Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday with Miss Ellie

We played hookie from church this week (sorry God) to spend the day running around town with Ellie. She was so good our whole trip out except for a brief meltdown at Borders. She just slept in her stroller or the Moby wrap.

We started off by heading to Herman Park to walk around and see the ducks.

We met a man there who was feeding the squirrels and we stopped to take a picture. He saw us and offered us some of his bread so we could give squirrel feeding a go. And so we did.

Mr. Squirrel came right up to me and grabbed his piece of Wonder Bread.

This was as close Mrs. Squirrel got to James. He just tossed her the bread instead.

Once we were done with the squirrels, we sat on a bench with Ellie in her stroller and fed the ducks. They were very pleased.

I decided I wanted a red snow cone. I was also very pleased.

After I was done with my snow cone, Ellie decided it was time to wake up and get some cuddles.

Once we left the park, we headed to the Galleria area. We had a baby gift to exchange at Nordstroms, but decided to get lunch at Potbelly's first. To my utter delight, Crave Cupcakes was right across the parking lot. Oh happy day! Ellie is nearly 4 weeks old and STILL hadn't experienced her mommy's favorite past-time....eating fancy cupcakes. We picked out a yummy coconut treat.

Once I had devoured my delicious cupcake, it was time to head to Nordstroms to exchange that baby outfit. It was a generous gift, but not very seasonally appropriate since it was a sweater and cords that Ellie will fit in this time next year. I thought she might be a little warm in that. We traded it out for two adorable jumpers.

After our exchange, we trekked to the complete other end of the mall to visit Borders since they are having their big going out of business sale. I had just enough time to grab Attachment Parenting and The No Cry Sleep Solution before Ellie decided that she had had enough and decided to let the entire store know. We quickly checked out and made a beeline back to Nordstroms.

I have a feeling that nice department stores will become my haven as a breastfeeding mama at the mall. They always have the nice lounge areas in the restrooms which are perfect for feeding a little one. Some even have a separate mother's room that has a changing table and a clock along with comfy chairs. So, thank you Nordstroms for providing mothers with a comfortable place to take care of their babies.

Once Ellie was changed and fed, it was time to head home. Ellie and mommy took naps on the way. It was a busy day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Scoop on Poop

As you learned from a previous post we decided to cloth diaper our little bean. Everyone who comes over to visit seems interested in how it is going for us, so I though a little update was in line.

Basically, we love it! Cloth diapering has been super easy and the only extra work is 1 load of laundry every 2 days, although I could stretch it to 3 days if need be. Ellie has been wearing newborn size diapers up until now. She is just starting to fit into her one-size dipes. Here is the low-down on some cloth diapering lingo so the rest of this post doesn't sound like a foreign language to those unfamiliar.

All-in-one (AIO)- A diaper that is complete all in once piece. Just stick it on that baby butt and move on.

Pocket - Similar to an AIO with an extra step of stuffing an internal pocket with an absorbent insert. Once stuffed, it goes straight on.

Pre-fold - Your grandma's cloth diaper. Lots of people use them as burp cloths these days. You put it on and either pin or Snappi it then cover with a diaper cover. (It is much easier and faster than it sounds and is VERY economical).

Diaper Cover - A waterproof cover that you use over a pre-fold to keep the wetness in. There are lots of super cute options.

For Ellie, we opted to use pre-folds and covers primarily for the newborn stage. Tiny babies don't fit well into the larger one-size fit most diapers and prefolds are cheap, which is important because babies aren't in newborn sizes for long. We planned on her using them for about 3 months, but it looks like it will be just a few more weeks and she will completely outgrow them.

We also bought 6 newborn size AIOs for ease of use when we are out and about. They go on and off just like a disposable.

Since Ellie has now reached over 10 lbs, most of her one-size pocket diapers are beginning to fit her. We decided to make the majority of her diaper stash pockets and AIOs. They are easy to use, babysitters and daycare can figure them out without help, and if you get the one-size diapers, they are much more economical than disposables. We are sticking mostly to the Bumgenius and Fuzzibunz brands.

The Anatomy of a Diaper Change

Here is out changing table with all our gear. Diapers are in the 2 top drawers.

We use cloth wipes because when you use cloth diapers, they truly are easier because it all just gets thrown in one pail rather than separating them out. We mix up a solution of water, a little baby shampoo, and a dash of olive oil to wet them with.

It is also important to know that regular diaper rash creams are not safe to use on cloth diapers. I don't know why exactly, but I know it can ruin the diaper. Good news is that there are cloth diaper safe creams out there. We use CJs BUTTer. It comes in a bunch of scents. We have lavender. Ellie hasn't had a rash, but we use it as a preventative at night.

So, after you take off the dirty dipe and clean up the babe with a wipe, it all gets tossed in the pail. We just have a lidded trash can with a waterproof washable liner it all goes in. We haven't had any problems with it stinking up the room.

Next up is the clean pre-fold, which we fasten with a Snappi. Takes about 15 seconds to put on and close.

And one more of my pretty girl just for fun.

Then, just slap a cover on the tush and you are good to go.

Now isn't that much cuter than Pampers? And you are saving money and the environment too. I think that deserves a gold star!

Laundry involves dumping the pail liner into the wash and turning it on. Then everything moves to the dryer. Ta-da! No grossness at all and it takes about 5 minutes of my life to do! Breastfed poop is completely water soluble and just rinses away in the wash, so no need to dunk and swish.

So there you have it. Cloth diapering so easy, better for baby and the environment, and way cuter to look at. I know I have several friends expecting right now, so I would encourage you all to at least give it a go. If you are unsure if you will like it, there are diaper trials out there (here's a link to one) that will send you the supplies, you use it all for a period of time, and if you don't like it, send it all back and you are only out $10. But I doubt you will want to send it back!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ellie's Birth Story

After passing the 1 week overdue mark, I was starting to get very frustrated and feeling like Ellie was never going to come. I went to bed Sunday night feeling the same as always: uncomfortable and restless.

I woke up at 5:30 and had what felt like menstrual cramps. After I had 2 pretty close together, I decided to time them to see if there was a pattern. They were about 7-8 minutes apart, but not very uncomfortable. I decided to try to sleep a little more and not get my hopes up that this was labor starting.

After about an hour of being unable to fall back asleep, I went to go get James and tell him what was going on. He had taken to sleeping in the guest room a few nights a week because I was snoring so loud and I tended to sleep better if I could sprawl out more. I told him I thought I might be in labor, but not to get too excited yet. We both said that August 1st would be an excellent birthday, the same thing we had said every night before going to sleep for weeks hoping that Ellie would come the next day. We laid in bed and dozed for another hour or so and decided to get up.

Throughout the day, my contractions stayed pretty mild and 7-8 minutes apart. Several times they slowed to 30-40 minutes and I thought maybe I was just in false labor and this wasn’t going anywhere. I tried to rest a lot so I would have energy when it was time to do the real work. I listened to my Hypnobabies tracks to relax and zone out. We didn’t tell anyone what was going on to avoid calls asking about our progress. Around 5:30, we called our midwife to let her know what was going on and that we would probably be coming to the birth center later that night if things continued.

At 6 pm I took a bath to help relax and my contractions all but stopped. I was so disappointed and cried to James. He reassured me that Ellie would come when she was ready and that I was doing a good job.

After I got out of the bath, I went and laid down and my contractions started coming back every 7 minutes and more intense. I was still able to talk through them and James didn’t know when they were happening unless I told him. I was finally getting confident that this really was labor though.

At 9:30 things started picking up. My contractions were becoming more intense and more frequent, but I was still able to easily deal with them. I sat on my birth ball, walked around the house swaying my hips, and leaned against James or a wall to help Ellie come down. I was keeping my Hypnobabies tracks on repeat at this point to keep me focused. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, hoping that by the time we got to the birth center, I would be close to completely dilated. The contractions continued to get stronger and were about 5 minutes apart. James packed the rest of our bag while I labored and gave him instructions. Around midnight, I could tell James was getting very tired. I know he doesn’t function well on no sleep, so I told him to go to bed and get a little rest because it was going to be a long night.

I went into the nursery and worked through my contractions there. I would sit on the birth ball and rock back and forth. I was starting to have to vocalize through the contractions and was even singing through them at one point. It helped distract my mind from what my body was feeling by having to focus on the words and key. I let James sleep until 1:30 and then woke him up because I needed his help. He would sway with me as I moaned through the contractions and made sure I was staying hydrated. I told him at 2:30 to call the midwife and tell her we were coming in. I felt like I had made a lot of progress by this point and was ready to have her there to help me.

We arrived at the birth center a little after 3 am and Polly, my midwife, met us at the door. She led us to the room and said she would like to check my progress. I was confident I was at least 5 or 6 centimeters if not more by this point since I had been in labor almost 24 hours. She checked me and said I was a 3 and completely effaced. This was probably one of the most disheartening things for me to hear and I nearly cried. She reassured me that the first few centimeters are the hardest to get past and that I was doing well. I pulled it together and told myself that I had a lot of work to do and it was time to get down to it.

I got in the tub very quickly and stayed there for nearly 2 hours. Being able to move freely and have the warm water surrounding me helped me relax and rest. Joanna, my birth assistant, rubbed my back and shoulders. She was familiar with Hypnobabies and used my "peace" and "relax" cues to help me.

Once out of the tub, I would spend time sitting on the birth ball, walking the halls, and laying on the bed. I also started feeling a sensation that hadn’t expected—searing pain on the outside of my thighs radiating from my hips to my knees. I had prepared myself to deal with abdominal and back pain, but the pain in my legs I was not prepared for and I didn’t know how to deal with it because walking and rocking my hips made it worse. No amount of relaxation and hypnosis was able to pull my mind away from my legs. My midwife told me that it was because my hips were opening up to let the baby through. It continued to get worse as my labor progressed. The worst part of it was that it didn’t let up when the contractions ended. Eventually, it was the only pain I experienced. I couldn’t feel anything other than the hot pain in my legs. Everything else just felt like intense pressure, not pain.

Around 10 am, my midwife checked me again and this time I was a 7-8. I felt good about that. I was making progress. All the work I was doing was getting me closer to meeting my little girl. I continued working through each contraction with James. He was wonderful and so encouraging to me. There were several times that I looked at him and told him I was so tired and couldn’t do it. I had been up for over 24 hours and hadn’t eaten much of anything since the night before. James told me I was already doing it and I could finish it.

At noon I started feeling a lot of pressure like I had to go to the bathroom. I went and sat on the toilet and felt like pushing a little. Polly told me to do what my body was telling me. I pushed a couple of times, and Polly decided to try and check to see what was going on. She felt my bag of waters bulging and decided to go ahead and break it. After that, my contractions became much more intense. Within an hour, I was complete and ready to meet our baby.

James and I both got on the bed with James behind me and pushed once, but it was so painful in my legs that I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing. They got out the birth stool and I sat on that and pushed. It was much more comfortable that way and I really felt like I was pushing well.

After 30 minutes, I told Polly I felt like the baby was right there and she assured me that I needed to keep pushing, thinking I would need to push for a couple hours. I insisted that the baby was right there and she went ahead and check and sure enough, the baby was beginning to crown.

They quickly moved me to the bed, again with James behind me, and got everything ready. Joanna held a mirror so I could watch my baby being born. I tried to slowly ease her head out in between contractions, hoping to reduce any tearing. I had her about a quarter of the way out and a contraction hit. My body began pushing powerfully and Polly told me to look, because I had closed my eyes. I had pushed her entire head out. One more strong, involuntary push and her entire little body slid out. I reached down and pulled her up to my chest and she began crying.
We quickly wrapped her up in a blanket and James and I stared at her in awe. Someone reminded me to make sure she was a girl, and sure enough, she was.

Together, we just held her and introduced ourselves as Mommy and Daddy and named her Elaina Beth. James cut the cord and we all cuddled together as a family of 3 first time.

I had a fantastic experience using the birth center and midwives. They were so supportive and encouraging to me and James and really allowed us to have the birth for Ellie that we wanted. We plan to have all our future children there too (but not for a few years!).

Hypnobabies was very helpful also in allowing us to have a natural birth. Listening to the tracks while I was still at home allowed me to relax and rest throughout the day. I think I got a little lost with it once I got to the birth center though, even though I continued listening to the tracks. My leg pain was so intense and distracting, I had trouble focusing on anything else. However, I think all my practice did help because I wouldn't categorize any of the other sensations I experienced as pain, just strong pressure, which is the idea of Hypnobabies. I would recommend it to anyone planning on a natural birth.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Morning of August 1st

I wrote this letter to Ellie the morning of August 1st after I had been having contractions for a couple of hours. I thought I would share.

Dear Ellie,

I think today is going to be your birthday, and I am so excited to finally get to meet you. I have imagined what you would look like and be like for so long, even before I was pregnant with you. Carrying you with me everywhere I go for the last months has been a wish fulfilled. I have wanted you and loved you forever and today you will finally be here with me. I can’t wait to see your face and hold your tiny body. I know that the joy I feel now will shadow in comparison to what I will feel later once you arrive.

But I cannot say I am not without fear. I worry about what is about to happen. I worry that you will be healthy. I worry that I won’t be able to do what is required of me and my body to give birth to you. I worry if I will be the kind of mommy that you deserve, because you deserve perfection and I know I will never be that. But now I have to release all those worries and doubts and rely on myself to be able to do this.

I promise you little one that I am going to do everything I can to bring you here safely. I will love you and comfort you the best way I know how. I will protect you fiercely, cherish you immensely, and be your mommy joyfully. I love you so much little Ellie. I’ve waited so long to be able to say that to you while looking in your eyes.


Friday, August 12, 2011

10 Days In

Ellie is 10 days old today. I cannot believe a week and a half have already passed since she arrived. We are all doing great too! Ellie is growing well and has surpassed her birth weight. She is sleeping in 3 hour stretches now. Everyday she does something new. Lately, its been bobbing her head when she is on my shoulder to work out those neck muscles. She has been a really easy baby so far, which we feel very blessed about.

We went on a few outings with Ellie this week. I was tired of feeling cooped up at the house and we all needed a little fresh air. We took Ellie on her first of many trips to Target, stopped in a Home Depot, and swung by the cloth diaper store to pick up some extra covers. Ellie loves the car and just sleeps the entire time. We've been using our Moby wrap to take her in places to ward off handsy strangers and keep her all snuggled up. She loves it!

On Tuesday, Ellie had her newborn pictures done by, Sara from Butterfly Chaser Photography who also did our maternity pictures and was in on the name joke. Sara has already put up a couple of shots on her Facebook page and they capture our little Ellie perfectly.

On the quilt that her Aunt Penny made for her with her favorite hand. She was actually born with her hand by her face and loves to play with it. I can't wait until she discovers that it is actually attached to her and she gets to keep it forever.

Remember that little romper I made? Well, here it is on Ellie's little tush. Too cute!

And finally, we wanted to capture Ellie's growth throughout the year and monthly pictures for us just don't seem to cut it. She's already changed so much in the last 10 days and I don't want to miss capturing it! So, I found an idea from Young House Love (awesome blog if you want something new to read) of taking weekly pictures on different fabric. They did it for their now 1 year old Clara, and I loved the final result. So, here is Ellie's first week picture!

I'll add them to my Flickr account each week if you want to keep up and see other pictures of our little beanette. Look for the link in the sidebar!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ellie is Here!

She finally came! Elaina Beth was born on August 2nd at 2:06 in the afternoon. She surprised everyone and weighed a whopping 9 lbs even and is a long 21 inches. James and I couldn't be happier to finally get to hold her.

We were able to have our natural birth at the birth center as we had planned. It was a really long labor, 33 hours, but totally worth the end result.

Despite what I may have said during labor, I am really glad we went the natural route. We were able to do things the way we wanted and my midwife and birth assistant were incredible and so encouraging. Best thing was that we had Ellie at 2 pm and were home in our own bed by 6. Being able to rest and recover in the comfort of your own home is so nice.

Ellie and me about 5 minutes after walking in the door.

We are now on day 4 of life with a baby, and things are going pretty well. James and I are getting fair amounts a sleep and Ellie, so far, has been a pretty easy going baby (knock on wood). We love holding her and cuddling her, and she loves it too. Nothing soothes her as much as cuddling up with mommy or daddy. We are overjoyed to have her and can't wait to share her with you guys as she grows.

And now, because I know its what you really want, more baby pictures.