Blog Makeover and a Shout-Out!

Hello my faithful readers. If you’ve been coming here for a while, you will notice that things look a little different around here! That’s because my friend Christina at Being Mrs. Jones gave it a complete overhaul! She was awesome to work with.. She listened to what I was looking for and whipped this up! She worked quickly and I didn’t have to wait FOREVER to get my blog makeover. I was pretty anxious, hehe. We went through font ideas, colors, graphics, etc….

Anyhow, she is giving away a custom blog makeover on her blog RIGHT NOW! You can have a chance to win a makeover for your little space just like I did mine. Go check it out at her blog makeover giveaway. Here’s a few details about the giveaway:

The lucky first prize winner will receive a completely customized template for their blog, consisting of:
Custom header
Custom Background
Menu Bar (top or side)
Minima Template, 2 or 3 columns
And a custom signature for your blog posts!
(Installation instructions as well as troubleshooting services will be provided for you!)

There will also be a second prize winner who will receive:
A custom header for their blog

And 3 third prize winners who will receive:
A custom signature for their blog posts

So run over to her blog and enter this fantastic giveaway: Christina’s Giveaway

Mornings With My Daughter

Soft grunting noises and the crinkle of a firm cradle mattress rouse me from my light slumber. When you become a mother, you no longer actually sleep. You are in a permanent state of dozing – listening for breathing, for wheezing.. Just listening.

I roll over and lay on my left side, peering down into the cradle that is wedged between my side of the bed and my dresser. I can no longer open four of the drawers of that dresser – making my pajamas, pants, sweaters, and shirts impossible to get to. It doesn’t matter though, because her cradle used to be about 8 feet away from me. Too far for comfort.

I see my baby daughter, wrapped up tight in her light green swaddler. She looks like an angry caterpillar. She kicks her legs out and up, thrashing her head from side to side as her grunts turn into cries of protest. She’s awake, and she’s hungry. With a smile I pull myself from my cozy bed and bend to pick up my squirming bundle of rage. I lay her against my chest and speak to her softly. “It’s okay, baby girl,” I say. “Mommy’s here.” She quiets a bit as she relaxes against me but is still fussing. We go together into her nursery and I lay her on the changing table. I undo the velcro of the swaddle wrap and it comes apart with a soft tearing noise. As I release my daughter from her tight little cocoon, she does the most adorable thing – she throws both her arms above her head, purses her lips and squints her eyes and stretches as hard as she can. I smile as I watch her, taking in every second and storing it into my memory so I can pull it out and visit it when she’s older. With a smile I get to work. As I stand above her, her blue eyes find me and she gives me the tiniest of smiles. She’s too young to be really smiling yet at just 5 weeks old but on occasion we will be graced with a hint of a gummy grin.

After she is clean and dry, I dress her (sans swaddle) and carry her into our living room. I set her down in her vibrating chair, turn on the music and am greeted with the tinny, twinkling bars of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” followed by “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”. She sits, patiently waiting for me to fix her a bottle. After I’ve put her breakfast together I walk to the chair and look down at this tiny child. She looks up at me and this time, gives me an actual smile. Holding back a scream of excitement I hastily set down the bottle, seat myself heavily on the ottoman next to her chair and stare at her intently. She gazes back at me almost expectantly.
“Nellie,” I coo. She just watches me. I make silly faces. I begin singing the words to the music floating from her bouncer. Her blue eyes regard me calmly and then finally, gloriously, there’s the smile again. It starts slowly; forming at the corner of one side of her mouth and then breaks into a full-blown grin that could ignite the sun with its’ brilliance. I break out into my own ecstatic grin and try and refrain from jumping up and leaping about the room. Instead I praise her and turn off her chair. I pull her out of it and to my chest, hugging her tightly. She begins to fuss again so we get down to business. I begin to feed my daughter. We don’t breastfeed, but I still make sure to look into her eyes as she eats.

Halfway through her breakfast I pull her from the bottle. She looks up at me skeptically and I smile, knowing what’s coming. I lift her from her semi-reclining position to one laying against my chest. She opens her mouth, screws up her face and lets out one high-pitched squeal in protest. I laugh softly and begin patting her on the back. Moments later she rewards me with a belch that would put a grown man to shame.
“There’s that burp!” I exclaim and I assure her that she may resume her dining.

Toward the end of her bottle, her eyelids begin to drift down heavily. She’s getting sleepy again. I set what’s left of her morning meal aside and pull her up to burp again. This time she is too full and too tired to balk. I pat her gently, rocking her at the same time and whispering to her. I hold her chest close to mine and cover her cheeks with kisses. I press my nose into her black hair and breathe in her sweet baby scent. She had a bath the evening before and hints of lavender mingle with the natural fragrance she has. I stroke back that soft, dark hair and rub my hand up and down her back trying to coax out more gas. I close my eyes and try and soak in every detail of this moment. She finally belches but doesn’t stir. I continue to pat her back softly and lean my head back a little bit to look at her sleeping face. She’s not quite all the way asleep; her eyes flutter open occasionally. Her mouth drops and she begins to breath more rhythmically. I am still so surprised at what noisy breathers newborns are. I look down at my daughter, who just 6 weeks ago was still nestled snugly inside of my womb. My eyes pore over her tiny features; her little nose, her long dark eyelashes.. Her eyes. Those beautiful, big eyes. I struggle to drink her in, to remember every tiny curve of her face. Every soft hair on her head is precious and even her baby acne is endearing. Her eyelids flutter open one more time before sleep takes her, and she meets my gaze with her own. As my daughter – tiny, helpless, reliant solely on myself in this moment to take care of her – stares at me, my own brown eyes fill with tears. She gives me one of those sweet, crooked little half-smiles again and drifts off. I continue to look down at this tiny little being who is half me and half her father and miraculously, someone entirely her own.
“You are safe, Nellie Rose,” I whisper to her as I stroke her back. “I’m never going to let anything happen to you. Never going to leave you.”

And I mean it. How could I let harm come to this tiny creature? She is my heart, after all, and you cannot survive without your heart.

Nellie Rose – 5 Weeks

Nellie is 5 weeks old today!

She is…

  • Starting to make cooing noises! I’m so used to her only making noise when she cries, so when she started I thought she was constantly about to cry. Nope. Just talkin’!
  • Holding her head up even better!
  • Sleeping a little bit better through the night.
  • More alert

Happy 5 Week Birthday baby girl!

Nellie Rose – 5 Weeks

Nellie is 5 weeks old today!

She is…

  • Starting to make cooing noises! I’m so used to her only making noise when she cries, so when she started I thought she was constantly about to cry. Nope. Just talkin’!
  • Holding her head up even better!
  • Sleeping a little bit better through the night.
  • More alert

Happy 5 Week Birthday baby girl!

Free Baby Magazine

Today I was contacted by FreeBabyMagazine.com about a blogging contest. I’d never heard of FreeBabyMagazine.com so I pointed my cursor to their site to check it out.

FreeBabyMagazine.com is an ezine that is chock full of great information about pregnancy and parenting. You can view the ezine directly in your web browser or you can download it in PDF form.

The first thing I noticed about FBM.com were the photographs. They’re gorgeous. They feature adorable babies, beautiful pregnant bellies and fun and whimsical ads. Everything is extremely eye-catching and easy to read!

I am definitely going to subscribe to this fun, free ezine and I think you should do the same.

I am not an affiliate, I don’t make any money from this. But they are having a great contest for
whoever can refer the most readers! There is a great prize in it for me and some great prizes
for you too! For following them on Twitter, Facebook and their Blog you will be entered into a
drawing for some AWESOME, Hand-Made hair-bows from Bowtique Mama. Each “Follow” counts as
an entry and a drawing will be held for each category (Twitter, Facebook and Blog).

Have fun and happy reading!

Doctor’s Appointment and the Science of Sleep

Nellie had her 1 month visit today. At birth my little lady weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces. Today, she tipped the scales at a whopping 9 pounds 7 ounces. HOLY HELL. I have a chunky lady on my hands! She doesn’t look overly chubby though, because she’s very long – 22 inches. The doctor said she was in the 80-something percentile for her height! My girl is growing like a weed!

We didn’t get any shots today… That comes with our 2 month visit. I am not particularly looking forward to seeing her cry but vaccinations are not open for debate. She is getting them. Not only do I want to protect her from harmful diseases but I will not expose other innocent children by not vaccinating her. The vaccination debate is one I won’t get into here, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So we’ve had three consistent good nights. I had a epiphany Friday night after daddy left for work. Around 8 PM I turned the lights off (save for the glow of the computer), swaddled Nellie (which she loudly protested. She hates the actual act of being swaddled. Once she’s in she’s okay.) and fed her. I burped her frequently and when she began falling asleep at the bottle, I took her in for a diaper change. That woke her up enough and she ate 4 ounces. I laid her down in her cradle……………………………..
And she slept.

For three hours.

I repeated the process when she woke again to eat. I was sure not to interact with her overly; I barely talked to her except to offer some soothing “shhh” noises when she’d cry. I kept the eye contact to a minimum. It was strictly business. I repeated my process – feed while swaddled, burp often, change mid-feed, burp again and put her down to sleep. And what do you know? 3 more hours. AMAZING. I have repeated this process for the past three nights and it has worked like a charm. I can tell within seconds of laying her down if it’s going to “take” or not. And usually if it doesn’t she has a gas bubble, which we get rid of and she’ll eat a bit more before passing out. I am just beyond thrilled and hope that we can keep up this routine. I know that with children in general and especially newborns routines are subject to change, but I’ll take it for now.
Midway through Saturday evening, I had to move her cradle. Before it was on the wall by the foot of our bed – a good 8 feet away from where I was sleeping. I couldn’t stand it. After sleeping with her on my chest for the past 2 weeks and being able to feel her/hear her so well I could not stand her being so far away. During one feeding I set her down in the Boppy to hang for a minute while I dragged the cradle and jammed it between my side of the bed and the dresser. When I laid her back down to sleep and could reach out and touch her if I wanted, I was instantly comforted. I can no longer open 4 of the drawers in my dresser, but it’s worth it to have my sweet girl so close. I understand why people co-sleep. I am still not going to do it, but I completely and utterly understand why people do it. Falling asleep with my daughter on my chest is the most comforting and peaceful feeling I’ve ever had in my life.
I had almost an entire day to myself Saturday. Gran watched Nellie while I went to a coaching session with my chorus. Our regional competition is coming up and I wanted to be there. It was amazing getting back into my beloved barbershop. I also practiced with my quartet; we are going to be singing during the quartet competition portion for evaluation only with the hopes of actually competing next year. We actually have a radio interview a week from today where we’re going to plug the competition, basically and sing a song. I’m so excited! We’ve also got a TV spot coming up. I’ve never been on television before!

Nellie had her first restaurant outing today. We had all intentions on going to Mellow Mushroom as they were offering free pizza as part of their 8th birthday celebration.. But the wait was 35 minutes and I didn’t know how well Nellie would tolerate that. We ended up eating at my old place of employment – Chili’s. She did fantastically, only crying for a brief period of time which a tiny bit of bottle helped. She was awesome.

She’s always awesome.

BeNicePrenatal WINNER

The winner of the BeNicePrenatal giveaway is Sarah at Sarah Bee Creations! Congratulations. Please e-mail me or DM on Twitter so I can give your address to Robin @ BeNice!

Thanks to everyone who entered!!!

Breastfeeding Guilt

The social pressure that gets put on women to breastfeed nowadays is really overwhelming. Lactivists are everywhere and pretty much as soon as you give birth the Nipple Nazis are afoot. There’s so much literature about why “breast is best” and why formula is evil. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t think that “breast is best”, because I do. Breastfeeding offers many, many more benefits than formula. Nutrients, immunities, vitamins.. But formula is not poison and it’s not evil. Nor are you less of a good mother if you have to feed it to your baby. You are not a bad mother if you CHOOSE to formula-feed your baby. Breastfeeding just isn’t for some people.

I wanted to breastfeed. I was determined to do it. It was hard…. Really hard. I got a lot of encouragement and support and I still wasn’t able to keep up with my baby’s needs.. And I carried a lot of guilt with that. My boobs weren’t up to par.. They couldn’t get in the game, so to speak.. Now when people congratulate me on my baby’s growth (she’s 9 pounds!) and tell me things like, “Good job”, I want to grumble “What for? I didn’t do anything.” The formula did. My body and my breasts couldn’t keep up with my daughter’s needs… I tried to stick with breastfeeding. I did. I got the Fenugreek, I nursed her often, I drank my weight (and then some) in water.. And it still wasn’t enough. When my little girl was screaming from hunger and I desperately supplemented the breastmilk she had already consumed with formula and she instantly fell asleep after eating, I breathed a sigh of relief. I made the decision to pump and supplement, because I was worried that feeding her bottles was developing nipple confusion. When I pumped, I did it every 2 hours like clockwork.. I was yielding 2 ounces every 2 hours and my daughter was eating 4 ounces every two hours. 2 ounces of breastmilk, 2 ounces of formula. You do the math; my boobs could not keep up.

I eventually became tired of pumping; my nipples were cracked and I was getting no sleep. Call me selfish if you will, but I felt like a better mommy to my girl when I was rested. So I stopped pumping. My Nellie is now a formula-fed baby, and I still feel a lot of guilt over it.

But why? Why do I feel so guilty for doing what I felt was best for my daughter and myself? I’m a lot more rested and in return, a lot happier and more patient when I care for Nellie. My baby daughter is never hungry. She always has a full belly and I never need to worry if she’s getting enough food. Do I miss the bond I felt with her when she’d nurse from my breast? Yes, I do… I will cherish the two weeks of memories I have where it was just me and my girl.. But I have plenty of other bonding times with her. When I bottle-feed her, I make sure to look into her eyes and kiss her often. I allow her to sleep on my chest, and I take naps with her there. I carry her close to my body and to my heart in our Moby wrap.. I have plenty of bonding with my daughter. And she’s a bottle-fed baby.

I agree with every breastfeeding advocate that breast is best.. What I don’t agree with is the pressure that’s put on women to breastfeed; followed by the guilt that comes when breastfeeding doesn’t work out or a woman chooses not to do it. Breastfeeding is something to be proud of because it ISN’T easy. But when it doesn’t work out or a woman chooses not to, it’s not something to be spoken of like someone died. There are a lot of people in this world who were fed formula as babies. I was formula-fed. My husband was formula-fed. And we are just fine. Happy, healthy.. Well rounded adults.

I guess what I’m saying is this: I wanted to breastfeed. My body didn’t agree. Could I have stuck it out, worked with a lactation consultant and maybe things could have turned out differently? Probably. But adjusting to life with a newborn, having a husband that works 12 hour shifts and adjusting to being on baby duty not only the entire 12 hours he’s at work, but the following 5-7 that he is home and needs to sleep as well was taxing. Maybe the next time around breastfeeding will work out better and maybe it won’t. I’m trying to come to terms with the guilt I feel regarding this. I am dreading my 6 week postpartum checkup with my doctor because I know she’ll ask how breastfeeding is going and I’ll have to “break the news” so to speak. Maybe it won’t be a big deal and she won’t even bat an eyelash. In my mind she’s going to shake her head, cluck her tongue and look at me with a mixture of disappointment and pity. I hope not, but in my mind that’s what will happen. I hope that someday soon I’ll be at peace with my decision to formula-feed. I have gotten a lot of support – people telling me that I’m still a good mom. That I did what was best. Maybe my guilt stems from me being disappointed in myself.. And that’s just something I’ll have to get over in time.

But one thing is for sure.. I love my daughter with all of my heart and feeding her from a bottle doesn’t change that one bit. Not even a little.

Nellie Rose – 4 Weeks

My baby girl is 4 weeks old today. How in the HELL did that happen?!

Nellie is:

  • Having longer periods of awake time.
  • Fussy in the evenings; sleepy during the day.
  • Holding her head up like a pro!
  • Getting bigger every day.
  • Starting to give us the occasional smile!

Nellie Rose – 4 Weeks

My baby girl is 4 weeks old today. How in the HELL did that happen?!

Nellie is:

  • Having longer periods of awake time.
  • Fussy in the evenings; sleepy during the day.
  • Holding her head up like a pro!
  • Getting bigger every day.
  • Starting to give us the occasional smile!