Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Pumping Life


It's not my favorite mommy duty. But of course, I'll do anything for baby!

I had a lot of luck with breastfeeding and pumping in the beginning. I had a great supply, and I found that I was quickly filling up the freezer with baggies of liquid gold.

But then it occurred to me, why am I pumping all of this if I am not going back to work? I don't need a giant stash! I did a lot of reading on breastfeeding and all the ins and outs about it. I read that my body will produce exactly the right milk for what Ava needs at each stage in her life. The right amount, the right chemical make up for what her body and brain needs at that was really interesting to read about that. It's like our bodies are in sync with each other, even though she is not in my belly anymore! So then what was I going to do with all the milk I pumped in the first 2 months or so of her life? It wasn't what she needed anymore. "Newborn" milk would not be right for her as an almost 5 month old. Would it be filling enough? Have enough calories in it?

So I quit pumping.

I was only pumping after her first feeding of the morning, so it's not like it was a big adjustment. I had a little bit of leaking in the early hours of the morning that no longer happened once my body adjusted to the dropped pumping session. So that was nice!

Jump forward 2 months...and I wanted Ava to be able to have a bottle once in awhile so I could have the opportunity to go to the gym and drop her off with a friend, or have a date night, or have the flexibility of daddy being able to feed her once in awhile too. So I started pumping again.

And I wasn't getting much. Like half an ounce combined from both sides. I knew I wouldn't get nearly as much as before, but it was disappointing. But my body quickly adjusted after about 36 hours of pumping after each of her daytime feedings. So after several pumping sessions, I had enough for a feeding for her. I tried to give it to her, but she wouldn't take it. I passed her to daddy, and she still didn't take it. So I had to pour it out. Major sad face. (Oh, I forgot to mention that we tried to give her milk from the freezer...and she's been flat out refusing it! So my theory was to try fresh milk.)

Sigh. Lesson learned...don't stop giving a breastfed baby a bottle! Now she had to relearn to take it. The next bottle she didn't take, either. For the third bottle, I had minimal interaction with her after she woke from her nap and I quietly disappeared outside so daddy could give her a bottle. I only put an ounce and a half in the bottle, and she sucked it down! Yay baby!! I decided that one feeding per day should be from a bottle so she could stay used to it. Not to mention that we are not too far down the road from sippy cups...crazy! It would be helpful for her to know how to drink from something other than, well, me! For her bottle today I disappeared into the garage and she took a 5 ounce bottle from daddy!! I let her nurse and she only took a couple of drinks, so I'm thinking 5 ounces is plenty for her.

So I'm back in the pumping game! Obviously, I will have to pump for the session that she is getting the bottle. Since pumps are not as efficient as Ava is at getting milk out, I will have to pump another time during the day to get the full 5 ounces. So I will either pump after she goes to bed or after her first feeding in the morning.

In case you are in the market for baby bottles, I recommend Dr. Brown brand. One, because they allow for the least amount of air to be sucked in baby's mouth, and two, because they fit Medela breast pump accessories!! How awesome is this:

You can pump directly into her bottle! And you can use the Medela tube lids for the bottles until you are ready to feed little baby! Such a perk!

So now, my kitchen counter looks like this again:

The only negative thing I have to say about the Dr. Brown bottles is that there are a few more parts to clean. And we always seem to have something in the sink, so I worry about gross things lingering while I hand wash her bottles and pump parts.

Dishes from making eggs this morning.

So I made my own little washing station. And boy, I do mean little!

I just use a small container and fill it with soapy water. I rinse each piece well first, then let it sit in the soapy water for a bit while I use the bottle brush to clean each part. I give it a hot rinse and then it's off to the drying rack!

I love this drying rack. You can fit any kind of piece on it! I really like this bottle brush with the suction cup on the end, too. 

And guess what...Ava HELD her bottle during her feeding. Not the whole time, but for part of it! This girl has had so many "firsts" this week! I'm still in shock:

*Pushing her chest up with her arms during tummy time (becoming proficient at it)
*Rolling from back to stomach
*Pushing herself backwards across a room
*STANDING with a prop (her piano table)
*Holding her bottle

...I mean, it has been something new practically every day this week! She's been taking some longer naps too (don't get too excited for me; she maxed out at 45 minutes, and took one 1-hour nap in the car), so I can tell she's got a lot going on in her little brain!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My 4-Month Old Ava!

This last month seems to have dragged on forever.

And I guess that's a good thing, because I don't want Ava growing up too fast!

I'm pretty sure the reason it seemed so long was because of her sleeping issues. For a week and a half, napping was such a struggle. Her normal routine of being rocked to sleep and then carefully placed in her crib was no longer working...and neither was anything else I tried.

So then I decided to sleep train her. Yeah. That was a long week, too!!

But now she can put herself to sleep...without a her crib!!!


The majority of the time, she now babbles herself to sleep with only mild fussing. Once in a while she cries, probably because she'd rather play than nap.

So life is a little easier since I don't have to wrangle a crying babe 5 times a day, everyday.

Her naps are a little longer! She still naps for 30 minutes the majority of the time, but at least her 20 minute naps are a thing of the past! For now...

Ava loves to squeal and scream. She's really chatty after I get her out of her crib and after her bedtime bath.

She can roll from her stomach to her back. She doesn't do it very frequently, but she's done it about a dozen times or so. I can tell she's working on back to stomach because she can roll to her side and then arch her back and reach for something on the floor above her head. She has just started being able to push her chest up with her arms during tummy time. For the longest time, Ava would lift her arms and legs up and balance on her stomach during tummy time (we called this "The Superman") and grunt. She finally started to bear weight on her arms instead! It looks a lot like a super wide half-pushup. Like, reallllly wide. But she's doing it!

I get emails from the hospital on post and from Pampers and a few other random companies about milestones Ava should be hitting. It's so fun to read the email and think, "yup...yup...yup, she's doing all of that!". And the ones she's not doing yet? It's fun to see those skills surface as the days pass! It's amazing how fast these little tiny, helpless newborns turn into babies who can really start to help themselves! I've worked around kids for umpteen years and I've seen a lot of growth in a child...but man, when it is your own child, and you can literally watch them learn or master a new skill, and see that change from the beginning of the week to the's pretty much the most amazing thing ever! My husband and I talk about her at night after she's in bed, and often times we will suddenly realize that there is something she's not doing anymore and she's moved on to the next skill!

Ava's favorite activity is to be carried around so she can look at things. A close second is playing in her jumperoo! The girl just wants to see and do everything! She also enjoys watching Duke run around outside with the neighbor dogs. And stare at her kitties!

She now rides in the stroller part instead of the carseat during walks. She has outgrown all of the newborn cushioning that came with her carseat. She still fits nicely in her 3 month clothes, and all of her newborn clothes are ready to be stored. I can't believe I'm almost ready to box up some of her things!! She's changing so fast; I can hardly keep up!

Ava naps 4 times a day, and she has been really sporadic with her nights lately. Usually she's only up 1 or 2 times, but this past month it got all the way up to 4 times per night for a bit. Her bedtime is 7:30 and she wakes up for the day anywhere between 5:30 and 7:30 (although I have been trying to get her at least past 7 if I can...but sometimes she's not tired anymore after she wakes). She kicks a ton while she's trying to fall asleep! Right now I have the baby monitor camera on the back crib rail, and it shakes every time she kicks! I'm sure I will have to move the monitor to her wall mounted shelves soon! For now I think I will just tape it in place, haha!

She is still exclusively breastfed, and I plan to introduce table food solids at 6 months. I can't believe that my baby, my baby, will be eating food soon!

People aren't joking when they say times flies. My favorite quote from this last month is "days are long, but the years are short". It's so struggle to get through the hard days that you think will never end, and before you know it, they are grown up!

I bought some Baby Oxi-Clean a few weeks ago...and we have been going through it like crazy! Ava used to poop several times a day, and now that she's on more of a schedule (she eats every 2.5-3 hours depending on how long her nap is) she only poops once a day or so. Less poopy diapers! Yay!! I can tell a BIG difference in the amount of wipes and diapers we are going through now that there has been this change.

But, when she does poop...


A lot of the time her outfit has to go straight into a bucket to soak.

I have to say, Baby Oxi-Clean is pretty miraculous. I give her soiled outfit a cold rinse, and put it in a bucket of hot, hot water with the measured scoop of Baby Oxi-Clean. The directions say to soak for 1-6 hours, but I've let mine soak up to 24 (mainly because I forgot about it) and it comes out spotless. No scrubbing, no extra cleaners...nothing!! There was one outfit that had been soiled for a couple of days (I had at least rinsed it) before I could find Baby Oxi-Clean. My Target and Walmarts did not carry it, so I had to order it on Amazon (I later found it at Babies R Us for like $5 cheaper!). So it was now a set-in stain, and a second round of Baby Oxi-Clean made it good as new!

It might just be my go-to gift for all future baby showers that I is really a necessity and allows you to salvage what otherwise would be a ruined outfit!

So how's life 4 months postpartum, you ask?

Well, I have finally found a bit of time for me, so that's been nice. Not every single drop of energy I have is devoted to Ava. I have straightened my hair a few times. Put on some make up. Sorted through my closet a few times to get reorganized (and to see what fits!). I've made some time for the animals, because they were TOTALLY neglected in those first 4-6 weeks...poor things!

My hair has been falling out for the last several weeks now. I have a large collection by the end of each shower, and my hair is all over the house! It's ridiculous how much is falling out! It's ok though - I have thick hair, so I'm kind of glad it is thinning out right now. I just found one of my hairs in the dishwasher. It's literally everywhere.

I have also been having night sweats. Even when the AC was turned up, or the chill from the fall temps was in our room at night, I would still wake up sweating at Ava's night wakings. A few times it was dripping down my neck! Yuck. Darn hormones! It seems to be getting a bit better though.

I don't have any more pains regarding my C-section recovery , although I do occasionally have a stinging sensation at the incision site. I feel like my abdominal muscles have recovered, although now they just feel really weak. I have read to avoid doing sit-ups and crunches and to do other exercises that help post C-section tummies. So I try and do those. When I remember. Which isn't very often.

And I hate nursing bras. Very small size selection, and not very figure-friendly. But they are necessary! So I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet on that one.

I'm trying to get back into cooking, but that's really hard. We are bulk-cooking most of the time so that we don't have to cook every night. I think dinner will be much more manageable now that naps are under control. It's just hard for the husband and I to eat together because he gets home at a different time each night and then there's Ava's bedtime, which takes me about 30 minutes.

I feel like it is a bit easier to get out of the house with Ava now. She can handle staying awake for longer now, and she seems to enjoy getting out and about as long as she can see all the stuff in the stores...she's shaping up to be a good shopping companion! Now if only she could sleep better (and longer) in her carseat we would be set!

I can't wait to see what shenanigans she will be up to in this next month!!