Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Georiga June - 6 Months

I remember when I was in the two week wait to find out if our first DE cycle worked, it by far, felt like the longest TWW I had ever been through because this one just HAD to work.  This one was different in so many ways and after 6 previous failed cycles it was very hard to feel hopeful that the outcome would be any different than any others.  When those 11 agonizing days were finally over and I found out I was pregnant, I couldn't believe it.  It was one of the best days of my life.  In the throes of infertility, time went SO SLOW and I always felt like we were waiting on something, waiting for a period, waiting for results, waiting for appointments, waiting for months to pass to start a cycle; and now here I am wishing that time would feel as slow as it did in those days. 

Today, I get to say that I have a 6 month old baby.  Half of a YEAR has passed since her birth, which to me feels like it was just a few weeks ago.  What they say is true, you blink and the time has just passed.  Luke Bryan has it right, sixty seconds now feels more like thirty, tick-tock, won't stop, around it goes, sand through the glass sure falls in hurry, all you keep trying to do is slow it down, soak it in, keep trying to make the good times last as long as you can, but you can't, it just goes too fast.  Maybe those sentiments seem a little dramatic or emotional for a baby who is only 6 months old but for some reason, her half birthday is hitting me like my 25th, hard!  And don't ask why it was my 25th of all birthdays I had such a hard time with, and to make matters worse my mom got me an "Over the Hill" balloon.

Ok so enough about time going too fast and me being overly emotional about my baby.  Let's get on with the fun part—all about Georgia!  This little wildflower is exactly that, she's happy and free, she loves to chat up a storm and is so unbelievably curious about everything these days.  Every day I think of the movie Elf because the quote "smiling is my favorite" is what always pops in my head when I look at her.  She seriously smiles at everyone and everything.  She's the happiest baby on the block most of the time. 

Although she is such a cheerful little darling, she also has FOMO (fear of missing out) bad like so many other girls I know, and this one is no different.  If anything of slight interest is going on around her, she has to be awake and participating and included.  She'll be rubbing her eyes and whining up a storm, but she will be damned if she is going to take a nap while any hoopla is going on while she is there.  She's a social butterfly and I think it has a lot to do with us bringing us her pretty much everywhere with us. 

As far as official stats, I don't have those yet because her doctor's appointment isn't until next Tuesday but I'm guessing she is roughly 16 pounds and probably 25-26" long.   She's a long thing and has a big head!  She doesn’t sleep through the night, I only get that luxury once in a blue moon, but I don't mind.  She wakes up 1 or 2 times to nurse still, this girl loves to eat.  We still have her in her bassinet but are transitioning her to a Pack & Play next.  She is still nursing/eating every 2-2.5 hours and we have just recently started her on some purees.  She is also sitting pretty well unassisted so we will be starting Baby Led Weaning soon which I cannot wait for.  So far she has had peas, sweet potatoes, and squash purees as well as beef broth.  She has also had some chunks of melon, peach, and orange. 

Movement-wise she can roll from tummy to back really well.  She's still working on back to tummy, that arm is still a challenge for her.  She can sit unassisted pretty well & LOVES to stand.  She prefers standing to anything, I swear this girl is going to just skip crawling all together.  Her new favorite thing is to grab at faces and hair, especially beards.  She also is obsessed with the dog and cat.  She watches every move they make and she loves to pet them and our cat, who does not give AF, seems to be tolerating her really well which is good. 

Georgia also loves bath time, her activity gym, and exersaucer, diaper changes, looking in the mirror, rolling around on her floor, playing with books, putting her own pacifier in her mouth, screaming, and blowing raspberries.  She dislikes when she is hungry and being left out.  That's about it!  She is seriously an absolute joy to be around and can light up a room and put a smile on the face of anyone she comes into contact with. 

Being her mama has been so rewarding and I love every second that I get to spend with her.  I miss her all day long at work and I cannot wait to see her at the end of my day.  Being a working mom, the days and times that I do have to be with her are even more precious and I try to soak up every second that I can with her which is why we love to take her with us wherever we go!  For Labor Day weekend Joe and I are taking her to St. Louis with us and staying overnight and going to the zoo.  I've been dying to take her to the zoo and I've heard amazing things about the STL zoo, and bonus, it's FREE.  I cannot wait. 

Happiest of half-birthdays to my little peach.  You prove to us time and time again, every single day that our journey to you was worth it all.  We love you!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Homemade Baby Food & Introducing Solids

Since birth Georgia has been exclusively breast fed, she hadn't had anything but breast milk up until a couple weeks ago when I thought it might be time to start introducing some actual food into her life.  I knew that I was going to skip rice cereal and move right into purees and eventually baby-led weaning (BLW) so that's exactly what we did!  I know there are some different opinions out there about when to start introducing solids, but I felt like since we were almost to the 6 month mark it was a good time to start.  Here is an amazing article from BeHealthy that talks about the best superfoods for babies who are just starting solids.

I reached out on Insta stories to see what my followers had the most success with, what they started with, and how they did it, homemade or store bought.  I knew I wanted to try homemade at first, especially since she is still getting the majority of her meals from breast milk.  After lots and lots of responses and suggestions I decided to start with peas. 

I bought Target Market Pantry frozen peas for .97, you steam them directly in the bag so I did that, pureed them in my food processor and added about 3oz of breast milk to get them the consistency I wanted.  Without some liquid, they would've been a little too thick & pasty.  3oz seemed to be perfect and we let her try them.  She was pretty uncertain at first but has really taken to them, opening her mouth now for us and even helping with the spoon!  It's the cutest thing, also very messy.  One thing I can say is do not go out and buy an expensive baby food system, you can use a simple and cheap food processor  and it does the exact same thing and is much cheaper!

We also did sweet potatoes and butternut squash, both of which have been a hit.  I bought 1 medium sweet potato, poked holes in it, set it on a baking sheet and baked it for about 45 minutes at 350°.  You can also steam or boil potatoes but baking them holds the most nutrients.  With both the peas and the sweet potatoes I used the "Milkies" milk tray to freeze the purees.  I did it with this tray because I know each stick is equal to 1oz which equals out to 2tbsp. of food which is what is recommended for them per day in these early days.  So far everything has went well and we are kind of just experimenting to see what works.  I added a few ounces of breast milk to the sweet potatoes as well to make it the consistency that I desired.

For the squash, I bought the smallest one I could find because I wasn't sure how much it would make and if she'd like it.  I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and then placed cut side down in a glass microwave safe dish with about a quarter inch of water in it, I cooked it for about 6 minutes (or until the skin is soft) then scooped out the insides and also froze it in the Milkies tray.  I got about 8oz of food from the small squash and it didn't end up needing any breast milk added, I just added a little bit of the water I had cooked it in to get it a bit thinner.  

Another important food that we incorporated is beef broth.  I found this article from Mama Natural all about the importance of introducing beef product, broth & pureed red meat, in the early days so that is also something we are doing.  My mom had tons of soup bones from our side of beef we bought this spring so she went ahead and made it following Mama Natural's recipe, but she only boiled it for 8 hours instead of 24 – 8 was plenty.  She did soak the meat in water with vinegar which is said to bring out the nutrients.  She then froze it in an icecube tray which measures out to about 1oz servings.  Right now we give her 1oz of this a day in a TomeeTipee sippy cup with a nipple on it.  She's really loving the broth.  We also cooked & pureed some ground beef and froze it but haven't introduced that to her yet.

So far making baby food at home has been relatively quick and easy.  It's been fun to watch her and I can't wait to continue introducing foods to her.  I'd really like to use BLW technique soon, I know purees are really not necessary if going the full BLW route, but I just felt like puree was where I was comfortable starting.  There are a few things that baby needs to be doing before you can start BLW and we just now reaching those milestones!  Stay tuned for more about the next part of introducing solids!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tips for Retuning to Work

So I've been back at work full time since May 1st.  I always knew that I would return to work and never really got to consider staying home.  Although a part of me would love to, I am meant to be working and after just building a house two years ago, it takes both of our income to pay our bills and live a comfortable lifestyle.  I enjoy my job and if I were to take off a few years to stay home with my kids, this job wouldn't be waiting for me when I was ready to return to work so it really made the choice to come back easy. 

My maternity leave lasted a mere 9 weeks, one reason I'm actually thankful that I ended up with a C-section is it did get me an extra 2 weeks off, but still not nearly enough time at home with my new baby.  I was lucky though that Georgia was going into familiar and very capable hands.  She spends 3 days a week with my mom & step dad who are both retired and she spends 2 days at in-home daycare with a friend of mine.  I like the balance of the two because it gets her some one-on-one attention with grandma and grandpa, but it also gets her socialized and used to older kids, and less attention which she will need when she starts school. 

Although returning to work was very hard, it got better over time to leave her each day.  There are definitely some things that can make it a little easier when it comes time to leave your babe.

--If at all possible, (which I understand, unfortunately it is not for everyone) have your sitter bring baby to work on your lunch break.  Or if you can, go see your baby on your lunch!  My mom brings Georgia to me 3x a week so I can nurse her on lunch & it definitely helps to break up my day.  When I was little I remember my mom would come to my grandmas every day for her 1 hour lunch so she could eat & see us.  Now as a mother myself I understand how precious that 30-60 minutes is.

--Have lots of pictures to look at!  I have a picture of Georgia for my desktop background, & one of the best things I got was a digital frame that I have right by my desk, I brought it my first day back, one so I could stare at her all day, and two because I knew people would want to see pictures of her.  Now they can watch a little slide show of her. 

--Use FaceTime when you can.  If you get set breaks, take a minute to FaceTime or Skype with your sitter and your baby.  We haven't had to use this yet, but I would imagine one day we will.

--Ask for updates.  I don't get too many pictures from my parents, but I do get at least one photo and update from daycare on the days she is there.  Just seeing a quick snap of her really brightens my day.

--Check the daycare website or Facebook page.  I know some daycares actually keep an updated website &/or Facebook, some even have an app, where you can check on your kiddo and see what they've been up to.  Even if you can't see a photo, seeing how many naps they've taken, or even how many dirty diapers they've had will give you a little reassurance that they're doing ok!

--If you feel the need, take a vacation day and spend time with your kids.  The time I am off, I spend with her, I bring her everywhere with me for the most part. Sometimes I'll take a Friday off or a half day so that I can maybe run an errand or two while she's at daycare and then see her for a couple extra hours that day.  I don't have much else I would be using my vacation for & I can't think of a better reason to take a day off then to spend it with my girl!

I know everyone's work situation is different and none of these things may be possible for some working parents, but just remember, your work day will come to an end and you WILL get to see your baby at the end of your day.  Being away from my baby during the day makes the time that I do have with her on the evenings and weekends even more valuable and coming home to her smiling little face after knowing I've been gone all day working to provide for her is the most rewarding thing I could ask for. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Matilda Jane & a Giveaway

If you guys haven't figured it out by now, I love baby girl clothes.  Georgia has a pretty extensive wardrobe that continues to grow all the time.  I've already got her clothes for vacation bought since we are going in January to Punta Cana and the summer sales are on right now, my mom and I did some major damage at Target, Old Navy, and Bergners the last couple weekends getting her outfits for the warmer weather we will get to enjoy for a week this winter.  

But aside from the big box stores, there are lots and lots of boutiques and smaller clothing shops with some of the most amazing baby clothes and recently I was introduced to Matilda Jane clothing and found some of the cutest baby, kids, and women's clothing I have ever seen.  All of the pieces are very whimsical and remind me of an outfit I might picture a character wearing in a story book, seriously so cute.  Their collections are actually called Make Believe, Once Upon a Time, and The Adventure Begins which I think perfectly describe the style of these adorable clothes.

On top of clothing they also have things like lunchboxes, aprons & towels, water bottles, and more, but I was most interested in the clothing line.  I went with the Ventriloquist Top because it looked like a perfect fall transitional piece and with it already being August, that made the most sense for my wardrobe.  When I got this I fell in LOVE with the fabric, it is stretchy and soft, and long enough to wear with leggings and wedges or with some denim and flats both work appropriate.  

For Georgia I decided to pick a summer outfit for her since she is growing like a weed & we are getting pretty low on summer clothes that fit her.  We got the Plein Air Romper which is so cute and colorful.  Again, whimsical is the word that comes to mind when describing their clothes.  And not only is everything super cute, their shipping is SO FAST.  Seriously ordered this on a Tuesday and had it by Wednesday.  

I'm excited to give away a $50 credit to Matilda Jane to one lucky winner!  Enter via the Raffelcopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 07, 2017

All Things Baby - Product Roundup

As you guys know there are literally MILLIONS of baby products out there.  As a first time mom I knew I had to have it ALL, mostly because I had waited so long to have a baby and I really wanted to bask in everything that came along with finally being pregnant, including buying every item I had ever found that I loved, whether necessary or unnecessary.  Over the last 5 months I weeded through all of the stuff and found some favorite products and brands that I feel to be tried and true or have helped us survive life with a new baby.  These are products that worked for us, they may not work for you, you may not agree with using them due to safety hazards or CDC guidelines or what have you, so please, if leave your judgments at the door & hopefully you can find something that will help YOU.

Diapers & Wipes
I really didn't have a preference before Georgia arrived.  I got several brands at my shower for the diaper raffle and I kind of feel like, if people are gifting you diapers, you can't be picky, they're pooping and peeing in them, just use them. 

Pampers—they seem to be the most comfortable, they have the moisture stripe so you can tell if there is pee in the diaper, & they hold up well to blowouts. 

Honest Co—what I love about them is they can hold A LOT and their patterns are to die for.  What I don't love about them is the price and that they're a little stiff.  I bought a subscription when they were offering 50% off so I got 6 packages of diapers & wipes (which I hate btw.) and cancelled the subscription later. 

Target Up&Up—probably the most affordable & definitely can hold about as well as pampers. 

As far as wipes go, as I stated above, I am not a fan of Honest Co, they're just too damn hard to get out of the package, they stick together and when you're cleaning up a soupy poopy diaper, the last thing you want to do is fight with the wipes.  My favorite brand by far is the Amazon Elements which are similar to water wipes but at a fraction of the cost.  They're safe for cleaning your babies face, hands feet, and bottom of course, they're free of fragrance, dyes, parabens, and alcohol, they're flexible, and they come in flip top packages.  I have a subscriptions for these with Prime they are $11.64 for a pack of 6.  I cannot say enough good about these wipes.

Sleeping Gear
Our girl is a pretty great sleeper, but the first few days home were tough, we spent $250 on the Halo Bassinest which she hated so she slept on me in bed and I got very little sleep because I was so fearful of rolling over on her and suffocating her, not the type of thoughts I wanted to have my first few days home (PSA here – Post Partum Anxiety is a real thing!) so we got a Dockatot and are eternally grateful that we did.  All I'm going to say is, just get one.  Spend the $165, you cannot put a price on a good night of sleep.  If you have more specific questions about them feel free to contact me.

The HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper - Premiere Series Bassinet is what she sleeps in now, I love this bassinet, it swivels 360°, it's side lowers so it's easy to get her in and out (would be ideal after a csection), it has a light, sounds, it vibrates, the base goes up and down and it is seriously extremely durable and heavy so we don't have to worry about it falling over.  We transitioned her into this around 8 weeks with the dockatot inside of it (this is not recommended by the manufacturer of either of these products) and then at 12 weeks took the DAT out and she's been sleeping in just the Halo ever since.  Now that she is just about rolling over, our next move is into the pack n play.  We prefer her in our room still, especially since she still wakes to eat about once a night, it's just easier on me.

Love to Dream swaddles were also one of our go-to items and every now and then she still uses this if she's thrashing around too much and waking herself, I'll stick her back in this.  It lets her hands be up by her face which is what she prefers.  These come in cute colors, they're thin, and they're nice and stretchy.  We loved these. 

Play Gear
The Fisher Price Sit Me Up floor seat has been one of our favorites, and although it doesn't have much to play with, it has helped her with her head control, it gives me peace of mind that I can step away for a second because she is contained.  Plus she just looks so darn cute in it.

Our Skip Hop Activity Gym is still one of my favorite items we got.  Georgia is finally starting to interact with it a lot more now that she is more aware of how her hands work.  Plus it's one of the cutest styles of activity gyms I've seen out there.

The Bright Starts Sweet Safari Bounce Around Activity Center is also one of top favorites, Georgia is really starting to love this too and is actually exploring all of the little characters.  This has a springboard bottom so she can bounce on it, and the seat turns 360° so she can spin around and reach all of the toys.

Travel Gear
This is an area where I was really torn and overwhelmed.  I really didn’t know what brands were best & I was torn between the pricier brands like Nuna to the more affordable brands like Evenflo.  What I ultimately decided on was Baby Jogger, a nice happy medium as far as price was concerned.  I ended up getting the Baby Jogger City Mini on Amazon on a day that it was on sale like 50% off, I love the stroller so much, it's SO easy to use, the only downside is the bottom basket does not fit my diaper bag, but we use the Fawn Design backpack so it's not a big deal to just wear that.

On top of that we got the Baby Jogger City go Infant Car Seat which we also love.  The best part about this car seat is you do not need the base.  I use a base in my car & my mom has one too, but this seat has what is called the TaxiSafe belt path which safely secures the seat using the seat belt.  We've used this in Joe's truck and I will tell you, it sometimes feels sturdier than it does when it's in the car seat base using the LATCH system.  If I could recommend one travel product, this would be it. 

One of our other most-used travel products is our Lillebaby Complete soft structured carrier.  Joe and I both LOVE this carrier as it is so easy to put on and has an awesome lumbar support.  The Complete is the 6-position, 360° ergonomic carrier which is good up to 45 POUNDS! Bonus, it's 30% off on Amazon right now!

Miscellaneous Stuff we Love
Rock N Play Auto Rocker was a life saver in the early days!  Georgia loved this, I could put her down in it and she'd be out like a light!  It plays music and rocks on it's own!  Bonus, it's on sale, 40% off right now!  #winning

For bibs/bibdanans, Copper Pearl is hands-down my favorite.  They're so soft and they do not soak through like some other brands.  Plus she has everything from basics like all black or all grey,  to my favorite pack, the Tropical set which includes mermaids and sea shells! 

Our favorite pacifiers have been these Tomee Tipee Orthodic Pacifiers.

Our favorite diaper rash cream is Aquaphor Baby, it was the ONLY thing that worked those first few weeks of her life when her butt was full of red sores from all the pooping she did. 

Our favorite bottles are ComoTomo, we haven't tried many others but these seem to work best for her.  We also like Twist Shake Baby, even though we do not use formula, we still love these bottles & the colors they come in are the best!

We also love the Boppy Lounger and for the price you really can't beat it.  We set ours on the couch still while she's not mobile yet and she can relax on it and she naps on it (only supervised) when we are hanging in the living room.

My favorite diaper bag is the Fawn Design book bag, I get TONS of compliments on it, its soft, the zippers are amazing, and Joe isn't afraid to carry it.  I use the Tote Savvy Mini inside to keep it organized.

Even though I did this entire post on bows, I will tell you again, Little Poppy Co is one of our favorites, their bows fit well, they're made well, and they give you some really great variety.  For $15 a month I think it's a good deal & an easy way to build your collection.  I also love Lilly Belle Market, & Raising Little Ridley's.

The Boon Silicone Feeder 

The Boon Grass Drying Rack

The Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair - bonus it's 15% off!

Nursing Gear
Although this isn't really "baby" gear so to speak, I do have a couple things I can mention.  I did an entire post here, but probably my TOP must-have are these Lilly Padz silicone nursing pads that I wear at night.  I HIGHLY recommend these, and I recommend getting the kit that comes with the wash & wipes.  I wear mine every day, I've had to replace them once, but for $20 I feel like they're a great investment & help keep me from soaking my shirt and sheets at night.  Plus, in the early days when your nips are painfully sensitive you can wear them in the shower to help ease some of the discomfort from the shower. 

Target Up&Up bags are the storage bags I like, I still get asked about these regularly and they just changed them recently, now they're more like the Lansinoh bags, a little thinner plastic, but I still like them

Plus this nursing bra and these nursing brasby Kindred Bravely are by far, the softest one I've been able to find, plus you cannot beat the price!

My favorite hands-free pumping bra is this Bravado Click & Pump that attaches not only to my Bravado bra but also to the Kindred Bravely ones I mentioned before!  20% off right now!  

What have I missed?  What else do you guys want to know?  We are only a little over 5 months into this whole parenthood things so I know we still have so many products we will "need" and get to try, I will try to keep this list going for you guys as best as I can!

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