Thursday, May 5, 2016

True Life...Nursing

People tend to freak out when you talk about nursing. It's such a taboo subject for some reason--I suppose maybe because people feel super strongly about it, one way or another. I'm not that way and I never was. I definitely did want to nurse Charlotte if I could but if I couldn't, I wasn't going to be too upset (or at least that's what I said). It is what it is, right? We had some trouble starting out but I was determined to give it my all and after a few days (and one hospital stay with TONS of help from the most amazing nurses around and a house call from my sweet friend Casey who is a lactation consultant) C and I were able to figure out the whole process and settle into a routine. This routine was both the hardest thing I have ever done and at the same time the easiest. I always knew where her food was and I made as much as she needed (but not much more), thankfully. There was relatively little prep and when she was on just milk only, we spent no money for her food! Of course being a working mama made it a little more difficult since I had to pump and think way ahead in order to make sure she had enough milk for the length of time I was to be away from her, but I managed. Looking back I don't know why I didn't just have the mindset that it would be totally fine for her to have a little formula here and there, as I think formula is just fine. Planning ahead sometimes was really hard once she started to eat more. I would have to "ration" the pumped milk to save enough if I wanted to be gone for an extended period of time so I would have to come home early from work so I could feed her instead of her nanny giving her pumped milk. I was considering trying out for the Olympic nursing team when I planned an entire week of work around pumping enough milk so I could go to the Bama v. Tennessee game in Tuscaloosa (and she was already eating baby food at this point). It was especially hard for me to wake up with her every two hours at night for days when she would go through a growth spurt. She hit the 4 month sleep regression and growth spurt when I was at the beach for 10 days. I spent literally 4 hours on the beach, as the rest of the time I was nursing her every 2 hours day and night or sleeping. Formula added into the equation would have really really made things easier--even just one bottle in the night so Forrest could feed her while I slept for more than an hour at a time. But no, I was her mommy and I could feed her so I was going to feed her. I felt like since I could do it I needed to because there were some mommies that couldn't do it and they wanted to and I was lucky to be able to. Oh well--hindsight is twenty twenty and I did not die--should there be a next time hopefully I will be much less rigid! Charlotte nursed exclusively for the first 4 months of her life. That was all me. I was actually really really proud of myself since we had a rocky start. That girl grew and got so fat and roly poly and it was all because of me! When she hit that 4 months  growth spurt that nearly sent me to the psych ward--we realized then it was time for baby food! She didn't care for cereal but she did love everything else. She still nursed, and I'm surprised to say that I don't remember the frequency any more. I think she would nurse (or take a pumped bottle) when she woke up, then before lunch, and before all naps and before bed and of course during the night. She on her own would drop a feed, starting with the one at lunch and then the one first thing in the morning and of course the one before naps when she dropped those naps. After a while, with the introduction of more and more food, she was only nursing before her afternoon nap and before bed and during the night (she has never been a great sleeper and I can never get around to writing that post). In December, after a small meltdown from exhaustion, I finally admitted to myself that she was a little too attached to nursing. If Forrest got up with her in the night, at first she would scream and be mad and want me. After a day or two, she would just take her bottle and settle right to sleep. If I got up with her, she wanted to nurse and have me hold her for hours. I knew this was not the way things needed to be, especially at 10 months old, so I had to make a hard decision. I stopped nursing, cold turkey, on New Years Eve. I knew, probably a few months earlier, that nursing had become a terrible crutch for her but I wasn't ready to let it go. I was so worried she would be sad or mad at me. Turns out, she didn't seem to mind. I gave her a bottle before her afternoon nap, and she was fine. Forrest got her at night for a few nights in a row and gave her a bottle and she was fine. When I went in at night after that with a bottle, she was fine. I was so relieved and a little annoyed at myself for not trying earlier when I knew I should have. I guess I didn't want to be seen as a quitter (I hadn't made it to 12 months), or lazy (since the decision was really made because I was exhausted). However, the decision was the best for HER and that's what matters. She immediately started sleeping better and took to whole milk just fine! I was amazed at how quickly my body stopped producing milk and went back to it's regular size. I still forget I can order salads for my meal (eating lots of green veggies would upset C's tummy), drink more than one glass of wine at a time, or do things like getting a spray tan. I still catch myself counting the hours I will be away from her, planning my outfit for easy nursing or pump access, or worrying about where my pump is. As hard as nursing was, I definitely would do it again, with some major tweaks in there. I loved the bonding and closeness I shared with her for all those months. I liked knowing that I was doing something great for her (and my own) health. My words of advice to all the moms out there would be do to what you think is best for your own baby..there is no contest or prize for who can nurse the longest or most. If it works, it works, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. Don't get caught up in all the clutter out there telling you what you should do and how...just listen to yourself and your baby. Don't decide you are going to nurse for 12 months, or 5 times a day or whatever--just set loose goals and reevaluate often. It's ok to change your mind at any time, adjust your plans midstream, and take one day at a time. Don't read a bunch of stuff online--talk to a few friends who have nursed and listen to them--real experience is the best teacher. Ask a nurse or lactation consultant for help--they are typically very passionate about their jobs and are very happy to talk to you. It's ok to talk about it and most importantly ask for help!! I struggled silently for a long time when a simple conversation with someone would have made me see some adjustments needed to be made and that those adjustments weren't "failures".  If you decide that nursing is best for you and your baby--good luck! I'm supporting you all the way and you can ask me any questions!!

I can't say that I wasn't thrilled to get my dresser too back! Costume jewelry had to share its space with pump parts for a long long time! 

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Mom Brain

I always heard about "pregnancy brain" and "mommy brain" and y'all, I'm here to tell you it is a REAL thing! I have to tell a story on myself to prove it but it shook me so badly I feel the need to share in order to help out other moms! So Sunday night Forrest, Justin, Farrah, and I went to Atlanta to see Beyonce. 
Becky (with the good hair--haha), her sister in law Jennifer, me and Farrah) 

She was FANTASTIC by the way and you don't even have to know the words to her new album (I didn't) to have an amazing time. PLUS--she brings out special guests at the beginning (in Atlanta it was people like TI and Ludacris!!) so you are bound to have a blast!!! PS--what the heck is UP with Bey and Jay?? I really don't have enough brain space to deal with it so someone keep me in the loop if anything goes down, please! Anyway, I digress. I purchased the tickets and Farrah paid me with some cash and also a check. She gave me this money while we were in the car on the way and I put it in my purse. This purse never left the car, as you can only bring clear purses into the Georgia Dome and very teeny tiny purses. Therefore, money was never gallivanting around Atlanta with us. I remember worrying that I would forget it in my little purse and thought about giving it to Forrest to hang on to but I never did. When we got home late that night I put the little purse next to my big purse so I wouldn't forget to put the stuff back in the big purse and went to sleep. That's the last I have any recollection about the money. Flash forward to Wednesday. I remember the money. Where on earth is that money?? I seriously go crazy thinking about the money. I checked the little purse which I had put away--not there. I looked in the big purse--not there. I checked the car--not there. I assumed Charlotte had taken it out of my purse, since she likes to empty it out, and carried it off somewhere. But then I realized--how far would she have gotten? She is never unattended! If she got it while I had my back turned she really couldn't have hidden it too badly, so I tore my room apart. I took out all the bathroom trash, moved all my shoes, checked under all my clothes. I searched all the laundry, Charlotte's room, under all the furniture. I looked in the car. I got Forrest to check his wallet. He checked my car at 10pm last night. I barely slept worrying over this money. I assumed by this point I had accidentally thrown it away while I was straightening up on Monday or that I took it out of my purse by mistake at work. It wasn't at work...I was dreading telling Forrest that we were going to have to go through all of our icky trash and went to the front office to tell our sweet assistants to be on the look out for any loose money in any files in case I somehow scooped it up and filed it by mistake. While I was lamenting to them about losing the money I opened up my receipt envelopes from the runner who goes to the bank for me. Lo and behold--I had put the money in the bank on Monday!! I was expecting to see the receipt for my Friday check and it was in there but there also was a receipt for the exact amount of money I had "lost" dated Monday, which meant I had to physically take the money from my purse, write the deposit slip, endorse the check, put it in the envelope for the runner. I have zero recollection of that to this minute. I can tell you everything else I did at work that day, I know whom I spoke to on the phone, what files I dealt with, etc, but I have no memory of handling this money. I assume that my mommy brain, which was extra tired from being out late at Beyonce, just couldn't hold any more facts. I have felt straight crazy all day--actually I think I feel more crazy now that I realize what I did than when I thought I had just misplaced it!
My take on the whole thing is that now as a mom I have SO much more to worry about than before I had Charlotte. Not only do I have to worry about things like what she will eat, is she safe, etc, but minute things are always running through my mind like "where are her white sandals", "what is she wearing to church", "does she need sunscreen", "does she need a snack", "does she need the fleece pajamas tonight"...and on and on. My brain just needs a time out I think! Luckily at work I'm still sharp as a tack--probably because we have to write everything down, I have assistants helping me, and I get to stay pretty focused on what I'm doing while I'm there. At home, not so much. Three seconds of thinking and then I'm chasing a toddler who's heading towards the toilet with the remote control or pulling stickers out of the Sonny's hair (true story) while C is throwing bites of cheese at him from the high chair. It's a crazy life nowadays but we wouldn't change a thing (except maybe I will start checking my bank receipts before I freak out?)

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

14 months old

This has been a huge month for c!! She started walking a couple of days before she turned 13 months but really took off a few weeks later. She could walk on her own but it want her favorite or primary mode of transportation until a couple of weeks later. With walking has brought bumps and bruises. It breaks my heart every time she falls and cries. I know this is a stage every child goes through but it's hard on this mama!! It still surprises me sometimes when I see her walking around like a full grown person!
Poor hurt baby!!  

She had started to move towards dropping her morning nap but since she has started walking she has decided it's a better idea to keep it. Rather than a cat nap in the morning she is back to an hour nap and then another usually 2 hour nap in the afternoon. I was really liking the one nap schedule but I'm sure we will be back to that soon. 
She has started to love sleeping in the satin pillow from her glider. The one in the picture is a photo pillow my sister in law had made for her with a picture from her wedding. C loves it because it has momsie and auntie m on it. I have to hide this because she gets too excited and won't sleep. Haha! 
Actually she has to be on one nap by June when she starts school. Yes my big girl is going to school two days a week this summer and I am so excited. She loves other kids and is so active I know she will love it! I wasn't worried to leave her one bit, but recently she started showing a little separation anxiety. She does this usually when she hits a wonder week (have you checked out that book yet--it saved me!) so it's not unusual but this has by far been the worst experience. Now she can say mama so she just screams for me now. It's never for long but it is quite heartbreaking! I'm hoping she gets past it in a couple of weeks!!  

She has also been a little crabby lately because she is getting her molars. Thankfully she isn't having too rough a time with them but sometimes we can tell she isn't feeling well and her mouth is hurting. 

The weather has been wonderful lately and she is loving playing outside. She loves to ride in her swing and she and I always sing to her while she's in it. She also  played with her water table for the first time this month and enjoyed it so much!! I can't wait to see how she does at the pool this summer! She also likes walking bare footed in the grass. 

In terms of talking she is trying very hard to say new things. She usually just tries the first syllable of words. Lately she has been saying "harp" for her friend Harper and points at our phones because she knows we have picture of her and Harper on there. 
At harpers second birthday party 

She also is doing "moo" for what a cow says but usually it comes out "oom" and she sticks out her tongue for what a frog says. She will even growl for what a car says. Her latest trick is to "nuzzle" you and it seriously will melt your heart. She is working on her letters and can recognize a couple! I know that sounds a little bit nuts but she really loves the letters DVD and was recognizing them just from watching the show so we started to work with her a little without pushing it. It's so funny when she says O! She also is recognizing some colors! I'm telling you guys--the preschool prep DVDs are amazing!! I'm continually amazed by what all she knows! Forrest says she is only held back by us not teaching her so since she is so eager to learn we are taking advantage of it. She also likes hiding and having us find her, playing I spy while looking out the window, watching and singing to doc mcstuffins, and chasing the cats. She has a stuffed cat and she always puts it in the window because she sees our cats sitting there too. She still loves jewelry and mommys make up and tries to put her feet in my shoes and brushes her hair with my hairbrush. 
Playing in closets is also a daily activity! 

Her hair is looking very red to me and is filling in but is still slow to grow!! She says bye bye to her bath water and diapers when we throw them away or books after we are finished reading. She also loves her baby doll and is so sweet to her. 

And of corse she is still enamored with Sonny! 
We stopped using bottles this month too. I know you are supposed to stop at 12 months but I didn't think she was really attached to hers and just didn't have it in me to deal with another transition so we waited. Luckily I was right and she did not care to lose the bottle at all.
This month she had lots of fun! She got to visit her auntie m and go to the aquarium. She loves touching the sharks and watching the Penguins. 

She got to see cows and chickens at her mama and papa B's house and spend time with her great granddaddy Harold. 

She also had a fun photo shoot with mama B's azaleas! 

I really wish I could put down all the things she is learning and doing but it's too much. I guess at this age kids are developing and changing so quickly it's hard to keep track! Plus they all do things in their own way and in their own time so it's cool to me to see what things other babies are mastering. I enjoy writing this post each month because it makes me excited to see what she might do in the next 4 weeks! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A child of the light

On Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015 (yes, one year ago today), we had Charlotte christened at 5 weeks old. She was baptized in the same church that I was, and where her daddy joined the church and was baptized, and where her parents got married. It was quite meaningful. My mom hosted a grand lunch for all of our family before hand and it was so sweet to see our extended family get to meet Charlotte. My mom went to so much trouble to make the lunch picture perfect and that really meant the world to me because I couldn't have done it myself.
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One of the 3 tables my mom had--we were a full house!

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The bakery perfectly recreated the cake I had seen on pinterest for Charlotte's big day. It was also perfect for all those who had given up sweets for Lent!

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No party is complete without cookies by the one and only Alison Hathcock!

Charlotte wore my christening gown and her bonnet, booties, and blanket were hand crocheted by my mom. I thought she looked angelic. 
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During the ceremony we promised to raise Charlotte as a child of the light and that made me smile because even now she is fascinated with lights. I hope she always has that same fascination and child like wonder and awe. I am forever grateful and mindful of the true gift and blessing that Charlotte is and Forrest and I don't take our responsibilities to her lightly. It was kind of nice to makes those promises to the Lord in front of our families and friends just like we did on our wedding day.

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Four generations!

We chose my cousin Stevie and Forrest's Aunt Paula as Charlotte's godparents. I hope that they will always remain extra special people in her life that she can always look to for advice, guidance, and fun!  photo _DSC8101_zpsfiyjplwk.jpg

That wonderful day was just the first of many big events in Charlotte's life that we will get to share with her and prepare her for. I hope she is surrounded by just as much love at those events as she was at her christening!
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter 2016

Last year's Easter was a blur--C was in the middle of a growth spurt that lasted a week and I hadn't slept for more than 2 consecutive hours in a week. We were having her baptized on Easter Sunday and all of our family was coming in to celebrate and have lunch at my parents' (thank goodness I had the foresight to have the party there and not at my house!). It was such a special day, one that really kept us in the spirit of what Easter is actually all about. This year was different of course! Easter bunny, egg hunts, you name it we were scoring pretty high on the commercial Easter stuff but man oh man was it fun to experience through her eyes!

We started the Easter festivities with a trip to the Easter Bunny at the mall. I was REALLY nervous about Charlotte's behavior because she was not a big fan of Santa but I figured it was worth a shot--all we had to do was leave if things went south. Well, that sweet girl LOVED the Easter bunny--so much so it was difficult to get a good picture while she was petting him and trying to pull his glasses and pointing at him like "OMG do you see this!!??" I finally got her to "wink" and we were able to snap this picture. She didn't want to leave him and kept pointing back at him as we walked away. Sweet girl!

I was not super keyed up about her doing an Easter egg hunt this year because quite frankly I didn't see the point if she wasn't walking. Well, she started walking on the Tuesday before Easter and luckily she had 2 events that Saturday that included egg hunts! Hooray! First we attended a birthday party for her little friend Brooks. This was actually the first baby birthday party she had been to. We practiced hunting eggs around the house that morning so she would be prepared. She LOVED spotting the egg and was pretty serious about putting it in the basket. Developmentally she is at a point where she really likes taking things out and then putting them back in whatever they came from or into another container, so the hunts hit at a perfect time for her. At the party I walked around with her to pick up eggs and we would leave one here and there--or at least I tried to. Miss perfection would leave no egg behind--if she saw it, it went in the basket. 

She acted the same way that evening at the Easter egg hunt to celebrate John Robert's baptism--no egg left behind. She didn't care that the kids were bigger than her or were running around--she was going to methodically collect those eggs and Mommy had better be right behind her with the basket, not chatting with friends. I love seeing little bits of her personality--and I have to admit responsibility for that methodical behavior--that's all me.

On Easter Sunday we went to early church (as usual) and I have to say C was kind of wound up, but she looked pretty in our latest Ivory Pony creation!!

After a nap we went to lunch with my mom's family in Birmingham. C (while wearing her 4th Easter outfit of the weekend) loved visiting and especially loved playing with the Easter eggs and bunnies Aunt Fran found for her. We had to leave pretty quickly after we ate so that she could nap in the car (this nap transition is still going on!) but it was a nice visit.

I love that for a few years, each holiday will be so different. There was such a change from last year to this year and I know next year, when she understands the Easter bunny (or I guess she will--which means I have to do a basket) and can really run around and find eggs will probably be even more fun. She also should start to be able to understand more about the real meaning of Easter and I know that Forrest and I will enjoy sharing our faith with her.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Birthday girl

Charlotte hadn't been around for very long when I started thinking about her first birthday party. I think that's just something that moms do! Even while I was pregnant we referred to Charlotte as our little bunny so I knew a bunny birthday party was in order. I was resolved not to make myself crazy over this party--she's one--but I wanted to make it sweet and special. I luckily found a "some bunny is one" party pack from etsy and that got the ball rolling. Here is a look at my bunny's special day! 

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We had a sit down lunch so the party would work around Charlotte's nap schedule. She actually woke up at 445 that morning and threatened to throw the whole timeline off but hey--it's her party and she can sleep if she wants to! Luckily it all worked out and she napped right up until party time. 

I set the table with my grandmother McCord's china mixed in with my own. I felt it was special to have a part of her there with us! My mom did the flowers and I thought they were so sweet! 

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On the foyer table I had a basket of bunny ears for guests to wear. I wanted everyone to wear them instead of party hats and they were all so sweet to do so! I also had custom cookies by Alison Hathcock for party favors. 
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Showing off our ears!

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Bunny cookies and custom "thank you" tags.

My favorite element of the party was Charlotte's high chair. I found a chair tutu at hobby lobby and had pink balloons tied to the back. I also displayed her custom party hat (compete with bunny ears) and custom bib displayed along with her own special pair of ears. What would I do without etsy!?

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I found a cake on Pinterest that I was dead set on having and luckily my local bakery was up for the task. I love the fondant bunny and little plaque with her name. The bakery gives first birthday babies a free smash cake so I chose pink with white frosting! 
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I also had these cute napkins made and we used my friend Kelly's pink depression glass plates for cake.
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Charlotte's dress was bought for her by my parents but of course I picked it out. I wanted her to look traditional and classic and I think this proper peony dress was perfect. 

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The highlight of the day in my opinion was when we sang happy birthday to her. We had practiced during the week and for some reason she cried so I was afraid with all of the people there she would get really upset. Forrest held her so she wouldn't be scared and she ended up being mesmerized by the candle and not at all afraid of the singing. I was so emotional during the song--my little baby was one year old! So much happened in that year and in that moment I felt it all. All her milestones, her sweet little smiles, the long nights, the cuddles--every part of that year was wrapped up in that song for me. 

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Charlotte loved the cake--she had practiced with cake earlier in the week and even learned how to scream "CAKE". She wouldn't get really messy with it but she wanted to lick as much icing as possible! 

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Her guests got her the sweetest gifts!! Thank you all!
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When the day was over all 3 of us were exhausted and we each took 3 hour naps. I told Forrest that it had been my favorite day since she was born. She was surrounded by so many who adored and loved her. I couldn't believe that we had come to that point so quickly. We are so lucky to have her as our daughter and I was thrilled that her day had been so special. Even though I know she really didn't understand what the day was about, she had so much fun and hopefully felt so loved. 
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