Miss Connie’s News

The best little girls get promoted to big sister!

In late February, Cody and I headed to the MOSES Organic Farming Conference. It was a two-night, two-day event away from Miss Connie. Our first night there, I wasn’t feeling well. The next day we got up to go to the conference center, I was feeling better. But once we got there I was burning up. In a crowded meeting room I assumed the heat of all those people elevated my body temp. I noticed my warm-blooded husband however in his hooded sweatshirt, completely zipped up. “Aren’t you hot? I’m boiling!” To which he responded, “You’re pregnant!” Continue reading

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


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

Parenting Advice

We are first-time parents. We’re excited about this and bit nervous. As the saying goes with every next generation, “things are different from when we were kids!” But I want to raise my child the way I was raised. Is that possible in this era of quick gratification, technology stimulation, and social pressures?

In all my reading during my pregnancy, I came across a good tip here and there about raising a child (below are some I like). But the reality is it’s an on-the-job learning adventure, and we’ll make mistakes, but hopefully we provide the best foundation for her and instill the important values Cody and I share as individuals, as partners, and as parents. I am sure as we travel down the parenting adventure path, much unsolicited advice will come our way and we will have to defend our methods and juggle today’s norms with our values. No matter how much reading I do, or how I analyze parenting styles, I know that ours will be an evolution through the years, and there is no one way to raise a child. I pray that God gives us strength and wisdom to set the stage, to let her fly, and to fall, all while supporting and guiding… and loving, loving so very much.

I read a lot, and from the information I gather, some of it makes sense to me and I will incorporate it, but to the core, I just see myself doing it like my parents did. I may be living in a fantasy world….

“As you travel down the path of laughter and tears, always keep one thing in mind: your child idolizes you from the second they enter your life. What may seem trivial to you is huge to them, and your feedback, interaction, and attention are like oxygen, they need them to survive. You have the power to instill in them a sense of self-assurance and confidence that will benefit them greatly as a child and resonate throughout their life. Just be there.” –Debrief from The New Dad’s Survival Guide

“The days are long, but the years are short… Each day is a new opportunity to show your children you are present, in tuen to them, enjoy their company and love them fiercely. That’s all they really want. It’s never too late to start.”  –Mom blog post

The latest Garth Brooks album has a couple of parenting songs that choke me up every time. Mom, for the obvious reason of being a first-time mama and just recently experiencing birth . But also the song Send Em On Down The Road. The chorus speaks volumes:

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
You can help them find their wings but you can’t fly for ‘em
‘Cause if they’re not free to fall, than they’re not free at all
And though you just can’t bare the thought of letting go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
And send ‘em on down the road

For the parents out there, what was one piece of parenting advice that you did receive, solicited or not, that you are glad someone shared with you? Was there anything that really made a difference or changed how you approach parenting?

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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.

Milk Supply

A few weeks ago I shared a post titled Lactation in which I shared my discovery of a diminished milk supply. As a result I had multiple women reach out to share their suggestions, experience and encouragement. It was heartwarming to have other mamas relate to my desire to continue nursing and help me get my supply back up. I received some really good insights and tips and am so appreciative of their selfless support. It’s no surprise, but the nursing community is a supportive one. Thank you ladies, so very much.

Here’s a look at my toolkit to try to increase my supply:

  • I upped my intake of Fenugreek to 9 capsules per day.
  • I hopped on Amazon.com and purchased the Pumping Pals angled shields which are supposed to fit better, be gentler, and allow me to sit upright better while pumping.
  • I contacted my clinic and rented the Medela Symphony pump. This baby retails for $1500+ and after spending nearly $300 for my current pump, I was happy to have the option to rent it. Friends and reading revealed that this pump should be more effective at extracting the milk and be gentler than my Medela Pump in Style Advanced model.
  • Brewer’s yeast. I bought this originally for the lactation cookies, but now have added it to my daily oatmeal breakfast along with flax seed and wash it down with my Milk Maid tea.
  • Beer. Not daily, but occasionally throughout the week I enjoy a beer or two in the evening. Leinie’s Sunset Wheat. ;~)

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Working to get you supply up is work. And it takes dedication. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been as relentless as I hoped I would have been, but I am working at it and managing this new task with my daily workload. Each morning during the work week, I eat oatmeal which by itself can help with supply. I up the game by adding healthy amounts of Brewer’s yeast and flax seed. Add to that the 2-3 capsules of Fenugreek taken 3 times per day.

Most importantly though, is pumping. This is where I really failed through the first 5 months of nursing. I took for granted that I was producing and Miss Connie and I together were making it work. My travels likely also interfered and put us reliant on organic formula in months 3 and 4 and I believe that was the start of my decline. In month 5 I felt I was low on production. My breasts felt soft and never full and Miss Connie wanted to nurse frequently and didn’t always seem satisfied. A pump revealed I only had about a half an ounce in each breast. OUCH!

So with my rented pump in hand and new shields, I attempted to pump every 2-4 hours throughout the day. I also set my alarm to wake in the wee morning hours to pump. That’s a tough one. I have to wake up, hook up to the various parts of the machine and sit upright for 20-30 minutes. I then have to put the equipment away and store the milk, all of which only wakes me further making it difficult to fall back asleep. Sleep comes just about the time Connie wakes for her nigh-time feeding. Back up, care for her, and try to get her back down. Back to sleep for a short while before Cody’s alarm goes off and Miss Connie awakes again. As a result, I modified my nighttime pumping. I pump in bed before going to sleep. On the nights that Connie wakes after four hours, I nurse her on one side while pumping the other. If she sleeps longer, I wake around 3 am to pump both sides. We then nurse and pump again in the early morning.

Medela Symphony vs. Pump in Style Advanced

One of the mamas who reached out suggested trying a hospital grade pump. I picked up the Symphony on October 6th. For the first two weeks, I used only that pump. I liked that it was quieter than my model and also preferred the control knobs and digital screen. Further, if I am only pumping one side, there is no need to unhook the unused tube–suction is controlled by each individual tube/membrane.


pumping in restaurant bathroom

Was it extracting more than my Pump in Style (PiSA)? I wasn’t sure. On October 17th I had a bachelorette party. I couldn’t afford an interruption so I took my pump along for the fun. The Symphony is much larger and does not travel as discretely, so the PiSA was better for this purpose. I pumped on the bus and even in the restaurant bathroom. What I was able to extract seemed as much as what I got from the Symphony. Throughout that night out, I collected 7 oz. Disappointing, but did add another 3 when I got home.

Since then, I have been using both pumps. I leave my PiSA by the bed and the Symphony at my desk. Results are about the same — no noticeable difference. So it was worth experimenting, but I won’t be extending the rental for a second month. The shields are an improvement however, and I am glad I purchased those. Pumping multiple times throughout the day leads to soreness, regardless of the pump or shield and nothing is as effective as my baby girl at extracting. Sometimes I will nurse her after pumping just to have her get any remaining milk lingering inside.

When I first started pumping at the beginning of the month, I was getting a half to one ounce from each breast. Now, depending on time between pumps, I can get 1 to 2.5 ounces. So I am seeing an improvement. With some consistency, my left breast out produces my right.

I am still working at it. Yesterday I was working away and it wasn’t until the afternoon that I realized I hadn’t yet pumped since feeding that morning! Ugh! As I type, I am again hooked to the machine. Left breast is winning the race….

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back to seeing 3-5 ounces from a single breast during a single pump, but I’ll be keeping at it. What I do know, is providing my daughter with breast milk is very important to me and I believe she benefits profoundly from it. We have increased solid food intake with her and I provide her with as much mama milk as I can expel.

My advice to new mamas: PUMP. From day one. Incorporate it into your routine to get your supply up and keep it up. Thanks again to all those who reached out and shared their experience.







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


I was inspired to write this post as sat here, attached to my breast pump. It’s like being a cow, truly. Attaching my poor boobs to a sucking, pinching, noisy machine and hoping to collect a few ounces of milk is not at all glamorous. I really didn’t know my nipple could stretch so far. It, like so many other parts of my post-pregnancy, post-birth, and post-breastfeeding body, will never be the same. :-))

When I was pregnant my greatest hope behind a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby was the ability to breastfeed. I really wanted to nurse my baby. I also wanted a vaginal birth, which I had, but would have opted for C-section if I had to choose between that and not nursing.

Within her first hour of life outside the womb, she initiated feeding. The moment she latched was as amazing as the moment she was placed in my arms for the first time. I was so grateful that she knew exactly what to do and that she latched perfectly. I was nourishing my baby and it was an awesome feeling. And that feeling and the ease of breastfeeding has continued. My sister couldn’t believe that I did not suffer with sore, cracked, or chapped nipples. Miss Connie was a god latcher. Never any pain, it was easy.

My goal is to nurse through her first year, providing her with valuable vitamins, building her immunity, and strengthening her mind and body. We are nearly half way through that first year.

During my conference in July, I pumped and fed as I was able, but work commitments limited the amount of time I had for both. I was away from her in August for three days and had to pump exclusively during that time. I collected 70 ounces during those three days and since I have felt as though she may not be getting enough from me.

We started introducing solid foods over the past month consistently. She usually has organic baby cereal, banana and/or avocado for lunch and sometimes again at dinner time. We also supplement with a bottle at night before bed to ensure she has a satisfied tummy. She’s putting on weight and is pretty content, so I know she is getting enough.

She continues to sleep well for us and I feel that in large part my supply may feel “less” due to the fact that overnight she may sleep for 4-7 hours and during that time, there is no demand for milk, thus reducing production.

I haven’t pumped consistently since July and other than my trip to Chicago, haven’t been able to add to our frozen milk supply (the supply that I had built up was nearly wiped out to cover my days away from her). I currently sit with a frozen milk account balance of approximately 68 ounces. I want more!

I have been taking a Fenugreek supplement and drinking Mother’s Milk tea to help with production—also enjoying a beer or two here and there as that is another lactation helper. I’ve decided however, if I am going to build my stash, or at least just keep up with my daughter I need to focus on lactation!

  • I found a recipe for lactation cookies and went out and bought brewer’s yeast. I read various reviews about the benefits and successes of lactation cookies and found an article that said they are more potent in the raw dough form than when baked. So with the supportive help of my husband, we whipped up a batch of lactation dough!
  • I’m going to be more on-purpose about the Fenugreek supplements. One per day won’t make much of an impact, I need up to 4 per day.
  • While at the co-op, I found another herbal aid and will be trying that too.
  • I need more water. Hydration is so important. After I finish my 2-4 cups of tea per day, I am weak at getting water in my system. Drink up, Lori!
  • I need to pump! Even if I just nursed her, even if I don’t think there is anything in there…pump! The more I demand, the more I produce…. at least that is the logic of breastfeeding. Pumping in the middle of the night, too. That one will be tough…. I’ll have to give up sleep, sleep my sweet daughter spoils me with.

Any current or former nursing mamas out there have any tips for me?

I am already familiar with the “lactation-friendly” foods such as oatmeal, salmon, brown rice, seeds, almonds, etc. I have a list of these foods and try to incorporate them into meal planning. I also get good fat intake with avocados and coconut oil.

In the time it took my to write this, I managed to collect one ounce of milk. Now I did just nurse not too long ago, and I do feel that this pump is nowhere as effective as my daughter at expelling… but still…ugh. Put this cow back to pasture, she’s been milked!

Here’s to a healthy flow!


Photo credit: Rachel Manzke Photography.  Nursing my babe during our family photo shoot.

One Month

One month has flown by and I have seen so many changes in that time. I can’t help but wish for time to slow down. At the same time, I find myself asking who she will look like, what she will become. To remember her early days and months, I plan to take monthly pics. These images are certainly not my best work, totally amateur style, but the important thing is capturing images of this sweet baby to cherish and have for recall. We’ll be able to look back and review changes from one month to the next and always remember this first year of her life, and the months when she was tiny and squishy.

Month One

  • Eyes: Stormy blue (greyish blue)
  • Hair: Brunette
  • Nicknames: Sweet Baby, Baby Girl, and Boobie Monster
  • Favorite things about her: Her smile ( I get more smiles with each passing day and she gave me a few for the photos too!), snuggles, watching her watch us
  • Approximate weight: 10+ lbs (8 lbs 10.6 oz at her first check up on 05/01; up from 7lbs 12 oz at birth)
  • Eats: very good, exclusively breastfed
  • Sleeps: very good. some nights she’ll do a 5 hour stretch, but on average 3-4 hours between feedings

First set-up includes a baby blanket made for my mother when she was pregnant with me and a pink elephant from Grandma Cathy. Mint onesie, compliments of great-aunt Paula.

DW4A39911_1DW4A4024_1 DW4A4022_1 DW4A4019_1 DW4A4007_1 DW4A4005_1These images are for Daddy. He wanted some with is model JD 820 tractor. We’ll have to work on a better set up for future monthly sessions. JD socks from aunt Dena!


Showing off her muscles!



That smirk! Love!

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And I couldn’t have managed this photo session without the assistance and supervision of Gus and Nora. They have felt slightly neglected since Connie’s arrival, but are handling it well.