Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One Month Later

It's already been a month. A month! How is that possible?! Olivia and I are getting used to each other and we're hanging out all day together and I LOVE it. We go shopping, I read her stories, we take bubble baths, we play dress up, and we snuggle. And nap. LOTS of napping going on. Well, for her. Not so much for me. I'm busy making photo books, wasting time on Pinterest, and doing copious amounts of laundry.

So far, she kinda just stares at me when I try to play with her. She's still so little, she has no idea what the heck is going on or where the heck she is. Ha! But she's definitely starting to look around more and more. And I think she is starting to recognize my face. Before too long, she'll be driving. Ugh.

I've been looking for activities and things to do with babies as itty bitty as she is and there's a lot more to do with newborns than you'd think! I wanted to wait until she was a month old to start tummy time, and we tried that yesterday. She wasn't impressed. Of course, we'll keep trying because I know how important it is to get them on their bellies so that they can strengthen those neck muscles. I don't think we are going to have a problem with this one, though. I'll lay her on my chest to snuggle and she'll raise her little head for a few minutes at a time! She's amazingly strong. Strong like bull!

We found a great Pandora Radio Station that we love listening to - Lullaby Themes. It's awesome. I sang "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid in its entirety yesterday to Olivia. She loved it. She thinks I have the voice of an angel. She told me.

I put together a Pinterest board of activities that I cannot wait to do with my little one. I'm bummed though because by the time I will be able to do most of these with her, I will have to go back to work. Sad face. Praise God for teacher's schedules, though! And weekends.

Here's my board. Click the pic to visit. Lots of good stuff on here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Breastfeeding for Dummies

I am so dead-set on breastfeeding my daughter. I want her to get the best of everything, including what's best for her little developing body. And honestly, I must say that part of it is also the fact that I don't want to spend extra money for formula. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?! And the other part is that it's been a challenge and I have accepted. Bring it on, breastfeeding woes.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those moms that turn my nose up at other moms for not breatfeeding. It's a personal choice and there's nothing wrong with either method of feeding. I just personally want to go the b-feeding route. For the nutritional benefits, the fact that it's free, AND because I'm too lazy to get up in the middle of the night to make a bottle. Yep. That's the kind of mom I am.

As of today, Olivia is 19 days old. I've had cracked, bleeding nips, soreness beyond any pain I could have imagined, and mastitis in my left breast. Still battling that, actually. I'm on antibiotics for that and I am learning very quickly that heat and pumping around the clock are the keys to the cure. But the good news is that the nip soreness and bleeding and scabbing (ew!) is over. My right boob, Olivia, and I are completely in sync! So I know there is an end in sight to this mastitis pain.

For new moms who are quickly learning that breastfeeding isn't a walk in the park, here is my advice and some tips:

- Breastfeeding HURTS. At least for the first few {or more} days. Your nipples probably went from zero action to NON-STOP tongue lashings and hard-core suckling in a matter of hours. It's normal for it to be painful. Don't let someone tell you it's not supposed to hurt. IT HURTS.

- To alleviate the pain, you need Triple Nipple Cream. For some reason, no one told me about this until I was in my 6th day of agony. If you're still pregnant, buy these ingredients NOW so that you can already have it ready. You will need it.

Triple Nipple Cream
Miconazole Cream {anti-fungal yeast treatment that can be found anywhere}
2% Hydrocortisone Cream

Mix equal parts of this together and slather it on those suckers. Instant relief. Some may be reluctant to put these chemicals on their breasts for fear of harming the babe. Just wash it off really good before feedings. It's fine. Some doctors even say it's not necessary to wipe it off, so it's fine. Your kid is going to be exposed to a lot worse in life, trust me. I am convinced if I had heard about this cream earlier, I could have avoided mastitis.

- If you get a blocked duct, you'll know it because there will be a little {or big} knot in your breast. Don't do like I did and avoid it. I was scared to touch it because I'm a big wuss. I don't know what I was afraid of, but it just gave me the willies. Well, it turned into mastitis. So, my advice is to massage that sucker hard core with a REALLY hot rag over it. And then pump, feed, pump, feed, pump, and feed. Nonstop. For as many days as it takes to get rid of it. And it could take a while! Like a week or more is not uncommon.

- An electric toothbrush {or any other vibrating device.....} can help massage out any clogged ducts that you may experience. I've "heard" that this works wonders. So, if you are one of those ladies that has something around the house that vibrates, you might could try this. That's all I'm gonna say about that trick.

- If you get a fever, do not wait for it to go away. Call your doctor immediately so that you can get on antibiotics. A fever is a sign of an infection and you need to get rid of that ASAP. Antibiotics will help you. Do not be afraid to take them - if they were unsafe, doctors wouldn't let you take them.

- For me, breastfeeding whilst having mastitis has been the worst pain I've experienced. I'm venturing to say that it's worse than labor pain. It feels like needles being sucked out of my nips. But I have a trick that is helping with the pain. Even though its time consuming, especially at night, it's worth it. I pump, then feed immediately after. For some reason, it helped. Also, Lansinoh makes these smooshy heat packs that you can pop in the microwave that are good for sticking into your bra. Feels nice and helps break up that little stubborn bastard knot that won't seem to go away. Any hot compress will work. Keep heat on your boob for as long as you have the clog. It helps soften it up and relieves the pain a little when it's feeding time.

- If you come to a point where you are crying every single time you feed from a certain boob and you are starting to feel like a failure and not enjoying motherhood, this is when your friend the bottle comes in. Pump on the side that hurts and feed your wee one from a bottle. It's okay. I sobbed on the day that I decided to do this because I felt guilty {guilt: my new best friend now I'm a mom} for confusing the poor child. My biggest problem throughout all of this is feeling guilty. It sounds silly, but I felt bad for not being able to tough out the pain. I felt guilty for giving her a bottle! But here's the thing: you have one job and that's to make sure your baby is fed, healthy, clean, and continues to grow. You also need to take care of yourself. And enjoy being a mom. Bottle feeding is 100% completely OK! Your baby is still getting nutrition and you aren't in pain. Give those honkers a break. I did and I'm glad. But don't forget to continue to pump! You still need to pump every 3-4 hours. Or whenever your baby eats, so that your supply won't dry up.

- Finally, the #1 best thing that I've discovered is Lecithin. It works like a charm. Lecithin is a soy supplement that helps your body emulsify fat. And for unknown reasons, it helps unclog clogged ducts. And prevent them. It is perfectly safe and natural and breastfeeding women from around the world take it all the time. Ok, I have no idea if women around the world take it, but it's doctor approved and that's good enough for me. I am convinced it helped break up my clog.

I wrote this post over the course of about a week. When I started it, I was finally feeling confident about breastfeeding. Then 2 days later, I got mastitis. Now, on day 23 of Olivia's life, I am feeling much better. My clog is still present, but it's tee tiny now, and the pain is virtually gone. I wrote this in hopes that someone else out there that is in pain and going through the emotional roller coaster that I am still kinda going through will see that it DOES get better. Stick with it. Take breastfeeding breaks when you need it. And know that this time will fly by, so do whatever is necessary to enjoy it.

The last tip I want to share is to keep a log of feedings, poops, and pees. I use SmallNest. {http://www.smallnest.com/} It's an app I have on my iPad and phone. It's easier than writing it all down. You just want to make sure that your little one is pooping and peeing enough, and it's good to know exactly when the feedings take place and for how long.

Hope that helps at least one person!
Happy B-Feeding!

{Here I am feeding my little buddy hands-free! Look Ma- no hands!}

This post is based on my personal experience and should not, in any way, be used as a replacement for medical advice. Readers assume any and all risks associated with the suggestions of my motherhood expertise.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

DIY Newborn Photography

So, I've already posted a few tips and tricks to doing your own maternity photos. But now that your baby is here, it's time to think about capturing those moments when your itty bitty is still itty bitty. It won't last long! If you splurged on your maternity photos and don't have the funds to host another professional shoot, take matters into your own hands. It CAN be done, and it can be done for a reasonable price. I am still a huge supporter of professional photographers and I strongly believe that the expense is well worth the investment, but when you simply do not have the extra cash lying around, make the most of it and DIY!

Oh, and by the way, I birthed a baby! She's officially here and you can read all about it by clicking here.

My sweet baby is so easygoing and having her first photo shoot was a pleasure. She loved getting dressed up in her tutu, pearls, and head accessories. It went well, but I did do some research before delving into this little project. Here are the tips that I found for doing your own little photo shoot:

1. Feed your baby until she's milk drunk. Nice and full is the key. Wait about 10 minutes, the change the diaper. {If you want to take naked pics, take them first and FAST!}
2. Make the room very warm, like 74 or higher.
3. Set up all your goodies before feeding and diaper changing.
4. Have a big soft bed or cushiony palate ready. Put a Boppy pillow underneath a big, neutral colored blanket so that your LO can be propped up real nice.
5. Look at Pinterest for photo ideas and then come up with your own spin on them. I get tired of seeing the same crocheted hats on babies. They all look the same! Take your baby's personality and
add his or her own flair! Or create a personality for her, since you know, she's only 12 days old. I love putting U of L {for those of you living on the moon for the last month, the Louisville Cardinals won the NCAA Championship and I couldn't be more excited about it. Go Cards!} stuff on her, but instead of buying a bunch of team onesies or outfits, we did a little black and red tutu {compliments of the MIL} and I got the cutest black and red headband to match. It screams CARDINALS without actually saying it, you know?
6. You need a friend or lover boy to help you. Have neutral colored backgrounds ready for them to hold up so that you're not capturing Sparky in the background licking his butt at the same time you're  trying to capture a sweet baby moment.
7. Take some pictures while she's sleeping and some while she's awake. Both are cute and fun! And don't delete the outtakes! Those are hilar!
8. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. You don't need. 55,000 perfect pictures. Get a dozen or so great ones, and you'll be just as happy them!

Here are my faves. She's such a diva. I'm smitten.