Thursday, October 17, 2013

9 months and counting : Quinoa, Carrots & Broccoli

At Bear's recent 9 month visit our pediatrician said "He can eat anything now." He then corrected himself by saying not to feed him citrus, nuts or honey, but everything else is fair game. This made me feel a little braver when it comes to Bear's food now. I motivated me to be a little more creative than mixing a sweet potato puree with an apple puree. (This happens to be Bear's favorite). It also encouraged me to move away from cereal as the only "thickening" agent.

Last night he had quinoa, carrots and broccoli. No mush. Just regular ol' people food. He did great! I am so happy that we are braving some new flavors and new textures.


Organic whole carrots
Organic frozen broccoli

To make

  • Wash and cook the organic carrots (leave the skins on for more nutrition). I baked my carrots for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Meanwhile rinse 1/2 cup quinoa then add to 1 cup of boiling water, Reduce heat to low and cover for about 20 minutes.
  • Boil about 1/2 cup frozen broccoli until thawed, 5-8 mins
  • Finely chop the veggies as to avoid a choking hazard. Mix with quinoa.
  • If your little one still wants some much, add some organic apple sauce or pears.
This is easily tossed into a food processor for younger babies who still are on Level 2 food.

See! Easy peasy! It all works nicely together. This is also an easy way to incorporate healthy eating at the grown up table! This makes for a great side dish!

Health Benefits

Carrots - Full of Vitamin A. Good for eye health.
Broccoli - Vitamin A, C, Folic Acid, Calcium & Fiber. Broccoli is also labeled as a "cruciferous" veggie. This means it can lower one's cancer risks. Excellent!
Quinoa - Ah the "Super Food." Protein, Protein, Protein! (It is the perfect protein with all 9 essential amino acids), Iron, Fiber, Lysine, Magnesium, Riboflavin (B2), Manganese.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Standin' on the Corner....

... In Winslow, AZ. You know the song. But did you know Winslow has a festival, just for being mentioned in a song? Well, They do! My favorite neighbors have a mobile pizza oven and were signed up to be vendors for the Festival. And I signed up to help them! 

Thursday night after work, Bear and I jumped into Neighbor J's Ford and we headed off into the sunset to Winslow. We were headed for a weekend of pizza, madness and cooler weather. 

The two babes slept soundly in the backseat with me until we hit some silly potholes about an hour outside of our destination. Do you want to know a fun car activity? Sing "The Wheels on the Bus" over and over and over and over and over... It is the only song to calm my little guy. Little M wasn't soothed... or she was singing along... who's to know?

After a restless night of sleep in a new place, we were up with the sun and headed to set up the pizza oven. The babes stayed behind with Little M's grandma, Mrs. C., and they were SPOILED with toys! Bear has never seen so many colorful toys in his life! I knew he was in good hands. Our hosts are the kind of people that want to take care of you. That are happy to clean up your messes and happy to cook every meal and clean up the dog poop in the back bedroom that your dog may or may not have left for you to step in. I stepped in it. It went in between my toes. Mrs. C. wiped my foot off while I stood on one foot holding Bear all the while. They are the hosts that have lived in this teeny town their whole lives and can tell you the history and the gossip all in the same breath. I was in heaven.

The Festival was less than I expected, but we all know how I am with my expectations. There were not many vendors, but we lucked out by being stationed by the beer garden. What goes better with beer than pizza? There was live music playing most of the time and we had lots of repeat customers. It was fun getting to know the folks of this little town. Even the crazy lady who threatened me with "meeting [my] maker" because I wouldn't give her a piece of pizza. Tip: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar toots.

Joe slung dough, while Pat turned the pizza in the oven. Joe's sister was the prep gal and J and I worked the "front of the house" by taking orders and moola. We danced in the dirt to the music - interpretive dancing mostly, our backs hurt, there was literally blood, sweat and tears. (The tears came from the deliriously tired laughter late at night). I climbed fences with buckets full of pizza dough (Shout out to the hippies that helped me with that- we gave them a free pizza). My dear neighbors made a name for themselves, and I had one of the best weekends of my life.

Sunday morning we all sat in the living room of our gracious hosts and drank coffee, reminisced about the weekend. I hope that I will be invited to help them again next year! 

Follow Forno Legna Catering on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram : @fornolegnacater

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Winterizing Wardrobes

Now that the days have been 100 degrees and under, for like 3 days straight, I realized it is time to start winterizing Bear's wardrobe. Also, we are going to visit my sister in Little Rock, which is about 30 degrees cooler there. 

I have Fridays off so Bear and I hit up H&M, which is a GREAT place for kids clothes. They have a section of organic pieces : 3 for $12. I can't buy second-hand clothes for that price! I generally have a rule about paying too much for his clothes that he won't wear in a month or two, so I love being able to find little fashion forward pieces for him.  

I bought these little mustard yellow jean at Baby GAP when Bear was just a few months old. I knew he wouldn't be needing jeans for a while because of our scalding summers, so I bough 6-12 months. I pulled them out a few weeks ago. As you can see, past the adorableness, they are squeezing his little baby belly a little too tightly. 

So, here's a tip: don't spend $24.99 on a pair of baby jeans. 

H&M has them now for $9.95 if you can find them in your wee one's size. I unfortunately could not, therefore, he now has blue pants.

But if you think that striped onsie is cute, well, that I got as part of the 3 for $12 deal! Major Score!

Monday, September 23, 2013

In need of distraction : Teething

My little guy is getting his first tooth! Bottom left! He hardly lets me look at it, but cannot stop me from sticking my finger in his mouth to feel it. As exciting (and frightening) as this time is for me, it's really hard on Bear. He whines most of the day, and wakes up 3 times during the night. 

Yesterday he woke up from his afternoon nap and nothing would make him happy. It broke my heart, and made me reflect his mood. I thought enough is enough! So Pat and I loaded the crying boy into his stroller and went to the park near our house.

As it was the first day of fall, and tempuratures were remarkably under 100 degrees, the park was swarming with children. Bear LOVES children. He loves to watch them, and interact when he can. His mood immediately changed for the better. I could still tell he was in pain, but he was distracted enough for a little fun.

We put him in the swings for the first time ever and I really think he enjoyed the first couple pushes! Then we put his little feeties in the sand! He wasn't so sure about that... But was intrigued.

After we left the park we gave Bear a bath and got him ready for bed. Another great form of distraction were his books. And he really loves books! He likes me to read them over and over and over. Then he tries to turn the pages... Which he is getting better at.

Today I bought Natural Orajel to try out. I hope it gives my little Bear some peace tonight. I hate to see him in any sort of pain or discomfort. And, as my dear father said, "All this AND the damned tooth will fall out and [I'll] have to pay a buck for it!"


Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting back to our roots

On Tuesday Pat cancelled our DirecTV. After a moment of OMFG that was a knee-jerk reaction, I was really happy he did it. (Um, hello? Sister Wives Season Finale is coming up!?!?!?) 

Now, I don't plan to be the hipster who says, "Nah man, we don't have cable," and then go home to stream stuff on Hulu+. I totally plan on having Hulu+ and enjoying every minute of it. But what streaming vs cable provides is a consciousness in my TV time. I am not going to sit in front of HGTV to watch another House Hunters just because it's on. I have spent far too many evenings wasted in front of 60" of garbage. 

Not to mention the commercials that are not child friendly. As an adult, I think they are pretty clever. As a parent I think they are totally inappropriate. Have you see the one where the little boy asks his mom how the baby got in her belly? Well, I don't think that should be presented by an insurance agency. Just sayin'.

Anyway, when Pat and I first moved in together, we didn't have cable. We didn't have a visible TV at all. We spent most of our nights on our teeny tiny back porch drinking wine, playing dominoes, and talked about things that really mattered. We were productive and in-tune with one another. 

I am looking forward to that again. We both know we function better as a couple without the boob tube working its way in as the third wheel. 

Now we can focus more on our family, our house and our hobbies. And, we are saving an additional $70 a month. I'm not going to scoff at that! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Unoriginal creative

Growing up in small town Idaho, I would say I was the "creative" one in my group of friends. I was surrounded by cheerleaders, soccer players, stoners, Mormons, geniuses and preppy kids- if I were to classify them. Although we all dabbled in being poets, terrible, terrible poets, I was the one that took Art, Photography, Drama and Yearbook. I nearly did not graduate high school because I managed not to take Health and PE until my senior year! I was so late in the game, Health had to be taken online on the new fangled Blackboard so I could receive the credits in a condensed period of time. As for the Sciences, I took Astronomy when everyone else took Chemistry. I have no idea about the periodic chart, but ask me about Pleiades any day!

Because of my love for theater, I started college as a Drama Major, with the intent to be an awesome junior high Drama Teacher, inspired by my own. I realized after the first semester, I was not cut out for it. Being one of the best in my high school was peanuts on the university level. My confidence fizzled and I was onto the Graphic Design Major the next semester. I loved learning about type, and even taking Art 101. It isn't hard to excel in those courses, but when it came to my drawing class and painting class, again, my skills were soon dwarfed by my fellow students. Additionally, I was having a hard time keeping up with my classes due to a broken back & chronic migraines. Needless to say, I quit school and was unable to return once I started working full time.

I didn't realize it at the time, but by quitting school and removing myself from a creative space, I was creating a void in my life. It has taken a lot of life changes to realize what that void was, but there was always a sense of something missing.

Patrick has been a real force behind me finding my creative side again. There are so many things I have wanted to do, but I haven't had the gumption to start the projects. After seeing him go for the things he wants, I have decided to follow suit!

I have had an idea for years and years that I have wanted to do. It very much has to do with leather working, and once again, I feel like I am behind in the game. There are so many people that have already honed in on this craft and I am just starting out, and I feel like I have no one to teach me. I see what these creatives are doing and again, I feel unoriginal.

That's just the thing though. Growing up as the "creative" friend, I didn't have many people surpassing me. I am not saying I was the best, I was just a big enough fish in a very small pond. Once surrounded by great people, I start to feel like a guppy. My fellow bloggers are better bloggers, my Pinterest and Tumblr inspirations are far superior in their craft than I am.

But, that is just today. I am working hard to take what inspiration I get from them to create my own original ideas. I am working at being a better self starter and better creative example for my son. I will not be discouraged because I am behind right now. There is so much time to be a leader, a though provoker, and an inspiration. I hope to be all of these things - especially in my  son's eyes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Our new routine: morning snuggles

It's my new favorite thing to do for many reasons.

1. I'm generally still tired and laying down for a few extra minutes is glorious!

2. Bear is still in a calm mode and he lets me snuggle... At least for a bit. 

3. The last 7 months have flown by. I need to soak up every second I can with him.

And look how adorable he is in the morning!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Making Baby Food: Pears

Last night, between Pat snoring, Lou Dog snoring, Cricket being a cat and Bear grunting in his sleep, this mama only got about 4 hours of constant sleep. So, what better thing to do in the morning during Bear's morning nap? Nap myself? No. Ain't nobody got time for that! 

I started making this week's baby food. People think I am nuts, but I think making it myself is 1.) more cost effective and 2.) I have control of everything that goes into my pure little baby's body. 

So far he is eating oatmeal cereal, sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas (which he doesn't like much), pears, apples, and prunes. The prunes are actually store bought because we needed them ASAP! I think the apples and bananas backed my little guy up. No one is pleasant if they haven't pooed for a few days... especially babies! Prunes are magic folks. They work for the olds, and they work for the beebs. We used Plum.

We are making sure to follow the rules of the Dirty Dozen, which most first solids fall into. I just can't imagine Bear's little body fighting all the pesticides and junk that is found in our foods these days. I know that there are MANY organic choices for pre-made baby food, but there are always other ingredients, like citric acid. I know this is a preservative, a natural one at that, but babies aren't supposed to have citrus for a year or so. Yikes! I also don't know how many hands, processors, conveyor belts this stuff has been on. This is where food poisoning comes from people!!! 

And let's talk about cost here too. I bought two, 2 lb bags of organic pears at Trader Joe's for about $6. This is about 20 servings of pears. TWENTY! Do you know how much 20 servings cost in store bought baby food? From my research, we are saving about 50% here. 

So, for a gal that feels like her life is a little hectic and out of control, it is nice to have control of this. Even if it means I sacrifice a nap or two along the way. 


Organic Pears (I have about 3 lbs, purchased from Trader Joes)


Cutting Board
Vegetable Peeler
Ice Cube Tray

Step 1:
Wash pears with warm water. Warm water will help soften the peels as well as get rid of any junk that has collected during shipment. - I would love to pick all this stuff from an organic farm!

Step 2:
Peel and core the pears.

Step 3: 
Chop the pears into 1" cubes

Step 4:
Toss into blender and blend to desired consistency. Careful, pears liquefy fast!!! 

Step 5:
Pour pears into ice tray and freeze.

Each cube is supposed to be one serving. Bear eats about two.

Step 6:
Put cubes into Freezer bags and label with the date. The frozen goods should keep for about 3 months. 

To serve, let pears thaw in the fridge overnight, or place in a container and place the container a warm bath. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

6 months

January 9th, 2013 - It seems as though this first photograph taken of Bear was a million years ago, but I remember it all like it was yesterday. 

 When we were leaving the hospital, the head rest didn't hold his teeny head in place and his little newborn sized outfit was still too big. I can't believe he was ever that small!
This was Bear's first trip to the Dr. office. He was 5 days old. Looking so tough.
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
The amount of laundry increased immediately upon bringing our guy home. The blow outs that happened on a daily basis had us opting for a naked baby most the time, but I love folding tiny things. 
One month old and still looking like a little cranky old man. He still had his hair he was born with, which all fell out shortly following. He had terrible baby acne because I was using Lanolin after nursing. Once I stopped, the baby acne disappeared.
I didn't know this snuggling would stop, I miss it so much. And I sweat, Bear knows when I need it because just this morning he was laying his little head on my chest for minutes at a time.
First shots. Heart breaking. But at least he got fun bandaids...
Out for walks with his Papa
Looking sharp for Easter Dinner at Great Grandma's house.
Second set of shots. Still heart breaking, but we didn't cry for nearly as long. Yes, we.
Hanging in Sedona at Slide Rock
Stylin' by the swimming pool.
My first Mother's Day

Becoming a fan of tummy time.
His first trip to the Phoenix Art Museum.
His first Independence Day and a trip to Willow Springs Lake.
This has been the longest and shortest 6 months of my life. I can't believe how quickly my little man is growing. How much he is learning every day. From him rolling over, to starting to recognize me when I pick him up from day care. He acknowledges me by excitedly touching my face (really more of a slap/pinch sort of thing, but I don't mind, I am equally excited to see him).

He is now sleeping without his swaddle and for about 8 hours straight (for the first stretch of the night). He is eating cereal, avocado, bananas and sweet potatoes and his says "nummmm mmmm mmm" as he swallows each bite. 

Our family and our lives are changed forever. It will never again be just me and Pat. But I could never again imagine a life without Bear. 

It's true, being a mother changes you.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vinegar: My new favorite household cleaner

I will soon be baby proofing my house and I would like the majority of my store bought cleaners to be GONE and replace then with non-chemical alternatives!

As for the vinegar, I clean everything with it!

  • Carpet 
  • Showers & Bathtubs
  • Counters
  • Tile floors
  • Garbage Cans
  • Toy wooden blocks
  • Mirror - no streaks!

And the best part is... it is the cheapest cleaner on the market!

Just mix equal parts vinegar and water in an old spray bottle and you are on your way! My house smells of it right now (as do I), but it will dissipate and I will soon see my sparkling house. It is totally baby and pet friendly and there are so many amazing uses!

For more ideas on how to use this as a household cleaner see a Reader's Digest post about it here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Unhealthy body image... An honest post

Every pregnant gal wonders if she will lose the weight after having the baby. All pregnant gals know that nursing helps you lose the baby weight. In fact, it burns about 650 calories to produce 25 oz of milk so nursing mothers are encouraged to eat at least 500 extra calories and then let the extra 150 come from the fat stores of pregnancy. 

It took me about 3 months to lose the pregnancy weight. At my 6 week check up, my doctor was concerned that I was losing weight too quickly and stressed to me that I needed to maintain my health to maintain my baby's. But, as new mothers know, it is hard to have time to eat regularly. Especially eat that extra 500 calories in a "healthy" way. Sure I could stuff my face with donuts and milkshakes and meet that quota easily, but that wouldn't do anyone any good. 

Bear is creeping up on 6 months and I am still losing weight. 10 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight

I know this is a problem.

This is a problem I have struggled with in the past. When I get stressed, I don't eat. My appetite just goes out the window.

My cheek bones start to protrude, and my pants sag. People tease me and call me "skinny mini." I start to get angry because this is a weight problem. I don't walk around calling people "fatty" or say, "You really look like you are putting on some pounds." Why do people feel it is appropriate to comment on my current state? I had a person tell me "You are really losing too much weight and are really starting to look tired and run down." 

I want to say "Piss off."

I don't.

I am doing everything I can do to provide for my son. I want to provide the best possible life for him. That includes nursing. I am doing everything I can to keep the weight on, and to gain weight. I drink Ensure (which is full of crap btw) I eat breakfast, fruit, granola bars, oatmeal, nuts and cheese for snacks. I even eat Wendy's on occasion for some additional fat to my diet. As a religious water drinker, I am now trying to drink more juice, I even add milk to my orange juice! I am trying to gain weight the healthy way, but I am not sure it is possible. 

People may say "I wish I had that problem." But I don't think anyone really does. It is terribly discouraging. I can't put on muscle or fat. I am afraid to work out because I don't want to burn more calories.

So now I try to hide my body. I am starting to hate my body. My legs are skin and bone and I hate for people to see them. So I wear baggy "boyfriend" jeans, maxi skirts. I wear cardigans to hide my boney shoulders...I know people can see through it though. My face is evidence enough of my current weight. It is just unhealthy all the way around. 

So, I am searching for tips. All the tips I have read online are to increase calorie consumption... and so I have.... anyone else have tips? That alone is not working. 
Additionally, I am eating a DQ Blizzard. Cookie dough and Oreo.

Friday, June 21, 2013

a mom's style

Gone are the days of the high-waisted, mom butt jeans... and if you do see a mom wearing them, well they are probably vintage 501 Levis and she is probably a hipster. Being a mom does not immediately turn you into a frumpy, short-haired, floral mu-mu wearing woman anymore!

We moms are hanging onto our youth! We are hanging onto our glory! I can empathize with the high-waisted  jeans... they feel like they hold you in... hold you together after having a baby and a VERY squishy belly. But 501s are not for me. I have a different kind of style.

But now I am trying to define that style.

Immediately postpartum I was VERY aware of the yoga pant uniform that many suburban mothers don. It really did feel like getting dressed most days. But, I wasn't going out into public. I was held up in my little house with a crying baby that would most likely spit up, explode on, etc. all over my dark yoga pants. And guess what? That was fine! It was part of my mom badge.

Now that we are going out in public more, I am finding it hard to dress the person I have become and the new body I have. Monday - Thursday I am fortunate to work in a VERY casual office. It isn't a rarity to find all the people in my department in a T-shirt and jeans. But we often wear fun sandals to counteract the casual. Because the dress code is so lax, I, too, find myself being lax. I put VERY little effort into what I wear, or how I do my hair. Let's be honest, getting ready in the morning is no longer a priority. Sleep is.

I can't think of the last time I straightened my own hair. My hair is the longest it has been in YEARS and it is constantly curly frizzy now.

Friday - Sunday I am home with my family and often don't venture out into the world. My yoga pant uniform is back in full swing. It's too hot to take my little guy to do anything fun outdoors. Anything indoors cost $$$. So, why dirty a pair of jeans that I can wear during the week?

NO! This is the wrong mentality! This is how we slip into frumpy mom-dum! I won't allow it! So what is the plan? What am I going to do about it? Well, I am shopping for staple pieces that are kid friendly and mother approved.

I am now bending over in public to pick up Bear, change his diaper in my backseat, pick up dropped nuk nuks while he is in my arms. My shorty shorts and jumpers are out of the question. My baby is getting heavier and grabbier, strapless dresses and tube-tops are also a no-go. Oh, and I nurse too. So I have to plan for that too! Boobie convenience. It's a thing. (And not in the strapless tube-top kinda way).

So, I have started pinning more for ideas! Here's my board - "Fashion-Able" because even though I am a mom, it's still possible to dress well and look put together. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The idea of another bebe....

Today I bought a pregnancy test because everyone around me (Pat and my coworker) asked me if I was pregnant. I was showing some of the signs again - strange bouts of acne, strange reactions to metal (my new mother's day ring) and cravings for afternoon milkshakes (Wendy's frostys). These were all VERY present in my pregnancy with Bear.

The test was negative.

While I was standing in the checkout line with the test, a pregnant girl was in the line in front of me with 3 boxes of Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs, chocolate milk and sweet potatoes. It was clear she was having major cravings and she was VERY pregnant.

The poor teenage boy that was checking us out probably had no idea what to do with us. Especially when I told him I would be putting the pregnancy test directly in my purse. I did this for 2 reasons.
1. I didn't want Pat to think I was absurd for thinking I was pregnant again.
2. If I was pregnant, I thought it would be a delightful surprise to tell him on Father's day.

Again, I am not pregnant.

I was so anxious. I sat in the bathroom with my purse and a stick on the floor. It was negative. A sigh of relief swept over me. But, simultaneously, I was missing the baby that wasn't there. I am currently dreaming of a little girl.

But, if our next baby is a boy, I will be well practiced. I love my little boy so.

My mother sent me this picture last month. It is us in the hospital. My little Bear so small.

It makes me feel a love so deep, one that I forgot about. The first meeting of a mother and child. The immediate bond that happens. I can't wait to feel that again.

But let's give it a year.

Monday, June 10, 2013

5 months : Emotional Feeding

This post is about breast feeding and milk supply. If that doesn't interest you, please do not feel obligated to read the following:

Growing up I remember hearing that one should nurse for at least 3 months. Doing that will give your baby all the antibodies he will need. This is always what I thought I would do. 'ese days the recommended amount of time is 12 months. After 3 months came and went, I can see why they encourage moms to nurse longer. That is no time at all! Many mama's are unabashedly going even longer! My goal is 12 months, but the idea of weaning is heart breaking. I want my baby to need me forever. Perhaps this is more that I don't want him to grow up? Get bigger? All of the above?

When I first switched to Dr. Leonard while I was pregnant I asked him to recommend a breast pump. I told him I would be going back to work after Bear was born. He said he recommended breast milk for 12 months but often times milk production would go down after moms return to work. He seemed sad that I would be returning to work for this reason. I followed suit but was sure I would have a strong milk supply. 

I have been back to work for about 3 months now. Pumping with my Medela Pump In Style Advanced has been going swimmingly! Until the last 2 weeks that is. I would normally get about 4-5 ounces per session, equaling about 15 ounces per day. This is outstanding for a pumping mama! Many moms are only able to get 2 ounces per session.

Last Monday I became one of those moms. 

This noticeable supply reduction started after our freezer store had been depleted. I should have seen this coming. My growing boy started needing more than than what I was able to pump. He was drinking about 6-7 ounces per feeding at daycare. 

I never introduced Bear to formula as my pediatrician recommended because my supply had been going strong. His idea behind this is that if my supply were to run out, and Bear had never had formula before, we may be in for a world of hurt if he had to quit BM cold turkey and got to formula. And now I had nothing to mix the formula with to ease the transition. We were screwed. 

The constant knot in my stomach for the last few weeks could be likened to getting in trouble by my dad in 6th grade for going to the fair without an adult. I felt guilty and hopeless. So, in true Emily fashion, I Googled it. I needed to find a solution. Come to find out, there are many options to increase a milk supply! There is a thing called "Power Pumping," but I don't have time in the work day to do that. (Ain't nobody got time for that!) Then there are the supplements everyone knows about: Fenugreek and Mother's Milk Tea. Tuesday I went to Sprouts and purchased both. I then took/drank the recommended amount. 

Wednesday, it was a milky miracle!

I got over 5 ounces in one pumping! 

And then my armpits started smelling like maple syrup. Seriously. Maple freaking syrup. (I made Pat smell my armpit just to make sure I wasn't going batty).

That night, Wednesday, Bear woke up at 10:30 for his normal 10:30 feeding. I propped him on his Boppy pillow. He refused me. His screams and wails brought Pat out of bed. I thought maybe he was just overly tired so I walked him around until he calmed down. Then I tried to nurse him again. Full tantrum. At this point, exhaustion and exasperation had set in and I started crying too. He refused me 2 more times and I decided it was time  to use the VERY LAST bag of milk in the freezer. He took the bottle from Pat, no problem. This started to feel very personal. I walked out of the nursery, sobbing, heart breaking.

I moved to the living room and set up my pump. I turned back into the depressed reclusive person I had been all week prior to the supply increase. Thoughts of formula and a distant child, a child that didn't need me ran through my head. I felt like I had let Bear, and myself, down. I didn't know I would be this emotionally attached to nursing. 

.   .   .

Later in the night he nursed like a champ and relief swept over me. The next dayI quit the fenugreek. I thought maybe the smell of the maple syrup or something was freaking him out. 

All this hubbub got me thinking that he may be ready for a little more in his tummy. I gave in to another internal struggle about starting him on solids be for I was ready. I spent my lunch hour buying him what I thought was the best Organic Rice Cereal.

I was discussing it later with my co-worker when our Operations Manager mentioned an article in Consumer Reports about Arsenic in Rice. After reading it, and feeling like I SUCK at feeding my son, I called the pediatrician and asked if there was an alternative to arsenic, cancer-causing, food. The nurse had heard nothing of this report and waited from word from the doctor. He said it was fine to start Bear on oatmeal cereal instead of rice. 

And so, this Saturday morning, we mixed 1 tablespoon of rice cereal with 4 ounces of breast milk and fed it to our little guy. He was confused initially, but then seemed interested enough in it. He opened his mouth each time the spoon came toward him! I have heard this means he is ready for this stage. 

This is but another milestone, among many, that I have to accept. He is growing at lightening speed. Did I mention that he rolled over on Friday???

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Baby's Bed Time

There were a few months when our little guy would get so fussy that he was not capable to go sleep at night. We knew he was so tired, so why wouldn't he just friggin' sleep!? This was the source of many tears for this mama and Pat saved me many times from a mental breakdown. Bedtime became known as "the witching hour" in our house.  I would have serious anxiety about bedtime, honestly dreading it.

After returning to work, my co-worker, also a first time mom, told me that she put her son down at 6 pm, no no exceptions. She is Korean, so at first I thought this was her "Dragon Mom" ways. But as our crazy nights continued, I thought she may be on to something. So, after trying so many things, we thought we would give it a go. We swaddled Bear nice and tight right at 6 pm, made sure he was good and fed and rocked him a little bit. His little eyes got heavy immediately and he was out like a light. We haven't looked back since.
I have been trying really hard to create a routine for him. It goes like this:

  • Pick him up from daycare
  • Play with him a bit (but he's generally starting to get fussy)
  • Put him in his jammies
  • Swaddle him
  • Nurse him

He is mostly at the stage where I can put him in his crib while he is still awake and he is able to fall asleep on his own. Most the time.

But here is the hard part, we miss him. 3 out of 4 days Pat doesn't get to see him at all because he doesn't get home from work until after 6:30pm and leaves before he is awake. I try to keep our little guy up without reaching the point of no return, but it's no use. The fussing starts, the rubbing of the eyes - all the clear signs of baby exhaustion.

This makes me wonder, however, were we ignoring these signs when he was younger?

Regardless, this new bedtime makes life less stressful on all of us. Bear fusses less and Pat and I get our alone time, even if that means folding laundry and doing dishes.

And then, in the morning, Bear looks at us like this:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

3 Months: Relationships...

In life you create relationships with people who already know themselves... at least for the most part. They know if they are night owls, or if they eat breakfast or just have a cup of coffee instead. They know if they prefer white bread or whole wheat. They have their own style, good or bad. They know their morals and what they stand for. When you create your relationship with them, they teach you these things  about themselves that are already established. That they, themselves, have established and selected for themselves. 

My son is not established. We are learning everything about him together. In this time of discovery, we both become so frustrated with one another, but also share in the moments of delight that seem to fill my heart so full tears stream from my eyes. He loves mornings and hates tummy time. He refuses pacifiers until he is lying in his crib. He thinks getting dressed is fun and loves to have his bum wiped. Kiss his feet and in return received the widest, gummiest smile you have ever seen! We didn't know all this 2 months ago.

2 months ago we were all frustrated. We were all crying. None of us slept through the night.

Now my boy sleeps from 6pm -12am, only waking to eat, then peacefully falls back to sleep until 3am. This began a week ago when he started sleeping in his crib. My heart broke. Not because we let him cry it out... or because he hated it. In fact, neither of those things happened. He took to it like a fish to water. My heart broke because he didn't need me next to him like I need him. 

The soft sound of his breath does not translate through the baby monitor. Only the cries that startle me awake and the occasional sleepy coo. I must accept that this is part of him establishing himself. He is already becoming more independent and exploratory and for that I should be excited. He is learning to trust himself, as well as us.

During the day he lays in his Pack'n Play and stares and bats at the little animals that hang above him and makes new sounds, exploring his own abilities. I ask him to repeat the squeaks and squeals of delight, to which he responds with his confused eyebrows and then goes about his baby business. 

As we learn about him together, I am trying so hard to remember every detail about our journey. The faces he makes, the pitch of his noises, what makes him happy, even the little warm tears that fall onto my arms occasionally. While we take this journey together, I hope that I am able to help him to establish himself into someone great - someone people can look to as a trusted friend, a giving man, and a motivated citizen of the world - someone I can be proud of, but most importantly, someone he is proud to be.

And I hope for him that when he is grown and creating relationships with others, that he knows exactly who he is, what he likes and how to share himself positively with others. I hope to look to him in my old age and think to myself, "I helped shape that man into who he is, and he is tremendous."

These 3 months have sped by, and yet I can hardly remember my life without him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sleeping with a newborn

A sleeping newborn is one of the scariest things in the world. The wrong noise at night and your whole evening can come crashing down around you. In our case, that would be a door latching. I am not sure that our little Bear is considered a newborn anymore. He is rapidly approaching FOUR weeks (tomorrow). But, in that four weeks, Pat and I struggled, I cried (a lot) and then we came up with some tricks.

Being a new parent is probably the most challenging thing I have ever done. Mostly because I want to do everything right and be the best possible mom in the world. When your baby is crying at night, and those first little baby tears fall from your baby's eyes, prepare yourself. Sometimes, you just can't stop his tears, or yours.

Our second night home Bear wouldn't stop crying. We tried everything, or so we thought. Pat took the baby out of our room because I was getting so emotional and frustrated. He sat, frustrated, in our front room and let our baby cry. As a mother, this was the most difficult thing for me to endure. So, I picked myself up out of bed and together, Pat and I sat in our wingback chairs and tried to console the inconsolable.

Bear laid on my chest skin to skin, then we fed, then we laid skin to skin again. (REPEAT) Pat brought pillows and blankets out to make me comfortable and our little family fell asleep that way.

Fast forward to 4 weeks - here are some of the tricks we have learned along this journey.

Take turns: although Pat doesn't always follow this rule (there have been a few nights where he will let me sleep through the night, much to my chagrin). Our turn taking consists of Pat getting up to change the diaper, then he brings a fresh little baby to me for feeding. The trade off? I get to sleep just a little longer during the changing, and Pat gets to sleep while I feed.
Another time to take turns is during the fussy nights. We try to take it in shifts where I will rock our little guy until I can rock no more (standing is required of course), then Pat will take over. A little sleep can go a long way if you are successful in this.

White noise: I repeat, white noise! This was an absolute life saver for us! After a few weeks of up every 2 hours for feeding, Bear had gained lots of weight (he never lost weight after birth) we decided he could sleep a little longer through the night. But the new problem was getting him to sleep. Before we could even put him down he would start wailing. His bottom chin would quiver and my heart would break. That is until my boss told me about the bathroom fan. It makes perfect sense! The sound mimics the womb. So, one night, during my turn, Bear and I sat in the guest bathroom, on the toilet for 2 hours. 2 very peaceful hours of him being wide eyed in the dark. No sleep yet. But, finally, when my butt could no longer take it, we went into his nursery and I found a box fan recording on YouTube. It played for 8 glorious hours and got my little guy to sleep. I laid awake on the couch and he laid on my chest.
Last night was the first night we didn't have to play it for him to get him to sleep, but I am not taking it out of my back pocket just yet.

Swaddle: your baby in nice and snug, just like in the womb!

Use a pacifier: this is controversial to me, but some nights it has been a life saver. I did not want to introduce a pacifier to our son until he was at least 4 weeks old, but that terrible night I mentioned above, where I became a human pacifier, that was the breaking point. I asked our pediatrician about what we should do, and he said to give it to him. I was kind of shocked, and VERY defeated by this. I was cranky and sullen that entire day. Remember that whole wanting to be the best parent ever thing? I wasn't sure this was the best thing, but it was for my nipples. So we tried it.
Much to my relief, Bear doesn't like the pacifier much at all, in fact, he gets angry when we give it to him. He is smart and knows we are trying to dupe him. BUT, there have been a few instances where he takes it, with my thumb resting on his cheek, and he sleeps peacefully.
My thought on this is, you can take a pacifier away, but not a thumb.
(We have not had any nipple confusion, which is often the fear of introducing the pacifier.)

Be realistic: you knew when you got knocked up that this time was coming. The sleep deprivation. You ARE going to be tired. This time is about your baby, not you. Feed him when he needs fed. Rock him. Burp him. Sing to him. Shush him. Comfort him. Anything he needs. Then, nap with him during the day.

Now, 5 nights out of 7 we get about two stints of 4 consecutive hours of sleep each night. That is, when I am not awoken by his sleep sounds and grunts. But, it is much better than the alternative. And we have all learned to sleep with the sound of the box fan YouTube video.

Please note these are all things that work for us. Our guy eats, poos and pees regularly and has continued to gain weight. Talk to your pediatrician about any and all concerns you may have.

"Bear" is our little guy's alias, as I am not sure I want his name circulating the interwebs at this time. Call me overprotective?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Missing him

For the last 3 weeks and 1 day I have been oohing and awing over my son. For the last 3 weeks and 1 day, so has everyone else.

When family and friends come to visit, I happily hand my darling boy over to them. I let them hold him to their hearts content because he is mine and I have him for the rest of my life. And I am proud of him and love to hear how beautiful they think he is.

But, for the last 3 days, I have been handing him over and I am really starting to miss his heavy little head on my chest as we lay on the couch, smelling his new born smell and feeling his little hands and fingers twitching in his sleep. Yesterday I started to notice the separation anxiety hitting me.

It's my turn again. He is currently sleeping on my chest. Not for his soothing, but mine. I missed him.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Our Birth Story : He is here!

Note: This is a long post, and our pictures aren't the best because we didn't have the flash on in the hospital. 

During my entire pregnancy, Pat often slept on the couch. You see, he is a snorer. And this snoring would often wake me from my pleasant sleep (that I so rarely got because of trips to the bathroom etc...) so he would sleep on the couch and leave me to our queen size bed. Although I missed cuddling with him, it was a really nice thing for him to do.

At midnight on January 9, 2013 I woke up with some pretty strong contractions. I had been through this before, so I tried my best to go back to sleep, but continuing to wake up with each contraction as it got stronger. I still wasn't buying it though. It was at 2 am when I was fed up with trying to sleep through the pain. I walked out to the couch to see if Pat wanted to come to bed (which I frequently did because I didn't want to sleep alone). After he agreed to come to bed, I told him that I was having some pretty strong contractions. At that point we both decided to stay awake and time them... again. They were becoming more regular and stronger and I was having to focus to breath through them.

Because I was in false labor 2 weeks prior, a nurse gave me the number to the nurse's station at the hospital so we didn't have to wake Dr. Leonard. We called and they said they sounded like labor but to wait at home as long as possible. We stopped timing the contractions and tried to sleep some more. I laid in bed and stared at the lights reflecting off the pool onto our bedroom wall. It was strangely beautiful and peaceful.

I couldn't pretend to sleep anymore so Pat and I jumped into the shower and tried to relax. He held onto me and rubbed my back as each contraction hit me. It was more soothing than I thought. I could have stayed in there all day but I didn't want to stand up anymore though. I bath may have been a better choice. 

After the shower, I thought we should head to the hospital, and by this time it was 8 am. Pat packed up the car, a grabbed my physio ball and we were on our way again. Pat was dying to text everyone, but I told him to hold off until we knew if we were admitted or not. I didn't want to be setting up false hopes for everyone else. We talked and laughed all the way to the hospital and made up stories about the two cab drivers who appeared to be arguing through their windows at a stop light. We weren't in a rush, which made things much calmer than one sees in the movies. 

We found a parking spot fairly close to the door but it also felt nice to walk. Half way to the door, a contraction hit and Pat just held and hugged me until it passed. We checked in at the ER and were taken up to triage. Pat's excitement was too much and he had to text our family to let them know what was going on. 

After I was hooked up to all the monitors, the contractions became less regular. Deja vu. But, my blood pressure was high enough for the nurse to call my doctor. He requested they do blood work on me and test a urine sample. The fear of preeclampsia from the day before was rearing its ugly head again. The nurse checked me in the mean time and I had dilated to 3 cm which was 2 more than I was the day before. These contractions were actually doing something! The nurse told us that my doctor wanted to induce with pitocin. My heart dropped. I DID NOT want to be induced. This was certainly not in my birth plan. I asked her if we could do the "bulb thing." She said we are already past that point. She also said the gels were not an option because my doctor was too conservative. (I think she did not like him).

The nurse seemed to have little patience for these tests, wanting to induce me and my doctor. She wanted to send me home. But my doctor was adamant and worried. He stopped by the triage "room" (read: uncomfortable bed with curtain around it and no privacy) and I have never felt such relief. He looked at my contractions and said they were becoming more regular again. He said he would give me an hour to see if I would progress on my own. If not, they would administer the pitocin. "I am keeping you here. You are having the baby today." 

Excitement and terror swept through my body. I have read too many birth stories about induced labor. I knew this was going to hurt. We were moved into our roomy and private room in Labor and Delivery. I willed my body to do it on its own. I tried to relax and meditate through each contraction because I knew if I did that, my body could do what it needed to do. I should have taken some damn hypno-birthing classes! I didn't progress. Our new L & D nurse started to put my IV in in my right arm. Holy shit it hurt! Then she blew the vein and had to do the same in my left arm. (The bruises have just now disappeared 3 weeks later). The pitocin started into my veins. 

We talked to the new nurse about our doctor and she told us how much she liked him. She told us of a few birth stories that he delivered, which made me more sure of our choice to have him as our doctor. I also told her about my fear of this labor going all wrong and that I would have to have a C-Section. She shook her head and said everything is on track and I needn't worry about that at all. Pat and I both felt relieved hearing her say that. 

The contractions became unbearable. I was required to lay on my left side because the baby's heart rate went down when I was on my back. This seemed to make the contractions worse. The bed railings took the brunt of my pain. I squeezed them for dear life and could not seem to breath through anything. Pat did all he could and held my hand between contractions. I couldn't comfortably hold his hand during the contractions because of all my tubes hooked into my arm.

The nurse checked me about 30 minutes after the pitocin was in my veins and I had dilated another cm. It was progress, but not as much as they wanted to see. At this point I asked for the epidural. Before arriving at the hospital I wasn't sure if I was going to do the epidural or not. I really wanted the experience of feeling labor. Well, felt it I had and I was ready to be a little more comfortable. I also knew that if I had the epidural, my body would be able to do what it needed to do. I was too tense because of the pain, and that was going to make my labor even longer. 

Once my nurse had gotten the "okay" from my doctor, the anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural. I have been afraid of that needle going into my back since I saw it on "A Birth Story" years ago. I mean, I was terrified. But, what I did know was that there was no way it was going to hurt worse than what I had been experiencing for the last 11 hours. I had to control my shaking so he could properly stick it into my spine, as well as ignore the contraction I was having at the time. (The IV hurt worse than the epidural)

The sensation was strange once the drugs had worked their way into my body. I actually said "I feel like my bum is asleep," to everyone in the room. I was slightly embarrassed after the words came out. But soon after that, all embarrassment and modesty went out the door for me. Apparently, when one has an epidural, one also receives a catheter. Okay, that was when my modesty went out the door. I don't often show my hoo-ha to the world, but the nurse sees them EVERY day and I was nothing special. That is what I had to tell myself... it kind of worked. I am a very modest person. 

Once I was comfortable and resting, Pat went into the waiting room to visit with his mom. I laid in the bed trying to sleep because I didn't know how much energy I would have with the lack of sleep from the previous night. But then the nurse came in a little frantic and had me lay on my left side again and put an oxygen mask on me. She started telling me that baby's heart rate was dropping at the end of my contractions. This deceleration is very dangerous for the baby. I started to panic, worried about my unborn son. We had come so far! Pat walked into the room seeing the oxygen on me. He knew something had changed and it wasn't good. I couldn't talk, in a state of shock I suppose. The nurse tried to explain, but started in the middle, ultimately Pat was lost too. She stopped the pitocin, thinking this may be the cause of the deceleration. A few short moments later Dr. Leonard arrived from his office where he had been monitoring me. I could tell he was concerned again and he started to explain things to us. "I am going to break your water and we are going to put internal monitors on the baby. These will give us a more accurate reading of the baby's heart rate. If the deceleration doesn't stop, we are going to have to do a C-Section," he said matter-of-factly. 

All I could do was look at Pat. I was praying at that moment he could see into my soul and know my terror. I knew if I reacted the way my heart wanted me to, I would be hysterical. A C-Section was not in my birth plan. I was terrified of the surgery. I was terrified of not being able to hold my baby boy on my chest immediately after birth. I was terrified something was happening to him. I was terrified that I had no control over the situation. My thoughts kept going back to the pitocin. I was angry with myself for being induced. Maybe if I had been more adamant about waiting we wouldn't be here, on the verge of emergency surgery. Maybe if we had stayed home longer... But I knew my raised heart rate was a danger for him as well. I couldn't control it one way or the other. We just had to get him out safely.

Dr. Leonard broke my water and put the monitors in. Pat held my hand while silent tears fell down my face.  Pat assured me that one way or the other, everything would be okay. I had no choice but to believe him. 

After monitoring the baby with the internal monitors for a while, the nurse came in saying it looks like his heart rate is back to normal and we wouldn't have to have a C-Section. Relief fell over me and I started crying again. She kept the oxygen on me as a precaution. 

A short time later I started to feel that pressure that everyone talks about, the one that feels like a bowl movement... I told the nurse and she checked me. "Wow, he is right there." Our little guy decided to start the journey on his own. She had me do a few practice pushes, then called in my doctor. 

They explained to me how I needed to push properly and then we waited for the next contraction. I was able to feel the pressure of them at this point and knew where I needed to direct the push. Everyone was cheering me on which made me feel like a champion. Pat counted for me. After the first 2 contractions and 6 pushes, the nurse said she could see his hair color.  Pat and I looked at each other and smiled. He thought it would be blonde, well we both did. 

After 15 minutes total, 2 more contractions and 3 more pushes (9 pushes total) our little guy had entered the world! He had brown hair (still does) and he was still covered in vernix. The nurse put him on my chest immediately while the doctor prepared the umbilical cord for Pat to cut. We were both elated and sobbing. We had waited for this moment for a very long 9 months.

He was 7.4 lbs, 19 inches and perfectly healthy.