Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

It's no secret that, as a southern mama, I love monograms, jon-jons, smocking, saddle shoes and appliques. There are several stores here that carry all of these things and they always have the cutest seasonal clothing for babies. The problem is that they're super expensive, and while I love dressing up Liam, it just seems so silly to spend so much money on an outfit that he might wear for a month.

I am my mother's daughter though, and a true bargain shopper. We combed through the racks at the end of the summer, buying clothes for Liam for next summer before he was even born. I've got my eye on a few Christmas outfits now, that I'm watching the prices drop before I purchase them. And, I've got a list of local consignment sales on my calendar to pick up some cute outfits at a fraction of the cost.

One of my favorite stores has an awesome selection of appliqued t-shirts and onesies and every time I drool over one of them, I always think, "I'm pretty sure I could do that." So, this weekend, I decided to give it a shot.

I started with a bird applique, because it matches the theme of the babyshower I'm throwing for my cousin in April...and I was really happy with my first attempt! My stitches weren't perfect and I made the huge mistake of not paying close attention to where the fabric on the back of the onesie was placed while I was sewing, and I accidentally stitched the front to the back in one spot! So, even though I had to toss this one, it was great practice!

Once I had some practice under my belt, I decided to start on an outfit for Liam to wear to the Superbowl party our friends are hosting next weekend. I bought some brown pinwale corduroy fabric and found a football shape online...the rest was easy!

I decided to embroider his name on the football. (Next time, I think I'll make his name a little bit bigger, but I still like how it turned out.) I had some leftover fabric, so I decided to make some matching pants and a bib.

Doesn't he look sporty?! I'm thinking about making some shoes for him, too. Now that I know how easy it is, I'll make his holiday outfits myself! (Well, except for smocking. I don't think I'm going to attempt that.) Already dreaming up ideas for a Valentine's Day outfit...

(Special thanks to Liam, who took two great naps yesterday,
which allowed me to sew for a few hours!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Challenge

Breastfeeding is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.

Liam is an exclusively breastfed baby. I haven't talked a lot about our experience with breastfeeding here, because we've been lucky to have relatively few issues, so there’s not a lot to tell.

Last Friday, Liam had his 4 month checkup and when the nurse announced that his weight was 11 lbs & 4 oz, I was hardly surprised. Two weeks before, we'd made a trip to the lactation consultant to weigh Liam before and after he ate and he was 11 lbs even, which is below the 5th percentile. When our pediatrician greeted us and asked how we were doing, I responded, "Great! And skinny!"

While the doctor wasn't pushy, he said that he would like to see Liam put on some more weight, and as an experiment, he asked me to feed him everything that Liam could drink over the next few weeks, then bring him back for a weight check.

I know (from several trips to the lactation consultant) that Liam gets about 5-6 oz in a 35 minute nursing session, and it seemed to make sense to pump and bottle feed him for a while so that I could give him more than that each feeding and monitor what he ate. When we got home from the appointment, I made him a 10 oz bottle (double what he typically eats) just to see how much of that he could take.

He sucked down the whole thing.

So the next feeding, I gave him 10 oz, and the next... Liam was gulping down every ounce and ate over 50 oz on Sunday. I can't pump 50 oz/day so I watched my freezer stash of milk dwindle down to 30 oz from well over 100 oz.

I worried & I cried, "I can't keep up with this! I'm going to have to supplement."

All weekend, I struggled. We've made it 4 months breastfeeding & I don’t want to give up on it. Everyone keeps assuring me that formula will not hurt Liam, it's not poison, etc and I know this, but I don't want to give it to him.

I always knew I would breastfeed, preferably for a year, until he’s ready for cow’s milk. I think that our experience with infertility just made me more resolved to do so. My body was going to do something right for once! My supply has been good and Liam eats, on average, the same amount of milk as most other breastfed babies. But now, realizing that he could suck down 10 oz at a time, I felt really defeated. Thinking about how (once again) my body seemed to be failing me sent me into an emotional tailspin.

I must have picked up those sample cans of Similac (that I was bombarded with while pregnant) ten times and tearfully acknowledged that soon, I would be feeding Liam formula instead of my milk. I felt like I was having a panic attack every time I thought about it. I felt so defeated and depressed that I only pumped several times a day over the weekend-- what was the point in pumping throughout the day if I was going to have to use formula anyway? It's a slippery slope (as my lactation consultant put it)-- once you start formula, it's so much easier to give them a bottle than to nurse, so I had a feeling that if I made that step, I'd be giving Liam formula more often than breastmilk.

::And then, I said no.::

While I agree that Liam has a very high metabolism and could benefit from extra milk, 50 oz+/day is way too much for him. And even though I know that he can keep it down, 10 oz bottles are not necessary for him to grow. After three days of binge drinking, he looks like a completely different baby-- squishy cheeks and full belly. I can tell he put on some weight... but I can also tell that he doesn't need to continue to eat like that.

So, I've decided to add an extra 10 minutes to our nursing sessions & up Liam's bottles of pumped milk (that he gets while I'm at work & at night from Rob) from 5oz to 7oz. I visited my lactation consultant on Monday who suggested that I rent a Medela Symphony to help increase the amount of milk I can pump and start taking Fenugreek (again, I took it a few months ago and saw results).

We have an appointment next Friday to have Liam weighed & let me make it clear-- I will never let my pride stand in the way of my son's health. If Dr. Farr is not satisfied with Liam's gain, then I'll reevaluate our plan. But giving up on breastfeeding without a fight is hardly honoring the relationship we've built so far.

So now I just have to keep up with the increased amount of milk I need to pump as well as work to rebuild our freezer stash. 30 oz is only enough for 4 bottles and I need to be ahead of that if we ever want another date night. I always said that I wanted to have 150 oz in the freezer—I’ll settle for 10 bottles (70 oz) at this point. Needless to say, I won’t be away from Liam very much for the next few weeks— I can’t afford to waste precious pumped milk. I'm setting alarms in the middle of the night, waking up early & staying up late to pump.

I know that I can do it and I will do it. Exclusively breastfeeding is the biggest commitment I’ve made to my son & it's a promise I made to myself.

No more tears. I’m up for the challenge.

Letters to Liam, 4 months

My Little Liam,

Happy 2011!

On New Year’s Eve, you spent your first overnight at Marmi & Poppy’s house—your first of many, I’m sure! I was a wreck about leaving you for so long, but we both did great. Daddy and I had a wonderful time going out with our friends, and you had a fun time being smothered with love and attention! (I think you wore them out, though. It may be a little while before you spend the night with them again.)

You had an amazing first Christmas! Santa spoiled you with all kinds of presents—some of them you aren’t even big enough to enjoy yet, but you’ll grow into them. Although you won’t remember, I’ll never forget standing at the window, watching the snow fall with you on your first Christmas.Your favorite gift is your Step & Sing piano and you LOVE playing it. It plays music when you step on the keys and you’ve just figured out how to press the buttons with your hands. When you make it sing, you are so proud of yourself and you smile so big!

You’re spending more time on your tummy now, rolling over from back to belly then belly to back. If I lay you down, you are often facing the complete opposite direction when I pick you back up. You’ve also figured out how to prop yourself up on your elbows. You’re sitting in your Bumbo chair every day, watching me cook or craft. Your core has really gotten strong and you’ve been able to sit up longer and longer.

The best development since last month? You’re giggling now. Your laugh is the cutest thing I’ve ever heard! I usually hear it when I’m changing your diaper and I bend down to kiss your belly, then up to your neck and face. I smother you in kisses and you laugh and laugh! I look at you in those moments and think, “It doesn’t get better than this.”

We took you to the doctor today for your 4 month checkup. You are 11 lbs 4 oz & 25 1/2 inches long. You are still such a long and lean boy—at four months old, you are still wearing newborn diapers! Your colic is gone and your acid reflux is under control, which is a relief! Dr. Farr would like to see you put on a little more weight, so we’re going to start feeding you extra milk & we're starting solids. We’ll start with rice cereal, then move on to veggies and fruits. I plan to steam and purée your food myself so that you can always have the freshest, healthiest things to eat. I can hardly believe you’ll be eating from a spoon soon… Little boy, you are growing up way too fast!

And I know I said this last month, but we really are moving you into your own room in the next few days. Your head and toes almost touch the bumper of your bassinet, so it’s time to pass it along to your cousin Millie who will be here in a few short months! I’m sad that you won’t be a few steps away from me, in our bedroom, but you’ll only be a few steps down the hall. We have a video monitor in your room and will be able to peek to make sure you are sleeping soundly, but it probably won’t stop me from tiptoeing into your room and placing my hand upon your tiny chest, feeling it rise and fall, listening to your sweet baby breath.

The days are just flying by and it seems impossible that you have already been here for four months—I can’t imagine my life without you. I love this time with you, when every day is a new discovery, an opportunity to learn something new. You teach me things everyday—hopefully, you’ll learn from me, too.

Watching you grow is such a gift.

I love you, muffin.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I know, I know..

I'm way behind on posting & I have a lot of catching up to do...

I need to post Liam's 4 month letter (which is already three days late). It's written but I haven't taken pics of him. Will do tomorrow.

I need to write about the new job. All is going well. We've worked out a routine and I've made it out the door on time every day!

I need to write about Liam's 4 month checkup and some challenges we're having and decisions we're making.

But for now, I need to take a bath & go to bed. Night, all.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Triple Threat

Tomorrow is a big day-- the day I start to learn how to balance work, motherhood and being a wife.

I'm a bit overwhelmed already.

When I stopped working in June, the plan was for me to stay at home for the rest of the year with Liam, then head back to work part-time in January. As the weeks passed and 2010 drew to a close, I looked for a new job with a heavy heart. Sure, I enjoy some time away from Liam every once in a while to recharge-- but the idea of spending scheduled hours away from him on a regular basis seems very daunting.

It's such a Catch 22-- we need the money & I really do want to stay involved in my field, so that I'm able to maintain connections that will benefit me if I want to work full time again. BUT, Liam is growing up so quickly and I'm terrified that being away from him might mean that I miss a major milestone. What if I'm not there the first time he sits up on his own, learns to crawl or takes his first steps?

::pause to cry for a bit, then continue::

I’ve been running perpetually an hour and a half late for the past 4 months, so making it out of the house (with my hair brushed, without spitup all over my shirt) is going to be challenging. I have to decide tonight exactly how to accomplish having Liam and I both dressed, fed & out the door by 8:30am tomorrow.

Then there’s the breastfeeding issue. (Well, hopefully there will be no “issue.”) I’m really proud of my commitment to breastfeeding and the fact that Liam hasn’t had a single drop of formula-- I don’t intend for that to change now. I’ve been so lucky to be home with him for these first few months so that I can breastfeed him on demand. Our experience has been wonderful— Other than some trouble latching in the hospital (easily fixed with the use of a nipple shield) we’ve had no problems. My supply is enough to feed him, plus pump 5-15 extra ounces a day to use in a bottle on days that we’re out and about or freeze for later. I currently have 140 ounces in the freezer and I’m hoping not to have to dip into that stash too much.

There are solutions to all of my issues, of course:

1) My parents will be keeping Liam on Tuesdays & Thursdays which means that his happiness and safety is something to cross off my list of worries. They are so happy to be with him—I’m thrilled that they’ve offered to keep him.

2) If I wake around 7am, I can sneak into the shower before Liam wakes up, which is usually around 8-8:30am. After my shower, I can pump (handsfree) while drying/curling my hair. Then, when I’m dressed and ready, I can wake up Liam, change him and give him a bottle (which takes 10 minutes instead of the 40 min it takes to nurse him). Ideally, that leaves us with 30-45 extra minutes to handle whatever crisis comes up (I’m sure something will!) and get out the door between 8:30-8:45am to make it to the other side of town. (If Liam wakes up before I’m ready, I’ll either feed him then get ready while he plays or have Rob give him a bottle if he hasn’t left for work.)

3) I’ve already explained to my employer that I’m a breastfeeding mom and that I will need time during the workday (9:30am-3:30pm) to pump. Space is kind of a problem in cube land, but I’ve been assured that I can use the board room or any space I need. (I’ll think I’ll just take a 30 minute unpaid break and have lunch and pump in my car.) Then, when the work day is over, I’ll call my mom and see if Liam has recently eaten. If he hasn’t, I’ll nurse him when I pick him up. If he has, I’ll pump in the car on the way to get him.

I don't mean to be overdramatic—I’m just an anxious first time mom. The job is only about 12 hours/week now (will be 8-10 hours/week after the first month) & it really is a perfect fit. I'll be doing consulting work for the local branch of a national non-profit. The job is not permanent, but it's long-term. (I'm scheduled to be there through September--perhaps longer.) The pay is excellent-- the hourly rate is more than I made at my salaried full time position, but the hours are less, of course.

I think that this really will be a good thing…once I get into a routine. There are weeks where we go several days without leaving the house or interacting with other adults. I want that interaction, I want to be challenged and I want Liam to be comfortable being away from me. I’ve earned my PhD in motherhood, now it’s time to start earning a living again.

Part-time, anyway. Let’s not push it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ruffly Wreath

A few weeks ago, I saw this wreath and I fell in love with it:

This blogger made a gorgeous wreath in a rich red and when I saw it, I knew I had to add it to my project list.

This wreath takes a lot of felt circles to make-- I cut 260 3" circles and used every one of them. In fact, I think I may cut about 20 more to add to it, just to fill in some of the thinner spots along the outer edge. It was actually a great project for me to work on while nursing Liam! I'd stamp the circles while he was napping, then cut them while I fed him.

Ideally, I would have loved to make this wreath in a pretty apple green, but my felt-by-the-yard color options were very limited, so I decided to go with pink for the baby shower and I'll hang it with a green ribbon. (Please, let this baby be a girl-- the doc was 75% sure at her last appointment. Another ultrasound next week. If it turns out to be a boy, I'll either give this wreath away or sell it on etsy.)

Ok, so using a chicken broth can and a white stamp pad, I stamped out 260 circles on pink felt. (This was much faster than tracing each circle!)

Here are the supplies: 260 3" felt circles, a 12" wreath form, straight pins & a thimble.

Take one of the circles,

and fold it in half.

Then, fold it in half again.

It will look like this:

Stick a straight pin near the point of the folded felt and pin it to the wreath form. You can pin them as close together as you want. (I realized about 1/4 of the way through that I was pinning them closer than they needed to be, so I pulled some random pieces out and just fluffed the pieces around the empty space.)

Work your way around the wreath, pinning and fluffing as you go... (No need to pin pieces to the back since it will be against a wall or door.)


The color is not my first choice, but I love the organic texture of this wreath and if nothing else, the pink one was good practice. I'll definitely make a red one for our house, and once we're positive that my cousin's baby is a girl, I may get started on a second pink one. (My parents have french doors at the front of their house, so I'll need two if that's where I hang them!) This wreath is an inexpensive way to make a big impact. I'm glad I gave it a try!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas (in pictures)

I've been meaning to post this for weeks...

We had such a nice Christmas! On Christmas Eve, we headed over to my parents house where we spent the night. My brother Eric and his girlfriend Sandy came in from Nashville and we wanted to spend as much time with everyone as we could. Sandy lives in Oklahoma and will be moving to Nashville in 2o11. We met her in Nashville in early November and couldn't wait to spend more time with her.

Friday night, we ate our traditional meal (chili), then we all opened our traditional present (new pajamas!) My parents do this every year for us, and we'll continue this with Liam each year. He looked so cute in his red and white striped reindeer pjs!

We stayed up way too late, and as everyone headed to bed, my mom and I played Santa and filled the stockings and laid out the presents.

Since Liam was in an unfamiliar crib, it didn't surprise me that he woke up a bit early on Christmas morning. I nursed him in bed, then quietly crept downstairs, trying not to wake anyone up. I will never forget standing in the living room with him, looking outside, realizing that his very first Christmas would be a white one.

This pic was taken just as it started to snow. The flakes were some of the biggest I have ever seen. (We only got a light dusting, but it was enough to eventually cover the roof, the yard, the cars and the deck.) Alabama hasn't seen a White Christmas in 25 years.

A few hours later, armed with coffee, everyone started getting up and we started opening presents. Such a big pile for such a small boy!

Santa really spoiled Liam! He got a Croc Block Wagon, a Lil Zoomers Speedway, a Laugh & Learn Puppy, a silver puppy bank, mini Chuck Taylors & clothes. He also got tons of books.

His biggest treat was the Step and Sing Piano from Marmi & Poppy! It's like an exersaucer combined with the piano from Big. He LOVES it! His legs are just barely long enough to reach the keys and he gets so excited when he steps on one and it plays music. This week he's just started figuring out how to play the keys with his hands. It's so cute! This was definitely his favorite gift!

We had a wonderful first Christmas!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A year ago today...

...I peed on a stick and it told me I was going to be a mother.

...My body ceased to be my own and became a home for another life.

...I entered a time in my life where I felt more beautiful than I ever have before (or probably ever will again).

...I wrote that post with a precious secret in my heart, while I write this one with a baby at my breast.

...My life changed forever.

Happy BFP Anniversary, little Liam.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tissue Paper Pom Pom Tuesday

Seems like every pretty party I see is decorated with these big fluffy tissue paper pom poms:

Couldn't be hard to make, right? All you need is 8-10 sheets of tissue paper, wire and scissors.

Lay your tissue paper vertical on the table.

Fold paper accordian style with each fold about 1" wide.

Wrap wire around the tissue paper, tying a small loop at the top. (This is how you will hang the ball when it's done.)

Round each of the ends.

Let the sides fan out.

Then, gently start pulling apart the layers.


It took longer to write this post than it took to make all three.
Easy, cute & super CHEAP!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Another Project

Ok, I'll say it. I'm crafty.
I'm happiest when I'm up to my elbows in a project.

I LOVE personalized details that make a party look like a million bucks. For our wedding, I embroidered our married monogram on 100 linen napkins. Each guest had their name at the top of their menu. There were tons of little details that I obsessed about-- and they were my favorite part of our wedding design.

I volunteered to host my cousin's baby shower in April and I have gone a bit crazy scouring the internet looking at pictures of other people's showers to get ideas and inspiration. (Well, I'll be doing the planning and decorating, my mom will hold the party at her house & I'm sure my aunts will all pitch in just as they did for my fabulous shower last summer.) The wheels are already turning regarding all of the little details I want to put into it and since my time is so limited, I want to get started early (aka now).

A few days ago I stumbled on a tutorial for making these:

& I thought they'd be adorable to drink out of with a really cute paper straw, like these:

So, I gathered some supplies to give it a try:

A Starbucks Frappuccino (drink or dump coffee, peel labels off and scrub)
Rubber Gloves
Glass Etching Cream
A Paintbrush
A template

Instead of using paper and adhesive like the tutorial suggests, I made my template out of contact paper so that it would stick. It worked perfectly!

I cut a circle out of the contact paper and stuck the remaining square to the bottle. Then I put a sticker in the middle. I dipped the paintbrush in the etching cream and covered the area, then let it sit for half an hour before rinsing it off.

So, my first attempt didn't come out as clean as I wanted- I wasn't careful enough when I pressed the template to the glass so you can see some spots where the cream snuck underneath the template and created an imperfect circle.

However, my second attempt was much better! (I did it on the back of the same bottle for practice.) The circle came out perfectly and the "b" was nice and clean. I probably could have left the etching cream on a few more minutes, but I wasn't paying close attention to the time in between nursing, naps & diaper changes.

I love how easy these were and what a sweet touch they'll be at the shower when they are done with a scalloped edge circle with a little "m" on them! The mama-to-be's name is Mary Allison (she goes by Memo, which we pronounce Mee-mo) and the sweet baby girl scheduled to debut in May will be named Susie Amelia, but she'll go by Millie. That's a lot of m's!

I was also thinking that I might use these as a decoration at the party-- perhaps I'll spell out m-i-l-l-i-e with the bottles across the mantle, using them as vases for gerber daisies? Ahhh, the possibilities are endless.

Now I have the task of collecting enough frappuccino bottles for each person at the party plus extra and unfortunately, they're not my favorite. Luckily, my mom likes them, so I just have to convince her to drink them more often. Also, our newborn photographer offers them to her clients, so she's agreed to hold on to them for me. I think I'll need about 35 bottles by the end of March, so if anyone drinks these regularly let me know! (I think that you could probably squeeze enough of these bottles into a flat rate shipping box to make it worthwhile.)

I'll definitely post more pics of projects as I work on them!