Sleep Training

In previous posts, I alluded to our experimentation with sleep training. Miss Connie has slept well from the start. I cannot complain about sleepless nights or having days and nights mixed up. She spoiled us from the beginning.

When we brought her home, we started with her sleeping in our bed (co-sleeping). I would lay on my back and place her between my legs, approximate at my knees with her head toward my feet. She slept in the V shape of my legs and I laid in the same spot throughout the night. I’ve never had the intention of co-sleeping long-tern, but as I was nursing, it was easy to have her in bed with me. I felt when she woke up and could immediately grab her, change her, nurse her. We did this for the first month. Some don’t know how I could sleep like that, but it was very comfortable for me and the mama instincts never once allowed me to roll over or move my legs. She was safe.  Continue reading

First Christmas

We had several gatherings this year for Christmas 2015. I was looking forward to the holiday with Miss Connie. She is old enough to tear paper and open the gifts, but not yet old enough to understand why or what is in the wrapped package. Also not yet old enough to tear through gift after gift like a Tasmanian devil. This year, we was more into eating the wrapping paper than opening the gift completely.  Continue reading

A visit with Great Grandma

The days and years go by too fast, and the visits and time with family, the truly important things, get lost in the shuffle of daily life. My grandmother lives about an hour and a half from me, but for one reason, of for or a dozen bad excuses, I see her just once a year on average. I was excited when she made the journey to join us in June for Mariah’s graduation party. We also got to see her last week. Continue reading

Mammary

mam·ma·ry, ˈmam(ə)rē/, adjective,  relating or belonging to the milk-secreting organ of a female mammal

In the past few weeks, I really feel like my mammary glands are giving up. When we were in Jamaica I pumped a few times each day and managed to extract roughly 25 ounces over the 5-day period. It was deflating, literally! I was able to bring that milk back home with me which I was very happy about.  Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2015

So very much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day was spend with the Carpenter’s at Grandma Betty’s following the 5.5k Plain Pilgrimage.

On the Saturday following, we hosted the Lettman clan. A ‘photo booth’ was set up to get some family pics. My sister and her family were once again home and it was so great to have them here.

Miss Connie sampled new foods and was showered with love by family.

Thank you Auntie Rachel for the adorable “My 1st Thanksgiving” hat and bib set.

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November Photo Dump

She is so much fun at this age…. I’ve been amazed at how much she had developed from November 1st to November 30th. She’s learned so many new things, is picking up on language and words, loves books, and enjoys exploring her surroundings. She is still an absolute mama’s girl and I am taking full appreciation for as long as I have that.

Last month involved a trip to South Dakota, new teeth, her first snow and her first barrette hair clip(photos below!), and the fun of the Thanksgiving holiday season which blessed us with another visit with my sister and the girls. Here’s some of the fun and memories captured in November. And, yes, she is as fun and happy as she looks in photos–probably more!

 

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Meeting Greydon

My brother is a grandpa… sometimes I still have to let that sink in. That means of course then, that I am a Great Aunt, a.k.a. Granut LoLo! Greydon celebrated 1 year of life back in August, and in July (this post is overdue) we got together for a visit while he and his sweet mama were home from Washington. It was a warm sunny day and great for sitting by the pool and hanging with family.

Below are photos of the first meeting of Greydon (13 months) and Miss Connie (3 months). It’s amazing how much my lil girl has grown and changed and developed since this visit.

The first image is of my brother and mother with their grandbabies. Greydon was not too sure about this new babe coming in a stealing his attention or playing with HIS toys!

Hopefully these two babes will get some more visits together in the New Year.

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The Wild West

Carl affectionately refers to South Dakota as the ‘Wild West.’ As we welcomed November, we headed there early Sunday morning, via a route from Lincoln, Nebraska. We arrived around the lunch hour and were excitedly greeted by Grandpa Carl and Grandma Darcy in their new home. We got the tour and then enjoyed a delicious homemade meal, something we had been missing as a result of being on the road for the preceding two days and eating snack foods.

The visit was easy-going and relaxing. For Connie and I anyway. Cody helped his dad install a windmill tower that once stood on Bear Vale ground. If all goes as he hopes, Carl will be able to pump water to his cattle with it. We enjoyed a four-wheeler ride through Webster, time with Carl’s Black Diamonds (cattle), a visit with Wes, and more good food.

Unknown to her at this young age, Connie has some experiences some would be envious of. She drove with her grandpa in a 1942 Ford truck, very similar to the one her grandpa road in as a child. She sat atop a tractor her great-grandfather purchased in the 1960s.  She was hugged between her mama and daddy during a 4-wheeler ride, during which she contentedly fell asleep. She played with a cat who had seen his fair share on young children in his day and graciously allowed her to crawl over him. She visited the Wild West!

Thank you, Carl and Darcy, for a wonderful visit and for the love you hold for our daughter.

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Seven Months

Last month when I took her photos, she was barely sitting up. I could set her on her butt, but she was wobbly and would tip over easily. In a blink of an eye, that all changed and she has spent the past three weeks sitting up without difficulty and adjusting from sitting to crawling. It probably sounds funny, but I find myself thinking she looks so grown up as she sits. She is also now able to enjoy bath time sitting rather than laying down and loves to chase the bath toys around the tub.

Her ability to fully sit on her own for lengthy periods, as well as her ever-growing menu, has adjusted our dinner routine. While we usually ate as a threesome, it formerly involved Cody and I sitting across from each other at the kitchen island while I nursed Miss Connie. Now, Cody pulls his chair around closer to me, and sandwiched between us is our infant foodie in her high chair. It melts my heart to have the thee of us gathered. He and I take turns feeding her as we feed ourselves.

Originally I thought I would be cautious about the range of foods and how quickly they were introduced, but with my low milk supply and her being quick to take to solids, we have introduced a variety of foods, being mindful that they are organic (safe), nutritious, and suitable for her age.

This past month she has discovered new noises that she is able to make and appreciates us mimicking her noises back to her. She recognizes voices and many times when I am on the phone with a family member or with Cody, I will put the speaker on so she can hear them too. Usually she joins in the conversation.

We had our first experience of ‘sickness’. On Tuesday she came down with a stuffy and runny nose (thank you Aunt Kendra for NoseFrida) and just did not feel well in general. She wanted to snuggle and nurse and just wanted mommy for the most part. Which I loved, but nighttime was difficult. Typically she does well at going down at night in her crib and staying down for several hours. Tuesday through Thursday evening however, she woke and fussed every time I attempted to put her down. So, into our bed she came. I nursed her to sleep an attempted to lay her in bed with us, but once detached and not touching me, she was back up. So… attached sleeping for three straight nights. It was a bit rough on my neck and back and my sleep was compromised, but such is the sacrifice of a mama. I have appreciated the snuggles. Wednesday night we vegged out on the couch and Cody remarked that it was like she was a newborn again, content just laying with us, not wanting to move around. We nursed frequently and throughout the night and I pulled some of my frozen stash out just to ensure she was getting lots of mama milk packed with vitamins. She was a trooper. We could see it in her eyes that she just wasn’t feeling her best but she tried to remain happy and playful and is doing much better.

Weight: Unofficially via bathroom scale: 18lbs

Height: 28″

Head: 17.5″

Eyes: Dare I say, light brown? Greenish brown definitely but as I type, they appear a muddled brown. Cody recently told someone he hopes she does have brown eyes, that way I’ll feel like she has something from me. He forgets, I already take credit for the chin! 🙂

Hair: Lengthening and looking darker this month than last. Perhaps it was the outdoor time last month that made her hair get lighter. 🙂 She continues to be a brunette. Maybe I get credit for that too.

Eats:

  • Mama milk, still keeping at it and nurse often
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Sweet potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrot

Teeth: Still two, but the third is working away at coming through–top right. We thought we’d have seen it by now, but it lingers in her swollen upper gum and causes grief occasionally. Wash cloths and the teething necklace, and her own hand, provide some relief.

My love for her grows each day. I am so in awe of her and cannot get enough kisses and hugs and babbles and smiles. She is truly amazing. Here are her 7 month photos. Had to pull a carrot toy out to go with her “love me some veggies” outfit from Grandma Cathy.

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October Photo Dump

I can hardly believe it is November. Reflecting on October, it’s a haze. We enjoyed the warm temps and the delayed fall color change. Connie’s great grandma Ruth passed early in the month which provided us with a bonus visit with Grandpa & Grandma Pulvermacher, and the chance to see aunts, uncles, and cousins. During that same week, tooth #2 was working it’s way in and caused some restless nights and fussy moments. The rest of the month flew by and included:

  • turning 6 months old!
  • trying new foods (not a big fan of prunes!)
  • learning the ‘touchdown’ referee signal while watching football with daddy
  • acorn collecting with Grandma Connie
  • her first vaccination
  • PDF pancake breakfast
  • visit with great grandpa Harry
  • a trip to Peck’s
  • a visit with the Wilson’s
  • Halloween party at the Giblin’s
  • and we closed out October with a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to meet up with Aunt DeDe and the girls. (separate post to come)

Here’s October in pictures:

 

Teething

Tooth #1 arrived on September 22nd, just after turning 5 months old. The nanny discovered it and brought her in to ask if I knew it was there. I had been occasionally checking for breaks in the gums, but had not noticed it and was happy to realize it came in without much fuss or discomfort. Tooth #2 on the other hand gave us a few days of  inconsistent sleep and increased clinginess as well as bottom rash. I was eager to provide her with comfort; here are some things we tried:

Generic teethers: The teething options compliments of Wal-Mart (sorry, Tod); rubber/plastic (BPA free) water filled shapes. We have the clear ring made up of circles and a pink ‘foot.’ We experimented with these, frozen and unfrozen. She likes the item from a toy perspective, but doesn’t seem to identify it as a teething option as she does with some of the other items. They also don’t fit in her mouth very well and at 5 months old, she struggled to hold them securely. I would not buy these again.

20151007_203200Frozen wash cloths: This one is easy. Dampen the cloth and throw it in the freezer. We have small organic cloths we received at our baby shower and this is what I use for her. I feel like she has control of this and can get it into her mouth more easily. I believe the texture is more inviting as well. Highly recommend trying this. Very affordable and effective. This is our go-to soothing option.

Amber necklace: This is the description posted on Amazon.com for this product: “Our Amber Teething Necklace is the perfect alternative medicine for babies & toddlers on the teething process. All this is thanks for the Baltic Amber Natural immune system boost, anti-inflammatory & analgesic capabilities. By the time the baby or toddler start using the necklace you will start noticing the differences on their behavior & mood, thanks to the effectiveness of the succinic acid contained naturally on the amber and without suffering the secondary effects behind synthetic medicine like teething tablets or scrapings left by the teething toys on their mouth.” So we tried this for a few days but to be honest, I can’t say if it provided relief at all. I was nervous to have it on her neck unless completely supervised (this meant not napping with it) and it was too big to stay on her wrist or ankle, so it was taken off many times. I will try again. We’ll see. I question whether or not it is amber or effective, but need more time to see if it has an impact.

20151101_092408Mommy necklace: Here’s a link to the item. Silicone Teething Necklace for Mom to Wear by RubyRoo Baby – Baby safe BPA-Free Faceted Beads. She likes this. Of course anything hanging on me while she is being held is of interest to her. She pulls on it, plays with it and chews on it. She likes having something to reach for and hold when she nurses also. It’s soft, easy to put on and adjustable. So this is a good buy and teething aid in my book. Word of caution: I would not allow her to play with it when it’s not being worn. The string could be ingested/inhaled or she could get tangled in it. We do allow her to play with it as a toy (not around my neck) but only while we are watching her closely. She does enjoy it and not only chews on the beads, but also on the string and seems to find comfort from that alone.

mesh feedersMunchkin Fresh Food Feeder: Again, the product description: “This award-winning product allows your baby to enjoy lots of delicious foods without the choking risk. Simply put a piece of fruit, vegetables or meat into the mesh bag and snap shut. Your baby can chew, suck and enjoy all the whole food goodness and taste, with only the tiniest, digestible pieces coming through.” She likes this. She can hold it and gnaw on it pulling small food particles in while getting a massage on her gums. It’s also a good way to introduce foods without the worry of choking and it helps to get her involved. You can also put ice chips in it and provide a numbing/cool option.

Tooth #2 finally poked through and provided relief on October 10th, just  before turning 6 months old. Now we are waiting on the rest. #3 seems to be close to arriving, but I don’t see where it might be entering.  She is not in major discomfort but does have moments when I can tell it’s bothering her and during those moments, the index finger is her go-to soother.

No rush. I love her gummy smile. But the pediatrician did say he could tell the top ones were working their way through. This is the very early record of our teething adventure. We have only just begun and have only two teeth through. I know we have some rougher days ahead, especially as the molars work their way in.

If you have the time, holding and comforting is always the best and preferred by the babe. Miss Connie really just wants mamma during achy times and I love her snuggles. I let her chew on my fingers and clothing while I smothered her with kisses. We also nurse frequently when she is not feeling her best.

Vaccination

In the 6-month update, I indicated I would have a separate post about our vaccination experience. I know I could start a debate here. The topic of vaccinations and the pro/con arguments can be as hot as the gun issue for some. I’m not looking to debate. This is simply my stance. At the core of my rationale is 1) the health, safety and opportunity for my daughter (nothing supersedes her well-being), 2) my own research/reading/evaluating/analyzing, and 3) my lack of confidence in our governed systems (call me a hippy, but pharma = business, vaccinations = profits). I don’t reach this position easily, or without worry, guilt or fear.

As a parent you want nothing but the very best for your child. Choosing to be pro, anti, semi-pro, or semi-anti vaccine is not reached by ignorant opinion, misguided faith, or social pressures. Those parents who choose to administer all vaccinations, they love their child and want the best for them. Those parents who choose to administer some vaccinations, they love their child and want the best for them. Those parents who choose to administer no vaccinations, they love their child and want the best for them. Without any doubt, what ever the decision by the parent is, they make it with the best of intentions.

As her 6-month check-up approached, we discussed whether or not we would vaccinate. I knew I would not administer anything prior to 6 months, but if I could stretch it out to 1 year, all the better! By the standard schedule, by 6 months of age, infants receive up to 18 vaccinations/boosters; the Dr. Sears schedule is a less aggressive option, but that would still be injecting her with 10 vaccinations over her young 6  month lifespan. When I was her age, it was just five, and they were spaced out over a couple of months. On the docket for consideration at her 6 month check up was HepB, RV, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV, and the flu shot. Makes my head spin.

Let’s back up for a moment. The research, the consideration, the evaluation….it all began before she was born. We ruled out all vaccinations and interventions at birth. No HepB, no Vitamin K, and we even said no to eye ointment, a pacifier, and sugar-water or formula. Her 2 month check up arrived (June) and then the 4th month (August) … during these, both schedules called for vaccinations. We opted for none. I am grateful that we have a facility that understands our concerns and supports our desires. Of course, they would like for us to follow the standard, or Dr. Sears, schedule but they do not push it. They provide us with their insight and education and leave the decision to me. At all visits we are simply asked, “Will we be updating her vaccinations today?”

On her half-year birthday, Miss Connie received her first vaccination. We opted for the DTaP shot. I weighed this heavily. My research on this vaccination revealed that the ingredients within include formaldehyde and aluminum. I don’t know about you, but the idea of willingly injecting these poisons into my child scared me.

Cody encouraged the vaccination. Yes, my husband. The same guy many of you may have seen sharing “anti-vaccination” articles and statements on Facebook. He is braver than I. He owns his position and puts it out there for persecution. I am more reserved in what I post to my Facebook wall, as well as my position on vaccines. While we both share concerns about the quantity and frequency of the current vaccination schedule, I am almost (almost) convinced we could survive in our own little world without them at all. Cody, not as much. He believes some are necessary.

We opted for the DTaP shot because of the P in DTaP—Pertussis, a.k.a whooping cough. This is a concern with infants, especially with cold and flu season approaching. While I don’t think I would have been able to miss or ignore the symptoms of P, I do want to shield her from unnecessary illness or hospitalization.

In the waiting room of the clinic, waiting to be called back.

In the waiting room of the clinic, waiting to be called back.

This did not make it any easier for me. I was emotional. It weighed heavily on me that entire morning as I prepared to head to the clinic. Within my vehicle, I turned the radio off and prayed out loud for almost the entire duration of the 30+ minute drive. I prayed for her health and happiness. That the immunization would do as it was intended. That she would not suffer any side effects that would alter her disposition, ability, intelligence, spirit, or mobility.  I prayed over and over for these things.

During the visit the nurse asked the usual question, “will we be updating her vaccinations.” I hesitated. I could hardly choke out the word “yes” and quickly followed it up with “just one, just the DTap.” There was a combo option, DTaP and polio with something else…. no, just the DTaP which is already a mixed and a multi-vaccination concoction. When the time came for the shot, she asked if I had a preference of which leg. “Neither,” was my answer, followed by, “it doesn’t matter.” I held her in my lap, I held her close, and I prayed again. I fought back my anxiety and tears. I flinched at the action of the needle moving toward her. As the needle stuck her, a tear fell and with her wail, many more followed. I tried to soother her as my heart broke. For some, this must seem borderline crazy or dramatic. I don’t consider myself to fall into these categories with any frequency, but that morning, I did wonder if the nurse thought I should be medicated myself. I am sure I am not the only nervous mother. She is my baby. My perfect, sweet, loving, smart baby. Any decision I make with good intentions, I would not want to alter her in any way. The nurse departed, I got Connie dressed and pulled myself together. A bit of relief came that it was over, but much still lingered as I concerned myself with any side effects.

5 days post vaccine, that smile remains, of which I would be lost without

5 days post vaccine, that smile remains, of which I would be lost without

She was her normal happy self when we returned home. At 10:30 am the nanny arrived. They played for a while and I could hear her babbling. She had lunch around 11:30 a.m. and then napped. She woke after about an hour, then went back down almost immediately after fussing and taking in 3 ounces. She fussed a bit in the crib, the nanny soothed her, and she was back out. She slept nearly 3 hours. An effect of the vaccination, or just tired? I don’t know (it is very unusual for her to sleep that long during the day). I do know I worried the entire day watching for anything “off”. She sailed through the rest of the day in good spirits following her long nap. Her over night sleep pattern was normal and I felt further relieved. The day after she also seemed her normal self aside from some slight fussiness and what might be another tooth coming in. We are now two days post vaccine and everything seems OK.

With a Google search, you can find several resources that will tell you vaccinations are 100% safe, that they do not cause injury, and that they are necessary. You can also find thousands of groups and individuals sharing their personal beliefs and fears of over immunization, raising awareness of the chemicals, poisons, and preservatives included in vaccine cocktails, and you’ll find countless people who wish to not vaccinate their children. There are always two sides for every case. I have not ruled out vaccinating my child. I have decided however to be diligent in researching and evaluating the various vaccinations and coming to decisions I can live with. We will forego many of the recommended shots. Others we will get. As her parents, who hold her health and welfare paramount, we reserve that right. With states like California and Mississippi mandating vaccinations, I wonder how long we will have that right.

You do what is best for you and yours. I will do the same.DTaP

6 Months

SIX MONTHS! A half-year gone by. She is becoming a little person before our eyes. It’s a fun age and I know these next six months are going to be exciting as she continues to learn new skills and gain independence. Not too independent, however.

She enjoys books/story time, baths, being sung to, and being outside. She is a chatter box also, discovering new sounds to make and “talking” with us and the nanny for periods at a time. In the past month, she has really taken interest in the dogs and now that she can crawl, finds her way to them. They are good with her, but her slug-like approach and small hand grabbing at their paws makes them nervous. Once she reaches them, they usually get up and find a new location to lay down. She’s not yet sitting up on her own, but is getting there; does very well in her Bumbo seat.

We continue to hear “she smiles so much,” “she’s such a happy baby,” and “is she ever not smiling?” often when we are out and about. Even during her visit today with the nurse and doctor, she shared many smiles with them and they seemed impressed with her disposition. She is a happy girl. I pray she is always as content and finds many reasons each day to smile (especially in her teenage years!).

Today she had her 6-month wellness check-up so we have new measurements and items to report on her growth and development.

Weight: 16 lbs 8 oz (8-ounce increase over the past month). This puts her in the 59th percentile. So compared to her height, she is lean.

Height: 28.5″ (2.5″ increase? I think the tissue paper on the patient table causes an error, she also did not want to sit still for this measurement—regardless, she is 100%+, off the charts for height)

Head: 17″; 77%

Eyes: The outside ring is blue/grey. The inside appears to be a green/brown. The pediatrician said she will have brown eyes, that they are 2/3 brown now and that brown eyed babies change more slowly and tend to look “muddy” until the color forms. Time will tell. Per “the experts” eye color will be determined by 9 months of age.

Hair: Filling in and lengthening ever so slightly. Remains a brunette, but getting lighter.

Eats: We continue to nurse often. I am also pumping to provide milk for her and get my production up. (You can read about my lactation issues here.) Organic rice cereal, banana, avocado, and peas are staples on the menu. I have sweet potatoes to process and will be freezing for future use. I am happy to have found Thrive Market which provides me with a plethora of organic options for her. We can get Earth Brand organic baby cereal and baby food as well as soaps and overnight diapers free of chemicals. And shipping is free and the costs are the same or less than that at the co-op. Selection is huge as well. I’m a fan!

Teeth: A new category to track! TWO! The first came through without much fuss or notice. The second one gave us three days of sleeplessness and neediness and one day of bottom rash. All in all, she handled it well. We encouraged the use of teethers and introduced frozen washcloths. I also purchased an amber necklace for her and a teething necklace for me to wear. Upon examination of her mouth today, the pediatrician said that the top teeth are working their way in now.

Transportation: She is Army crawling (pulling with her forearms and pushing off with her right foot) everywhere. She can go great distances, turn in any direction and has now learned to crawl toward someone when she wants to be picked up. She gets up on her hands and knees frequently and rocks back and forth. During the exam today, the Doc went to place her on her belly, she immediately positioned her hand and knees under her and maintained that position. He looked at me and asked, “what’s this, is this new?” Nope. She’s been on hands and knees and rocking for a while now. He said that she is ahead of schedule / advanced in this area.

Vaccinations: 1. Today we administered the DTaP. This is her first and only vaccine received to date. It was a hard decision to make and an emotional experience (for me). I’ll do a separate post on this topic…

Here are her 6-month photos. It was a rush job as the sun was setting and I was too lazy to pull out the lighting equipment. Thankfully Grandma Connie was here to help out. Planning to do more soon to capture the gorgeous fall colors. Grandpa Carl and Grandma Darcy, thank you for the JD onesie — still some room to grow into it!

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