Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Goals

March's Recap
[+] set an appointment at the eye doctor to get these eyes of mine checked out. Check and check. And I've got my new glasses (and one pair of contacts until I can use insurance again this summer) with my new prescription.

[+] get outside every single day. Yes. Even if it was just for a five minute study break on the back porch the outdoors was calling this month. We had a taste of warm weather and even gave the babe a few of his bottles on the patio which makes me excited for summer!

[+] do at least 5 practice questions for Boards each day in a random system and stay on top of the questions in the current system. This one was half completed. I've stayed on top of the current topics and have done an average of 5 a day but I haven't done the random system ones just yet. 

[+] blog more. I blogged 5 times in March and only 3 times in February so I'll say this is a success. And it's been really nice getting back into it when I have a spare moment here and there. 

[+] date my husband, for real this month. This somewhat happened but we weren't great at it. We went out as a family a number of times but need to be better about quality time as husband and wife instead of just as parents. 

[+] wash and fold all the clothes Mark no longer fits in. Yeah nope. There seems to be an endless cycle of laundry in our house recently so this stuff didn't get done. But I did wash everything in the next size for Mark to wear and washed all our bed sheets/towels which rarely gets done. 
April's Goals
[+] buy new herbs to put in my pot in the kitchen. I have an adorable red pot that was originally filled with about 6 different Italian herbs but it ended up dying after a lack-of-watering spell and to be honest, I think it had too many different things in it. I'm thinking two, basil and something else but don't know what yet.

[+] get these long locks of mine cut. I always contemplate something drastically different (shorter, bangs, etc etc) and rarely jump the gun on it. But whether it's something major or just a trim it's about time. The last time I had a hair cut I was still pregnant so it's been a while!

[+] take Mark swimming again. He loved it so much the first time but I feel like his little personality has changed so much since then so I can't wait to see him in the water now. He loves, absolutely loves, bath time so I have a feeling it'll be a huge hit. 

[+] search for a deal on a new dress for Mark's baptism. I don't necessarily "need" a new dress as I have a handful that will work but if I can find a new one for a good price then I think it's a great occasion for one. And if I don't get something new, narrow down which dress I'll actually wear from my closet.

[+] date my husband more. This will be the month! 

[+] pull out my bin of spring/summer clothes from the basement and start to put away all the heavy winter items. Spring in CO is a bit bi-polar sometimes (80 degrees yesterday with snow forecasted for Friday) so I can't officially make the switch yet but it can at least be in transition for a little while. 

Happy April everyone! Where is 2015 going?!?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Baby H: Six Months of Mark

He... 

[+] I will update his weight and height after our doctor's appointment on Friday afternoon.

[+] still wearing 3-6 month or 6 month clothes depending on the brand but they're fading fast. I had to go out and buy a bunch of stuff in the next size because we basically didn't have anything for him to wear. Also still in size 2 diapers but we're literally just trying to use up what we have left before going up to size 3.

[+] got diagnosed with eczema on his poor little cheek and it's been a battle. We thought it was just dry and chapped from the cold weather and dry climate but he has a few other spots of it (chest, ankle, etc) that confirmed it was eczema. He was given a steroid cream prescription that cleared it up in no time but no matter how much moisturizer we put on it, it's slowly creeping back. Our pedi said it's likely he'll grow out of it by a year so we're keeping our fingers crossed and the ointments slathered.

[+] is ticklish on the backs of his thighs, on his ribs (especially the right side) and in his armpits which is the most recent find and the one that works no matter what. His baby belly laugh is pretty much the best sound ever.

[+] still has the same nursing/bottle schedule as last month but is also doing so good in the solid food realm. So far he's had bananas, sweet potato, carrots + nutmeg, peaches + cloves, peas + nutmeg, butternut squash + thyme, apples, green beans + parsley and blueberries + cinnamon. I wrote a whole post about his foods because I've been making them all from scratch and it's been so fun seeing him try new things. He hasn't loved them all but he loves eating regardless.

[+] rolls front to back and back to front, sits on the floor to play with toys (with only a few backwards topples every now and then), sits in a highchair when we go out to eat, puts his toes in this mouth, rides in the stroller without his carseat, sits in a cart at the grocery store and chats up a storm. He's meeting lots of milestones and is more fun each and every day. I think I've said this before but I always thought I'd love the newborn stage but this is so much better!

[+] has no signs of teeth that I can pin-point just yet but I think they're on the move. He's been drooling like mad for months, basically anything we hand him goes right to his mouth and his cheeks are always rosy thanks to dry skin/eczema. But that's the problem with "teething symptoms", they're so non-specific that they basically mean nothing. Someday he'll get this teeth and for now we're enjoying his gummy grin.

[+] nicknames: Marky, Boo and new to the list Hootie

[+] likes: Ollie dog, walks in the stroller, blueberries and apples, baths/water

[+] dislikes: diaper changes, lotion on his face, carrots and avocados
I...

[+] am almost in a state of shock that my baby is half-way through his first year! And that we're all surviving and better yet striving is icing on the cake. It really is true that the days are long but the years are short.

[+] absolutely love seeing J as Mark's dad. He's engaged and silly and tries his hardest to be the best for our sweet boy and it warms my heart. I know there are a lot of dad's who are gone a lot or who are disconnected from their kiddos for one reason or another but that is farthest from the truth for my little family. Not that I had any doubt that this would be the case it's just so comforting seeing it come to fruition.

[+] have only 6 more weeks until my "classroom time" in medical school is finally over! And I cannot believe that it's quickly approaching like that. Years 3 and 4 will be spent in the clinic/hospital setting and just one more step to being done. These last almost two years have been hard, lots of work, lots of stress, lots of late nights, lots of leaving my baby, lots of less family time than I'd like but the fact that I'm doing it all... momma, wife, student... I'm pretty dang lucky is all I have to say.

Happy half birthday my sweet boy. You are such a dream and I can't believed I lived without you for so long. Life with you is so much grander, so much fuller, so much better and each day we spend with you tops the one before. You have taught your daddy and I so much already about how to be the perfect parents for you and we are so lucky to have you in our family. Life is a great adventure with you and we can't wait for the ride to continue. My heart grew in size the day you were born, the love I have for you is indescribable. 
xoxo, your momma

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mark's Firsts: Eats

Every once in a while I have a "don't grow up baby" moment about time passing too quickly but my overall feeling is one of excitement and joy and wonder as we watch our little baby turn into a tiny boy. And as we've entered into the food realm those feelings have heightened. We've had a very positive experience so far and I wanted to share. 
For now I've been making all of Mark's foods and I plan to keep with it for as long as I can. Like anyone that makes baby food at home I do it for the lack of "extra" ingredients, I do it so I know exactly what's going in his little mouth, I do it because it's fun. Here's what's been on the menu.

peas + nutmeg   //   gala apples + cinnamon   //   butternut squash + thyme
blueberries + sweet potato + cinnamon   //   carrots + nutmeg
sweet potato   //   green beans + parsley   //   peaches + cloves
(not pictured are bananas and avocado that we mash up right before he eats)

We started with mashed banana and skipped right past all the rice cereal business. It was really easy to smash up banana with a little breast milk and we figured it'd be nice and sweet for him. His most recent food was avocado and like the bananas we also just smashed them up. When I'm actually making foods I cook a few batches in an afternoon (usually requiring steaming or roasting), blend them smooth (in either the magic bullet, blender or food processor) and pour the purees into ice cube trays to freeze overnight. Once they're completely set I pop them into freezer ziplock bags labeled and dated. When we serve him solids I grab a cube from the freezer, put it in a tiny glass tupperware bowl and heat it just slightly in the microwave to melt it and make it not too chilled.
Our method for food introduction has been alternating fruits and vegetables. Which is always comical when we go from, say, apples (sweet & tasty!!!) to something like squash (also tasty but a very different flavor). It catches him by surprise every once in a while. We started feeding him just once a day in the afternoon to make sure if he was going to have a reaction to something we'd catch it before he went down for bed and now have moved to twice a day. When we introduce something new he gets solely that one item for the next three days to also check for negative reactions. So far we've only had a bit of diaper rash that I believe was due to the carrots but everything else has been golden. Since his nutrition is still coming solely from milk/formula we aren't concerned about how much he's eating but just for reference we give him one cube which equates to one ounce twice a day. Maybe twice has he not finished the bowl and once we offered him two and he gobbled them up.
Now that we've made it through so many different flavors and he's getting the hang of it we're going to start mixing things up. A different food at dinner compared to lunch, making new combos (up next on the list is an apple/spinach/pea combo) as well as starting into a bit of baby lead weaning. While he hasn't totally enjoyed everything we've given him (i.e. carrots and green beans weren't a huge hit) he's definitely enjoying the process and so are we. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Currently [v9]

Reading: nothing. Well at least nothing fun. If you count pathology notes and FirstAid for Step 1 then I'm reading plenty. I'd love to pull out an easy quick read that I enjoy but for right now, aint nobody got time for that!

Wathcing: lectures upon lectures upon lectures. I'm spending my spring break making up some material I missed while on maternity leave in September which means instead of sitting in class learning (or better yet, sitting on the beach somewhere drinking something yummy) I'm at my desk.

Listening: see watching above. But also lots of music throughout the day. We're making a bigger effort to keep the TV off and putting on music instead and focusing on each other. Whether it's Disney tunes to dance around the kitchen with the babe to, country jams to have playing in the background during dinner or some classic James Taylor when I'm feeding Mark, all the extra music makes me happy.
Loving: the warmer weather we've been having lately. Yesterday we took the babe and O-dog on a walk to the park in our neighborhood and put Mark in the swing for the first time. He was smiling ear to ear the whole time and I can't wait to make it a habit to get out there more as the summer approaches. Also dinners on the patio, warm evenings hanging out in the cul-de-sac, shorts and sandals. Come on spring, I'm ready for ya!

Hating: surprisingly nothing at the moment. Sure this isn't exactly how I would like to be spending my spring break but really it's not that bad. I get to see my baby each day, I'm crossing things off my to-do list and I'm getting enough sleep. Really life is good right now.

Drinking: coffee. I found K-cups that are from Starbucks and they're cinnamon dolce flavored and just heavenly! I seriously don't know why they would even sell them because they're just as good as the ones from the store but a box of 12 costs less than two lattes would. They're my new favorite and I'm obsessed.

Wearing: yoga pants, a nursing tank and a sweatshirt that dates back to middle school. Yes seriously. How this thing is still in one piece and how it's made it between all the moves over the years I couldn't tell you. But I'm making myself listen to one more lecture before taking a break to shower and so here I sit in all my fashionista glory!

Needing: a shower. A manicure. Some free time. A glass of water. More diapers for the babe. To finish making green bean puree. A hug from my hubs.

Feeling: at ease, which is saying a lot for me. Just last week I was stressed to the max with school. Just a month or so ago I was feeling like a failure of a mom. Since Mark has been in our lives our marriage has had some tough times. But right now I feel good, I feel happy, I feel content and it sure feels nice.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Breastfeeding Chronicles

I am just going to put it out there right off that bat that breastfeeding is hard. Seriously, hard. I've said it before and I'll say it again, for something that's supposed to be so natural it's crazy to me that it has to be so tough. Here's my story...
*warning, this post talks about boobs, breast milk, nipples and the like. 
if you aren't a momma or aren't interested in being one, this post will have nothing but weird details for you. 
along with pictures of Mark nursing without any goods showing. you've been warned*

When Mark was first born he impressed many nurses by latching on fantastically just a few minutes after he was born. He seemed like he really had the hang of it and we thought we were on the right page while in the hospital that first day. At one point he was cluster feeding like a madman and our longest stretch was over 90 minutes, switching between sides every 15 minutes. Insanity I tell you. But it didn't stop there. The nurses took him to the nursery shortly after this feed to do his bili scan and regular testing and when they brought him back to the room they said he had low blood sugars which was alarming since he had just eaten for over an hour. They asked if we were okay supplementing to which we responded yes and started to worry. While in the hospital I was hooked up to a pump a few times as well as nursing on demand to try and get the milk flowing!

Once we were home my milk still wasn't in and I attribute that fact to why those first few days were so hard. I get it, everyone is cranky and unhappy when they're hungry and my little boy was no exception. I spent my entire existence focused on making milk. J made me lactation cookies, I would pump after every feeding, Mark ate every 2-3 hours. It was exhausting. When it did finally come in, about day 4, things seemed better again.
And then around week 4 I was at my wits end. Mark's latch was no longer fantastic like it was in those early days, I was cracked and sore because of it and even had one side that would bleed and scab. Nursing him starting giving me high anxiety and would literally make me cry when he first latched and drank because of the pain. At one point I thought we might be dealing with thrush because his tongue seemed white and I had lasting, deep breast pain even when not feeding. After a trip to the pediatrician and OBGYN it was confirmed that we didn't have a yeast problem which was that much more frustrating, to not have answers still. I ended up having to go on a 72-hour nursing strike where I only pumped because it hurt less and we gave Mark my milk from a bottle in attempts to help my poor milk machines heal.

But I knew overall that something needed to be different so we finally called a lactation consultant to come to our house to help us. She was fantastic with latch, helped me learn to use a nipple shield, recommended a great product for me to put on between feeds and things started getting better, again. It turned out the deep pains I was having were nerve pains due to compression while Mark nursed and gradually they went away. I started healing and eventually we weened from the shield.

Mark has never been a big baby and like any first time mom I was always worried that he wasn't getting enough from me. But he would feed every three hours, tell me when he was hungry and when he was finished nursing and our doctor didn't seem concerned. He hovered around the 15th percentile for weight which was just fine for our little guy. Around 2 months his nursing habits seemed to drastically change. He went from nursing 10-15 minutes per side to 10-15 minutes total and seemed pretty unhappy about it too. We attributed the change in duration to him being more efficient and contemplated reflux issues making him unhappy and kept trucking along. When his next doctor's appointment only showed him around the 8th percentile is when we started being a bit more concerned. We did weighted feeds with him, measuring him before a feed and then right after to see how much he was transferring from me and were consistently only getting between 2-3 oz. And with eating 7-8 times a day the math for the right volume just wasn't adding up. It was assumed that his fussiness was due to the lack of milk flow after he guzzled what I had for him but he refused to nurse longer to stimulate my body for more.
So from that point I was back to the early days of focusing on milk production. I started eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast and occasionally having a dark beer after dinner. I took supplements and drank tea that's supposed to help with supply. I made sure I was eating enough calories and drinking at least 100+ oz of water every day. I would pump after every time I nursed him and then pump till let-down every hour between feeds. When I had a spare hour (sarcasm noted) I would power pump too. All of this to no avail. In fact I almost feel like my supply continued to tank. And on top of it, Mark was getting more and more difficult to feed. Feeding him was the most stressful part of my day because it would literally take me 45 minutes to get him to eat for a total of 10 minutes and the rest of the time was spent screaming and crying (from both of us). I was mentally and physical exhausted from it all and my efforts weren't even making a difference. The anxiety and the stress and the guilt of it all was becoming too much to handle. I loved my baby boy too much to put us both through this for much longer.

Finally at his 4 month appointment, when his weight was down to the 5th percentile, we decided to make a change. I started nursing him only when he first woke up, for his dream feed when I was headed to bed and if/when he needed to eat during the night. The rest of the four feeds during the day we supplemented with formula while I continued to pump every three hours. I had wanted to nurse him for as long as possible but more realistically the goal was to get him out of flu season and to at least 6 months drinking as much breast milk as possible. So the milk that I was pumping during the day was going into the freezer because, according to our pediatrician, one single feeding of breast milk was all the immune benefit he needed. I wanted to get to a point where there was at least one bag of frozen milk for every day until he turned six months old.

And I did it! On average I would get about 10 oz each day pumping four times and he drinks 5 oz from a bottle at each feeding which meant two servings in the freezer. Once we had all those bags packed packed away I've continued to pump. Now instead of reserving it all for later use, once I get up to 10oz, 5 goes into a bottle for him that day and 5 goes into the freezer. On average he's only getting 10oz of formula a day now which is fantastic in my eyes given the struggle that it's been.
My plan as of right now is to continue to pump as long as I can to keep the supply coming but the weight that has been lifted can't even be put into words. Mark is gaining weight like crazy now that he's likely getting double the volume each day compared to before and I can tell how much happier he is. I have so much less stress because I can enjoy feeding him now even if it is from a bottle instead of struggling with breastfeeding a boy who wouldn't nurse. Some days I feel very tied to my pump and some days it seems very doable. Some days I get to power pump twice in a day and am diligent about it while other days I'll miss a session because it's not convenient if we're out and about.

We've come a long way and it's been hard. I still battle a lot of emotions about our breastfeeding journey (which deserves a whole post in itself) and our journey isn't quite over just yet. I would have never wished this outcome on us in the beginning but I can confidently say that I'm happy. And Mark is happy. And isn't that all that really matters anyways?

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