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Ainsley 3 Month Update

June 3, 2015

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Likes and Dislikes: Little Miss Ainsley is non-stop action and personality these days! I love continuing to get to know her more and more and she truly is so much FUN to be around.

Ainsley Loves: people singing, being lifted into the air again and again by dad, playing in her Jumparoo bouncer, eating, watching her puppies run around the house and laughing at mom and dad

Ainsley Dislikes: having to wait to eat, waking up early from naps (she gets super crabby when she wakes early and can’t fall back asleep), having her onesie changed, going to bed at night

Daytime Schedule: Ainsley is waking up sometime between 6 and 7 each morning. During the day she is awake for about 1 1/2 hours before taking another nap. Her daytime naps are usually only about 1 hour in length, meaning we’re on a 2 1/2 hour schedule throughout the day. It works pretty well for us and means that she is getting extra calories in during the day, which equals better nighttime sleep!

Eating: Ainsley is eating 5 ounces pretty consistently in each bottle and taking between 6 and 7 feedings each day. Her bottles are a 50/50 mix of breast milk and formula. We’re on the fast-track to transitioning to 100% formula, both for my own benefit and because I’m pretty convinced that Ainsley does better on the formula as well.

Sleep: Sleep has gotten quite a bit better this month! We put her down for bed between 7 and 7:30 and then I sneak into her room and give her a “dream feed” around 9:30, right before I go to bed. By doing that, Ainsley can usually sleep until 2 or 3, eat, and then sleep again until morning. Waking up only once in the night is such a game-changer! It’s amazing what five hours of consecutive sleep will do for your mental health!

Family Transition: At the end of Ainsley’s third month of life, I returned to work! I was really emotional and nervous about the whole thing, since I was returning to a “new-old-new” job at General Mills. Basically, I was returning to my “old job” but my job description changed quite a bit after the layoffs and our team was quite a bit smaller, so I still have a lot to learn and catch up on.

Going back to work takes a lot of planning; meal-planning and lunch prepping and packing, getting Ainsley’s bottles ready and making sure we are all prepared to tackle the day ahead. But I’m finding that if I prepare for the week and put in the extra time on the front end, I can enjoy the week all that much more. Ainsley is taking to the childcare situation really well, and I’m convinced that the whole transition is harder for me than it is for her!

Mommy Body Update: The three month mark was the point in the recovery process where I really felt my body had returned to some version of “normal.” Don’t get me wrong, I still have some work to do in terms of strengthening and toning, but I’m fitting into most of my old clothes and feeling a lot more like myself. That said, this month I tossed a couple pairs of jeans that I’m convinced will just never fit the way they used to, and that’s okay, too.

Resources: Same as months 1 and 2!

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There is no shame in formula (and other truths about motherhood)

May 20, 2015

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/ainsleynewbornPhoto by Gina Zeidler
www.ginazeidler.com www.ginazeidler.com/blog

I really don’t mean to stir the pot with the title of this post, but I’ve had so many thoughts flying around in my head as I reflect on the first 12 weeks of motherhood. Those first months are full of self-doubt and questions, especially when your baby doesn’t go “by the book” the way you had planned. Ha! Does any baby? For me, when things with Ainsley weren’t going the way I thought they should go I started to stress out and worry and try to force something that just wasn’t working instead of trusting my momma instinct. Note to other mommas: Always do what’s right for your baby, not another person’s baby or the theoretical newborn in the parenting books you read. That said, here are a few truths I’ve come to in the first three months of motherhood:

1. How you feed your baby doesn’t really matter. 
For the first few days I agonized over the fact that Ainsley wasn’t breastfeeding well. She was hungry and cranky and losing weight and I kept trying to force the issue. I felt SO guilty when I introduced a bottle of breast milk, but she took to the bottle so well that I knew we were doing the right thing for us.

2. There is no shame in feeding your baby formula. 
I have been so blessed to be a part of a new momma group that met during the first few weeks of Ainsley’s life. The moms in that group varied widely in their breast feeding experiences. Some had babies that were allergic to breast milk and required special formula, others had supply issues and supplemented with formula and still others just didn’t want to breast feed long-term and were making the switch to formula before heading back to work.

Personally, I’ve been introducing some formula into Ainsley’s diet for the last couple weeks, and it’s been going great. At first I felt incredibly guilty about the whole thing; my supply was ample and Ainsley was thriving on breast milk, so why wouldn’t I continue? But 11 weeks of exclusively pumping was exhausting and I felt it was better for my mental health to cut back, even if that meant introducing formula. Sure, breast milk is the perfect food for baby in most cases, but formula is pretty good, too.

3. Say “yes” to the paci if you want, when you want. 
Nurses in the hospital might make you scared about nipple confusion and all that jazz, but I’ve had enough momma friends who have recommended giving your little one a paci when you want, even if it’s sooner than the magic 4 to 6 weeks.

4. Find a Facebook group for your parenting style. 
Seriously, I don’t know how our parents did this newborn thing without social media. There are so many great groups on Facebook for almost every parenting style or infant issue you may have questions about. There are groups for exclusively pumping mommas, faith-based groups and the like. I’ve joined a group for moms following BabyWise as well as a few other momma groups. It’s been great to have a supportive place to ask questions and throw around ideas about feeding and schedules and sleep issues.

5. Be prepared to buy and try every sleep contraption on the market. 
In just three months of life, we’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on sleep solutions. When you’re a tired and weary parent, you’re willing to do or pay anything for a couple extra hours of shut-eye. We’ve used a flannel swaddle, Ergo swaddle, Halo Sleep Sack, Miracle Blanket Swaddle Up, Woombie and Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. For us the Halo Sleep Sack and Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit have been the two that have worked the best, but it varies from baby to baby.

6. Don’t expect to get all the things done on maternity leave. 
In fact, expect to get none of the things done on maternity leave. Cuddle your baby, be invested in your little one and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get everything done. Maternity leave is for baby bonding and healing and adjusting to a new normal, not proving you’re some sort of super momma who can bounce back in a second and do a thousand tasks.

7. Take developmental milestones with a grain of salt. 
I remember one morning sitting on the couch and crying to Joe early on because I thought Ainsley might be blind. (Really?!) She wasn’t tracking objects well at the point when one book told me she should be able to track and follow things in front of her face. A week or two later she started tracking well and I felt incredibly silly for overreacting. Babies develop differently and different times and paces. Don’t get too stressed. And if you are worried? Ask your doctor, not the internet.

Mommas, what other words of wisdom would you add to this list?
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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Ainsley 1 Month Update

March 25, 2015

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I can’t believe that our little baby is 1 month old today! The last month seems to have been the longest, shortest, best, hardest month of our lives; motherhood is such a study in contrasts, isn’t it? I’m tempted to say that I want to go back and do it all over again, this last month, but that wouldn’t be true. Although the last month has been wonderful, adjusting to life with a new little person is a huge learning curve and I’m thankful that we have a month under our belts! The more we learn about her, the more we are able to enjoy her!

So, let’s talk about this little lady, shall we? (Side note: I’m not looking for a debate on parenting styles, since I know the topic is very polarizing. I’m simply sharing what works for us.)

Likes and Dislikes: She loves bath time more than anything! We give her a bath every night before bed time and I swear she would stay in there forever if we let her. She also loves eating, sleeping, cuddling with mom and dad and having people sing to her. Every time someone breaks into song she falls into a trance. It’s so cute! She dislikes having her diaper/clothes changed, being cold and having to wait for food. Don’t we all?!

Daytime Schedule: During the day, Ainsley is on a 3 hour eat-play-sleep cycle. She wakes up at 6:30 every morning and eats every three hours until she goes to bed around 9:30/9:45. In the last week her “play/awake” time has been getting a bit longer as she has been more alert, which is so much fun. It’s great to see her little personality more and more. Little lady loves to nap and takes most of her naps in her crib, although I’ll take all the naps she wants to take on my chest, too, since I know those days are limited and her cuddles are just so sweet!

Eating: She eats like a champ! We had some issues with breastfeeding from the start, so about a week in we switched to bottle feeding breast milk while I exclusively pump. It made all the difference in the world! She is eating 4 to 5 ounces every three hours during the day with the occasional 6 ounce bottle thrown in there when she is really hungry.

Sleep: As I mentioned above Ainsley is pretty predictable in terms of schedule. She sleeps 2 to 2 1/2 hour stretches during her daytime naps. Around 6:30 she has her dinner bottle and then we keep her awake as long as possible with a little cat nap thrown in before her last bottle of the evening, around 9 or 9:30, depending on how long we can hold her off.

She has been waking up once around 1:30 for another feeding and then sleeping again until 6 or 6:30 when we begin the day again! Lately she has been waking up around 4 or 4:30, which we are trying to drop, since she only eats about an ounce before she dozes off again, making me think she isn’t actually that hungry. If we can get her to consistently only wake once a night, I will be one happy (and well-rested) momma!

Puppy Update: A lot of people have wondered how Nutmeg and Pippa are doing with the transition, and honestly they are doing really well! Nutmeg is the perfect dog, of course, and has transitioned so well to having another little creature in the house to share the attention with. Pippa is having a slightly harder time since she was the one who always needed to be in my lap and now that lap is occupied with a baby! But both dogs are very interested and curious about Ainsley rather than threatened or aggressive, which is an answered prayer. Our biggest challenge is keeping Pippa from licking Ainsley’s mouth all the time!

Family Transition: I think I could write an entire post on the transition that takes place when you go from being a couple to a family of three with a little human that seems to be guiding and directing your days. I don’t think I was quite ready for how challenging that aspect of parenthood would be! Especially since I’m home all day with Ainsley right now, I crave time with Joe more than anything and the time we have together when he comes home from work feels so short. It seems most of our night is spent trying to cram as much as possible into a short few hours, and once Ainsley goes to bed we are ready to fall asleep because we are so darn exhausted! Right now there seems to be very little time for just the two of us, but I’m anticipating that it will get better as Ainsley gets a little older and starts going to bed earlier, sleeping longer, etc.

I had a minor breakdown last weekend because I wasn’t doing a great job at voicing what I needed from Joe in terms of support in this whole parenting gig. Sometimes I have the tendency to not voice anything that’s bothering me until I reach the meltdown stage. Not healthy, for sure! What came out of the meltdown and ensuing conversation was that I needed a couple days a week where I got an hour or so to myself after Joe gets home from work. So we settled on three days a week being gym days for Joe after work and two days a week being “me” days, whatever that means. Sometimes that is a walk outside when the weather is nice, a trip out to run errands by myself, going to the gym to sit in the sauna, etc. Craving out even a little time sans-baby has been so good for my mental health!

Mommy Body Update: I think I’m going to do an entire series on postpartum body image and transition, so I’ll keep this short. I’m feeling really good now that I’m a month out from labor and delivery! I think I’ve healed really well for the most part and I’m feeling more like myself every day. I’m trying to be patient with my body and give myself plenty of time to get back to really feeling and looking like my old self, which is challenging, but I keep reminding myself that it took me 9 months to grow this baby, so if it takes 9 months to get back in pre-baby shape, that’s totally fine! I’ve been getting out and being more and more active – lots of long walks and a few light jogs as well. It’s felt great to sweat a little bit and get my body moving every day!

Resources: For those of you who are curious, we are using Babywise and Moms on Call as our resources for scheduling and general baby/newborn care. They are very similar in approach, but I found the Moms on Call a bit easier to understand and digest while I was pregnant. Now that I actually have a baby, Babywise makes a lot more sense than it did before.

Madison