Monday, December 2, 2013

Sleep Strategy

I know I said in a recent post that it was my last post about sleep. I really meant that when I wrote it but then I had a request to post about our strategy. I thought that was a good idea, so here it is. :) Then for real I will be done with sleep posts-unless any other requests come along.

We started our sleep journey with Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It was terrible. I'm pretty sure it was the book that got her so out of whack. We didn't gradually introduce the schedule to her and instead of sleeping more, she slept less. Way less. I thought we would never get back on track.

I researched online and read so many sleep forums and articles. I would read for hours just trying to find one new piece of information that might do the trick. Nothing worked.

Then we moved. And things got out of control. She refused to sleep unless I was holding her. I was taking naps with her three times a day and then had her in bed with me at night. And she was still waking up a bunch.

I had tried laying her down awake a lot, but it never worked. I figured since my mom rocked all her kids to sleep and we all did fine, then it was probably okay to do it with Ellie. And I was desperate, so I would rock and bounce and force her to take a binky (which by the way, she hates now) and after a really long time, she would fall asleep, but not for long. I would lay her down as gently as possible but as soon as her body hit the mattress, she would wake up screaming. I thought I was never going to get our things unpacked. It was horrible.

I didn't want to start any sleep training too soon after moving because she was already adjusting to so much. She was having withdrawals from not having my parents around. I'm sure she could sense my depression about our house. The poor girl was so sleep deprived and exhausted, I felt terrible, but I was so tired and I felt like I couldn't do anything about it.

On the drive to Oregon, I read Sleeping Through the Night and loved it. I thought for sure it would work. Once I felt like she was settled enough we tried it. It was terrible too. We let her cry for an hour before Mathew couldn't take it anymore and went in and rocked her to sleep. So we fell back into our old habits of rocking and bouncing and nursing just to get her to sleep.

Some friends from our ward here invited us over to dinner soon after we moved in. Of course the topic of sleep came up because it was ALL I could think about.  They offered to let us borrow their book, The SleepEasy Solution, after it helped their son learn to sleep. I gladly took it and we began reading as soon as we got home. This time Mathew was fully on board too. I read chapters out loud to him this time and so he was much more supportive and proactive about getting started. However, when it came right down to applying the method, I was scared and put it off. I didn't want yet another method to fail.

One night, Ellie was up every hour. We tried everything and she would not sleep. Poor Mathew, he bounced her like crazy and tried to lay down with her in our bed and she still would not stay asleep. He tried I think for two hours one time. That was the night we knew that things had to change! So the next night we started.

Okay, now I'm finally to the actual strategy. Sorry that took so long!

The first night, we gave her a bath, then I fed her, then read a story and sang to her while rocking. We put her down awake and left. She of course cried and cried but we had a specific plan! We checked on her after five minutes and gave verbal encouragement. No touching! Then we waited another 10 minutes, and then every 15 minutes after that. I think it took about an hour and a half before she was out but she slept so much longer!

The next night we did the same thing, 5 minutes, 10, then 15 (to the minute, we had timers going each time) and it took her half the time to fall asleep this time, just 45 minutes! Then the third night it only took 5. For naps, we used the same plan and there were a few that she didn't even cry for, just rolled over and went right to sleep. The first day I let her cry for naps, she took two hour naps, it was glorious! For her nap schedule, I put her down two hours after she wakes up in the morning, then wait 2-2.5 hours between the next two, then she is in her crib by 7 every night.

It's not perfect. She still wakes up once, often twice at night. But last night she had an 8 hour stretch! It was so amazing. Some nights are still rough and she gets up quite a bit, but it's usually because of a specific reason-like going to bed too late, not enough naps during the day, etc.

Right now, she is phasing out the third nap, so that is creating some problems, but I now know that she can put herself to sleep. She still cries for every nap and when she goes to bed, but she is so much happier when she is awake. I was so against letting her cry it out. I was just sure that a no-cry method would work, but she is just not a self-soother. Some babies are naturally able to self-soothe but that's just not a gift Ellie was given. It's a struggle for her, but she is conquering it. I had to tell myself a lot that her sleeping problems were not because of anything I did or didn't do when she was a newborn. It's just her temperament.

Oh and we also bought a jumper to help her get out her energy during the day. I think that helped a lot too. Aaaand, she sleeps on her tummy. Never thought I'd let that one happen! But that's the way she likes it, so whatever.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Jam Packed Week!

My parents came to visit us this past week and it has been so awesome! I have been looking forward to this week ever since we found out we were moving. My parents arrived Monday afternoon after a long drive split into two days. Thankfully, my sister lives in Boise so the 10 hours can be broken up without having to get a hotel room.

We have yet to experience a lot of Portland ourselves, but I wanted to try to do as many things as possible! Mathew had to work the first few days in the week, so I didn't want to do too much without him, but we still made the most of our time without him!

Tuesday we drove into Portland and stopped at some food carts. Those are crazy! There are so many different carts with exotic foods. I was really excited to try something new and out of my comfort zone...but then we walked around and looked at the carts and I officially did not want to try anything out of the ordinary. This may sound totally rude but some of those guys in their food carts were totally scary and I didn't really want them making my food. So I opted for a fancy grilled cheese. And it was DELICIOUS. Definitely the best grilled cheese I've ever had.

A nice comforting, clean cart.

My mom went a little exotic and got some weird French sausage hot dog thing. She didn't like it. She should have got a grilled cheese.

A view of a few more carts.

She wasn't so excited about the food carts.

After the food carts, we drove up to Washington Park and went to the Japanese Gardens. While there was some beautiful scenery, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bored. Still glad we went though!

Showing Ellie the cool water.

My dad loves Ellie like crazy. It is so much fun to watch him play with her.

We headed back home and I saw this Target. I thought it was so cool to see one in a city like that. Three floors of Target! Awesome! Someday I will get Mathew to go downtown with me so I can explore more.

On Wednesday, my mom and I did some pre-Black Friday shopping. I needed some clothes and I wanted to get some things for Ellie for Christmas, so we went to Old Navy for their pre-sale and so I could use a reward. It was so fun to go shopping with my mom like we used to! We also bought a Christmas tree that night and now our house smells like Christmas!

Thursday was (duh) Thanksgiving. I was a bit nervous to be the hostess this year but luckily it was just my parents and us so it really wasn't a big deal. I just felt like it was. My mom and I worked super hard in the morning and cooked a ton of food for just four people. I tried to talk her out of a few things but she would not have Thanksgiving without them. I decided to take on the mashed potatoes as one of my main responsibilities. I have wanted to make Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes ever since my aunt gave me her cookbook at my bridal shower. However, with 1.5 sticks of butter, half and half, and a block of cream cheese, I just couldn't justify it, until this Thanksgiving. Let me tell you, they are AMAZING. Totally worth the calories.

Moving on.

Since I didn't want to go Black Friday shopping alone, I convinced my parents to go with me while Mathew stayed home with Ellie. (I confess I went shopping at 8 p.m. Thursday, I feel kind of guilty but the day was over and there wasn't really much else to do, and I know as an associate, the more customers, the faster the shift goes, and that's all of my excuses)

Friday was my mom's birthday! Happy Birthday mom! We did some more shopping and then drove to Multnomah Falls then she chose Red Robin for her birthday dinner.

Bundled up after dinner.

Saturday was our biggest day. We had been wanting to go to the zoo all week but Ellie's afternoon nap always got in the way. Since it was our last chance to go, we just decided to skip the nap and head out. She was exhausted but was SO good the whole time. We have started facing her out in her stroller and she loves it. The zoo was so much fun. We got some amazing views of some animals. I'm a total kid at heart when it comes to zoos. We stayed after the zoo closed for the zoo lights. They were so amazing. Way better than the temple square lights. My dad commandeered my camera and took a whole bunch of pictures so I'll just share a few.

My mom has decided she loves birds, so she really liked the aviary.

After we saw the last animal, I put Ellie in the wrap and she passed out. She missed most of the lights, but I was just glad she got some sleep.

The Wizard of Oz characters!

She woke up at the end. This was a big long tunnel of lights.

I am going to be so sad when my parents leave in the morning. This has been one packed week and we are worn out for sure, but I am so so so grateful for the time I had with my parents this week! It has also given me some motivation to go out and do some more adventuring in Portland! We didn't even make a  dent in how many things there are to do.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

There's one thing I miss...

I hope this will be my LAST post about sleeping. Ellie sleeps now and it's amazing. I'm remembering what it's like to have energy during the day. I don't feel like a zombie. I don't wake up several times a night to screaming. We don't have to rock her back to sleep...and strangely, that's the part I miss.

I don't miss the fight to get her to sleep and stay asleep, but there have been a few times that I have found myself longing to rock my little girl to sleep and hold her in my arms. I miss seeing her eyes get heavy as sleep overcomes her. I miss that snuggle time. I think the past few nights and naps, I have started to subconsciously extend her wind-down time. I have started singing longer, and rocking more, just trying to get back some of those special calm moments with her. There is nothing like holding a sweet sleeping little angel. She has a fireball personality when she's awake, which I love, but it's so nice to see that peaceful relaxed look in her when she is asleep.

I'm grateful for the sleep we are all getting now, but some days I just really want to go pick her up out of her crib and hold her for just one more nap. That's the one thing I miss...holding her and watching her sleep.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Early Christmas Present

Once upon a time we had what I thought to be my (almost) dream car. My dream car growing up was a Volkswagen Beetle. When I met Mathew and he owned a Volkswagen Passat, I figured that was pretty darn close, and I was ecstatic. Finally, my not-really-but-close-enough dreams were coming true...I was an owner - through marriage - of a Volkswagen car.

Then that car became the biggest pain in our necks. It ran great for a while, and then the timing belt broke. At that point we had to make a decision, replace the engine, or buy a new car. Silly us, we chose the first option. We put a huge chunk of money into fixing that car and it never did get fixed for real. It beeped at us all the time, had lights flashing in the dash telling us to fix one thing or another, and the battery has been replaced several times. There's more but it would be a long and boring list. We hate that stupid Passat, but were never in a position to replace it.

Until now!

We are the proud owners of a snazzy 2012 Chevy Malibu and we LOVE it!

Oh and yes that is my 1995 Ford Escort Stella in the background. That car has been amazing to me over the years. Go Ford!

We traded in that pathetic Passat for almost nothing (piece of juuuuunk) and haven't looked back. Some would say we basically just gave the Passat away, but I say we got a ridiculous thorn in our side out after a lot of festering...therefore totally worth it. Plus the price of this car was really great, so we just didn't have to do any haggling. Even better.

We had no intentions of purchasing a car on Saturday. We had our hearts set on a Ford Fusion. However, after almost getting ourselves stuck with a Fusion that smelled really bad (thanks to a strong prompting to go back and look in the daylight we saved ourselves), we decided to test drive some other cars just for fun. We found this baby and we were sold the second we sat in it.

We found it about 20 minutes before nap time so Ellie was quite the handful for the FOUR hours we were at the dealership. Poor girl. I ended up having to feed her in the dealer's manager's office where she fell asleep almost immediately and stayed asleep for maybe 20 minutes, then the squealing picked up again. Some of you know what squealing I'm talking about. If you don't, your ear drums should thank you!

Back to the car. We are so grateful to know we have a reliable car that doesn't cost a fortune to fix. We will never ever buy a European car again. I no longer have dreams of owning a Beetle. American made cars all the way! Merry Christmas to us!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A New Home

I guess I will come back to the blogging world for a moment. Still deciding how much I want to keep blogging! I have a very specific reason for leaving but I better keep it to myself. However, since we have made a pretty giant life change, I thought some people might want to know a little bit more!

So Mathew got a real job. It's probably the most awesome thing ever. This is the first time we have worked without having to save to go back to school and not have jobs again. For once we can create a budget that doesn't involve a "save-as-much-as-humanly-possible-so-we-don't-go-broke-during-the-semesters" fund.

Here's how it all happened. If you remember, we were pretty sure we were going to be in Layton where Mathew did his internship. Mathew touched base with them every so often to see if they would have room for him. They wanted him to come back very badly. The only problem was that they are a contract type company so the kicker was waiting for them to get contracts and then they would hire him right away. Well, the contracts they were waiting on kept getting pushed back further and further. We knew that eventually he would have a job with them, but it was looking pretty iffy on the when, so Mathew started job hunting. I did a lot of the work at first. I searched and filled out applications and stalked his email waiting for interviews. I was getting obsessive and out of control and finally had to force myself to let go-this could be an entire blog spot by itself so I'll just leave it at that.

Mathew took over the job hunt. He worked really hard but finding a job is SO HARD! Companies wanted someone experienced and even the entry level jobs said at least two years experience required. So stupid. Then one morning, Mathew was woken up by a call from a recruiter in Iowa. He had found Mathew several jobs to look into and began working to get Mathew interviews at AGCO and CNH (farming equipment companies for those who don't know). Mathew had interviews set up for one in North Dakota and one in Minnesota. We were beyond excited. This recruiter made it seem like such a sure thing, so when both companies came back with "no's" we were kinda shocked and I cried. I pulled myself together and tried to have faith that something better would come along. Sure enough, Mathew gets a call from yet another recruiter who found a job in the Portland area. The interview was set up and Mathew got a job offer the morning after the interview. He didn't immediately accept it because he had a second interview with a company in Bend, OR set up later that afternoon. That interview went really well too but their hiring process was going to take a while so they recommended that Mathew take the other offer. So he did and here we are in Wood Village, Oregon!

Mathew came here for a week by himself to start work and find us a place to live. He spent all day looking and found a townhouse for a really good price with new paint and carpet that is owned by a member. He took a video of the place and sent it to me and I was SOLD-loving the fact that we would be able to save even more money. However, Mathew didn't notice some details that would have been red flags to me and I cried when I walked in the door. I cry a lot I know. It smelled awful, the drip pans on the stove were caked in burnt food, the bathroom was dirty, the kitchen drawers were dirty, and there are words starting to show through the paint on our bedroom walls.

I was ready to throw in the towel within minutes of being there. I had been so excited to be in a place for more than five months and it seemed like my dreams and hopes were crashing down! I didn't care if I lost our deposit, I just wanted out. After giving it some more thought (and having many chats with my dad), I realized that I needed to make the best of this situation. No, it's not the perfect place, but with the extra money we are saving on rent, we were able to go to the store and buy things to fix it up. I spent $40 in cleaning supplies and scrubbed the bathroom like I've never scrubbed before, I scrubbed the kitchen cupboards and drawers and lined them all, bought new drip pans, and I bought lots of baking soda, air fresheners, candles, and scentsy bricks. We have decorated as well and I really feel like it's home now. I'm so glad we didn't give up on the place. There are still things that need improving but it's nice to know we now will have the ability to put some money into decorations and anything else we will need instead of putting all our money in rent.

Some other tidbits about our lives here so far. We live two minutes from Target, and are very close to lots of other awesome shopping. Everyone is SO NICE here! It's beautiful. I feel like I am living in the city of Idaho Falls with the scenery of Island Park. Our ward is incredible. We wasted no time in buying raincoats-yay for a Columbia outlet store nearby! We got to buy a new washer/dryer. Ellie has her own room with a crib and everything! I am still working for the Idaho carpet cleaning company-my boss is awesome. Mathew has a really great job with a really really great company. We also live just down the road from a greyhound racing track haha.

I have to say, I was hoping we would end up in Idaho or Utah, but I really feel at home here. I love it, even if our townhouse isn't perfect. I'm so glad we are where we are. Sorry Utah, but I don't miss you, but I do miss Idaho. I can definitely see us staying in Oregon for a long time!

Friday, August 30, 2013


I am taking a blog hiatus. It might be short, and this blog might become extinct. I have been doing a lot of self-reflection about my social media use and purposes. I'm just not sure what my purpose as a blogger is anymore so I'm saying goodbye until I can figure it out. Bye for now readers!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Some Thoughts on Sleep Training

Dealing with baby sleep habits is rough. You start out with a newborn who is able to sleep long stretches for a few days, but you are told to wake that baby up at least every three hours so it doesn't get jaundice or get in so deep of a sleep that it succumbs to SIDS. Then all of a sudden things change. That baby no longer wants to sleep. Ever. You start to regret every single time you woke up that baby when it was a newborn and kind of want to strangle all of the nurses and consultants *ahem breastfeeding class instructor* who told you to do so. You wonder if that is the reason why your child doesn't want to sleep anymore.

Then you try to read sleep books and any advice you can find just to get some dang sleep! And you suddenly realize you are a failure for rocking your baby to sleep, nursing baby to sleep, and for heaven's sake do NOT let your baby sleep in a swing...even if that is the only way she will nap. So you try to listen to the advice to make up for all the terrible decisions you have made as a parent in just a few short months. Apparently now your child will never be able to soothe themselves to sleep for the rest of her life because you have already been helping her fall asleep and therefore she is doomed to be an insomniac.

As you continue to search for answers, you keep seeing the phrase "drowsy, but awake." What the heck does a drowsy baby look like anyway? Pretty sure the baby goes from super content to overtired monster in about 5 seconds and since you aren't telepathic, you missed your prime opportunity to put your baby to bed and again are a failure. So I guess you can just try again at the next nap since you will have to once again bounce your baby to sleep. You get really really really sick of reading the phrase "drowsy, but awake" and kind of want to scream every time you try it and it doesn't work. Oh the other obnoxious phrase, "watch for the first signs of tiredness." You watch your baby like a freakin hawk to catch those tired signs but they don't come, or they come 15 minutes after she wakes up and you know she can't really be ready for another nap already...but sometimes you try anyways just to see and guess what...she really isn't ready for a nap!

Before having your baby, you tell yourself you will never ever let your baby cry it out. It's just too cruel. Then you decide maybe those people aren't crazy and you should try it and you do. Once. Maybe twice. And it sucks. Seriously sucks. You shut yourself in a room down the hallway and check back after a while to see if it worked. It didn't. Sometimes you let your baby cry it out because it's just easier than dealing with trying to get the baby to sleep but it never actually works.

When crying it out doesn't work and that whole "drowsy, but awake" thing still doesn't work, you kind of just accept that babies wake up in the night and you just get less sleep, and you are totally okay with helping your baby fall asleep because let's face it, it makes you feel special that you can soothe such a precious little miracle.

Even though you are super duper exhausted all the time, you still love your baby and decide that it's worth it to wake up with her, and know that somehow, someday, you may just get some well-deserved and needed sleep.

p.s. for those who don't reeeeally know me...this was meant to be humorous. :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Three Months!

I honestly feel like I just wrote Ellie's two month post. I'm not sure where to even start!

Ellie is getting to be so much fun! I keep thinking back to how hard and overwhelming those first couple weeks felt. I just couldn't see how things were going to get better! They definitely have though, and I just love having this precious little girl and I love watching her grow!

Ellie loves to suck! Quite the turn around from her early weeks. She won't last long without something in her mouth. The binky is still very handy and keeps her calm, but sometimes she would just rather suck on her fingers or her arm. She gets very into this, and makes very loud sucking noises. They are pretty funny. She has even given herself a hickey on her arm!

We took a trip to Boise last week for a mini family reunion. I was so nervous about the drive but she did really well. She slept most of the way and was very happy and playful when she was awake. While in Boise, Ellie laughed for the first time and she rolled over. Sadly, we have not been able to repeat the laugh. She is trying so hard to figure it out, but it's just not quite there yet. She has rolled over a couple more times, but sometimes I think it's more of a gravity pull than anything. Again, she is trying really hard to master this one, but she needs a little more time. I think she might get rolling over from her back to tummy down first. She puts in some serious effort on her back.

I don't know if I have mentioned before that Ellie hates tummy time. I couldn't stand to see her bury her face in the blanket and just scream, so I kind of gave up practicing. Then I saw a picture of Hayley's amazing baby holding her head up and I decided it was time to get down to business. Mathew and I helped cheer her on while she was on her belly and after a couple sessions, she became a rockstar at it! She doesn't last for more than a few minutes before her head is buried and she is crying again, but there is major improvement and every session, she goes a little longer! (Thanks Hayley for motivating me to help my baby progress haha)

She has discovered her feet! She loves to look at them and grab on to them. Every time I lay her down to change her diaper, she lifts those feet up and grabs right on to them. She will also kick her legs like crazy during diaper changes. We are convinced she got Mathew's love for running. :) Along with loving her feet, she loves to stand up! This came partly because of her distaste for tummy time and my desire to decrease the pressure on the back of her head.

I started giving Ellie stuffed animals. She loves them! As soon as I put it in her hands, she will put it straight into her mouth to suck on it. It's adorable to see her try and fit her whole mouth around it. I'm also hoping to use the stuffed animal at night to help keep her calm without being swaddled in her Halo. I love that thing, but they only make them so big and I don't want to have to swaddle for much longer!

A few weeks ago, Ellie started "ohing." So cute! It makes me laugh whenever she does it. She shapes her mouth into a very defined "O" with super puckered lips. She loves to babble and talk.

We have been giving her a bath every night and she loves it. At first, it would instantly calm her and she would just enjoy sitting there. Now, however, she has discovered how to splash in the water. She will kick and kick and fling her arms in the water. I have a hard time getting her out because I know she is having so much fun.

Now to the part I am struggling with. She is not a good sleeper at all! Supposedly, she is supposed to be getting one long stretch in at night by now. She was lengthening it, but over the last week, she will only sleep for a few hours at a time. I have no idea what is wrong. I think we are going to switch the bath to mornings instead, because it seems to arouse her now more than calm her. We also had a projector thing that's a part of her sound machine above her crib going all night so we could see her, but we turned both the sound and projector off last night and things seemed a little better. I don't think she is old enough to let her cry it out yet, so we aren't going to do that for another month if things don't improve. I strongly agree with "Happiest Baby On the Block" when he says you can't spoil a newborn and hold her too much, so she will not be crying it out quite yet. I am trying to follow the instruction of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." I'm just feeling a little lost because those methods aren't working yet. I think maybe she just isn't ready for some of the things we have been doing. We try to lay her down when she is awake but it doesn't work. And don't worry, I have done it often, not just once and given up. I am getting exhausted though, and really hoping things will start to improve.

She is also extremely clingy with napping lately. She won't let me put her down, so I have resorted to having her nap in the wrap. She takes excellent long naps in this, so it's very tempting to just keep doing it that way. The only thing keeping me is that I was really starting to enjoy having my hands free during nap time!

 This was taken after she got her shots. Poor thing. :(

She actually handled the shots surprisingly well, but was definitely miserable the next couple days.

Her 4th of July parade outfit. My mom and I got a little excited about the 4th and she might have had 3 outfits...having a girl might get a little expensive for me haha. Her shots were July 3rd so the 4th was not as fun as we were hoping.

Waiting for the fireworks. We decided to leave before they started.

We took her to the drive-in one night. Her face cracks me up in this picture.

She loves standing!

I'm not one to take pics of myself in the mirror very often, but I felt the need to document her clingyness. This was a week ago, but she will not nap any other way lately!

I had to throw this one in to brag about Mathew for a second. He worked SO hard this semester and he was a part of a project for Polaris. They designed a tool to improve the assembly of part of the engines of some of their motorcycles. They took first place in the engineering design competition and I couldn't be prouder.

Her first experience with a stuffed animal. Straight to the mouth.

So proud of him for graduating! Note her hand's location.

Did I mention she also loves to suck on her bottom lip?

She broke free of her Halo.

My beautiful sister Stephanie is such an amazing aunt to Ellie! She sang all sorts of songs to her while we were in Boise and snuggled her a lot. So glad Ellie will have her as an aunt!

We bought her a zebra in Boise. She loves how soft it is. This also had Stephanie singing a zebra safari song to her which has been stuck in my head for DAYS! I have a video of her singing it, but promised I wouldn't share it on the web. :)

This is how she feels about tummy time.

Couldn't help sucking on her fingers.




Friday, July 12, 2013

A Few Tips

Since getting rid of the shield was such a huge hurdle, I wanted to share some of the things that helped Ellie and me, JUST in case someone who reads this blog finds themselves in a similar position.

1. Don't give up. As tempting as pumping and bottle-feeding, or just switching to formula seems, don't give in. Disclaimer: I have NOTHING against either of those things. They definitely have their place. All I'm saying is if you really want to nurse and the only thing standing in your way is a little piece of silicon, then keep at it.

2. Schedule. I have to give a great big thanks to my sister-in-law Michelle on this one. She has baby scheduling down to an art. I spent the whole day with her when Ellie was still having troubles and she really helped me tune in to Ellie's natural schedule. She helped me to realize how important it is to watch the clock! It had only been an hour since I last fed Ellie when she got fussy, so she said, she's probably ready for a nap! I know babies don't just cry because they're hungry, but since she had such a hard time eating, I always felt like she was never full, so I thought she just cried out of hunger. Well, Michelle helped me see that she needed help falling asleep, which is why she was so fussy. (I also thought babies would just fall asleep when they were ready...silly I know, but Ellie had been doing it and I didn't know she had grown out of that). I would have just assumed she hadn't had enough to eat and was hungry again. Well, she napped for an hour and started to wake up, so Michelle said since she knew it had been two hours since she ate last, I should hurry and go feed her before she got too fussy. That was so helpful to feed her before she was too awake. Basically, what I'm saying is pay attention to the clock! Be prepared when baby is hungry so that she is calm and collected before she tries to eat. From what I have heard, baby will eat, play, then sleep, over and over again throughout the day, so when baby wakes up, FEED!

3. Try different things. I was given a lot of advice and read a lot of different things. The thing I heard the most was to let her start eating with the shield, then take her off, quickly take of the shield and re-latch her. That did NOT work. At all. She just got more upset that she was forced to stop. Instead, I would feed her on one side with the shield, then when she was ready for the next, I would latch her without on the other side. The first few times were a little rough, but after a few successful latches, she was off the shield completely. I was also told to try different positions, especially the football hold. That was somewhat helpful, but not the problem solver but it might be for someone else.

4. Don't let her get fussy. This is really important. I read a few experiences of other women, that they would just fight their baby until they finally got a good latch. I would strongly recommend against this. The more frustrated Ellie got, the worse it went. You have to build trust with your baby and let her know that she will still get food from you and have a positive experience. If your baby gets fussy with trying to latch without, put the shield back on and try again without later. Eventually, it will work.

5. Research. At first I didn't want to read anything, because I felt like a failure. I thought if I read online, I would get more discouraged because other women were able to get their babies to latch just fine. But research was so important, I was able to find so much information that was helpful. My two favorite resources were: and

6. Don't worry about the "perfect" latch. This goes back to the article from the #5. When I first got Ellie to latch without the shield, her latch was not ideal. Her lips were not flanged out. There was some pain, but I'm sure it was only because I had been using the shield for so long. After a few days, the pain went away, so I thought all was well, but I wanted to be sure. When I searched for how to encourage babies to flange their lips, I came across that blog post. It stressed that if the latch is working and it doesn't hurt, then it's probably a good latch. I felt so much better! I didn't want to force her lips out because I was afraid it would just make her mad. Her lips still don't flange, but I don't feel pain, her mouth is very wide open, and she is gaining weight just fine, so it's a good latch for us.

I am by no means any expert on breastfeeding. These are just the things I found to be helpful and I wanted to share!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Two Months!

Ellie is officially two of yesterday probably by the time I finish and post this...or like three days later, no big deal. Things with Ellie have definitely changed. She has come so far since the one month post.

First off, I would like to announce that Ellie is no longer using the shield! I can't believe how much easier it is to feed her now. I honestly dreaded feeding her when I had to use the shield. It was messy, time consuming, and just annoying. I was so scared she would never be able to figure out how to eat without it, but she pulled through! It's been three weeks since this hurdle has been crossed and I can't even describe the change it has made in everyone's lives (including Mathew, he was a trooper and washed that dumb thing many times for me).

Ellie finally loves her binky. I struggled and struggled to get her to take one. It seemed like by the time she would take it, it wasn't really worth the effort I went to. I finally had the thought that maybe she didn't like the shape, so I headed to the binky aisle at Wal-Mart this past Saturday. I was about ready to check out with a binky I felt pretty good about when I noticed they have ages on the package! I almost bought her a binky for a 6-month old so I ran back and found a newborn size and it is so awesome! She took it instantly and it has helped so much ever since. She can now fall asleep on her own, stay asleep longer, stay calm if I can't feed her right away, or if I feel like her feedings need to be spread apart. Her crying has reduced significantly since we found that magic binky! In case anyone would like to know, the MAM binky is the one she loves. We used the soother binky they give at the hospital for a while, but I had reservations about it so I really wanted to find an alternative. The NUK was the second one we tried and pretty sure it was just too darn big and she didn't like the awkward shape of it. I truly feel like Ellie is a completely different baby now.

Like I mentioned, the binky has helped her sleep habits tremendously. For naps, we used to have to swaddle her tightly, and take her into the bathroom under the loud fan to get her to sleep, while bouncing and shushing her. Then we could only lay her down when she was completely out and then mimic the swing motion as we slowly put her in the swing while still shushing her to keep her asleep. Then she would maybe take a 45 minute nap max (except in the afternoons she was sometimes getting a 2-3 hour nap in!). Now I just have to swaddle, pop the binky in, and put her in the swing and she's good to go for about 1-1.5 hours. At night, she is still getting a 5-6 hour stretch most nights, but now has added another 3 hour stretch after that.

We started giving Ellie a bottle around 7-8 weeks so that we could leave her with someone if necessary. I was really nervous because of all the feeding problems she had, but knew it was important if I ever wanted to be able to go on a one-on-one date with Mathew or go to the temple again. I left Mathew alone in the room with her and nervously waited. I heard her cry a few times, but soon enough Mathew came out and all was well. She took the whole bottle and was just crying when he stopped to burp her. Woo-hoo! He gives her one bottle every night now while I sit and pump for the next night. It's turning into a good bedtime routine.

She is interacting so much with us now. She started smiling at 4-5 ish weeks. She loves to be whistled to. It puts a great big cheesy grin on her face. We have also started giving her a rattle to hold on to and she doesn't really know what's going on but she holds on to it really well! She is also old enough to enjoy her little jungle thing that plays music, she loves to watch the lights bounce around on it too. She definitely gets fussy and bored quickly though and likes to change activities often.

Since the binky was introduced (seriously I was NOT kidding when I said it was magical and she is a different baby), she is so much more content and able to schedule. At first I was struggling to get her in a routine of eat, play, sleep, but now she falls right into it because she has something to soothe her besides nursing. She eats for about 20 minutes, will play for another 20 ish, then will go right down for her nap and be up ready to eat 2 hours after her last feeding. It's so nice to be able to predict more when she will be ready for a particular activity.

Now for those who don't like reading paragraph baby updates, here is the list, plus a few more not previously mentioned:

1. Takes a binky beautifully now.

2. Eats every two hours and naps for about 1-1.5 hours with good play time in between.

3. Loves to kick her legs and put them straight up in the air.

4. Nurses SO much better now and no longer needs the shield.

5. Fits perfectly in all her 0-3 and 3 month clothes.

6. Loves to go for walks in her stroller.

7. Has become quite the shopper and is content going to the mall with my mom and me.

8. Smiles a lot and we love it. Whistles bring the biggest smiles.

9. Holds on to a rattle and likes listening to it.

10. Hates being in dirty diapers. I can not wait very long to change her before she is crying about it.

11. Is super happy to just lay on the floor and kick and look around.

12. Still sleeps swaddled in her halo.

13. Loves getting a bath.

14. She also enjoys the occasional nap in my homemade moby wrap.

15. Her hair is really coming in now and it is still red!

16. Drools like crazy and blows bubbles in her carseat. Two teeth have been teasing us since she was about 3 weeks. Not sure when they will finally pop through!

17. She is still long and skinny but her cheeks and thighs are filling out. Mathew saw her in her carseat and said her cheeks look like a dogs because they sag down haha.

And just a final little story. My parents and Mathew and I sat down to watch a movie about a week ago maybe. Mathew had successfully put  Ellie down for bed (pre-magic binky) so we thought we were set for the whole movie. We heard her fuss a bit, so I went in to check on her and she was WIDE awake, just laying there happily. As soon as I walked in the door, she looked at me and let out this huge smile. It was so wonderful and made me really feel like I am her mom and she knows that. It just really made me feel so much more connected to her since she recognized me.

I thought these two pictures were hilarious. She loves having her hand(s) up by her face. She had them both up by her face in the 20 week ultrasound.

Don't know what we'd do without that HALO!

Oh that smile melts my heart!

What did I tell you...MAGICAL binky!


I love this picture of Mathew with her. Shows how much she loves her daddy and likes to hold on to his finger.

Ellie with her penguin at one month...

Ellie with her penguin at two months. I'm kind of in awe at the difference!

Monday, June 3, 2013

One Month!

Ellie turned one month old yesterday! That was probably the fastest month of my life! I have learned a lot in this first month and know I have a lot more to learn. One thing I have learned is that Mathew is the most helpful, reliable, selfless person. Any time I need a break, he is there to take Ellie without complaining. He is completely willing to get up with me in the night to help me get her back to sleep after she eats. She loves her daddy and is usually more than willing to go to sleep for him! He definitely has a magic touch with her. I would not have survived this first month without his help.

Some things about Ellie. She has been a good sleeper from the beginning (at least most nights). She will usually get a good 5-6 hour stretch in, then she is up every couple of hours after that. I am always so grateful when I wake up that first time with her and the clock says 3:00 a.m. instead of 12:00 or 1:00! I have never been so grateful for every minute of sleep. She likes to be bounced. A lot. It gets pretty exhausting so it's nice to be able to take turns. She is working on liking her binky. I have to slip it in when she is in just the right mood, otherwise she screams. She still loves her Halo blanket but is about too long for it! Not good, I have no idea how she will sleep once she has grown out of that thing, or it's too hot for it. She loves to just lay on the blanket and stretch and kick. She's starting to "talk" a little bit while she does it too. She smiles a lot in the morning. I know they aren't supposed to be "real" smiles until about 6 weeks but I'm convinced some of them are real. She has definitely looked right at us and smiled after we've done/said something. She has a stinking cute smile and it just makes my whole day to see those smiles. She likes being shushed to sleep but is starting to enjoy being lullabied. So far, I've discovered that I Am a Child of God and A Child's Prayer put her right to sleep a lot of the time. She is definitely growing but is still so tiny! I was convinced we wouldn't use all the newborn diapers we were given, but we have already bought twice as many and it doesn't look like she will fit into the 1's anytime soon. But, she is finally getting to wear some of the 0-3 month clothes! I am so excited to finally have some variety and to not have to do laundry every day!

Now here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure from yesterday morning. Mathew was taking tons of pictures of her after she ate (hence the bib) to try and catch a smile. Sadly he didn't get a full smile, but someday we will capture one! Also, someday I will be a good mom and put bows and headbands on her. I am just not that ambitious yet.