March 23, 2017

Kian | Four Months Old

Wait, four months old already? HOW?! Also, this picture is an incredibly accurate representation of this child’s personality. He’s quite the dramatic ham.

Statistics

  • Weight – 15.4 lbs
  • Length – 25.75 inches
  • Clothing Size – 3-6 Months (Depends on Brand)

Nicknames

  • Squirt
  • Fussy Budgie/Bussy
  • Fuss Bucket

Sleeping

  • 12-16 hours per day (depending on if he naps)
  • Has no consistent nap schedule, despite the best efforts
  • Consistently goes down at 7:30 pm, wakes between 3-4 for a feed, and then sleeps until 7-8 am
  • Takes 15-60 minutes to fall asleep at night
  • Sleeps in his Dock-A-Tot in his crib in his nursery

Eating

  • Breastmilk via a bottle
  • 5 – 6.5 ounces per feeding (5-6 feedings per day)
  • 24-30 ounces per day
  • Consistently eats within an hour of 3 am, 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, and a final meal at 7:30 pm

Health

  • Had his third round of vaccinations
  • Super healthy, no small or major illnesses
  • Had at least one “major” growth spurt

Loves

  • Being undressed and naked (he giggles when you take his clothes/diaper off)
  • Playing on his floor gym/toy by Fisher Price (seriously the best investment)
  • Bath time (3x per week, at least once with his Otteroo)
  • Grabbing things on you like your hair, your shirt, his burp cloth
  • Being “thrown” up in the air
  • Kicking his legs while laying down, or in the MamaRoo, or in the bath
  • Being held in a standing position, and then doing baby squats

Dislikes

  • Depending on his mood he hates laying down (will arch his back) and wants to be standing
  • His pacifier  (he is really not big on the binky and doesn’t like to keep it in his mouth, which is ok)
  • Tummy Time (always and forever)

Milestones

  • Consistently sleeps 7-8 hours straight each night
  • Sleeps in his crib in his nursery every night
  • Traveled out of the country for the first time (Cabo, Mexico)
  • Flew on a plane for the first time
  • Took his first boat ride
  • Has started reaching and grasping for things/toys
  • Outgrew his bassinet, and original baby bath tub

Dear Kian –

Well, here you are, already four months old. Woah. This last month was a pretty big one for you. So much happened it is hard to know where to begin. The day you turned three months old we hopped on a plane and headed to Cabo for the wedding of two close friends. It was your very first plane ride, and though we were a bit nervous, you did pretty well on the way there (returning home was another story)! Your  Gramma and Granpa Olmstead met us down there and you got to spend a few days visiting with them. I know they were excited to see you since they hadn’t seen you since you were born. While in Cabo you also got to go on your very first boat ride! You were a champ the entire time, and everyone thought you were so cute. Thanks to bringing your Dock-A-Tot with us you slept very well, which was fantastic. Packing for you was an adventure, but we didn’t forget anything and had more than what we needed, so I consider that a win.

A couple days after we returned home you had your next round of vaccinations. For the next few days you were EXTREMELY unhappy. You ran a fever for the first 24 hours, and then you were just straight up unpleasant. You vacillated between being mildly grumpy and screaming your head off for hours straight instead of going to sleep. I imagine your little body was being pummeled by the vaccines and you couldn’t get comfortable. This went on for almost a week and we were actually worried something more was wrong. Perhaps you were also having a growth spurt at the same time and it just all combined to be rough for you. It was so hard seeing you so unhappy and not being able to make you happy. Eventually that all passed and since then you have been a pretty pleasant little guy. You didn’t “talk” as much this last month, until the last few days when you opened back up and spend a lot of time babbling away. You clearly have lots of things to say.

After we returned from Cabo we finally moved you out of our room during the night and into your nursery and crib. Thanks to your Dock-A-Tot the transition was extremely smooth and you slept over eight hours that first night. Once you are finally asleep (which can take 15 minutes to an hour) you are such a champion sleeper. We really lucked out here. I am not sure what we would have done if you had been a poor sleeper. I suppose we would have adapted. We have established a little nighttime routine in hopes of keeping some consistency. You’re still a bit young for sleep training, but we figure there is no harm in starting early when it comes to establishing good habits.

While you still hate tummy time your legs are continuing to get strong and stronger. You definitely prefer being in a standing position over sitting or laying down. It’s awesome to see this, though I know once you finally start walking we are going to regret everything. You have also started to reach for and grab things a lot more. Sometimes it’s your toys on your floor gym, sometimes it’s our hair (ouch). I definitely have to watch what jewelry I wear around you because pretty soon you will be trying to pull my earrings out or choke me with my necklace. And now I know why so many mothers wear their hair short or pulled up in a bun. You are a very curious little guy, and your curiosity only seems to grow as you realize how much world there is out there. Your head is constantly on a swivel looking at and discovering new things. I can’t wait to start showing you more of the world and see how you interact and learn.

It is so fun to watch your personality develop. Based on what we have seen so far I suspect you will be very opinionated and have a flair for the dramatic, be very emotionally and facially expressive (I mean look at your picture for this month), have a deep curiosity for the world, and constantly be on the move discovering new things and places. I know we should live in the moment, but I have to admit and I am looking forward to when you start to talk, walk, and interact with us a bit more deeply. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it will be so much fun. In the meantime, we will cherish you as you are now. Even when you are wailing at the top of your lungs for the third hour straight, we love you very, very much and are lucky you are ours. You might grow up and change, but that will never change.

Love,
Mommy

February 23, 2017

Kian | Three Months Old

Today Kian is officially three months old! It’s been a big month filled with a few key milestones. Additionally his personality is starting to show through as well! Here’s a look at what happened over the last month:

Statistics

  • Weight – 13.8 lbs
  • Length – 25 inches

Nicknames

  • Squish
  • Cutie Patootie
  • Little Stinker
  • Little Dude
  • Poop Monster

Sleeping

  • ~15-17 hours per day
  • Naps are all over the place; sometimes 45 minutes 3x per day, sometimes one 2-3 hour nap
  • 10-12 hours at night, going down at 7:30ish, sometimes waking at approx. 10pm and 3am for feeds
  • Starts the night in his crib until we head to bed, then sleeps in his Dock-A-Tot in a Pack & Play in our bedroom

Eating

  • Breastmilk via a bottle
  • 4- 6.5 ounces per feeding (4-5 feedings per day)
  • 24-30 ounces per day
  • Doesn’t really have a consistent schedule yet for feeding
  • Can spit up quite a bit (still less than an ounce) after large feedings

Health

  • Had his second round of vaccinations
  • Had a bit of a cold/chest congestion for about a week

Loves

  • Eating/sucking his hands
  • His new floor gym/toy by Fisher Price
  • Bath time with his Otteroo
  • Laughing and talking (he can talk A LOT)
  • Watching TV (seriously, he’s obsessed when it is on)
  • Being mostly naked on his changing table(s)
  • Being held in a sitting/standing position so he can see everything and everyone

Dislikes

  • Being on his back too long and not being able to roll over
  • Tummy time continues to be the bane of his existence (and ours)
  • Being cuddled/held close for more than a minute or two

Milestones

  • Slept an 8 hour stretches a couple nights
  • Rolled over to his side a couple times
  • Wearing mostly 3-6 month clothes (3 month only clothes tend to be too small)
  • First night(s) away from Mom/Dad (stayed with Dadi and Dada last weekend)
  • Started using a bouncer/walker (he LOVES being upright)
  • Both parents back at work full time

Dear Kian –

Woah, how are you already three months old? I know I have said this every month so far, but man time is really flying by. You are growing so quickly, it’s hard to believe sometimes. In addition to some new milestones, this last month your personality has really started to develop and show. You continue to be a very happy baby and are constantly smiling, giggling, and talking (boy do you like to talk up a storm at times). You have also started developing a flair for the dramatic and “vocalizing” your opinions very strongly, particularly if you do not like something or are unhappy. You have developed the ability to stick your bottom lip out in a “pout” and use this weapon frequently in getting us (or anyone) to do your bidding. It’s really quite impressive. I think you are going to be quite a handful when you get a little older. We are bracing ourselves for many tantrums.

Over this last month you have gotten physically stronger and more adept. You are much better at Tummy Time though you still don’t enjoy being left on your stomach for too long. You also really like it when someone holds you standing up; you even do little baby squats. It’s adorable. Even though you are still a little too short/young we bought you a bouncer so that you could play sitting up a bit more. This makes me think that you are going to be walking quite early. When not standing you like to be held sitting up so that you can look around and observe the world. You are a very curious little guy, which is awesome! Your neck strength and control has gotten quite amazing. You still bob your head around a little bit, but you can now hold your head up for a good long while. You’ve also gotten better at grasping and holding things, though you still have little interest in toys. Mostly you just grab things when they are presented to your hands, otherwise your hands are constantly in your mouth.

You still sleep like a champ at night (though most nights you wake up at least once between 10pm and 6am). During the day is a whole other story. Some days you will take a 2-3 hour nap, while others you will take a 30-45 minute nap every couple of hours. Hopefully a routine can be established soon. Naps are the best and you are always so much happier when you are well rested. You are also eating pretty well, though it’s inconsistent. Sometimes you will eat a full 5-6 ounces, sometimes you only want 3. Sometimes you can go 4-5 hours in between eating, sometimes it is only 2-3 hours. I suspect it’s because you are a growing boy!

Now that we are both back working full time we don’t get to spend as much time with you, which makes us both sad, but you are in great hands with your Nanny Roxana, and your Dadi and Dada (who just dote on you so very much). It is a bit frustrating that by the time we get home from work we only get 30-60 minutes with you before it’s bed time, but that is the life of being working parents. We make up for it by snuggling you lots on the weekend.

The last month we spent our first two nights without you since we had a wedding we had to go to. You did very well with your grandparents and we missed you lots (though it was nice to sleep through the night uninterrupted). We are pretty sure you grew an inch in those two days away from us!

We are continually impressed with how strong you are and the milestones that you are starting to meet. It is so wonderful to see your personality start to develop, and boy is it quite the personality. You are going to keep everyone on their toes for months and years to come. But honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We love you very much and can’t wait to see who you become. Until next month…

Love,
Mommy

February 9, 2017

A (Not So Successful) Breastfeeding Journey

Forgive me in advance as this is a lengthy post. I didn’t realize how much I had to say, and how traumatic the experience was until I started writing it all down. I share this in hopes that others who experienced the same will realize they are not alone.

I also need and want to give a really big thank you to Shiraz who was there by my side and supported me every single step of the way through this journey, and continues to do so today.

TO BREASTFEED OR NOT, THAT IS THE QUESTION

Prior to getting pregnant I never really gave any thought as to whether babies were fed via breastfeeding or formula. I felt (and still do feel) that how a parent feeds their newborn is not my business. As long as the baby is fed that’s all that matters. For the first few months after that positive pregnancy test I continued to live in ignorance and not think about this subject. However, as the pregnancy progressed and we started prepping his nursery, buying all the adorable baby clothes, and thinking about what else we would need for those first few months of his life, the subject of breastfeeding vs. formula become unavoidable.

Shiraz expressed that he would like me to at least try to breastfeed (because he wanted the baby to receive the immunity that comes with breastmilk) and my mother gave her two cents in the form of “so you are going to breastfeed, right?”.  While I was not enthusiastic about the idea of a baby attached to my breast, being the baby’s only source of food, and the potential difficulties around making it work, I had read all the literature about the positive benefits of breastmilk so I committed to at least trying (plus breastfeeding is the cheaper option). When we checked into the hospital we reaffirmed this intent.

THE FIRST 48 HOURS

Immediately after Kian was born and they had cleaned him up they handed him to me and we did the first latch. While the sensation was weird I wouldn’t describe it as painful or uncomfortable. He ate for only a few minutes and then immediately drifted off to sleep. Over the next 24 hours he spent most of the time sleeping and periodically nursing for that little bit of colostrum. As the day progressed I became more and more uncomfortable with the breastfeeding. He wasn’t staying latched, I couldn’t get the proper positioning/hold, and it started to become painful. I was reassured that this was all normal and that we would eventually find our rhythm. In the meantime, until my milk started coming in, I would need to keep at it as even just letting him suckle would stimulate the milk. Since newborns don’t need much to eat in that first 24 hours we managed to make it through the first 24 hours. And then everything went to hell.

Because babies do nothing but sleep that first 24 hours you get lulled into this false sense of “oh hey this won’t be too hard” (on a side note I highly recommend you don’t let any visitors come that first 24 hours so that you can rest, I wish we had done this). At about 36 hours of life our angelic newborn suddenly woke up and would not stop crying for food. For approximately 9 hours he cluster-fed. He’d nurse for 10-15 minutes, then be ok for 15-30 minutes, and then would start wailing for more. By about the 3rd hour of this my nipples had started to feel dry and chapped. By the 5th hour every time he latched on it would send sharp shooting pains up through my chest that I would have to fight through for the first couple of minutes. By the 7th hour I was at my breaking point and cried, a lot. By the 9th hour I was pretty much going crazy, not able to understand what was going wrong, and wishing the nurses would just take him out of the room for a little while so I could sleep (at that point I think I had only slept 4-5 hours over a 72 hour period, including labor). The nurses reassured me that this was all normal; that most babies have a period of time on the second day where they are ravenous and non-stop feed, that eventually my nipples would become stronger, and that once my milk came in everything would be ok. When the nurse finally took him for his next set of newborn tests I was so relieved that it was finally quiet. When she brought him back (after only 45 minutes or so) I was so exhausted at this point and couldn’t think straight so I had Shiraz take the baby and walk around the ward with him just so I could close my eyes for a little while. At some point while I was half asleep my Dad stopped by and left a cup of coffee for Shiraz and a pint of raspberries for me. I was so grateful that I nearly started to cry.

Right after Kian was born and the first latch.

GOING HOME

Before we left the pediatrician came by to check Kian. Because he had already lost over 10% of his birth weight (7-10% is generally considered normal) and was showing signs of jaundice (not uncommon for newborns) a follow up appointment was scheduled for the next day. When we left the hospital later that morning (around 10:30 am), I was still determined to make breastfeeding work. The first 24 hours at home continued the trend of the previous two days at the hospital, only this time we were in the comfort of our own bed. I sent Shiraz out to get lanolin nipple cream and a nipple shield to help make the experience easier. Armed with those items I continued to try and breastfeed while fighting through the extreme pain. At about 4 am Kian became inconsolable and I finally reached my breaking point and became despondent. The baby cried, clearly wanting food but unable to get enough from me, until we left for the pediatrician at about 8:15 am.


The day we went home. Looking back on this picture it’s so obvious how yellow (jaundiced) he is.

As we were driving to the pediatrician I had a feeling we were going to have to supplement with formula because he wasn’t getting enough and my milk still hadn’t come in. Part of me also wanted to just switch over to formula for good and give up any attempts at breastfeeding. At his appointment the doctor told us he had now dropped over 12% of his weight and he was looking fairly jaundiced. I meekly told him if he thought it was a good idea that we would supplement with formula until my milk came in. He agreed that supplementing was a good idea and gave us some samples. We gave one of the two ounce bottles to Kian right there in his office. He drank it down so quickly, as though he was starving. The minute the food was in his belly he immediately became a different baby. He was content and calm. I wanted to cry with relief. I think Shiraz did too. The doctor also confirmed that Kian had a tongue tie, something that I noticed in the hospital but the nurses didn’t, and that this likely impacted his ability to properly latch (and thus the reason he was wasn’t getting enough food). Before we left he gave us a referral for a ENT that could do a frenectomy (releasing the tongue tie).

SO NOW WHAT?

When we got home we talked about still trying to get my milk to come in and breastfeed. Before the baby was born, knowing that I would eventually be going back to work and would have to pump, we had bought a breast pump. We decided that I would would pump until my milk came in, supplement in the meantime, and then go back to breastfeeding after Kian had his tongue tie released (which did happen that Monday). Within the next 24 hours my milk slowly started to come in and we were able to stop feeding the formula and instead feed breastmilk from a bottle. Worried about my supply I began taking Fenugreek and Milk Thistle (both of which are galactagogues) and continued to pump 7-8 times per day. Over the next week or so we established a good pumping and feeding rhythm in which I would pump and Shiraz or my parents would feed the baby. Kian started rapidly gaining weight, we began getting some decent sleep, my milk supply increased, and peace returned to the house. Kian never ate directly from the breast again.

Eleven weeks later and Kian continues to exclusively consume breastmilk via a bottle. I attempted to breastfeed a couple times after his tongue tie was released but he had ZERO interest in getting his food via the breast (a bottle is so much quicker to him). I also like that other people can feed him when needed so the responsibility does not only fall to me. Additionally after the trauma my nipples suffered I am extremely hesitant to go through that kind of pain again (which would be necessary to reestablish a good nursing rhythm and latch post tongue tie).

I AM A DAIRY FARM

While it was a slow start I have been extremely lucky that my supply has been fantastic; in fact it is so good that so far I have been able to freeze over 1000 ounces (I pump 45-50 ounces a day and the baby only eats 24-30 per day). Basically I am a dairy farm (I use these for storage and freezing). As I was establishing my supply I was pumping 7-8 times before dropping it to 5 times a day for the last month. The last few days I recently started cutting out the middle of the night pumping and one pumping in the middle of the work day so I am now pumping three times a day (about every 8 hours, my max time between pumping for it to not feel painful). Despite only pumping three times a day I am still generating 45-50 ounces in a 24 hour period (about 15-17 ounces each time I pump for 20 minutes). I will likely continue to pump until he starts eating solids at which time I will slowly start decreasing the volume I produce and use the frozen breastmilk (for which we had to buy a small chest freezer after filling up TWO freezers in our current refrigerators). By the time he hits one year old I hope to have weaned from pumping completely, though we will likely still have leftover frozen breastmilk which we will continue to feed him until it runs out.

A couple days worth of “excess” pumped milk.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?

There were likely many things that led to the inability to breastfeed. It certainly didn’t help that even before he was born I wasn’t enthusiastic about the experience and that I had gotten it in my head that it was going to be difficult. Additionally the nurse that was responsible for us the night that Kian decided to cluster-feed (and when I was the most vulnerable and desperately needed guidance and assistance) was less than helpful and actually scolded me at one point for not holding him properly while attempting to feed. And then of course there was Kian’s tongue tie that prevented him from properly latching, thus causing me excruciating pain, and the fact that my milk took a full 4-5 days after giving birth to come in (this is normal for a first child, but combined with the above made it very difficult). By the time all of the above had resolved it had already been one week since his birth, he was used to a bottle, and I was irreversibly emotionally scarred.

If we were to have another child I am honestly not sure if I would even attempt to breastfeed. It’s likely that I would do the first latch immediately birth and then exclusively pump from there on out. Even though Kian is not fed directly via the breast he still receives breastmilk, and we still have a strong bond (we did a lot of skin to skin those first few weeks). However, if I were to get over my fears and give it a try there are many things I would do a lot differently. Before giving birth I would take a breastfeeding class (I did not do so this time), I would inform the hospital of my unease and inability to successfully breastfeed the first time, I would reach out to La Leche League for assistance and guidance, I would immediately have them check the baby for a tongue tie after birth, and I would ask for formula in the hospital if I am not able to provide enough and the baby is starving. But even if I did all this and the baby and I were unable to successfully breastfeed I would have ZERO qualms or guilt about pumping or even formula feeding.

SO WHAT ADVICE WOULD I GIVE?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; whether that is help from the hospital staff, your significant other, your parents, or another group or individual. If something doesn’t feel right (physically or emotionally) say so immediately. If you need a break so you can get a couple hours of sleep while still in the hospital ask someone to wheel the baby around the birth center or have them take them to the nursery so you can get some peace. If you feel like your baby isn’t getting enough food and you are ok with it, ask them to provide a little bit of formula (many hospitals won’t offer, you have to explicitly ask). Formula won’t hurt your baby, but being extremely stressed can ultimately impact your supply and make breastfeeding less likely to be successful. Don’t every let anyone judge you for the decisions you make about how to feed your child; not the doctors, your family, your friends, or even yourself. And whatever you do, try not to feel guilty if you aren’t able to make breastfeeding, or exclusively pumping, work for you. At the end of the day, no matter what all the articles and studies say, FED IS BEST.