Monday, March 31, 2014

Seventeen Months of Breastfeeding

For 517 days, I nursed my baby. That's 17 months. 17 months of never being away from her for more than 2 days (and pumping every 3-4 hours during the 35 hours I was away). I don't even know how many exact feedings, but I am pretty darn sure it would add up to a lot. And after last Tuesday morning, we have come to the end of our journey. And while my emotions are surely getting the best of me, I also know that there are so many mamas out there who have been down this road, and there's no better place to share my feelings than here.

When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I read up on it. I went to LLL meetings. I talked to so many new and older moms. And I tried to prepare myself for the worst. But I also told myself that if I was miserable, I would quit. I wasn't going to make life with a newborn harder than it needed to be.

And then after an unexpected birth story that ended in a c-section, my 8lb. 4 oz. baby girl came out and I wasn't able to have immediate skin to skin like I had hoped for, but when I finally got my hands on her, that sweet babe went to town and the beginning of our nursing journey together began. 

I'd be lying if I said it was always easy and painless. I had a great deal of pain in the beginning, but as others encouraged me, I pushed through it, and by seven or eight weeks, I quickly noticed that the pain had begun to go away and I wasn't curling my toes and yelping each time she latched on. We dealt with an oversupply issue for the first 2.5 months, but we powered through it, got advice from experienced moms and the lactation consultant, and by three months, I was fortunate enough to feel like breastfeeding was the most natural thing about being a new mom. 

Grabbing my shirt while she ate at just two weeks old. This little hand! It still melts me.

As the time went on, we really fell into our rhythm. We went from hours and hours of nursing on the couch in front of the television, to a pretty good routine of five feedings during the day in the glider, and occasionally a night time or early morning feeding. Our glider became my best friend, and many a mornings I spent watching the sun come up out her window while she nursed and we rocked, and many a nights I read books and blogs on my phone or Nook as I fed her for 30-45 minutes before bed. I thought about this day (the "end") and even when she was just a few months old, the thought of it made me want to cry. I have always loved our nursing times together. 

After a 4am I crazy for sort of missing this?

Taking a break to nurse was a break from the other busy demands, and it never felt like a burden to me. When we'd be traveling, it was the one thing that seemed easy. I didn't need to bring a hundred things to feed her (although I did bring a million things to bathe, clothe, and soothe her!). Around 4 months, I remember nursing her and her pulling off and grinning at me for just a second before latching back on, and those were the moments that will stick with me forever.

3ish months...

Once she became mobile and got teeth, well, it changed a bit and there was a learning curve for both of us. I had to work a little harder to keep her there and to break the biting habit, but again, we survived. And as she became more and more mobile, those few minutes in our glider through out the day became a time to just stop and hold  her. I wouldn't trade them for the world. 

A conked out baby (14ish months) one evening after a bed time nursing session

When M turned a year, I knew we were no where stopping, but I also knew I wanted to be done around 18 months. We slowly dropped feedings. One at a time. First the middle of the day. Then the one after her morning nap, and then the one after her afternoon nap. And by February, she was only nursing twice a day, morning and night. On February 27, J was out for the evening so I was doing her bedtime routine all on my own. I read her her nightly books, and got ready to nurse her, but realized she wasn't asking for it. So, I stopped. Instead we rocked some more, I sang to her. She rubbed her lovey on her face like she did every other night while I fed her, and then I put her to bed. And that was that. She was done with her bed time feeding. And while it made me super sad, it also felt good knowing that she was dropping it on her own. It wasn't going to be a battle that upset her.

And then that takes us to last week. She turned 17 months old last Tuesday, and I had decided ahead of time that this would be it. So like every other day, I went in when she woke. She gave me her big grin from her crib and yelled, "HI!," we opened her blinds and snuggled into the glider, and we had our last nursing session. And while it was sad in the moment, I'm glad I knew it was our last time. I soaked it in. I gave her a big kiss. And that was that. Since that morning, J has gone in when she woken up with a cup of milk and "naks" (cheerios), and she's been happy as a lark.  She hasn't skipped a beat, and well, I couldn't be happier or more proud to see how big and independent she has become. 

I think every mom, no matter how she feeds her babies, has those moments where she feels so proud to see her baby growing and changing, but it's still so tough to have them grow so fast! I am so so thankful for such a successful breastfeeding journey. (And on the flip side, I am so glad I can take Excedrin and Mucinex again, plus I get to go shopping for new bras now!) The end of this road has me feeling a little sad but super grateful. Breastfeeding was a surprisingly sweet benefit to the first 17 months of motherhood for me. It has left me with so many moments with my baby girl that I will treasure forever.

Last Tuesday with my big girl

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Home Improvements 2014: Foyer Table

On Monday, I shared home project number one of the year...moving onto project #2! Our foyer!

We have a small foyer that you walk into when you come in our front door. Our living room is to the right, the kitchen it directly in front of you, and stairs are to the left. Between the living and the kitchen, there was a small corner/two walls, and until this past month, there was nothing here.

 I knew from early on that I wanted a small table or shelf here, but that wall is surprisingly small and almost every piece of furniture I found was too long for the space. So, this only means one thing...I get my husband to build a shelf for me! 

I had seen this one at World Market (that was too long) and described it to J, and he sort of just went with it and made a design that worked in the space we had.

He got a table saw for Christmas, so he was excited to put it to use with a new project!

I stained it a few weeks later when we finally got some sunshine and the snow left us, and then J sealed it with polyurethane. 

And now, here it is today!

The print I hung above it is from Minted, and the frame is actually one I picked up from Goodwill for $9. It had a very old and ugly print in it, so I took it out and pitched it, cleaned the glass, and spray painted my frame gold (which was looking pretty rough).  

All in all, a fairly cheap project to really brighten up an empty spot in our home. I still want to find a cute, small tray or plate to put on the top of the shelf to put mail on, but haven't found anything I love yet. M is a fan because she can no access her hats from a basket on the shelf, and Rosie and Layla are fans, because M has been known to leave her snack cups on the middle shelf...perfect dog height!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Home Improvements 2014: Living Room Wall

I wish I was one of those people who could decorate my home just the way I want it from the moment we move in. Unfortunately, what I wish for and reality are two different stories. Due to making smart financial choices (darn you husband and your excellent planning and spreadsheets), indecisiveness, a tad of laziness, and a bad eye when it comes to decorating...we've been living her for 21 months now and our home is still a big work in progress when it comes to decorating. Thankfully, we didn't have any big projects to work on, but there have been lots and lots of little projects happening over the past few months. In the next few weeks, I want to share a few of them on here, but getting them all photographed and put up may be a slow process for me (again...slightly lazy!).

So project number one of 2014 was filling in the wall over our sofa in the living room. 
This is the room where we spend 90% of our time when we're home, so I wanted to add something to this wall, but it seemed like such a daunting task to me. Did I want art (it would need to be BIG to fill the space), photos, or something different? Either way, we needed something. This big space was just so blah and uninviting.

And so, we went with family photos! Ta-Da!

Here are the 4 photos I had printed from as 12x12, and then we hung them in frames I got at Ikea for $19.99 a piece. Also, picking out 4 photos was way harder than I expected it to be!

I had originally planned on just printing them at Walgreens, but after thinking about how I wanted these to be a focal point in the room, I went with a printer who was known a little bit better for their quality. I was very pleased with their turn around time and the quality of these!

Friday, March 21, 2014

5 on Friday

Linking up with April and friends today!

1. This free printable from Yellow Bliss Road. A beautiful print for Easter! 

2. The Voice is back! I was a big American Idol fan back in the Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken days, but it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a reality competition show as much as I love The Voice. I have a few favorites already this season!

3. Last week I checked out The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook from my library. I'd never the library for cookbooks before, but I had been thinking of buying this cookbook, and then I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to just check it out and decide if it was worth buying or not. I think I need to own this one now! On Monday I made Balsamic and Beer-Braised Short Ribs with Parsnip Purée from the book, and oh my my. It was simply delicious!

4. We just finished up a short 6 week study at my Wednesday morning Bible Study, and next week we're beginning Sacred Secrets by Beth Moore. Anyone done this one? I love her studies and I'm really looking forward to the start of this one!

and last but not least...

5. MARCH MADNESS! I don't care about basketball at ALL for the rest of the season, but I love filling in my bracket and watching the games.  I think this all began back in '08 when I filled out a bracket on a whim in a pool of friends and ended up getting second place out of 25 people. Since then, I've been hooked,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

life lately in pictures

A few pictures from life lately...I hate to just do a picture dump, but sometimes that's all there's time for!

At playgroup with some of our blog buddies and babies! M was actually a happy camper this day, but didn't want to share the couch with her friends. Poor girl has some personal space issues.

Wearing our fancy coat and a hat around the living room, because that's the best way to play...right?

Someone has become quite the pro at eating with utensils. She is determined to eat her meals with a fork or spoon these days. This is funny unless she's eating peas with a fork and she insists on stabbing each pea individually. This can take some time!

We had such a lovely Saturday! Pretty weather, a birthday party for a sweet friend, and lots of time outside. Feels good to get out the big camera sometimes and catch some great shots of us. Doesn't happen nearly enough.

And finally...lately M has been looking JUST like her Dadda. You may or may not have noticed! But I snapped this photo of her today in her green (left) and immediately saw myself in her. Anyone else see it? I think her hair that's really starting to come in is what's making me see it. (PS....look at the carseat from 1984/85)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Oh boy! [baby boy sprinkle x3]

This past weekend, we celebrated three of the mamas in my playgroup who are expecting baby #2! All three are currently moms to sweet girls, and will be adding a boy to this mix in April!

There are 14 of us in our group, and we have 6 new babies on the way, and these three little guys will be the first of the little siblings! The rest of the girls in our group helped to throw a little "sprinkle" for the new moms this past weekend, but what made it really fun was we all got to get together for a lovely brunch and chat and catch up without our toddlers by our feet. This doesn't happen often! It was a fun and lovely morning!

We made baby "morphs" for each mama to be of their future little boy, and these were hilarious (and a bit freaky).

Ice cream cake! OH BOY!

And I LOVE this idea that one of the gals in our group had! She bought a large rubbermaid tub for each mom to take her gifts home in and it can also serve as clothes storage later on. Such a smart idea!

All of the mommies (minus two who had to leave early). 
I'm very thankful for having this network of moms in my life!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Weekend Highs and Lows

Our weekend was a warm and sunny one!

Highlights Included:
-A visit from M's Aunt and Uncle (J's brother and his wife) who live in Chicago!
-A baby boy sprinkle for 3 sweet friends
-Extra Sunlight!
-Not one, not two, but three park trips
-Ribs we cooked in our smoker
-A fun evening at a wine bar with brother and sister in law while a babysitter stays with a snoozing toddler. Sometimes it feels nice to be a real grown up.
-Eating outside on our deck
-Trying on my Warby Parker trial glasses
-Finally finding girl scout cookies!

-Eye Teeth that are THIS close to breaking through + a runny nose

It looks like the lows are pretty much cancelled out by all the highs from our fun weekend! 
Here's hoping this past weekend of sunshine and warm temperatures are a sign of things to come!