Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cecelia Rose: Six Months

Sweet girl, you are SIX months old! What happened to the time?  Just yesterday I held you in my arms for the first time and now you are halfway to being a year old.  Stop time!
You get more and more fun by the day.  It is so amazing to see you learn, grow,  and watch your personality develop.  This month you started eating cereal and pumpkin in your high chair, rolling over and sleeping without your swaddle (after several sleepless nights!).  You have gotten much better at going to sleep at night but are still waking up one or two times a night to eat.  It's finally getting warm enough to take you outside sometimes and you seem to really enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.  You show more and more interest in Reese and she spends most of her time watching over you.  She is very patient with you even when you grab and pull her fur.  You are intrigued by my glasses, necklace and bracelet.  Sometimes you want me to hold you just because I am wearing"toys".  You really like playing on your play mat practicing rolling over and trying to fit both feet in your mouth (you really are quite flexible!).  Once you roll onto your belly you are REALLY trying to figure out how to crawl but can't quite get it yet.  It might be time to get you your own sippy cup since you are obsessed with ours when we drink from them and you try to eat the cup.  You also are becoming a chatty little girl!  It's not in a language we can understand but you seem quite content with your conversations and language skills!
We continue to be amazed by how much love we have for you and we can't imagine life without you.
Happy half-birthday darling girl!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Weaning off the Breast Pump for Exclusive Pumpers - How to Stop Pumping!

       The very early days of attempting breastfeeding were not filled with warm fuzzy memories for me.  Cecelia seemed to be able to latch on in the hospital but quickly fell asleep before being able to gain enough milk.  We saw two lactation consultants in the hospital and went home with instructions to "just keep trying".  We were also informed in the hospital that we would need to supplement with formula until my milk came in.  WHAT?  Supplement with formula? Oh heck no, that meant I was a bad mom (hello hormonal new mom).  Regardless we bought some formula and kept trying to breastfeed.   I tried shields and different positions but we continued to have the sleepy baby problem.  Eventually my milk did come in and I was pumping constantly to try to feed my baby.  Waking up twice in the middle of the night to pump was a nightmare.  Some people think EPing is easier than breastfeeding but let me tell you my friends, it is not.  Anyways, Cecelia and I were never able to make breastfeeding work so thus began my time of exclusive pumping. 

     By the time I returned to work around 10 weeks, I was pumping about five times a day.  My goal was to breastfeed at least through six months old.  After about two months of being back at work I was able to cut down to three pumps a day.  Three pumps a day is where I have lived until this month.  Cecelia is going to be 6 months old in about 10 days so at the begining of this month I started weaning myself from the pump.  Here is how I did it with no leaking and low discomfort:

The keyword is GRADUAL!

1.  Drop a pump until you are down to three pumps a day.  If you are pumping 4-5 times a day, start with dropping a pump.
How to drop a pump:  I picked one of the pumps that I hated the most.  For me I dropped my second "at work" pump that took place around 3:30pm.  In order to do this I made my first "at work" pump later.  (ex. I was pumping at 11am and moved it to 1pm).  You can drop a pump by either moving times around like I did or pumping at your normal time but decreasing the actual amount of time you pump.  I like moving the times better.

2.  Let your body adjust to the dropped pump for 3 days to a week.  After a week I was pumping the same amount of milk in three pumps that I used to in four pumps.  At first though you probably will see a decrease in output.  I stayed at three pumps for probably three months.

3.  When you hit the month that you are ready to start weaning, it is time to drop another pump.  I dropped the last "at work" pump and started only pumping when I got up and before bed at night.  It took my body probably 3 days to get used to this. 

4.  Drop to one pump.  This was the hardest for me.  I dropped my morning pump.  My advice is to start this on a weekend to minimize embarrasing leakage and pain at work.  I kept the one pump before bed for about a week.

5.  Decrease the time of your last pump.  I used to pump for around 45 minutes or until I was completely empty.  Start lowering your pump time by a few minutes every day and let your body adjust.  You should start to notice that when it is time to pump you are less engorged and more comfortable as your body gets used to the decreased demand. 

6.  When you are ready, stop pumping.

I have had some mild discomfort but nothing terrible.  Go with this slow wean if you want to lessen discomfort.  This is only how I quit the pump.  There are many opinions and suggestions out there!

You won't have to worry about THIS anymore!

Now as for the emotions of weaning from the pump... much more difficult than physically weaning.  I was wracked with guilt and anxiety.  Was I hurting my baby?  Was I a terrible mother for not continuing to pump?  I answered these questions as yes which is why it was so difficult for me to overcome.  Eventually I was so exhausted of pumping being the first thing I did in the morning and the last thing I did before bed that I knew that I NEEDED to quit.  Cecelia had been receiving supplemental formula since birth so it was really just switching to all formula which she took well.  I still feel some guilt for not pumping but it is so nice to feel like I have my body back.  I gave Cecelia nine months in my belly and six months of feeding her with my body.  For me, it was time.  Whatever you decide is best for you and your baby is absolutely what you should do!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Favorite and Best of Baby Girl Clothing - Online Boutique Clothing ( SweetHoney, Cheeky Plum, Well Dressed Wolf, Matilda Jane, Persnickety, Sassy Chic )

I am relatively new to this children's boutique clothing world... and yes it is actually a thing.  Complete with competition for clothes, resale drama and exlusive (and at times secret) Facebook groups.  For some basic info about buying and selling boutique clothes see this post by Sweet Tea Proper.  You can also see this post by The Well Styled Child. The best part of all of these brands?  Their clothes are AGE APPROPRIATE. Lets keep our little girls looking little shall we?

This obsession all started with one brand for me.

1.  SweetHoney Clothing. I LOVE THEM.  I actually discovered SweetHoney on Instagram which led me to their website which led me to their Facebook Resale Page which led me to join about 10 BST (buy, sell, trade) Facebook pages for boutique clothing.  SweetHoney is still number one for me because it started my complete obsession.  Beautifully made dresses, rompers and play sets.  All with ADORABLE fabrics and gorgeous details.  Their clothing is very classic, timeless and has a classic vintage feel.  SweetHoney lists new clothing on Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:30pm EST, 11:30am CST.  You have to be VERY quick because they sell out in mere seconds!  I have gotten our SweetHoney exclusively from the BST pages at this point.  Find SweetHoney here.


2. Cheeky Plum - similar to SweetHoney in concept.  Cheeky Plum tends to use some brighter colors and have more clothing available to purchase retail.  Their clothes are adorable and I have my favorites!  New dresses go on sale Tuesdays at 9pm EST, 8pm CST.  Dresses are made in limited quantities so if you see something you like, you better go ahead and purchase!  Cheeky Plum also has quite a BST presence on Facebook.  Find Cheeky Plum here.


3. Well Dressed Wolf - Beautifully made children's clothing that are high quality and timeless.  They sell for a reasonable price on their website but like SweetHoney, they sell out in seconds.  I love this brand but do not own any yet because the BST prices are RIDICULOUS.  Last week, a dress that sold retail for $56.00 was being immediately resold on BST pages for $250-350, making this line largely unattainable for most of us (unless you have lightning quick carting skills).  Great though if you are able to get pieces for retail prices.  WDW releases new items every other Thursday at 9pm EST, 8pm CST. Find Well Dressed Wolf here.

4. Persnickety - I like this brand quite a bit and they have a ton of different options, as well as a wide variety for babies! Also widely found on resale and BST pages. Find Persnickety here.

5. Matilda Jane - I like this brand and they sell some very cute dresses, pants and tops.  Matilda Jane at retail is only sold through individuals so the best way to purchase is generally through resale or BST pages.  You can also find quite a bit on Ebay.  Find Matilda Jane here.

6. Sassy Chic Boutique - Some very pretty options and they also offer some layering pieces. I am newer to this brand so I can't really comment on many of the dresses. Find Sassy Chic Boutique here.

7.  Mustard Pie - This brand has a big following but their clothing doesn't appeal to me as much as some of the other brands.  Find Mustard Pie here.

Update: See part 2 of online boutique clothing here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cecelia 0-5 Months

Just Born

One Month

Two Months
Three Months

Four Months
Five Months

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Birthday Snow Day

     Right before my birthday, Raleigh was expecting a major ice storm.  The local news was predicting snow and a half inch of ice.  Worried about our power going out, Derek and I decided to take Cece and stay at my parents house since they have a fireplace that works without power.  The morning of my birthday I woke up and (not very surprisingly) we did not have as much ice as predicted.  However there WAS enough for me to stay home for the day.  So I got to spend the day being spoiled by Mom and snuggling with my best girl!  I also got to take a four hour nap and it was HEAVEN. 

Cecelia's first snow!

Monday, March 9, 2015

After the Birth..


Well we arrived home with our new bundle of joy on Wednesday afternoon.  We filled my rx's for my pain medicine and got settled in.  Wednesday evening my head started hurting.  Nothing new to me, I have experienced chronic migraines for years, and had more migraines than usual when I was pregnant.  No biggie.  I got this.  We went to bed (well kind of, as much as you can with a three day old!) and that was that. 

Thursday morning I still had the headache although it was getting more and more difficult to manage.  I was taking 800mg of Tylenol and 7.5 hydrocodone and it wasn't helping.  I started feeling helpless and frustrated.  Nothing was working.  I took a nap, I rested, still nothing helped.  By Friday morning I was at the end of my rope.  I had just had a baby on Monday and now I was in so much pain that I could not even sit up.  All I could do was lay flat in a dark room.  Something wasn't right.  Nothing I took or did was even touching this pain.  Around mid-morning we called the OB office.  I spoke with Dr. Williams' nurse and told her what was going on.  I tried to explain that next to labor, this was the worst pain I have felt in my life.  She asked me if I had a history of migraines, I told her I do.  She told me to take some excedrin migraine and lay flat for the next 24 hours and see how I was.  No.  NO.  Was she not listening???  I could not function, I was not going to be in this much pain for 24 more hours and only take Excedrin Migraine.  As someone who has had migraines for years, I think I know the difference between whatever was going on and a migraine. 

I became hysterical on the phone and couldn't talk.  I felt like no one was hearing me that there was something wrong and that I needed help.  Derek got on the phone with the office and told them that they needed another plan because we were not going to be like this for another day.  The nurse told us that we could go to the emergency room but that they wouldn't be able to help me anymore than what they had already told us to do.  By this time we had googled my symptoms and were pretty positive that I was suffering from a post-dural puncture headache.  This happens when spinal fluid leaks out of the hole left by the epidural that causes low spinal fluid levels in the brain and spinal column.  It is quite rare that it happens due to new technology used for epidurals. 

Since we didn't get anywhere with the OB's office, my Mom and Derek decided that we needed to go to the ER and would not leave until we had some answers.  Cecelia's first doctors visit was Friday and while Derek left with her to go to the pediatricians office, Mom left with me to go to the emergency room.  I remember the pain and crying uncontrollably the entire way.  I could hardly walk by the time we got to the Emergency Room entrance.  I cried the whole admission and triage process.  I could not.stop.crying.   (Hormones and severe pain are NOT a good combination!)  The Lord was really looking out for me that day because the Emergency Room was unusually not crowded and I was ushered into a room right away.   Not only a room but a private room with the lights turned off. 

I told the attending that I was pretty sure that I had the epidural/spinal headache and he agreed.  He right away called anesthesiology to come down.  Again, I was so lucky, the anesthesiologist told me that it is very rare that they are able to come down so soon to see a patient in the emergency room as they are usually in surgery or doing epidurals.  I told them that after that epidural I needed, that those pregnant women should DEFINITELY take priority over anyone else! 

Oddly enough the treatment for the epidural headache was... another epidural.  A kind of super creepy and gross one.  They took a good bit of my blood and then injected it into my back as another epidural.  The blood is supposed to stop the leak by clotting over the previous puncture hole that was leaking.  About 20 minutes after this "blood patch" epidural, the staff started sitting me up.  I didn't feel the pain and didn't feel sick.  FINALLY!  Within an hour they were doing my discharge paperwork and I was home from the hospital.  I had missed my girl's first doctor's visit but it was worth it to get the issue fixed.  I felt like I hadn't been able to be a mommy since getting home from the hospital.  The blood patch was amazing and worked like a charm.  I had to be VERY careful for the next few days to not dislodge the clot or else the headache could return.  Thankfully I had no complications, although my back was sore for about two weeks from the three epidurals!  I will still say that even with the complication, it was worth it to get the epidural(s) during labor! 

P.S.  My doctor felt REALLY bad about what happened and apologied profusely that they didn't tell me to go to the ER to deal with the headache.  Thank goodness we went though!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Cecelia's Birth Story Part Two

     After being sent home from the hospital on Friday the 26th, I spent Saturday half moping around and half trying to prepare myself for Monday.  I just knew that you would be coming on Monday, at least I was REALLY hoping.  I went with Mom to the nail salon and (thank goodness) got a manicure and pedicure.  I checked my hospital bag, I moped around some more.  I whined, I complained, I drove Derek crazy. It didn't help things that I hadn't been able to keep food down since being released from the hospital Friday evening.  So Saturday night was going on 48 hours of no food and very little water.

     Sunday morning I asked Derek if he thought I should call the doctor about not being able to eat.We decided to try to eat breakfast at Ihop and see how it went.  Well yet again I had a very difficult time eating.  I called the OB line and told them what was going on.  Dr. Groff was on call and told me that she didn't really think that there was anything that she could do but that If I wanted to, I could come into Labor and Delivery to be checked out.   I decided to go in to be checked out because I was losing my mind not being able to eat and being able to drink very little fluids for 36 hours.  Rex put us in the TINIEST hospital room as they did not have any triage beds available. For a couple of hours I was monitored and given fluids.  My blood pressure was still quite high.  Dr. Groff finally came in around 4:45pm.  She was not very concerned about my eating/drinking, but was concerned about my blood pressure numbers.  Based on the fact that Dr. Inge was going to see me on Monday morning to check my pressures and make a decision on inducing me at that point, Dr. Groff decided that she would go ahead and start induction.  Like. Now.

This necklace was given to my Mom by my Dad when she had me.  Mom showed up to the hospital wearing it and put it on me a few minutes after I had Cecelia.  TEARS!

     HOLY CRAP.   I was not expecting to be induced!  We didn't even pack our hospital bags in the car (stupid I know).  I felt a rush of complete fear and complete excitement that we were NOT LEAVING THIS ROOM WITHOUT A BABY!  Once the decision for induction was made, it felt like things started going quickly.  Nurses were coming in to finish the admission paperwork, and another came to start my induction with a foley bulb.  Basically they put a deflated bulb right inside my cervix and blew it up like a balloon.  They then taped the tube connected to the bulb to my leg to keep the downward pressure.  The idea is that the pressure from the foley bulb starts dilating your cervix.  Apparently from what the nurse said, it generally takes several hours for the bulb to do it's job and when you are dilated, the bulb just pops out.  Well after about 45 minutes I was getting very uncomfortable.  I told Derek and the nurse that maybe we should just forget this and go back home.  Haha yea right!  I told the nurse that I thought that I might need something for pain as it was only getting worse.  The nurse told me "it's a little early for you to need pain medicine".  Whatever nurse, that bulb popped out about 10 minutes later and I was dilated to 5cm.  5cm meant that I could get an epidural.. Yay! I thought.  Little did I know that the epidural nightmare was only beginning. 

     At this point Mom and Derek are both with me at the hospital and Joe is enroute (I designated him the birth photographer.. not to be starting taking pictures until AFTER the baby was out!).  The anesthesiologist came in all in a tizzy to start my epidural.  I can't lie, I was a bit nervous about it.  I was in pain at this point but not so much that it made me not nervous about the epidural.  As I am sitting on the side of the bed with Derek in front of me holding my hands, I start to notice something.  Over and over Derek starts reaching over and eating ice out of his cup.  I told him to stop it but when he did it again, I knew there was something .... off.  I looked up again and his face was gray and he had a very odd look in his eyes. 

"Are you ok??"

no answer

"Derek, are you ok?!"

     At this point the anesthesiologist (who has the needle in my back), has caught on that something is happening on the other side of the bed.  He starts yelling to Derek "Sir, Sir, are you ok? What's going on?".  He calls for more nurses to come into the room ASAP as Derek is clearly slowly losing consciousness.  The nurses get him over to the recliner chair and lift his feet up.  Me, still getting epidural, is not believing what is happening.  Is this a movie?  Stop, this doesn't really happen.  The doctor is yelling at Derek "Does your chest hurt? Do you feel sick?"  Finally my epidural is done and the anesthesiologist goes to Derek to check his vital signs.  He seems to be slowly improving and getting better.  After about 10 minutes Derek was back fully awake and aware of what was going on.  To this day, Derek says that he passed out because he hadn't eaten anything since breakfast.  Poor guy.  I hadn't eaten in three days!

     Well that anesthesiologist apparently gave me a WHOPPING dose of medication before he left my room because I suddenly wasn't feeling to well myself.  My blood pressure started plummeting and somewhere around 68/30 I was going unconscious.  I could hear things going on but could not open my eyes or speak.  Mom was freaking out of course and suddenly there were a whole bunch of people flooding into the room.  Dr. Williams had come on shift and she was there along with a lot of nurses pushing medications to try to stabilize me.  It was absolutely terrifying.  I thought I might be dying (which I kind of was with my blood pressure that low).  Finally they gave me enough medicine that my blood pressure started coming back up and I started to make sense of my surroundings. The medicine made me vomit (which was great since I hadn't eaten in now 3 days).  But after about 45 minutes I seemed to be stable. 

     My contractions were quite slow and far apart.  They weren't getting much stronger either.  My Pitocin was increased and we all tried to rest.  We watched TV, 'Guys Grocery Games' was on some kind of marathon.  So was 'Keeping up with the Kardashians'.  We tried to sleep some.  Sunday night became Monday morning. I kept telling my night nurse that I was still feeling pain despite the epidural.   She gave me bolus administrations of medication through the epidural but I still was having pain.  Finally towards morning she told me that she had given me the maximum amount of pain medication that she could give me.  The pain was increasingly getting worse and worse and I wanted to kill that nurse who said that she couldn't give me more medication. 

     Finally the pain was overwhelming.  Certain parts of my body were numb but other (quite relevant and important) parts were not.  My contractions started coming fast and furious.  I was screaming as loudly as I have every screamed with each contraction and started sobbing in-between them.  Mom and Derek would say "Here comes another one" and "Ok, its starting to let down down".  I couldn't open my eyes, I couldn't do anything but scream, and scream LOUDLY.  (side note: god bless everyone else on that floor who must have felt sorry for the screaming lunatic, I probably scared the crap out of the other women in labor).  Thank God that during this time we switched to a new nurse that had some sense and made the decision that I needed a new epidural (thank you Jesus for this nurse).  After about 90 minutes of this pain (which "worst pain of my life" does not even come close) a new anesthesiologist came in.  Mom stayed for this epidural and Derek went to the waiting room since he had not done so well with the previous epidural (haha). 

     The hardest part was trying to stay still during contractions for the anesthesiologist to give me the epidural.  There was hardly any time between contractions at this point and sitting on the side of the bed was torture.  Finally though, thankfully, she got the epidural in and gave me some medicine.  Within minutes I was able to breathe, open my eyes and talk without pain.  I told that woman that I would give her a million dollars for what she had done.  I did not even know that my body could FEEL that much pain.  After the (sweet, heavenly, amazing, superb) Epidural, the nurse checked me and I was at 10cm, fully dilated (which explains why I was in so much pain!! Hello evil transitional phase of labor).  However I was exhausted.  Dr. Williams and my nurse let me snooze for about 45 minutes before they came in and talked to me about pushing.  The nurse told me that I would probably be pushing for a few hours as the baby still had not dropped in the birth canal.

     This is another moment I mark as a milestone in my mind.  You know that when you get your legs up in those stirrups and start pushing that you are about to meet your baby.  I watched a ton of delivery shows while I was pregnant and I knew that THIS WAS IT.  When my legs went up, it was surreal.  I was ready but I was in disbelief that this was finally happening.  The nurse brought in the table of delivery tools and things and I was thinking "oh crap, that is all the birth stuff, this is REALLY happening".

     I had two practice pushes with the nurse and she told me to hold up and wait.  The nurse went and grabbed Dr. Williams who then came in and watched a push.  Dr. Williams then said that I needed to give her a minute because she needed to get gowned up.. and FAST.  Apparently baby girl was coming down much faster than any of us thought!  Very quickly Dr. Williams gowned up and got in position for the baby.  I pushed with each contraction with everything I had.  I had my eyes closed during the contractions but could hear Derek counting and Mom, Joe, and the staff screaming that I was doing a great job and to keep going!  I pushed so hard that when I took a breath in-between I saw stars.  Suddenly everyone was screaming "push push, you are doing great she is coming!!". It was only seventeen minutes from the time that I started pushing until..... you were here.

All in one gush you were born.  You were quiet, you didn't cry. You came out holding on tight to the uterine monitor that had been inside me during labor.  Dr. Williams had to pry it out of your hand and everyone laughed.  Then you were mine.  You were laying on my chest, I was crying saying "Hi baby" and "Oh my gosh".  I touched your face, you just looked at me with those big beautiful eyes.  You were mine and I couldn't believe it.

Derek cut your umbilical cord and just like that you were your own person, no longer physically attached to me.  I don't know how long I had you but it felt like the world stopped spinning and all that I could do was look at you.

Eventually the nurse took you over to the warmer to get you cleaned up and checked out.  Joe and Mom hovered over you taking pictures and touching you for the first time.  We all cried because we loved you so much. 

You finally started crying and it sounded like a little kitten.  You were a little peanut only weighing 5lbs and 13oz.  You were perfect.  The nurses wrapped you up and brought you back to me.  Derek and I kissed you and just looked and looked at you.  We were a family and you were meant to be ours.

 I did finally let Derek hold you and his face was a mixture of shock and awe at his new daughter.  He kissed you over and over and talked to you, telling you that he was your daddy and that he loved you.

  Mom held you third and Joe fourth.  They both just gazed at you in amazement.

The baby nurse came in and helped Derek give you your first bath.  Derek combed your beautiful head of hair and we wrapped you up and tried nursing.

Early afternoon (you were born at 11:17AM) we were moved to our postpartum room which was great!  They had us in a teeny tiny room in Labor and Delivery since when I came in they did not think that I would actually be having my baby that day!  I finally ate a bit and later on in the evening was able to take a glorious shower.  I mostly layed in bed and snuggled with you.  I breathed you in and traced your face with my fingertips and smoothed your hair and kissed you.

We could not wait to get you home and "start" our new lives as this family of three.
 Cecelia Rose, we prayed for you before you were born and we are so grateful that you are ours and that we are yours.  Now in the warm, still darkness of your nursery, while your eyes are fluttering and sleep is taking you, I whisper,
 "I love you more than all the stars in the sky and all the sand in the sea." 
And nothing in this world has ever been more true.