, I consider myself "frugal" and a "hobbyist". Spoiler alert: He has since come over to my side, and is fully on-board with the cloth diapering, even after some initial resistance.

Early on in my pregnancy, I was researching cloth diapers and holy crap was I confused! There are so many different options do these words mean?????? It took me weeks to sort it out, and I'm not going to go through it all here. I learned the most from and you can too! My way is by no means the only way to cloth diaper, but boy has it worked well for us.

Because Nate was not yet on board, I had to go cheap cheap cheap to start with. For us, this meant prefolds with covers. I had joined the local cloth diaper support group's facebook site and someone posted that Green Mountain Diapers was having a second's sale on their clotheez prefolds. Since these were the prefolds I had planned on using, I bought a bunch at 12 weeks pregnant (I was scared shitless to do so by the way! tempting fate and all). For those who don't know a second's sale is when a company sells defective merchandise or anything that is not first quality, at steep discounts, however, often the typical buyer can not even find the defects.

I bought 3 dozen newborn sized, 3 dozen infant sized and 2 dozen medium sized square flat prefolds (total cost of: $140). At 20 weeks I bought 2 best bottoms one size covers, 2 swaddlebees size one adjustable sized covers and 5 thirsties size one adjustable sized covers (total cost of $140). For $280 we could diaper in cloth through at least 9 months then we'd have to buy a few more covers (maybe $50 worth) to diaper until he weighed about 30 lbs (maybe until potty training?!?!?!). 

I also bought some used diapers. I had wanted to try BumGenius Elementals after reading Josey's adventures in cloth diapering. They changed the style though so I had to buy them used. I bought 7 used from a local girl for $70 and also bought 8 used on ebay for about $80. Although they all have lots of holes in them, but for $150 I had a bunch of diapers I knew my husband would use. Because he did like these, I also bought 6 new Bum Genius Freetime diapers from Target online for a total of $90. I have since sold half of my infant sized prefolds and 4 of my covers and a wet bag I hadn't used for $80 and then used that same money to buy 12 used BumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers. I sold half my infant prefolds because we didn't need nearly as much of that size, nor as many covers as I had bought.

Because cloth diapers do require some accessories, I have two pail liners I purchased for $30 total, a diaper pail (trash can with locking lid from home depot) for $10, a small wet bag for my diaper bag for $10. 3 dozen cloth wipes for $30. A spray bottle for wipe solution for maybe $1. Witch hazel, baby wash, tea tree oil, baby oil all for the wipe solution maybe $20. $6 for Baby anti-monkey butt diaper rash treatment and prevention powder. I may spend maybe another $50 between now and potty training on the stuff I use for our wipes solution and butt powder.  

Although we don't really use the 20 infant prefolds I have, I have about 41 diapers total in rotation. I do not have to buy diapers and wipes ever again.

If I can do math correctly, in the end I will be roughly $675 into cloth diapering by the time E is potty trained. It costs a family an average of $2400 to use disposables from birth through potty training (not including wipes, diaper genie, diaper creams...etc, all of which I included in my $675.) We are therefore saving a minimum of $1725, more if we use our current diapering system on future children. Our savings would be even more if I had just gone with one system to begin with and stuck with that.

We were not able to start cloth diapering E from birth. We didn't have any that would fit him at 5 lbs. So we bought about 3 packs of 40 count preemie diapers, one case of newborn diapers from SAM's club, one 40 pack of newborn diapers from walmart and one 40 pack of size 1 diapers from walmart. We also bought 1 case of wipes from walmart. When E had diaper rash early on, I bought at least 6 different types of creams until we found baby anti-monkey butt powder. I spent at least $300 on all of this crap, which we did use! At least it didn't go to waste. I now use the diaper creams at night. I insisted that we only buy cloth diaper safe diaper creams (except boudreaux's butt paste) so that I could use them with cloth.

I started to fully cloth diaper E's little bottom around 9 weeks old. He was about 8 lbs then. We used a random assortment of the cloth diapers I have. The diapers were so big on him them came to well above his belly button and down to about his knees. He was changed after every feeding around the clock and used about 12 diapers a day and all of them were pooped. We still use cloth diapers day and night, but use newborn insert from the pocket diapers as a doubler for absorbency at night time. He is changed after every feeding and then gets a doubled diaper after bath time that isn't changed until morning. He currently uses about 5-7 diapers a day and about 4 are pooped. 

We have a well established washing routine where we wash diapers every 2-3 days. I dump everything including the pail liner into the washer. 1st cycle is a rinse and spin with cold water with no detergent. 2nd cycle is the longest, hottest, heaviest cycle with a pre-wash with detergent (Charlie's soap liquid that a local natural foods store orders specifically for me), a wash with detergent (same soap) and an extra rinse. Once a week I also add a quarter cup of bleach. The third step is to dry. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to dry everything and I usually pull out any covers and pail liners half way through.

I decided to use cloth wipes because it was inconvenient to change a cloth diaper and have a dirty disposable wipe that I had to take and put into the trash. I have 3 dozen flannel wipes that I purchased from cotton babies. I researched wipe solutions and found there to be a ton of possible choices. I settled on my own concoction. Small squirt/sprayer bottle from walmart, it holds less than 1 cup. Fill 3/4 with water, add 1 squirt of baby wash (cleansing), 1 squirt of baby oil or any other oil (moisturizing), 10 drops of tea tree oil (anti-microbial), and top off with witch hazel (anti-inflammatory). I had heard that you can accordion fold the wipes in a used wipes box, then pour the solution over the wipes. But some people had trouble with mold. So we do a different routine.

When I change his diaper I put the clean diaper under his bottom, take off the dirty one, put a dry wipe between his bottom and the new diaper and spray his bottom (this keeps the solution from running up his crack and getting his clothing wet). I wipe his bottom with the same dry wipe. I only have to use one wipe per diaper change and I just throw everything into the diaper pail. Because breastmilk is water soluable, I do not rinse or scrape the diapers. Formula fed babies or babies who have started solids require a slightly different routine. I then powder his butt with the baby anti-monkey butt every time, and snap the diaper back on him.

Speaking of snaps, we went with snaps instead of aplix (velcro) because of my long hair, dog hair and general fuzz which wears down the stickiness of the aplix. I also read that applix can scratch the skin if your little one has a bit of a muffin top. We have had no trouble with snaps as of yet, they work well, have not broken and fit just fine.

I have E's schedule on the fridge along with the diaper washing routine and the recipe for the diaper solution. Nate has been exceptional at cloth diapering since I returned to work and has taken over nearly the whole routine while I've been gone. Although, I am always the one that folds and puts everything away once washed, however, this is also the case for our clothes so I'm not surprised.

We plan to continue to cloth diaper Ethan and any future children, I can not see how my mind could be changed at this time.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Oily House Friday: digestZen doTerra

Displaying oilyhousefriday1.jpeg

Linking up with Bridget for this post.

I've long been a fan of the more natural ways of doing things and essential oils have just fallen into my lap slowly over the last year or so.

It all started with massage...

I had gone to the chiropractor for an adjustment when I could find no other relief for very localized back pain (and infertility). After several visits, my back, neck, feet and pelvis were all feeling much better. However, my muscles were so tight and my stress so high, I kept knocking things out of whack. My chiropractor recommended her aunt (it's a small town!) as a masseuse. I went to her several times and always felt great afterwards and loved the oils she used to calm, relax and de-stress me. However, I stopped going to her last January just before we started IVF.

Then as a gift, Nate bought me a session at about 4 weeks post-partum. My back had been killing me (post-delivery pain, poor sleep, carrying around a baby, and post-(failed)epidural) and chiropractic care alone wasn't cutting it.  I happened to also have caught a cold that I thought for sure would be the death of me. She used an oil called Thieves on me and then gave me the bottle. She advised that I put it on my chest morning and night and inhale deeply for a few minutes after. I did so and almost immediately felt better. I still didn't really think about oils and any future use of them.

Then when Ethan was experiencing horrible diaper rash, I decided to make my own wipes solution to try to figure out any way of eliminating the rash. I had purchased (very early in my pregnancy) an essential oil combination from the cloth diaper store in Albuquerque. 10 drops of oil to a cup of water (plus a few other ingredients). I never read the bottle until long after I started using it. It is a combination of multiple oils, but primarily tea tree oil and lavender oil. I also experimented with coconut oil on his bottom as well as other areas of chapped skin.

Then, recently, Bridget started posting about her experiences with essential oils. I had recently come to my wit's end with Ethan's spitting up/reflux. He goes through 5+ outfits and dozens of (totally soaked) bibs a day. He spits up ounces after every meal, after every burp, regardless of position, burping, amount he eats, time he eats...etc. It is reflux without the pain! He doesn't seem to care and it doesn't seem to bother him. He is gaining weight and growing at a steady pace, so the doctor doesn't want to do anything. It just doesn't seem normal to me and I'm not really willing to put him on meds anyway. So I sought out an essential oil that might help. I did so at the exact time Bridget started posting. It took me a while to pull the trigger, but I bought some digestZen from doTerra.

Before putting it on the baby, Nate and I used some for about 24 hours. After no ill effects, we started putting it on Ethan. I dilute it with regular coconut oil and apply it to his stomach and soles of his feet twice a day, morning and night. Although it was not the miraculous cure that I was hoping for, there does seem to be a drastic difference in the amount of spitting up he does as well as the frequency. we are down to about 3 outfits a day and 6 bibs. We continue to use it daily. I have to admit that it is not the best smelling thing to me (a little like black licorice), but heck, whatever works!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A year ago today...

Very few days each year have an impact on me. New Years day, my birthday in July, Halloween and Christmas are really the only days of much significance to me. Ethan's birthday in September is a new one for me later this year, but I now have Febuary 18th, today, as a day that is emblazoned in my mind and likely will be forever. It is the day I got my first ever BFP! I do remember January 24th as the first day of my cycle, Febuary 7th as the egg retrieval, Febuary 12th as the transfer. But one year ago on February 18, 2013 at 6 days past a 5 day transfer, we got the shock of our lives! What we had been waiting for and hoping for for the previous 3 years had finally happened.

Happy BFP anniversary to us!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My hospital delivery "must have" and "not needed" list

Laura, a blogger friend recently posted her list of what she has packed in her hospital bag and it was interesting for me to recount what I had planned vs what I actually had with me, and then compare to what I wish I'd had after the fact. I added to what would have been the longest comment in the world and posted it here instead.

I ended up in the hospital without anything because I was on a business trip, and to be perfectly honest, I was fine without it (even though I'm pretty particular about things). My husband brought my half packed hospital bag, carseat and breast pump when he flew out and my co-worker brought my suitcase from traveling to the hospital later that day. All I had during delivery was what was in my purse.

This is what I used and loved having:

1. A robe
I ordered one from a pea in the pod (they no longer sell it, but I linked to the closest thing)
It was thin and covered my hospital gown while I was there after delivery. I still use it at night and in the morning over a tank top. Otherwise regarding clothes, I left in the same clothes I arrived in which were a maternity t shirt, maternity tanktop and maternity yoga pants. They were truly the most comfortable thing I could ever have planned to wear and I ended up in them 10 days later (after washing of course) for the 16+ hour drive home from the hospital. I also wore the sticky bottomed non-slip socks from the hospital to walk around in while there (and my flipflops). You feel a little like you've been hit by a truck, so something comfy (and still stretchy :)) is a must. I had my suitcase from traveling, so I had tons of cloths and underwear (all maternity and all business professional). I wore almost none of it while I was in the hospital. However, I continued to wear maternity clothing for the next 2 weeks or so.

2. My maternity tank tops from Gap
They were and continue to be my favorite "nursing cami" even though they weren't designed for that. While pregnant I had a black one and a white one. Since then, I've switched to a smaller size and have 2 black and 2 white. They are long, strechy and supportive and fit just right in all the right places and continue to be great at 4 months old. I often wear them instead of a regular bra and use them under regular shirts and nursing tops and wear them at night instead of nursing jammies. They just pull down and haven't lost their stretch, also they are lots cheaper than any nursing bra. The built in shelf probably won't work well during the initial engorgement though. I have about 6-7 nursing bras that all suck and no longer fit. I dropped the weight so fast that they all are now huge, I won't be replacing them with duplicates in smaller sizes. I have since bought one more bra and it is the best so far (Bella Materna Women's Maternity Anytime Padded Nursing Bralet though I've pulled out the padding in favor of disposable nursing pads). It's highly adjustably with 4-5 clasps and could have a lot of ust before and after delivery and long into breastfeeding. I am a huge fan of the pull down, pull up, pull aside bras, camis and shirts and not a fan of the clip down ones.

3. Nursing pads, lanolin and a nipple shield
I probably didn't need these until my milk came in, however, it was nice to have them at the hospital. Also, if I'm ever lucky enough to find myself in this position again, I would definitely have a nipple shield with me. However, if you can do without the nipple shield, DO NOT USE IT. We are 4 months in and can't seem to wean off of it. It's nice if you absolutely need it, but if you can push through without it, it is totally worth it.

3. A baby outfit
Pick one you like and don't worry too much about size. However, the one we brought was way WAY to big on our preemie and my mom washed and brought a preemie onesie and pair of pants, the hospital had a hat and socks. This mattered a lot less to me at the time than I thought it would. I thought he had to be brought home in the perfect outfit, but even now it doesn't matter to me. The onsie and pants are cute and tiny and packed away now. Also, don't forget the baby mittens if it is cold out!

4. A carseat and blanket
Did you know they aren't supposed to wear anything fluffy under the carseat straps?

I also had all the stuff that was regularly in my purse during travel including my phone charger.

I needed and wanted nothing during labor except my phone to text my husband. I had no massage tools for my co-worker to use except her fists to give counter pressure on my lower back. I had no music or headphones. I had nothing to read or do. I kept notes on my phone. I was not hungry until hours after delivery. Good thing because I had no food or snacks.  After delivery, I used the soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste from the hospital, as well as the mesh undies and giant pads they had...and I lived. I had been at a fancy hotel and used their nice stuff while traveling but had not gotten those things into my hospital bag. I did have my makeup bag and put some on for pictures and comfort over the next few days in the NICU. And because I didn't have many of these things they now sound excessive to me.

It would have been nice to have a boppy to both sit on and breastfeed with. A headband to push my hair out of my face would have been nice too (I had one in my hospital bag, but since my bag arrived after delivery...). My feet were never really swollen during pregnancy but ballooned up after delivery and compression socks would have been great for the first week or so. I still have no use for a nursing cover. I prefer looser tops to wear over my camis rather than most of the nursing tops I have. After the first few weeks, I'm lucky that I fit back into my pre-pregnancy pants including jeans.

The good thing is that once the baby arrives, you kind of forget about your own comfort :) and don't really miss anything that you don't have with you. And my minimalist experience shows that even if you forget something at home, its not the end of the world, the baby will come anyway! Then, hopefully, friends, family and amazon prime can deliver the few things you discover that you need while you are in your early-on-sleepless-night-don't-want-to-leave-the-house fog.

What do you consider a must have, didn't need, or wish you'd thought of?

Monday, January 20, 2014

16 and 17 weeks old

Ethan was 16 weeks on Friday, January 10th and turned 17 weeks old on Friday, January 17th. Today, January 20th he turned 4 months old to the day.

He has outgrown all of the onsies I bought before he was born. They were a size 3 months from R U.s but are now like second skin on him. I picked up some 3-6 months from's and they fit much better with a little extra room.

I had to add another towel to the basket to bring him up a bit closer so that he wasn't so squished. He likes to press his feet to the bottom of the basket which mashes his head against the top. I'm not sure if it makes him look bigger or smaller.

I think we caught a little half smile!

We also had our 4 month vaccinations today...what a bear! He took it like a little trooper and was fast asleep in his moby wrap in no time. We also got another EKG done today on the fly. We need it for his cardiology appointment next week but just got the order in the mail on Friday.

He is now 11.9 lbs (I thought he was over 12 based on our home scale) and 23 inches. Both of these measurements put him below the 2nd percentile based on age. His head, however, measures 40 cm, which puts him in the 10th percentile. We have our very own bobble head!....Just kidding! He actually seems very proportionate, if small for his age.

They give you this questionaire to fill out prior to the appointment to see if he is meeting all of his milestones. They do not correct for prematurity so I had to put "no", or "only sometimes" for nearly every question on there, I think I only put "yes" for 2 things. 1: Can hold his head 3 inches off the ground during tummy time and doesn't let it fall to the ground but rather lays it back down. 2: When held in a sitting position, keeps his head from wobbling around most of the time.

The doctor said "he's not going to be the biggest kid in his class", however, the other day when we were shopping, a woman, whom I don't know, came up to me and pulled the moby wrap aside to look at his face and said "what a husky little fellow". This kid could not be considered husky in any sense of the word. Maybe she thought he was big for a newborn! But he is definitely small for a 4 month old. Either way, he's just chugging right along.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

3 month update: Breastfeeding

I always knew that I would breastfeed. The nutritional and immunological benefits of breastfeeding can't be beat by something that modern science can create. But I definitely had some concerns about the realities of breastfeeding.

Before E was born, I was simply hoping that I would make enough milk for him. I was hoping that he would latch properly and get all of his nutrition at the breast. However, plans had to change when he came so early. Plans had to change immediately. We did not have the chance to do skin to skin due to his prematurity. He did not latch within the first hour as I had hoped. Finally, he was given a bottle of formula before I even made it to the NICU to see him.
first bottle

I was brought a pump in my recovery room and given some basic instructions to pump for 15 minutes every 2-3 hours. With a baby in the NICU, pumping every 2 hours was impossible, I never would have been able to see him. I pumped for 15 minutes every 3 hours around the clock the entire time he was in the NICU. Nate brought my pump to Las Vegas when he flew out, so I used that in the hotel room at night, and I used the pumps at one of two pumping stations they had in his pod in the NICU. I struggled initially with cracked and bleeding nipples, but had purchased some lanolin which Nate brought to me too. I was told that a little blood in the milk was ok, but I would pump about half an ounce and dump it if there was blood in it because it would stop after letdown. My nipples stopped bleeding and I stopped using the lanolin long before we headed back home, maybe after the first 5 days. However, it was uncomfortable to wear breastpads that stuck to the bleeding and cracking and then have to peel them off to pump. They mixed my milk with formula for 3 days until I had enough for a full feeding.
bottle feeding expressed milk in the NICU
Later in the NICU

I have since read that during the first 6 weeks after birth, your milk is essentially controlled hormonally, but after that is controlled by supply and demand. My hormones must have been telling my breasts that I had 5 children to feed because when my supply came in on day 4, I was constantly engorged for the next 3 weeks or so. I pumped colostrum only for the first 3 days, then produced yellow milk for about 5 days, then pumped appropriate fore and hind milk from then on. However, I pumped it in unheard of quantities. I could pump 6-8 oz every 3 hours when E was eating less than 2 oz ever 3 hours. So I brought my milk to the NICU and they stored it in their freezer and refridgerator. It was always their preference to use fresh milk, so they would take a bottle from me and freeze the remaining 2-3. They provided little plastic bottles that hold 2 oz of milk each. When we left the NICU on day 10, we bought a cooler and some ice to travel with the milk, but I could not believe how much they had in their freezer that we had to bring home! Unfortunately, my milk thawed on the ride and because it has to be used within 24 hours after thawing, I could only save about a dozen bottles that were still frozen, and ended up dumping out about 30 more bottles (that's 60 oz of wasted milk that I spent hours pumping!!!).
half of the milk I had to dump

Milk down the drain

When we got home, we continued bottle feeding the milk I was pumping for the next 4 days. Then I decided to try to breastfeed. Ethan had not latch up to that point. I had tried 2 times to breastfeed in the NICU, but we were encouraged to bottle feed him to get him out of there faster. He had only had an artificial nipple up until then. I really felt that my nipples were flat so I purchased a Medela contact nipple shield to try. Voila! he latched to that nipple shield like a pro. The only issue I had was my oversupply and overactive letdown. I had a fever and very sore breasts and back that whole day. I had to stop breastfeeding and pump to be anything close to comfortable. I called the local lactation consultant but got no response, so I contacted the local La Leche League and the leader said she'd come over the very next day. She confirmed my suspicions of flat nipples and recommended the nipple shield. She also confirmed my oversupply and overactive letdown. She recommended pumping after feeding and leaning back when breastfeeding.

[I had a very cute picture of his first latch here, but the husband vetoed it being on the blog]

After that we exclusively breastfed, no more pumped milk in bottles. I'd feed him for 15-20 minutes and then pump for another 15. Then I'd change his diapers, put him down for a nap and start over every 2 hours. I went from pumping 10 oz after feeding him, to not needing to pump at all, but it took nearly 3 months. Somewhere around 2 months, he went from a two hour schedule to a 3 hour schedule and right around 3 months he started sleeping for longer periods at night and now skips 2 feedings. He went from eating 12 times a day to eating 6-7 times a day.

At 15 weeks, I went back to work and back to pumping. I started pumping the weekend before to make sure that I wouldn't suffer a drop in supply. Currently my schedule is to breastfeed at 1 AM, sometimes 4 AM, and 7 AM, then Nate bottle feeds at 10 AM, 1 PM, and 4 PM, while I double pump at home at 7:00 AM after he eats then at work at 10:30 AM and 2 PM, then I breastfeed at 6 PM and 8 PM. We still use the nipple shield at every feeding.
dad's feeding him again when I'm at work
Breastfeeding on the couch this week

Here are some of the things that I have learned are absolute musts/must haves from my own personal experience that I never heard or read about before. I am not being compensated for promotion of any of the things below, they are simply the things that I have found to work and or love:

1. I keep a supply of white washcloths (about 20) that I bought at sam's club next to where I nurse. When I pull down my bra, I tuck an new dry one into my bra before each feeding. It catches anything that leaks (which is sometimes a lot) and then I use it as a burp/spitup rag. My oversupply leads to a lot of leaking during feeding and sometimes 2-3 oz of spitup. Sometimes, when Ethan turns his head he will pull off the nipple shield and I spray him in the face, the washcloth gets use then. The washcloth also protects my clothing (most of the time). They can be bleached clean and are cheaper than anything else. I have to wash all of them every 2-3 days. I toss them in our tub when they are dirty so that they can airdry. The milk and spit up will turn moldy if put into a hamper or really anywhere else.

2. I nurse in the same chair next to a nightstand in our room. I had set up a station in his room too, but only use it to read a story after I change him and put him in his PJs. Our room is just much more convenient. My pump sits there, the TV remote and my phone are all right next to me because I never know how long I will be there. I also keep a coaster for a drink and nail clippers for E's little daggers that need to be cut every 4-5 days or so. It would be nice to have a glider, or even just a footrest, but I have done without these things thusfar. The washcloths are int he drawer of the nightstand. I can not nurse in anything but the cradle hold, cross cradle, football and sidelying do not allow me to tip back and slow my letdown. So this chair works just fine. Also, I had to use a boppy initially, but now can do without as my arms are a little stronger. I usually do have it though. A boppy with a watterproof cover is also a must. I have two and I keep one for nursing and one for propping him during tummy/mat time.

3. Nursing pads are a must, but most of them suck. I had bought a dozen cotton reusable pads to use for nursing. They all sit in a drawer. Initially I leaked all the time and would let down at random times, like in walmart when I saw another mom with her baby, or when I rolled over in bed. I would leak right through those cotton pads because they did not have any backing protecting my bra and shirt. I immediately switched to disposable pads, which mostly also suck. I've tried most of the brands at walmart and walgreens and finally settled on Johnson and Johnson pads. They are the right shape, size, contour and absorbancy for me. Unlike Medela, lansinoh, nuk, avent and most of the others, they are not folded and glued to shape a cupped breast, but rather already cup shaped. All of them have a sticky pad on the back that is totally worthless, I don't even pull off the paper anymore before I put them in. I have stopped leaking during the day when I double pump, however, I still let down on both sides when I nurse E and must have a pad in place to catch the excess. I have seen the things that catch and let you use the extra milk, but that continues to encourage letdown on the opposite side. Buy a small supply of a variety of different brands to find what you like if you need to use nursing pads.

4. Pumping also sucks, but my life has been made so much easier since I bought a new invention called a Freemie. It attaches to my Medela pump, but instead of the traditional horn and bottle design, a cup fits around the horns and valves and catches the milk. This allows the whole thing to be inserted into a traditional bra and be used hands free. I also think they are easier to clean and fit better into my pump bag. It wasn't absolutely necessary when I was pumping at home, but back at work, I can sit at my desk and pump without removing or lifting my shirt. Also I can continue to work!

5. Co-sleeping has saved my sanity. I like having my baby close to me. I want to be attentive to his cries and able to comfort him. I also don't want to trapse across the house to check on him or get him. Initially we co-slept in the form of room sharing. We had his bassinette/co-sleeper in our room but not against our bed. I now have the co-sleeper tied to our mattress up on leg extensions. It would be nice to be able to just pull him into our bed to nurse at night, but I have to get up and go through the routine of the nipple shield and the washcloth.

 I wanted to document where we were 3 months in, but I also hope that some of our experiences help someone else. I hope to keep this up at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.