Category: Babies

The Newborn Stage

I realized something weird recently. I was googling “how long does the newborn stage last?” and noticed a lot of results relating to “surviving” or “getting through” this stage. It made me realize that a whole lot of parents– possibility the vast majority– don’t particularly enjoy the newborn stage. The weird part is that I really, really do. In fact, I’ve always said it’s my favorite stage. I just never noticed until now that I’m in the minority with this feeling. 

I totally get why many parents find this stage challenging or unpleasant. Yes, it’s hard to adjust to getting very frequently interrupted sleep at night, every night, for weeks or months (or years) on end. Yes, breastfeeding can be challenging (even painful), tiring, and stressful in the beginning. And yes, having a totally helpless baby who needs you for everything around the clock is a big adjustment. Postpartum hormonal changes and the emotional impact of such a huge life change can also cause mood swings, depression, and anxiety. It’s a very demanding time in a parent’s life, especially a mom’s life, for sure!

But for me, it’s the most precious time. I’ve been waiting with so much anxious anticipation through a seemingly endless pregnancy, and now I finally have my prize, my treasured child in my arms. I finally get to stare at her and memorize all the details of her tiny face. I want to savor every moment of it. It goes by so fast, and babies change so much in this time. I know it won’t be long until my little baby is a rambunctious toddler, and probably driving me up the wall! 

I love this newborn stage where all baby does is nurse and sleep and then wake up and stare at me for a few minutes before doing it all again. I treasure the long hours of laying with her sleeping in my arms, or on my chest. (Of course, I also enjoy breaks when daddy holds her or she’s content in her swing for a little while!)

I know it’s not like that for everyone. I’m blessed to have so much support, and my husband’s awesome paternity leave benefit. My six and three year olds are also fairly independent around the house, so it hasn’t been too overwhelming to add a newborn to the mix– at least not yet. So far, my baby is generally content, and we’re both recovering well from an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. We have a lot going for us! Overall, this transition period has been very smooth for us, and I’m thankful for that. 

The newborn stage really is so special to me, and one of my most favorite stages of parenting. Possibly the hardest part, especially this time around, is the knowledge that this is our last biological baby. I’m still hoping to adopt another baby down the road, if it’s God’s plan for us. But there’s no guarantee that this plan will come to fruition, and even if it does, I know it won’t be exactly the same. 

If we do get to adopt another baby, I won’t be giving birth and bringing my brand-new baby up to my chest for the first time, bathed in the hormones and triumph of childbirth. I may not even be able to be in the room when my baby’s born. I won’t be breastfeeding (though some adoptive moms do induce lactation, I’ve already decided not to go that route), so I’ll be bonding in a different way than I have with my three bio babies. I may not even co-sleep, since that’s safest and most beneficial with a breastfeeding baby; though I would still room-share. 

It’s also possible that this will be our last baby, because adopting a baby might not be the plan God has for us. We won’t know until we know, most likely a few years from now when we’re actually in that season.

Anyway, my point with all of that is that this time is even more precious to me this time around, because I know I’ll never experience it in the same way again. Knowing that has caused me some feelings of sadness that I, personally, haven’t experienced after the birth of a baby in the past. (Baby blues are very common, but I’ve never felt them before this). 

It’s a little scary in a way to think about my life from here on out, because so far the births of my three children have been the “pinnacle” moments of my life– and now that’s all over. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and emotionally pivoting into what’s next for me; even only nine days postpartum, that was where my head was at! Now I’m three weeks postpartum, and I’ve calmed down a bit about the future, but it’s still on my mind often. I’m always thinking about what’s next. Which is all the more reason for me to try my best to stay in the moment, in this beautiful and fleeting newborn stage that I love so much.

It’s not without its challenges, and I don’t judge any parents who don’t enjoy the newborn stage and just want to survive it. But for me, it’s one of the best stages of parenting and life in general. Falling in love with the baby I’ve been waiting to meet for months, and getting to do almost nothing but hold and snuggle and nurse her all day and night; this is heavenly. Yes, it’s hard, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

Pregnancy, I would gladly fast-forward through, but not the newborn stage. For this, I’d rather have the ability to slow time down. Since I can’t, I’ll just have to enjoy it as much as I possibly can before I blink and it’s over. 


Amelia’s Birth Story

Disclaimer: This is a birth story! It has a lot of details which may be considered TMI. If you aren’t comfortable reading it, then please don’t! 🙂

My pregnancy and birth with Amelia will always hold a special place in my heart, since we plan on having no more biological babies after this (and we really, really, really mean it, this time). Being pregnant for the third time (technically fourth) was very challenging, as I was more sick than I’d been with my previous pregnancies. I experienced nausea throughout my pregnancy, as well as my usual pregnancy discomforts, the worst of which was heartburn nearly every day. While I always enjoy seeing my belly grow and the experience of growing my baby inside my body, I really did not love being pregnant, and I am honestly so glad it’s over! As for my birth, it was really the best birth I could have imagined, and I feel so blessed to have that as my final birth experience. I prayed most of all for a smooth, safe, and healthy birthing, and that is exactly what I had. God is so good!

Amelia Madeline Westropp was born on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 at 10:38 PM. She was born at home, completely unmedicated, in about 6 ½ hours from start to finish. She was 20 inches long and weighed 7 lbs 5 oz. Here’s how it all happened.

On Wednesday, October 14th, I was 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Cory was on paternity leave, starting on Monday the 12th, and my mother-in-law Marsha came over in the morning for her weekly overnight visit to help out with the kids. I had my weekly prenatal appointment with my midwives that day at 11 AM. 

One week before, at 39 weeks and 4 days of pregnancy, I’d asked the midwives to sweep my membranes, a way of encouraging birthing to begin, but it hadn’t brought on any waves. At that point, I’d been about 2 CM dilated, 20% effaced, and baby was about -2 station. I’d also lost my mucous plug on Sunday, at 40 weeks, which is a sign of the cervix beginning to dilate.

On the 14th, I was feeling anxious to get my birthing time started because I was worried about the increased risks to baby of going past 41 weeks of pregnancy. I was considering going to the hospital for an induction if I didn’t have her by then, but was also considering following the original plan of waiting until 42 weeks. There’s a lot of gray area in terms of research and evidence for the safety of continued pregnancy versus induction between 41 and 42 weeks, so I was really struggling with the options and hoping it wouldn’t come to that point.

So at my appointment, I asked for another membrane sweep as well as a foley balloon “induction.” For those not familiar, membrane sweeping is done by brushing a finger around the inside of the cervix to stimulate further dilation, effacement, and possibly birthing waves. The cervix must be at least 1-2 CM dilated already in order for a sweep to be done. A foley balloon induction involves inserting a tiny balloon just inside the cervix and then slowly inflating it with saline to further dilate the cervix and encourage birthing waves to begin. Foley balloon inductions will only further dilate the cervix to 3-4 centimeters before the balloon is fully inflated and will slip out, and is then thrown away.

For both of these procedures, many women say that they feel mild to extreme discomfort, but fortunately I’ve never experienced any discomfort with membrane sweeps, and the foley balloon was equally fine for me. No biggie! I figured that even if it only got me an extra centimeter or two, maybe that was what my body needed to get things going. 

It can take a few hours, or even up to 24 hours for a foley induction to be finished and the balloon to fall out. For me, it took only 2 ½ hours, and came out at about 2:30 PM. For the next couple of hours, I focused on encouraging birthing to begin by staying in a quiet, dark, room by myself and listening to my birthing time worship music playlist and praying.

At about 4 PM, I noticed that I was having some more intense waves at seemingly regular intervals. My doula checked in and encouraged me to eat some good protein to be well-nourished in case my birthing time was starting, so I did that. Then I went to rest some more and started timing my waves. They were coming about every 6 minutes, lasting about 30 seconds, and staying strong. After an hour, they were still continuing and starting to move closer to 5 minutes apart and 30-40 seconds long. I tried moving from laying down to sitting on my birth ball to test out how consistent they would be with a change in position. The pattern wasn’t as consistent when I changed positions, but the waves didn’t stop. They started ranging from 2 to 6 minutes apart, and sometimes were only 30 seconds but a few reached closer to 60 seconds. After about an hour and a half total of timing waves, I called my midwife, Alicia, to let her know I was noticing a good pattern. Then I texted my doula, Grace, and we decided that she could start getting ready to come over. 

My mom video called me to see how I was doing and I shared that I was most likely in my birthing time. I also texted my family to pray for me and Amelia, but decided to wait to text my friend prayer group until I was more certain it was really happening. 

While I was waiting for Grace to arrive, my waves were becoming intense enough that I was 90-95% sure I was in my birthing time. I asked Alicia if she thought she should come as well, and she suggested having Grace check me (since Grace is also an experienced midwife) and go from there. Meanwhile, I told Cory things were heating up and asked him to inflate my birth pool and start filling it up. He was surprised because he hadn’t realized it was that “serious” yet. We’d always had so much more leadup to birth, with a really long early birthing time, so this was a totally new experience.  

At this point, I was moaning through my birthing waves; not in pain, but just from the intensity of them and knowing that low tonal sounds can be helpful for working through them. Grace arrived at 7:45 and checked me shortly after, finding that I was about 8-9 CM dilated, with some cervix left in the back. “I had a feeling,” I told her with a smile. I was happy to hear the news, but also cautious because of how quickly I’d dilated with my previous births without easily progressing further. 

She went to call Alicia to come, while I got into the birth pool. Cory texted my prayer group to let them know I was in my birthing time. I kept the room dark and had my birthing time worship music playing throughout my entire birth, which I believe was helpful for my body and mind to stay relaxed. I also spent the majority of my birthing time in the pool from that point on, even though I’d planned on alternating more between lying down, sitting on my birth ball, and the pool. I did spend a little bit of time lying down, but most of it was in the pool. I did a lot of squatting leaning back, trying to encourage the rest of my cervix to open. I also did some hands and knees, and squatting leaning forward with my arms supported over the edge of the pool. 

Cody and Abi came to visit me throughout this time, and Abi got in the pool with me for a while. She laid her little hand on me during my waves to comfort me, which was so sweet. Cody was a quiet, shy observer for the most part, but he stayed in the room for longer.

During my active birthing time and transition stage, my waves were very strong and intense, and I started feeling some anxiety about getting through them. I asked Grace to read my birthing time affirmations with encouraging scriptures, and leaned on God for strength and comfort. Cory was great at massaging my lower back and encouraging me with my “RELAX” hypnosis cue and reminders to breathe deep and slow. 

After a little while, I laid down in bed and reached for Cory to cuddle, feeling like I needed some comfort. I whispered to him that I was scared and it was really hard. He encouraged me and reminded me that I’d done this twice before and could do it again. 

When I got back in the pool, at 8:30, Alicia arrived and her student midwife Julie arrived soon after. They checked my temperature and blood pressure, and started to monitor Amelia’s heart rate after every few pressure waves. Everything was looking good, and I was reassured that all was well. 

Just before 10, Grace suggested that I could try feeling for Amelia’s head if I wanted. I felt something else instead– my amniotic sac bulging almost to the entrance of my birth canal! I described it and Grace told me what it was. It felt like a water balloon, but with a thicker skin. She asked if I wanted the midwives to break it, which could encourage Amelia’s head to come down. I said yes, please!

Julie tried to break it with the amnio-hook, but it was so strong that she had trouble. Alicia checked to make sure it was my amniotic sac, which it was, and helped walk her through it. We did it in the water, and I felt the warm gush as my water broke. The midwives confirmed that the water was clear, which is a good sign. 

They checked Amelia’s heart rate again, and it was slightly elevated. Alicia said it was most likely from head compression from moving down into the birth canal. They had me take some focused deep breaths, and her heart rate calmed. 

It wasn’t long until my waves changed dramatically. I’d already noticed slightly trembly feelings since about 7:30, but I suddenly felt very shaky. Then my waves were PUSHING waves, without a doubt. I felt a powerful bearing down urge and my body pushed voluntarily several times with each wave. My entire body would shudder as I pushed, and the noises coming out of my mouth were something like a sumo wrestler might make. It was loud, and I simply couldn’t help it. My birth team encouraged those low, deep groans– the deeper and louder the better! Cody had gone to sleep in his bed (which is in our room) a little while earlier, and I was shocked that I didn’t wake him up. (Abigail had gone to bed with Marsha in the guest room.)

I felt Amelia’s head moving down and knew I’d be holding her soon. I pushed for about six waves, if I had to guess– the time is obviously a blur, but it only took 40 minutes to push her out. I remember the wave where I felt she was almost crowning, and the wave after that where I felt the most intense stretching sensations and knew she had to be crowning. After her head came out, I found out later that she opened her eyes and looked around under the water.

My midwives suggested to bring one of my legs forward into more of a lunge position, as I had been squatting leaning forward before that. I did so, and I pushed my hardest, not wanting a repeat of Abigail’s shoulder dystocia. I was asked if I wanted to catch her, or for Cory to, and I just said “you do it.” Within a minute or two, she slipped on out and I reached down to find her. They handed me my baby while I, apparently, shouted “baby, baby, baby!” She was born at 10:38 PM.

I pulled her up to my chest and stared in wonder and incredible relief at my little girl. I couldn’t believe it was already over! I felt immensely triumphant, and shouted out, “I f***ing did it!” to the laughter of everyone else. 

Because of my history of postpartum hemorrhage, we’d already planned on a managed third stage (the delivery of the placenta). That involved drinking an herbal concoction just before Amelia was out, and getting a shot of pitocin right after. They helped me to the bed with Amelia, and we waited for the placenta to come out. Our plan was effective in leading to a pretty quick delivery of the placenta with minimal bleeding. 

After that, though, my bleeding did pick up again, so I was given some misoprostol and another pitocin injection, along with uterine massage. The bleeding wasn’t hemorrhage-level, but it was getting close and my midwives wanted to be conservative, which I appreciated.

I worked on getting Amelia to nurse throughout that whole time, and she struggled at first but was able to get latched on after a few minutes. We eventually decided that getting my belly bound up could be helpful for controlling the bleeding, as well as emptying my bladder. So we cut the umbilical cord, which had long stopped pulsing, and I handed Amelia off to Cory. After my belly binding, we very slowly and cautiously walked to the toilet, and after a minute I was able to pee quite a bit. I hadn’t realized how full my bladder was, and how important an empty bladder is to helping the uterus stop bleeding. I went back to the bed and finally passed a good-sized clot, and that was the last of the bleeding. 

Then the midwives were able to stitch up my small tear (which they said I could choose to either leave alone or have stitched). It was a challenge because I had a lot of swelling, so it took a while. Marsha was holding Amelia while I was being stitched. Afterward, she came back to me for a quick nursing while getting her vitamin k shot, before her newborn exam. She cried briefly for the shot, but nursing did seem to help distract her.

After that, Julie did her newborn exam, and everything looked good. Amelia cried for most of the few minutes it took. When it was time to weigh her, we all gave our guesses; mine was 7 lbs, Cory’s was 6 lbs 12 oz, and Alicia’s guess from her last in-the-womb exam was 6 lbs 13 oz. She was 7 lbs 5 oz, just an ounce more than Cody was, and 20 inches long (both Cody and Abi were 20 ¼ inches long). 

By the time everything was finished, it was nearly 2 AM. The midwives left, and we went straight to bed, which was weird for us! 

Amelia’s first night was surprisingly restful, and she was a great sleeper. She woke up to nurse a few times, but slept soundly otherwise. I got a decent sleep in, too. In the morning, I was the first one up and I took Amelia to my rocking chair to wait for the kids to wake up so they could meet her. Cody got up first but needed a few minutes to go downstairs and wake up fully before he was ready for the introduction. When he did come in, he said she was cute and looked like a baby doll, and that he couldn’t believe she was born. When Abi woke up, she was completely enchanted and wanted to hold her. (She’s been pretty obsessed ever since then!) She gently stroked her baby sister’s head, face, and hands, and said she was so cute and that she was going to play with her and teach her how to walk. 

We’ve been settling in together since then, and adjusting to being outnumbered by children! Amelia wants to nurse and be held a lot, as expected– and I’m not holding back because I really want to savor this last baby. 

Since Amelia’s birth, I’ve been nothing but happy. Not only is my precious baby finally here, but I had the most amazing, fast, and smooth birth experience I could’ve imagined. It wasn’t easy, or painless. “Pain” doesn’t feel like the right word to me, but it was incredibly intense, challenging, and at times overwhelming. It felt like my body was trying to tear itself apart at times! I had the most discomfort around my pubic bone this time, and some discomfort in my lower back (but not as extreme as with Abigail’s birth). The crowning feeling was also more intense this time, and I remember thinking that I was probably tearing and hoping it wasn’t going to get worse (even though I ended up with only a very mild first-degree tear). But the fact that it only lasted about 6 ½ hours from start to finish is pretty amazing, and I was so grateful that it went so well. What a way to end my final pregnancy! 

I give the glory to God for helping me through my pregnancy and birth, and blessing me with such a beautiful family. My amazing husband and now my three beautiful children are the most precious gifts I’ve ever received, and I feel blessed beyond belief. As always, I couldn’t imagine getting through the challenge of birth without God’s presence and strength. He is my rock and my fortress at the times I’m at my weakest, and he gives me the strength to do hard things. I’ll be forever grateful for three beautiful, unique birth experiences, two of which were natural and at home– but all of which were amazing, empowering, and life-changing. 

Welcome to the world, Amelia Madeline. You are a precious treasure.

Baby Fever 3.0

At the end of my last pregnancy, I declared that I was done having babies. The pregnancy discomforts were fresh in my mind, and I knew that I did not want to deal with them again. After her birth, which was both wonderful and slightly traumatic, I confirmed once again to myself that I was DONE. I had survived, and I would like to keep it that way!

But in the year and several months since then, I’ve wavered back and forth quite a bit.

I do know for sure that I want another baby. The question is whether that baby should come through adoption, or through biology.

I’ve weighed the pros and cons of. Here is my list so far:

Pros of having a baby biologically:
1. We get to make the decisions and are more in control.
2. It is a simpler process than adopting.
3. We would get to be involved throughout the entire pregnancy and birth.
4. Birth is an amazing experience, and there is a big part of me that wants to experience it again.
5. It is much less expensive than adopting. (Adopting a newborn baby, that is).

Cons of having a baby biologically:
1. I am likely to feel nauseous for at least four months of my pregnancy.
2. I am likely to have heartburn for at least six months of my pregnancy.
3. I would have to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, again– childbirth.
4. I would further damage my body– stretch marks, abdominal separation, etc.
5. I might be risking my life. (Death in childbirth is extremely unlikely, but possible.)
6. I would have to face all of the medical stuff I hate so much (particularly things involving needles), as part of normal prenatal care.
7. We would be adding to over-population.
8. We would have to face the possibility of having a miscarriage.
9. I struggle to enjoy my children during pregnancy, because of how icky I feel.

If we chose to adopt, we would give up all of the benefits of having a baby biologically, but we would also avoid all of the drawbacks.

Even though the cons list is longer, the items aren’t all worth the same amount. I went as far as scoring each item with a number value, and it added up to -11, meaning the negatives outweighed the positives by 11 points.

Yes, I have put a lot of thought into this! And yet, it still doesn’t feel decided in my mind.

Yes, I have prayed about it, a lot. I am still praying about it. I’m hoping God just tells me what to do, because honestly, I don’t know what to decide!

This is on my mind even more lately because I have baby fever once again. As Cody and Abigail get bigger and bigger, I long more and more for another tiny baby to hold. I just love that early stage so much, and I miss it!

For now, our plan is to start pursuing adoption in 2019. As we begin the process, we will continually evaluate whether or not we should keep going. If at any point we realize we just can’t afford it, or it’s becoming too difficult emotionally or for some other reason, we reserve the right to change our minds and try to have another baby.

But my hope is that adoption works for us. It’s something I have always wanted to do, and this feels like the right time for us. I honestly prefer not to go through another pregnancy and birth.

We also plan to adopt older children through the foster system, in the next stage of growing our family, a few years down the road. But for right now, I still want one more baby. Truth be told, I would be happy with two more! But, Cory says just one more baby, so I can be happy with that. 😉

Happy First Birthday, Abigail!

My little baby is now a one year old! The time has flown by even faster the second time around.

Abigail is a very sweet, curious, active, and silly girl. Here are some of her traits and quirks at the age of one:

She likes to put on things like socks and hats and shoes. If she sees shoes on the floor, she will try to put them on her feet, or if they’re adult-sized, she’ll settle for wearing them on her hands and sliding around the floor on hands and knees. When she sees her own shoes, she insists on wearing them. Socks are also a frequent target.

She still puts a lot of things in her mouth. She especially likes to find tiny pieces of whatever on the floor to put in her mouth. Although I vacuum often, it’s impossible to keep up! I have to watch her closely to keep her from eating things she shouldn’t. She also likes to put things in her mouth that stretch the limits of what her mouth should be able to hold, like a ping-pong ball. (Little weirdo.)

She is becoming more vocal, and makes all sorts of silly sounds. Her and Cody spur each other on in making loud and silly noises, then cracking each other up laughing. She doesn’t say any words regularly, even though she has said “mama” and “dada” a few times.

She hit two milestones before her first birthday: her first teeth finally emerging, and her first independent steps. She now has two front bottom teeth just peeking out, and it looks like her two front top teeth will be next. As for walking, she doesn’t use it as a primary way of getting around yet, but she thinks it’s super fun to stand up, take a few steps, and bask in our adoration.

She loves dancing to music she likes, usually something with a beat. Her trademark move is to twist side to side with her arms out and elbows crooked. More recently, she’s been experimenting with some foot-stomping. 🙂

Abigail is still quite clingy, but she is more willing to go to other people to be held than Cody was at this age. She accepts brief separations from us with little fussing. Cory and I can attend church services together, go on date nights, and let family members help us with the kids when we get together! It’s a treat.

Around the house on a daily basis, it’s unpredictable whether Abigail will want me to hold her all day or perhaps play independently for some of the time, allowing me to get stuff done. The first kind of day is hard, because I’m very task-oriented and being handicapped by a baby demanding to be held constantly is frustrating. The second kind of day is less common, and very appreciated. It will be nice as she gets older to see her become more and more independent, and get a little bit more of my own time back.

Part of Abigail’s clinginess is her habit of grabbing the shirt of whoever is holding her. She almost always has one hand fastened tightly to the neckline of my shirt. It’s becoming more common for her to take it a step further and shove her hand right down my shirt. This can be annoying when we’re in public and she nearly exposes me to the world. I also have to put my foot down when she starts getting a little too “touchy feely.” (Here’s one of the weird things I’ve had to say all too often as a parent: “Stop touching my nipple!”)

Unfortunately, Abigail’s naps are not very good. She takes only one nap most days. ONE. At this age, Cody was just transitioning from three to two naps. Abigail is already down to one, and I fear for what lies ahead. Her one nap isn’t anywhere near the luxurious three hour naps Cody used to take up to the age of three. Nope, she’ll give me an hour on a good day. (Maybe up to two hours on a marvelous day, but sometimes only 40 minutes on a not-so-great day).

Even that one nap is often a struggle. She usually falls asleep nursing or in the carrier, and I attempt to move her to her bed. We recently bought a crib for her (the first crib we’ve ever used, since Cody never had one). We put her down there for her naps, and we reserve the right to plop her in there at bedtime if she decides to pull another midnight wake-up party.

On a happier note, she is an excellent eater. She eats many foods, and is not picky. Almost anything we set in front of her, she will eat enthusiastically. Of course we have to serve her foods that are soft enough for her, and cut into small enough pieces, since she only has two tiny front teeth. But that doesn’t stop her from being a little foodie! It’s so lovely to see our child happily eating fruits and vegetables. Cody didn’t eat ANY solid food until he was two years old, and even now at almost-four, he doesn’t eat fruits or vegetables except on a rare occasion. So suffice it to say, it’s wonderful to see Abigail enjoying food so much at this age.

That’s pretty much it! Abigail is a joy, and seems to only get cuter by the day.

 

 

Happy First Birthday, my sweet girl! Mommy and Daddy and brother love you sooo much! You are my treasure.

 

Happy 11 Months Birthday, Abigail!

Abigail is now 11 months old. I. Just. Can’t. I know I say this every time, but it’s going too fast!

This month, she has really started showing a passion for climbing. She climbs on the kids’ table, any chairs that are short enough for her, and the slide. She climbs into baskets, toy boxes, and dog crates. She climbs onto the bed and couch, and climbs down by herself. (Usually we help her because she’s not as proficient as we would like yet). She can stand up on her own with no support, and she walks around with support. She sometimes uses a kids’ chair as a walker.

When she’s not climbing, she’s searching for tiny things on the floor to show us. She holds them up proudly for us to see, right before putting them in her mouth. Obviously, she keeps us on our toes! She also likes to sit next to the bookshelf, tear all of the books off, and then pick one up and flip through the pages. Fortunately, they’re board books, so they’re sturdy.

She loves our cats. Cody was more into the dogs, but Abigail isn’t as fond of them. She tolerates them, but never seeks them out and occasionally will be upset if they get too in her face. The cats, on the other hand, are her jam. She crawls after them, tries to pet them, watches them, and generally just feels happier when she’s around them. She even tries to say our cat’s name, Luna. (She says “Una.”) I guess dog-person/cat-person is a trait determined at birth!

She loves food, too. Very different from Cody, who didn’t eat any solid foods until he was two years old and even to this day is extremely limited in what he will eat. Abigail is all about food. She will happily try anything we put in front of her, and she almost always likes it. We feed her baby finger foods and soft table foods, since she doesn’t have any teeth. She likes to self-feed, so we don’t often feed her purees.

This month she had her first trip to the beach, and she loved it. She loves trying to eat the sand, and having us dip her feet into the ocean water. She’s also been to the zoo several times. She doesn’t get it yet, of course, but it’s a fun activity for our family.

One detail I forgot to mention in a previous post was that she moved out of her infant car seat to a convertible car seat, still rear-facing of course, at about 9 ½ months old. She’s been more content in the car since the switch, and overall she is a great passenger. We don’t do a lot of driving or long trips, but for errands around town she does great and rarely cries.

She is still very clingy, and I spend a lot of time holding her. It can be challenging to get anything done! But, she also loves to play and explore, so it’s often a matter of taking advantage of those moments. She goes into the nursery at church on Sundays and does well, which is awesome! She will usually let other people hold her, but once she sees me again, it’s all over. She’s less mom-focused now at least, and doesn’t have as strong of a preference for me over her dad. In fact, she crawls to him and asks to be picked up as soon as he comes home every day! Then she snuggles on his chest. So sweet!

Happy 10 Months Birthday, Abigail!

Little Abi is now 10 months old. It’s a fun age, but also a challenging one!

She takes two naps per day, about an hour give or take. Really, that’s not much for her age, but I’ll take what I can get.

She sleeps okay at night, sometimes only waking up a couple of times to nurse, but more often she wakes up frequently and is restless. I blame it on teething, because ibuprofen seems to help. Speaking of teething, she still doesn’t have a single tooth. They’re in hiding!

Abigail loves to explore. She crawls everywhere (always on her hands and knees now instead of her belly), climbs on things, pulls herself up to stand, and puts everything in her mouth. She can climb up the small slide we have in our play area by herself, on either end (ladder or slide). She climbs up the stairs any chance she gets. She keeps us on on our toes!

She is eating baby food, but only to supplement her primarily breastfed diet.

Her diaper rash has finally healed, and only has mild flare-ups now. The ointment that finally worked for us is called Triple Paste, and I am so thankful for it.

Abi gives “kisses” sometimes, involving putting her open mouth on my face (or Cory’s). It’s pretty cute, actually. Probably the cutest thing she does on a regular basis is playing peek-a-boo. She loves it when we play with her, but even when we’re doing other things, she’s constantly seeking out fabrics to use to cover her head and then pull them off, with a look of pure delight on her face. She will use clean laundry from the basket, the play scarves we have, or even the skirt of her dress. It’s super silly!

She is extremely clingy. She wants to be held pretty much all the time, but sometimes her desire to explore triumphs and we will get a few minutes of a break from holding her. A few times a day, I have to put her in her playpen and let her cry so I can take care of some basic needs for myself, Cody, or our many pets. It can be pretty stressful.

We wear her in the carrier often, too, but she tends to not like it when I wear her facing in unless she wants to sleep. It’s difficult to wear her facing out and get anything done, because she’s very grabby. So the carrier doesn’t help me much in that way, but it is often how we put her to sleep for naps or bedtime.

Abigail loves her brother, and they often make each other laugh just by looking at each other and being silly. She also enjoys patting the dogs when they’re not too rambunctious and overwhelming her. She especially loves following our new kitten, Leo, around the house as he explores. She tries to pet him, and our other cat Luna, but they usually move too fast for her to get a lot of pets in.

When daddy comes home from work, Abigail gets very excited and crawls to him so he will pick her up. But in general, she tends to want me to hold her. So when Cory is home, I often have to stay out of her sight in order to get things done, because as soon as she sees me she will start fussing and trying to get me to hold her.

Happy Eight and Nine Months Birthday, Abigail!

Oops! I totally spaced on Abi’s 8 month birthday update. Here’s what she’s been up to these past two months.

At eight months:
She is very clingy, and hardly lets me put her down without crying.
She sits up on her own regularly.
We stopped feeding her baby food, which we were only doing occasionally anyway, because solid foods seemed to cause worse diaper rash.
She loves to play with toys, and gets bored easily if she doesn’t have something to hold.
She crawls on her belly, gets around pretty fast, and tries to get into everything.
She sometimes gets up on her hands and knees.
She loves her bathtime, and will crawl to the tub when we start getting it ready.
She takes two to three naps her day.
She still weighs 18 pounds and is now in the 54th percentile for weight.

At nine months:
She pulls up to stand.
She likes to pinch! It hurts.
She is still very clingy to mom, and resists being held by others including dad. But, she eventually accepts it.
She takes two naps per day, often an hour or less.
She babbles and shrieks with excitement.
She can get back up to sitting from her belly.
She likes to steal my nursing pads, from inside my shirt. She specifically likes to take the paper backing off of the sticky part and try to eat it. The fact that she knows they are there even when she can’t see them shows that she’s starting to understand object permanence. Basically, she’s smart. 😉
She is starting to crawl more on hands and knees, instead of her belly.
She learned how to clap.
She weighs 18.8 pounds, which means she’s finally gained some weight after three months of gaining nothing. She’s now in about the 60th percentile, so just slightly above average. She still has the cutest, most delicious chunky thighs.

 

Happy Seven Months Birthday, Abigail!

In the beginning of this month, Abi turned seven months old. Our silly little girl is more than halfway to one!

At seven months, she is able to sit up on her own, but usually prefers laying on her belly. She hasn’t crawled yet, but she’s getting pretty close. She loves to play with toys or interesting objects, and gets bored easily. She’s not content to just sit and observe things, she wants to explore with her hands. Holding her while trying to do anything else is very difficult, because she grabs everything!

For a couple of weeks, she seemed close to night-weaning, meaning sleeping through the night without having to nurse. But unfortunately, all progress was lost soon after that, when she started nursing even more frequently than ever at night. Typically she nurses anywhere from three to six times per night. Thankfully, three is more common than six.

She has teething pain and other signs of teething (like soaking her shirt in drool) sporadically, as she has since about three months, but no teeth have emerged yet. We can see them under the skin on her bottom gum, so I expect them to come out soon, but they’ve really been taking their time!

Somewhat concerningly, she still weighs 18 lbs, which means she hasn’t gained any weight in the last month. But because she’s still quite a chunky baby, still in the 64th percentile (down from the 78th), and seems active and happy, we’re not too concerned. She grew so fast in the first 6 months of her life that she’s probably just “catching down.” 😉

Abigail loves her nightly bath. She gets excited when we say “bath” and when she sees the tub. She starts bouncing in our arms and gets the biggest smile on her face! It’s really cute. On the flip side, she generally hates her after-bath lotioning, and usually cries or fusses through the entire lotion-diaper-pajamas process. But after that drama, she happily nurses to sleep, and the world is right again.

Just after turning seven months, Abigail said “mama” for the first time! Now it seems to be her favorite word, and she uses it frequently to summon her milk slave. For the record, she did say “dada” first, at about six months. It’s up for debate whether she had the intention, or was just babbling, but she did say it a lot so it could easily be her true first word. Now that she’s also said “mama,” I’m more willing to give the first word award to “dada.” ;P (In all fairness, Cody’s first word was “mama,” so it’s a good balance that we each get one.)

At this age, Abi takes three naps; morning, afternoon, and night. Technically the last nap could be considered part of her nighttime sleep, but we wake her up before we all go to bed as a family in order to give her a bath and keep her eczema at bay. She sleeps about 9-10 hours at night (waking up on average four times to nurse).
She has stretches of being content playing on the floor or in her bouncer, as long as a parent is close by. She also has stretches of being very clingy and crying any time she’s put down. She never really has times when she cries inconsolably, and when she is fussy even while being held, it’s a sign she needs to nap. Typically, she goes down fairly easily for her naps.

As the weather is beginning to warm up, I am enjoying dressing her in little dresses and skirts, showing off those adorably chunky baby legs! Oh what fun to dress a baby girl.

Happy Six Months Birthday, Abigail!

{This is very belated, as I wrote it but didn’t get around to posting it until now!}

Abigail turned six months old last weekend. I can’t believe we’re already halfway to one year!

Abi is still wearing some size 9 months clothes, and she also wears some things that are size 12 months. She weighs 18 lbs, and is tall for her age (or I guess you would say “long” at this stage since she’s not standing.)

She doesn’t sit up on her own yet or crawl. She still mostly likes to get around by rolling, or by us carrying her. She does travel pretty far by rolling and wiggling, so maybe she doesn’t feel too motivated to try anything more just yet. She doesn’t like to lay on her back, and always rolls to her side or belly when we put her down. Diaper changes are a struggle because she fights to be on her belly!

The biggest change this month has been her desire to explore things with her hands. She is no longer content to just watch the action, she wants to grab it for herself! She loves to grab, shake, taste, and slam anything she can get her hands on. Anything we are doing while holding her will be targeted. Because of that, we can’t really do much else while holding her any more. No computer, paper books, or cooking. She also tends to wriggle around a lot while she’s being held, which makes it more of a two-arm job. And unfortunately, our easy baby has disappeared, as she now demands to be held for a majority of the day. I still wouldn’t consider her high-need, because in other ways she really isn’t, but I also wouldn’t call her “easy” any more.

Because of how heavy she is, I’ve found wearing her to be a bit uncomfortable and hard on my back. So I don’t typically spend a lot of time with her in the carrier, but it’s definitely still useful for outings, and Cory still wears her for hours each day. Personally, I prefer to hold her in my arms, which I find to be easier on my back. She also seems more content that way, because I can shift her position and try different things to keep her entertained.

She did her first reach to be held this month, something I always find cute. She reaches for both me and her dad, though she does have a preference for me sometimes. She’s had a couple of episodes of separation anxiety from me, but she’s also accepted other caregivers easily. We even went out on a date, and left her with a babysitter!

Abigail has always seemed to eyeball our food, so when our pediatrician said we could start trying to feed her baby food, I thought, “why not?” And as it turns out, she is a great eater! It’s such a new experience for me to spoon feed a baby food and have her actually swallow it and open her mouth for more. So far, we’ve tried sweet potatoes, pears, peas, bananas, carrots, and cereal. She’s liked all of them except for the pears and cereal, and she wasn’t as enthusiastic about the peas as she was with the others. But she really seems to love sweet potatoes, bananas, and carrots. It’s exciting to see her accepting fruits and veggies already, and it gives me hope that she will be a good eater as she grows up.

Of course for now, she’s still so young that I’m not looking to make solid foods a big part of her diet. I still believe breastmilk is best for the first year. I typically feed her just half of a jar of stage one baby food (which is a tiny jar to begin with), then finish it off the next day and wait a few days before feeding her another one. I like the idea of introducing a variety of foods to her, but as I said, nothing beats breastmilk for baby nutrition!

Speaking of which, she’s still a great nurser and my supply is great as usual. She nurses about every 3 hours or so, and typically two to three times during the night. She sleeps with us in our family bed, and we all go to bed at about 10 PM (although Abigail frequently falls asleep before that). Cory gets up with the kids, usually sometime between 6:30 and 7:30. Occasionally, Abigail and/or Cody will stay asleep with me until I get up at 8. That means generally, Abi sleeps for nine to eleven hours per night.

She takes two naps at fairly predictable times now. Her first nap is in the late morning, around 10:30 or so, and her second nap is usually in the mid afternoon, around 3:30 or so. It can vary by a couple of hours some days, but that’s the most common. Her naps are about an hour long on average, but they can also be longer. When teething is bothering her, she has trouble staying asleep for naps and is restless at night.

As for her eczema and diaper rash: we finally beat it! The eczema could flare up again without warning at any time, of course, but for now her skin is clear. We bathe her in just water (no soap) every other day, and follow that with a full-body lotioning. The diaper rash was finally cured when we got a prescription for a steroid cream. It took about two weeks for it to fully go away using that, but it’s finally gone. Unfortunately, ever since we stopped the steroid cream, the rash keeps trying to come back. We put a light layer of Aquaphor on her at every change, but we still notice redness appearing every few days. When we see it, we put on more steroid cream for a day or two, and that takes care of it. It’s frustrating to have to keep using that, though, because I know it’s not recommended to use it long-term. Her skin is just so darn sensitive, and doesn’t respond to anything else! But at least for now, it seems to be under control, and she’s not uncomfortable any more. Thank God!

So that’s about it! Abi is a happy, healthy baby, and just the sweetest little nugget. Those chunky cheeks and big blue eyes, and her adorable smile… they get me every time. <3

Happy Five Months Birthday, Abigail!

Abigail is now five months old! She weighs 16.8 lbs and is almost 26” long. She is in the 78th percentile for weight, and 72nd for height. She wears 6-9 month size clothes, but some of her footsie pajamas are 12 month size. Her eyes are still the same shade of blue, and it seems likely they will remain blue at this point. Her hair seems to be more and more sparse, since she hasn’t grown any more that I can tell since being born.

She wakes up on average three times per night to nurse. She tends to be a somewhat restless sleeper, but I think that is because of her recent flare-up of eczema, which is making her itchy. The eczema appeared suddenly almost two weeks ago, starting on her cheeks and then spreading to the rest of her body. We started giving her daily baths and lotioning her afterward, which is apparently the most important thing to do for treating eczema. We also moisturize the most affected areas of her body a few times during the day. After about a week, it has mostly cleared up, but not completely. I’m not too concerned about it, but it is an annoyance.

We also have been fighting a diaper rash with her for over a month now. We’ve tried everything including coconut oil, traditional zinc oxide diaper rash creams, petrolatum ointment, anti-fungals, cortizone, and airing it out. She also wears “natural” diapers (without chemicals, dyes, or fragrances) and we use “natural” wipes (which contain mostly water and gentle, plant-based cleaners). The most successful treatment has been the petrolatum (Aquaphor) and a special healing ointment we bought called “Bee Magic” which contains honey, bee pollen, and other bee-related substances. Using those with every diaper change, she has almost completely healed several times, but then the rash will flare up again for no apparent reason. As of right now, it is “manageable,” meaning not getting any worse, and not severe enough to be very concerning. Like her eczema, it is more of an annoyance than anything. Diaper changes are a hassle because she tries to scratch herself, so we have to put mittens on her hands and try to pin down all of her limbs while smearing two types of ointment on her. As you can imagine, it’s basically an olympic sport. Rinse and repeat every two hours!

Anyway. She loves to sleep on her side now, and usually sucks on her thumb while sleeping. She tends to have a mid-morning nap and an early afternoon nap, each lasting one to three hours. I can usually tell when she’s tired because she will start to act grumpy. She’s so easy to put down; I close the curtains, put the white noise on, and then rock her. It takes just a few minutes for her to fall asleep. She doesn’t wake up when I put her down in bed, either. Easy peasy!

She doesn’t like her swing, so we haven’t used it in weeks. She prefers her bouncy seat, floor seat, play mat, high chair, or playpen. Of course her favorite option is being held, and she also loves to be worn in the carrier. This week, I was able to take her on a walk in the stroller, and she sat happily in the upper seat (it’s a double stroller). She also went in the baby swing at the park and loved it.

She loves grabbing things, including skin, hair, and faces. But toys will also suffice. She likes sucking on tags, soft toys, and teething toys. She will almost always roll to her belly when she’s laid down to play, and she can now push up high on her arms (push-up style). She also is starting to push her bottom up by bringing her knees under her. It’s a small step towards crawling, which is exciting. Abigail cannot sit up on her own yet, but she’s getting close. She can roll easily from back to belly and vice versa. She actually can move pretty far just by rolling and wiggling.

Generally, she’s very smiley, giggly, and a content observer. She laughs at people when they burp or blow raspberries, and she still finds peek-a-boo hilarious. Cody likes to snuggle her and try to make her laugh.

This month we will offer her some solid food for the first time. She seems interested in our food when we eat, so we’ll see what happens. We’re going to start off with some simple pureed baby food and baby cereals mixed with breastmilk. I’m excited to see how she does.

My sweet baby girl is growing so fast. I love this stage!