Friday, September 21, 2012

Week 3

Dear Ellison -

You are three weeks old now!  You are getting bigger by the minute!  Let's slow down a little bit, OK?  Here are some fun happenings from the last week...

-You are slowly growing out of your newborn clothes, but your 0-3 months are still big.  The biggest issue with your newborn clothes is that they are starting to get a little short.  You aren't really filling them out, but you are getting almost too long for them!

-You had your newborn photos taken this past week.  You were 15 days old and slept the entire time!  The pictures are so beautiful and we will always treasure them.

-You had your first real bath this week!  You didn't hate it nearly as much as you hated your sponge baths.  I think the warm water was soothing. 

-Nana came to visit from Florida and got to meet you for the first time!  We had lots of fun with her and she was such a big help to all of us. 
-Your daddy and I went on our first date night.  It was so strange leaving you!  It was the first time I'd been away from you since you were born.  Well, I guess technically it was the first time I'd been away from you in almost 11 months!  You were with Nana, so we knew you were in good hands, but it was still a little sade!  Everybody says it will get easier to leave you, but I'm not sure I believe it just yet!  We just went to dinner (Cowfish for sushi...yum!) and were only gone about 2 hours, but we couldn't wait to get back to see you!
-You are such a sweet snuggler!  I could just sit and cuddle you all day...and sometimes I do!  You tend to wake up to eat at night around midnight, 4:00 am, and 7:00 am.  You've been taking shorter cat naps during the day, and you're eating smaller meals about every two hours or so. We have had our first experience with you being a little gassy this week and it has not been fun!  We gave you some gas drops which seem to help a little bit, but we may need to look into getting you some formula for sensitive tummies.  We plan to talk to the pediatrician about it at your appointment next week.
-Your eyes are getting lighter!  When you were born, they were a smoky, gray blue.  Now, they are definitely bluer, especially when they catch the light.  We're excited to see what color they'll end up.  Green like mommy, hazel like daddy, or something different?!
-Happy Three Weeks Baby Girl

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Breast vs. Bottle

I always thought I would breastfeed Ellison.  Afterall, "breast is best" says the American Academy of Pediatrics, your pediatrician, and even the containers of formula.  I work in pediatric healthcare.  I get it.  I know the benefits.  That's why the plan was always to breastfeed.  I knew that breastfeeding wasn't always easy though.  Not everyone can do it, for a variety of reasons.  I promised myself that if it didn't work out for some reason that I wouldn't beat myself up over it.  Well, it didn't work out, and I did beat myself up a little.

We tried really hard from the day she was born to breastfeed.  When we were in the hospital, we started working on it within the hour after she was born.  Without any help or coaching, she latched right on and I thought we were in business.  We'd taken a breastfeeding class before she was born, so we had an idea of how it was supposed to go and things seemed to be working.  Fast forward about 18 hours or so, and things were starting to get uncomfortable.  Ellison just couldn't quite get it right, and it was becoming very frustrating for all of us.  She'd either latch really well, but would just sit there and not suck, or she'd suck really well but would have a tight lipped, pinched latch.  We worked with three different lactation consultants in the hospital.  We tried every trick in the book.  Here's what we learned...

-Ellison has a high palate.  Touching the palate is what triggers the suck reflex, but her's is so high that it wasn't being triggered.

-She didn't like to stick her tongue out.  Apparently that's a problem too.

-It was taking us so long to get a good latch that Ellison was getting over hungry which made her angry, and it made us really sad.  She's just start to wail, and then I'd cry, and then we'd be in a mess.

So, the final word from the lactation consultant was that we needed to just try pumping, feeding her breastmilk with a bottle, and supplementing formula as needed.  We were going to still try to nurse at every feeding, but if it was taking too long and if Ellison was starting to work herself up, we were supposed to just follow the pump/bottle plan.

Once we were home, things did not get better.  In fact, they got worse.  At first, I thought that maybe we could make the pumping thing work.  If we couldn't actually breastfeed, at least Ellison would still be getting all the benefits of breastmilk.  And, other people, including Barrett would get to feed her too.  Let me say this, if you are exluxively pumping, I've got major respect for you.  It is hard.  Really hard. 

The biggest problem was simply that I couldn't keep up with her.  She was eating more than I was able to pump.  So, I was pumping every two hours just to get enough for her next feeding.  Once Barrett was back at work and our family wasn't here anymore, doing this on my own was nearly impossible.  Every two hours...Ellison would eat, I'd spend just enough time with her to get her settled down enough so I could pump, I'd wash and dry bottles/pump parts, and then Ellison would be up again.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Over and over again.  All day and all night.

I didn't feel like I was getting to enjoy my baby at all.  I didn't get to spend quality time with her because I always needed her to fall asleep so I could pump and clean parts.  I was always watching the clock.  I didn't have time to eat, brush my teeth, play with my baby, sleep, or do anything other than feed her and pump.  Not fun.

So, after lots and lots of tears and discussion, we made the decision to wean Ellison from breastmilk and switch her over to formula exclusively.  I have to believe that there is more to her being happy and healthy than just breastmilk.  I truly believe that once I'm able to spend more time with her and less time pumping, that we will all be happier.  I can't just stop pumping cold turkey, so I'm weaning myself too.  I went from every two hours to every four hours to every six hours and now to every seven hours.  I went from 15 minutes to 13 minutes and now to 12 minutes per session.  She's still getting mostly breastmilk at this point, so we may even make it to six weeks with her still getting some.

I felt really guilty about it for a few days.  It just seemed like something I should be able to do for her.  I feel much better about it now.  We're not watching the clock all day.  We get to play and snuggle and rest!  She's happy, so I'm happy.  I was formula fed, and I think I turned out just fine.  At least she was able to get some breastmilk.  That's more than a lot of babies get!

So, if you're able to breastfeed your baby...good for you.  If you can't, don't beat yourself up over it.  Our babies need to be loved, they need to be cared for, and they need to be fed...it doesn't matter how it has to happen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ellison's Newborn Photos - Sneak Peek!

Ellison had her newborn photos taken today by the fabulous JP Soto. She was the perfect little model and slept through the whole shoot. The sneak peek we got today is so perfect. We can't wait to see the rest!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Week 2

Dear Ellison -

You are 2 weeks old!  The days go by so fast around here!  We are trying to soak up every sweet minute and every snuggle because we know they are only going to go by faster as you grow.  We are starting to find our rhythm, but we definitely don't have a real schedule or routine quite yet.  We're all flying by the seat of our pants, but it's working for us for now!  Here are some highlights from your second week...

-You actually got to "watch" your first ECU game.  We played South Carolina.  We lost...it was ugly, but you were the cutest Pirate in town for sure!

-You met your great grandpa Pa Paw Tom and Bea too.  They think you're just as awesome as we all do!

-Your daddy went back to work this week.  He doesn't like to be away from you.  I send him lots of pictures of you throughout the day though!
-You lost your umbilical cord stump on Monday of this week.  You were 10 days old.  Your daddy was sad to miss this...so he took the next day off of work.  :-)
-We went for our first family walk and stroller ride.  You really liked it!  You slept the whole time.

-You are still wearing newborn clothes and diapers and still have a good bit of room in them.  I honestly wasn't sure you'd wear your newborn clothes at all!  Your daddy had me convinced that you'd be a big baby, so I didn't even wash your newborn clothes before you were born!
-You are a really great eater...although breastfeeding has not been what we hoped it would be (more on that some other time).  Basically, I'm pumping and we're bottle feeding you breastmilk.  We're supplementing a bottle of formula here and there if you're still hungry after a feeding.  You are eating as much as 4 ounces sometimes!  You are probably averaging about 3 ounces every 2 to 3 hours.  We're still waking you every three hours during the day and every four hours at night.  But, you usually wake up on your own before then.  You make the funniest hungry baby bird face when you're hungry!  You give us about 4 seconds to get a bottle to your lips before you start to fuss.  Once we're ready to go, you close your eyes, open your mouth, and shake your little head back and forth looking for the bottle.
-We spent some more time on your play mat, in the mamaroo, and learning our colors this week.  We talked about the toys that hang from your playmat.  We especially like the brown dog because he looks like Buddy.

-You really like to be swaddled, but only if your arms are free.  You like to sleep with your arms up by your ears.  If you're feeling sleepy but not quite settled, your pacifier will usually soothe you off to sleep.

 -Happy Second Week Love.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Week 1

Dear Ellison -

You are one week old!  How can that be?!  I feel like this has been the longest and shortest week of my life!  You are simply amazing and we fall more in love with you every single day.  Although you've only been with us for a week, we already can't remember what life was like before you.  You make our family feel complete.  We are so excited to watch you grow and learn.  Here are some highlights from the week...

-The first couple of days after you were born were spent in the hospital.  You were born on Friday of Labor Day weekend during a blue moon.  We like to say that in true Pirate fashion, you arrived just in time for the first ECU football game of the year.  So, we dressed you in your purple and gold finest even though we didn't even watch the game!  We did beat App State though, so you were obviously the lucky charm!  We were discharged from the hospital on Sunday, September 2...your original due date!  You weighted 6 lbs 14.5 oz when we left.  We escaped uptown Charlotte just in time to avoid the nonsense of the Democratic National Convention.  We arrived home where Gammie, Pop Pop, Paw Paw, and Noni were all waiting for us.  You got to meet your furry brother Buddy for the first time.  He has been so sweet with you.  You saw your room for the first time too!


-You are wearing newborn sized clothes and diapers, and you've got a good bit of room to grow in both.
- Paw Paw and Noni stayed with us until Wednesday of your first week, and Gammie came back and stayed with us from Thursday through Sunday.  It was really nice to have some extra hands around the house and your daddy and I were able to get a little bit of rest.  Just a little though. :-)
-You "played" on your play mat and hung out in your Mamaroo for the first time.

-We gave you a sponge bath, and you screamed the whole time!  I think you were just a little chilly.  We also clipped your nails for the first time.  You have super sharp little paws and you are constantly scratching your pretty face!  We've resorted back to covering your hands with mittens most of the time.

-You had your first appointment at the pediatrician on Tuesday, 48 hours after we were discharged from the hospital.  Everything looked great.  You were back up to 7 lbs even.

-You sort of have your days and nights mixed up.  You sleep like a champ during the day.  We have to wake you up to feed you every three hours and you fall right back to sleep.  At night, you're up every two hours or so and can take up to an hour to get back to sleep.  You sleep really well after your 4:00 am feeding, sometimes for four straight hours!
-And I know I've said it already, but Buddy really does love you!

-We just can't get enough of you. 

-Happy First Week, Sweet Girl