Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How we survived the newborn months

I read quite a few books while I was pregnant. But nothing really prepares you completely. Your intuition and "gut" actually do take you a long way. I thought that I would never know what to do and that I would need a book to guide me every step. But, it's surprising how quickly you learn your baby and what works for them.

However, there were a few things that I read and revisited after he was born that really were helpful. As well as some things I did while I was pregnant that I'm glad I did.

1. The Happiest Baby on the Block
I read the book, but I think you can get the idea from their DVD (library) or videos on youtube.
Newborns don't really have a lot of self soothing mechanisms. They are used to constant food, holding, and movement. The 5s outlined in the book worked REALLY well for us.

There were times that Tanner wasn't hungry... he just needed to be soothed. Holding him on his side, bouncing him, giving him his pacifier, and shooshing him instantly calmed him down.

2. Baby Wise
The first couple weeks is about survival - just eat, sleep, and rest. You are recovering and you're both learning how to breastfeed. But after about 2 weeks, we started using the babywise principle of "Eat - Wake - Sleep".

The idea is that you are not nursing or rocking your baby to sleep. You feed them, wake them up if they fall asleep and let them "play" (which for a newborn is only like 15 minutes), and then put them down for nap/bed when they are awake but tired.

We also let Tanner fuss if he needed to. "Cry it out" is very controversial. For us, it was very gentle. He would fuss a little for a few minutes, and fall asleep. We would often pick him up, give him his pacifier, and settle him again if needed. I believe because we started this early, we never had to go through the traumatic screaming and crying...

The biggest thing I learned from baby wise was that there are optimal wake times. You want to watch for sleepy cues like fussing, rubbing eyes, and yawning. Then your baby is ready to go down for nap. If you wait too long, baby will become overtired and have an even harder time falling asleep.

Tanner is a really happy, content baby, and I think he is a "good" sleeper. But I do believe that the babywise rhythm has helped him immensely. He slept 6 hour stretches at 6 weeks, and 8 hour stretches at 8 weeks. He was sleeping 12 hours by about 4 months old.

There is a lot to learn in the baby wise book. We took a loose interpretation of it. If Tanner was hungry, I fed him. We don't have a rigid, strict schedule. But following a routine did wonders for us.

Also, don't let your newborn sleep more than 3 hours at a time during the day. This will help them to learn day time vs. night time.

3. "Sleep when the baby sleeps"
This phrase has always bothered me. Newborns sleep a lot during the day. So I always felt like I should be sleeping constantly like my baby was.

I decided instead of "sleeping when the baby sleeps", I would take 1 nap a day. Usually in the afternoon. This made me feel like I wasn't "wasting" away the day. And I felt well rested. Especially for the dinner / bedtime hours.

4. Make freezer meals
The last couple months of my pregnancy, I made freezer meals. I would choose 1 or 2 dinners / week to double. This way, I was already cooking - I just made more of it. Then I froze the extras. I made:

- Soups & Stews
- Breakfast Burritos
- Energy Bites
- Fajita Filling
- Stuffed Peppers
- Banana Bread Muffins

I also stocked up on non-perishables like granola bars, spaghetti, and sauce. And frozen meatballs.

Between the freezer meals, friends & family, and occasional take out, I didn't cook a meal from scratch for 10 weeks.

5. Enlist Help
My mom came almost daily for the first month or so. She would visit for half hour to an hour and help me with what I needed. She would hold the baby while I showered, vacuum the floor, make me lunch, scoop the litter box, throw in a load of laundry, load the dishwasher.... little chores around the house that made me feel like dirt wasn't piling up.

My husband also made dinner most nights - especially in the early weeks. He did cleaning as well.
Pick a few things that are important to you, and that will make you feel like you can rest. And then ask for help. Usually there is an army of people waiting to do something for you.

6. Wonder Weeks
There is a book that describes developmental milestones that all babies go through - generally at about the same age. I didn't read the book - the app tells you about what you need to know.
Usually when your baby is trying to learn something new - like rolling over, or grabbing toys - they get fussy and needy. This has happened with Tanner at each of his "leaps". We have found that the fussy periods are easier to handle if we know they are coming, and if we know the reason behind them.

7. Follow Your Instincts
I love to read blogs and forums about babies and parenting. Sometimes I find good tips, and sometimes I drive myself crazy. I see what other babies are doing, and I want to be there too.

An example is when Tanner was about 4 weeks old, he was still napping in his swing. I read that a swing could be a sleep prop and that you should have your baby nap in their crib ASAP.
I decided to cold turkey the swing, and put him in his crib for every nap all at once. This was a miserable experience for me and Tanner. I decided to just go back to the swing, and take things slower. He now sleeps in his crib perfectly at every nap and at night time.

I have to remind myself that he will keep going through seasons and phases. He doesn't have to be just like the baby I read on a blog. If what I am doing is working for us - keep doing it. Until it doesn't work, and then gradually change to something else.

8. Clean Your House
I "deep cleaned" my house a few times in the last couple months of pregnancy. I wanted to come home from the hospital with clean bathrooms, fresh bedding, and no dust.

Some of the best advice I have received is this: "The newborn phase isn't real life." 
And it's so true. I thought I would never eat a meal with two hands again, or drink a hot cup of coffee, or feel like I wasn't about to fall over from being tired.

Your baby will sleep through the night. Your body will heal. And you will feel like yourself again.
Good luck, momma! Comment with tips that you have for the first months with baby :)

Another Resource: Lucie's List

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

7 Tips for Pumping & Going Back to Work

As my maternity leave was coming to a close, I started thinking about how I would organize all of my baby and pumping STUFF. I work part time, and only go in to the office twice a week, so I had a few different scenarios playing out in my head ---

Daily: Running errands with baby (baby & personal stuff)
Once a week: At work without baby  (work, pumping, & personal stuff)
Once a week: At work with baby (baby, work, & personal stuff)
Rare: Out without baby and not needing to pump (personal stuff)

Since all of these scenarios happen every week, I began to feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I would be carrying and switching from bag to bag.

I thought for a while on how to make it work, and finally came up with a system that has been working REALLY well for me.

1. Invest in 3 bags that you love
The first bag should be your regular purse for times when baby is not with you.

The second should be your daily, manageable-sized diaper bag.

The third should be a big bag that can fit everything but the kitchen sink. This is for work.
I purchased this weekender bag from Target.

2. Make personal items easy to transfer. 
The one common denominator that I would need for every situation is my personal items - wallet, phone, keys, chapstick, hairbrush, mirror, etc.
All the small items that are a pain to dig around for and transfer to another bag.
I purchased a $3 burlap tote in the Target dollar section. It has flimsy sides, so it fits in to my smaller purse, as well as my big bags. When I'm going from bag to bag, I just grab this rather than trying to find all my small stuff.
The key here is to make sure your personal items always go back in this bag.

3. The bag that you take for work should fit EVERYTHING you need.
The hardest part about having lots of stuff is having to juggle and carry it all in. Your large bag should fit your pumping gear, lunch, work folders, laptop, personal items, etc.
This way you are carrying in and wrangling 1 bag, rather than 4+.

4. Put your pump parts in a tupperware
As you pump throughout the day, put the parts back in the tupperware, and refrigerate. No need to wash after each pumping session.
When you get home at the end of the day, wash right in the same tupperware, or throw in the dishwasher. I don't sanitize my pump parts after every single use... I don't have scientific evidence or anything that this is a good idea, but I feel like if I don't sanitize my own dishes then I think the pump parts will be safe as well.

5. Create a packing list
Each night before work, I pack what I need for the next day. I have a packing list on my phone so that I can just go through checking off items. This saves me time and sanity so that I'm not thinking about what I need, and I don't risk forgetting things.
I use Wunderlist, but you can use whatever list making organization you already like.
The key is to set something up so that you don't have to think about what you need.
What's nice about Wunderlist is that after I check off an item, I can uncheck it for the next week... and then check off again. I don't have to recreate the list each time.

The list I need for when I work on Wednesdays, is different for the list I need when I go to work on Fridays (since baby comes with me on Fridays). So I have two different lists set up in Wunderlist.

6. Keep the cables hooked up to your pump
This seems really, really small, but for some reason it helps things go faster. I don't have to untangle or hook anything up. It's all right there.

7. Buy a pumping bra
I purchased this one and really love it. It was cheaper than other one's I've seen, and it doesn't require that I take off the undergarments I'm already wearing.
And a pumping bra makes it so you can double pump, and massage at the same time... getting more milk faster.

I hope this is helpful!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Life & Work Update

It's already almost the end of March, and I'm sitting here drinking a cup of decaf coffee (that may or may not have a little kahula in it). The little is down for a nap, and I'm thinking about the end of my maternity leave. Tanner will be 12 weeks old on Saturday, and I'm finding that life is starting to return to normal. Well, a new normal.

Pregnancy and labor does a number on you - let me tell ya. I'm recovering well and almost back to feeling like my old self. Tanner is the sweetest little boy. He eats well, naps well, and sleeps through the night! He is a little ball of sideways grins and giggles.

Productivity and routine look different with a baby in the house. Chores and work all happen in short spurts. I can only run one, maybe two errands at a time. For someone that likes to make a long to-do list and plow through it all without stopping - this is an adjustment. But, mostly, I like it. My husband has always been an advocate for helping me to slooow down. Tanner is continuing to show me priorities, and what really matters. I love being his mom and I'm fitting in to this new role better than I imagined.

As for work - well, it's still there! I go back to my part-time job at Grace Road Church next week. I'll work in the office 2 days a week. One day my mom will watch Tanner, and the other day I'll bring him with me. Here's his simple little nursery! As well as a space for me to pump when he is not with me.

As for kj Design - it will also still be churning, but I'm going to keep it smaller for a while. I won't be advertising at Bridal Shows. However, I will be keeping on clients, as well as taking jobs that come in through word of mouth - depending on the job and timing.

Thank you so much to the brides that booked with me while I was pregnant. And for your patience, and flexibility in deadlines. Being able to adjust my schedule and build in months for maternity was amazing, and you helped to make that possible!

My facebook page may be a little quiet, but please don't hesitate to contact me.
If you'd like to follow along with Tanner and what life looks like now, find me on instagram: @kaseyAjohnson