Thursday, December 15, 2011

Life with my growing baby

Month one has passed, and November's 2nd month birthday is just 2 days away. Every day I feel like she is a whole new baby, getting bigger and bigger, learning and changing more and more, while my love for her gets stronger and stronger. The other day I was playing with November in front of a mirror. After a few minutes of playing 'Who's that beautiful baby?' in an overly excited high-pitched voice, I caught an unexpected glimpse of myself. I looked maniacally giddy and so full of love. I've never seen a more genuine smile on my face.
This baby is bringing unprecedented volumes of joy in my life with her amazing smiles that grow bigger and wider and more frequent by the day, her cute little gurgles, coos, and outbursts of first laughter, and her astonishing strength as she tries to roll, scoot, and stretch her way to her first crawl and steps. It's so much fun to watch her learn and grow! I am amazed every day that she stands a little longer and stronger as I support her arms. This baby is ready to run!
She is still a very needy baby, and prefers to be cuddled, carried, danced with, and bounced, but she is also learning to enjoy periods of time in her swing, under her activity gym, or propped up on the boppy. Still, she prefers that her parents are never far, no matter where she is. And I'm getting used to it, and actually learning to enjoy her high level of need and appreciating the close bond it is creating between us.
Breastfeeding FINALLY got easier! While we still may encounter a few sore moments after an improper latch, most of our feedings are easy as pie! It took weeks longer than expected, but we are finally pros! I've also started pumping expressed breastmilk so she can continue to be exclusively breastfed when we are apart. The pump was intimidating at first, and kind of hard to use with her always in my arms, but I finally got the hang of it and figured out how to pump the other breast WHILE feeding her on the other! It also took awhile to find a bottle/nipple combo she could suck; it turns out most bottle nipples are too big for her and she can't latch on, causing half of the milk to spill out the side of her mouth! We finally settled on the small Medela (the brand of my pump) bottles and nipples, and have had great success so far.
We've become comfortable with outings! We've taken many the Target or grocery run, went out to eat a couple times, and even went to a party with her and hung out with friends! I do have to take feeding breaks, either in the (parked) car, store bathroom, or any old place covered in the nursing shawl, but it's not too bad! November prefers to be carried and entertained when she's awake, so if she fusses when out, we take her out of the stroller or carseat and carry her!
I've even experienced time away from my sweet little one! Last weekend, Spencer and I attended a friends wedding while Spencer's sister watched her for a few hours. It was a nice date night and Laura and November had a great time together! And yesterday was my first day back at work. I'm starting small, with a few short shifts at first, and only working two days a week this month, adding a third next month, and eventually trying to find the hours and schedule that works best. So far, November doesn't sleep soundly for a long stretch of time until after midnight, so I can't work the early shift that I used to work quite yet. I'm so grateful my work is letting me take my time to slowly build up my schedule and let me work with what hours I can! Anyhow, my first day of work was actually enjoyable, and Spencer did great with November! Next week November gets to stay with her grandma!
And now about a couple things I love that have really made life with a baby better:

First, baby carriers! Since November likes to be carried pretty much all day, it was hard at first to figure out how I was ever going to walk the dog, do laundry, or anything else without another set of arms to help. But, luckily, she loves being snug in the Moby wrap or Balboa baby sling as much as she likes being carried. I prefer the Moby when I want extra security and need my hands free, because it really does keep baby secure against my body. But the baby sling is great when she is still awake, or I just need something for a short time to support while I throw in the laundry. It isn't quite as secure or hands-free, but it is easier to put on than the Moby, and can be put on without having to put her down. With these carriers I can walk Kitsune, do laundry, and clean up around the house! Also handy when out and about when she starts to fuss in the stroller.

Next, cloth diapers! I never had any desire to use cloth diapers until my grandma got us some as a gift. Afterward, I researched them a bit, and found out how easy they could be and how much money they could save, especially since ours were a gift. Once she gained a couple pounds, we started using them, and I have loved them ever since. We primarily use GroVia all-in-two system. We have 13 outer shells (in super cute pink and purple colors) which is more than enough. Since the outer shell rarely becomes soiled, we only go through 1-3 a day. We also have 24 snap in inserts and 10 booster pads. The inserts do a great job at containing the mess, only sometimes soiling the shell if she has a very large poo. The booster pads are great for night time, and help her feel dryer longer. In addition to GroVia, we have 5 Fuzzibunz one size pocket diapers. They work well also, but I think the GroVia velcro tabs and rise snaps (for sizing) are much easier to use than FB snap closures and button sizing. I also like the fact that part of the GV system is reusable (the shell) throughout the day, where with FB, you wash both the pocket diaper AND the soaker inserts each time.

And how bad is the laundry? Not bad at all! With our 29 total diapers, we only wash a load every other day. Since we use community coin laundry at our apartments, I choose to hang dry, which means we only spend about $3 or $4 a week! Compare that to the $24 we spent a week during the first weeks of her life, and you can see how much we save! And they aren't hard to use at all, not even when out and about! We just store the soiled diaper in a 'wet bag' or ziplock and dump it in the laundry when we get home. And what about poo? Not too bad! Newborn poo in so wet that it washes out completely in the washer without any special treatment. And stains? None! Especially if you leave the discolored ones to dry in front of a bright window. It doesn't even have to be sunny (I am writing this on a gloomy December day); the sun somehow penetrates and bleaches them naturally, no exaggeration! I thought cloth diapers would be difficult, but I can't recommend them enough, especially GroVia. They are cheaper, cuter, and environmentally friendly.

I also can't live without things that move! Since November loves movement, her cradle swing, bouncy chair, my gliding rocking chair, and yoga ball have all become invaluable. It took her awhile to warm up to the swing, and even now she only likes it for short periods of time, but any time at all with my hands free is great! She also loves when I hold her and bounce and rock on the yoga ball, or soothe her in the rocking chair.

I've found fussiness relief with gripe water! Sometimes November gets bloated, gassy, and fussy causing frequent waking and frazzled parents. We've used both 'Mommy's Bliss' and 'Colic Calm,' both of which work wonders on soothing her fussiness caused my tummy upsets and helps her sleep better. She doesn't need it frequently, but when she does, it's a lifesaver.

The books I've loved are the Sears Baby Book and What to expect: the first year. I love reading and searching for answers, and both have provided much useful info. The Dr. Sears book has especially helpful info on the attachment style parenting (which suits November's needs perfectly) and has great info supporting 'sleep sharing' for parents who need or want their child to sleep in their bed.

And lastly, I must mention the Boppy nursing pillow. Not only does it provide arm support when nursing, but it also makes a comfy cushion when November feels like 'sitting' semi-propped up.

So there ends a post that took me forever to type with one finger, while my little baby sleeps, nurses, and cuddles in my other arm. And most of this time spent bouncing on the yoga ball simultaneously.