Oh delicious three months!

Today Elleanna Joy turned three months old. We discovered many parenting joys this month.

– My goodness do we have a talker! Yesterday she had to get a few shots at the doctor. She squealed and then chilled out… until about four hours later. For the remainder of the day she DEFINITELY needed lots of cuddles. She had a hard time going down to sleep last night, so I was rocking her in the recliner. She kept looking at me and making little grunting sounds. Then she would smile and start up again. This morning Matt got up with her at 5:30 a.m…. and she started talking and smiling at him right away. Yep, we definitely have a social butterfly on our hands!

– She loves it when daddy makes rooster crows at her

– She has started becoming aware of other babies around her. Twice a week she sees a baby from one of my childhood friends, and lately they have just been chatting it up… talking world politics, SNL, you know… the good stuff.

– Elleanna continues to hate her car seat. The moment she gets strapped in, she makes a very serious face. Eventually she does give in and sleep, but it sure takes awhile.

– Yep, we have been pooped on. Quite a bit.

– Elleanna had her first giggles this month! She loves it when we kiss her ribs and talk with her, especially right after a diaper change. Yep, she is happy. She knows WE are the ones changing her diapers.

– She received a present of a little green and pink owl stuffed animal that we tied to her play mat. Wow, does she love that thing! She squeals with delight when she sees it.

– Elleanna took her first trip to the Western Slope this August! All of my family was in Paonia. We definitely had quite an adventure. Some nights she slept well and other nights were a train wreck, but overall we are glad we went. And we proved to ourselves that we CAN take a baby on a road trip for a week. Whew.

– On Sunday, Aug. 25 we were able to dedicate our beautiful little girl. Throughout her life so far we have had times where we have very intentionally blessed Elleanna with prayers and scriptures, and we are seeking the Lord about who she is and what He has made her to do so that we can support her in every way possible. For this Sunday, lots of family gathered at the church. My brother and sister-in-law led worship, and during one of the songs (None But Jesus), Joanna said she felt the chorus was a prayer we should sing over Elleanna (“There is no one else for me… None but Jesus… Crucified to set me free… Now I live to bring Him praise”). And that really is our prayer for her. We aren’t forcing her to be a Christian because we are. We are praying that her heart would become passionate for the Kingdom of God and that she would know her true identity in Him. Then, when our pastor prayed over her, he prayed that she would be a woman of compassion, joy and fulfill her calling of evangelizing and reaching out to others. I pray we would be such a family all together, focused on what really matters in this life. Of course I was balling. God is faithful, and He has given us some beautiful dreams to fight for in our daughter and in our family.

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Womanly Arts

There’s a blog post I have been meaning to write all summer. It concerns expectations, emotions, consistency, sacrifice, wanting to give up and also finding a little bit of joy in the middle of the pile. Um, guys, you might avoid this one. Yep, I am going to talk about breastfeeding.

Before baby girl arrived, I had several goals I wanted to accomplish, including a perfectly clean house (actually, it wasn’t too bad!), a perfectly organized house (fail at that one) and I was gearing up to breastfeed. Who could say no to giving my baby liquid gold (plus it is FREE? sign me up!).

After our tumultuous start with NICU time and my awfully slow recovery from giving birth, breastfeeding was really hard to get going. I fed her exclusively for two weeks, but she would often scream through most of the night. After this amount of time, the doctor wanted us to begin supplementing because Elleanna wasn’t gaining enough weight. I was crushed.

Now, let me clarify a bit. I am not against babies going on formula at all. However I am also a fairly crunchy mama, and I have always wanted to have a successful nursing relationship with my kiddos. Many factors probably contributed to my small supply… I was anemic after birth, I had to take some pretty strong pain killers after birth, Elleanna and I didn’t get to nurse very much while she was in the NICU, and I wasn’t really instructed in the hospital about how critical the first few days are and that I should have been pumping every hour to hour and a half. Then on top of all of this, I lost 30 pounds in the first three weeks after Elleanna’s birth (I really wasn’t trying… I had a lot of swelling my last few months of pregnancy and I think I literally sweat it all out). Any ONE of those factors could have contributed to a low supply.

When Elleanna was two weeks old, we went to a breastfeeding group at Boulder Foothills hospital. Elleanna had an amazing latch and she is more than willing to eat…but even after 45 minutes of eating, she had only consumed 3/4 of an ounce (at that age, they should take in at least 2 ounces each feeding).

I can’t tell you how much I dealt with feelings of inadequacy. What kept running though my head? Before the birth, so many people told me I was doing the best thing for baby girl by feeding her exclusively on breast milk. But afterward, when we had to supplementing, many of those same people told me it was not a big deal to have to supplement. How was I supposed to believe them with the other message echoing in my head?

I worked with a great lactation consultant. She came to my home and gave me lots of ideas to work on boosting my supply… like feed every 1 1/2 to two hours, pump afterward, have as much skin-to-skin time as possible with the baby, have a small massage before pumping…oh, and don’t stress out and get lots of sleep…and try fenugreek, some power pumping and make sure to drink TONS of water and eat after every time you feed. Wow…attempts at this honestly lasted for a few days. And then I just had to strip back because I felt like an emotional train wreck.

Once I did (once I let the stress ease), my supply didn’t magically change. However, over the past 11 weeks, I have noticed an increase in my supply. I don’t think I will ever be able to fully breastfeed my baby… I still never feel a let down, and I never feel completely full. I still get up between 1 and 4 a.m. to feed the baby, as that is the time I definitely have the most milk, but I have made peace. And not a resigned peace, but a quite strength that is slowly erasing the guilt, like waves eroding rocks.

Yes, I am thankful for formula, and my baby girl is happy, healthy and growing. Yes, I am sure a lot of you think I blew it all out of proportion, but I just can’t quite dismiss this whole journey so easily. Sometimes I still feel guilty because I just wasn’t able emotionally to keep up with a crazy schedule that might have increased my supply. However, I have read lots of blog posts from breastfeeding moms, and I think in the end, we sometimes elevate breastfeeding to a golden idol. We think we are all sufficient for our babies, and fret away lots of precious family time trying to fulfill those expectations. And sometimes I feel guilty because at least a few times a week I want to give it all up… thoughts run through my head like “is all of this work really worth a few ounces?” I say yes and not because I am ultimately my child’s provider, but because I enjoy the time of nursing I get to have with my daughter. I love how it calms her down, and all the little sounds she makes. We still have a hard time nursing in public with a cover because I have to have all hands on deck to get us both in the right position and if you reference Elleanna’s birth story posts, my baby still has amazing swirling ninja arms. Hopefully we will figure it out OR I will just start flashing everyone.

Hopefully these musings help? I know mommy guilt and martyrdom often creep in before we can even get our eyes open for the day. I am trying to recognize these emotional pitfalls, work through them and ENJOY this hard yet beautiful season.

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Here is Elleanna hanging with her cousin Niam on the boppy one day at our house. Yep, I take the boppy EVERYWHERE with me to nurse. Sometimes we nurse in the car and other times at the church nursery or the home of a friend. Yep, I have never exposed so much of my skin to so many people in my life!