Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ren's 6 Month Stats

We had Ren's 6 month check up yesterday. I moved it up a bit due to the pooping issues. Here's what we found out:

*He weighs 17.56 pounds (48.84%)
*He's 27 inches long (62.17%)
*His head is 18 inches around (96.91%)

His weight is completely average and is perfectly following the normal growth curve. His height SHOT UP from the 4 month appointment, at which they said he was in the 14% for height. But I really think last time, she didn't completely straighten him out, so I made sure we did this time. I've always thought he was long because of the way onesies fit him. And the big head, well...that was to be expected.

The pooping seemed to be a non-issue to Dr Morrow. She said it may just be how he's going to poop for awhile. She said we could start putting rice cereal in a bottle for him 3 times daily to solidify the poop, but I don't really like that plan and my friend Laura who is also a pediatrician says that probably wouldn't solve anything.

Dr Morrow also said we could try taking things out of my diet. Such as dairy or wheat. Eliminate things one at a time to see what it could be. So I was contemplating this option today while eating McDonald's (don't judge, I rarely go there and it's been a loooooooooong week). Then this afternoon (after I'd fed Ren McDonald's tainted breastmilk for two feedings), we had a normal poop!!!!! The first one in like 3-4 weeks. Nothing has really changed on my end so I'm at a loss. I suppose we'll see what happens from here on out.

And here's a photo of our happy boy waiting and playing with the crinkly paper at the doctor. He was so happy during his appointment...until it was time for shots. That's always the worst, but I'm so grateful for breastfeeding because that always calms him down after his shots.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Issues With Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: If you're a male-human or if you're someone who has no interest in breastfeeding, then go ahead and skip this post. :) I've realized how many things I've forgotten about Sutton's first year(s) and so I wanted to document this for myself to look back on since it's been a big part of our lives the last couple of months. Disclaimer over.

So. Breastfeeding. It's so strange. After the initial learning/adjustment phase with Sutton, I really had no problems with nursing, keeping my supply, up or anything else. I just assumed everything would be the same with my second baby, but I was so wrong!

Issues at the beginning were similar to Sutton...both my babies tend to suck in their bottom lip, which makes for a very painful latch and inefficient feeding. So I used the nipple shield with them both to kind of force them to open up more. With Sutton, I weaned him off it after a month. With Ren, it was more like 3.5 months. The problems stopped there with Sutton.

But with Ren, when I weaned him from the nipple shield, all the pain of just starting to breastfeed came back again. Then he started to decrease the time that he fed. With the shield, he would nurse for 10 minutes on each side, a total of around 20 minutes per feeding. I always keep track of feedings, and this meant he nursed for over 2 hours total each day. At the beginning, we would sometimes hit 3 hours for the day. But once we took the shield away, he started only nursing for 4-7 minutes on one side, then he was done.

I was concerned that he wasn't getting enough milk. He was growing normally, chunking up, and he was happy. But going from 20 minutes per feeding down to 4 minutes just didn't seem right. And when my total for the day was between 45 minutes to 1 hour? I felt like I was hardly feeding my baby at all.

So I took him into the breastfeeding clinic. The nurses kinda laughed when I came in because #1 they're used to seeing newborns and Ren was 4 months old at the time; #2 he has never been a "skinny" baby, so with all his rolls...they weren't quite sure why I was concerned. I explained my issue, and they weighed him, had me nurse him, then weighed him again. He was able to get 2 ounces of milk from me in 4 minutes, which they said made him a very efficient nurser. They weren't concerned and said he seemed completely fine and healthy (especially with all the flirting and smiling he was doing with them). They told me to come back if anything changed, he lost weight, or became very irritable.

Nothing ever changed with his weight or temperament, but I started to realize that I never really felt full anymore. I didn't know if it was just because he was emptying me at every feeding, or if it was because I wasn't making enough but since he's such a good little baby, he wasn't complaining even though he was hungry. Additionally, we started to run low on the stockpile of pumped breastmilk in our freezer for the days I had to work.

So I began to start trying to pump a little more often. I would get nothing. There was one two-day span where I pumped after several feedings and it took me the whole two days to get 2 ounces. I became very worried that Ren wasn't getting enough to eat. He had also been having pooping issues. He wouldn'tt go for 24-48 hours, and then it would be explosive and runny. And it'd been weeks like this. It made me think he wasn't getting enough...that his little body was freaking out, trying to adjust to only having a small amount of calories or something. Or that my milk wasn't hearty or SOMETHING.

Of course I did what any 21st century mother would do...I turned to Facebook. :) I asked if any nursing moms had advice for ways to increase my supply. I got a ton of responses, which was so helpful. Out of all the things people suggested, here's what I decided to try:

*drinking lots more water
*taking fenugreek (an herbal supplement)
*making lactation cookies (cookies that contain brewer's yeast, flax, and oatmeal which are said to support a healthy supply of milk in lactating mothers)
*pumping after certain feedings every day (the thought there: if supply = demand in breastfeeding, the consistent pumping will create a greater demand, thus a greater supply)

Also, since I had gained nearly 60 pounds while I was pregnant with Ren, you can understand how I was more than eager to get that weight off. It's pretty depressing when you have to wear the same 5 things over and over because you don't quite fit into any of your old clothes and can't stand to wear maternity clothes when your baby is 5 or 6 months old. So, since Easter, I had been making a conscious choice to eat less calories....I was trying to walk the tightrope between eating enough to make milk but little enough to keep losing weight. I was down to within 10 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight and was very excited about that. But since my supply was in question, I figured maybe I should relax with this as well. So add "stuffing my face" to the list above. :)

I don't know if it was one thing or a combination of things, but I'm glad to say that it has worked! I smell like maple syrup (really!! the fenugreek has that side effect). There have been several occasions where I feel "full" and while that's not the most comfortable feeling, it makes me happy because I know there's enough milk in there for Ren. I even leaked one night, which hasn't happened in months. And we have too much pumped milk to even fit on the "breastmilk shelf" in our freezer. I pumped about 6.5 ounces in one sitting yesterday.

But...I gained back 5 pounds. UGH. It's so frustrating. I'm so glad that I was able to get my supply back to where I feel comfortable that Ren is getting enough to eat (especially since he's refusing solids thus far), but feeling extra fluffy is just a feeling I am done with. I wish I could wear a sign on my forehead that says "NURSING MOTHER: Dieting isn't an option right now. Come back in Spring 2015." But then I feel so vain and superficial for even thinking that way. It's a vicious cycle.

Bottom line though...what's best for Ren is what I'll do. And I suppose when else do I have the excuse to eat a little extra? Now to force myself to make those HEALTHY calories... :) That's something I'm still working on.

Ren is still just nursing 4-7 minutes per side, but I'm more confident that he's getting enough since I know I'm making more. I've even heard him "gulping" a couple of times, which hadn't happened in months either. The pooping issue has NOT yet resolved itself, so that is still concerning.We have his 6-month check up on Thursday, so we will talk healthy weight and healthy poop with the doctor then. But I'm mostly happy with how things are going...such a peace of mind!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ren's 6 Month Photos

We took Ren out early this week to do a "real" photo session to document him at 6 months.

While I love the photos we got and am so glad we took the time to do this...I was stressed the whole time and it was HOT and there were lots of bugs. I don't know what it is about photographing my own kid(s) that stresses me out, but it does every time without fail. Maybe it's partly that some of the things I want to do never work out. I need to get over it. Ha. Just thought I'd let you in on "behind the scenes."

But I am now convinced that Adam and I have the cutest babies that ever lived. Sorry everyone-else-in-the-entire-world. :)

(I will post these on my photo blog in the next couple of days but thought I'd give a sneak peek here!)

I hadn't dressed Sutton for this because I didn't think I'd do any with him, but then last minute thought that I would probably love to see how they compared in size down the road, so he jumped in a couple.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ren {6 Months Old}

I cannot believe we're already to the half-year mark. Holy moly!

Ren, you continue to be such an amazing baby and we are so lucky and blessed that you are ours. At 6 months:

*You have your doctor's appointment next week, but I'm going to estimate that we're nearing 18 pounds. Update: Stats can be found at this post.

*You still wear size 2 diapers.

*You're in mostly 6 month clothes. They're getting snug length wise. A lot of your sleepers seem just a bit too short, and the feet in them are too small. We've had people tell us you have big hands, so maybe your feet are big too.

*Right after you turned 5 months old, you started rolling like a champ. At this point, there is no laying you on your back. If we lay you down, you roll over to your tummy in about a second.

*You're a lot more interested in toys lately. You have a favorite toy...a hard plastic ring that looks like a caterpillar with cloth pages attached.

*You are still just so smiley. You smile about everything. You smile when you wake up in the morning. You smile when you see Mommy. You smile when Daddy comes home. You smile at Sutton all the time, even when he's being annoying.

*I see this blank stare (below) from you SO MANY TIMES throughout my day and I think it's just so cute. Mom (Grandma Nancy) and I were going through old photos this past weekend, and we found that you resemble me a lot, and I was also a pro at this blank stare.

*You and Sutton play a pretty adorable game of peekaboo. Sutton gets progressively louder and you just laugh and laugh.

*You're a bouncer. But you prefer the bouncy seat to the upright bouncer things (such as the Jumperoo, or the one that hangs in a doorway). We lay you in your bouncy seat, and you just start going to town kicking your legs to make yourself bounce. You've started doing that when we lay you in your swing too, but that's no good. :) Doesn't quite work the same way.

*Sometimes you "sing" yourself to sleep. Just humming a little with your eyes half-open or closed. It's so gentle and sweet.

*You've also started this thing where you grab our faces. You do it all the time, but more so when you're tired. You just like to reach up and grab our lips, our cheeks, whatever you can get a handful of. With Daddy, you pull on his beard a lot, but he doesn't mind. I think you know what we look like, you know what we sound like, you know what we smell like. So this is just your way of learning a bit more about us...learning what we feel like. I love it.

*You've started this really strange, primal man-cry. I don't even know how to explain it. I got a little video of it that I posted on Instagram but I need to get a better one to post here. You will just yell out and it's so loud and deep, from the back of your throat. I've never heard another baby make this noise. You do it sometimes when you're just babbling, but you do it a lot when you're mad (i.e., hungry or tired because you still usually only cry about those two things).

*You've started this thing where, when you get really excited or happy, you will smile really big and then try to tuck your chin as far into your chest as it will go. It's so weird. You also like to straighten your legs and arch your back up off of wherever you're laying at the time.

*I was holding you one day, and your Daddy paused to mention just how big you've gotten. You are so long. When your head us up by mine, your feet go down past my waist. And your thighs have really chunked up lately. They're so squishy and awesome.

*I'm grateful that you're getting bigger because we've been having issues. You still only nurse for such short periods of 4-7 minutes every 3 hours. And it seemed everything was fine, but in the past few weeks, you've become...less regular...and then when you DO go, it's diarrhea out the wazoo. We haven't had normal poop in weeks. Figuring it was a problem on my end, I've taken several steps to increase/better my milk supply so hopefully that will help. It's just a waiting game now. I will probably do a separate post about my nursing woes here soon since the whole point of this blog is to remember this time in our lives, and it's been a big deal lately.

*I wanted to wait until you were really 6 months old to feed you solids since that's what we did with Sutton. But in efforts to try to regulate your bowels, we decided to try some fruit on August 2. You didn't really like it. Didn't hate it, just wouldn't really eat it.

*We've tried several foods since then, mostly fruits since we're trying to help your poop situation: prunes, cantaloupe, more banana, and a green bean/sweet corn medley. You won't eat any of it. You make crazy faces, shudder, and then it all comes back out. It's like you don't know how to swallow anything other than milk.

*One evening, Daddy made a thicker mixture of breastmilk and rice cereal to feed you with a spoon. He got you to eat some of it, but then after you went to bed that night, you threw up a pancake-sized puddle of spit up in your bed. Twice. I was scared you were going to choke during the night, so I moved you to our bed and Daddy had to sleep on the couch. After that second time, you were good to go. I don't know if it was a reaction to the rice cereal or the cantaloupe that you sucked on that evening.

*You are always grabbing your feet and playing with them. You love love love to suck on your toes. Also a trait inherited from me. I don't do it anymore (haha), but have memories of doing it as a kid, which must mean I did it until I was like 3 or 4. Which is kind of gross. So who knows.

*You are tired and ready for bed by 8:30-9 every night. I usually nurse you, or if you've very recently eaten, then I just rock you and sing or hum and pat your bum. Lately, you've been sleeping until around midnight, when I get up to feed you. Then you'll eat again between 4 and 5am. Then you get up around 7 or 8am. So not terrible at all, but all the Mommy-emails that I get keep telling me that you should be sleeping through the night and if you're not, we should make you. I don't feel like I need to push that yet since this is working for us, so I think we'll just continue with what we're doing for now.

*You nap in the morning...the time is always different depending on how early you got up, and what we are doing. I try to make it so you can nap in your bed as much as possible, but you do take some of your morning naps in the car. Afternoon naps have been an issue. By 1pm you are so sleepy, so I put you down and you sleep well for 30ish minutes. Then you will just scream out. But you're not *really* awake. I try just putting your pacifier in, but that will only help for a little while and then you'll do it again. So lately when we come to that point in your nap, I will bring you to our bed and that seems to usually help. Sometimes I have to nurse you to calm you. Sometimes you'll be awake for 20 minutes and then go back to sleep for a couple hours. I love you and will do whatever I need to, but the reason this is most frustrating is because this was the time I'd planned on using to work since your big bro naps during this time too. Working has not been happening lately. :) You are worth it, but how to tell my clients that... :)

*I've started putting you in your high chair during our meal times so that you can be up there with us. You really seem to like being a part of what's going on. I usually put a few toys or chew things on your tray and sometimes you play with them, but most of the time you just watch us.

*It won't be long before you are mobile. You've started the beginning stage of will plant your face on the ground and push off with your legs. You don't move hardly at all before you get frustrated that your face is on the ground though.

*I think you're so excited to play with Sutton. You just watch him all the time with such fascination, and you are always amused by what he is doing. I want this baby stage to last because it's already going too fast but I am SO excited to see you two play together. I know that will bring more challenges, so I am happy with things as they are now.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Colorado 2014 {Part 2}

Finally the post you've all been waiting for. ;) The phone photos from our Colorado trip. They tell a lot more of the story.

Sutton got to ride up front so that I could be in the back with Ren. It actually worked out well. Here's Sutton making himself comfortable at one of our stops.

We stopped at a store in north west Kansas called Kansas Originals. It had a bunch of stuff made right here in, art, blankets, wooden things like this tiny bed.

Oh looky there. A sleeping baby (just you wait...).

Sutton wanted to hold hands.

We stopped in Goodland the first night to stay in a hotel and break the drive up a bit. Sutton was so excited because he LOVES hotels. This was Ren's first time staying in one and he seemed pretty happy about it too.

Sutton got comfy in the king-sized bed and watched some 'toons.

We made it to Colorado the next day!

When we got to our campsite, we set up camp and went for a hike to stretch our legs that had been in the car for two days. So beautiful there.

Ren slept through a lot of it. And held the GoPro camera for us.

The first night there was COLD. We hadn't planned on that. We made provisions for the rest of the nights, but that first night Ren woke up whimpering, and when I got him from the pack n play he was ice cold, so he spent the rest of the night cuddled in our bed to stay warm.

From our morning at Pikes Peak. Doesn't it look like Adam is on Mars? Although I suppose the sky would look different.

On top of Pikes Peak with my boys!

And with my loverboy.

There is a little town near Pikes Peak called Green Mountain Falls. This is my mom's most favorite place in the whole world. I think it was the summer after my 8th grade year, my family rented a cabin up here and stayed for a week or so. Lots of good memories. When I saw the sign for Green Mountain Falls on this trip, I knew we had to stop!

It's so pretty there.

We met a lady walking a little pig named Wilbur.

These swings are musical swings. When you swing, it's like you're playing an instrument. Or so we hear. They weren't working that day. :(


We went for another hike that evening.

There were some ridiculously steep uphills on this hike. And you have to understand that I haven't done much working out since Ren was born. So I was having a hard time with him in the carrier. My superhero hubby kept saying he would take him, but I kept saying no. Finally he forced the baby from me...and that made it a lot easier.

The next day we went to Manitou Springs. There's a really neat penny arcade there. Sutton went on a few rides.

And played a few games.

Ren just chilled in the carrier.

We didn't have much time to spend there (which was probably good on our wallets...the penny arcade was more like a quarter arcade or dollar arcade), because we met up with some friends for lunch at Savelli's.

Huh...can you believe this baby fell asleep again? :)

Ryan and Kelsi moved to CO from Wichita 2 years ago. We met Ryan through our church, and Kelsi worked at the bridal shop right next to our photo studio downtown. Then they met and got married and I took their photos. We hadn't met their daughter Kennedy yet, so that was fun!

Since I was such a lightweight on the hike the day before, Adam decided to go on a longer hike with just Sutton in the backpack. So Ren and I were on our own. He needed a nap, so I used the opportunity to drive up to Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp which was nearby Mueller State Park (which was where we camped). My family went to this camp when I was a kid. A lot was the same, and a lot was different. This chapel in the photo below was the same as I remembered. The pond in the bottom right was where I went Polar Bearing when I was like 10. Ugh. Never again.

After RMMC, Ren and I drove into Woodland Park to find somewhere to eat dinner. I found a sandwich shop called Big Dawg's Sandwiches. I went in, and had to get a photo of their Board of Directors...all the owner's dogs. :)

We all met up back at our campsite for a campfire.

I LOVE this photo of me with my boys. They're both so happy. It was pretty chilly that evening and we hadn't brought much cold-weather clothing. So we cuddled to stay warm.

This was one view from our campsite. That's actually the bath house. It was nice to have bathrooms that close. And showers.

And this was the view just to the right of the bath house. Beautiful.


Sutton watched movies in the tent after it got dark.

They shared a Poptart in the morning. ;)

That next day, we drove from Colorado Springs up to Denver to visit Michael and Sara. Michael was still at work when we arrived. We went in their backyard and got the kiddie pool out for Carson and Sutton. Carson wasn't too thrilled that I wanted to take a selfie with him.

They had just built a fire pit in their backyard, so we had a fire that evening.

Michael and Carson!

The next morning, these two were early risers, so we hung out under the playmate together for a bit.

Michael had to go to work, but the rest of us drove to Silver Plume to ride the Georgetown Railroad. Sutton has been wanting to go on a train ride so this was very exciting.

The views from the train were great! We passed right over this river/waterfall.

On this train ride, we started at Silver Plume and rode to Georgetown. Then we got off for a few minutes while they switched the engine to the other end of the train to drive us back. There was a bridge over the river at our stop that was very pretty.

Ren and I saw this chipmunk while everyone else was using the bathroom.

On the ride back to Silver Plume, we sat right behind the engine so it was much louder. Apparently the loudness lulled Ren to sleep...

...but it was definitely NOT Carson's favorite thing. He gave his momma a workout wriggling and crying about the noise. Poor guy.

We ate lunch at Cafe Rio...we don't have those here and it was so good. Then Michael was able to get off work a bit early and we all went swimming.

Carson loved the water!!

Ren slept the whole time, so I sat with him in the shade for a lot of the time we were there. This was my view...their neighborhood pool was really nice!

Sutton and Uncle Michael goofing around. Good thing Michael is like a big kid...Sutton was relentless about playing with him.

We left Friday morning early early to avoid rush hour traffic in Denver. We stopped in Hays, Kansas which is where Adam's Dreher side is from. We visited his grandparent's grave.

And Ren did a lot of sleeping.

And the best surprise ever. When we got home, Adam's parents were at our house because (I assumed) they'd missed the boys. But I walk inside and Ed had PAINTED MY KITCHEN CABINETS. I've only wanted this done since we moved in 5 years ago. Adam and secretly planned this all, and he'd been getting updates while we were in CO but I had no idea. Omg. I love my new kitchen.