Ellie-20 months~ Mama- 38 weeks pregnant

Ellie- She just recently had her 18 month checkup and shots- because mama had a major case of pregnancy brain and forgot to bring her to her appointment last month. She had moved up into 84th percentile for weight and 62nd percentile for height! She’s come a long way from the baby who couldn’t gain weight using a nipple shield and kept falling way behind on the growth charts! So physically, she is getting bigger and stronger every day but she is still very clumsy right now!

Developmentally, she just blows me away. She started using 2-4 word sentences at about 17 months and her vocabulary is incredible at this point. She will repeat absolutely any words we say and is understanding concepts so clearly. She remembers processes so well. The other day she heard the shower turn off and said “Oh, daddy all done, towel!” And ran to bring him one. She also woke up in the morning and went to go get him to remind him he needs to turn the sprinklers on!

She’s also been getting a real sense of imagination, and loving to play dress up and match! Her favorite show is Spongebob, and her favorite movie is Frozen. She still sleeps with her purple owl “lovey” or as she pronounces it, “muffy.” Her favorite toy is Play-Doh! She’s still been sleeping 10 hours a night with a two hour nap during the day.

Mama- Oh, my, goodness. Am I ready to be done with this pregnancy! I’ve been struggling a lot with the ending stages. I’m worried every day now that this baby is growing too big, since Ellie was almost 10 pounds. The anxiety over this is really weighing on me during these last weeks. Coupled with the fact that her movements have slowed down, I’m nervous all the time. Im reminding myself that she moves less because she’s run out of space now, but then I go back to worrying about having another 10 pounder. 😂

Every person I see comments on how huge I am! I understand too, because the bump is OUT there! I keep under estimating where my bump sticks out to and brushing into door frames or tables or counters, and blistering the very thin skin on my belly.

Physically, it is very hard to lift Ellie as she’s just over 25 pounds and the weight limit for lifting while pregnant. Bedtime routine is when I really feel the full extend of this last month of pregnancy. Bathing her has become nearly impossible with the squatting, scrubbing, and even reaching the drain plug! Then I take her to her darkened room for lotion and pjs and getting myself up off the floor after and lowering her into her crib just take everything out of me! Nothing else will be easier once I have baby number two, but at least I won’t have these giant belly struggles anymore!

I go back and forth between the overwhelming desire to be done with this pregnancy and meet my second sweet girl already- and wanting to soak in every last moment of this special time with Ellie before life gets crazier.

Overall, I’m dwelling on the fact that this season of life I’m in is just truly wonderful and exciting. I’m Reminding myself to enjoy the adorable age Ellie is at and savor my one on one time with her. While looking forward to having another one of the most exciting moments of my life to meet my second baby! These two beautiful girls give me so much purpose and happiness. ❤️

Baby Breathing Monitors|Review

If you ask almost any new mom to be what their biggest fear entering motherhood is, it’s usually SIDS. As a first time mom, I had no idea what this even was, which scared me more. I feared every single time I tried to sleep.

Mamas, sleeping well whenever you get the chance to during the newborn phase is SO important. If you’re like me, and you’re worried about your tiny little babe’s breathing every time you go to sleep, luckily there are now devices we can use.

I am so passionate about this, like a lot of mamas that have bought one. That is because of just the one night at a couple weeks old where Ellie’s breathing alarm went off, and I saw her face pushed up against side of her bassinet. We had a little bassinet that went in between my husband and I in bed, and we didn’t realize that my husband’s side slightly dipped down causing her to roll and have her side pressed against the side of it. Needless to say we moved it out of our bed after that night! I can’t say for sure whether the monitor saved her life that night but I can tell you that $80 was beyond worth it to me.

So as a first time mom, I did plenty of research when considering which breathing monitor to get, and there was a wide array!

The first I considered was the Owlet monitor. This is a smart sock that not only monitors breathing, but oxygen levels. This information is then sent to your phone. This sounded absolutely incredible to me, however the price was just too steep for us when considering the long list of other baby products we still needed to buy. I also read a lot of reviews saying the sock either fell off easily, or gave their baby a slight rash. We ended up with a squirmy babe with sensitive skin so I’m happy we didn’t go with this one. However if you have a baby with breathing issues or a preemie, I’m sure this one would be worth the extra money and peace of mind.

The next product I looked into was the Angelcare movement monitor. This one monitors the movement of baby with a sensing pad that goes underneath them. This one is closer in price to the one I got so I heavily considered it. However, many moms said after about three months old their babe started rolling off the pad and they started getting a lot of false alarms. I also read it was quite hard to install and I am NOT tech savvy.

I could not be happier with the one I got.

Snuza go!

There are different types of Snuzas. The Snuza Hero has a feature that gently vibrates to try and stir the baby if no movement is detected for a certain amount of seconds. I felt this feature was unnecessary to me, I just wanted to be alerted if breathing movement stopped so I could try to rouse or just check on my baby. The Snuza Go! Is the less expensive version which was also very helpful to me and my budget!

The Snuza is a small clip that goes on the edge of their diaper, and the sensor feels their breathing from their stomach moving up and down. First of all, Ellie never noticed it was there and it never left a mark on her or anything. Secondly, I never had to change the battery! I used it EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. from birth until about 9 months. At 9 months I started getting false alarms as she became really active, rolling and wiggling and also able to take it off on her own. By then, I was naturally ready to stop using it and so was she. Third, and most importantly, it gave this super anxious mama peace of mind. I got so many more hours of sleep thanks to the Snuza. When she had bronchiolitis at 4 months old and I was terrified to sleep every night for weeks, knowing I had the Snuza on was the only thing that made me allow myself to get the sleep I needed.

*Please note, no breathing monitoring devices can prevent SIDS.

Cosleeping and Codependence: When does it become a problem?

I can honestly say that when it came to the thought of sleep training my sweet little girl, theres pretty much nothing on earth I would rather do less. 

From the first night she was born I have only allowed myself to close my eyes for the night after watching her chest moving up and down right next to me and listening to her steady inhales and exhales. Thus the comfort of cosleeping begins to go both ways. Not only does your baby grow dependent on you being that near, but you become dependent on them. 

Just the thought of sending her to her own crib in her own room was enough to send me spiraling. She’s not big enough for that yet! She’s my little baby girl! Not to mention, I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent nursing her to sleep every night. I know this is a bad habit when it comes to sleep but it never seemed to be a problem before. She went through stages where she actually slept extremely well in her early months. But gradually, things started to change. At first I chalked up the night wakings for feedings to a growth spurt, until it was a couple months later and it was still happening. Things had gotten so bad two weeks ago that I finally decided it was too much. I could barely function anymore. I had no idea what to do. Until I had the craziest thought, “What if co-sleeping is not better for her anymore, but it’s holding her back from getting the full night of sleep she needs?”

Well folks, it turns out I was the problem. I had not given her the environment or tools she needed to learn how to sleep better. •My next article is an in depth look at our sleep-training experience.• 

Neither of us were happy and I dreaded going to sleep every night. 

The problem with cosleeping is not just the codependence.  If you can check off any of the items on this list- then cosleeping has officially reached its problematic stage in your life and needs to be addressed. 

  1. Your baby is not getting the amount of sleep they need. Repeated night wakings from the noises or movements you make could be unnecessarily waking baby all night. 
  2. YOU aren’t getting the sleep you need. You can’t function correctly during the day because you’re missing the proper amount of sleep night after night.
  3. You worry about the safety of cosleeping. You spend night after night curled in an uncomfortable position while barely ever getting into a deep sleep so that you can be aware of whether the baby is moving in the bed. You have to field the pillows and blankets away from them!
  4. Nighttime feedings have become habit and not necessity. In the beginning, many moms cosleep for the convenience factor of the night feedings. But if your babe has outgrown the actual need for these feedings (most people say by 6 months old) they may only be eating because they wake up and see you. The only way to avoid this is to end the cosleeping.
  5. You begin to feel in any way unhappy with cosleeping. No one wants an unhappy, resentful mama around. If you are getting frustrated and miserable with the situation, don’t hesitate- things need to change.

    -Have you decided you need to make a change? My next article will chronicle the experience we had with sleep-training my codependent/breastfed/co-sleeper. 

      Your Babies’ Safe Space

      I’m laying in my familiar, comfy bed. My body feels weightless atop comforters, blankets, and pillows. My favorite music plays gently in the background. The cool breeze from the fan next to me hits my face while I listen to it’s monotonous hum. 

      A safe space.

      Visualization is the act of imagining yourself in a peaceful and safe environment. It means taking your mind to a place that makes you relaxed and happy. Anxiety takes these feelings from you, and visualization can be helpful in bringing them back. It has always been one of my go to coping mechanisms to visualize my most relaxed state.

      Since becoming a mother, I’ve seen a beauty I never knew before. I’ve become a human safe space. To her the most peaceful and safe environment is not a place, but a person. And that person is me. I am that place I always search for in my mind when anxiety tears at me. There aren’t enough words to describe the contentment that results from supplying the feeling of safety to my little girl. 

      I won’t be able to protect her from everything in this life. But for now, I’ll hold her to my chest a little longer, wipe away the tears, protect her from getting hurt, and make her smile every day. Because in her mind right now, I can solve any problem the world has to offer her. Through her eyes I am everything she needs, which makes me strive to be that every day. 


      Seasons Of Life With Your Baby

      I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. More specifically, the way us moms struggle with both wanting the hard times in our life with a newborn to pass, and feeling emotional as soon as that time is over. I define a season of time with your baby as a memorable period of time that is marked in your memory with a few key struggles or milestones. It starts off with the pregnancy season, and man is that a long one. For me, my key seasons from there break down to: pregnancy, birth-6 weeks, 6 weeks-3 months, 3-6 months, and 6-8 months. My baby girl is only 8 months, and I am so glad to have so many seasons of life with her ahead of me. But I want to talk today about the ones already gone by.

      I’ve realized that the comforting advice most people have given me on my constant struggles with my very difficult little girl is, “This too shall pass.” And maybe once or twice I did find comfort in that. Until I realized that wishing this season away will only bring on a new one with new challenges, ones that I again have no idea how to conquer. Because that’s what motherhood is. Thinking we can’t possibly conquer what’s in front of us each day, and somehow with the love of our babies we make it through.

      As I lay here in between breastfeedings feeling the pain of mastitis in my body with my little babe sleeping on my chest, I know that there will be a day when I’ll look back on this time with nostalgia. Breastfeeding has somehow turned out to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but the reason I keep doing it is the same reason I know I will long for it when it’s over- the unbreakable bond between me and my baby girl. As I feel the end of our breastfeeding journey getting closer everyday, I’ve realized how much importance moms need to place on being happy and present in whichever season we’re currently in.
      I hear you, mom who can’t remember her last full night of sleep, won’t it be nice when your baby doesn’t need you as much anymore? Will you find yourself watching your growing child wishing they’d curl up in your arms late in the night to be comforted back to sleep? I’m writing this because with all my challenges so far, I’ve been that mom. That mom who’s just waiting for this season to be over. But I cannot waste anymore of my precious time with my baby having that attitude.

      I’m going to use this space below to journal about each season I’ve had with Ellie. So many moms I’ve talked to, including my own, just can’t remember all the little things that happened to them and their babies at the beginning. So I encourage you, whatever stage you are at in life take time today to think about the parts of it you will miss when they are gone. Do not dwell on the challenges your child is giving you in this season but rather, embrace them. Take some time out of your day today to appreciate your child for everyhing that they are right now. And if you’ve found your seasons passing too quickly, find the time to journal about yours too. That way even when a season has passed, you will always have memory of it. Here are my seasons so far.

       

      Pregnancy



      My pregnancy was not planned, but not unwelcome. I took the pregnancy test like I had a couple other times since getting married, knowing it would come out negative, but-UM IS THAT POSITIVE? I was almost numb to it initially, not knowing exactly what this change would mean for me and my husband or what to expect from it in anyway. But once my mind had been wrapped around it I was in full-on mom mode. They say a woman becomes a mother when they find out they are pregnant, and a man becomes a father once the baby is born. For us that saying was 100% true. Looking back I can tell I was a bit overboard as a pregnant woman (foreshadowing of what kind of mother I’d become.) I didn’t eat, or do, anything that any person had ever said may possibly affect my unborn baby negatively in any way, shape, or form. Recently, my husband laughed as I ran across the room picked up and threw our dog in the back yard, screaming at her for nipping at the baby. “Don’t mess with mama bear.” He said.

      Well that statement has really been true of me since the beginning of my pregnancy. This overprotective quality can be great in most moms, but as a woman with anxiety I struggled through every minute of every day of my pregnancy. I told myself that she was too good to be true, I almost never was able to visualize actually getting to hold her in my arms. I spent my maternity leave days crying in her rocking chair, begging her to kick me and tell me she was okay in there. My anxiety while pregnant nearly crippled me, mostly because of impossibly hard personal life situations. I honestly thought I would lose her every single day.

      Although my paranoia was extreme it really did prepare for what was to come, constant worry over another human being. I’ve worried for her since long before she was born, and now that I know her I know it will never stop for me. And I am perfectly happy with that.

      My pregnancy continued to make me think I would never get to hold her as it dragged on and on. Until I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant when Elliana Reign was finally born at almost 10 pounds. (That last 8 days felt longer than the entire rest of the pregnancy!)

      My only happiness in the pregnancy season was my ultrasounds and checkups. Facing my constant worry and fears and drowning them out in the sweet melodic sound of her strong little heart beating and the sight of her squishy little face and pouty lips in the 3D images.

       

      Birth- 6 weeks



      This season was marked by trying to breastfeed, trying to taking care of her while I recovered my pummeled body, and long, long baby naps. Aside from my own pain and recovery, this was really an easy time with her. Thinking back on how much my newborn slept really makes me miss that time! She woke at night every 2 hours to breastfeed and stayed the same during the day. My only real problem at this time was that the nurses in the hospital gave me a nipple shield to use. I spend the second night in the hospital sobbing crying because Ellie wouldn’t eat. I hadnt slept for 2 full days at this point and then there it was. The nipple shield. This would prove to challenge me for months to come, but we’ll get to that later. Ellie also had jaundice, which can be common. But I had no knowledge of this at all. So as a first time mom this seriously worried me! The adjustment period to sleepless nights wasn’t hard for me because I barely slept as the giant pregnant watermelon person I was. Lots of friends and family organized bringing us meals and I had so much help. This season was one of huge adjustment, and a whole lot of happy!

       

      6 weeks-3 months


      6 weeks. That’s all it took for my baby to learn to start sleeping through the night! This baby thing was going to be a breeze ,wasn’t it?! Well, just when you think you’ve got them figured out, your baby goes ahead and switches it up on you. But for this time, she was an angel. Sleeping in her rock and play every night from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. This time period was marked by adorable milestones like cooing noises, trying to hold her head up, trying to sit up, and her first laugh. This is the time we really started seeing her little personality and it was such an incredible blessing. She was gaining weight on track and exclusively breastfeeding. Another golden season, but the one to follow would not be the same story.


      3-6 months


      Ah, where to begin with this season… My little angel baby got sick at 3 months old it eventually turned into bronchiolitis, which kept me up checking her breathing patterns all night every night. Every night for 3 months I gave her her bath, her eczema cream, her nose drops, used the nose Frieda, put on some baby Vapor rub, cleaned out and ran the humidifier and started the diffuser with essential oils to help her breathe. I ran myself ragged taking care of my sick baby, maybe that was why I got so sick too. After months I was given antibiotics and started to improve. If only it could be that easy for babies.

      Around 4 months we slowly started introducing solid foods. She loved it and thought everything besides peas was absolutely delicious.

      One night we sat at my parents house, having dinner and letting them help us with the baby. We had given Ellie Zarbee’s cold medicine a few hours before. Suddenly, Ellie projectile vomited her last meal all over my mom. Which wasn’t too unusual, she has done this quite a few times. But this time, it didn’t stop every couple minutes she would start up again getting sick everywhere until she had nothing left. She continued gagging and coughing even when her stomach was completely empty. This is when we called the nurse hotline and they advised us to take her to the children’s hospital to ensure she doesn’t get dehydrated. After a few very scary hours, we did a breastfeeding trial, she kept it down, and we went home. I thought to myself, it had to be the cold medicine, right? Until the next time it happened. Ellie has now had these violetly sick reactions 4 times. Each time I am just as worried as the last time. I spent these 3 months listening to my baby cry,  cough, throw up, and breathe raspy breaths. So you can be sure that when the doctors told Ellie started dropping rapidly on the weight chart that I was more than a little overwhelmed.

      I breastfed my baby every two hours for up to 40 minutes each time. I was going crazy spending all of my life stuck on the couch with my nipple shield and boppy. I could supplement her with formula or pumped breastmilk, if only she wouldn’t vehemently refuse every brand, shape, and size of bottles. And I was so nervous to give her solid foods, not knowing what was causing her reactions. I worried over her day and night. I cried myself to sleep watching her, knowing that despite all my efforts I was failing her. This time I lost almost all of my joy as a mother and felt the season I was in would never end. But that’s what seasons do, they end.

       
      6-8 months 

      I had come to a decision. I couldn’t keep trying my futile methods of nipple shield weaning or offering bottles just to have them refused. My babies weight gain had come to a halt and I had to try something else. So I made the choice to revise Ellie’s lip tie. The doctor let me know I could choose whether to have the procedure done on her lip, her tongue, or both. I’m so happy that I was able to discern as a mother that she needed her upper lip revised more than anything, because she couldn’t flare out her upper lip at all.

      We waited for her bronchiolitis to clear before having the procedure, which was probably more terrifying for me than for her! A couple weeks after, her lip was healing up nicely. Suddenly, she decided she didn’t need the nipple shield anymore. It was a game changer for us both. She started eating 5 minutes every two hours instead of 40, and she will now even take the occasional bottle. I’m taking her to allergists and gastroenterologists to determine what her allergies may be. And she is thriving on her weight gain which is all I hoped for on those 3-6 months old nights. We had the blessing of taking her to Disneyland with my entire family.


      Seeing her grow and exude happiness in this season has made me appreciate how far she’s come. How far we’ve both come. I’m so thankful we have so much time ahead of us right now. She just started crawling, and I am embracing all the change that brings. I love the season of life she is in right now. And I’ll be just as happy when the next one arrives.

      The Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide To Productivity

      We’ve all had those days as moms. You know the days. The ones where you worked your butt off nonstop ALL. DAY. Yet somehow, the house is still a disaster, and nothing seems to have gotten done.

      When you have your first child every piece of you, and your life, shifts. You have this incredibly precious life to care for and cater to every second of the day. But when it’s been a couple months and the smoke clears, you may begin to realize how little attention you’ve been giving to everything else in your life.

      Of course the stigma that being a stay-at-home mom is easy still exists. But we know better! Stay-at-home moms never get to leave work. For this reason we can easily begin to feel lost, floating through each day with no clear goals or accomplishments to be reached. This in itself can be a big contributor to postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

      So what can we do? Here is the one change I have made in my life that had made the world of difference in my attitude and general outlook on life as a SAHM.


      Make Daily Lists

       



      It is so simple but can make all the difference in the world. Well why has this one thing changed my life so much?

      • Having a visual representation of the things I would like to do each day gives me a clear path and direction for my day. It helps me to feel more clear-headed with less anxiety.
      • Having a list to refer to at the end of each day as a list of accomplishments, however small they may be, makes me feel generally more productive.
      • Knowing that I have my goals written down makes me try harder to get every single thing I wanted get accomplished in that day be at least attempted, if not finished.

       

      And always make sure you remember, if your day is not going as planned, it’s okay. If your baby is sick or teething your whole day may be thrown out the window. Our babies always come first, we just have to figure out where the rest of our responsibilities fit into that equation.

      Any new moms out there struggling to find their way in the stay-at-home mom world do not be discouraged. Give this tip a try and I hope that with it you can find happiness in knowing you are an accomplished, productive mommy every single day!

      Motherhood with Anxiety Disorder 

      It’s three a.m. My beautiful baby girl and amazing husband are both sleeping peacefully next to me. What am I still doing up? To be completely honest, tonight I’m letting my anxiety disorder get the best of me. My baby girl has her first illness and that has elevated my anxiety every day to a level I didn’t think was possible! This post won’t be an easy one for me to write, but feels important for me to share.

      I don’t talk often about my anxiety disorder, mainly because it is still not a well-understood disorder. Even my husband, who knows me better than anyone else in the world, still struggles to understand mine. Before I became a mother, my anxiety disorder was kept at bay by lots of natural calming remedies, occasional medication, and alone/quiet time to collect myself. But now, 5 months postpartum, I’ve realized my only tactic for keeping it at bay has been transferring it onto my baby.

      Here are a few ways you may notice yourself projecting anxiety after becoming a mom:

       

      • Baby scheduling is running your life. Every moment of your day is spent mentally anticipating the upcoming needs of the baby as well as the present needs. (Example- anxiety that baby will stay awake too long and get overtired and mess up his/her sleeping schedule.)
      • Worry over SIDS/accidents/illnesses. This sent me spiraling with anxiety as a new mom!
      • You’re not letting yourself leave the house. You may find it extremely overwhelming at first to leave the house. Even a new mom without anxiety will find this hard. But your anxiety can stop you from leaving the house altogether. (Example-anxiety over not knowing whether the baby will fall asleep while you’re out, leave them in the car seat or put them in a carrier, difficulty nursing in public, or diaper blowouts and where to change them.)
      • And finally, cry anxiety. Whether it’s being out at dinner and worrying that he/she will begin to cry, or getting tense and anxious during an actual crying fit- this one is a real challenge. Sometimes your newborn may cry and you won’t be able to do a thing about it, no matter how hard you try. Well, anxiety disorder does not take fondly to that situation!

      If you are a new/expecting mom who suffers from anxiety disorder, let this be your warning. Motherhood will break you, and it will be beautiful. It will always be worth it to put your baby first in your life. You will learn very quickly as a new mother that the beautiful baby you created will take every energy and effort you have in you to care for. You won’t regret a second of it, and you will most likely put their every single need before any need of your own. But, no matter what you do, do not put your anxiety disorder on the back burner. It WILL come back around for you. You still need to take care of you.

      Always remember, your baby needs YOU. Not an anxiety-ridden, sleep deprived, shell-of-a-person mom. Your baby deserves to have you at the top of your game. And that means taking care of yourself! You need to practice the self-care and self-love that will enable you to be the best mommy you can be to your little one.

      My personal anxiety in regards to motherhood manifest itself through anxiety dreams/restless nights worrying, micromanaging my husband’s every move with her, being a huge germ-a-phobe, and not enjoying some precious moments with my newborn the way I should have. I’ve found that as I became a mother, I often unnecessarily worsened my own anxiety for myself. I burdened myself with being a perfect mom in every way. By burying myself in endless baby tasks and never giving myself a break. So if you’re battling some of the same things and need some tips to keep yourself together here’s what I have learned so far.

      • Try not to spread yourself too thin. Maybe you fully went into your day expecting to get the dishes done, laundry done, baby’s room cleaned, and the grocery shopping done. But try to remember that some days it will be all you can do to care for yourself and your baby and accept that that is OKAY.
      • Give yourself a minute. When you feel the anxiety setting in, try and take a step back. If possible, let someone else care for the baby for even just 5 minutes while you go lay down, listen to music, or do some lavender aromatherapy. If you are alone with baby make sure their basic needs are cared for (fed,changed) and then try to rest. Lay down with the baby safely next to you, go cuddle them and slowly rock in the rocking chair, or take them for a slow walk in a carrier or stroller so you can take deep breaths and calm yourself.
      • Find a way to have some alone time every day. For me, the only way that’s possible is to stay up a half an hour after my family is asleep, or to wake up half an hour before them. I know what you’re thinking, “not my precious sleep!!!” But this time has been really beneficial for me. It gives me the much needed quiet time where no body needs anything from me. THAT is a beautiful thing as a new mother!

      New mom anxiety will be different from the anxiety disorder you experienced before your little one came into the world. Your anxiety will no longer be about yourself. It’s a strange thing to transfer your anxiety from yourself to another person. In a lot of ways it may be worse than before. Anxiety makes me think that every tiny thing to every happen to my baby will have long-term negative affects on her. If you find yourself in my shoes remember to tell yourself this: my baby is going to be okay,  I’m not going to project my anxiety onto him/her.

      Now, I’m going to try to set my anxieties aside for the night and get myself the rest I need. I hope that these tips can help you if you too have an anxiety disorder. Always remember, it’s going to be okay mama!