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Celebrating Mother’s Day

May 11, 2015

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This year I celebrated Mother’s Day for the first time on the “other side of the fence” if you will. I’ve spent 27 years celebrating my mother, step mom, grandmothers and aunts who have been like mothers to me, but getting to enjoy this holiday actually being a mom myself felt extra special and had me all sorts of sappy and sentimental.

Although the day has come and gone, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to reflect a little bit on what being a mother has been like these first few months. I’m already finding the first few weeks with a newborn to be hazy in my mind, and I have a feeling that before long these early months will be just a fuzzy memory as well. It makes me sad to see my little peanut growing up so quickly, but as someone who wouldn’t consider the newborn days “my thing” I’m also very thankful that she is getting bigger. My husband and I say every single day that Ainsley is more fun than she was the day before. It really is true that life just keeps on getting better.

But those first few weeks? Man, those weeks were hard. I lacked the perspective to see how fleeting they were, despite the fact that everyone told me they would go quickly. I thought I would be waking up every two or three hours for the rest of my life and that I would never get a solid stretch of sleep, and sometimes I still wonder if my little one will ever sleep the magical “8 hours” in a row. Even now I lack the perspective to understand and realize that the baby stage doesn’t last forever, even though I’ve told myself a thousand times.  But is there anything sweeter than being the one that can silence cries and soothe tears and fussy tummies? Is there anything better than when you feed your baby a bottle and they hold on to your finger with their little clenched fists? Or the adorable way they look when they’re sucking on a paci in their car seat? For some reason that gets me every single time.

Before Ainsley was even conceived, when I was still scared, sad and doubtful that I would ever become a parent, I had a dream. In my dream I saw a sweet baby girl that was all mine to have and to hold. She was chubby, cute and had plenty of dark hair and the sweetest little rosy complexion. I woke that morning and sobbed to Joe when I realized that baby was just a dream because it felt SO real and it hurt to wake from that dream. But that vision stuck with me, and I knew that some day that little baby would come and join our family. In fact, it was the reason I believed Ainsley was a baby girl from the moment I took that pregnancy test, so much so that I started calling her Ainsley five weeks into the pregnancy. I was certain it couldn’t be any other way.

Motherhood has been far more difficult that I ever imagined. I never thought it would be easy, but I was entirely unprepared for the challenges it would bring. There are good days and difficult ones, days when I think I can hardly go on without more sleep than I’m currently surviving on, days when I think I’ve dropped the ball as a mother, moments when I look back and wish I had handled the situation or the crying with a little bit more patience. Sometimes I have to take a moment and re-start my day with a different attitude because, just like my baby, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed with much less perspective than I need to tackle what the day has in store.

But it seems like each really difficult day is followed by a day that is equally wonderful, filled with smiles and coos and new baby developments, when I feel like I’ve really got this mommahood thing down and we’re really hitting our groove. And is there really anything better than going to pick up your baby after a nap only to be greeted with a huge, gummy smile? I don’t think so.

So thank you, Ainsley, for making me a mom and for making this year’s Mother’s Day so sweet. Most days I don’t feel equipped to be a mom, but I certainly feel equipped to be YOUR mom, if that makes any sense. You are my one and only precious baby girl, the child we so longed and prayed for, the one who made all our dreams come true. We love you more than you’ll ever know!

Madison

 

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Exclusively Pumping: Making It Less Miserable

May 6, 2015

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Flashback photo from Ainsley’s first week of life, when we were still figuring out the whole pumping/bottle feeding thing.
Eeek! Can you believe how little she is there? Be still my momma heart. 

I think one thing everyone who has ever breast fed can agree on is this: pumping is absolutely the worst. Anyone with me on that one? Although Ainsley is only two months old, I have already put my pump to good use since I’ve been exclusively pumping since she was four days old. Seriously, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Since Ainsley had a small gap in the corner of her lip it was clear from the first few horrible days in the hospital that breast feeding just wasn’t going to happen for us. I lasted a couple more frustrating days at home before I made the switch to bottle feeding breast milk, and I can’t tell you the wave of relief I felt when the doctors confirmed that Ainsley’s lip gap was probably a big source of our lack of success at breast feeding.

Of course there are a number of reasons that women pump: to keep up their supply, because they’ve returned to work, because breast feeding multiples is just not working, etc. And I think that the universal opinion on pumping is that it’s just plain miserable. So, if you’re in the same boat that I’m in, I’ve brainstormed a few things you can do while pumping to make it less miserable…

1. Embrace Pumping in the Car
I thought this was so strange when my friends told me that they pumped in the car driving places. But after one too many days scheduling my life around being home to pump, I decided to just embrace pumping while driving. I bought a set of Freemie cups (which are WAY more discreet while driving and easier to use) and a car adapter and my world was changed. It’s great to be able to multitask while driving and it’s even better not to feel chained to getting home in order to pump or to sneak away to a bathroom somewhere in the middle of an event or activity.

2. Blog!
How do you think I made time for this blog post?! But seriously, sitting down with your computer to blog, do bookwork, catch up on e-mails that you never have time to respond to and other semi-productive tasks is a great way to get your mind off pumping and get caught up on those things you say you never have time to do. I usually keep my computer next to my pump so it’s always within arm’s reach.

3. Blow Dry Your Hair, Do Your Makeup
Every now and again when I’m really crunched for time, I set up my pump on the bathroom sink and do my makeup or blow dry my hair while I’m pumping. Finding time to do your hair or makeup as a new momma is hard enough, so this is sort of an easy excuse to take a little time to yourself.

4. Refrigerate Your Pumping Supplies
I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this, but when a new momma friend told me you can take your pumping supplies and store them in the refrigerator for the day it was a game changer. Refrigerating your supplies for the day eliminates the need to clean them every time, and those extra minutes can be used for more important things – like napping!

5. Pump and Feed
This isn’t meant to be an advertisement for Freemie, but I’ve loved the cups so much and they’ve been a game changer for pumping. It’s not easy, but I have figured out that I can pump with the Freemie cups and feed Ainsley her bottle at the same time. I don’t do it often, but when she wakes early and needs to eat and I need to pump, it can be done!

Mommas who have exclusively pumped, do you have any other tips to share? 
Madison

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Ainsley 2 Month Update

April 30, 2015

Ainsley2Month

Likes and Dislikes: This month has been so much fun because her little personality is really emerging more and more every day. Joe and I say every day that she is more fun than the day before.

Ainsley Loves: having people sing to her, smiling at friends and family, eating, playing on her baby gym, playing with her daddy and practicing rolling over, hanging out in the Ergo and dancing around the house with mom while music is playing in the background.

Ainsley Dislikes: This little girl has a super short fuse when it comes to eating and we joke that she gets hangry like her momma. If you wait too long to give her a bottle she pretty much loses it and the only way to get her to take her bottle is to sing to her – strange but true. She is starting to like tummy time more, but it still isn’t her favorite, and she really dislikes having her clothes changed.

Daytime Schedule: Still waking up at 6:30 each morning, give or take 1/2 an hour. We’re still sticking to a 3 hour eat, play, sleep cycle during the day, but her wake times are getting longer, around an hour and a half at a time, and her naps range anywhere from 1 hour to 2 1/2 hours; her morning naps are on the shorter side and she usually takes a long nap in the early afternoon, followed by another short cat nap before bed.

Eating: Her eating hasn’t changed all that much from last month. She is eating 4 to 5 ounces during the day and then takes more of a cluster feed approach closer to bed time. Once in a while she will eat a 6 ounce bottle. Lately she seems to be going through a growth spurt because she is eating much more than usual. We are still feeding primarily breast milk in bottles but have also started to introduce some formula each day, mixing it half and half with breast milk because I’m not sure how long I’ll continue to pump.

Sleep: We started to have a lot of trouble with Ainsley taking forever (we’re talking 1 1/2 to 2 hours) to go to bed at night, meaning most of our night consisted of putting her down, soothing her, going back in to rock her and start the process over and over again. Instead of keeping her awake until 9 or 9:30 we have started putting her to bed earlier, around 7 and it’s made a huge difference. She goes to sleep at 6:30 or 7 and wakes up around 12 and then again around 3 or 3:30 with a morning wake time between 5:30 and 6:30 each morning.

Family Transition: Now that Ainsley is getting more predictable and I’m starting to understand her and her schedule a little better, it’s making the transition into parenthood much easier! I am really starting to enjoy my days with Ainsley and a lot of times when Joe gets home I’ll tell him how much FUN she is and how much I love being her mom. Additionally, since she is going to bed earlier and easier, it leaves a little more time for Joe and I to eat a peaceful dinner together and have some time just the two of us, which is great. It’s also incredibly gratifying to walk into her room after naps and be greeted with a huge smile. Those smiles really do make it all worth it! Overall, I’m enjoying being a mommy so much more this month than last month, which was pretty rough to be really honest.

Mommy Body Update: I went in for my 6 week postpartum check up and was surprised that I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Things are certainly not as toned and firm as before I got pregnant, but I’m trying to be patient and take it a day at a time. Honestly, finding time to get to the gym has been minimal, especially since I’m still battling sleep depravation, but we’re going on lots of long walks and I’m doing plenty of squats and lunges in the Ergo since Ainsley loves to be worn in that thing every day. Despite the fact that I’m not in the shape I used to be, I’m really feeling better in my body than ever and have found that I care a lot less about the little vanities in life now that I’m a mom. If I’m healthy and active and eating fairly well the other little imperfections can just slide.

Resources: Still using Babywise and Moms on Call as my main resources. My mom also gifted me What to Expect: Baby’s First Year, which I really love because it gives plenty of information on developmental milestones and activities to do with your baby by age.

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Surgery Day and Recovery

April 24, 2015

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If you follow me on Instagram (and I hope you do, since I’m much more consistent with my posting there these days!) you’ve probably seen all my posts about the surgery Ainsley had on Tuesday. I’ve been pretty consumed this last week and a half with getting over this big hurdle and moving forward, and any momma who has had to send their little one into surgery can probably attest to the emotional toll it takes on everyone.

When Ainsley was born one of the first things I noticed was that she had little skin tags on her ears. I think one of the first things I said was, “Are her ears funny?!” They were, indeed, funny. Actually most people who saw her little ear tags said they were pretty cute. We called them her “martian ears” and joked that they gave her super powers. We also noticed that she had a small gap in the corner of her mouth between her top and bottom lip on the right side of her face.

Ainsley earned herself a trip to the NICU at 4 days old because she was running a low temp; thankfully everything checked out just fine, she was just tiny and having a hard time regulating her body temperature. But one of the big benefits of our time there was that we had Ainsley looked at by the amazing ENT/Facial Plastic Surgery team at Children’s in Minneapolis. They suggested surgery to repair/reconnect the muscle in her mouth and remove the ear tags all at the same time and we opted to pursue the surgery earlier rather than later. Unfortunately, the surgery required them to put her fully under for a couple hours, meaning I was one nervous momma!

We have been so thankful for the amazing ENT team at Children’s in Minneapolis and couldn’t have had more confidence in trusting our little baby to them. The first few days after surgery were pretty hard on all of us, especially when her sleep was disrupted because of the surgery. She slept almost the entire day after surgery and then was awake for somewhere around 27 hours that second day, only sleeping about 6 of those 27 hours. Needless to say it was rough on everyone! I have never been more thankful for my mom and my mother-in-law who came to help get us through the worst of it.

Sorry that I continue to be so spotty with posting! Maybe someday I’ll quit saying that. As you can see, we’ve just had so many other things on our mind lately. I’m really, really hoping that life will settle a bit and I can resume more regular posting in the weeks to come! A few other things I’m loving lately:

1. Shakeology! Okay, I’m totally jumping on this bandwagon, and I’ll admit that I didn’t really want to love the product, but I’m totally hooked. I’ve been having a chocolate or vanilla shake for breakfast or lunch almost every day (my favorite combo is almond milk, chocolate Shakeology, peanut butter and a frozen banana with ice) and it’s been so filling, easy and satisfying. It totally works with my busy momma schedule and lifestyle right now.

2. Babywearing. I have a few different carriers, but my favorite by far is the Ergo 360. It’s the most comfortable carrier I own and the carrier that Miss Ainsley loves and enjoys the most, from what I can tell. I also have a Solly Baby Wrap that we use occasionally (and used a lot when she was itty bitty) but the Ergo is just so dang comfortable and Ainsley is so secure in it. I’ve taken a babywearing-friendly barre class while wearing her and we go on at least one walk a day in the Ergo, usually in the afternoon during her fussy periods. It’s a lifesaver!

3. Our Keekaroo Peanut Changer. If there is one must-have baby item, this is it! Seriously. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wiped this thing down when Ainsley has gotten a mess on it. SO Much better than having to wash a changing table cover, especially in the middle of the night. It’s worth the extra money!

4. Stitch Fix. Still loving my monthly fixes! It’s been especially helpful post-baby when I just haven’t had the time to get out and shop. I love my stylist and have had some great fixes over the past couple of months. They’ve been great about providing me with plenty of new mom-friendly items.

Happy Friday!
Madison

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Protein Lactation Bites

April 8, 2015

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The first six weeks of life with a baby have been eventful, to say the least, and those weeks have thrown my eating for a loop! I had grand visions of eating a huge meal after delivery, but surprisingly I found myself barely able to eat for a day after delivery and, in fact, my appetite was dampened for a good part of the first week postpartum. Pair that with the fact that I got a horrible case of stomach flu when Ainsley was 4 weeks old that took away my appetite for a week and a half and my eating has been sporadic at best since she arrived.

I started to get a little worried about maintaining my milk supply after getting hit hard with the flu. The dehydration took a big toll on my body and I realized there was no way I was getting enough nutrients in my system to make up for the calories lost during breastfeeding. So when my sister-in-law, Amber, posted this healthy recipe for Protein Balls on her Instagram page, I thought it would be a great recipe to tweak in hopes of boosting lactation. I mean I love Lactation Cookies but I was looking for something a little healthier for frequent consumption. An added bonus? These bites are super quick to whip up and much faster than baking a batch of cookies.

I’ve kept a double batch of these babies in our freezer for snacks throughout the week when I only have one hand and a couple minutes to spare, which happens more often than I would have ever imagined pre-baby!

Protein Lactation Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup chocolate protein powder
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon brewer's yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Combine all the above ingredients together in a food processor and process until mixture starts to come together. Roll into balls. Store in the refrigerator or covered in a plastic container.

 

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