Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

We had a great Saturday hanging out with our good friends the Kerfontas on Saturday.  It was so gorgeous, we spent the whole time outside.  Ellie loved it.  Although we have pretty much started our hibernation for RSV season, (no crowds, lots of handwashing, etc.) we are still going to make sure that the three of us still get lots of fresh air.

We are still chugging along at our sleep training.  It gets a little better each week and we are looking forward to the end of the tunnel where little bit sleeps 12 hours at night!  Right now she only gets up once during the night (mommy gets up much more to check on her/re-administer the passey when necessary) and we are working this week on trying to consolidate her daytime naps so that she is napping longer but fewer times during the day.

Grow, Ellie, grow (and sleep, Ellie, sleep!!!)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

4 Month Check-up

^^Wesley usually skips sleeping in now to get up and play with Ellie before heading to work!

As of today's 4 month follow up appointment, Ellie is now 10 lbs and 22 1/2 inches long!  She is moving right along developmentally according to her adjusted age and we go back again in December.  Unlike most 4 month olds, we are not starting Ellie on solid foods.  We will more than likely wait until February, when she will be 8 months old (6 months from her due date) since she is still so tiny.  She is technically big enough to be able to sleep through the night and the doctor was impressed that her bedtime is between 7 and 8 and she is already sleeping 7 hour stretches.

I've been working on filling out Ellie's baby book this week, afraid that I will forget things if I keep putting it off.  It has been a neat exercise to go back through the blog and write down her weight and milestones of each month.  I have said it before and I will say it again - it's amazing how far she has come in such a few short months.  We are so incredibly blessed and look forward to the months ahead!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Play Time

It seems like in just the past week or two Ellie has gotten more and more fascinated by the world around her.  She stares into mirrors at her reflection, reaches and tries to grab objects that are near her.  We are working on her "swatting" skills too, which get better and better everyday.  I caught myself the other day saying "hit the bunny" and quickly changed it to "move the bunny!" She loves to feel soft things, and stare at bright colored objects and lights.  Give her a rattle, and she will shake the heck out of it too! 

I was joking with my mom the other day that she is not taking very long naps, and sometimes fighting sleep because she likes to play so much. I may be able to want her to sleep, but I certainly cannot will her to sleep!  I am after all, an extremely fun person to play with ;)  Seriously though, I am still mastering the "put down when drowsy" skill as her drowsy hints are subtle and not always convenient.  It is amazing how well it works when you have nailed it and get her back in her crib at just the right time, and how cranky she gets and hard it is for her to go to sleep once she is overtired. Sleep routines definitely help.  When Ellie gets scooped up to cuddle and rock while mommy sings a song, she knows that it is time to settle down and take a nap.

She teaches me so much every day.  About free will.  About patience.  About joy.  And about not taking one moment for granted.  

10 brownie points if you can guess the show running on in the background of the video... hint hint: BBC really does have some of the best shows!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

hello // good-bye

We had a great weekend visiting with several family members.  Uncle Josh and Aunt Jenny came up to visit from Georgia.  We had a great time hanging out with them and taking a trip up to Pullen Park!

We also got to spend a little more time with Auntie Katie before she leaves to go on her mission to Pocatello, Idaho.  My father-in-law came up to see Katie set apart as a missionary Sunday night, so we got to visit with Grandpa Honeycutt for a bit too!


My heart melts over and over seeing Ellie with all of the people that love her!!
She has become the center of our universe and we couldn't be more happy about that!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Infant Care Clinic Visit

When Ellie was getting discharged from the hospital, they let us know that we would need to go to a routine checkup when she was around 4 months old to see how she is doing developmentally since she was born so early.  We would meet with neonatal and pediatric specialists who would assess all aspects of her development if needed.  That appointment was yesterday. 

We met with a developmental specialist who asked questions on how Ellie was doing nursing, and sleeping, if she was smiling, tracking objects, doing tummy time, and if she was a happy baby.  He assessed her muscle tone and strength and her reflexes. We did tummy time on the bed so he got to see her lift her head up, kick, and push with her forearms. And he stood her up to see her stand supported on her feet and try and take a few steps forward.  Then we saw a nurse practitioner who assessed her heart and lungs, ear, nose and throat, scalp and fontanels, and all 10 fingers and toes. 

They proclaimed her a "healthy, perfect baby!"

She will be assessed according to her adjusted age (counting from her due date instead of her birthday) until she is 2. We will go back in February to check in again and make sure she is still on track.  

In other news she slept for a good 6 1/2 hour stretch last night without having to have her passey put back in her mouth!!! A good night's sleep never felt so good...

Four Months

Ellie is four months old today.  We have a special care clinic appointment tomorrow, so we will now how big she has gotten. It is amazing to watch her grow.  Each day sometimes resembles the last, but taking a step back and seeing where she was each month!  

Ellie still goes on walks everyday (except when it rains).  She loves staring at the birds in her swing, kicking on her play quilt, talking to kangaroo, reading books with mommy, and shaking her rattle.  She smiles more each day and it melts our hearts when she does.  However, she has already picked up that a camera is not a person, so they go away when we try and pull it out to catch them on film.  Right now we are working on sleep training.  The books don't lie when they say once their social development takes off they start fighting sleep, wanting to spend more time playing with you.  Our once great sleeper loves to party all day!  (She is starting to catch on to this longer nap concept a little more each day.)  I can't wait to see how much she weighs tomorrow!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

14 Lessons Learned/Baby Things We Love

This post is far more on the practical side than I have written about our adventures with Ellie thus far.  I've been asked to expound all of my knowledge of breastfeeding, and our favorite baby items.  I know for me it was really helpful when I was pregnant to read books and other mom's blogs of what things they loved for their baby, or what things worked for their baby.  But as a disclaimer...get to know your baby and take everything you read with a grain of salt.  What works for some, may not work for you and that is a-okay!

Here are 14 things/practical lessons that have helped in our house:

1. Breastfeeding is hard work.  Hard work.  For both you and baby.  One of the silver linings of Ellie having to be in the NICU for 7 weeks was all of the wonderful support that we got from our lactation consultants.  I felt like Ellie and I had our personal team of cheerleaders.  They celebrated every little accomplishment.  And I am so glad that they did.  Breastfeeding is really hard work and I can see how easy it would be to give up if you don't celebrate every little success.

When I first started pumping, I got maybe 4 or 5 mL.  They cheered so much I felt like I had just gotten out of a limo on the red carpet. I pumped and pumped and pumped for 4 weeks before Ellie was big enough to even try to start learning how to breastfeed. Ellie would latch on.  They would cheer.  The next time, Ellie wouldn't, but they would cheer us for trying.  So my advice on breastfeeding....celebrate EVERYTHING and keep trying.  Just like in life, you will have good days and bad days.  Lactation consultants are available outside of the hospital too.  Your pediatrician should have information on how to get in touch with them near you.

2. Burp Cloths - you can never, NEVER have enough of these.  Yesterday, Ellie was particularly spitty and we went through Every. Single. One.  They come in all kinds, each with their own benefit.  My favorite is probably the aden + anais burpy bibs that function as both a burp cloth and bib.  Its wide kidney shape helps it site perfectly on your shoulder to give you maximal coverage.

3. Swaddle Blankets - these were especially important for us with our premie, who loved to be swaddled when we first brought her home.  The receiving blankets that they sell are too small for good swaddling. Another shout out for aden + anais. Their blankets are fantastic and have been great to have as Ellie grows.  Now we can swaddle her loosely while she sleeps, with her arms out - just the way she likes it.

4. Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat - Every baby needs a good car seat.  I wanted one that was highly rated in safety, but that was also easy to use and carry.  After much research, and lots of recommendations, we settled on this model.  Three words for you: We love it!!!  My mother in law was a gem and got us ours right after Ellie was born (it was the one thing we hadn't gotten yet!).  Another thing that was great for us was that it supported infants as low as little as 4 pounds so we were covered when she came home from the hospital.

4. Board Books - I have been pleasantly surprised that Ellie started "using" these soon after we got home from the hospital.  Even though she can't read, she loves staring at the pictures.  I first started using them during her tummy time so that she could have something colorful to look at as she turned her head from side to side. Their chunky structure allows them to stand up on their own with the page open. Now, she lets me read them to her in her crib.  She will stare at the pages while I read!

5. Sheet Savers - These come in several different forms.  We have two different kinds.  These and these.  They are perfect to put under her head when she is in her crib so that all of her spit up lands on it instead of the sheet.  These beauties have helped me only have to change her crib sheets every couple of weeks.

6. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - This book is amazing.  It came highly recommended from my dear friend Ashley.  If I had only bought one book, this would have been it.  I teaches you about baby brain and sleep development.  I read and re-read this book every day and it has been so great in helping me know how to respect Ellie's sleep and train her to have healthy sleeping habits.  And yes, a happy, well rested baby makes for a happy, well rested mama!

7. Changing Stations - you can put together your own changing stations and have them in key locations over your house.  We have one upstairs in Ellie's room, and downstairs in the living room.  My changing station is house in a basket and has diapers, wipes, and diaper rash/bum cream.  There is also a changing pad or mat near each basket.  So simple, but so helpful!!!

8. Bibs - I never thought I would need bibs before she started eating solid foods, but Ellie spits up so much that if I don't put a bib on her, I am guaranteed an outfit change after she nurses (And if I don't have several burp cloths handy, then I am guaranteed an outfit change after!!)

9. Soothies Pacifiers (and the Pacifier clip) - we were introduced to Soothies in the hospital.  We are a pro-pacifier family.  It helped Ellie learn her suck-swallow reflux, which helped her be successful at breastfeeding as a premie.  I also really like this model because we can help her get started sucking on it with our finger.  Its also pretty cute to be able to see how their mouth and tongue moves when they suck on it.

10. Baby Carrier - Having a premie, we loved starting out with a wrap style baby carrier.  It was like portable kangaroo time when we got home.  We also have the traditional style that will be so great when she gets a little older and is has more control over her muscles.  These carriers allow hands free holding and carrying.  Ellie has spent many a day in her Boba sleeping while mommy cleaned, visited with friends, or shopped (although you will need a reliable baby-holder if you are going to try anything on!).

11. Snugabunny Swing, bouncy seat, or rocker.  These are great items for baby to nap in, or have a safe place to quietly play when its time to put them down.  In the wonderful "newborn" phase, Ellie slept really well, pretty much anywhere.  It was great to have one or two of these items strategically around the house for her to nap in where she would be close by where I was.  (i.e. near the kitchen while I was cooking, or upstairs when I was doing laundry).  The older she gets, the more and more she needs to be in her crib while she naps, so we loved having items that are multi-functional.  Her swing is still a great place for her to be in while she is awake, and her rocker converts to a bouncy chair that she usually plays in when I get ready in the morning.

12. Bottle supplies and such - Ellie took bottles more than she would nurse while she was in the NICU because I could only be there for so many feedings during the day (which still also left all of the night feedings she had).  As she came home, we gradually transitioned her from all bottles to a bottle once a week or so.  Having said that - here is what she needed in regards to bottles:

Ellie had such a strong suck-swallow reflux that she would suck down her milk faster than she should have even with a standard slow flow nipple.  We had to get her on an Avent nipple size 1, which is slower than a slow flow until she was 5-6 weeks old gestationally.  Now, she uses a size 2, which is basically a slow flow.  Every baby is different, and it is a trial and error to find the right bottle/nipple size for you.  Because we needed the avent nipples, we use the Avent bottles.

The other thing we love is a dishwasher caddy that allows safe storage of bottle parts and pacifiers while they are washing!!

13. Baby monitor - we ended up getting a Samsung model that has audio and video.  We tried a wireless indoor camera, but were disappointed with the poor audio quality.   I love having the audio and video and our model has an option to set the camera to only come on when Ellie makes noise!

14. Stroller and conversion bar - last but not least, we love the stroller that we decided on.  Just like with the car seat, I did a lot of research to find the right one for our lifestyle.  I wanted one that Ellie could grow into, but could also have her carseat snap into it while she still has to ride in it so that we didn't have to buy two of them.  We went with a baby jogger (City Mini)  because I know I would put a lot of miles on it walking several miles everyday.  It is also a cinch to get out or fold up.  Our GT model has real wheels that allow for easier access on grass or "off road" terrain for parks.  The conversion bar we got for it is perfect and snaps right onto the stroller to allow any easy and safe snap in for her car seat.

.....and that's all folks!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Slowing Down

Meet Kangaroo.  Ellie loves Kangaroo.  She will smile when Kangaroo comes out to play and will get lost in a spell binding stare.  A lot of the time she will talk to her too.  Kangaroo was one of the sweetest gifts that we got from the NICU and I love that Ellie loves it because it reminds me of our sweet "kangaroo" cuddle sessions when she was still in the hopsital.  

When I look back over the past few months, I can't believe how time has flied.  One thing that Ellie has already taught me is the importance of slowing down.  I was doing so much right before Ellie was born - and I never want to have that much on my plate again.  Until now, I have judged a lot of my personal success on how much I can take on and manage well.

Now, I take things slower.  And I love it.  I love every minute of it.  Just because you can do everything, doesn't mean that you should.  There is a time and season for everything, and it is up to us to know our season and prioritize within it. Every day I pray that I will be able to know what Ellie needs and to meet those needs.  It helps so much that I don't have a long list of "to-dos" to worry about while she and I are still getting to know each other.  She is getting bigger and bigger and I'm glad we have this time together to cherish each and every day!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ellie's First Trip

We went to Charlotte two weeks ago to meet Ellie's great-grandparents who flew in from Texas.  We we just loved seeing them!!!  Ellie did pretty well being away from home. She only had a couple of "witching hour" nights.  Definitely more socially aware,  we saw her fighting sleep more and more.  I am sure that it won't be long now until her sleep/wake cycles are better developed and she will be on a strict nap/bedtime schedule.  

She loved kicking on the floor, sitting in her Snugabunny bouncy seat, and being held.  She loves sitting up in your lap facing out too.  Wesley and I definitely caught the itch to be closer to our families, so hopefully one day soon we can be!!     

 ^^Blouse my great-grandmother Millie made for my mom.  She, I, and now Ellie have worn it!

^^It, of course, goes without saying that if you can't take a baby to Texas, you bring a little of Texas to the baby!! {Yes, that is 100% Texas dirt we put Ellie's feet into one evening before her bath.}

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