Monday, November 29, 2010

Morning Girl

Ella is apparently a "morning girl"--at least at this stage in her life.  She is so so so happy in the mornings!  She wakes up with a huge grin and just wiggles with delight.  I'll then bring her into our bed, where she's very content to just smile and stretch next to my half-asleep husband while I get up and eat breakfast, take a shower, or do whatever else I need to do before feeding her.  She really is so sweet in the mornings!

Like many babies, she seems to have a bit of a "fussy time" in the evenings--but she's been improving there as well.  It seemed like she always wanted to be held right when it was time to prepare and eat dinner.  I tried to plan our meals around when she would be fed and happy, but even then, sometimes she wanted our undivided attention.  My husband was great about helping to cook and caring for her.  It got to the point in the two weeks or so leading up to Thanksgiving that we would take turns between eating and holding her.  I admit that I was looking forward to my parents and brother coming because it meant three more sets of hands in our rotation.  But she seemed to turn the corner when they arrived, and sat peacefully in her bouncer through our evening meals (at least long enough for me to quickly stuff my face).  And she's continuing to "behave" in the evenings--I was able to finish all of the ironing for the week while she hung out in her bouncer (just as a sidenote--my husband and I use the bouncer as a seat, but we have opted not to use the vibrating function--she, however, can get herself bouncing simply by kicking her legs, which I imagine is great exercise). 

Now if only I could convince her that it's not the end of the world to get out of the bath or shower at night...  I'm sure it must be a rude shock to go from the warm water to the cool(er) house, but she absolutely hates it!  Any suggestions for how to make it a more pleasant transition?

Today's blessing is that my husband gets to go to the Cardinals vs. 49ers game tonight.  He's a big 49ers fan, and I'm glad that he'll get some quality guy-time with his friends.  They made plans for the game a long time ago--before Ella was born--and he was very sweet about recognizing that he would be leaving me alone with her while he went out and had fun.  I'm totally fine with him going, but it was still really sweet that he was concerned.  So his mix of excitement and concern is a blessing to me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Newborn Photo Shoot

As a shower gift, a family friend from back home gave us a newborn photo shoot.  She was in town just a week or so after Ella was born to visit her parents, so it worked out perfectly.  She then sent the disc of pictures down with my parents for their Thanksgiving visit.  Here are some of my favorites*:



Ella was 12 days old in these pictures.  She was 8 weeks old yesterday on Thanksgiving.  I have so much for which to be thankful.  As is customary, we went around and said what we were thankful for.  In addition to being thankful for Ella, I shared that I was also thankful for the work that God has done in my life as we waited for Ella.  My mom agreed that she has seen a change in me, which makes me happy.  I want to be the best mother, daughter, wife, and friend that I can be--and I'm learning so much from loving Ella.

Today's blessing is the chance to buy a Christmas tree.  Since we are always traveling to visit one set of parents or the other for Christmas, my husband and I have always skipped on the tree.  But since we now have Ella, we want her first Christmas (and all subsequent holidays) to be special, so we're heading into town soon to purchase our first tree as a family.

*The rest of the pictures can be viewed here, then click on "View Your Pictures", then "Kids/Babies", then select the picture of Ella on the scale, and the password is simply "Ella".  Special thanks to Georgia Gannon for the beautiful pictures!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so much for which to be thankful!  Ella is at the top of my list, but my husband and family and friends are right up there as well.  God is so good, and I'm so thankful for all of the blessings in my life.  I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Today's blessing--among so many others--is that Ella slept seven hours last night!  It's great to feel extra-rested today so that I can thoroughly enjoy the holiday with my family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I don't claim to be an expert on parenting, or even on parenting books. Nor do I claim to be a good critic. When it comes to books, I don't think I'm very critical. If someone makes a good argument, I tend to agree and say "sure--that makes sense". Like I said before, I try to take it all with a grain of salt; but for the most part, I'd say that I lean more towards the "agree" side than the "disagree".

So when my mom suggested that I read On Becoming Babywise, I did; and thought "sure--that makes sense". And when my colleague (the one who left who I really appreciate) recommended that I read Happiest Baby on the Block, I did; and thought "sure--that makes sense". And when it comes down to it, I think that they both offer some valuable input...though I wouldn't say that either of them is perfect (I do, however, wish I had read them in reverse order--I think that the techniques in Happiest Baby would have been helpful to learn before Ella arrived, and perhaps now would/could have been the right time to implement Babywise).

And while all of the "expert knowledge" in the books is helpful, I feel like the true wisdom in caring for Ella in the day to day moments has to come from God. There are so many times throughout the day that I pray "God, please give me the wisdom and the patience to care for Ella". Sometimes it's a desperate prayer when she's crying and I'm exhausted; sometimes it's a prayer of admiration when she's sleeping peacefully or smiling at me; but usually it's just a constant I-want-to-do-what's-best-for-her prayer throughout the day.

So I guess when it comes down to it, I've created my own "Happy-Baby-Wisdom" approach to incorporate all three--with an emphasis on relying on God's wisdom to help me know what to take and what to leave from the "experts". So with that, let me share some of the things that I like--and a few that don't work for us--from On Becoming Babywise and Happiest Baby on the Block (and if you have any other parenting books that you've enjoyed, I'd be open to reading them as well!).

Let me start with Happiest Baby on the Block. The book is really about colicky babies, and Ella is definitely not colicky (at least by the rule of threes), but she does get fussy at times (definitely less and less as time goes on, but she's a baby...and she's bound to fuss). Because colic seems to end by around 12 weeks (when babies can sooth themselves), the author argues that babies get colicky because they are missing the "fourth trimester".  So he advocates that parents simultaneously use the "5 S's": Swaddling (keeps them tight), Side/Stomach (minimizes Moro Reflex of feeling like she's falling), Shhh-ing (any white noise), Swinging (any quick, little, tight movements), and Sucking (pacifier, boob, finger). He says that parents of fussy babies should recreate a womb experience. He looks at babies from other cultures, throughout history, etc. It was written as a really light and pleasant read, with lots of analogies and parental quotes.  I kind of wished that I had read it before Ella arrived because I think I would have been able to better help her through the couple of sad fits that she had (there weren't many, but my heart broke when I couldn't easily console her).  By the time I read it, we had either figured out some of the techniques on our own, or Ella had grown out of her fussy-phase, or a combination of both.  As for the techniques, we stopped swaddling Ella around three weeks...and she doesn't really rely on a pacifier too much.  But we do a lot of Shhh-ing and Swinging, and those seem to work.  After looking at the book a bit, my husband developed what he calls the "airplane hold", and now drapes Ella across his arms on her stomach, thus applying the Stomach/Side position...and she absolutely loves it!  He had her from almost-fussy to fully-asleep in less than five minutes last night.  He's my hero--I'm so proud of him!

As for On Becoming Babywise, I hadn't originally realized just how controversial it can be.  If I had to sum up in one word what I liked about Babywise, I would say "routine".  I recognize that the book is all about establishing a "schedule", but that doesn't really work for us.  Rather, I like that the book suggests a routine of Eat-Play-Sleep.  Even though I'm the oldest in my family and did plenty of babysitting through high school, I admit that I was a little bit lost when it came to figuring out what to do with Ella once we brought her home.  So the routine of Eat-Play-Sleep really helped us.  Even though the author suggests that parents control the schedule, he does advocate for flexibility, so I've taken fully advantage of that freedom.  On the other hand, the author does suggest that parents allow babies to "cry it out".  We tried a handful of times...and it broke my heart each time.  My husband and I said we would give it fifteen minutes...and then we would sit there, just watching the clock, counting down to when we could rescue her.  So I don't think that we'll really let her cry herself to sleep much in the future (on the other hand, if she's crying and I have to pee or get something out of the oven, I'm not about to pee my pants or burn the dinner, so I'm not afraid to put her down for a moment to attend to whatever it is I need to do). 

As you can see, there are elements from each book that we are taking into account in how we care for Ella.  Like I said before, I'm open to other approaches as well, so please feel free to make suggestions. We're not perfect--but our favorite pediatrician told us it's okay.  He pointed out that we live in an imperfect world, and the best thing that we can do for Ella is model for her how we adjust to imperfections--starting with ourselves.  And that's where the wisdom from God comes in.  I need to listen to Him everyday in how He guides me to be the best mother I can be.

Thoughts?  Reactions?  Feedback?  I'd be interested in hearing what you think (I'm even open to criticism--just please don't "attack" me if you think I'm doing something wrong).

Today's blessing is that I get to see my parents!  They are about an hour away, and I am so excited to see them!  This is the first time that they are coming to our place for Thanksgiving, and let's be honest--they are really coming mainly for Ella.  But I'll gladly share her with them.  Besides, today is my dad's birthday.  It really will be such a blessing to celebrate and give thanks with them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prayers for a Friend

Please keep my friend Nina in your prayers in the weeks to come.  She is pregnant with her second child--a little boy they will name Lukas.  She will be induced on Tuesday, November 23rd (unless he comes before then).

Halfway through her pregnancy or so, Nina noticed a lump on her thyroid.  When she had it checked out, the doctors determined that the growth was cancerous, and that her entire thyroid would need to be removed shortly after the baby was born.  So she will be induced this week, and will then have the surgery to remove the thyroid on December 9th. 

Once the thyroid and the cancer is removed, the prognosis is pretty good.  She and the baby have been monitored, and it does not sound like this has hurt Lukas at all.  But I can imagine that it would be rather overwhelming to know that you're going to face surgery just over two weeks after giving birth.  And it's always concerning to hear the words "cancer" and "surgery"--even if the prognosis is good. 

Nina has been a great friend and support to me through our journey.  Having faced some similar struggles, she has been really understanding.  She has a great husband, and a beautiful three-year old little girl.  Please keep their little family in your prayers in these next couple weeks as she gives birth, prepares for surgery, and then recovers.

Today's blessing is my brothers.  As I mentioned yesterday, today is both of their birthdays.  I love them both very dearly, and I'm so glad that they are part of my life.  I admit that I was a rather bossy big sister when we were growing up, but I do pray that God has helped me to become a better sister in the last couple of years as I began to appreciate my family more and more.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Birthday Celebrations

Yesterday was my Boppy's (my grandpa's) birthday.  Today is my Sister-in-Law's birthday.  Tomorrow is both of my brothers' birthdays (yes, they have the same, they are not twins).  And Wednesday is my Dad's (now Ella's "Boppy") birthday.

I admit that I've been so caught up in caring for Ella that I neglected to send cards or gifts.  I will get to see my Dad and one of my brothers over Thanksgiving when they came to visit, and I sent my Sister-in-Law a text-picture of Ella with a sign that said "Happy Birthday Aunt Heidi".  Oh well...I'm sure that they understand.

Today's blessing was watching my husband really step it up today in caring for Ella.  He loves playing with her when she's happy...but he tries to hand her off to me when she gets fussy.  Sure, I could "rescue" him each time...but I need him to be the care-giver that I know that he can be.  So I gave him some pointers entrusted her to his care.  Sure enough, he stepped it up big time, and even exceeded my expectations!  He also effortlessly introduced a bottle to her for the first time!  He was so proud of her, which makes me so proud of him.  I really am blessed with this partner that God has given me, and Ella is equally blessed to have him as her Daddy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Office Visit

I brought Ella into my office for the first time yesterday.  Aside from her little announcement that she was hungry about halfway through our visit, she was fabulous.  It took her a moment to warm up to having so many people want to see her, and I'm sure that the florescent lights probably didn't help either.  But soon enough, she was smiling and cooing for everyone.  While they IT guy updated my computer, she was perfectly content to just happily squirm on a blanket on the floor in my office, much to my delight.  Many people commented on how happy and content she was, which made me really proud of her (and myself).

The main purpose behind going in to the office was to attend a going-away party for a colleague who I really admire and respect, and will deeply miss when I return.  She has been with our college for 12 years, and is quite popular, so plenty of people were in attendance to wish her farewell and good luck.  I put Ella in the Baby Bjorn (which this colleague actually handed down to us, along with so many other helpful and thoughtful baby items), and she conked out and slept through most of the commotion.  She woke up--happy--when everyone quieted down for the "good-bye" part of the party, but patiently waited till it was time to head out.  Again, I was really proud of her for being so well behaved!  I was a little worried that she might have a meltdown and ruin the party, but all my worrying was for naught. 

It really was nice to visit with all of my colleagues again.  I know that I'm good at my job, so I do feel like I am contributing to society (or at least the university) through my work with my students...but like I said previously, I'm still dreading leaving Ella and going back to work.  At least it's nice to know that I'm missed and they will appreciate having me back when I do return in January.

It was such a blessing to attend the party and celebrate the 12 years that this colleague has contributed to our college.  She brought so much joy and energy to our office, and she will really be missed.  But she is leaving to pursue her dream of being a nurse, and I couldn't be more proud of her for listening to her heart.  I know that she will be wonderful in her new role. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


For the most part, I've done a really good job of not doing any work while I've been on maternity leave.  To be honest, it takes more time to care for Ella than I had originally imagined.  Prior to bringing her home, I think I had these grand illusions of having all sorts of free time.  Yeah...that hasn't happened. 

I've really tried to make a conscientious effort to leave work at the office, but I admit that I couldn't totally ignore it.  I missed out on my students' registration time, and even though I had an out-of-office auto-reply on my email to explain that I was out and to provide them with their other options, I still worried about them.  So all along, I've been logging into my email every other day or so to forward any necessary student emails on to the appropriate advisor (and to delete spam).  But there were plenty of other "keep for later" emails that I left on the server.  Oh--and I should mention that I was just checking my email remotely online through our home computer--my work laptop has stayed stashed away in the corner since I brought it home in late September (aren't you proud of me!?!?).  Well, I got an email yesterday from our IT department explaining that they need to do some sort of conversion for our whole college, and they gave us some different dates and times of when we needed to schedule an appointment.  Turns out that they are available tomorrow, and I'll actually be heading into the office to attend a going-away party for my colleague who I really admire and appreciate.  So I figured it was about time to pull out my work laptop, see if I could remember the password, and download the remaining "keep for later" emails.

Perhaps I should have done this earlier...because I had 100 "keep for later" emails.  100!  And like I said, I've already forwarded the student question emails and deleted all of the spam emails.  Granted, I'm on a couple of listservs that don't necessarily know that I'm on maternity leave--I can delete some of those emails, but others I'll need to keep.  And that information will still apply to me, so I feel like I'll have a pretty big learning curve when I go back to work in January.  I'm afraid I'm going to be playing catch-up for a couple of days...if not weeks!  I guess it's a good thing that I go back on January 3rd but classes don't get started until a week or so later.  (How I dread leaving Ella to go back to work!!)

I'd like to say that I'm going to be more consistent about checking my email to avoid another 100 emails, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen.  After getting my computer updated tomorrow, something tells me that it will go back to its little corner and stay there until January.  And why not?  Ella deserves to have me focus on her as much as possible while I can.  (I don't know how I'm going to balance it all out when I go back to work...but that's a problem for another day.)

Today's blessings is my OB/GYN.  I had my postpartum follow-up appointment with her today, and got the all-clear to return to regular activities.  She really was so good to us throughout the entire pregnancy, delivery, and even came by to check on me after my return trip to the hospital.  As we said our goodbyes, she said "Well let's do this again sometime!".  We'll focus on Ella for now, but I sure hope that we do have the chance to do this again in the relatively near future.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Appreciation

I have developed a new appreciation for mothers of twins.

My very-dear friend's son will be five weeks old tomorrow.  She and her husband are in their very busy season of finishing up med school and interviewing all over the place for their upcoming residencies.  I know that they are juggling a lot, and I have the luxury of staying at home and doing nothing with Ella (and "nothing" actually turns out to be quite a lot!), so I offered to try to help out today.  Since she pulled an all-nighter last night at the library and left her husband home with bottles, she took me up on the offer so that she could first sleep, and then study.

I arrived around 9:30 am (it really was the earliest I could be there--getting myself and Ella ready and out the door is proving to be more time-consuming than I imagined), and her son, Silas, was fed, wide awake, and happy.  Ella, on the other hand, was ready to eat again.  So I sent my very-dear friend to bed, fed Ella, and entertained Silas to the best of my abilities in his bouncer.  When Ella finished up, she was more than happy to check out Silas and all of his toys.  Aside from a few little squawks from each of them, I was able to avoid any complete meltdowns, and miraculously was able to get each baby to sleep for a little bit, thus allowing my very-dear friend to get in a much needed nap.

When everyone woke up, we all ate, and my very-dear friend headed to the library to finish up a project.  Again, both babies were happy.  I'd like to think that they were curious in each other, but really--that probably won't happen for another fifteen years or so.  We joke that it would be great if they did grow up and fall in love, but we'll just let them be "best buddies" for now. Here they are..happy as can be:
(Did I mention that Silas is just about two weeks younger than Ella...and yet he's so much bigger!)

And then, not even two minutes after I snapped the picture, it all fell apart.  I heard a big poop from Silas, and knew it was the type that would require some changing.  My very-dear friend had mentioned that he needed a bath, so I had planned on trying to cover that for her to make her life easier.  Ella was really content at that time, so I put her in his bouncer, brought the hangy-toy within reach, and headed upstairs with Silas to change and hopefully bathe him.  On the way to the nursery, I started the water to get it warm enough for a quick bath.  By the time I had the dirty diaper off, I could hear Ella crying from downstairs.  So I decided to forego the bath efforts, and headed back down.  Halfway down the stairs, I hear a knock at the door, and am pleased to see that it's the parents of my very-dear friend.  So with Ella crying, I hand over their grandson and go to console Ella...only to find that Silas' bouncer has the same effect as our bouncer at home:  major diaper blow-out.  So there I am with my screaming and poopy baby in front of my very-dear friends parents, looking totally incompetent.  But they were wonderfully understanding, and were more than happy to take over the care of Silas--who, even without the bath, was much cleaner than poor Ella.  So even though I had intended to bathe Silas for my very-dear friend, it was Ella who ended up getting the bath.  By the time that I had her, the bouncer, and myself cleaned up, Ella was fast asleep and my very-dear friend was home to feed Silas.

What a day!  I didn't leave her house until almost 4:00 pm, so really, the first five hours were great!  It was just that five minutes of chaos when first one baby, then the other baby, decided to poop.  I joked with the parents that I don't know if they came at the absolutely best time, or the absolute worst!  All I know is that I have a whole new appreciation for mothers of multiples, and I'm glad to be home where I can devote all of my time and energy on Ella. 

Even though I didn't get my own nap in, it was still such a blessing to be able to hang out with my very-dear friend while we fed the babies and catch up with her.  She and her husband--and now Silas--are a great source of fun and support to my husband and me--and now Ella.  We truly are blessed to have them in our lives, and it was also a blessing to be able to help her out a bit today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ella's Accomplishments

As I was formulating this post in my head, it dawned on me that I had written a post about around this time last year about all of my accomplishments while my husband was in Djibouti.  Then when I went back to find the link, I realized that it was exactly one year ago--November 15th--that I had reflected on all that I had done while he was out of the country.  And what a year it has been!  But back to Ella and her accomplishments...

She doesn't like her tummy-time all that much, so she quickly discovered (at about 2-1/2 weeks) that she could roll over from her tummy back to the comfort of her back.  The first time, I figured it was just an "accident", but she did it three times that first night.  I think that she often forgets that she can accomplish this maneuver, because she doesn't do it every time, but she has started to do it more and more regularly.  My husband finally got to witness it for the first time this morning as well.

Everyone has been really impressed with her neck strength and head stability since pretty much the day that she was born.  When she is up on my shoulder, she usually has her head up and looking around.  Our favorite pediatrician noticed this as well at one of her early appointments.  I'm still careful to support her, just in case she tilts her head back just a little too far, but it's great to see her looking around so much.

Speaking of looking around, she has really become so much more alert in the last couple of weeks.  She makes amazing eye contact--and usually smiles and coos when she does.  She's also starting to notice other objects--like the toys hanging from her activity mat or bouncer--which is great for me, because she's starting to entertain herself for longer periods at a time so that I can prepare a meal, eat, clean up around the house...or get in a dreaded pumping session.

She has become so much more audible.  I came into the living room on Saturday morning to see my husband on the ground singing our fight song to her, and she was just cooing along with him.  It was so sweet!  And her little giggles are just as sweet.  I heard the first one a week or so ago when I was putting her to sleep, and it totally warmed my heart.

Ah...sleep.  No, she's most definitely not at the "sleeping through the night" phase yet (and I admit that I think that we have a ways to go before we get there...we're at the five-hour mark for now).  But she is learning how to fall asleep in the cradle with only a little bit of help.  We stopped swaddling her at around three weeks--mainly because she likes to have her arms free.  Even when I swaddled her up as tight as I comfortably could, she still found a way to bust her arms out and stretch them above her head.  So now we just make sure that she's warm enough in foot-pajamas and cover her up with a blanket.  By placing my hand on her chest and singing to her or "sh-sh-sh-ing", she can usually (I admit it's not always) fall asleep within a few minutes (perhaps this is as much of an accomplishment for me as it is for her--it feels so good to know that I can usually find a way to comfort her and help her fall peacefully to sleep).

Now for a not-so-fun trick...I previously shared that she has a knack for peeing or pooping in that half-second between when I take the old diaper off and put the new diaper on.  We have three changing pad covers, and it's not uncommon for us to go through all three in one week.  Perhaps I'm a bad mother, but I've gotten to the point that if it's not too wet or too dirty, that I'll just turn the cover inside-out and make use of the clean(er) side in case it happens again (I know...I'm so bad!).  But her talent isn't restricted to the changing pad.  Oh no!  She is also really great about having a blow-out diaper in the swing, car seat, or bouncer immediately after I've reassembled them after getting them out of the laundry for yet another blow-out.  I think it must be something about that semi-reclined position that just opens up her bowels. 

I know that there will be so many more little and big accomplishments in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.  Good and bad, it's so amazing to see her grow and develop.  There is so much more to which I'm looking forward!

Today's blessing is a quiet day at home with her.  I'll be heading into town Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for various commitments, so it will be nice to just hang out around the house with her today.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Don't Tell

Don't tell my husband that I played around with his fancy new camera today without his permission...

Today's blessing is a happy and photogenic baby...and a big memory card.  I really had fun with her...and I don't think that my husband will mind too much.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

Last year, I shared my appreciation for all veterans--but especially my husband.  At the time, he was halfway around the world in Djibouti for work.  I'm so glad that he's here with me and Ella this time around.

I realize that unlike Mother's Day or Father's Day or Administrative Assistant's Day, you don't necessarily give any gifts to veterans on a day like today.  The typical mode of operation is simply to thank them and recognize their selfless contribution to our country.  But I can't help but think that I was able to give him the gift that he always wanted--he now has Ella.  I look forward to explaining to her that her daddy is a brave and honorable officer in the US Army.

Today's blessing was that my big, strong veteran showed his soft side and stayed home with Ella so that I could go into town and have lunch with my friend.  It was the first time that I had truly been completely alone (beyond going to the bathroom) since that afternoon in the hospital.  Sure, I missed each of them in their own special way, but I know that it was healthy to take some time for just myself.  Aside from a diaper blowout, they did just fine without me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wardrobe Changes

It seems as though both Ella and I are in need of some wardrobe changes.  Hers need to be a bit bigger...mine need to be a bit smaller.

We didn't get many "newborn" outfits for her, but the few that we did get seem to be too small for her these days.  She exceeded the 9 pound mark at her appointment last week, so she is definitely too big for the 5-8 pound items.  But sometimes it seems that even the 8-12 pound pieces are too small for her as well--at least in the length, though not quite in girth.  My husband and I are both fairly tall, and she also seems to have our length.  Poor thing--she's going to be running into all sorts of wardrobe issues for the rest of her life if she has my long torso (though I finally appreciated my extra-long torso when I was pregnant with her).  Sidenote on baby clothes...I find it so funny that some "0-3 month" items seem so tiny, and others seem so huge!  Depending on the brand, she may have already outgrown some 0-3...and may be in others for months to come.

As for me, it's about time for me to put away the maternity clothes.  To be honest, I should have put them away weeks ago.  Since I'm on maternity leave until the new semester starts in January (have I mentioned how much I'm dreading going back?), I admit that I've been living in yoga pants and old t-shirts when I'm at home.  So I really only have to get dressed in "real clothes" for church and if I have to run into town for any errands.  And as I previously explained, my pre-pregnancy wardrobe ranges in sizes from 4-12...4 being at my healthiest and fittest as a result of implementing the recommendations that our RE laid out for us, and 12 being at my un-healthiest and un-fittest after our second loss.  But since I'm so reluctant to get rid of any clothes, I've got a spectrum of sizes from which to choose.  So yes, it's time to put away the elastic waistbands and extra-long shirts (though I might keep some of the maternity tank-tops in my regular I said, my extra-long torso is hard to cover).  I'll box them up today, and pray that I have the chance to wear them again someday.

Today's blessing is fall weather.  Yes, I realize that we're almost half-way through November, but Fall comes a little later when you live in the desert (and it could easily be 90 degrees again next week).  It's nice to be able to wear sweatshirts and cuddle up with my husband--and now Ella--under cozy blankets. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Familiar Pain

Yesterday afternoon, I was saddened to see a facebook post from my former hair-dresser and the wife of our music director for my church back home that they had lost their baby.  It was a "surprise" type of pregnancy--they have three children ages 16, 14, and 9, and she found out she was pregnant just days before her 40th birthday--but I doubt it makes it any easier to cope with the loss.  I read the news with Ella snuggled up against me in her carrier, all warm and cozy and precious, and yet my heart still broke as the familiar pain of loss crept in.

I realize that my hormones are still a little on the whacky side, so I'm "allowed" to get extra emotional, but I was a little shocked at how sad I was--for them, for my own losses, and for so many others who have experienced loss.  I guess part of my reaction is because this was my first exposure to loss since the birth of Ella.  I am just so overwhelmed at God's goodness, and it makes the fragility of life so much more visible...I guess.

As she said in her post, "things happen for a reason and God is in control".  I believe this whole-heartedly, but believing it isn't necessarily a quick-fix.  There is no anaesthesia that can instantly take away the pain.  God can--and does--comfort and heal, but the pain and confusion of loss can linger.  Please pray for Starr and Jeff and their family as they are saddened by the loss of this baby.  Even though this baby was a bit of a surprise, it was still dearly loved.

I was blessed by the visit of my extremely-caring friend who brought over a delicious enchilada casserole for us.  It was full of cheesy goodness, and I lived on leftovers all weekend while my husband was out of town for Army Reserve drill.  I have one more serving that I'll eat up for lunch today, but it was such a blessing to not have to cook when it was just me and Ella.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Figuring It Out As We Go

As I type this (in between feedings, playtime, naps, and diaper changes), I'm starting to realize that it's turning into a long post.  But that's just how it's been with breastfeeding and pumping--I feel like we're figuring it out as we go...and it's not always a quick solution.

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom in regards to my plea for support, guidance, and reassurance when it comes to pumping.  I've changed some things around and have seen some improvements.  I share these changes in case they can be helpful to anyone else. 

As per some of your suggestions, I got some new shields for the pump (at least that's what I think that they are called).   Some suggested that the size might not be right, and if anything, I think that I need a smaller size (I've never been large anywhere in this area).  I must be unique--because the baby supply store didn't have them in small, though they did come in XXL (no offense if you fit an just seemed that if they had one extreme, they would also carry the other).  So instead, I went with the "softfit", and have definitely felt the difference!  I found it interesting (and disappointing) that the softfit only comes in medium...strange.  I also ordered the small regular shields online, but I admit that I have felt comfortable (enough) with the softfit, so I haven't even tried the smalls yet.

Also, based on multiple comments about only pumping in the morning, I've essentially given myself permission to only pump when it's convenient.  I agree that my supply is greatest in the morning, so I try to get a session in each morning after Ella has had her fill.  Throughout the rest of the day, I'll pump here and there as time allows.  But I guess I don't feel as "tied" to my pump anymore.  In fact, I still think that it tells me to "wrap it up, wrap it up, wrap it up", but sometime it may be telling me "let's go, let's go, let's go"--almost as if it's now encouraging me that yes, we can do this!  I'm still averaging about 1.5 ounces per pumping session--sometimes more, sometimes less.  I've even gotten really good at multi-tasking while I pump (I pulled it into the bathroom the other day and did my make-up while hooked may not have been a pretty sight, but I hit two birds with one stone).

Although we plan to do so soon, we still haven't introduced Ella to a bottle yet...which means that my breastmilk is slowly but surely taking over the freezer.  I recently learned a little trick to maximize our freezer space (perhaps others already do this, but it was new to me).  We are using the little storage bags, and I initially just lined them up vertically.  But this made for a wide base and a nearly empty top, so I couldn't fit as many pouches in the storage container.  Then I read that you can lie the bags flat to freeze them--thus spreading the milk out evenly through the bag.  Once frozen, I then line them up vertically, but they take up much less space without the wide base.

As for breastfeeding, I'm very proud of myself for figuring out a bit of a mystery when it came to Ella and her feeding.  Around two to three weeks of age, I noticed that she wasn't stooling a lot.  The pediatrician said it was totally fine, and that he's seen babies go up to 19 days without stooling.  I figured that her little body must just be using up every little ounce of nutrients she was getting in order to grow (and she was growing normally, according to the pediatrician).  This is what led me to start pumping in the first place--thinking that perhaps I didn't have enough supply for her.  As my supply increased, so did her stools.  But then I noticed that her stools were not quite the "seedy mustard-yellow" that they should be.  Rather, her stools were on the greenish side, and they were watery and foamy (I know, because Ella has developed a new fondness of peeing and pooping in that half-second between when I take the old diaper off and put the new diaper on).  So I did a quick search for "watery, foamy diapers" and found this information which led me to believe that it was perhaps a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.  All along, I had been nursing on 15-20 minutes on each side because it seemed like the thing to do--according to the nurses, my mom, On Becoming Babywise, etc.--and Ella seemed to be growing just fine.  But the initial absence of stools, and then the foamy consistency, had me rethinking everything.  So I began to ignore the clock, and started to let Ella completely drain the breast to ensure that she gets adequate hindmilk.  Sure enough--it did the trick, and her stools seem to be back to normal (for the most part, at least).

So in the midst of my research, I put in a call to the Lactation Consultant at my hospital to confirm my suspicion, and unfortunately, had a less-than-ideal conversation with her.  It wasn't "bad", per se, but when I mentioned Babywise, she completely shut down and nearly attacked me.  I recognize and appreciate her expertise, but I think I'm going to take her feedback with a grain of salt (in the exact same way that I take the input in Babywise and from friends and family). 

The conversation just left me with a bad feeling, and when I mentioned this to my mom, she offered the assistance of a woman in their church who is also a lactation consultant, so I sent her an email...and felt so much better with her response!  She also isn't necessarily a fan of Babywise, but rather feeling "attacked", I felt supported and encouraged in how she recommended some suggestions that I should try.  In fact, she started her email with "You are so smart!  I love a mom who researches!".  I felt like I was familiar with most of what she shared, but it's always nice to have the reassurance that I'm doing things correctly and to have a thoughtful suggestion on how I can improve the breastfeeding (and pumping) experience for both myself and Ella.  She is a wonderful resource--and she said that I can continue to contact her by email, phone, text--whatever works best for me.  In fact, she is still accumulating hours for her accreditation, and when I mentioned that I have friends who have newborns or are expecting soon, she was more than happy for me to pass on her name and contact information to anyone else who might need her as well.  So if you have any questions or concerns about all that is involved with breastfeeding, please let me know your email address, and I'll send her contact information on to you.

Yesterday's blessing was a really nice conversation with my brother.  Unfortunately, he's going through a bit of a rough spot--mainly due to a recent break-up--but he really opened up to me, and it was nice to be able to be a good, supportive big sister for him.  He's coming out with my parents for Thanksgiving, so it will be wonderful to see him.  And something tells me that he's going to be such a fun uncle!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


If you've been following my story, you may remember that I keep an eye out for pennies and any other change that I may find.  As I previously shared, I try not to get too caught up in them being "signs"--like an "omen"--and I don't quite believe that they bring me "luck", but they do brighten up my day.  I guess I think of them as little reminders from God that He's looking out for us.

I found my first penny on the morning that I took the pregnancy test that eventually led to Ella.  That was back in January.  Throughout my pregnancy, I continued to find pennies and other coins, and each one felt like a little reminder from God that everything was going to be okay.  He gave Noah a rainbow...I feel like I got pennies.  And not just pennies, but nickels, dimes, and quarters as well--in fact, $4.86 worth through the 40 weeks of my pregnancy.  That breaks down to:
  • 61 pennies
  • 6 nickels
  • 22 dimes
  • 7 quarters
I totally realize that $4.86 won't even buy me a small package of store brand diapers, but it's not really about the money.  It's about trusting God's plan for my life, and watching for how He is looking out for me, one little penny at a time.

I continue to watch for pennies, and they continue to show up, and God continues to bless us.  Perhaps I'll get Ella a piggy bank when she gets old enough to appreciate not only the value of money, but also the significance of these particular coins.  For now, they are in a little trinket box which was a gift from my Grandma--the same woman who inspired my mom and me to watch for coins in the first place.  (I should also mention that we have opened a real savings account for Ella...but something tells me that a bank teller isn't going to share the same warm feelings about my coins if I bring them all in).

Yesterday's blessing was learning that my dad walked away from a car accident (it happened a 1/2 block away from our house, so he literally walked home).  He was rear-ended as he was turning onto our street, and while the back end of his car is completely smashed in, he was unharmed.  He says that he's a little bit sore--but he doesn't know if that is from playing basketball that morning prior to the accident or if it was from the impact.  It was an older car with lots of miles, but he took really good care of it, and probably won't get all that much for it, so he's a bit worried about replacing it.  Please keep him in your prayers as he deals with the hassle of working through the insurance company and figuring out what to do.  But either way, we are so blessed that God kept him safe!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Month Check-Up

It's hard to believe it...but we celebrated having Ella as part of our life for one month on Saturday.  It really has been such an amazing month.  Sure, I haven't had a lot of sleep (or many showers) this month, but I have my Ella!

She had her one month check-up with the pediatrician yesterday, and everything looks great.  She is up to 9 pounds, 2 ounces (from her original birth weight of 7pounds, 6 ounces) and has grown almost two inches (though she is still smaller than my very-dear friend's BIG little boy who was already 9 pounds at birth).   She seems to be experiencing mild cases of some of the typical baby issues--like baby acne and cradle cap--but like I said, they are pretty mild, so they should resolve themselves on their own.  The pediatrician also confirmed that she called for the results of the second round of newborn screening tests, and all of those--including the hypothyroidism--all came back normal.  All in all, it was a great appointment, and we'll go back in a month for the dreaded  immunizations ("dreaded" just because it will break my heart to see her in pain from her shots...I'm not here to debate the pros or cons of the perceived risks or benefits of immunizations).

I leave you with a picture from her the day she turned one month old:

Today's blessing was a good night's sleep for the last two nights in a row.  We all had a pretty rough night on Saturday night, where Ella just wanted to feed all the way from 2:00 am until I finally had to get ready for church around 6:00 am.  Once we got into a routine, she had been pretty good about sleeping for 3-4 hour chunks at night, so Saturday night was somewhat of an anomaly (or perhaps a growth spurt).  But it looks like we've gotten back to our "it's nighttime and it's time to sleep" schedule (still waking up every 3-4 hours to nurse, of course).  You don't realize just how much you value your sleep (even if it is interrupted) until you go a night without any!  But I know that God has graced me with His wisdom and patience in helping Ella get back to sleep.