Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things (so far)

I remember the first time Chad and I darkened the doors of Babies-R-Us to start our registry. I couldn't believe all the "stuff" they had come up with to make life with baby more convenient and fun. They have come a long way since I was a baby! Here are some items that, so far, have made my life as a new mom easier.

1. THE BOPPY PILLOW - I know this product really isn't "new," but it's new to me, and I love it! The pillow is great for nursing because it allows your hands to be completely free. I can eat lunch, read a book, flip channels, pet the dog, etc, all while Mary Ella is eating. I especially love it during the middle of the night when my arms are just too tired to hold the little chunk.

2. THE HOTSLING - These are great for the new baby that just won't let you put him/her down so that you can get something done (i.e. loading the dishwasher, washing your face, changing the sheets, etc). They come in a billion different colors and prints and they are washable and very easy to use. They also convert to a neat hip-sling that allows you to carry babies up to 35 lbs! I got mine at Target for $39.99. They are also available online.

3. THE TRAVEL BOTTLE WARMER - We took full advantage of this when Chad and I drove up to my parents' house a couple of weekends ago. It is a bottle "jacket," so to speak, that velcro-wraps around your cold bottle and warms it in minutes. It comes with a car adapter. We knew we'd have to feed Mary Ella halfway through our roadtrip, so about 10 minutes before it was time for her to eat, we plugged it in and put her bottle inside (we had the cold bottle in a fridge-pack cooler). Ten minutes later we stopped at a rest stop and I was able to feed her, then we were back on the road! This one came from Target, too.

4. THE MEDELA PUMP-IN-STYLE BREAST PUMP - Of course, I have to pay tribute to the mother of all breastpumps. Medela has EVERYTHING you need to pump and store breastmilk. Anywhere, anytime. I have nicknamed my pump The Milker 3000. It is truly phenomenal. The first time I used it I'm pretty sure I peed in my pants because I was laughing so hard. It's just hilarious and it seriously made me want to go around moo-ing. Ha... GET THIS PUMP! It's the best.

5. THE VERA BRADLEY WRISTLET - This is a new product from the Vera Bradley line that I discovered this week! I don't know about other new moms, but once I started taking Mary Ella out of the house, I quickly realized that it's just not convenient to carry a diaper bag AND a purse. I found myself just throwing my makeup, bulky wallet, cell phone and keys into her diaper bag, making it extremely heavy and taking up too much space. But this wristlet has saved me the trouble. It's a tiny purse/wallet that holds your cell phone, credit cards, cash, change, receipts, iPod, basically anything you need to carry with you. Now I can fit all my goods into my wristlet and throw it into the diaper bag, saving TONS of space and making my load lighter. I highly recommend this.

And for anyone that cares, the Baby Gizmo Buying Guide is an EXCELLENT resource for what to buy for baby, what not to buy, what you'll really need and what you won't use at all. It was written by a couple of sets of parents and they are downright hilarious and real and they give you the lowdown on every kind of product, from carseats to bathtubs to toys and DvD's. They don't mention specific brand names; they just give you the general lowdown, what to look for, etc. It's great, and really funny too.

I'm sure I'll be adding to this list in future posts as Mary Ella grows and life gets crazier! Stay tuned!

Friday, July 25, 2008

She's growing and growing!

Well, this week has been really great. It's really been my first "official" week alone with the baby. We have slept until about 8:30 or 9:00 every morning, following the early morning feeding, so that's been nice. Then on a couple of days we actually took an early afternoon nap together in my bed - also very nice. She's still eating well and she is sleeping 3-4 hours at a time at night, which is all I could ask for.

Yesterday was our first trip to the pediatrician's office. We are using Greenvale Pediatrics in Hoover. Dr. Toren Anderson is our doctor and I love him! He is so wonderful and is genuinely interested in our sweet baby. He came to see Mary Ella at St. Vincent's the day after she was born and sat and talked with Chad and me for the longest time. Our visit yesterday went well. She weighs a whopping 10 pounds and 3 ounces and she is 22 inches long. This puts her in the 90th percentile for weight and off the charts for height! I'm not sure why she is measuring so tall, but maybe she'll even out - Lord knows she's not getting that from either of her parents! Chad says we may have a volleyball player on our hands. Fine with me, as long as she loves the Lord. Dr. Anderson said her heart and lungs sounded great and she is gaining weight like she should and to just keep doing whatever we are doing. He also said that I don't have to wake her up in the night to feed her, to let her sleep if she doesn't wake up on her own - which is good news because I have woken her up a few times. I don't know what I will do if I get 5 consecutive hours of sleep! Wow. We'll see what happens. That's pretty much all that took place at the doctor's office. She did have to get her heel pricked for another PKU test, and she didn't like that too much. Nothing that a paci couldn't fix, though.

OH YEAH, I forgot to post this, but Monday morning Mary Ella was crying and when I glanced at her mouth I saw a little white bump protruding through her top left gums. I thought, "OH MY GOSH, SHE DOES NOT HAVE A TOOTH." I felt of it and it was hard and everything so I was freaking out! I started Googling baby teeth and started panicking because babies usually don't cut teeth till they are 6 months old or so. I was seriously freaking out, thinking, Oh my gosh, she has a FANG! Of course it couldn't be 2 cute little front teeth, it was one single FANG, and I was scared to death. But when we asked the pediatrician, he looked at it and said it was some sort of cyst called an Epstein Pearl that is very common in newborns. It will go away soon. So just in case any new moms are out there, don't be freaked out if your 3-week-old looks like they are cutting teeth. Yikes!

Anyway, Amy Browning met us for lunch after the doctor's appointment then we came back to the house and chilled out. Amy cooked enchiladas for us, which were SO GOOD, and then we watched Hopkins and went to bed. Today we did a photo shoot of Mary Ella with Amy's camera and got some cute shots in her monogrammed bloomers. Then Amy had to leave :( But my friends Liz and Katie from small group were able to come over and hang out with me and Mary Ella, so we had a good time catching up and it helped the afternoon go by faster.
I am glad it's the weekend because I am ready to spend some time with Chad. He has worked hard this week so I hope baby girl doesn't wake up too many times tonight; he needs some sleep. We are trying a new routine tonight. We kept her up -- and don't ask me HOW -- after she ate around 5 pm. She stayed awake until 8pm, when we gave her a bath, put her pajamas on, put lotion on her, etc etc, then fed her, then rocked her, then put her to sleep. All the activities really made her tired so I'm hoping she'll sleep a bit longer tonight. If it works we will start this ritual every night - stay awake for 3 hours, then bathtime, pajama time, dinner time, bedtime. Pray for us!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Getting into the swing of things

Well, I am still getting used to being at home with a newborn. It's definitely a challenge, much more so than I thought it would be, but it's totally worth it. Mary Ella is changing every day and I love every minute. Every day is different. Some days she sleeps more, other days she seems more fussy, other days she seems as hungry as a little pig... so it's been hard establishing a "routine," so to speak. But one thing I have learned -- you just can't rely on all these books and all the advice you get from other people. You just have to rely on the Lord and your God-given motherly instincts. I really stressed myself out at first because I just wanted to be completely 100% organized and have a routine and have everything under control... but you just can't do it with a newborn. It's impossible.
For one thing, I was worried she wasn't eating enough, because the books said they should eat at least 15 minutes on one breast, then you should switch her to the other. Well, my little piglet would finish and let go in 10 minutes MAX and would not take an ounce more. Then she'd either fall asleep or close her mouth so tight you couldn't open it with a crow-bar. But finally I just quit worrying and told myself, "You know what? She knows when she's full. If she weren't getting enough, she'd be fussy and cranky and skinny." And of course she's not any of those things.
Then I was worried because I thought she was sleeping too much and according to my BabyWise book, they should stay awake after each feeding for 30-40 minutes, then go back to sleep. This, in turn, will help them sleep through the night. Well, that's just crazy, because newborns are pretty much in a COMA for the first 3 weeks of life, around the clock. You just can't wake a sleeping baby or change their routine. It just makes them more cranky and more sleepy, then they end up sleeping a lot longer the next go round, making them too sleepy to wake up for the NEXT feeding, making me even more stressed about her caloric intake. UGH!

I finally just told the Lord I was DONE stressing about all this stuff and that I knew I wasn't relying on HIM enough, I was relying on stupid books and psychological studies and other people's advice. Every baby is different and everyone will have different experiences, and that's just fact. I think the best advice I could give is just to rely on the Lord and just ask Him to help you be the mother you need to be, to help you recognize what your baby needs/wants, to help you see past the frustrations and the crying and the exhaustion and all the housework that needs to be done, and to just give you peace - HIS peace - on a daily basis. I find myself going through the day just continually asking Him for His peace and for energy, because I know that no amount of caffeine or extra sleep will give me what HE alone can give me.

I hope this doesn't sound like I have had a terrible 3 weeks, because that's certainly not the case! I have loved every minute of motherhood. Even the 3 a.m. feedings, as crazy as it sounds. I love getting to talk and sing to my baby in the middle of the night when everything is quiet. There's something incredibly intimate and special about those times. She's such a good baby, too. I won't be the one to say my baby sleeps through the night at 3 weeks old, or that she never cries or fusses or has explosive poopy diapers. I've been pooped on, spit up on, bitten (yep, that hurts), and I've done more laundry and cleaning that I ever have in my life, sometimes while CARRYING her around because she doesn't want to be put down... but I'm telling you, EVERY SINGLE MINUTE is worth it. It's the greatest blessing in the world. A real miracle, if you ask me. She is so much fun and I'm just lucky to be her mom.

Hope everyone has a great week. We have our first appointment with the pediatrician on Thursday, then I'm thinking about taking her to Aldridge Botanical Gardens for a stroll and maybe a few pictures. We'll see! Chad was supposed to be in Nashville for 3 days. He left this morning with his bags packed, then he showed up at the door tonight - he couldn't stay away! (Now that should say something about this parenthood thing being totally worth it! That's 6 hours driving!) So we're glad to have Daddy back home. I didn't know how I'd do being here alone. Well, that's enough for today. I'll try to post more pics soon!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

She's finally here! (Warning: LONG, LONG POST)

My sweet baby is finally here. All I can say is that I am blessed beyond reason. I love being a mother and I love, love, love my family.

We went in to St. Vincent's on Wednesday, July 2nd at 11:15 am. They immediately hooked me up to the monitor, drew bloodwork, and went over general paperwork and then my family was able to come in and visit for a while before I went to the operating room. The anesthestiologist and nurse anesthetist came and got me around 1:30 pm and we headed down the hall! I wasn't nervous at all, surprisingly, just excited. Chad followed and was suited up in scrubs, then was told to wait in the doctors' scrubbing area until they came for him. They rolled me into a tiny operating room and I was given my spinal anesthetic, which was surprisingly painless! The only pain was the small injection of numbing medicine they gave me before they put the BIG needle in my back. I was laid back on the table after this and shortly after that my doctor and Chad came in. We were all talking and I was very relaxed. They put a drape over my head so I couldn't see anything, but Chad watched the whole thing! Only a few minutes later I asked Chad if they had started, and he said, "YES they've started! They are almost done! They're about to pull her out!" It was crazy because I didn't feel ANYTHING. I felt some pressure at the very end and kept hearing different voices saying, "Oh yeah, she's a big girl" as they tugged on her trying to get her out. But moments later I heard the sound of them sucking out her throat with the bulb syringe so I knew they had delivered her. I kept asking Chad, "Is she ok? Does she have hair? Is she cute?" and I think he was just in shock because all he could do through his tears was pat me on the forehead and he kept saying over and over, "She's perfect, she's perfect." He was crying and it was so precious! Then I heard the loudest cry I'd ever heard in my life! My baby's cry. She's here. She's ok. And she's crying. At that moment I think it really hit me. They immediately put her in a blanket and brought her over to me and I just stared. It was the best moment ever. EVER. I told her I was here, I was her Mommy, etc etc and she calmed down! The nurse was like, "She knows your voice!!!" It was incredible. She was born at 2:13 pm. After they finished sewing everything up they let Chad carry Mary Ella back to the room and they wheeled me in behind them. It was so neat because she didn't have to go to the nursery or anything, she went straight back to our room for her initial examination and her first bath. Chad videotaped everything so I have all of these moments on film. And of course we have TONS of pictures. I was just happy all over. I didn't have an ounce of pain (because my whole lower body was still numb) and, aside from our wedding day, I can't remember ever feeling so happy in my life. I waited until they got her bathed and then they put her in a little gown and handed her to me. I fed her and she did really well. She was so chunky and swollen - they told me that c section babies have more fluid on them at birth so she would look less "puffed up" the next day and so on, and she did. That first day her cheeks were HUGE. She looked like a little sumo wrestler. But she is so tiny and perfect and healthy and I really can't believe she weighed 9 lbs 8 oz. She was long too - 21 inches! A big healthy baby. My whole family was there, as well as so many friends, my small group leaders, and of course all of Chad's family. Everyone thought she was just the cutest thing ever and of course I agreed. I love her so much.
My recovery in the hospital was probably the hardest thing - I had severe post-op pain the next day, so much pain that I cried hysterically and couldn't move. Chad bathed me and dressed me and washed and dried my hair, and he stayed up with the baby all night long in our room (because we made the mistake of not sending her to the nursery!) and probably changed 30 diapers before I even changed one! It was hard, because my pain was preventing me from being able to do anything for her except feed her. At one point I couldn't even hold her because I had pain radiating through my chest and collar bones. I think it was more painful emotionally and mentally though, just not being able to comfort her, pick her up out of her bassinet, etc. But Chad is the greatest husband ever, and he was so good to me. I think he probably realized what "For better or worse" really meant during that first night after the delivery. It was ROUGH. At one point I woke up to Mary Ella crying hysterically after a diaper change, and heard Chad say, "I promise, Mary Ella, I WILL learn how to swaddle you as soon as your mommy can teach me." He had some trouble with the whole swaddling thing. It's an art! And those nurses really wrap them tight! He's an expert now, though, and at this very moment he is napping in the recliner with her curled up asleep on his chest.
Things got easier each and every day. I was told to try and walk every 3 hours, and each time it hurt less and less. We finally went home on Saturday morning and have enjoyed our first few days with our daughter. She is a great baby. She sleeps, eats, and poops, and that's about it. She is breastfeeding extremely well and eats on the 10-1-4-7 schedule right now, around the clock. I love having that time with her. Chad is an excellent Daddy and he loves nothing more than snuggling with her and holding her, especially when she is awake! She has black hair and huge blue eyes. She cries when we change her clothes/diapers and it's hard to do it because we hate seeing her cry. But it's necessary, of course. I love picking out her outfit and her PJ's and I love putting hairbows in her hair and swaddling her up in her blankets at night. It's just an all around wonderful, wonderful thing. A true blessing from the Lord.

I appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers and encouragement. I'm sure most of you have seen her pictures by now. They are on FaceBook. And as soon as I find time I will post them on the blog too. I gotta get back to my family!

I love everyone!
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