Friday, March 10, 2017

Preparing for Baby #3

As we prepare for Baby #3 to arrive in June, I can't help but think about the early stages of parenting an infant.

Before Ryan was born, I read so many books (with so many different suggestions and opinions) about feeding, sleeping, eating and routines.

Pregnant with Ryan, and still over a month to go!

And you know what I discovered about our first sweet little babe? He didn't "fit" into any one formula. He loved to eat, and while he probably COULD have spread out his feeds more (he weighed 8lbs 13oz at birth and was nearly 20 lbs at 6 months) and mostly certainly COULD have slept through the night before 11.5 months, he was a fat and happy baby and I was soaking up every minute of the gift of being his mama, so I just didn't sweat the multiple feeds a day or nighttime visits.

July 28, 2014- Letting in all sink in that this little man was ours

There were so many days and nights when I craved the idea of sleepless nights, nursing babies, and dirty diapers. When you try for so long to bring life into the world and God brings you to a place of peace and even hope for the plans for your non-biological future family, and then you end up pregnant 3 times in less than 3 years, perspective plays a BIG role in all of those little (but seemingly huge at the time) decisions regarding the early stages of parenting.

And now having experienced two very different feeding, sleeping, eating and general "routine" scenarios with Ryan and Natalie, I can't help but wonder who this next baby will be more like, or if she too will have her own personality and preferences.

What Ryan and Natalie did when we asked them to show their excitement over meeting their baby sister in June- those faces pretty much sum up what we see from other people when we tell them we're expecting our third baby already- ha!

If I could sum up what I've learned in the past 2.5 years of being a mom, it would be that parenting is humbling, it is the best hard work I will ever do, and when my heart is to do what is best for my child, it really doesn't matter whether she is breast fed, bottle fed, spreading out her feeds, sleeping through the night, or tracking every single milestone at the time it "should" occur.

Every baby is different, and every parent/child scenario is unique. When Ryan was first born, he took to breast feeding like a champ and my body responded with a great supply and little-to-no pain right from the start. I loved feeding him and had to work hard to wean him at 16.5 months because his sister would be needing the supplies 6 short weeks later. ;) I was afraid that taking the tandem approach could potentially create jealously between him and his new baby sister and felt like the best decision for all of us was to switch Ryan solely to milk and give my body a (very short) time to prepare for Miss Natalie's arrival. I joke though that if we didn't have another one coming, Ryan probably would have nursed until he left for kindergarten- that boy loved to eat!

Because I had such an effortless and enjoyable experience nursing Ryan, I never questioned whether feeding Natalie would be any different.

Miss Natalie Grace Nelsen on her first day of life- February 17, 2016

Because of her eventful (for lack of a better word) entrance into the world, she had to be taken from us before I could nurse her and was not returned to us until 6 hours later. During that time, she was given the necessary formula she needed until she could be brought back to me. I loved getting to feed her for the first time and woke her up every 2-3 hours to help her practice nursing. On our second night in the hospital, she was clearly frustrated and hungry and ready for my milk supply to come in completely (knowing her spunky personality now, this makes me smile- girlfriend does not have time to waste!), so I supplemented with formula to help her sleep contentedly, knowing my milk would come in soon.

Once we were home and my milk supply was in, she nursed great but was MUCH more efficient than Ryan. Whereas Ryan liked to nestle in and eat for at least 45 minutes before getting his diaper changed and swaddle retied, Natalie's middle-of-the-night feeds and diaper changes had me back in bed in less than 20 minutes. And she slept long stretches pretty much right away! She was a no-nonsense eater who loved her sleep- basically a parent's dream, especially when I had Ryan to take care of during the day as well.

Through various scenarios, one of which I think was her love of spreading out her feeds and eating so quickly, and another, her frustration if my milk did not let down RIGHT away during a feed (which naturally caused me to feel stressed- something I never experienced when feeding Ryan), I noticed my milk supply was starting to decrease right about 3.5 months. I immediately started taking lactation supplements, eating lactation bars, and made a large batch of lactation cookies. This lower supply thing was new to me, but I was not about to give up without a fight!

Sweet girl's first beach trip- she ate and napped on the beach like a champ!

For the next 2.5 months, I worked at building my supply back up, but couldn't get it back to place where she could solely breast feed. As much as I loved feeding her and hoped I could get my supply back to where she needed it to be, it was clear that all of my efforts were not going to make more milk appear.

So around 6 months, Natalie started formula and took to it like a champ- cold water, straight from the filter, no warming, no convincing that it was just as good. Girlfriend just wanted her meal and chugged her whole bottle with no problem at all.

As I mentioned earlier, I've learned that parenting is a humbling experience. The best kind of humbling experience. Just when I thought I was rocking one little part of this motherhood thing, God reminded me that each of our babies will be unique. It's my job to rely on him as my source of confidence as a mom, and not to let circumstances define my "successes."

If you are a new mom, planning for your first child, or in the middle of a very different parenting experience with your second or third child, remember that it's not our job to have it all figured out. We have to step back, do in our hearts what we feel is right for each of our children individually, and reach up to Our Source when we feel like we're falling short.

Below are some great resources for you as you navigate the blessings and challenges of parenting infants:

Whether you're breast feeding or bottle feeding, The Honest Company has great products and a heart for helping parents make great feeding choices for their babies. You can check out their feeding resources here.
The Tommee Tippee bottles are great for breast and formula feeding. Matt almost always gave Ryan a pumped bottle each night, and Ryan transitioned smoothly between breast and bottle with this particular brand.

Medela Pump- great for preparing bottles and storing milk! And most insurance companies will reimburse the cost of this pump, so be sure to check with your provider before ordering!

This bra seems silly and unnecessary until you hold the two bottles while you're pumping one time. Hands free pumping is what you want! Because, let's be honest, you'll probably be eating at the same time- breast feeding always makes me SO hungry!

Lastly, the best thing you can do for yourself and your little one is SLEEP! Don't forget to the enter the incredible giveaway that Elizabeth from Sleep Baby Consulting is offering through this Sunday at midnight. One lucky winner will receive $150 of free consulting! You can read more about her services and enter the giveaway here.

Have a great weekend, friends!


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