Better late than never for these pics. The Westers were here during Cille's funeral and thankfully, they made a trip to Raleigh to meet Asher. It was so good to see them. I came out from the bedroom and my whole family room was FULL of Westers! Totally awesome.
p.s. See how tall and dark these boys are? These are the genes I'm rooting to be prominent in Asher!
Rusty likes to take his windsurfer out on the intracoastal and paddle around standing up, like we saw in Maui. Not quite as glamorous, or the right equipment, but it amuses us all the same. And Jax loves riding along. This time, he was fascinated by the buoy floating near our dock. So much so, in fact, that he perched himself at the tip of the windsurfer and tried to paddle himself to the buoy. And then, jumped in, put the rope in his mouth and swam around in circles around the buoy. Hilarious.
On the way home from the beach, we had a date with Grammy and Grandpop, Rusty's grandparents. As you may or may not remember, they share our anniversary with us. So, they insisted on taking us out for dinner to celebrate. We like to go on double dates with these two; they are precious and so full of wisdom.
Since we had Asher with us, we picked up dinner and brought it over to their house. Asher was ready to eat and about to start wailing, but we walked in and they oohed and aahed over him for a few minutes. And he just stared at them, very entertained by these two. (Well, and then remembered he was hungry. Ha.) The love they have for him was oozing out all over the place. It was so cute! To make it all cuter, they had a "Happy Anniversary" cake to surprise us for dessert.
Asher enjoyed his time with them, and so did we! Happy Anniversary, Grammy and Grandpop!
See the 'Top Baby Blogs' button over on the right-hand side? Could you do me a favor and click it? That's all you gotta do! I want to see if I can up my position on their listings. Just for kicks and giggles. It's got a code embedded in it, so once you click, it automatically gives my listing a vote - and keeps it ever-so-simple for you! Gracias!
Here's a cute-cute-cute-cute Asher video for your enjoyment along the way.
I went into breastfeeding pretty clueless. I didn't take a class. In fact, I barely read a few chapters of a book before delivering. Once I started reading, I remember thinking oh crap, there is a lot to know and I know none of it. But, I was super pregnant and read enough to feel comfortable (when and how to do first latches, how often, etc.) and figured I'd read up on the rest later. And that worked for me. I think I could better absorb the nitty gritty details after actually beginning to breastfeed.
Here are a few things I learned and did initially that I think may be helpful to others:
The cheapo bottles on all the store shelves will (usually) fit your pump. No need to buy the Medela storage ones. I didn't know this, and was delighted when my dear momma friend informed me.
I bought a used pump from a friend of a friend. It's an older model, but for $60, it was worth it. I got new parts for about $20.
Tell the hospital you want to start pumping while you're there. Not only will it help with your milk coming in, but tell them the brand pump you have at home. You'll get to take the parts and tubing home with you. Extra set!
If you have a hungry, impatient baby like mine, try pumping for a minute each time before nursing during the first few days. It brings whatever is there to the tip and helps them to latch on better.
Nursing makes me thirsty. Always have a bottle of water handy.
The Lansinoh storage bags for milk are way better than the Medela. Pump into bottles first for accurate oz readings and then pour into bag for freezing.
Read all the freezing and storage rules. There are a lot. (If you deliver at Rex, the book they give you has a great summary on breastfeeding info, including storage rules.)
The lactation ladies at Rex can be scary and kind of demanding. Stand up for yourself, but definitely use them as a resource. Ask them to hang out during the entire feeding. A few times, I got help latching on but then when Asher freaked out and I couldn't relatch I didn't have help.
The football position sucks to me. It requires 15 pillows and just doesn't feel natural. I had to start with this due to the c-section, but quickly moved on to other positions in the days that followed. Experiment and do what feels best.
Everyone breastfeeds differently. And from talking to friends, different lactation consultants recommend different things. Here's what's working for us:
Right now, my lactation nurse has me feeding on one side each time. If, after 30 minutes he is still hungry we move to the second side (which happens quite a bit). If the second side ever feels engorged, I'll pump a little. I pump each morning after his feeding somewhere between 6 and 8 a.m. Your body has the most milk in the mornings. Rusty gives Asher a bottle some nights, in the middle of the night, so I can get some rest (and make more milk!).
Unfortunately, I don't get a lot when I pump right now. But, it'll slowly add up, I suppose. I'm told when I go back to work and pump in lieu of nursing, the amount will increase. So, we'll see! I plan to increase pumping time and add an afternoon session soon, but trying to get through the six week growth spurt first. (He's constantly nursing, which should increase my milk supply.)
There you have it. My breastfeeding routine. As of today.
Or, as I affectionally refer to it - our mobile mobile. This thing is awesome! Why are there not more like this?
This little mobile has a younger stage (black and white high contract images) and next stage up (hanging animals). It clips to your stroller, crib, car seat, activity gym (as modeled by Asher), you name it. He loves it! And the music lasts a long time and it's not terribly annoying.
We strolled through Target with this the other day. We've watched it for an hour this morning - very excitedly, I may add. And we're still really into it even though we are hungry. And by we, I mean Asher. :)
I ordered from Diapers.com - here ya go! (Spend $49 and get free two-day shipping. I recommend buying diapers from them, too. The prices are good and they deliver quickly - and free. My amazon.com diapers purchase arrived with huge rips and holes in the box. Not happy momma.)
When I found out we were preggo, I asked Mom how much weight she gained with me. She said 60 lbs. I said there was no way I was going to gain that much. And I was on track for around 40 lbs. until the last few weeks hit. (The doctors were never concerned about my weight gain, for the record. They said I was considered a little under weight to begin with and my body was doing what it needed to gear up. I gained a lot in the first trimester.) So, in the last month, I was gained 4 - 5 lbs. per week. Yes, people, per week. Water weight. Hence all my swelling and misery.
I stopped keeping track at 60 lbs. I'm sure I went over that amount by the time I was overdue and receiving ridiculous amounts of fluid in delivery. But, I digress.
Ladies out there, it's ok to gain this much. As long as your doctor is comfortable with it, you should be. I spent way too much time worrying about obsessing about it. Now, I think your body does what it needs to do to grow that baby. Sure, I ate a heck of a lot of ice cream and sweets, but I needed those for my sanity. And now that Asher is here, I never want sweets anymore (just like the pre-Asher version of me).
Today, I'm happy to report that I'm now 11 lbs. away from my pre-baby weight. And all I'm doing is breastfeeding and exhausting myself with this baby. I hope the next 11 come right off, too, but I feel like I'm going to have to work at them. And that's ok. For the record, I don't think I'll ever fit into most of my old clothes. I think my body is just shaped differently now. And that's ok, too. :)
I'm realizing that I'm learning this little man's ways. At least a little bit. Here's some of what I've figured out so far:
1. When nursing, if he gets squirmy or un-latches early on, it means he needs to burp. Then, proceed eating please.
2. Sometimes he doesn't want to latch on to eat. But he does. But he won't. First, I check for a burp. Then, I guide him to latch and give him a little encouragement in the right position (i.e. hold him in place).
3. If he's hungry, and waking up slowly (not starving), he will wimper and start crying with the letter 'G' sound. Then, I know he's ready to eat. It's adorable. I remember the morning he first did this cry. I said, "Rusty, he has a new cry!"
4. He's learning to squeal. I don't think he means anything particular by the squealing yet. It just comes out sometimes.
5. He grins a lot while passing gas or trying to poop.
6. He's extra smiley in the mornings.
7. He is a noisy, noisy sleeper. I'm getting better at sleeping through it and deciphering the noises, but darn he's noisy.
8. When he squirms during sleep, he often needs to burp. A quick break to burp him usually works and he's back to sleep.
9. He giggled in his milk drunkeness the other day. It was PRECIOUS. I cannot wait until he giggles for real.
10. Most major crying spells are directly related to the need to poop or pass gas. Holding him close to me on his left side and talking to him can sometimes help.
More to come, certainly. I'm starting to feel like a mom.
A friend of mine from Louisburg that I grew up with is now doing lifestyle photography (Liz Cooper Photography). So, we asked her to come out to our house just before Asher was two weeks old to take newborn photos of him. I think she was expecting the usual sleepy, snoozy newborn photos - with blankets and fetal positions and baskets and such. Ha! Not with my sweet Asher. He was very fussy and usually awake. But the photos are so divine. And yes, I'm totally biased. But I love how they turned out and I'm so glad we have these photos to cherish in the years to come.
Here are some of my faves. (So hard to narrow these down!)
1. This is still hard. It's getting easier, but I'm not sure if it's because Asher is starting to better adjust or because we are becoming numb to it.
2. This kid is so freaking cute I cannot stand it. (Am I bad mom that I seem to think he's cuter and enjoy him much more when he's well-behaved?)
3. Breastfeeding gets awesome(ish). I am starting to look forward to some of the early morning nursing sessions. His wide eyes looking at me. Knowing that I'm the only one that can provide for him in this way. Sigh. Meanwhile, I guess my supply has steadied. I don't feel any different unless hours go by without feeding or pumping - then I feel it. For a while I was worried that my breasts were broke, but then I realized they are just working pretty darn well.
4. Growth spurts are dreaded. We had one - that lasted a whole week - at three weeks. The next is usually around six weeks. Ta da! He'll be six weeks on Tuesday, so I'm waiting for the nonstop nursing marathons and extra fussiness. The lactation nurse told me to just go in my room with him, feed and rest until it passes. My thought was, do you live under a rock? I cannot just hole up. The house needs tending, Jax needs walking and feeding and my kid would hate being stuck in the bedroom with me for days. We have to entertain this little bugger! But, we shall see how it goes.
5. Milk supply can be directly related to sleep. By the end of the day, Asher nurses much longer. I think it's because my supply is less and it takes longer to get what he needs. The lactation nurse told me the best thing to do is rest more. Apparently, the body secretes a hormone that tells you to produce more milk when sleeping. She said even a 15 minute nap can help. So, I've tried to work in as many naps as possible, but some days Asher doesn't cooperate. Those are the days I'm glad I have a mini supply in the freezer for back up.
6. Pumping is weird. I pump every morning after his 'first' feeding. This is usually between six and eight AM. My body is supposed to recognize this happening daily and provide more milk during that time. I guess it's working. The key is to relax, relax, relax. Me? I was staring at the bottles wondering why nothing was coming out and worrying that my child must be starving if this was my flow. When I relaxed, hooked the pump pieces on with my nursing tank and put my feet up - more milk! It's still not as much as what Asher is likely consuming at every feeding, but we're making progress.
7. He smiles. Ah, he smiles and it's beautiful.
8. His hair is falling out. He has the hairline of an old man. It's not coming out the back, it's coming off the top. I hope it stops soon.
9. I hate cleaning bottles and breast pump parts. Daily. Multiple times. Blah.
10. Asher has his 'witching hour' daily. It used to be late afternoon. Now, it's shifted to evening. Every night from nine until 11 he screams. Sometimes it's because he needs to poop and we think ok, he'll calm down now. Wrong. He keeps screaming. And I try to feed him a lot during this time wondering if he's hungry. And like clockwork, he settles down around 11. I hope he grows out of this soon before we lose our minds.
11. Our house is being taken over with baby stuff. It drives me bonkers.
12. I hate baby acne. I want it to go away and leave my baby boy's face alone.
13. Asher isn't fond of his car seat. He screamed around the beltline the other day. Sometimes he'll sleep but after about 1.5 hours in it, he's miserable. Sweaty and miserable. I don't know how we're going to manage trips to the beach and such.
14. He also doesn't seem to enjoy stroller rides. I have tried multiple times and it never fails that when I get out off of our street and into the neighborhood, he screams. And he doesn't stop. I'm never going to lose this weight if this keeps up.
So, I was going to give myself a 'look how far we've come' pep talk with regards to Asher's sleeping and day/night confusion progress. I started to think back on the first few nights and weeks and determine how often he fed then and for how long. Yeah... blank slate. No recollection. Seriously? Yes.
I mentioned to my mom. She said, yep you forget or else no one would have more than one child. Isn't that the truth? Holy crap, I don't remember those nights at all. I do remember saying at the time that there was no way I was going to sign up for this again.
We made a human. My body grew it. And now my body feeds it. And I can not remember parts of it. The body is an amazing thing.
Ha, that title cracks me up. We have no routine. Not, really. What we do have is a little method using various baby products that we've fine tuned over the last month of sleepless nights.
To recap, Asher was born with his nights and days seemingly mixed up. He'd be wide awake at night. Not crying, just looking around and eating and chilling. Well, and crying a little, too. Somehow, over time, we shifted and I think he maybe knows night from day now. During the day, all lights are on and tv is on and life is happening all around him. Around 7 pm feeding, lights go out, volumes lowered and bedtime begins. Now, he's very groggy at night and more active during the day. So, fingers crossed this means he really is on track to a better sleeping pattern.
Ok, so, on to our sleeping ritual. Here are the products that passed the Asher Test, and I'd highly recommend them to new mommies out there. Please note: All products were researched online, all reviews read and weighed according to my OCD ways.
Fisher Price Rock 'n Play Newborn Sleeper: Best $50 spent. This little bed meets the criteria for bassinets (whatever that means, I'm assuming something safe) and keeps Asher at a nice angle, while being snuggled by the sides. This is what he sleeps in at night because he (so far) isn't a fan of sleeping flat on his back. (Much to my dismay, this means the adorable bassinet/convertible toy box in our room has not been used except for storage.) When he was in his swaddle days, we'd just swaddle him up and plop him in. It scoots right up to the side of the bed, and sits just a little lower, so I can peep over the side to check on him as often as my paranoia requires. It rocks, manually. So, I just reach over and touch it with my fingers to rock it, or if we are elsewhere in the house, I'll rock it with my foot while doing something else. It's awesome.
Halo Swaddle Sleepsack: I don't know where I've been hiding, but it was news to me that I'm not supposed to put Asher to sleep with a blanket. There are suffocation and SIDS risks, they say. And while I know some of these things are getting a little ridiculous, as a mom I hear them and obey as best I can for my sanity's sake. So, off I went to Babies R Us for a sleepsack and swaddle. (Asher was too big to be swaddled in the hospital blankets and kicked his way out of all of our blankets here.) This product is two in one. In the first few weeks, we used the swaddle addition. Now, he sleeps in the sleepsack portion with a long-sleeved oneside underneath. Make sure when you get one that it zips open from the bottom up for easy middle of the night diaper changes. The velcro on this one holds up well despite multiple washes and the fabric is oh-so-cozy. (We also like the Kiddopotamus velcro swaddler.)
White noise maker: We use our iPhones (shocking, I know) for this. The Happiest Baby on the Block (a must read or must watch DVD if you are too busy to read like us) says white noise helps to calm a baby. And darn, he's right! We use our noise makers when he's fussy or when he's settling down for sleep. I prop it up on the edge of the cradle and turn it off after he's nice and sound asleep. My iPhone app wasn't free, but it came with noises like blow dryer and vaccum which I think work better than Rusty's free rain iPhone app. But, I think I'm just making excuses for my fancy app purchase. :) Lesson here - find a white noise, rain, blow dryer, something noise maker. A lot of the bouncers and swings come with sounds, but none work as well with Asher and the sound works better when it's right next to his sweet head (as opposed to on the top of the swing or the bottom of the bouncer).
Mylicon/Little Tummys Gas Relief Drops: We've got a gassy baby, poor guy. He'll get bubbles in there and be un-soothable. We lie him on his back and bring his knees to his belly. We make his little legs do the bicycle motion to help work that gas out. And we use the gas drops. At night, when he's gassiest, we'll often give him the gas drops before each feeding. The doctor says it's safe, and while it doesn't fix it all, I do think it helps. Asher likes the flavor and takes the few drops happily smacking his little lips.
Baby Bliss Gripe Water: Again, doctor approved. I give him this when he's just fussier than normal. It seems to calm him down, really. Not kidding. We use this every day or so, mostly around nap times and late afternoon fussy times. This stuff requires more than just a few drops and Asher and I both were not thrilled with the syringe approach. So, I went to Babies R Us and got some fancy medicine-givers for babies. Seriously - awesome. Go get them. (I cannot easily find a link online and Asher is having a mini-meltdown. So this is the best I can do - go to the health and medicine section at BRU. There is a little paci medicine dispenser and a bottle version, too. We have both, but so far use the bottle version and it works great!)
There you go, mommies. That's what works for us (for now, anyway), after many trips to the store, lots of online research and (sadly) not-so-successful products sitting around unused in our house.
As for our routine - Because Asher is high maintenance, we split our nights. I go to bed early and Rusty is the primary caregiver (well, and I do the nursing). Then, around 3 am, I become the primary soother and Rusty gets some solid sleep before work. There's never a predictable night and I'm sure we'll change this approach at some point. But, given that Asher doesn't usually just eat and sleep like newborns typically do, one of us has to be awake and ready to care for him throughout the night. And yes, this means most of my days start somewhere around 3 or 4 am. Exhaustion.
But, Asher sure is cute and adorable. And totally worth it. :)
So, in the last week I've tackled two of the mommy tasks I was dreading. And, I did so successfully.
First - I did the nose sucky thingie. Complete with Little Noses saline drops. I was able to clear out his little tiny nasal passages. It was so great to help him be a little more comfortable and see the benefits of my handiwork. I was so nervous about this for some reason, but when the time came I laid him down and just went for it. And he didn't even fight me. Which is shocking, isn't it? Anyways, I had a huge grin and told Rusty over and over "I did it! I did it!" Cue: pride.
Second - I took his temperature rectally. (Is that how you spell that?) Asher seems to be feeling a little sickly, so I needed an accurate temp. His under arm temp was so borderline that adding a 'degree or two' meant sick or not sick depending on what you added. So, I did it. He again didn't meltdown. He didn't love it, but we survived. And his temp was normal. Phew.
Two hurdles crossed. I am proud. Now just hoping and praying that he feels better soon.