Sleeping through the night!

Well folks, Winter is 10 weeks old and she has been officially “sleeping through the night” (8-9 hours) for an entire week!  Last Thursday, at 9 weeks old on the dot, she slept through her nighttime feeding and hasn’t woken during the middle of the night since.  Wow!  I feel so blessed to have such an amazing sleeper.  She is really the best!

At 8 weeks old, she started sleeping 7 hours in a row, waking only once during the middle of the night to eat (approximately 4:30 or 5:00 am).  A week later at 9 weeks, she extended her sleep to 8-9 hours, going approximately from 10pm to 7am (though sometimes 6:30am).

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After Christmas, we plan to move Winter into her crib in the nursery since she sleeps through the night.

There is a book out there called On Becoming Baby Wise and it promises that your baby can sleep through the night around 2 months old if you follow their advice.  We do follow Baby Wise principles, which recommends “parent directed feeding” (PDF) as opposed to “demand feeding” (aka attachment parenting) or “strict schedule feeding.”  BW tends to fall more on the scheduling end of the spectrum, but using your baby’s hunger cues to see when to feed rather than being strictly stuck to the clock.  BW says that if you follow their advice, most BW babies will sleep 8 hours through the night around 8-10 weeks old.  In our case, following BW principles work!  I know some babies have a harder time sleeping through the night until an older age, but that just means “every baby is different.”

Baby Wise recommends feeding your baby on a 2.5-3 hour routine.  I usually feed Winter every 3 hours during the day, but sometimes at the 2.5 hour mark if she signals she is hungry sooner.  Rather than being on a strict schedule, it is very crucial to watch for baby to signal hunger cues.

In addition to following the timing of the routine, it is also really important to include eat time, wake time and nap/sleep time in the schedule (and in the ORDER!).  Many people reverse the wake time and nap time, letting their baby fall asleep after eating.  It’s very important to make sure the baby has playtime (wake time) after she finishes eating and then go to sleep for a nap an hour or so later.  Then the baby wakes up hungry and is not dependent on needing to nurse in order to be able to fall asleep.  Winter can fall asleep without assistance, though I usually do rock her and sing to her for a little bit to help her get drowsy.  I enjoy that bonding time with her.

I know that different methods work well for different people, but in our case, I like having the structure of a routine.  My baby seems to be very happy and she gets the gift of good sleep.  She sleeps well, eats well, plays well, grows well and is over all very HAPPY!  Her parents are happy too because she gives us the gift of her joyful temperament and also the gift of sleeping all night long!  Well rested mommy = happier mommy!

Now that Winter has dropped her night feed, I wanted to add it back in somewhere to keep her at 7 quality feedings per day.  We were on a 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, 5(+/-)am routine, but now I’ve modified it because I don’t like having only 6 feeds per day when she is only 10 weeks old.  I want to keep her at 7 feeds until she is a little older.

Here is how our day typically looks currently (after bumping back up to 7 feeds):

6:30 am – Wake up to eat.  I pump out extra milk after she finishes nursing.  We play for a while and then she falls asleep until her next feed.

8:30 or 9:00 am – Nurse, then play, then go to sleep.

11:30 am – Nurse, play, then nap.

2:30 pm – Nurse, play, then nap.

5:00 pm – Nurse, play, then nap.

8:00 pm – Nurse (or let Daddy feed her a bottle of breast milk) then get ready for bed (no playtime).

10:30 or 11pm – Dream feed, I wake her up to get in just one more feeding since I want her at 7 feeds rather than 6.  She basically sleeps through the feed, but I usually give her a bottle at this time so I know how many ounces she ate.

I love having a great sleeper!  She rocks!  I love that Baby Wise has helped provide a good guideline for how to structure Winter’s days.  It is such a relief to be able to PREDICT when she will eat and sleep.  It allows me to be a better parent.  I am a type-A personality, and it helps me to know that I have some predictability in my life.  I love her “waketime” because we get to play and bond.  Because of her predictability of her routine, I can run errands or go places without worrying that she might need to eat at anytime.  Because of her routine, her metabolism has adjusted and it allows her to get better quality feedings (rather than snacky-type nursing sessions) as well as it allows her to get better quality sleep (rather than short cat naps where she doesn’t get into her deeper REM cycle).  Better sleep = good.  Better feedings = good. Good sleep + good feedings = a very HAPPY little baby!

CONCLUSION: One happy baby = one happy mommy! 

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Now, to end this post, here are a few photos of us with Winter this past weekend (my first few nights of getting an entire night’s rest for the first time in 2 months).  She went to her first wedding!

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Winter’s 2 Month Update

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BABY WINTER’S MONTHLY UPDATE: 2 months old

Baby’s Age: 2 months old

Height: 21.25 inches

Weight: 10 pounds 13 ounces

Head: 38.5 cm

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Look how big this girl is!  She isn’t quite ready for the Bumbo yet, but I took some comparison photos of her in it:

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Wow, it’s incredible how much she has grown!  She is over 2 pounds bigger this month than she was last month!

Milestones: Winter has a really strong neck.  She is excellent at holding her head up!  She also has really strong legs and kicks in a cycling motion constantly.  She is coo-ing and trying to “talk” and have conversations with us.  Precious.  She smiles so much!  When you smile at her or a make a face, she instantly responds with a smile.  She is really good at tracking things with her eyes.  She loves playing with her hands and putting them in her mouth.  She is really in a learning-mode—-trying to discover how things work!

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She’s great at head control.

Sleep: Once we got to the 8 week mark last week, she started giving me a 7 hour stretch of sleep at night!  That is so fantastic!  Before that, she was typically going a 5.5 hour stretch.  I think we will soon be “sleeping through the night” officially.  Or I hope so.  She typically has her last feed at around 10:00 pm and then wakes up between 4:00 and 5:00 am.  I’d like to eventually stretch her sleep until 7:00 am.  (***I don’t want to jinx myself by saying it, but she officially “slept through the night” last night for the first time!!  She ate at 10:15 pm and then didn’t wake up to eat again until 6:45 am.  That was amazing!  I hope this is the start of something!)

Besides her nighttime sleep routine, she has definitely fallen into the pattern of taking naps throughout the day.  She usually sleeps for 1.5-2 hours during her naps.  I love naptime, because it gives me a chance to catch up on things!  We are on a typical 3-hour Babywise routine: she wakes up to eat (“eat time”), then we play for a while (“waketime”), and then around 1 or 1.5 hours after she wakes, she starts dozing off again & I put her down for a nap (“sleeptime”).  We repeat this cycle all throughout the day.

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She still sleeps in our bedroom at night in the bassinet portion of the pack and play.

Best Moment: I know last month I said the best moment was seeing her smile…and that is my response again this month!  Smiling is the best!  And now that she is trying to “talk” by cooing and making sounds, it’s so much fun to play with her.  Smiling makes me feel like I’m doing my job as a mom and that I’m succeeding.

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Worst Moment: Worst moments are rare these days.  Life is getting to be less complicated and much more beautiful!  Our previous weight gaining issues are behind us, and Winter is a wonderful little girl.  I’d say the worst moment was watching her get her 2-month-old vaccinations this week at her pediatrician appointment.  Poor baby didn’t like that…and Mommy felt sad for her!  It was brutal for me to watch my little baby in pain.  I started tearing up during her shots.

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Mad baby!  This wasn’t the day she got her shots, but she looked even madder than this when she did.

Health:  She is so healthy and happy!  She has been gaining weight like a champion!  She is very alert, eats well, sleeps well, and is hitting her milestones on time.  In fact, her doctor said that she is a “very smart baby” and is reaching a lot of milestones that are typical of a 4-month-old baby.  Way to be an overachiever, Winter!  Just like Momma! 🙂

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Eating:  At 2 months, she is eating 7 times per day including her middle of the night feed.  Once she sleeps through the middle of the night feed (which is somewhere between 4:00 and 5:00 am), she will drop into a 6 times per day feeding routine.  Because I breastfeed as well as pump, I know that she typically eats an average of 4 ounces at each feeding (though sometimes only 3.5 ounces and sometimes as much as 5 to 5.5 ounces). When she is more hungry, she will eat 5+ ounces.  The most she has ever eaten at once is 6 ounces, and that was only one time.

Currently Winter is doing more nursing than bottle-feeding (pumped breast milk).  I am thrilled about this!  It was my goal to move to the 50/50 mark, so the fact that we are MOSTLY nursing is amazing (she nurses 5 or 6 times out of the 7 total feeds).  Before we were very heavily on the pumping end, and only breastfeeding a small portion of time.  But now nursing is becoming more and more of a regular thing.  Lately I have been breastfeeding throughout the daytime and pumping/bottle-feeding in the evening & middle of  the night.  She is becoming much more efficient at breastfeeding as she gets older.  What used to take her 45 minutes now takes her 20-25 minutes to nurse.  Because I go to a breastfeeding group that does a pre-weight and post-weight to track her milk consumption, I know that in 20-25 minutes she eats approximately 4 (+/-)ounces.  This is seriously making me SO HAPPY!!  Overall, I’m very pleased with her progress she has made in regards to eating!  She is a breastfeeding champ now!Here is what our typical feeding routine looks like on any given day (keep in mind it’s not a STRICT schedule, but a flexible routine like the book BabyWise suggests):

Her typical feeding routine generally looks like this:

4:00 to 5:00 am – Her middle of the night feed I always pump and then bottle-feed (I store the extra milk that she doesn’t eat)

7:00 am – Breastfeed & then pump to drain the remaining milk to store it (I tend to produce most milk at the middle of the night feed and this first morning feed)

10:00 am – Breastfeed only

1:00 pm – Breastfeed only

4:00 pm – Breastfeed only (or pump/bottle depending on what we are doing)

7:00 pm – Breastfeed only

10:00 pm – Pump/bottle-feed.  I pump while Eric feeds her (I want to make sure my breasts are completely drained before our long-stretch at night).  Also, it gives Eric a chance to bottle-feed because he likes to feed her after being gone all day at work

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Big girl trying to hold her own bottle!  So independent!

Likes: She loves when you smile at her.  She likes singing songs — she even tries to “sing” with you!  She loves to kick her legs in a cycling motion.  She likes to be swaddled.  She loves her hands — especially sucking on them.  She likes bath time, surprisingly — because she used to hate baths.  She likes her pacifiers.  She likes eating (Eric said he thinks she is more soothed from nursing than bottle-feeding).  She likes her play gym — she is fascinated with the toys that hang over her.

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Dislikes: She hates shots!  (Duh!)  She doesn’t like to lie down during playtime…she wants to be propped up, standing or sitting (obviously assisted standing and sitting).  Although if she lying in her playgym, she doesn’t mind lying flat.  She HATES tummy time….she will do tummy time for a few minutes and then start crying because she is over it.

Things I want to remember: 

–If I make faces at Winter (like sticking out my tongue), she mimics me and tries to copy what I do.

–When it’s time to feed, as soon as she sees a breast or a bottle, she gets really excited and starts cooing in anticipation.  So cute!

–She kicks her legs constantly!  Eric always says, “Winter, where are you going on your bike today?”

–She loves Frederick, her wabbanub frog.  She is getting another wabbanub for Christmas…a white lamb.  We are going to call her Lana.  I’m sure she will love Lana and Frederick equally 🙂

–Whenever I turn on lights, she instantly closes her eyes…guess her eyes have to adjust just like anyone else, but it’s just so cute.

–She gets startled easily!  If someone closes a door loudly, or sneezes, or anything — it startles her.

–Winter used to be able to sleep through any noises…but now I put her in her room in her crib for naptime because noises (like the dog barking or the doorbell ringing) wake her out of sleep.

–She loves to stand up.  She has super strong legs (the doctor says she is ahead of “schedule”), and she loves to stand up and look around.

Things we are using a lot:

We couldn’t live without the following items:

–Baby Scale. I bought a baby scale at Babies R Us to track her weight gain.  Now I use it more to do pre-weights and post-weights for when she nurses to see how many ounces she consumed.  It’s nice that the scale is digital and converts to kg, so it’s more closely accurate when I do my feeding calculations.

–Snap & Go Stroller.  You will rarely see me carrying around her car seat because I always use the snap & go stroller when I’m out and about.  It’s so much more convenient.  It’s practically a frame with wheels (and a little storage basket on the bottom).

–Nipple Shield.  Yes, we are still using the nipple shield.  I’d like to eventually ditch it, but it is still helpful at this point.

–Medela Pump.  Though I’m mostly nursing, my pump is still getting used once or twice per day.

–Her crib.  Now that she is on a schedule, she actually takes naps in her nursery.  I make the room dark, turn on her space heater (she loves a warmmmm room!), grab the monitor and shut the door.

–Video Baby Monitor.  Because of naptime, this thing is getting used a lot.

How Mommy is recovering: I am doing great!  I posted earlier this week about my post-baby body thus far.  At 6 weeks, in addition to running, I added the gym back into my routine.  I feel great when I workout.  I’m getting more and more energy from it.  I also notice I’m getting stronger and my stamina is increasing.  My lower abs and my tendons/ligaments in my pelvic area used to feel really weak & loose, but those areas are improving and getting stronger.  I’m hoping to whip my body back in to shape!

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My infection in my nipples is pretty much healed!  My left side still has a little bit of healing left since it will still bleed, but overall things are looking MUCH IMPROVED!  My right side is completely good to go.  I use lanolin cream, and this has really helped tremendously. I have noticed better results using lanolin compared to APNO (all purpose nipple ointment — a prescription that is a steroid cream).

As a whole, I feel great!  Around the 6 week mark, I started to feel like a human being again.  My feelings of being frazzled, stressed out and overly emotional are all in the past.  My morale is high and I feel like “I’ve got this”…motherhood is getting to be more and more fun!

Photos of Winter and Our Family:

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Winter was almost 6 weeks here.

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Travelling with Mommy to Florida via air travel (6 weeks old)

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Our family down in Florida for Eric’s launch into space

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We got to see the REAL Atlantis shuttle!!  Amazing (6 weeks old)

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Daddy and Winter

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Mommy and Winter in Florida (6 weeks old)

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Atlantis exhibit

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Napping with Daddy (6 weeks)

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Moby on the beach

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Beach

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Family walk on the beach

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Daddy and Winter in Florida

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Watching TV (6 weeks)

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Happy girl (7 weeks old)

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Somebody loves Frederick, her Wabbanub froggy!  (7 weeks)

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Winter’s getting a little chunky!!  (7 weeks old)

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Pretty girl! (7 weeks)

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First Thanksgiving!  (7 weeks)

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Family run with the BOB

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Family run with the BOB (7 weeks)

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Happy little girl! (7 weeks)

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Winter smiles all the time for us!

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Mommy and baby girl (7.5 weeks)

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First time ever wearing a dress!  (7.5 weeks)

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She is the happiest baby ever!

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BRRRR….bundled up for a freezing cold day! (8 weeks)

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Wearing her Purdue jammies!!  Gotta represent our school!

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Trying to help hold her own bottle!

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Snuggling on the couch with her toy from Grandma (8 weeks)

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Winter loves Daddy

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She enjoys looking at us and smiling at us

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First Christmas tree!

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Bunny hat on…don’t worry, she did wear pants that day 🙂

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Taking photos for our Christmas card!

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Brrrr…winter is here now!

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Christmas

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Our little family

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Merry Christmas — soon!

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Mommy and Winter

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Sleepyhead…she actually takes naps in her crib now!

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Tummy time

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Not too happy, but she looked adorable in her bunny outfit!

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2 months old!

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Can’t believe she is already 2 months old!

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Happy girl!

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She loves playtime in her playgym.

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Winter and Koda.

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Waking up in the morning.

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2 month doctor appt.

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2 month doctor appt.

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2 month doctor appt.

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First time wearing jeans…well jeggings really!

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Somebody likes toys!

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She officially moved up into 3 month size clothes!

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Sorry for the photo overload this post!  I think based on the amount of pictures, I might need to do some in-between photo posts 🙂  Happy 2 months, Winter!  We love you!

-Katy (Mommy)

Post Baby Body Update – 8 weeks postpartum

The female body is an amazing thing.  Not only does it create and carry a human life, it shrinks back down after birth!  At 2 months postpartum, here is my post-baby body progress thus far…

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I was 40 weeks +2 days pregnant when I gave birth to my daughter on October 10, 2013.  I gained a total of 23 pounds during my pregnancy.  I kept my weight gain under control by eating a healthy diet combined with exercise all the way throughout the end of pregnancy.  Currently, at 2 months out, I have lost exactly 23 pounds.  Though I’m back to my pre-pregnancy starting weight, my body still has a ways to go to get it back into the fit/toned shape I’d like to be back in.  I’m still carrying extra in my midsection.  Most of my pants/jeans fit, but they still are snug in the waistband.  I know that continuing to work hard with exercise will get be back into the form I’d like to end up in.

As I mentioned, I exercised all the way until the end of pregnancy.  I went for a run on my due date!  On the day I went in labor, I did a tough workout at the gym – I did the stairclimber, Jacob’s ladder, treadmill and lifted free weights.  I really tried hard to stay in shape during pregnancy.  I knew that once I gave birth, I’d have to take a bit of a break to let my body recover and heal.  I wanted to give myself at least 2 weeks to rest.

After giving birth, I started daily walks immediately.  My doctor said that this was totally acceptable for me to be walking so long as I felt up for it.  I took Baby Winter out in the BOB stroller for these daily walks of 45-60 minutes.  I felt great!

At the 2 week postpartum mark is when I started running.  It felt WONDERFUL to have some of that extra weight off of me.  At that point, I had already shed 15 pounds.  I felt incredibly light, yet I could feel how weak my ab muscles felt as I took each step.  My tendons/ligaments in my pelvic area felt very fragile and weak too.  My pace was slow, but I just felt so great to be back to it.  Because a newborn baby consumes your entire life, I only managed to do maybe 2 or 3 runs per week and that was the extent of my exercise.  I continued walking on all of the other days.

At my 6 week check up, my doctor cleared me to exercise normally, so that’s when I made my return to the gym.  Eric and I sat down and wrote a gym schedule so that we are BOTH able to get regular gym days in.  I get to go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and he goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  On my non-gym days, I run outside with the BOB stroller or run inside on my treadmill (depending on the weather).  My running days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

Originally when I bought my treadmill, we put it in the garage.  I found this to be very hard to stay motivated because the garage is cold and dark.  I had to stare at a blank wall while on the treadmill.  We just recently moved it into our bedroom so that I can watch TV while running on the treadmill.  This has been a smart decision because it makes me so much more motivated to stay on the treadmill for longer!  I love having a distraction while exercising!

As far as eating goes, I use an app on my phone (MyFitnessPal) to track my daily calories as well as my exercise.  I try to eat somewhere in the range of 1900-2100 calories per day.  Because I am breastfeeding, it is crucial that I don’t drop my calorie consumption too much.  If I drop much lower than 1800 per day, it would inhibit my milk supply…not worth it!  Eating around 2000 calories per day is still allowing my milk supply to stay strong as well as allowing me to lose weight.

Now, here is a look at my daily-weekly body progress:

IN LABOR…LAST PREGNANCY PIC!

Here is my last photo while I was pregnant!

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MORNING AFTER BIRTH…

This is the morning after giving birth.  I thought I looked SO SKINNY already–now I look back and realize I still looked pregnant here.

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2 DAYS POSTPARTUM…

On this day we got discharged from the hospital.  I felt really swollen.  My fingers, feet, etc were all retaining water.  But I still was amazed at how fast it felt like my tummy was going down.

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3 DAYS POSTPARTUM…

This was our first full day at home and I started going for my 45-60 minute daily walks at this point to get my body moving.

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4 DAYS POSTPARTUM…

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6 DAYS POSTPARTUM…

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 8 DAYS POSTPARTUM….

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 10 DAYS POSTPARTUM….

I remember that I felt like a million bucks by this point.  It felt incredible to be losing weight and watching the number on the scale rapidly dropping.  My swollen days were far behind me.  I wanted to start exercising, but I promised myself I’d take at least 2 weeks off.

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12 DAYS POSTPARTUM…

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2 WEEKS POSTPARTUM…

This is when I went on my first run!  I was hoping to start working out and running 5 days per week, but that didn’t happen.  I was lucky to get in 2-3 runs per week and that’s about it.  Though I did keep up with my daily walks on the days I didn’t run.  I had lost 15 pounds by this point.

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3 WEEKS POSTPARTUM…

I still was only scraping by with daily walks and 2-3 runs per week, but the pounds were still coming off.

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5 WEEKS POSTPARTUM…

Walking daily and 2-3 runs per week was the name of the game.  My weight loss really staggered, but I was down about 19 pounds at this point.

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6 WEEKS POSTPARTUM…

We traveled to Florida to see my husband’s work project launch into space.  I wore a maternity swimsuit because I was too self conscious to put on any of my regular bikinis.  Not only did I still feel that my tummy had a ways to go, but My boobs didn’t fit into a single one of my swimsuit tops!  They looked like porn star boobs.  I guess breastfeeding will do that 🙂

As soon as I returned from Florida, I made my return to the gym.  It felt great to get in other types of exercise besides just running.  I like using the Arc Trainer machine and other cardio machines that the gym has.  I also started lifting weights and doing ab exercises.

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7 WEEKS POSTPARTUM…

With my return to the gym, combined with running (4-6 days per week of exercise, depending on the week), I noticed the scale got moving again.  I was hovering right around my pre-pregnancy weight, though my body was still NOT even close to what it used to be.  My waistbands in my jeans are still tight.

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8 WEEKS POSTPARTUM…

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2 MONTHS POSTPARTUM…

At 2 months postpartum, I have been working out at the gym 3 times per week and running 3 times per week.  It feels great to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I’d like to continue working hard to get my body back.  I know that with more time and hard work, I’ll reach my goals.  I started my pregnancy at a higher weight than I’d have liked, so I want to lose a number of pounds in addition to toning up.  I hope to be back in rockin’ shape by the 6 month mark.  In fact, at the 6 month mark I am signed up to run a half marathon (in April).  I will start formally training for the race in January.

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Breastfeeding – The good the bad and the ugly

BREASTFEEDING — I am committed!

***Please note, I do talk a lot about breasts, nipples and infection in this post.  If you are uncomfortable with those topics, please skip this post.

In several previous posts, I alluded to having some challenges in the breastfeeding domain.  Well, I want to explain a bit more about the challenges we have been facing.  Thankfully, we are already on a much better road.  Things are looking up for Winter and I’s feeding relationship!  So let’s dive in….

First of all, can I please say….  “WHY DIDN’T I KNOW HOW HARD BREASTFEEDING WAS GOING TO BE?!?!

I don’t mean that statement in a negative way, whatsoever.  I mean it as an honest question.  Why don’t people really tell us that it’s not only going to be a commitment (ie, your entire 24 hour day is consumed by a baby attached to your boob in the first months of life), but that it also can have a lot of big challenges (painful nipples, possible infections, improper latching issues, etc)??  Many times before have I heard other moms talk about “breastfeeding is a commitment” or “breastfeeding will challenge you,” but I didn’t know what those statements truly meant.  Now I do.  🙂

breastfeed

When I was pregnant, I made it known that I was planning to breastfeed after Winter was born.  I have always felt that breastfeeding my baby (and future babies) was the best choice for me and my family.  I am a very stubborn person, so no one can change my mind about this!  I know there are so many health benefits for both the baby as well as the mom.  I was bound and determined to make the choice to dedicate the first year (approximately…give or take a month or two) of my child’s life to feeding her via breastfeeding.  With that being said, I had no clue HOW much dedication and commitment to that choice it was going to take.  Let me explain our journey…

IMMEDIATELY AFTER BIRTH. In the hospital right after birth Winter started breastfeeding like a champion.  In fact, the lactation consultant gave us praises upon praises for what an awesome job we were doing.  She seemed to have a fairly good latch, and at that early stage, she would eat for about 10 minutes on each breast and be completely satisfied.  As a very sleepy newborn, I would have to wake her up at the 3 hour mark to feed her.  She never cried or seemed to be dissatisfied from hunger in those early days.  While in the hospital, I did feel a bit of discomfort in my nipples, and they seemed to be very irritated.  But lanolin cream was my friend and gave me relief.  Winter left the hospital with only a 2% weightloss, which is very good.  The pediatrician said a normal weight loss upon discharge from the hospital is around 5-10%.  So we were “ahead of the game” at that stage.

FIRST WEEK AT HOME.  In that first week, I really had to keep waking Winter up for her feedings.  She was content as could be.  Unfortunately during that first week was when I somehow developed a nipple infection on both sides.  I also started getting a fever like clockwork every night for 4-5 nights in a row (between 100-102 degree fevers).  I had the severe chills that caused violent shaking.  Thankfully my mom was in town staying with us to help out that week, and boy was she a huge help!  She is a nurse and a very experienced mom (I’m one of 8 kids), so I appreciated her so much.  We called my doctor and I started my first round of antibiotics.  This really helped my fevers go away, but my nipples were still in terrible shape.  Because my nipples were in such a rough shape, my mom recommended I start using a nipple shield to help Winter latch better and also protect my infected nipples.

shield

Nipple shield.

WEEKS 2 & 3 – NO WEIGHT GAIN.  Despite my infection (which I ended up doing 3 rounds of antibiotics — 4 weeks worth — and nothing really ever helped), I was still very committed to breastfeeding.  At all costs, I did not want to switch to formula.  (**There is NOTHING wrong with formula, and I know a lot of moms choose that for their babies.  That is great if you have decided to use formula.  I just personally feel that breastfeeding is the best option for me and my baby and know there are great health benefits for both she and I.)  Even though I was breastfeeding 9-10 times per day, I found out that 3-week-old Winter wasn’t gaining any weight, STILL!  She wasn’t losing weight (thankfully!), but she was maintaining right above birth weight.  Not good.  Something was wrong.  The lactation consultant recommended I start pumping every 2 hours to increase my milk supply and feed her the bottles (she suspected that Winter wasn’t eating much while at the breast).  The LC was very concerned and wanted to get us on a better road.  Not gaining weight is not good for a 3 week old baby.  She also recommended I see an Ears, Nose, Throat specialist to see if Winter had a tongue tie issue.  Tongue tie is a medical condition that doesn’t allow for a baby to get a good latch.  An ENT doctor can fix tongue tie with a very easy and quick procedure.

Finding out that Winter wasn’t gaining weight and thinking she might have a medical issue really freaked me out.  I got VERY stressed.  For several days/that 3rd week of life, I was completely overwhelmed and felt out of control.  My emotions were all over the place.  I felt like a failure and felt that I was doing terribly at my job as a mom.  It didn’t help that I was all alone at this time because Eric was out of town on business for several days to a week at a time.  I got a referral to see the ENT specialist at Children’s Hospital.  If indeed Winter did have this “tongue tie” medical condition, it would be a simple fix and would allow all of our problems to be resolved quickly.  Well, no tongue tie issue.  The doctor said her mouth looked healthy and strong.  We were back to square 1.  So I continued to pump every 2 hours and feed her the bottles.

In addition to pumping, I was recommended to take herbal supplements for increasing my milk supply.  I take Fenugreek (found at Whole Foods or other natural food stores).  This has made a HUGE difference in milk supply!!  It really works!  I almost instantly saw an improvement in the number of ounces I produced.  I also started eating old fashioned oats on a daily basis.  This is also supposed to help stimulate milk production.

ONE MONTH OLD – FINALLY WEIGHT GAIN BEGINS!  When Winter was 4 weeks old, I had been pumping religiously every 2 hours for just over a week.  I go to a breastfeeding group at the hospital every Wednesday.  We weigh the baby to get a pre-weight, then breastfeed, and then weigh the baby after to get a post-feed weight to see how many ounces the baby ate.  Really helpful group and I go every single week!!  Well, at this particular time, after pumping around the clock, I was DELIGHTED to find out that she had gained 10 ounces in one week!  Finally we found something that worked for her to gain weight!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWeight gain!!!  At one month she was 8 lbs 8 oz.

Talk about major relief!  I finally could relax and get a deep breath in for the first time.  I finally felt like I was a good mom.  What I was doing was working and helping Winter to thrive.  I still felt unsure about pumping 100% of the time.   I didn’t want to be a pumping mom.  I wanted to breastfeed.  So I started adding in one breastfeeding session per day using the nipple shield (still infected nipples).  I really struggled with the idea of pumping so much, but as time progressed, I started to like some of the perks of pumping.  I still am battling the fact that I am pumping as much as I do, but I am choosing to look at the bright side of things:

Some perks of pumping:

– I like being able to count the number of ounces she eats.  I like totaling up at the end of the day to see that she ate even MORE than the recommended amount of ounces for her on the chart.  I’m totally a numbers person, so I love this.

– I also like being able to see my milk supply going up.  Because I pump, I can see my number of ounces I produce increasing.  In the early stages, I was only pumping 1-3 ounces at a time, totaling less than 20 ounces per day.  Now, at 7.5 weeks, I am pumping at least 3-5 ounces per time (sometimes even 7-8 ounces in the early mornings!), totaling 35-40 ounces per day.  I LOVE seeing that number go up!

-Sometimes I feel uncomfortable nursing out in public or in front of others.  Pumping and giving a bottle makes it a bit easier to feed in front of others.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with nursing in front of others, but I just feel more at ease when I am able to give her a bottle of breast milk when I’m out and about.

-Eric gets to partake in the bonding experience of feeding the baby.  He enjoys feeding Winter her bottles when he is home.  I must say I also appreciate the help.

Now for a few negatives:

-It’s a nuisance to have to wash pump parts and bottles all day, everyday.  I found that putting the parts in the fridge helps.  But in general, when I nurse her, I am saving myself so many EXTRA steps.

-Pumping & bottle feeding is no faster than breastfeeding.  I used to think that it was (when it used to take her 45 minutes to nurse), but now it’s about equal amount of time.  When she nurses now, she is at the breast a max of 30 minutes.  Pumping & bottle-feeding takes just as long, or longer because.

-My breasts get a tad engorged if I go a bit longer than usual because I’ve been out and about.  Sometimes I bring a bottle along when I’m away from home so I can still feed her on schedule.  But then I don’t get to pump again until I get home, so my breasts get very full and uncomfortable.

medelaMy pump: Medela Pump In Style.

ONE MONTH OLD UNTIL CURRENT.  Winter is now 7.5 weeks old.  She has been gaining an average of 10 ounces per week, and is doing fantastic!  She weighed 10 pounds last week at her weigh in.  I’m so happy!  My infection is still there, but ever so slowly it is healing.  I’m no longer on antibiotics because they didn’t really help anyway.  My doctors said to just keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully they will eventually get better.  Seems to be working now.

We have modified our feeding system a few times in the past few weeks.  I still pump a high percentage of the time, but I have also been incorporating more and more breastfeeding sessions.  I struggle to know what I’d eventually like to do when it comes to how much pumping vs. breastfeeding I’m doing.  There are pros and cons of both breastfeeding and pumping.  I think I like the flexibility that I can do both.  I like counting the number of ounces she eats from pumping (definitely a numbers person!), but I like the simplicity and easy-factor of nursing.  For now I’m just “going with the flow” (pun intended!) and doing whatever I feel like at the moment.

I follow Baby Wise principles, feeding on a 3 hour routine throughout the day (followed by waketime and then naptime).  My current daily routine looks like this: I usually pump during the middle of the night and early morning feedings because this is when I produce the most milk.  I know Winter can’t eat all of those ounces at once, so I’d rather pump and be done with it rather than pumping after she finishes nursing anyway (talk about extra work!).  Then I find throughout the day I either breastfeed or pump/bottle feed every 3 hours depending on “what I feel like doing” at that time.  I’m currently feeding her 7-8 times per day (including her middle of the night feed), and I usually breastfeed 2-3 times per day and pump all of the rest of the feeding times.  (I could see myself transitioning to 50-50 with nursing and pumping in the near future.  We shall see!)  At night, our last feeding before bedtime is 10pm, and I always pump at that feeding because I want to make sure my breasts are completely drained before Winter’s long stretch of sleep (which is currently 5-5.5 hours, wahoo!).

When it comes to pumping/bottle-feeding, Eric really loves to help out!  He the bonding he gets with Winter from feeding her.  I know for sure I will always try to pump at least once a day no matter what so I don’t take that away from him.

Breastfeeding Conclusion….

JUST A FEW TIPS ON FEEDING.

1. Be committed.  Don’t stray from your commitment, because eventually it does start to get easier.  And it’s so WORTH IT!  Stay positive…your attitude is totally key.

2. Ask for help.  I have been seeing the lactation consultant regularly.  Her knowledge and expertise have been tremendously helpful.

3. If you have to pump, it’s ok!  Your baby and you are still going to get the same health benefits from pumping!  I have had to keep telling myself this over and over so I don’t feel like a failure.  It’s OKAY!

4. Use your resources.  Learn, learn, learn….whether it’s reading a breastfeeding book, reading articles online, or asking experienced friends for help…use them all!  Don’t go blindly into it…use every tool you have.

5. Find a system that works for YOU.  Don’t worry about comparing yourself to others.  If you demand-feed, great!  If you routine/schedule feed, great!  I have found that routine feeding is the system that works best for us.  Whatever you do, just make sure it works with your lifestyle.

6. Don’t cut calories too much.  When breastfeeding, it’s so important to eat and drink enough!  I eat 2100 calories per day, and I use MyFitnessPal app to track my daily calories.  Try to keep your foods nutritious, not junk!  Plus, water, water, water.  I drink 10 full glasses per day.

7. If you pump frequently, store your pump parts (flanges & bottles) in the fridge between pumping sessions.  It will save a few minutes of dish washing each time.  Wash and sterilize parts at the end of the day.

8. Find a breastfeeding group.  I mentioned I go to a group once per week.  It’s so helpful to find out baby’s weekly weight and also find out how many ounces she eats during a nursing session.  There are groups all over….just find one and GO!

9. If you have complications (mastitis, infection, plugged ducts, bleeding nipples, etc), please seek medical counsel.  Don’t just “deal with it.”  Go to your doctor and get some real help.

10. When you sit down to nurse, make sure you have everything you need BEFORE you begin….for me that’s a nipple shield, burp cloth, glass of water, my phone, and sometimes the TV remote (and a nursing cover if I’m in public or others are around).  Have everything ready rather than wishing you had it and now you are stuck.  🙂

I am so grateful that throughout all of our hiccups that we have a system that works for us.  My doctor made a great point, she said, “Whether you are nursing her or giving her bottles of pumped breast milk, the benefits are still the same for both you and her!”  As time goes on, I am noticing my infection is healing.  Ever so SLOWWWWWLY.  Because of this, I am starting to do more nursing rather than so much pumping.  Who knows where we will end up?!?  But I do know this: I plan to keep on keeping on.  We are on such a much easier road now than we were a month ago.  I feel so blessed to be where we are.

To those of you who have any thoughts or ideas (or tips) about breastfeeding or pumping, please do share!