Monday, February 28, 2011

Southern Style, Bargain Budget

Has it really been a week since my last post? With Rob & my parents both out of town, I was rocking life as a single mom last week and it didn't leave much time for anything else! Everyone is back home now & we're falling back into our old routines.

I've posted before about my love of kids' clothes-- specifically smocked jon-jons. (I had several people ask after the last post, "What is a jon-jon?". It's just a shortall that was made famous when JFK, Jr. wore them as a little boy-- in addition to being really popular in the South, they're also worn in a lot of coastal/island towns like Martha's Vineyard.) These things can just get so expensive and the little guy will grow out of them so quickly that it seems absurd to pay full price for these clothes. They're just so. damn. cute. So, I have to find a way to get the clothes I want, without spending a fortune-- end of season sales and consignment sales have been my best bet to find a good bargain.

I don't think I ever posted a pic of Liam's first jon-jon! Bought at a 60% off sale, this little smocked gingerbread man was Liam's outfit for all of our Christmas parties & family get- togethers. He wore a white turtleneck and white knee socks with white shoes. So sweet.

I picked up this green gingham Easter bubble at a local kids' consignment sale a few weeks ago-- $20 & it doesn't look like it was ever even worn! Can't wait to see him in it on Easter morning with a white cardigan and white knee socks & shoes.

*swoon* This one came from an end of summer sale before Liam was even born-- my mom found it in SC and it was 60% off! It's a little bit big, but will be perfect in another month or two once it's permanently warm. My heart skips a beat every time I look at this pic.

We're taking a family beach trip in August and I can't wait to see my little man playing in the sand in this sweet smocked crab jon-jon. $20 at a consignment sale-- excellent condition.

This one is just so cute, I squealed when I saw it. I love lime green and the piping on this smocked stocking bubble is precious. The white corduroy is so dreamy and I can't wait to pair it with a lime cardigan and white knee socks and shoes. While I plan on dressing Liam in jon-jons as long as I can get away with it, I think that Christmas 2011 is probably the last time I can get away with putting him in a bubble. $20 at a consignment sale and it looks brand new!

I've been so excited to find such great deals on sweet stuff for Liam to wear! While Rob unfortunately thinks that most of these outfits look like Liam's wearing a dress (I'll give him that on the bubble...) I think that they are so sweet and are such a tribute to Liam being little. He can wear shorts and t-shirts for the rest of his life, but he'll only wear these outfits when he's a baby and toddler. He's growing up so fast-- I'll try to keep him little as long as I can!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Letters to Liam, 5 months

My Little Liam,

Last night, I was flipping through your baby book and I burst into tears—where has the time gone? 5 months old, ALREADY? One day you were a tiny baby, the next you had grown into a beautiful little boy.

We took some big steps this month! You have been such a little guy and Dr. Farr was a bit concerned at our 4 month appointment, so we’ve been going back every two weeks to have you weighed. You just weren’t gaining quite enough, so we decided to start supplementing with formula, in addition to pumping milk for you. Now you are getting bottles of half breastmilk (which is so good for you!) and half formula (which gets your tummy full!). It was a really difficult decision for me-- I felt guilty that I wasn’t able to provide you with everything you needed. But, formula has really taken a lot of stress out of feeding time—I don’t have to constantly worry about whether or not you have enough milk. You seem really happy that you are getting more to eat and Dr. Farr is proud of you for gaining weight!

In addition to adding formula, we also started feeding you solids. You love to eat! We started with rice cereal and you gobbled it up. Now, if I hand you a spoon, you try to feed yourself. You’ve had bananas, sweet peas, apples & sweet potatoes so far—we’re giving you each new food twice a day for three consecutive days, just to make sure you don’t have any allergies. I love watching your reactions to each new taste, smell & texture.

With all of this new food, you are growing! At our appointment last week you weighed 13 lbs & 14 oz—a huge jump from where you were a month ago at 11 lbs 4 oz! You’ve also gotten longer and are now 25 ¾ inches long. You’re starting to outgrow some of your 0-3 month clothes in the length & you’re finally moving into a few 3-6 month outfits. (You also finally moved up to a Size 1 diaper—no more Newborns for you, big boy!)

You’re on the move now—we can’t lay you down without you immediately flipping over & we often find you facing the completely opposite direction than how we laid you down! You love playing in your piano exersaucer and you’re sitting up for extended periods of time in your Bumbo. Your little feet are constantly kicking & you love splashing in the bath.

You’re laughing at everything—a big, gasping giggle that leaves you breathless and we can’t get enough of it. Daddy, Marmi, Poppy and I will do anything to hear that sweet sound—we often make fools of ourselves, but it’s well worth it to see you so happy.

I made you a special shirt to celebrate your first Valentine’s Day—it was an applique of a black puppy carrying a red heart in his mouth. You won’t remember our little puppy Tate, but he would have loved you so much! While you were in my belly, he loved to rest his head on my tummy. We miss him everyday, but you’re so lucky to have your puppy Chloe, who simply adores you.

Every stage you grow into, I swear is my favorite— just when I think it couldn’t get any better, it does. I’m head over heels in love with you, and it just keeps getting better.

I love you, sweet pea.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


"Who's that fat baby?"

Dr. Farr shook my hand as he walked into the exam room Friday afternoon with a big smile on his face. Out in the hall, I had heard him flip through the chart, noting that Liam had gained over two pounds in the past two weeks. He asked what we had done differently and I told him that I had decided to start supplementing with formula.

I confessed that the whole reason I had been exclusively breastfeeding was because I thought it was what was best for Liam, but that after much thought, I realized that since Liam wasn't gaining enough weight, exclusively breastfeeding him was not what was best for him. He needed more milk than I could give him, & I needed to supplement.

Previously, Liam was gaining about 3.5 oz/week. Over the past two weeks, he averaged about 18 oz/week. He went from 11 lbs 11 oz to 13 lbs 14 oz! Dr. Farr said that he's playing catch-up and will probably continue to gain this way for a while, then he will plateau.

It was the right decision.

Life has gotten a bit easier in the past two weeks. Feeding time has gone from 40 minutes to 10 minutes, and while I spend the difference pumping, I can do that when it's convenient for me, not necessarily when Liam needs to eat. A clean bottle and a packet of formula has worked in a pinch when we've been out and Liam has needed to eat (no more worrying that breastmilk will spoil). Anyone can feed him! The amount of milk that I'm pumping is more than enough for what he's eating-- I'm pumping 20-30 oz/day & he's eating about 20 oz of my milk each day. I've even started to rebuild a freezer stash!

There are a few negatives... I still feel guilty that I wasn't able to provide everything that Liam needs, but that's starting to lessen. The sweet buttery smelling poopy diapers no longer exist...although, since we've started solids, those would have been a thing of the past anyway. Keeping pump parts & bottles clean is a pain-- I'm now an exclusive pumper. Formula is expensive (although the doc encouraged us to use store brand formulas-- Target's Up & Up Brand costs $3 less than Similac for twice the amount of formula).

As we talked about our routine, Dr. Farr reminded me that since Liam is getting 8 oz bottles with 4 oz of formula and 4 oz of pumped breastmilk, he's essentially getting the same amount of breastmilk he always has & that the formula is just additional calories. (I love our pediatrician--he always makes me feel like I've made a good decision, no matter what that is... he really validates his parents' choices.) He's still getting all of the same benefits that he got when we were nursing, he's just getting his tummy completely full now. Add in all of the solids that we've started & we have one happy boy!

I'll keep this up as long as I can. Things didn't work out the way that I planned, but we're adapting and doing the best we can. The original goal was to make it to a year-- I can no longer look that far ahead. (I do know that I will pump until Liam is at least 6 months.) I'll just have to see how my supply holds up, especially once my period returns. (I haven't had it in 15 months & I'm thrilled that it has stayed away!) There may come a time (long before a year) where I just don't want to continue spending over 3 hours a day pumping and cleaning pump parts. If we eventually go to formula exclusively, I am convinced that we'll be ok. Liam's had breastmilk when he needed it most & now his needs are different.

As emotional as it was, I'm happy with our choice & Liam seems to be, too:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Puppy Love

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Everyone was so sweet in their comments on my last post & I can't thank you enough for the support that you all offered. While I'm still not entirely comfortable with the idea of formula (and the diapers that come along with it!), I must admit that the stress surrounding feeding time has really lifted over the past few days. I know that my son is truly getting what he needs to thrive and that's what's most important. I'm sure that I'll post more about our adjustment later, but I just wanted to say that it means the world to me that you all took the time to offer your thoughts and experiences. I felt so reassured and it made a tough decision a little easier.

On to some fun stuff!

Since making Liam's Superbowl outfit, I've spent some time researching what my embroidery digitizing software can do in regards to creating appliques. It took a little while, but I've figured out that I can take any digital image and turn it into an applique! I have so many ideas, but the first thing that I wanted to do was make a Valentine's Day outfit for Liam.

I designed the shape of this little pup carrying a heart in Photoshop, saved it as a JPEG, opened it in my digitizing software and defined the outline. Then, I cut the shape out of fabric, fused it to the onesie, then let my machine do the stitching around the edges. (I stitched the football outfit free-hand using a zigzag stitch, but I quickly found that a small curvy shape is much more difficult.) It took a few tries to get it right, but I love how it turned out. I can't wait to try some more!

My little model:

Happy Early ♥ Day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Surrender.

Breastfeeding is always a controversial subject. Please know that the following post is not meant to judge breastfeeding mamas or formula feeding mamas. The expectations that I had of myself are not ones that I have of other mothers. This is simply about my struggle to decide what's best for our family.


This afternoon, I stood at our kitchen counter & cried.

Due to wake up from his nap at any moment, I needed to make a bottle for Liam. I had put the can of Similac on the counter, then walked away. I had come back and taken off the lid, but walked away again. One last trip into the kitchen had me filling a bottle with water, digging out the scoop & bursting into tears.

Liam had his weight check appointment on Friday. In the past two weeks, he had gone from 11 lbs 4 oz up to 11 lbs 11 oz. Even with my plan to increase Liam's feedings, he's really not gaining any faster than he was before. An average baby gains somewhere around 8 oz/week. Liam's gaining around 3.5 oz/week and our doctor thinks that there's room for improvement.

The problem is not really with the fact that Liam's a tiny guy-- He's alert, hitting all of his milestones ahead of schedule and is perfectly healthy-- It's that he's not following his own growth curve (which of course, is measured on a standardized growth curve). The issue is more that he was in the 41st percentile for weight at birth and now he's beneath the 3rd percentile. (His height has gone from the 96th percentile to the 58th percentile.) Even if a baby is small, most pediatricians like to see them hover around the same percentile, although that will fluctuate a bit with growth spurts. If Liam had been born at a weight around or below the 5th percentile, no one would raise an eyebrow at his small size.

We talked for a long time at the appointment on Friday about what's best for Liam... and that really is what this has to be about. Not what's an emotional issue for me, not expectations I put on myself, not what other people might think. LIAM. It's about him.

I was very clear regarding my feelings about exclusively breastfeeding. I asked the our doctor to level with me, and if we're at a point where he truly believes that there is no other option than to supplement, to tell me. He said that he didn't believe we were there yet.

Then he asked me to make another appointment to bring Liam back for another weight check in two weeks.

After I left, I felt like I was starting the whole emotional roller coaster all over again. Do I supplement? Do I try more Fenugreek? Add another pump session to my day? Nurse for an hour and a half instead of merely an hour? I considered going back to the lactation consultant today for another weighing session before and after we nursed. I tearfully looked at those formula cans sitting in the corner of Liam's room.

And then, I thought, "What am I doing?!"

I've spent the last 4 1/2 months doing everything I can to provide breastmilk for Liam and I've done well. I've nursed him, pumped for him, visited lactation consultants for him, taken herbal supplements for him. I would do ANYTHING for him to get him what he needs to be healthy.

...and what he needs at this point to be healthy is formula.

Liam has a fantastic metabolism and needs more food than an average baby. Unfortunately, he does not seem to be an incredibly efficient nurser-- and this, I believe, is really our problem. We nurse for 35-40 minutes and he gets 5 oz. When we nurse for an hour, I doubt he gets much more. After he eats, I'm often able to pump an additional 5-6 oz. He can suck down a 10 oz bottle in less than 10 minutes. The boy can put away some food, he just can't seem to get it himself...and if he can't get it himself, it's my job to provide it for him. He wants to take 8-10 oz bottles 5-6x/day & our doctor wants me to give this to him.

I simply can't keep up. I can't pump 40-60 oz a day. And, I can't keep killing myself trying.

So tonight, I did it. After a conversation with Erin about how supplementing is going with her twin girls, I made Liam a 4 oz bottle of formula. I added in 4 oz of breastmilk, telling myself that he's still getting some of "the best." But, my stomach churned and I taunted myself, "You will never again be able to say that he's an exclusively breastfed baby."

I took a deep breath, I wiped away the tears and I fed him. He didn't bat an eye-- just sucked down the whole thing.

The new plan is to see how pumping goes... I'm going to try to pump as much as I can (the goal is around 20-30 oz/day instead of nursing), then supplement the rest with formula. The plan is for his bottles to be half breastmilk, half formula. This is reassuring to me, that he's still getting breastmilk. Additionally, I think that I will probably nurse once a day-- I just won't use this as our primary feeding method because I know he's not getting as much milk as he needs. I'm pretty certain I can keep up with this and perhaps have some extra to build a freezer stash to ensure that Liam gets some breastmilk in every bottle. But if there's a circumstance where no breastmilk is available? Well, we're no longer formula virgins. He'll be ok & so will I.

I've felt like breastfeeding, no matter what challenges we've faced, has been what I have to do to be a good mother. I would sacrifice so much for him! Anything! But we've reached a point where doing what's best for my son no longer means being an exclusive breastfeeder.

It's not how I planned. It's not what I wanted.
It's what he needs. So, I'll do it.

And just maybe, that's the decision of a good mother.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Force

By far, my favorite Superbowl commercial:

I hope Liam believes in magic.

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Some friends are hosting a superbowl party tonight, so it's time for Football Cake Balls!

These can be made with crumbled cake and icing, but like last time, I took the no-bake easy way out and made Oreo Truffles: one package of oreos ground in the food processor & an 8oz package of cream cheese hand mixed in a bowl.

Put the dough in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then take out and shape like little footballs.

Pop them back in the fridge for another 10 minutes. Dip footballs in melting chocolate, let dry on wax paper, then pipe on "laces" with white icing.

All lined up...

Ready to party!

(Thanks Bakerella for the awesome idea!)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Never Grow Up

Because I dissolve into a sobbing mess every time I hear it...even if it's the 100th time: