Monday, May 26, 2014

Ella's One Month Update

1. How old today:  Nearly 5 weeks old

2. Current weight & length:  Don’t know, will find out next week when we go for vaccinations!  I’m guessing around the 4kg mark.

3. Recent milestone reached:  Smiling! Not very generous with her smiles yet, still looks at us very seriously mostly.  Holding her head up nicely for a minute or so at a time.  Follows objects with her eyes, and turns her head towards sounds.

4. Next milestone:  Getting more control over her movements.  Not really a milestone as such, but next week we’ll have reached the six-week mark already!

5. How is baby sleeping at night?  It’s a bit of a fight sometimes to get her to sleep after her first evening feed, which is usually around 9pm – 10pm’ish, but once she’s asleep, she gives us a good solid 5 hours, which is wonderful.  The next feed takes around an hour, usually around 2am.  Mostly she goes back to sleep quickly after that one, but then gets very restless and noisy around 4am – then I pop her in bed with us – sometimes we get some more shut-eye that way, but sometimes not.

6. Day naps?  She sleeps after every feed, for around 2 hours, sometimes more.  Sometimes she goes to sleep easily, sometimes she fights it.  We’re not in a set routine yet, just taking it as it comes.

7. How is feeding going? Combination of breast and bottle feeding.  It’s going well!  Every feed is about ten minutes per breast, and then a 60ml formula top-up, of which she sometimes finishes it, and sometimes only has about half.

8. Feeding times?  Every four hours, on average.  Sometimes a bit sooner, sometimes a bit later.

9. What has been the recent baby highs? Lots! Holding the tiny body, and smelling her. Her smiles, her face, holding her lil hands.  How much Mia loves her and just wants to kiss her.  Having her sleep in my arms.

10. And baby lows? When she cries from tummy cramps, poor lil body.  When she fights sleep!

11. How is the rest of the family doing?  I had a little bit of a sleep deprived mommy meltdown moment on Saturday.  Mia was putting up a fight for her day nap that she really had to take, as we were going to have friends over for a braai that evening and I knew it would be a late night for her.  Luckily after some threats and bribes she went to sleep, but then Ella was putting up a huge fight to sleep too, and I was just feeling very tired and overwhelmed.  Felt better after a cry, and Wyn took Ella downstairs with him and I had an hour’s nap.  Wyn is great with Ella, feeds her, burps her, changes her nappy, baths her, puts her to sleep.  Mia is very loving, but still busy adjusting to not having my full attention always.

12. What has been working best recently, baby-related?  I’m loving the app I downloaded on my phone, to keep track of Ella’s schedule!  It’s called Baby ESP.  On it, I track sleeping times, feeding times, nappy changes, and then a whole lot of extras like baths, medicine, spit-up, etc.  It gives statistics too, so that I can see her average sleeping time per day, how many feeds, how long, etc.  Really helpful!


Friday, May 23, 2014

One Month Old!

My darling Ella Jill,

You’re one month old today!  You have brought so much happiness to our family, we feel complete now that you're with us.

You’re such a peaceful, content baby – please carry on enjoying sleep as much as you do now, forever and ever!  I love the way you snuggle into us when we hold you, I love the sweet little sighs you give when you sleep, and I love inspecting each perfect little part of you, from your beautiful long fingers, to the creases of your little shell ears, to your tippy toes that look just like your Pappa’s and your sister’s toes!

Your big sister loves to kiss you and hug you – sometimes she squashes you a bit or pokes your eye with her nose, but just remember it’s all with lots and lots of love!

We’ve started getting smiles from you – officially today on your one-month birthday, we can celebrate that you smiled at your mommy, your Pappa, and your big sister this morning! We loved it, and can’t wait for many more smiles to come!

Special little girl, you are just wonderful.

I love you.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How I'm doing and what I'm planning

The past 3 weeks I've been very focussed on being "mommy", and now slowly but surely I want to incorporate some "me" time too, which is important in preserving my sanity, I think!

I'm constantly tired - big adjustment having to get used to interrupted sleep, I get, on average, a 3-hour stretch of sleep and thereafter a 2-hour stretch, and then it's time for the morning feed and school run routine. *yawn* I keep reminding myself that it will get better again, one day!

My biggest need, currently, (besides more sleep!!) is that I want to focus on starting to lose the pregnancy weight.  I need to lose about 15kg.

My weight loss plan:
 - Follow Paleo-style diet: No sugar, no starch, no grains, no dairy - with the exception of oats, cheese and brown rice.  I want to aim for the 80/20 rule, so that I'm eating the Paleo way 80% of the time.
 - Choose Paleo snacks: biltong, nuts, fruit.
 - Go to the gym 3-4 times a week, and do 30-60 minutes of combined cardio and weight training.
 - Do kettle bell exercises at home.

I really hope I'll be able to commit and follow through with this, I really dislike feeling like a squashed sausage, none of my winter clothes fit nicely, and I've set myself an ultimatum that at six months post pregnancy, I must pack away all maternity clothes!

I've started taking client appointments in the salon already - can't afford to give myself a longer maternity leave - I don't want to lose clients, and can't stand the fact that I have no money whatsoever coming in.  Business is always quiet in the winter months, so won't have more than one or two clients per day.  Sonja the domestic worker will look after Ella while I'm in the salon.

Another need I feel, is more quality time with Wyn, but at this stage with a newborn in the house, it's really difficult.  We tend to try and get to bed as soon as we can after Ella's first night feed, to maximise our hours of sleep - I'm so aware of every minute I'm still awake is time I could have been sleeping - so we don't have our usual evening chill-out-together time like we always did.  I know that in time, this will come right too, but I do want to focus on trying to steal some "us-time" here and there where we can.

All in all, I think I'm doing well with the adjustment of being a mommy to two princesses, and I know it's just going to get better and better.

Here's to shedding these kilo's!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mia the Big Sister

Mia has adjusted well to being a big sister.

She is very caring and loving, giving her sister kisses and squeezes and touching her cheeks or hands.  She's protective of her too, not wanting too many other people to kiss or pick up the baby. 

We have had a few wobbles where she wanted my attention while I was busy attending to Ella, and one afternoon, I think on the second or third day that we were home from hospital, both girls woke up at exactly the same time from their nap, and Mia was quite emotional at not having me be able to lie down and snuggle her like I usually do when she wakes up.

One day when Wyn asked Mia where's mommy, she answered, "playing Ella-Ella", which I found a little bit funny, but a little bit sad too, that she saw it that way.

The first day I kept trying to tell Mia to talk softer, don't shout, shhhh, be quiet the baby is sleeping... and then I realised I was going to drive myself insane having to tell her that every few minutes, so decided to just leave it - for now Ella sleeps through all the noise, and when it gets to a time that she's sensitive to it, she'll have to sleep in her cot and not in the pram downstairs.

Mia helps with fetching me nappies, towels, blankets.  She stands on a little step when we bath Ella and helps with that too.  My mom got Mia a new dolly for her to play with, but she hasn't been super keen on playing much mommy-mommy yet.

I've tried to keep Mia as involved as possible, so whenever I breastfeed then Mia sits on the bed with us, either building pillow houses or playing games on the tablet.

We're also doing our best to keep Mia's routine as close to the way it's always been as possible, especially in the mornings, the way I dress her for school and have breakfast with her, and then in the evenings the way she has a bath and then I dress her and read her a bedtime story and lie with her for a few minutes. It doesn't always work out - a few mornings I've needed Sonja the domestic worker to give her breakfast, and a few evenings Wyn has had to put her to bed.

Some days Mia still challenges us lots, pushing boundaries, not listening to requests, telling us "no" when we tell her it's bath time/sleep time.  This remains a frustration for me, especially now when I feel I'm tired, then my patience runs out quickly...  But I still pick my battles, some things I let go and others become a fight which end in tears (sometimes not only on Mia's side!)  I still feel this is a stage she's going through, 3-year olds just don't listen always, I know. But hoping it improves soon.

 Something that has been working well for us, is that on weekends Mia and I do a Mia-and-Mommy outing while Wyn stays home with Ella, or else Wyn just looks after Ella and I have an afternoon nap with Mia.  Both the outings and the naps are blissful, Mia and I cherish these special times together. 

I know Mia can't wait for Ella to be able to play with her, what a pity it's still going to be quite a while!  Mia shares her toys with Ella, putting toys on top of her or next to her the whole time - and also trying to share her food with her, a few times both Wyn and I have had to quickly intervene before Ella got given a penguin biscuit or a piece of chocolate stuffed into her mouth, oops!

Mia's teacher told me she is very proud of her new sister and often talks about "Baby Ella".  She even has me referring to Ella as "Baby Ella"! 

Another big challenge, has been that Mia suddenly stopped having her afternoon naps.  This is more a case of Fear of Missing Out, than of not being tired...  It started while I was in hospital, that she refused to sleep when my mom-in-law tried to get her to nap.  And once I came home she didn't want to nap, she wanted to see what I'm doing and what baby is doing...  Although when I nap with her she falls asleep very quickly! Mostly I just give up, because it's such a fight to get her to sleep, and she insists on reading her a story, so it becomes a drawn-out lengthy process...  But I do feel she still needs her nap, as she's often very moody and extra disobedient in the evenings if she didn't nap.

I'm doing my best to ensure Mia still gets as many hugs and kisses from me as always - I don't need to divide my hugs and kisses, I can hand out double as many now! ;-)  I also make sure to compliment and encourage her as much as possible, telling her I'm proud of her, that she's my big girl, that I love kisses from her, that she's so beautiful, that I love her face. ♥


Monday, May 12, 2014

Our hospital stay after the birth

Less than an hour after Ella was born, I got given a lunch of chicken, potatoes and veg – I was ravenous and ate it while Wyn cuddled our new baby daughter.

I put Ella on the breast and was so pleased when she managed to latch quite quickly!

After about an hour and a half in the labour room, I got moved to the female ward.  The rooms are semi-private and actually have two patients per room – but the nurse told me that they’re so pleased that I managed natural birth and I was so brave and did so well with Ella’s birth that I get a room to myself. Yay!

Just before 3pm the nurse told me I can get up and have a shower.  Luckily Wyn was with me, I felt a little bit unsteady on my feet and it was very reassuring to have him be nearby.  While I was getting dressed after the shower, my visitors arrived – my in-laws brought Mia, and my mom came too.  Wyn went to the baby nursery to fetch Ella, and there were lots of “ooooh’s” and “aaaah’s” as he wheeled her in.

I couldn’t stop the tears when Mia got her first look at her baby sister!  She touched her head gently and said “I love you!”  Be still my heart.

After everyone left, a nurse bathed Ella, and I had supper.

At 7pm everyone came to visit again – I loved that my mom, in-laws and Mia came for every visiting session, was nice to let everyone cuddle the new little bundle, and the advantage of having a room to myself meant Mia could clamber all over the extra bed, pretend to be sick, and talk as loudly as she liked. ;-)

That night I had planned to keep Ella with me in the room, but a nurse came and told me that no, they’re keeping her in the baby nursery, and they’re going to give me a sleeping pill so that I can get a few hours of proper sleep.  I realised that that sounded quite good, and was very glad for it – this time the sleeping pill worked wonderfully, I can’t help but wonder if it was the same pill as the night before when I really couldn’t get much sleep.  They brought Mia to me around 2am for a feed, and then I slept again til they brought her to me at 6am, and then after that feed I kept her in bed with me and we dozed on and off.

The gynea checked in on me, said all is fine, and the paed checked in on Ella, said they need to check her bilirubin count to check for jaundice.  The paed congratulated me on such a great birth experience, she said, “so inspiring, you did so great!” I think they don’t get a lot of natural births at this hospital!!  Ella’s bilirubin count was 134, which is a bit high, but no need for treatment yet – they will check it again the next day.

The second day passed in a blur of visitors, dozing on and off, feeding baby girl, having salt baths, taking pain medication, having blood pressure checked, and staring at the new little person in wonder.  That night the hospital gave Wyn and I a celebratory dinner – a salad, a chicken cordon bleu meal, and a yummy marshmallow desert, complete with champagne for Wyn and Appletizer for me, and a vase of flowers and a candle. Sweet!

I’m not in any pain at all – granted I’m on strong pain meds, but what a difference if I look at the patients who had C-sections and seem to experience lots more discomfort than I’m feeling.

The nurses are all mostly very friendly and helpful.  I did my best to always thank them for their care – I think they work so hard and often don’t get the recognition they deserve.  They really appreciated my thanks, one nurse was so sweet telling me how nice it is to have such a friendly face in the ward.

On both Thursday and Friday I had some laser therapy done on my nipples – they were feeling very tender and sometimes even painful when Ella latched on.  I’m a little bit sceptical as to how much the laser treatment really worked, but I wanted to feel like I was being proactive in treating the pain!

Friday morning my doc stopped by and said we can go home – yay!  But then – the paed had another check done of Ella’s bilirubin count, and it was 204 – just over the border line that requires treatment.  We had two options – stay in hospital another night so that she could lie under the UV light, or hire a mobile unit of the UV light and have it set up at home – of course we chose the option of the mobile unit!

The rest of the checking-out paperwork went quite fast – I filled in the forms for Ella’s birth certificate, the nurse did Ella’s vaccinations and a last weight check – she weighed 2.8 at birth and 2.9 on discharge – which hardly ever happens, usually babies lose weight during the first few days. Yay, a sign that she’s definitely getting some breast milk in!

I had fun dressing her up in a pretty frilly outfit to go home in – although she was so wrapped in blankets the whole time nobody even got to see how cute she looked, haha.

She’s so teeny tiny in the car seat.

Let’s go home, baby girl!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Today I have a happy, thankful heart

I had an epiphany this morning, when I saw the beautiful blue sky and sunshine.  I turned the song on the radio up loud, sang along, and basked in the feeling of a happy, thankful heart.

 Motherhood is such a rollercoaster journey.  So many intense emotions, from overwhelming exhaustion and frustration to pure love that makes your breath catch and your heart skip a beat.  Motherhood means sacrifice and compromise, but it also means little voices that whisper, “I love you Mommy” with a soft kiss to my cheek, and it means teeny tiny hands wrapped around my little finger and newborn eyes staring up at me.

I’ve been scaring pregnant friends by telling them that having a new baby is a hostile take-over of your life.  That the sleep deprivation is tough.  That it’s all-encompassing, there’s hardly any time for yourself.  Now while I don’t want to sugar-coat the experience of having a newborn baby in the house and make it sound like it’s all moonshine and roses…  I realise I should spend more time telling them how wonderful it is to hold such a tiny body, to breathe in their smell, to stare in awe at the perfection of their creation.  The wonder of breastfeeding, and the sense of peace to have a baby fall asleep in your arms.  That the special moments by far outweigh the difficult times and make them a distant memory - the good times remain.

I look at my beautiful three-year-old, and I know how fast time goes by.  I want to savour each baby stage for what it is, do my best to notice and enjoy all the little moments.  I want to take lots of photos.  I want to create special memories for my daughters. Traditions. Fun, happy times.  I want to feel all that motherhood has to offer, and delight in it.

Time goes by way too fast.  Each day is precious, each day has something to offer me, each day has an opportunity for my children.  I want to grab hold of each moment and make it count.

Thank you Jesus, for my happy, thankful heart today.  Thank you for your grace, your blessing, and your presence I feel when I look at my children.  Amen.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

An update, and newborn photoshoot sneak peek!

Gosh, I had forgotten how time-consuming a baby is! There's lots that I had forgotten... How they feed every 3 hours which can take up to an hour or more each time, how they poo right out of their nappies, and how much milk they spit up.

I'm busy writing blog posts about my hospital stay after the birth, and about our first couple of days at home, but I literally just get a few minutes here and there to write, so it's taking ages.  Yes, newborns do sleep lots, but when baby sleeps, I sometimes nap too, I spend time with Mia, I try and keep the house tidy, try and prepare meals, catch up online, and send photos to the grandparents.

Ella is mostly a content baba so far.  Sometimes she's uncomfortable from tummy cramps, and sometimes she's all wide-eyed and doesn't want to go to sleep.  She currently has a snotty nose which is causing some sleep disruption and discomfort, poor body.

Wyn, Mia and I spend lots of time kissing her and staring at her! ♥  She's so teeny tiny, we're all totally in awe of this little person.

Mia's being a special big sister, helpful, interested in her baby sister, caring.  Still challenges her parents, pushes boundaries, and is disobedient sometimes - but for the most part we've been sticking to her usual routine as much as possible (besides that she doesn't want to nap in the afternoons anymore and I just don't want to fight her on it anymore), but she's definitely adjusting well to having a baby sister.

I'm doing okay, have been overwhelmed sometimes with some breastfeeding struggles, and have had a touch of baby blues - it started around 6 days after birth and only happened at night - I'd be so emotional and tearful without knowing why. Hormones! I'm doing better now. The sleep deprivation caught up to me recently, what an adjustment again to not sleep more than 3 hours at a time... But my body will get used to it, I know.  For now, I must remember to take my vitamins and a spoonful of blackthorn berry elixir every now and then, and some Rescue Remedy for when my nerves feel frayed!

Wyn helps lots with baby girl, taking turns to give her a bottle, preparing bottles, burping her, and putting her to sleep - he just doesn't participate in the pajama drill though, lucky man.  He's looked after Ella a couple of times so that I can have a nap, and last weekend I took Mia to the movies while he looked after baby girl, so that was a nice lil escape.

More updates and more pics coming soon.  For now - here's a peek at some pics from our newborn shoot: