Winter’s 4 Month Update

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BABY WINTER’S MONTHLY UPDATE: 4 months old

Baby’s Age: 4 months old

Height: 24.75 inches

Weight: 14 pounds 7 ounces

Head: 41.2 cm

Diaper Size: Size 2

Clothes Size: 3 month & some 3-6 month

Here is a look back at the past few months:

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If you missed her previous updates, you can check out:

1 Month Update

2 Month Update

3 Month Update

Here is Winter in her Bumbo:

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What Winter is Like at 4 Months: Winter is the epitome of a happy baby.  She is always in a good mood.  This girl rarely has fussy times.  Don’t get me wrong, she does occasionally get cranky and fuss a bit, but as a whole she is a happy spirited gal.  When she starts to get tired and it’s nearing naptime, she rubs her eyes and starts to whimper a bit.  People are always commenting on how pleasantly tempered Winter is.  Eric and I feel so blessed to have such an “easy” baby.  At the same time, I don’t think it’s purely luck — I think that she has been trained to be happy because we have her on a schedule that allows her the gift of getting GOOD SLEEP.  I think this is so important.  I sometimes wonder if she would be such a happy baby if we didn’t follow Baby Wise.

At this age, she has really discovered how fun it can be to play with toys.  EVERYTHING goes into her mouth!  She always sucks on her hands.  She picks up her toys and instantly puts them into her mouth.  She shakes her rattle and keys.  She bats at toys hanging down.  We have some ring links on her carseat that she always holds on to.  She even falls asleep with a firm grip on her rings.

Winter has quite the personality.  She loves getting attention from anyone and everyone.  She loves to sing songs and read books.  She loves to watch mommy and daddy be silly.  We dance around and act crazy because she likes it.  She babbles a lot and often talks at a volume that almost makes us wonder if she is screeching in happiness or if it’s a cry, lol!  She has got a LOUD volume to her talking.

She is going to the church nursery regularly now.  She really has a fun time away from mommy.  She LOVES other babies.  It was hard for me to leave her the first few times, but I realized I need to be able to enjoy church again.  I now can sit down and pay attention and fully enjoy the time at church without entertaining a baby.  I miss her, but I think the time she is in the nursery is beneficial for both her and I.

We are really enjoying this age.  Winter is so much more interactive and playful.  She is so interested in everything she sees in the world around her.  It’s fun to watch her learn and do new things.  She is so smart.  I feel like she is smarter than other babies her age…but maybe that’s just the proud mommy in me.  Playing with her is so much fun.  We always are being silly and goofy to make her laugh and giggle.  She is so much fun in our lives!

Milestones: At the end of January she rolled over for the first time (tummy to back)!  She also laughs & giggles.  On her tummy she can lift her head really high and put her weight up onto her shoulders.  She “talks” a lot — and she has discovered how LOUD her voice will go!  She is overall very strong, but her favorite position is to stand.  I can hold onto her hands and she stands for an endless amount of time without her knees buckling.

Sleep: She is a pretty solid sleeper.  She still sleeps through the night, typically 9-10 hours straight without waking to eat.  She occasionally wakes up around 5:00 am and fusses a bit until we give her the pacifier and she goes back to sleep until about 7:30 am.  She doesn’t do this all the time, but at least once per week she wakes up like that.  Her usual routine is sleeping from 10:00 pm to 7:30 am.  During the day she takes naps.  She gets at least 2 or 3 solid naps (around 1.5 or 2 hours) and maybe a few shorter cat naps (45 min to an hour).

Best Moment: Snuggling in bed after our first morning feeding!!  When she wakes up each morning, I always go get her from her crib, bring her into bed with me and I nurse her in the side lying position.  This is my favorite nursing session of the day.  After she finishes eating, we lie in bed and cuddle for a little while and I just love this time together.  After we cuddle, I get out the breast pump and she hangs out with me while I pump (we play and I sing songs to her while pumping)…then we get out of bed and start our day!

Worst Moment: Shots at her 4 month appointment.  It is SO HARD for me to watch my baby scream because she is in pain!

Health:  Her pediatrician couldn’t stop praising Winter.  She says that Winter is in excellent health, is strong, smart, growing fantastically and doing superb.  Winter is such a healthy and happy little girl.  She is always content and is easily brought to a smile.

Eating:  Breastfeeding is going great!  We are nursing 6 times per day.  She typically eats at 7 or 7:30 am, 10:30 am, 2:00 pm, 5 or 5:30 pm, 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm.  She usually eats every 3 or 3.5 hours, though I think she is probably ready to push back to at least 3.5 hours and sometimes even 4 hours.  I’m going to adjust our schedule soon to dropping to 5 solid feedings with consistently 3.5 and 4 hour intervals.  I think she is ready for that.  As far as nursing goes, she is very efficient at draining the breast quickly now.  She usually finishes eating within 10 minutes tops.  She eats about 6 or 7 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the other side.  What a great eater–nursing is SO EASY!  We have not introduced any solids.  I want to hold out to closer to 6 months.  As of yet, she is 100% exclusively breastfed and has never once received any formula or food.

Likes: Smiling, laughing, singing songs, sucking on her wabbanub pacifiers, reading books, putting her hands in her mouth, playing with toys, putting ANYTHING into her mouth, taking a bath, feeling textures, getting tickled, standing up, looking at her reflection in the mirror, getting her hair brushed, getting thrown up in the air, watching the dog & cat.

Dislikes: She gets tired after too long on her tummy & gets mad.

How Mommy is doing: I am doing great!  Life as a stay at home mom is really going great.  We have a good routine going.  Every day I always do some sort of exercise (mostly running these days since I’m training for my upcoming half marathon).  I’ve gotten involved with a lot of other moms.  I am going to my MOPS group and getting together for playdates.  I’ve joined another moms group that is for moms of ONLY babies, which is so awesome for me!!  I love having other new moms to hang out with and talk to about baby related things.  We get together for stroller walks and baby playdates.  It is such a good outlet for me.  I love making friends with other mommies and watching Winter play around other babies her age.

Photos of Winter and Our Family:

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Breastfeeding – THEN and NOW

Breastfeeding has been a journey for us.  It started out very complicated.  There were so many unexpected twists and turns.  I wrote a post a while back explaining some of our early struggles (https://babylute2013.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/breastfeeding-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/feeding).  For a while I was almost exclusively pumping.  Even when I was nursing, I always had to use a nipple shield.  My best hope for where we’d end up was some sort of a pumping/breastfeeding combo.  I doubted I’d ever get to a position where I would be able to only breastfeed and not have to use bottles.

Never did I expect to get to where we are today: 100% breastfeeding AND nipple shield-free!  It feels SO AMAZING.

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Ever since the early part of December, I have been 100% breastfeeding.  Pumping all day long is a thing of the past.  It feels great to finally be there for the past month and a half.  The last piece of the puzzle was this: having to still rely on using a nipple shield to get Winter to latch.  I have been wanting to ditch the shield for a while.  It’s an inconvenience to have to rely on a prop to feed.  I have to make sure I always have one on hand, washed and ready to go.  When I nurse in public, it’s just one extra thing that makes feeding more complicated in addition to using a nursing cover.  For weeks I’ve been trying to wean Winter from the shield, doing things like removing the shield halfway through nursing.  It never worked.  She would just get frustrated and scream until I put it back on.  Then BAM–on Saturday I tried nursing without the shield and she latched perfectly!!  I was so thrilled.  She literally stopped using the shield cold turkey!  We have been successfully nipple shield-free for 6 days now!  I am SO PROUD of her!  It is such a joy to be able to breastfeed my daughter and not have to worry about using a nipple shield.  We are finally 100% natural now.

One of my friends, Bree (http://littlemissprepared.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/breastfeeding/) did a post recently about how much she loves breastfeeding.  I could TOTALLY relate to her in this post.  In the beginning, I dreaded nursing sessions.  I was tired, my nipples were infected, when I was able to nurse, I had to use a nipple shield, and I had to rely on pumping almost exclusively for a long period of time.  For a glimpse  of time, the only thing that kept me from throwing in the towel was my stubborn nature not to GIVE UP!  I knew that breastmilk was best for Winter, so I was bound and determined to keep going in hopes that “it gets better as time goes on,” as I was promised by other nursing moms.

Well, guess what?  It DID GET BETTER!  In fact, I have done a total 180 from where things were.  Instead of dreading feeding my baby, I now look forward to it!  I absolutely LOVE breastfeeding Winter.  It’s such a special time.

Let’s take a look back at where we’ve come from.  Here is a comparison of the early weeks compared to now:

THEN: Breastfeeding took 40+ minutes every 2 hours in the beginning.

NOW: Nursing sessions are every 3 hours and she is finished eating in 15-20 minutes.  She is much quicker and more efficient at the breast.

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THEN: My nipples were infected, cracked, bleeding and caused excruciating pain.

NOW: I’m fully healed and experience no pain.  Hallelujah!

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THEN: For a period of time, I was having to pump almost exclusively and feed her bottles.  I had dim hopes that I’d ever be able to fully nurse her naturally.  My goal was to move to a 50/50 breastfeeding/pumping combo.

NOW: I am 100% breastfeeding!  The only time I pump is in the mornings after her first feed to pump and store extra milk.

THEN: I had to use a nipple shield to get her to latch on.  She got confused and angry when I tried to take it away.

NOW: We have been nipple shield-free for an entire week!  It’s amazing to not need a prop.  This was the last piece of the puzzle that I wanted to resolve…and here we are today, shield not required!  It’s an amazing feeling.

THEN: I hated breastfeeding in public or around other people.  I felt self-conscious and awkward, even with a nursing cover.  Because of this, I would always pump ahead of time and give her a bottle to avoid nursing in front of others.

NOW: I fully embrace when it’s time for her to eat and I’m not a home.  I use my nursing cover and will feed her without worrying about what other people think.  Breastfeeding is completely normal, natural, and it’s perfect FINE to do in public.

THEN: I dreaded breastfeeding in the very beginning because I was so tired, in pain and didn’t like it.

NOW: I look FORWARD to when she is ready to eat.  I love the bonding experience of nursing her.

It is truly a miracle that we are in such a good position today.  I never understood moms to said they “just loveddd breastfeeding.”  I thought they were wackos!  Honestly!  But as time has gone on, problems have resolved, I now understand.  I have actually become one of those moms who “just lovesss breastfeeding!”  Who knew?!  I am so blessed and grateful that things turned around for us.  I know that I’m not the only one who has had a rough road and had to stick it out.  If you are still in a rough patch, I encourage you — DON’T GIVE UP!  It will get easier and it will get better.  It’s so worth it.

Winter’s 3 Month Update

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BABY WINTER’S MONTHLY UPDATE: 3 months old

Baby’s Age: 3 months old

Height: 23 inches

Weight: 12 pounds 7 ounces

Head: 41 cm

Here is a look back at the past few months:

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Here is Winter in her Bumbo:

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It’s amazing to see how much she changes in these month by month photos!

Milestones: Winter is such an incredible baby.  She has very great head control.  She loves looking around from side to side, taking her surroundings in.  Many people have commented how strong her head is.  She also laughed for the first time a couple of days after Christmas.  That was so much fun and so special!  She has laughed a few times since then, but we are always trying to do things to get her to laugh again. 🙂  She is really improving in neck strength from tummy time – she gets her head a little higher each week.

Sleep: Since she turned 9 weeks old, Winter has been sleeping through the night like a champ!  The only hiccup we have had was when she got her first cold this past week, she struggled to sleep well at night because of congestion, poor baby.  Now that she is better, she is back to sleeping normally.  Winter typically falls asleep about 10:00 or 10:30 pm after her last evening feeding and wakes up between 6:30 and 7:30 am ready to eat.  She also takes naps throughout the day.  She takes at least 2 long naps (approx. 2 hours), and many 1-1.5 hour naps throughout the daytime.

Best Moment: Hearing Winter laugh!  It was amazing, and we are always being silly to get her to laugh again 🙂

Worst Moment: Experiencing her first cold.  Though it was pretty minor — just congestion and a little cough — it was still tough to watch my baby feel sick.

Health:  Winter is growing and doing great!  I mentioned she caught her first bug, but even throughout her week of a cold, she was still very happy and pleasant.

Eating:  At this point, Winter is 100% breastfeeding.  YAY!!!!  She is doing fantastic!  She eats every 3 hours, between six and seven times per day.  I am ecstatic that our breastfeeding relationship has turned a total 180 from a couple of months ago.  It is truly amazing to be able to nurse my baby and not have to worry about pumping all of the time.

Likes: Winter loves to interact with people.  She is such a smiley girl, and she is impossible not to smile at.  She likes when you sing songs to her, read books, rock in the rocking chair.  She lovessssss to nurse!  She prefers nursing so much more than a bottle!  Winter loves her pacifier.  She loves to be either standing or sitting, never lying down.  She likes bathtime!

Dislikes: She still doesn’t like tummy time very much.  We work with her every day, but she gets fed up pretty quickly.  Hopefully she will like it eventually.  She also doesn’t like to lie down unless she is tired.  She always wants to be standing or sitting to see the world around her!  She really hates getting lotion on.  She doesn’t like using the suction bulb to remove mucous from her nose (while she had a cold).

Memories from the Past Month:

–We travelled back home for Christmas via roadtrip.  We drove 18 hours each way to Indiana.  That was a memory!  Winter did great, she slept a lot.

–Because we were home for Christmas, Winter got to spend time with her family: grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.  It was so fun to see her interact with our families.

–Our family went to an indoor water park and Winter got to go swimming for the first time!

–My brother Paul spent some time in Colorado visiting with us.  Winter really liked Uncle Paul.

How Mommy is recovering: Recovery is definitely a word I wouldn’t use anymore.  Recovery is long overwith…..  Now I am still just learning to how be a mom and adjust to my new life.  I feel like being a mom is going great.  I am feeling like I have things under control.

As far as post baby body goes, I have been (for the most part) been meeting my goals to exercise and stay within my calories.  Over the week of Christmas, exercise and calories/healthy eating were totally thrown out the window.  I’ve been back on track since, working out 5-6 days per week and eating a healthy diet.  To date, I have lost 28 pounds.  I’m still not feeling like I am in the shape I want to be in, but I know that I’m a work in progress.  I officially begin my half marathon training this week!

Photos of Winter and Our Family:

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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)

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!

I will NOT fall off the blogging world:)

Just a quick update!

Our lives have been a bit hectic lately.  Having a newborn is NO JOKE!  Taking care of this precious little life is a 24/7 job, and I am finding it hard to have much time for other things at the moment.  In the moments I have in between feedings, I try to make sure to get at least these things done….

Daily priorities that are taking over the top of my list:

-Feeding Winter every few hours so she can be healthy (obviously!) — this is my MAIN ROLE right now.

-Take a shower EVERY single day — this is important for me to feel sane.

-Get some form of exercise EVERY single day!!  Sometimes it’s only a walk, other days it has been running outside or inside on my treadmill.  I have yet to make it back to the gym, but I try to do some squats/etc at home in addition to cardio exercise.  Exercise is very important for me for controlling my mood.

-Try to sneak in at least an hour nap at some point during the day (to make up for broken sleep at nighttime).

-Weekly on Wednesdays I make it a priority to go to the breastfeeding support group at the hospital.  This has been amazing because I can get weight checks on Winter and also see how many ounces she consumes during a breastfeeding session.  I also am meeting other new moms.

-Drink at least 10 glasses of water a day.  It keeps me healthy and keeps my milk production high.  I also take Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk tea to assist with milk production.

Here are things I WANT to do, but have taken a bit of the back burner:

-Writing thank you cards for meals & gifts that have been generously given since Winter’s birth

-Blogging: responding to comments, writing new posts, and reading other people’s posts (I hope to get this moved up into the priority section very soon!)  I miss my daily reads!  I feel so out of the loop.

-Going to the store.  We are running out of food like crazy here!!  Thankfully we have amazing friends who have been bringing us meals for dinner nearly every day.  I eat the leftovers for lunch, so I’m getting plenty to eat thanks to our friends.  Without them, I’d be scraping by.

So much to write about, so little time….

I am really loving motherhood. I love being Winter’s mom.  It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!  When I have a bit more time, I will have to write about some of our struggles that we are going through.  We have had a lot of challenges when it comes to my health (infection, sickness, etc), breastfeeding (having to use a nipple shield, infection, having to pump, etc), Winter’s weight gaining issues (which I think we are finally getting on a good road now!), and the baby blues/my emotional rollercoaster.  All of these things are areas I want to write about to keep you updated, but I just don’t have time at the moment.  Please just be praying for us!  My stress level has been INSANELY high.  It’s just been one thing after the next.  I know that God only gives us as much as we can handle, but I feel like God is trusting me to handle too much!

Love to you all!  I hope to catch up with some of  you soon!