Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jungle Baby

Todd and I thought that it would be fun to use a jungle theme for Evie's baby gear. That way, we can use the same gear for all of our babies, regardless of their genders. Fortunately for us, it just so happened that the same year we had Evie, a set of absolutely adorable fabric prints came out called Jungle Babies. My mom and my friend Lindsay both made several things for Evie out of this fabric, and I finally got a picture of Evie's jungle stuff all together:
Lindsay made Evie a diaper bag, car seat cover, and nursing cape, none of which are pictured. We used the diaper bag for the first three months of Evie's life, but it was getting too small for everything we needed to tote around, so we got this other cute jungle themed diaper bag from Walmart--it even has an adorable monkey embroidered on the front pocket! The car seat wouldn't fit in the picture, but it also has a cute monkey on it (remember this post?) in addition to the car seat cover Lindsay made. Finally, since I've stopped nursing, I don't use the nursing cape anymore either, but I still appreciate her generosity and will be able to use it again with Baby #2. She also made Evie several burp cloths and a blanket, all with matching polka-dot fabric on the reverse side.

My mom made several sets of cradle and crib sheets, like those shown above. She also edged a blanket for Evie made of the same animal flannel that Lindsay used to make her blanket. The wall hanging is one of two matching quilts she bought and bound; the other one is Evie's tummy time quilt. My mom also scanned some of the fabric into her computer, printed it on paper, and covered a notebook with it. The notebook is titled "Evie's Journal" and I write letters to my baby in it. Evie's two favorite things so far both come from her Nonna, too: the length of fabric that is Evie's "fuzzy blankie," and the stuffed beany giraffe that is super cute and actually matches the fabric really well. Evie loves her fuzzy stuff!

We bought this three-pack of 9 oz. bottles for $3 from Walmart, and they each have a different jungle animal on them. We bought the smaller 5 oz. version of the elephant bottle in May when we accidentally left Evie's Breastflow bottle at a family member's house. It has a smaller nipple, but I actually like it better, so I asked Todd if we could get the three-pack, since Evie is eating more and more lately. She's up to 5 oz. at a time now, and will need even more before too long. We haven't used these bottles yet, but I'm excited to have them!

The set of pajamas came from a girl I met in a college class last year. In fact, she was the first person I'd met with this fabric print; her baby boy had the same fuzzy blanket, and I mentioned how cute it was and how we'd been planning on doing a jungle theme for Evie. She didn't know where her mom had found the fabric, but at the end of the semester, she gave me this adorable set of pajamas that her son had outgrown. Evie looks so cute while wearing them--our very own Jungle Baby!

Feeding Time

Well, Evie is almost 12 lbs now, almost double what she was at birth. When she was born, she weighed 6 lbs 3 oz and then promptly lost 10% of her birth weight (that's normal). However, what wasn't normal was that when we took her to her 2 week appointment, she was still only 5 lbs 12.5 oz, so the doctor asked us to bring her in again a week later for a follow-up appointment. Not only was she still light, she had lost weight and weighed in at 5 lbs 11 oz.
I'd been nursing Evie exclusively up until then, but the doctor suggested that I might have to start supplementing with formula. This really upset me because Todd and I had both agreed that breastfeeding was the best option for our babies: giving Evie the best nutrition possible, helping me bond with her, and saving money for us. We'd gone to several classes and learned as much as we could about how best to nurse babies. Of course, knowing something in theory doesn't necessarily mean that you know it in practice.
Unfortunately, we were sabotaged in our efforts pretty much from Day One. The day after I delivered Evie, the hospital lactation ladies came to help me nurse my baby. I was still exhausted and on pain pills, and I was literally seeing double. Todd was dozing on the pull-out couch. I tried really hard to concentrate, but I couldn't focus my eyes. The older lady would tell me how to hold Evie's head and how to angle my arm, etc. and then instead of helping me do it myself so I could actually learn, she did everything herself, all the time telling herself "Good job." Even when I managed to focus long enough to attempt it on my own, her hands were always in the way. I got really frustrated, but didn't know what to do. As if that wasn't enough, she told me that there was no way I would physically be able to nurse my baby on my own, so she gave me two sizes of nipple shields, which would supposedly help Evie latch on.
My friend, who had a similar problem, told me that using a nipple shield could actually make a woman's milk dry up if used long-term. We went to the WIC lactation consultant and she said pretty much the same thing. She gave me a latch-assist, which was sort of a little plunger that used suction to evert nipples and make it easier for babies to latch onto their mommies, and assured me that it would work better than the nipple shield. Todd and I wondered why that hadn't come up as an option while we were in the hospital. The tiny latch-assist was probably cheaper than the two nipple shields I was given, and would have been much more helpful at the outset. I tried nursing Evie naturally, and she seemed to be getting more food than before, but then she hurt me badly--a wound that took months to heal. That's when we went to the doctor and found out she was still losing weight. I assured him that I would do everything I could to make sure Evie was getting enough food, and that we'd already borrowed a hospital-grade pump from WIC.
I held on for another couple of days, but then my finals hit. I didn't have the time to pump as often as I needed to, and still study. Finally, Todd offered to give her a bottle of the pre-mixed formula sample we'd been given. I said yes, and cried brokenheartedly while he fed it to her. I couldn't even look at her because she didn't seem like my baby anymore: "You are what you eat," and until that point, she'd only eaten from/of me; once she ate something foreign, she seemed foreign. When I was finally able to hold her again, all I could do was apologize for failing her. Her breath, which had always been sweet and milky, smelled...wrong, and I just cried.
Todd and I tried everything we could, but I just couldn't seem to overcome my inertia. Once we gave her formula, my brain shifted into thinking that she didn't need me anymore. I pumped, but it didn't seem as important as before. We bought a Breastflow bottle to teach Evie to nurse, hoping she could learn fast enough to get back onto a Mommy-only diet, but my body couldn't keep up with her appetite. It didn't help that we were traveling to visit our family in different places and everyone wanted to feed the baby. Sadly, they wouldn't give her the bottle the way we told them to, so she would get food with practically no effort, which was counter-productive. Of course, everyone felt the urge to lecture me on the benefits of breastfeeding, which just made me feel worse. I was still injured, and nursing Evie hurt a lot.
Finally, one day, we flipped a switch. Evie magically learned how to latch on to me without hurting me, and seemed to be swallowing quite a bit. I hoped against hope that everything would finally work out, but the damage had been done. My supply was dropping, despite everything I was doing. I even earned my personal pump from WIC (if you held on for 6 weeks, and promised to never accept formula for that child from WIC, they'd give you your very own, brand-new NICE pump to keep!) and tried to keep up with Evie, but my body was 2 months behind and would never catch up.
I doggedly kept at the nursing, giving her what I could and giving her formula for the rest, but what I managed to give her wasn't enough to really make a dent in how much formula we were giving her. Really, she was just using me for a pacifier and falling asleep. Finally, last week I gave up. She was only getting drops from me anyway, and I DID manage to hold on for 4 months. I know it isn't the ideal 6-12 months, but I tried my best for my little girl. My best just didn't cut it.
At least now we know where we went wrong, and we can do it better next time. We've learned from our experiences with Evie, and I'll hopefully be better able to nurse my next baby the way I so desperately wanted to with her. And it's not like this has irrevocably damaged her, either: both Todd and I were formula-fed babies, and we turned out just fine! So will she because she has a Mommy and a Daddy who love her and will do everything they can to take care of her. She's a healthy little baby--a little on the small side, but that's to be expected with little people like Todd and me as her parents--and she has adorably kissable chubby cheeks. She's even learning how to hold her own bottle now! :D

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Today is kind of a big deal in our family. My dad turns 47 today--happy birthday, Daddy! Last year for his birthday, we announced that he was going to be a grandfather. That's right; one year ago today, Todd and I found out we were going to have a baby! Now, on the anniversary of that event, Evie is here: healthy, beautiful, and absolutely worth the wait. We don't have another big announcement this year, but we do have a smaller one worthy of celebration; Evie is four months old today!!

She's definitely growing up! She learns new things all the time and gets just bigger and bigger. And one thing Evie's learning is how to be a little flirt: everywhere we go, she smiles at the people around her and chats with them, trying to make friends with them. Everyone comments on how cute she is, which just makes her smile bigger. And that smile is contagious; anyone who sees it can't help but automatically smile back. We went to the DMV today to get a Colorado driver's license for me, and the ladies sitting next to us thought Evie was adorable when she tried to make friends with them. And the lady who put my information together commented on her bright eyes and said she was a cutie-patootie. :D

Evie is also teaching us along the way. I'm finally learning the difference between her hungry cry and her tired cry. And when she's cranky from being tired, I try to comfort her and let her know that it's okay to take naps and get sleep. I know that she's desperately afraid of missing anything interesting, but I keep holding her and telling her that sleep will help her brain and body get even stronger and healthier. We have that little pep talk almost every time I try putting her down for a nap, but it seems to calm her down to have me talking to her, so I don't mind. I think she's starting to understand that naps make her happier when she wakes up, and that it's okay to sleep sometimes during the day.

She is so cute when she wakes up from sleeping; she's always so cheerful and silly. The littlest things light up her world, and she stays perky for well over a half hour. Todd usually gets up at 6:30 am to feed Evie and then she dozes for a little while. At about 8, Todd brings her in to me while I'm still in bed, and we have our silly Mommy/Baby time. I tickle her, and hold her up in the air above my head. I walk her up and down my belly and onto my face. I make funny faces to make her smile. The entire time, I talk to her about how beautiful she is, and how happy I am to be her Mommy. She grins hugely and talks back to me in her sweet, high little voice about whatever makes her happy. This lasts anywhere from a half-hour to an entire hour, but at about 9, Evie gets hungry again, so I nurse her, and then hand her to Todd so he can feed her a bottle while I get in the shower. She's happy when she wakes up from naps too, but not for as long as in the morning. I have to say, I look forward to that special time I get to spend with my little girl every day. I had that today, and I'm excited to have it again tomorrow. And every day for the next four months! Happy Four-Monthiversary, Sweetie-Evie!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Little Chatterbox

On Monday night, Todd and I went with Margot and John to my first major league baseball game: Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves. It was great! Todd dropped Evie at his parents' house for the evening, but I realized just after he left that I forgot to hug her or tell her goodbye. The whole time we were gone, part of me was hyper aware that my daughter wasn't with me and I missed her terribly.

For the past two days since, though, Evie has been super happy and chatty. It's as if she's been telling us all about what happened at Grandma's house while we were gone, and letting us know that she missed us and is happy to be with us again. She still squeaks her excited squeals like she usually does, but yesterday she laughed--really laughed--twice! She looks at us intently and chatters away, telling us all sorts of silly little-girl stories and jokes. Evie has also started screeching the same way she usually does when she's upset--except that she hasn't been upset. We've been hearing all kinds of new noises emerging from our little girl lately.

When Evie is upset, I can sometimes wheedle her out of her bad mood by mimicing her whimpers and grunts. She'll look at me all startled, and then start smiling. Yesterday morning, she started whining, and I imitated her. She grinned and then she started imitating me, and we just grunted back and forth at each other for a while, smiling the whole time. It was actually really fun.

Just an hour or so ago, we tried putting Evie down for a nap, but she wants to be up playing, so I had to go pick her up when she started fussing. I hummed to her, but instead of settling down, she started talking to herself. She was using inflections, emphases, cadences, different sounds, everything. It sounded like a real language, and if I'd only known the words, I could have talked with her. This was new for me, and was kind of exciting! She's also been discovering her toes recently. She'll kind of croon to herself while gripping them with her left hand and then look up and, when she sees me watching her, she'll crack a huge smile and start talking to me again. Granted, it sometimes sounds funny because her right hand is always in her mouth anymore. But, garbled or not, our little sweetie is definitely turning into a little chatterbox--just like her Mommy. :D