6.21.2014

Breastfeeding: Our Story

As this chapter of life comes to a close, it's important to me to document this milestone. Breastfeeding surprised me in a lot of ways. Given I've spent nearly 500 hours of my life with a little one attached to me, I think its own blog post is merited. 

So, I clearly know millions of women have breastfed their babies -- many longer than I did and most with more children. I'm by no means an expert on the topic, but I thought if this encouraged another mama in a tough spot or provided insight for a mom-to-be then it's worth it. 

Surprise #1
It changed my prayer life dramatically. I was forced to sit still. To be quiet. To relax. Breastfeeding opened the possibility of clearing my mind (which normally races) and seeking out The Lord at all times of day. For this I am forever grateful and this is one of the reasons I'm sad to see this season pass us by. 

Surprise #2
Babies adapt. With every milestone related to feeding -- sleeping through the night, adding baby food, dropping a feeding, etc. I was always very anxious. Was she hungry? Will it mess up her napping? There may have been a couple of odd days mixed in, but by and large she just figured it out on her own. It was always harder on me than her.

Surprise #3
God did, in fact, equip me with motherly instincts and I learned to trust them. The first few weeks after Carson was born were tough on me -- I think I may have even had some PPD. I didn't ever feel sad, but I definitely felt unreasonably anxious. I remember texting Sean that I was sick to my stomach about giving Carson and paci (which she never took anyways) -- how silly! After God delivered me from that anxiety, my confidence grew tenfold and I just started to "feel" what was right. Trust those instincts, parents -- God gives them to you for a reason.

When pregnant with Carson I was armed with the facts: breastfeeding is good for both baby and mommy. There are lots of studies out there -- from higher test scores to improved bonding, but I'm sure you've heard all of that before (I'm also sure there are probably other variables connecting those correlations). I also had a lot of concerns -- would I hate it? Will it hurt? I can't sit still for 5 minutes, how will I do this? I have to go back to work! 

Some things that really helped me along the way include:
  1. My pump. This helped my return to work easier. Most insurance plans are now required to offer a pump free of charge to members -- I encourage you to check it out. 
  2. My husband. When things were tough, he encouraged. Heck -- when things were great, he encouraged. A good support system is important. 
  3. My baby. She really was a good eater. She picked up nursing well early on and put herself on a very manageable schedule. 
  4. My job. I did go back to work after two months of maternity leave, but with a flexible schedule -- starting out just 3 days in the office. I would still come home at lunch to feed Carson and being around her instead of pumping as much as possible was important to me. Even when she started daycare the ladies were incredibly supportive and would have the nursing station all set up for me when I dropped by.
Breastfeeding brought out a lot of emotions {and sin!} I didn't know were there before. I was so thankful to have the physical ability to feed Carson. I was grateful that it came easily and that I enjoyed the time with her. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make breastfeeding work -- probably too much pressure. I felt like if it didn't work out it would be my fault and a failure, which is crazy -- not once have I ever looked at another mom giving their baby formula and thought they loved their baby any less. That was for sure silly. 

Carson started sleeping through the night at 11 weeks -- I continued to get up in the middle of the night once until she was 7 months old to pump. I could pump so much and was pretty quick, so I didn't mind getting up. That helped me build my freezer stock, which provided peace of mind for me. As I kept doing it, Sean pointed out that he thought I was becoming prideful about still waking up to pump -- he was right. Although I didn't really realize it, it was a source of control for me and not healthy, so I stopped and enjoyed a good nights sleep, but not without some internal struggles and confessions about my desire for control. 

As I look back over the past 13 months I have an overwhelming joy, with a twinge of sadness. How awesome that God created our bodies to help care for a baby from conception through breastfeeding! The decision to stop is multifaceted -- she doesn't seem very interested anymore, needs to learn to drink milk out of a sippy better and we have some upcoming travel. 

Yesterday -- on what I thought would be the last nursing session, I put Carson in my lap. She looked me straight in the eye, grabbed my cheeks with both of her hands, puckered up and gave me a big kiss on the lips -- as if to say, "You did great, mommy!" I teared up, fed her and knew that was that last memory I needed for our breastfeeding journey. 

I'll end with this -- moms need cheerleaders. Husbands need to encourage their wives and support them through the crazy. Raising little ones isn't easy and forming a community of support instead of judgement is so important and just one little way we can show Jesus to others. What works for me might not work for you and vis versa, but we can still understand that we all have a deep desire to do the best things for our babies and families and offer up kind words to build one another up. 

5.18.2014

Carson: one year

I blinked and now have a one year old little girl! Carson brings a lot of joy to those around her -- all of the obvious suspects are obsessed with her (parents, grandparents), but even those who interact with her more sparingly have been won over by her. She is very loving towards others and has a sweet disposition.

We celebrated her birthday at our house with family and friends -- it is so humbling to see how others love Carson and are generous with both their time and resources. Sean and I feel very happy here in Fayetteville, surrounded by wonderful, thoughtful friends and family.

Here's a video I made with some of our favorite pictures and videos from Carson's first year!
Here are a few pictures from the party! I tried to keep things pretty simple and made most of the decorations and food.












To my one-year-old daughter, Carson --

This year you have grown physically, while I have grown more emotionally and spiritually than I thought possible. Your dad and I are incredibly proud and honored to be your parents and don't take our roles lightly. One of my favorite things about you right now is your friendliness with others -- you do no discriminate who you share smiles or waves with and it's a wonderful picture of loving others well. Thanks for taking it easy on us and introducing us to parenthood as gently as possible. While there is a small part of me sad to see this baby stage leave, I am pretty darn excited to see you continue to learn and help decipher your talents and interests. You are loved by so many, but none greater than Jesus himself.

Love,

Mommy

4.16.2014

Carson: 11 months old

Parents always say time flies and boy is that the truth! Carson is 11 months old and I have no idea how time has passed so quickly. She is learning so much right now -- her brain is a little sponge!

  • She weighs about 21.5 pounds and is 29.5" long 
  • Size 3 diapers
  • She shows a lot of interest in table food now and does pretty well with small bites of just about anything. She doesn't love picking up slimy foods herself (ie: bananas). 
  • Still breastfeeding 8, 12, 4 and 8 though I do think she is starting to wean herself -- sometimes she's not very interested.
  • This month she started walking! She gets more brave every day -- still plenty of falls but Sean and I were happy to witness her first steps!
  • She loves to wave and is really good at it. She also loves bath time and being tossed in the air. 
  • She will say "dada" "mama" and recently picked up "uh oh" -- she will mimic a couple of animal sounds if she feels like it.
  • She has two teeth, bottom front. 
  • She's doing great at PlayLearn and I love getting to spend every afternoon with her at home.
  • She is still a great sleeper, typically sleeping from about 8:30pm to 7:30am. She usually naps 2x/day at noon and 4pm, but that 4pm one is kind of hit or miss, depending on how her first nap was.








Carson Ruby -- 

How is it already time to plan your first birthday?! My love for you is so strong that it almost feels like an ache sometimes. I'm incredibly thankful for your happy, healthy self but sometimes wish time would slow down just a tad. You're growing so big! Your daddy and I enjoy playing and cuddling with you so much -- we both get excited when you wake up because you're so much fun to be around...sometimes we race to see who will pick you up out of your crib. You are the most precious gift -- how special it is to be your mom. Sometimes I feel totally inadequate but am quickly reminded that's ok and God chose me specifically to be your mommy. Thanks for your forgiving heart and many tangible reminders of your love for me. We love you more than you know. 

Love,
Mama

3.20.2014

Carson: 10 months old

Little miss is 10 months old and sweet as can be! She's a lot of fun to be around (most of the time!) and has added such a fun element of joy to our lives. 

  • She weighs about 20.5 pounds and is 28.5" long - she must be well proportioned because she's definitely not petite, but doesn't strike me as chunky, either.
  • Size 3 diapers
  • She eats solids 3x/day, usually oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, babyfood at lunch and combo of table food and baby food at dinner. She's really good at feeding herself small bites of pretty much anything we eat now. 
  • Still breastfeeding 8, 12, 4 and 8. 
  • She's starting to get into everything -- now that she can easily pull to stand she's reaching new levels (literally) and I have to keep a close eye. 
  • She loves to wave and is really good at it. She also gives pretty good kisses by licking your face.
  • She can walk assisted by either our hands or a walker toy. I cried when we bought that toy and she took off as soon as I opened it!
  • She has two teeth, bottom front. 
  • She's doing great at PlayLearn and I love getting to spend every afternoon with her at home.
  • She is still a great sleeper, typically sleeping from about 8:30pm to 7:30am. She usually naps 2x/day at noon and 4pm, but that 4pm one is kind of hit or miss, depending on how her first nap was.
She pretty much always wants whatever I have. This time I think it was a Sonic drink.

Happy to be 10 months old!


Coming to get her after she wakes up is my favorite part of the day. She wakes up so happy and always greets me with a big smile.

Carson Ruby -- 

You are going to be a really fun little girl -- I just know it! Your personality is starting to peek through and I am so eager to know what your voice sounds like. You are kind and share well. You smile and wave at everyone and don't know a stranger (literally...you wanted a male Hobby Lobby worker to hold you today). You laugh is the best sound I have ever heard and you hugs are so very special. I am incredibly thankful for your easy going personality so far and for your good health, both gifts from God! Your daddy and I are praying for you a lot and feel very honored to be your parents. Please always think we are this cool, ok? We love you, sweet girl...more than you will ever know. 

Love, 
Mom

2.14.2014

Carson: 9 Months

At 9 months old, we are starting to get little glimpse of a toddler peeking through. Carson is starting to get an opinion on things and move around all of the time. She really does have the sweetest disposition and is a very happy baby. 

  • She weighs about 19.5 pounds and is 28" long (75% for both)
  • Just bumped up to size 3 diapers
  • She eats solids 2x/day, usually oatmeal with some type of veggie/fruit. She really didn't like the food I was making her -- we think because of texture and not taste. I still make some things but do a lot of Ellas or Gerber organic baby food. I tried to start a 3rd solid meal, but she's not interested yet so we will try again in a couple of weeks.
  • Still breastfeeding 8, 12, 4 and 8. I'm already sad this will come to an end in a few months!
  • She crawls all over the place, waves, still likes to clap and just started saying "dada"
  • She has pulled to stand up a couple of times, but not consistently yet
  • She just started getting her first tooth on her 9 mos birthday
  • She's doing great at PlayLearn and I love getting to spend every afternoon with her at home.
  • She is still a great sleeper, typically sleeping from about 8:30pm to 7:30am









Carson Ruby, 

Being your mom is one of my biggest joys. You are sweet to everyone around you and we get comments nearly every day on how happy you are. The way you clap for me when I walk into a room, smile through the window in the car and lay your head on my shoulder for cuddles make me feel like a million bucks. Your daddy and I are praying a lot for you -- that you would grow up to love Jesus, find your worth in His eyes and be kind to those around you. I am pretty astonished at how quickly time is passing by, sometimes feeling sad at the stages already passed, but I know the days/weeks/years to come will be full of love and laughter for our family. You are so very special, Carson, and I love you more than words can describe. 

Mommy

1.12.2014

Carson: Month 8

 We are 2/3 of a year into this parenting gig and it just keeps getting better! It is so fun to watch Carson's little brain work and figure out new skills and tricks! Here is what she's up to at 8 months:

  • She weighs about 18 pounds and is approx 29" long (big girl!)
  • Still in size 2 diapers 
  • She eats most of the foods we have tried, but isn't a big fan of peas or green beans (we'll keep trying!). I have made most of her food, but sometimes we use Ella's brand if we're on the go. 
  • Still breastfeeding 8, 12, 4 and 8. So thankful for my flexible work schedule, which has helped me continue to breastfeed. 
  • She claps, calls me mama (mostly when she wants to be picked up), can sit up on your own and just today took your first little crawl (though she doesn't quite know she could really take off!)
  • She will start at PlayLearn 5 days a week now, but thankfully I still get to pick her up by 2:30 so we have the afternoons together. 







Carson Ruby -- 

What a delight it is to be your mom! I love everything about you -- the way you reach for me to pick you up, the way you sleep with your bottom in the air, how you share your toys with me. Just a glimpse of your smile warms your daddy and my hearts like nothing else we have experienced before. So far your personality seems to include persistence, joy, determination and thoughtfulness. Oh how I pray God uses those characteristics in mighty ways as you grow up. You are an awesome baby - you sleep well, show lots of affection through kisses (licking my face) and snuggles, play contently and are eager to learn. We love you, sweet girl!

Mommy


12.13.2013

Carson: Months 6 and 7

It's hard to blog when you're busy living life -- I've just been out of the habit of writing things down and need to start up again! 

Here's what Carson has been up to the past couple of months: 

At your 6 month check up you were about 16 pounds (45%) and 27.5 in long (90%). 
You are still in size 2 diapers and wear mostly 6 month clothes, but will need to transition to 9 month soon. 
We started baby food at 6.5 months -- baby oatmeal first and you've also had squash and sweet potatoes. You tried peas, but weren't a fan. We have pureed your food so far. 
Right around 7 months you dropped one of your feedings, so you eat every 4 hours now (still breastfeeding). You take a 6-7 oz bottle if I'm away. 
You started sitting up on your 6 month birthday and now push up on all fours, but haven't quite figured out you can move forward to crawl yet. 
Still no teeth, but I keep thinking that will happen any day now considering how much you love to chew on everything within reach.
We are working on waving, clapping and saying "mama" or "dada" -- no luck yet. :) 






Carson Ruby, 
You are really awesome. Your dad and I loving watching your little brain work and try to "connect the dots." You are curious and joyful -- your personality shaping by the day. I want you to know I pray for you often, sometimes just that you sleep safely through the night and sometimes for your future spouse. God picked you to be my daughter and me to be your mother -- we will both be shaped by one another and oh how I pray that we have a close relationship...that you will feel comfortable sharing your dreams and heartbreaks with me as you grow. I love you more than words can explain, dear daughter. 

Love, Mom