Friday, February 26, 2016

Let's talk about weaning...

So I realize I've probably already lost some of you with that title, and that's totally fine...this post is definitely NOT going to be of interest to everyone! So if talking about babies and breastfeeding isn't your jam, feel free to leave now and it's totally fine :)

I felt this very long wordy post needed a photo and this one of me nursing Henry from our family session this summer with Ashley Scheider is a favorite that seemed appropriate :) So thankful that she captured this sweet moment!
 But for those of you who are interested in that topic, I wanted to write this post to share what our experience has been like with weaning! Earlier this month, after almost 14 months, Henry and I have finally finished our journey with nursing. It's definitely bittersweet and hard to believe it's over! The reason I wanted to talk about it is because I felt like when I was looking online for information about weaning (how fast to do it, people's experiences with it, etc.) I didn't really find too much? When Henry was a newborn, I felt like I found SO many articles on how to get started with breastfeeding and increase your milk supply, but when it comes to stopping, it's almost like no one wants to talk about it? So I figured I'd share our experience and hopefully it might be helpful to some of you!

This is also the point in the post where I feel slightly obligated to throw out a disclaimer that I am not trying to push my views of breastfeeding on anyone. For whatever reason, it seems like it's still a touchy topic where people get easily offended and so I just wanted to be clear and throw that out there. I realize everyone's baby/body/life is totally different and each mama has to do what works best for her and I totally support that! I personally wasn't breastfed and think I turned out pretty awesome, so I am definitely not judging anyone else for their choices. But that being said, all I can do is share my own personal story...and I absolutely loved nursing! It was a really wonderful experience that I'm super thankful to have had, and now that it's over, I want to share of a few of the details about how things ended while they are still fresh in my mind!

I shared a lot of information about my experience with breastfeeding back in August, so I won't go into too much detail here. (But definitely go check out that post if you're interested!) Long story short, we had a little bit of a rocky start with breastfeeding the first month because Henry had a tongue and lip tie, but after we got that taken care of, things went really really great! Since I stay home with Henry, I never really had to worry about pumping and always just nursed him directly vs. feeding him with a bottle. I did pump here and there just so I'd have extra milk on hand in case I needed to go somewhere and be away from him for a few hours. However, once he was around six months old (I think? That seems so long ago now...) I basically just stopped pumping all together. At that point, he could go 4+ hours between feedings and he was starting to eat solid foods, so if I did need to be away from him for a few hours, he could manage without a bottle. When he was around 6 months old, we got on a pretty consistent schedule where he would nurse four times a day - when he woke up in the morning, after his morning nap, either before or after his afternoon nap, and then before bed. If he was super fussy or not feeling well, I would occasionally throw an extra nursing session in there, but for the most part we stuck to four times a day pretty religiously.

My pediatrician did recommend continuing nursing a minimum of four times a day until he turned one, just to ensure he was getting the necessary amount of milk and I really tried to stick to that. But when he started getting close to a year, there would be days here and there where it just naturally seemed like he only wanted to nurse three times in a given day and so I'd just go with it. (This was also around the time when he was transitioning from two naps to one so that's primarily what prompted the shift in our nursing schedule) When he did finally turn one, I was really excited about reaching my goal of breastfeeding for a year! Even though nursing was a really smooth and easy experience for us, it still felt like a big accomplishment. Now that we had met that goal, I didn't really have an specific plan in place for how this journey was going to end; I figured I'd just let it be up to Henry and that I'd just kind of go with what it seemed like he wanted.

Henry learned to walk right before his first birthday and immediately started getting more independent and all together interested in everything but nursing. When he turned one, we also introduced cow's milk for the first time. He had had other forms of dairy like yogurt and cheese before he turned one, so I wasn't too concerned about him having any sensitivities to it. We didn't do anything special to it like warm it up or mix it with breast milk, we just gave him straight cold cow's milk in a sippy cup and he did fine with it! At first, he seemed like he really loved it and then the next few times he tried it, he didn't really want anything to do with it. But we just kept offering it to him in a sippy cup with meals and eventually he started to drink it and now he absolutely loves it!
(This is usually the milk we give him, in case anyone is interested)

At his year appointment, I asked his pediatrician about how to begin the weaning process and she recommended dropping no more than a feeding a week, but to ideally go slower than that to give us both time to adjust. She said since we were currently nursing either three or four times a day to go ahead and switch to three times consistently. At this point, Henry had also fully transitioned to taking one nap a day and so I'd typically nurse him in the morning when he woke up, after his nap, and then before bed. This is what we did for most of December, but then on Christmas Day, I ended up only nursing him twice (in the morning and before bed) since there was so much going on. He was totally fine with it and so over the next week or so, we fully transitioned to only nursing twice a day.

Nursing twice a day felt really freeing and I would have been fine continuing with that schedule for awhile. But in the beginning of January, there was one night where Henry just didn't really seem to want to nurse before bed and so I just let Cam put him down for the first time without him nursing! (It sticks out in my mind because it was the night the Bachelor premiered and I just kept thinking the whole time I was watching how crazy it was that Henry went to sleep without nursing!) I continued nursing him twice a day in the month of January,  but some days I'd only nurse him once, either morning or night, just depending on our schedule. When I went to Michigan to visit my family in late January, nursing was still going but starting to really taper off. I ended up feeding him both morning and night while we were there, but I'd only feed him one side at each. (Normally I'd always nurse him on both sides at a feeding)

When we got back from Michigan, it was pretty clear that we were going to be done with nursing sooner rather than later. I would end up nursing Henry in the morning...and then not nurse him at night...and then not nurse him the following morning...but then I'd nurse him the following night. It alternated like that for a few days and when we would nurse, it was really just because I wanted to, as Henry seemed rather indifferent towards it at this point. He was just as happy to go to bed without nursing or to wake up in the morning and just go straight to eating his food for breakfast. I realized that I was keeping nursing going out of habit since he really didn't seem attached to it anymore.

At the beginning of February, a day or two went by where I didn't nurse him at all....and then I kind of freaked out that I didn't have one official "last" time to nurse him and really soak it in one more time. So that afternoon when he woke up from his nap, I just decided to nurse him so I could really savor it one more time. It wasn't some super emotional teary eyed experience, it was more just so I could have the mental closure of knowing that this would be the last time I'd nurse my sweet Henry.

That weekend, we went out of town to the coast; since we were officially "done" breastfeeding, I was a little nervous how Henry would do sleeping in a strange place. Nursing was always my go to tactic to console him if he would get upset when we were traveling, but since he seemed to be doing great with being done before we left, I wanted to stand firm and not just cave and nurse him. Sure enough, that first night at the coast, he did cry when we put him to bed but Cam and I just took turns rocking him, we gave him a few sips of water or cow's milk, and he ended up going to sleep just fine. I actually felt really accomplished for being able to calm him down without whipping out my boob, since that was sort of my go-to move for the past 14 months...ha!

Now it's been a few weeks and nursing honestly feels like a distant memory! I feel because we did it fairly gradually and just dropped one feeding at a time, my body had plenty of time to adjust, which was great. My milk supply seems to have totally dried up and I never felt engorged at all during the weaning process. I feel like my boobs have literally shrunk back down to just as small as they were before I was pregnant (sad but true) and it's crazy to me how the human body can just adapt! Also, on another TMI note...I finally got my period back the week after Henry turned one. I know that's something I was really curious about approaching his first birthday and thinking about the weaning process, but it really differs for everyone.

When Henry was a newborn and I'd read articles about moms talking about feeling sad to be weaning, I thought that was so nuts. Nursing felt like a 24/7 job in those early days, and I couldn't fathom how anyone would be sad to be done with it. But then things just kept getting better and Henry started to nurse so much less frequently. When he was around nine or ten months, I remember thinking that I was totally going to eat my words and be one of those sappy moms who would be super emotional when her baby was no longer breastfeeding. But when the time actually came to stop, I wasn't nearly as sad as I thought I'd be. These days, Henry is so active and learning new skills like crazy; he's turning into his own little person and it's truly amazing to witness. In light of that, I think I feel more excited about the stage he's at now, and moving on from nursing just feels right for us at this point. Although it is a little bittersweet not to have those moments to sit there with him and watch him nurse, we have different special moments now. Because I don't have to take the time to nurse him before bed, we can spend more time cuddling and reading stories. In the morning, I'll sometimes still bring him into our bed but instead of nursing, we laugh and cuddle and play little games to start the day. Basically, nursing was an amazing bonding experience that I'm so happy to have had with him, but I love that we're finding new special ways to keep that bond strong as he grows.

Also, I think one of the hardest things overall for me with breastfeeding was just the not knowing exactly how much my baby was getting to eat. As someone who is slightly type-A, not being able to know how many ounces of milk my baby had in a day was frustrating. But then as time went on and as Henry grew and grew, I began to relax a little more and not worry so much. By the time we got to his first birthday, here was this toddler who was walking all over the place, eating food, and clearly thriving. It definitely made weaning less stressful because I knew that however the process went, he would just fine. And that's probably why there isn't as much info about weaning out there because everyone just kind of figures it out for themselves and doesn't necessarily feel the need to read a million articles about if they're doing it right...ha :)

But I hope that this information may be helpful to some of you out there who may be embarking on this process! Weaning ended up being much smoother, quicker, and easier process for us than I could have imagined. I'm glad that for us it just sort of ended naturally with Henry losing interest in it, and I just followed his lead. I'm happy to answer any specific questions anyone might have about weaning, but in the meantime, thanks to those of you who are still deserve a gold star :)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Winter Weekend at the Oregon Coast

Earlier this month, our little family of three spent a lovely weekend at the Oregon Coast! I already shared a bunch of photos on Instagram, but long story short, we had a really great time! We visited the central part of the coast, which was an area somewhat unfamiliar to me as we usually go to Seaside or Cannon Beach. We stayed in the little town of Yachats (in this Airbnb, which was AWESOME) and it was a perfect location to explore both Florence and Newport since it's located right in between those two cities. It was a super relaxing weekend, and we all really enjoyed the change of scenery, even Henry! I rarely use my "real" camera these days, but I wanted to bring it along since I knew we'd be spending time by the water. We ended up lucking out with two great afternoons on the beach, and so I wanted to share those photos!

On Saturday, we spent some time in Florence (which is a cute little town) and then headed out to the water there to let Henry explore. It was a little cool and cloudy, but he was dressed for the elements! He had a blast running around on the sand and stomping in the water with his boots, plus he just looked ridiculously cute in that yellow rain suit :) Here's a photo overload from that afternoon...

Don't mind the runny nose...ha :)

Sunday, we spent the day in Newport and took Henry to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Later that afternoon, we lucked out with some gorgeous sunny weather and headed down to play on the beach. It was relatively warm (for Oregon in February anyway) and so pretty soon Henry was in bare feet and not wearing any pants...ha! I probably would have dressed him in something other than a sweater for playing on the beach, but I wasn't expecting the weather to be so beautiful! It wasn't that hot out so I was a little worried he was going to get cold, but he was running around smiling and laughing so I guess he was fine :) We all had a great time, and once again, I took a bunch of photos...

Henry is still pretty smiley, but as he gets older, he's starting to do more serious expressions too :)

Being by the ocean is always a treat, but the best part of the weekend was just watching this little guy explore and have fun :) He's getting so big so fast, we're just trying to soak up every minute!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Currently: February

A few of my recent favorites from Instagram :)
 I did one of these posts last month, and I think I may make it a regular thing around here? I just think it's kind of a fun to check in and share some things that I've been enjoying lately! (I took my inspiration for this month's prompts from Bridget, a favorite blogger of mine) This month, I'm...

Making: A photo book of Henry's first year. I technically haven't started it yet, but I'm going to this month...or at least that's what I keep telling myself :) I meant to do it in December but got busy with the holidays (not to mention all of us getting sick!) and now I just want to get it done!

Cooking: I've been trying to make more new recipes lately since Cam really wants to get back on track with eating Paleo as much as possible when we're at home. (With some exceptions, ha!) I've been trying to find new healthy recipes for dinner and I've made a couple Asian-inspired dinners that we've really liked. We had this crockpot broccoli and beef (which isn't Paleo, but close enough...we did have it over TJ's cauliflower rice!) for dinner last night and then we had this Thai beef stew (also over cauliflower rice) last week and Cam said it was one of the best dinners I've ever made :)

Reading: I mentioned this book on Instagram yesterday, but so far I'm really loving it!

Wanting: To take Henry to the zoo soon and get him signed up for swim lessons :)

Looking: For a round mirror to hang over our buffet that Cam and I both like. Easier said than done!

Eating: Too much Valentine's candy...which seems to lead right into eating too much Easter candy.

Wishing: That keeping things tidy came more naturally to me. I really do like when our house is picked up and I want it to be that way the majority of the time, but it seems like it just gets messy so incredibly fast. (Insert monkey covering eyes emoji here)

Enjoying: My moms group I've been going to this year! It's actually at a church that we don't even go to and I signed up for it on a whim back in the fall but it's been so great. It's every other week and not only have I made some great friends, but the speakers are always very encouraging. (You can listen to the podcasts here, if you're interested!)

Loving: Henry's age right now, it's just so so cute :) Although it can be frustrating at times because he isn't necessarily able to communicate his feelings with words which can lead to some meltdowns, overall, it's just a fun age. To see how much he's learning every day and watching him start to put concepts together and develop a sense of humor is so cool!

Hoping: We can make it through the rest of the winter without any more major colds/illnesses! It's tough with all the germs going around this time of year, but fingers crossed we all stay well!

Needing: To sit down with Cameron and our calendar and actually nail down some concrete travel plans/dates for 2016. We've got a quite a few trips we've talked about and some things I know that we're for sure doing, but I just don't know exactly when. We're definitely a little spur of the moment sometimes when it comes to travel, but it would help to have at least some of our plans set.

Feeling: Ready for spring! Spring in Portland is amazing :)

Wearing: These PJs! I have a couple of the short sleeve sets and love them, so when I saw they had a more winter appropriate version, I had to snag them because they're super soft and comfy!

Watching: Super into this season of the Bachelor (don't judge) and I think it's one of the best seasons in awhile! I actually like all four of the people that he's going on hometown dates with next week, which I feel like is unusual compared to other seasons? We also just started the first season of Mozart in the Jungle, but I'm not sure I'm really feeling it? Someone tell me if it's worth sticking with...

Bookmarking: All the toddler eats! I'm constantly trying to find new healthy recipes for Henry (we do try to feed him what we're having for dinner, but for breakfasts/lunch I like having things made that I can just pull out of the fridge to feed him) I'm planning on doing a post soon with which recipes are our favorites, but in the meantime, let me know if you have any awesome toddler recipes!

What about you? What have you been loving lately?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Baby Gear Favorites: 9-12+ Months

A few days ago, Henry turned 14 months old (what?!!?) and I realized that it's been awhile since I shared some of our favorite things! I was pretty good about doing this regularly last year (here are links to my 0-3 Month Favorites / 3-6 Month Favorites / 6-9 Month Favorites, in case you're interested!) but since my last update, we have quite a few new things that we are loving! Pretty much all of this is stuff you could start using as early as 9 months (or earlier, depending) but a lot of these things we've only started using more recently, since many of them were Henry's birthday or Christmas gifts. There are lots of other toys he loves that I didn't include and I'm sure that as soon as I publish this post, I'll think of 6 other things that I forgot to mention. But these were just the things that jumped out to me when I looked around the house! (Plus, at the end of the post I talk about the one baby thing that's been a true GAME CHANGER for us!)
Baby Gear Favorites 9-12+ Months

Straw Cups
Since Henry only drank from a bottle a handful of times during his first year, he didn't quite get the concept of a traditional sippy cup and having to tip it back to get the liquid to come out. So when we started giving him water and then transitioning him to milk after a year, he did best with straw cups. We have a bunch of different straw cups, but I like these ones best because they're super easy to clean, they're insulated (so great for keeping milk cold on the go!) and I think the patterns are really cute. But we also have a bunch of these too, and I love that straw flips down making them easy to travel with.

Cool Mist Humidifier
Henry has battled a few colds/viruses over the past couple of months, so we got a humidifier for his room to help with his congestion. I don't really know how much of a difference it's made, but I think it's helped?

Activity Cube
Cam and I ordered this toy for Henry "from Santa" and we thought it was going to be way bigger than it is. It's seriously a third of the size we thought it was going to be. But Henry seriously loves it! It's kind of annoying but it's also pretty cool and Henry plays with it every day :)

VTech Dump Truck
So I really didn't want Henry to have too many toys with batteries and prefer for him to have either wood toys or things like these plastic Green Toys. But guess what toys he loves? The ones that light up and make noise of course :) And I'm fine with having a few of them, since he does like them so much. He is obsessed with anything with wheels and this dump truck he got for Christmas is a definite favorite.

Tuffo Muddy Buddy
Living in Oregon, a rain suit like this is a must! So many of the kiddos in Hike It Baby have either this suit or a similar one, and it is perfect for toddlers. Even when I just take Henry to the park when it's not raining but the ground is muddy, his clothes get so gross when he falls on the ground. This suit is great for keeping clothes dry and it's so stinking cute :)

Leather Moccasins
Day to day, Henry wears moccs most often because they're easy to get on, perfect for early walkers, and just plain adorable! I posted about these on Instagram, but they're great quality moccs for a very reasonable price! (And this shop has lots of other cute designs too!)

Baby Bogs
I feel like every kid in Portland has these boots and for good reason, they're great! They go down to really small sizes, they have super cute patterns, they're easy to get on and off, they're waterproof, and warm enough to wear in the snow. I'd definitely recommend them!

Summer Infant 3DFlip Stroller
I shared a little about this stroller in my toddler travel post (as well as recently on Instagram) but it's definitely been a favorite so I wanted to include it on this list as well. It's an umbrella-type stroller that's lightweight and perfect for travel. We've taken it all over the past year, including on our trip to Europe! The thing that makes it so great is that you can face baby out as well as in towards you, which is pretty unique for an umbrella-type stroller. It reclines really far and Henry naps super well in it, which is awesome for when we're out and about on a trip! It's definitely not as sturdy as a more expensive stroller like our BOB, but it definitely does the job and I like that it's not crazy expensive to replace in the event that the airline breaks it while traveling. So if you don't want to lug your bigger, more expensive stroller on a trip and you're looking for a great lightweight stroller for travel (or everyday!), the 3DFlip is seriously a great option! (Disclosure: This stroller was sent to me to review by Summer Infant, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own! Plus, if you look through my Instagram, you'll see just how much we've used this stroller the past year!)

Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat
We just switched Henry to his car seat not too long ago, but so far so good! It's definitely pretty big and bulky, but Henry seems super comfortable and I like that it's all black.

Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair
So I used to think these chairs were kind of silly and that they were a big waste of money, but I was wrong. Henry got one for Christmas and he loves to sit in it! He climbs in and out of it all day long and looks so adorably proud sitting in it, and the fact that his name is embroidered on it is just the icing on the cake :) Definitely worth it if you're considering one!

Play Tunnel
 Another Christmas gift we've gotten a lot of use out of, Henry loves crawling through this thing! I know there are a ton of different tunnels out there and they all serve the same general purpose, but I just thought this one from IKEA was cute because it's simple, plus it's a great value.

Goodnight Moon
Henry loves books and we read every single day. He's big into board books and we've got a bunch of favorites (too many to list here, but maybe I'll do a separate post on that?) but Goodnight Moon is a standout. We read it basically every single night and there's just something about it that's makes it such a classic. (My mom also got these for Henry when I was in Michigan last month and I love them!)

Wonder Wheel Toy
When I saw Henry is obsessed with wheels, I'm dead serious. Literally ANYTHING that has a wheel, he goes straight for it and just wants to spin the wheel over and over and over. That's why this toy is perfect, and it works great on his high chair or for travel.

The NoseFrida
Toddlers tend to be germ magnets and there is nothing worse then seeing them all congested. Henry literally hates this thing with a passion, but it does a good job of helping combat all the nasal congestion that comes with all the viruses that babies are always swapping back and forth.

Ok, so all that stuff is great, but hands down, there is one thing that we did around 9 months that is my most favorite of all the things. Around that time is when Henry started crawling and really getting into everything all the time. I felt like I was going to lose my mind because I literally could never have him out of my sight, lest he pull something down on top of himself/get into something he wasn't supposed to/or just cause general mayhem or physical injury. We realized pretty quickly that we needed to have a safe space where he could play with his toys and also be contained. (Contained being the key word) We decided to move the table out of breakfast nook, throw down some foam tiles, put up a baby gate, and make it his play area!

We don't have all his toys in there, but we have quite a few of them and it double as a great place to store them to keep them from taking over our house! The foam tiles are perfect for covering up the ceramic floor to give him a comfortable place to play and he really seems to love it! I'll put him in there when I'm trying to do something like cook dinner or unload the dishwasher and it's awesome because he's in the kitchen with with me, but he's not underfoot. The space is big enough that he feels like he has room to move around and so I can let him play in there while I go do laundry or take a shower or anything where I need him to entertain himself for a few minutes, while also knowing that he's safe. He really seems to like it a lot and he'll play happily in there for quite awhile!

Last week, Cam was out of town for work and I was feeling a little worn out. I put Henry in his play area and laid on the couch;  he entertained himself so well and it gave me a nice break which was amazing. I realize not everyone's house is set up like ours with a little breakfast nook, but if you're pregnant or have a baby that's not crawling yet (or have an older baby/toddler and are pulling your hair our), my biggest suggestion is to find somewhere in your house that you can make something like this work. It doesn't have to be huge, you just need to be able to create some sort of contained space where you can let your baby play independently. It seriously makes all the difference in the world to be able to stick Henry in there and get something done without worrying about him getting into Lola's water dish or knocking over the trash can. And the fact that he loves playing in there means that it's not like he feels like he's being punished or contained. It's made such a difference in our sanity these past few months, so I just had to share!

Hope everyone has a great weekend and a lovely Valentine's Day!


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