Monday, May 30, 2011

5 Weeks Old

Hey everyone, Avery and I had an interesting week this week.  Things were a bit up and down this week as I continue to "learn the ropes" of being a mom. By no means were things bad this, there were just times when Avery really threw me for a loop!  For example, most days she falls asleep for a nap around 11 AM or so, and sleeps for 2-3 hours...this is when I get my workout, shower, and makeup like I mentioned in this post (aka the things that keep me sane!).  But two days last week, when it was time for her nap, she had a hard time falling asleep and when she eventually did she only sleep for about 15 minutes or so.  On top of this it seemed like her sleep at night was changing too, as I was getting up even more with her and she wasn't sleeping peacefully like she did in those first few weeks.  I suppose this is why raising children is hard, among other things, because you think you have it all figured out, (like "I do this and it makes her happy," or "I put her here and she sleeps longer,").  But then you wake up one day and everything is different,  ("That does not make her happy," and, "That will not help her sleep longer.").   Perhaps she was going through a growth spurt last week, or maybe it's just the fact that she's only 5 weeks old! Either way, she's teaching me how to just go with the flow and accept the fact that everyday isn't going to be exactly the same.  What can I say, we're both growing in this journey together. Here's some things I have learned from this week:

I'm teaching mom all kinds of things!

1- Miracle Blankets really are miracles! I mentioned in this post that we'd been swaddling Avery for her naps and when she sleeps at night, but lately she kept breaking out of the swaddle wraps like a little Houdini...which woke her up and then woke me up!  Thankfully, my "green" friend Kelly offered to give me the Miracle Blankets she used with her daughters when they were younger, and after the first time using them, I was hooked (thank you Kelly!).  You can read more about the difference of these blankets here from other swaddle wraps here, but basically they have special flaps that pin the baby's arms down (sounds harsh, but it really is comforting to the baby!).  Anyways since switching to these wraps, Avery's naps are much more consistent (she's not waking herself up as frequently because she's broken out of the swaddle) and she's sleeping longer at night (she slept 7.5 hours last night! Talk about body and I weren't quite ready for this! I'm sure it was just a fluke, but still it's better than being up 3-4 times a night).  So, in short...if you swaddle, go with the Miracle Blanket!

2- The second thing I learned is that some babies are loud sleepers! Anyone out there have a baby that makes all kinds of sounds when they sleep? Well, I do! Sometimes she grunts, clears her throat, sighs, and even gasps just to name a few! Granted she isn't always noisy in her sleep, but during certain stages I have learned that she makes quite a bit of noise!  At first, I thought there was something wrong, she was hungry, or she was fussing...but when I checked her, her eyes were closed and she was asleep!  After some Googling, I found that it is somewhat of a normal thing and that some babies (as adults) are just loud sleepers! The past few nights I've been trying to ignore her sleep sounds and not bother her (usually I'd pick her up and assume she needed to eat or something) and instead just let her a result she's been sleeping longer and happier!  Obviously if I thought something was wrong I would check her, but most of the noises she makes are her "sleepy noises" as she drifts from one stage of sleep to the next.  Guess she just likes to make some noise during her sleep? Can anyone else relate?

So that's what I've been learning about my baby girl this's what else we've been up to:

She really seems to be interacting more with us, which has been a lot of fun.  As you can see we've been getting lots of smiles too!

"I sure love my Daddy!"
We're still working on Tummy Time and this week she's really started lifting her head up even higher and she keeps it there for longer.  She also loves to lift herself up on my chest when I'm holding her, like she's doing little baby push ups!

"I'm getting stronger guys!"

Diaper changes have been forever changed at our house because Avery has a new friend...this panda from the book, That's Not My BearI was reading this book to her one day during tummy time and her eyes lit up when I got to this page.  So when she was fussing during a diaper change one time, I ran and grabbed this book and opened it up to this page...what was the result? One happy Avery!  As you can imagine, I use this Panda page often during diaper changes and as you can see, Avery loves to stare at him and sometimes she even reaches her hands out to the page.  Diaper changes have also been fun this past week because Avery started making babbling/cooing sounds for the first time and that's got us really pumped! Brandon is able to get lots of great sounds out of her and so does Panda, lately she's even been giving me some!  It's kind of crazy when you're used to hearing certain sounds out of your baby and then out of the blue one day they make a totally new sound and you're like, "What did you just say? I've never heard you say that before!"  Granted there's only a few "gaas", "neighs" and "daas" there, but I'm sure it will continue to grow more and more each week!

Meet my new friend...Panda
Well that's about it for week 5.  This coming week our midwife comes for our 6 week check up and we can't wait to find out how much she weighs because this girl sure loves to eat.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Month Old

Happy Birthday!
Hey everyone, we've had a pretty good week around here as we celebrated Avery's one month birthday! Seeing as I love to document everything in pictures (like my bi-weekly pregnancy belly shots), it was no question that I'd be be taking monthly pictures of Avery!  Back when I was pregnant, I found these adorable monthly stickers on Etsy (which I wrote more about in this post), and now that her one month b-day was here I was super excited to use them. 

So, when May 20th came I put the sticker on her onesie, topped the look off with a fun flower headband (also from Etsy), grabbed my camera, and then set her down to snap some pics.  Little did I know that right after I'd sit her up (in the glider/rocker in her room) she'd instantly fall one month babies can not hold their heads up! LOL- I guess you live and learn.  Here's a funny outtake from our photo sesh, sorry baby girl...mommy knows better now!

Come on Mom!

Here are the rest of the pictures from our one month photo session...with the help of the stripe pillow:

Love that profile!

Also this week, we've been having some "tummy time" fun.  I usually try to do it with her once or twice a day and she seems to like it.  Since I started doing it about two weeks ago, she seems to have already gotten stronger as she is able to hold her head up for just a couple of seconds as opposed to nearly not at all in the beginning.  Usually I'll lay right down on the floor with her and talk to her to motivate her to lift her head up, or I'll use a fun little toy or stuffed animal.  As you can see from the second picture, she sure likes to use her feet and legs to get some momentum! Those little toes sure were working hard to help her try and move.  By the way, that amazing quilt you see in these pictures was created by my aunt and grandmother; it's fun, unique and incorporates all the colors of Avery's room.  I love it and I think Avery does too as she often will stare down at the various patterns, colors, and shapes.  Thank you Grandma Sue and Carol, you guys rock!
Working hard at tummy time...
Trying to use those legs to help!

 To reflect a bit more on the week I'd have to say I made a funny realization about parenting that I'd like to call my "You know you're a parent when..." group of moments (kind of like Jeff Foxworthy's "You know you're a redneck...").  Anyways my "You know you're a parent" moment this week came  one afternoon when Avery finally fell asleep for a nap and my first thought was: "Yes! I can go empty the dishwasher now!"  Who would have thought that this not-so-fun task would suddenly be exciting and enjoyable for me? But, when you are constantly holding, carrying, or feeding your baby and you can't get to even the simplest and necessary tasks, you suddenly find joy in getting the time to do them.  I experienced this same enjoyment when doing other traditionally not-so-fun tasks this week like: doing the laundry, cleaning out old leftovers from the refrigerator, and even sweeping.  What can I say, "You know you're a parent get a spare minute and your first thought is to go clean something." Or maybe it's just me and my funny cleaning OCDs-lol!  Anyways, I'm sure I will have many more "You know you're a parent when..." moments as Avery grows up.  Can you moms out there think of any other "You know you're a parent..." moments? Feel free to post them below! ( :

Here's some other fun pictures from the week...

Having fun with "Book Time" while driving to the chiropractor...
thanks for your help Grandma Karen!

She smiles so much while she sleeps.
Add caption

Family Picture at 4 Weeks Old...
she was not in the mood for this picture!

Happy smiles for Daddy!

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Week 3 and My Favorite Tips to Calm a Crying Baby

Hey everyone, week three was a pretty good one around this good ol' green house, as we're starting to get this "parent thing" down. Don't get me wrong, we're still learning each day, but we feel way more confident now than we did 3 weeks ago when she was born! One of the reasons for our increased confidence has come from being better able to calm Avery down when she is crying. Nothing is more frustrating, disheartening, and sad than having a baby that is crying and nothing will get he or she to stop. Granted we've been fortunate that Avery doesn't cry often and it's usually not for very long, just 5-10 minutes at the most.  But over the past three weeks, we've tried out and utilized a few techniques to calm Avery when she cries and it boils down to two resources: understanding her cries from Dunstan Baby Language and applying "The 5 S's"from The Happiest Baby on the Block. Let me tell you a little bit more about both of these theories, how they work, and how we make them work for Avery.

Oh no! Crying Avery...
One of my favorite techniques that we've used since the day Avery was born was learning what baby's cries mean according to the Dunstan Baby Language DVD. In this DVD you learn that there are five types of baby cries that nearly all babies make, no matter where they're born or what language their parents may speak. Even more powerful is that each type of cry is actually the baby attempting to communicate a need to you. Before you spend the money to buy the DVD, you might try checking your local library  (if they carry DVDs) as that is where I found mine and I didn't have to buy it, which is one way to go green.  Now here are the five cries and what they mean:

Here is a short video explaining the Dunstan Baby Language system, and examples are given of the five types of cries and what they mean. 

When first learning these baby cries, I felt a bit overwhelmed that I had to try and remember all five cries, what they mean, and what to do when they are used.  But, when Avery was born, we found that she used one main one..."Neh!" (sounds like a horse's neigh) meaning she was hungry. So what did I do? Feed her, of course! Since then, we've found that whenever she cries, it's pretty much always a hungry "Neh!" cry, and we respond accordingly.  It's kind of funny because one of us will be holding her and then she'll start fussing and we'll be like: "Wait for it...wait for it comes..." and then Avery will belt out a: "Neh!" "Okay," we'll say, "Time to feed this girl, hand her to mama!"  Needless to say, we are very grateful to have learned how to decode Avery's cries (most of the time), and if anything we are at least able to know when she is hungry, probably the most important need I want to make sure I am helping her get met.  Yet, this hasn't quite solved all of the cries.  Sometimes I will have just fed her and she's still fussy and not really doing any of the cries mentioned in the Dunstan cries, this is when I call upon our second resource: "The 5 S's" from Harvey Karp's book and DVD, The Happiest Baby on the Block.

Now back when I was pregnant, I came across the The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD, and it really stuck with me.  I showed it to Brandon as well and he immediately began calling Harvey Karp "The Baby Whisperer!" LOL.  Basically Karp has several beliefs about newborn care, the first is that the first three months of a baby's life are essentially the "fourth trimester" and they should continue to be cared for as though they are still a fetus. The next is that babies have a "calming reflex" and if you can turn this reflex on, it will make them more calm and happy...or in other words- less screaming and crying at 3 AM!  The last concept is that there are "5 S's" or 5 techniques that can be utilized to help you achieve this calming reflex and they are:

1- Swaddle, or tightly wrapping the baby, which re-creates the tightness they experienced when they were in the uterus
2- Side or Stomach Position- holding the baby in the stated ways...on their side or stomach
3- Shh!- Who knew that when babies were in the womb that the noise level was about that of a vacuum cleaner? To recreate this you can make "shushing" sounds or call upon some white noise to soothe your baby.  Karp says to "shush" as loud as the baby is crying.  I've called upon this many times during diaper change when Avery is struggling to calm down (as you can see in the very first picture of this post), and even though she's not swaddled it helps calm her down a bit.
4- Swing- Just as babies had constant noise in the womb, they also had constant movement, so attempting to recreate this can result in a happy baby.  Gentle bouncing or patting her back, usually is enough to calm Avery down.
5- Suck- Karp suggests offering babies a pacifier, or a knuckle/thumb to suck on to complete the 5 S's.  One form of sucking I often utilize is to offer her the breast (which she can obviously suck) and this usually makes her pretty happy, as well as satisfies her hunger at the same time.

Here is a short video of Harvey Karp demonstrating some of his theories and "The 5 S's".

Now, on about day two or so after Avery was born, she had a crying fit and we couldn't figure out how to calm her down, so I remembered these "5's" and I ran and got one of the swaddles I so happily registered for and we tried it on her...unfortunately it did not work! She kicked and screamed even harder! "She just wants her hands and arms free," we thought.  I tried a few of the other 5 S's, without the swaddle, and they didn't work either.  At that point, I tossed this idea out the window and said "Forget the Baby Whisperer...this stuff doesn't work!" 

Well, during this past week or so Avery started to get a little bit more fussy at times, even after a good, long feed and diaper change (usually the equation for one happy baby!).  So I remembered this DVD, and I decided to give it one last try.  I then bumped it up to the top of my Netflix Queue and when it arrived I watched it and had some big "Aha!" moments.

Now that I had an actual newborn at home in my arms, the concepts stared to make a lot more sense! On top of this I brushed up on the techniques and learned some important things like...even though babies may fuss and cry initially when wrapping them in the swaddle, they will most often calm down once a few more of the "5 S's" are utilized.  On top of this, the other "5 S's" will not work if the baby is not swaddled.  Later that day, when Avery started to get a bit fussy after a diaper change, I broke out the swaddle, wrapped her up, turned her on her side, and started "shushing" in her ear as I walked around the house...BAM...instant calm! Are you kidding me? No way!
My little swaddled sleeper!

 Sure enough, I rocked her for a few minutes, put her down in her Fischer Price Rock N' Play Sleeper (we call it "The Rock N' Roller") and she took a four hour nap! Usually her naps were about an hour or this was pretty amazing!  That night we gave it a try and again it worked pretty well as she got up about every 3-4 hours, instead of 1.5-2 hours.  Granted, it's not perfect every time, but it sure is better than before we used the 5 S's.  On top of this I feel like she's a bit more calm and happy when she is awake, almost like: "Thanks for meeting my needs mom, I think I'll take it easy now."

So peaceful and sweet.
So, I know I'm only 3-4 weeks into this mommy job of mine, but these are some of the resources I've found that have helped us to calm Avery's cries and maybe if you're a first time parent, these strategies can help you too (and get you some more sleep and happy time with your baby).

Last, here are few more pics of Avery from this week:

She loves putting her hands up by her face...also, she's mesmerized
by her Daddy! ( :

Next week she will turn "One Month Old" look for some fun pics to come this way.  Also, if you have any other strategies or resources that you have found to help calm a crying baby, please post them below.  (  :

Sunday, May 8, 2011

2 Weeks Old

Would you look at that smile!
Hey everyone, here we are at week 2 with Baby Avery! It was an interesting week this week as Brandon headed back to work and I was on my own with Avery during the day.  We prepared for this transition a little bit in the week before by having Brandon be gone for a few hours at a time the first week so I could get a feel for what it would be like on my own with Avery.

How would I take a shower and still watch her?  What if she got hungry right in the middle of me making dinner? And how can I switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer while holding her?!  Granted I'm still in the "newborn"/"babymoon" phase, so I'm probably crazy for trying to be the one to cook dinner, do laundry, or do anything other than sit and rock her all day.  But it does help me feel more "normal" and like my old self again to feel like I can get something else done other than just changing diapers and nursing all day. 

Any working girls out there, let me tell you it's quite a transition to go from  your 9 to 5 job and busy life to having a baby and staying home on maternity leave.  You're used to going non-stop and doing all kinds of different things (run this errand, file this paper, talk to this colleague, squeeze in a workout), but when your baby comes, your "To-Do List" gets slashed like nobody's business and you have one task: take care of your baby!  Don't get me wrong, taking care of my baby girl is the most exciting, rewarding, and enjoyable experience of my life and I am so grateful to wake up and see her sweet little face every day, it's just that I had no idea how much my life would change once I had her.  

So to keep my sanity, I do throw a few things on my to-do list each day, other than the obvious (taking care of Avery), and here they are:
1-Workout for an hour- When I get my workout in I feel happier, sleep better, and my body doesn't feel so tight and tense.  At this point I'm taking it easy with my workouts and either walking on the treadmill or doing pilates/yoga.  Also, this hour doesn't necessarily have to be one block of time, but just a total of one hour for the day. 
2- Take a shower-a must-have obviously!
3- Put on some make up- I'm not talking anything fancy here, just some eye liner and mascara...all I need to feel normal.

On top of this, I feel like as each day goes by, I learn a little bit more about her and about my new role of being a mom.  For example, one lesson I've learned is that it's usually best to wait and change Avery's diaper after I've fed her.  Not only because she will be happy with her full tummy, but also she'll probably probably pee or have a BM during the feed so no need to change it once in the beginning and then again afterwards.  A second lesson I've learned is how to be okay with not finishing a task.  I love to do things from start to finish and then cross them off my list, whether it be writing blog posts, sweeping the floor, or putting up a load of laundry.  Now that Avery is here, there are many times that I will be right in the middle of something and she'll start crying to be fed, changed, or just held an so I'll have to stop what I'm doing to take care of her...thus leaving a half-finished project or task.  Now this would have driven the "old Ashley" crazy, but "new Mommy Ashley" has learned to say, "Life goes on." Or, "I'll get to it later."  For anyone who knows what a perfectionist I am, you know that I've come along way to be able to say these things.   What can I say, Avery's helping me to change and grow, so thank you girl! ( :

Now onto some fun pics from the week...

Daddy and Avery having fun together.

Taking in some sunshine.

We see the most smiles while she it!
Hanging out with my girl (while Dad
cooked dinner!).
Well, that's all for this week.  I wonder what fun adventures await us in week three? 
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