10 Months with Bonnie

The past month has been absolutely wonderful… maybe my favorite month with her yet. But I say that about every month. They truly keep getting better and better!

Bonnie learned to wave, finally. And she also learned to crawl. FINALLY. I was beginning to thing that one was just never going to happen.

She can stand and pull up very well, and can walk along furniture, or while holding my hands. The first thing she does when she wakes up each morning is stand in her crib and look around.

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She still has six teeth, but has two new ones that are beginning to pop through her gums on the bottom. Her bottom ones never seem to bother her as badly as the top ones do when they are coming in. Thank Goodness. Teething woes are the last thing this little girl needs right now!

Our biggest challenges this month have been getting Bonnie through and over her sinus infection, which took a solid three weeks, and beginning the process of weaning. Transitioning from four feedings to three wasn’t hard for Bonnie at all. But cutting back to two has been really difficult for both of us. It is so hard to watch and hear my baby cry, knowing that I could fix it instantly by nursing her. And I want so badly to be able to nurse her, but I’m still very motivated to get her weaned over the course of the next few weeks, in spite of what an emotional journey it’s been so far. Even though she will take a bottle, she is very particular about when she will take it, and if she is really hungry or tired, she just wants to nurse. There have been some really heartbreaking moments over the past week, but I’m continuously amazed by how adaptable she is.

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Baby-led weaning was so fun and stress-free. Since I knew Bonnie was getting everything she needed through my breast milk, I was never focused on how much food she was getting. I was only focused on introducing her to new, wholesome foods, and letting her experiment with them. Some days she ate, and ate, and ate, and some days she would not be interested in eating at all. And it really didn’t matter either way. But now that she’s beginning to rely more and more on food for nutrition, calories, and mental and physical development, I’ve found myself a little stressed over what to give her, when, how much, etc. I’m open to any ideas and suggestions that any of you might have! The more, the better!

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On a brighter note, Bonnie started swim lessons! The lessons were a gift to her from my mom, for her first birthday. (We’ve always given birthday gifts early in my family. None of us handle suspense well.) Her first lesson was Sunday. Andrew got in the water with her this time, but I will usually be the one with her, and I cannot wait! She loves the water, and I’m hoping to foster that love in her for years and years to come.

swimming

As I sat near the pool watching her, I realized that this would be the first of many hours spent taking her to activities and events, watching her and taking pictures, feeling proud of her, and awed by her. I can’t help but wonder what she will want to do when she gets a little older: swim, dance, play the piano, play golf… Her little personality has blossomed so much just in the past month. It is crazy to imagine what she will be like in the next year, two, and three.

The joy that she brings into our lives each and every day is beyond anything I could ever have imagined.

And for all you Mommas-in-Waiting… Hang in there. Because the wait is so worth it. 

So, so worth it.

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Refreshed

For the first three weeks of Bonnie’s ninth month of life, she was incredibly sick. She was not herself at all. She couldn’t sleep, wasn’t eating well, had a terrible runny nose, inflamed throat, cough, raspy breathing…

She was not herself, we were not getting any rest, and even during the day when she was awake she was upset and uncomfortable most of the time. After ten days on an antibiotic she is back to herself.

We were so worried about her, and I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever have our sweet, happy girl back.

But she’s bounced back beautifully, and my fears have finally eased. Last week we had, truly, the best week together. Every single day was just a dream. At the end of each day I went to sleep feeling so relieved to have her feeling well again, and so refreshed after a day full of cuddling, reading, smiling, playing…

Now that we’ve decided to jump right in to weaning her, I’ve cherished each second of nursing her. I get emotional every single time now, and am even emotional typing this. She’s blown me away by how quickly she is adjusting. There have been some really hard moments, that have had us both in tears together, but those have been few, and far between.

Since she is only nursing in the morning and at night now, she is eating a lot more during the day. She still feeds herself lots of finger foods, but I’m also helping by spoon feeding her when she needs it.

I spent my evenings in the kitchen last week, and made several things Bonnie has really seemed to enjoy:

1) Crock pot whole chicken- Bonnie’s quite particular about her poultry, and only likes it when it has been cooked certain ways, so the fact that she scarfed this up was a major victory.

2)  Toddler Smoothie Drops- These were a huge hit!

3) Roasted Sweet Potatoes- Sweet potato in any form (other than pureed) is always a hit.

4) Pumpkin-Zucchini Muffins with Coconut Flour- Judging by how many she ate, I’d guess these were Bonnie’s favorite thing she ate last week!

5) Homemade Almond Milk- Since Bonnie was loving store-bought so much, I finally decided to try my hand at making this at home. It was really easy! Took a long time, but she is drinking it, and I have so much more peace of mind about her drinking this instead of store-bought.

As gratifying as it is to breastfeed, and to know that you are giving your baby the best possible start in life, and providing the absolute best source of nutrition for her, it is also gratifying to spend evenings in the kitchen, preparing meals and snacks that you know are going to benefit your baby. I’ve never found much joy in cooking, but it is incredibly fulfilling and invigorating to use quality, healthy, whole, organic ingredients to prepare food for your baby. I’ve enjoyed it far more than I ever thought I would.

Even apart from watching Bonnie learn to eat and enjoy wholesome, nutritious foods, I’m just relishing this stage in Bonnie’s life. She has finally learned to crawl, although I have to admit she’s kind of a pathetic crawler, and doesn’t like doing it at all… Still fun to watch though! And she’s finally learned to wave/say “bye bye.”

I seriously fall more in love with her every single day.

IMG_4422(Believe it or not, this is one of her happy faces!)

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Hard Decisions: Preparing for our Next Frozen Embryo Transfer

We had such a wonderful week last week! It’s been good to get back to Atlanta though, and get back into our usual groove. It is also good to say hello to the blog again! Apart from a guest post last Tuesday, I’ve been absent from the blogging world lately. Andrew had an incredibly encouraging meeting with some local chiropractors while we were in Nashville, and it’s finally hitting me that we’re near the end of his program. We’ve been here three and a half years. In some ways it seems like an eternity, but in other ways it’s gone by in the blink of an eye.

At this rate, Andrew will begin “peaking” in exactly one year from now. Peaking is Life University’s version of a residency. He will peak full-time for ten weeks, and then graduate! And then… the hard work begins. Again.

I feel slightly stressed (it doesn’t take much,) but I mostly feel excited. Excited to be near family again, to be back in our little house, to get Andrew going in a practice… Although I’m not able to give many details, we do know that, as things stand now, he will be peaking in our hometown outside Nashville, which means that the three of us should be able to move back home at this time next year.

And with that realization came the realization that we have one year to do our next frozen embryo transfer.

I keep Luke (Andrew’s classmate’s son) pretty much full-time during the week, except during the summer. Luke’s mom is a teacher, so she will get to spend her summer break with him! Because this summer is the only time between now and next April when I won’t have Luke, it’s also the best time for us to begin prepping for the transfer.

That’s all well and good. In fact, we’ve always wanted children close together in age.

My biggest, and really my only struggle with this is that it means Bonnie needs to be weaned. Like, ASAP. And as much as this hurts my heart, I know it’s the best thing for our family, due to our circumstances.

In a perfect world, I would continue to nurse her for the next year. I’ve battled back and forth over whether or not this is the best thing for Bonnie. I do not want to sacrifice her best interest. But even though it is not ideal, it’s the most feasible way for us to have the transfer done before moving back to Tennessee next year, and without throwing Luke’s parents under the buss with unpredictable, frequent doctor’s visits.

So as of last week, I really started pushing real food, and for the first time in Bonnie’s life, she seems to be taking to a bottle well. (“Well” is a relative term, since she used to act like I was putting a pinecone in her mouth every time I offered her a bottle.) It makes me kind of sad, because I know she’s only settling for a bottle because she’s learned that I will not nurse her. But I’m even more shocked than I am sad. I went through months of trying to get her to take a bottle. We’ve tried different bottles, different liquids in the bottles, the same liquids at varying temperatures… The list goes on…

Preparing for our next frozen embryo transfer

She is still eating the same foods she was eating when we were letting her set the pace for baby-led weaning (you can read more about that here and here.) But I am also giving her more purees to make up for any bite-sized foods that get dropped on the floor and smeared on the highchair. She drinks both milk and water from a sippy cup (these cups are the best for her.) As of yesterday, when and if she tries to nurse before her naps, I offer her a bottle instead.

We are down to three nursing sessions per day. On Friday I will cut out her midday nursing session. The next Friday I will cut out her morning session (dreading this,) and the Friday after that I will drop her bedtime session (dreading this more.)

It has been really hard so far. Probably harder for me than Bonnie. Bonnie loves nursing, so I thought it would be a lot harder for her than it has been. She’s adjusting so quickly. This is a relief to me, but it’s so bittersweet.

Bonnie will be totally weaned by the end of the month, when she will be just shy of elven months old. It is the ending of such a precious, sweet chapter in both her life and mine. I have cherished each and every day I’ve been able to nurse her. When I was pregnant, one of my biggest fears was that there would be some reason I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. Instead, I was able to nurse her just moments after she was born, and she was a pro from the very beginning. Literally.

Other than the fact that it is coming to a close, I cannot think of a thing I’d change about our nursing relationship.

Once Bonnie is completely weaned, I will have to wait one month before going back to the fertility clinic for labs. The first step will be to make sure my prolactin levels are down, and if they are, we can proceed from there.

My heart feels ready for another baby. I feel excited about the prospect of another pregnancy, another child for us, and another sibling for Bonnie. I can already tell that everything is going to feel and be so different this time around.

Preparing for our next frozen embryo transfer

 

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Spring Break…Finally!

Andrew took the first part of national {chiropractic} boards last weekend, and finished with his final exams for the quarter on Wednesday. I am so happy to say goodbye to this quarter, and especially to this week. It has been stressful and chaotic.

I don’t do chaos, at least not well.

Things have been chaotic here on the home front as well. Three babies, lots of teething, lots of runny noses, lots of dirty diapers and sticky fingers.

I am so excited for a break. So excited for a week with just Bonnie and Andrew. I love the other babies, but I really love quality time alone with my sweet girl. And my husband too, of course!

We took advantage of Andrew’s first day of spring break by going to the local zoo. My sister gave us a family pass as a gift, and we’ve been itching to use it. Yesterday was the perfect day for it. We were eating up the nice weather, and I think the animals were too. They were all so lively! And we were within arm’s reach of many of them: pandas, lions, giraffes, rhinos, elephants… Were in not for the partition, we could have reached out and hugged these guys. They were all feeling friendly today!

Strangely, Bonnie’s favorite animals seemed to be the warthogs, the rhino, and this scary looking, huge bird. She was nose to beak with the ugly bird, and just soaking it all in. She still is not feeling 100%, but I really think she enjoyed getting out of the house. It’s so nice to have fresh air and a change of scenery after being cooped up in the house most of the week!

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We are spending most of next week in Nashville, and I won’t be spending any time online, so things will be quiet on the blog for a little while!

Bonnie is already nine months old. Andrew is two-thirds of the way done with chiropractic school, and life is just flying by so quickly. Andrew has been incredibly busy with school, and it will be so nice to have an entire week with him, and for him to have an entire week with Bonnie and me!

 

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What’s in Bonnie’s Belly {Baby-led Weaning at 9 Months Old}

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We are only one week into the ninth month of Bonnie’s life, but so far, this month has been the toughest, most frustrating one yet (for her and for me!) Teething, a virus she somehow picked up, not being able to crawl when she really, really wants to, and not being able to walk when she really, really wants to. She’s gone from being happy and content 90% of the time to being aggravated and whiny 90% of the time (unless I’m within arm’s length of her, for her to pull up on, or use me as a walker.) Not only has Bonnie been frustrated with her lack of mobility, she’s also been frustrated with food. In her defense, this virus has her pretty sick, and the doctor said her throat is really irritated and inflamed, so I’m wondering if maybe swallowing is just uncomfortable for her?

Anyway, I honestly feel kind of silly posting an update on what Bonnie was eating at this time last month, because not a lot has changed. Actually, it seems like we’ve taken several steps backward after the rough couple of weeks we’ve had. Two weeks ago, Bonnie’s top four front teeth began to pop through, which caused her major discomfort (more than when her bottom two came in.) She pushed away almost any food I’d try to give her, even some of her favorites. Since Bonnie won’t take a bottle, I ended up nursing her a lot, for about three days.

And immediately after her teeth popped through, she began having some serious cold symptoms that really seemed to get the best of her. At first, I thought it was just more teething, but after a day or two (and a night or two) of non-stop fussing, needing to be held 24/7, and not sleeping, I realized something else had to be going on. Again, she had no appetite, and rejected anything we put in front of her; hence, she nursed a lot more than normal. This lasted for a solid five days before I finally took her to the doctor, hoping she had something that was treatable; however, she’s evidently contracted a virus, and all I can do is keep her comfortable. It is so sad!

The one thing Bonnie will eat, even while she’s sick, is this crock pot breakfast casserole. It’s been a staple at our house ever since I bought Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple. We throw it into the crock pot late Sunday night, turn the crock pot off first thing Monday morning, and have breakfast for the entire week!

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Other new favorites for her are yellow peppers, tomatoes, and pickles. I’m still on the hunt for store-bought pickles that I feel comfortable feeding her (no sugar, and no food coloring or other artificial ingredients.) I may end up making them rather than buying.

pepper

Her schedule is still the same as it was last month, although I’m hoping to drop a nursing session over the next month or two (although, weaning is on hold while she’s sick, because all the wants to do is nurse and sleep):

  • 6:30/7am- Nurse
  • 7:30/8am- Breakfast
  • 9am- Nurse and then nap
  • 10/10:30am- Snack
  • 12pm- Lunch
  • 1pm- Nurse and then nap
  • 2:30/3pm- Snack
  • 5pm- Dinner
  • 6:30pm- Nurse and then bed

Out of desperation to get Bonnie to eat something when she was at her worst, I made a batch of these grain free toddler bites. (If you are worried about choking, you can make them without the chopped almonds. They have a nutty enough flavor without them. Also, if your baby is under a year old, you will want to use maple syrup to sweeten instead of honey.)

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When we are out and about, and know Bonnie will need a snack, we usually have raisins packed, as well as a few pouches of Plum Organics fruits and veggies. Some of Bonnie’s favorites are:

Another new food we’ve started giving Bonnie is celery. She’s not crazy about the taste of plain celery, so I’ve started adding a thin layer of almond butter. It creates a huge mess, but I love that she is getting the healthy fat from the almond butter. Plus, they say that celery is supposed to help relieve teething pain for babies.

celery

So here’s a recap of the new foods we’ve introduced to Bonnie this month:

  • Celery
  • Bell peppers (yellow are her favorite)
  • Pickles (thank to her daddy)
  • Tomatoes

Here’s a list of what seem to be Bonnie’s favorites: 

  • Bananas
  • These banana snack muffins
  • Mild guacamole (or avocado with lime, and the tiniest bit of sea salt and pepper)
  • Baked sweet potato with butter
  • Yellow peppers
  • Eggs
  • Chicken, depending on how it is seasoned
  • Zucchini, cooked in olive oil, with pepper
  • Any type of berry
  • Raisins and grapes (she also likes dates and prunes, but raisins are a lot less messy)

We still offer Bonnie 3 or 4 different foods at meal times, and 2 or 3 at snack times. We also offer her a sippy cup of water with each of her meals, and a little bit of almond milk with her snacks. She barely drinks any of the almond milk, but since she won’t drink breast milk from a cup, we are using almond milk to help her get used to the idea of milk from a cup.

Here is what Bonnie ate yesterday:

Breakfast:

  • Crock pot breakfast casserole (eggs, kale, red and orange peppers, onion, goat cheese, almond and coconut milk, herbs) Since the casserole itself contains several different foods, this is the only thing she had for breakfast.

Snack:

*Since Bonnie so strongly prefers feeding herself (as opposed to my spoon feeding her) she just eats the fruit and veggie pouches straight from the package. Sometimes she even holds the package on her own, although this always ends in a big mess.

Lunch: 

  • Baked sweet potato with butter
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Grilled chicken, seasoned with basil and oregano

Snack: 

  • Banana
  • Celery with almond butter
  • Smoothie (strawberry, banana, almond butter, breast milk)

*I fed her the smoothie because she did not end up getting much of the celery or almond butter in her tummy!  When I make smoothies for her, I put them in this Squeasy Snacker.

Dinner: 

  • Breakfast casserole

I’m really hoping that we can get back on track with her eating once Bonnie starts feeling better, because even though I am offering her a lot of food right now, she isn’t eating much of it, and even pushes a lot of it away. I’m quickly learning to embrace sticky floors, messy fingers, and dirty faces, so I’m hoping she will come back around soon! She has made such progress before this little setback…

 

 

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5 Online Stores that have Made Life as a New Mom Easier

5 online stores that save both time and money, and make life as a new mom easier

I don’t know how moms with twins do it. Y’all are some special and patient people! After I had Bonnie, and it was just the two of us, we got out and about a lot. The weather was great in the summer and fall, and she was a newborn, which made going places so easy. I’d never done much online shopping before, because I’d always enjoyed the experience of actually getting out of the house, grabbing an iced coffee while we were out, and making a day of it.

Then, when Bonnie was a few months old, we started babysitting Luke during the week. We love having him, but having a second baby nearly the same age as Bonnie changed the dynamic completely. No more hopping in the car to kill some time at Target on a whim. Getting out became an ordeal! Coordinating naps, coordinating snack and meal times, getting two babies in and out of car seats, and then in and out of a shopping cart. Not to mention, where do you put two babies in a single shopping cart?

(I actually think I’ve found a pretty neat solution to this dilemma, with the Buggy Bench. I finally bit the bullet and ordered one, but it hasn’t arrived yet. It should make things so much easier!)

Even though we still brave the stores occasionally (especially now that the weather is finally getting nice,) I’ve found that I do WAY more online shopping than I ever thought I would. And it has been so nice. 

Here are my faves:

1) Amazon Prime-  Amazon Prime is a lifesaver for when I realize last minute that I’m running low on a pantry staple (like almond flour) or when I need one, random thing that I know I’ll never remember to grab next time I do get around to going to the store (like the cheesecloth I just ordered.)

2) Zulily- I love this site because their products change daily, and you never know what you’ll find. They have anything from clothing (for the whole family,) to furniture, to food. Zulily is actually how I discovered the Buggy Bench, although I waited too long to get one, and they sold out!

3) ThredUp- ThredUp has been a favorite clothing resource of mine for a couple of years now. It is like thrift or consignment shopping online! And the selection is enormous. If you spend enough time, you can find something every single time you shop here. Plus, when you order a “Clean Out Bag,” and send your clothing to them, you get either a shopping credit or a direct payout (whichever you choose.) So in the end, you can pay for your new clothes with your old ones, without spending much (or any) money! They have clothing for women, infants, and children, but not for men. They also have maternity clothes!

At first, I was turned off by the idea of buying clothing online, without being able to try it on, but they accept returns, and their return policy is really convenient and hassle-free.

4) Moxie Jean- Moxie Jean is the same concept as ThredUp, but they buy and sell only baby, kids’, and maternity clothing. Their selection is a bit smaller than ThredUp, but anything I’ve gotten from them has been very high quality, and I have yet to be disappointed. They do accept returns though, if you aren’t satisfied with anything you order.

Their payout is not quite as high as ThredUp, but they accept more brands than ThredUp does. So I usually send Bonnie’s clothing to ThredUp, unless I know it’s a brand they won’t take (like Carters,) and then I’ll send it to Moxie Jean. 

Here’s my latest order from Moxie Jean:

5 online stores that save both time and money, and make life as a new mom easier

5) Stitch Fix- Another resource for clothing, Stitch Fix is a bit different from the rest. With Stitch Fix, you complete a “Style Profile,” and a stylist puts together five pieces for you, mails them to you, and you have three days to decide which of the pieces you want to keep. You can keep all five, or none. You only pay for what you choose to keep! With your “fix” you also receive style cards, giving you ideas of how to put each of your pieces together with different outfits. This is great for someone who struggles with putting outfits together, and it is really fun getting new inspiration for wearing pieces you may already have.

5 online stores that save both time and money, and make life as a new mom easier

If you hate everything you get, you can go to your account, and leave a note explaining what you did not like and why. The more specific you are, the happier you will be with your next fix. You can even request a new stylist if you are unhappy with the first one!

5 online stores that save both time and money, and make life as a new mom easier

One thing I love is that, on your Stitch Fix account, you can link to your style or Fix board on Pinterest. Your stylist will use outfits and accessories you’ve pinned as inspiration when she is creating your fix. I have a Pinterest board that is dedicated specifically to Stitch Fix. One thing you need to do on your Stitch Fix board is be specific with your captions. For instance, if you pin a dress because you love the style, but aren’t crazy about the color, you need to type that in your caption. Again, the more specific you are, the better you fixes will be! (I think your Pinterest board is your most important tool when using Stitch Fix.)

Stitch Fix is a wonderful way to treat yourself once a month by scheduling regular fixes, or you can use it only for special occasions (Easter outfit, a wedding outfit, etc.)

So, these are my favorite places to shop online. If you have any favorite online stores for day-to-day, practical necessities, or for fun extras, I’d love to hear about them!

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11 Easter Basket Ideas for Baby Girls

Can y’all believe it’s nearly Easter already?! Where have February and March gone? We are already three quarters of the way through Bonnie’s first year of life on this earth, and Andrew is prepping for his chiropractic board exams which are this weekend (prayers for him are hugely appreciated.)

We aren’t giving Bonnie an Easter basket this year, although if we were, I’d be tempted by some of these from the Etsy shop SewEMGMaybe next year! This year, my husband is hung up on getting a red wagon for her (similar to this one.) Our friends (they are also our neighbors, and Luke’s parents) have one, and Andrew has been talking non-stop about getting one for Bonnie ever since he saw how much their little boy loved his! I think that, secretly, the gift is more for him, but I am all for it, because I think he and Bonnie will really be able to enjoy it together. We spend a lot of time outside in the spring and summer, so I know it will get used a lot.

But, back to the hypothetical Easter basket, here is what I would fill it with if we were giving her one!

11 Easter Basket Ideas for Baby Girls

1) Bath toys- Babies (at least ours) LOVE bath time. I am partial to these, but you could always snag some cheap toys from Dollar Tree!

2) Bubbles- Homemade or store-bought. If you prefer making your own, here is a great step-by step. Bubbles are a fun way to kill time and play with Baby either outside or when you’re closed indoors.

3) Board books- You can’t have too many books! Here are some fun ones for Easter:

4) An Easter outfit- Since we are between seasons right now, baby stores like Carters and Gymboree usually have really good sales. Or… you could go the used clothing route and hit up a couple thrift stores, or shop online for the perfect outfit at ThredUp.com. Be carefully though… ThredUp is addictive!

5) A spring and/or summer sleeper- I don’t know about your babies, but our baby lives in her pajamas most days of the week! We are home a lot, and she’ll stay in her PJs until after lunch! These are something we avoid spending lots of money on, because she plays in them, eats in them, poops in them…

6) Plum Organics fruit and/or veggie packets- If you really want to stick with a spring theme, you could give Peter Rabbit Organics packets instead.

7) Wooden bunny teether- Or any wooden teether! There are some really cute ones floating around on Etsy. 

8) Taggies blanket- Bonnie is fascinated by blankets and textures right now! I really love this one for spring!

9) Bunny rabbit headband (or any headband)- We don’t plan on doing any big-time promoting of the Easter Bunny with Bonnie, but even so, bunnies are nice symbols of Spring, and this headband is just too adorable.

10) Stuffed bunny- I fell in love with this sweet bunny the moment I saw her!

11) The actual Easter basket! What baby doesn’t love a good basket to chew on, climb in, wear… This can also be a really precious keepsake, if you and your child can make it last through years of Easter egg hunts!

 

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9 Months with Bonnie

Well, even though some of the newness is wearing off, we still think Bonnie is pretty spectacular. Between her and Luke (Luke is the 8 month old baby I keep during the week) they are keeping me busy! I’ve also been keeping a 13 month old boy during the week part-time, which has been really fun, but added a completely new dimension to our routine… in a good way! Bonnie is mesmerized by him. He isn’t walking yet, but is super mobile, and Bonnie tries so hard to keep up!

(I’m just kidding about the newness wearing off…  every day holds something new!)

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She is not crawling, but can scoot backward if she really needs to get somewhere. She is an excellent stander, but is not yet walking. And although she can pull up to a standing position, it’s hard work for her! She finally learned to clap, which is just the sweetest thing. She now claps when we say “yay,” and she often claps for herself without any prompting from us at all. She can say “da da,” and is finally beginning to associate that with her daddy. She can also say “book,” and does so often when she is reaching for her book, or when she sees me getting a book for her. The words we know she understands are: water, more, book, Mama, Daddy, Biscuit (our dog’s name), dog, Luke, toothbrush, no, yay, and uh-oh. I think she probably understands “bye-bye,” but she refuses to wave, or say it back to us!

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My parents bought an old rocking chair for Bonnie before she was even born. We pulled it out recently, and it has become her favorite “toy.” She loves to sit, rock herself, be rocked, and pull up. She probably spends an hour or more a day in her little rocker, which I find kind of hilarious.

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Bonnie is learning to love books more and more all the time. And she has learned to turn her own pages! I got ridiculously excited the first time she did this, and it still makes me all giddy inside. She struggles with paper pages, but we don’t read those often anyway, because she becomes more interested in tearing and eating the pages than she does in looking at the book. Most of her go-to books are board books, for safety reasons. She especially likes books with hidden flaps and pockets. Some of her favorites are the Peek-a-book Pals Farm book and Pop-up Peekaboo Farm. Her most favorite book right now is Goodnight, Little One. This is a cloth book, so she can bite it, chew on it, and cuddle with it without ruining it, or causing herself any bodily harm.

Bonnie is going to the church nursery regularly, which has been a huge deal for me. I really struggle leaving her, since I’m with her all day, every day. But according to the nursery workers, she does well. Our church services last from 10am until 12:45 or 1pm, but now that she is not nursing as regularly as she was when she was 6 and 7 months old, I know I can leave her for long stretches like this.

She’s been nursing 4 times a day for the past month, and we are working quickly towards cutting out another nursing session. I have such mixed emotions about this, but I also know that weaning is necessary before we can begin pursuing another transfer. Since she has been eating more, I have been cooking more, and am really working hard on embracing meal planning, cooking, and baking… This is a process, and a big mental shift for me, but I’m coming right along, slowly but surely. I’ll share more about what Bonnie has been eating lately in the next installment of What’s in Bonnie’s Belly?

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***(If you are wanting to pursue IVF, but not ready to stop nursing, do your own research; it may be that you can continue breastfeeding through treatments. Unfortunately, I’m not a good candidate for nursing through IVF. Here is a really informative blog post about it if you are looking for more info.)***

Bonnie sleeps like a dream, both at night and during her naps. She sleeps from about 6:30pm to 6:30 or 7am, and naps during the day around 9am and 1pm. Each of her naps last about an hour, although sometimes the noise the other babies make shortens her naps a bit. Her nap time and bedtime routines are some of my favorite moments during the day. We cuddle with a few books, pray, sing, nurse, and then she goes to bed. I almost always wake up to check on her 2 or 3 times throughout the night… just to make sure she is breathing!

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Keeping Finlay (the 13 month old baby) makes me so excited for the next few months of Bonnie’s life. The growth and development that occurs during the first year of a baby’s life is just miraculous…. a wonderful, and sometimes weird reminder of the creative, brilliant creator we serve.

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5 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

5 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

My journey with Bonnie toward good sleep habits has been a bit… um, tumultuous? As a newborn, she slept in her own crib, in her own room. She slept swaddled, and she slept well. By the time she was three weeks old she was only waking to nurse one time during the night. By the time she was 7 weeks old she was sleeping through the night consistently.

We thought.

By the time she was 3 and a half months old, she’d outgrown her swaddle. When we stopped swaddling her, she stopped sleeping through the night. It took us a few weeks to get this under control, but we eventually did, thanks to following the Moms on Call methods. We were in the clear again.

We thought.

When she was 5 and a half months old, she cut her first two teeth, which threw a kink into her sleeping habits. Again. She was waking every couple of hours, and wanting to nurse for comfort, even though I knew she wasn’t truly hungry.

And naps were even worse. By the time she was 6 months old, Bonnie would not nap unless she was being held. And I LOVED holding her while she slept. The problem with this was that I had another baby to hold, and feed, and play and cuddle with too, so holding Bonnie for each of her naps every day just was not possible. And I knew that, long-term, it wasn’t for Bonnie’s best.

Judging from my conversations with other new mommas, I’m not the only one who struggled to find the best way to teach her baby to sleep well. Sleep is so important for babies. The book that we used for sleep training explains so many reasons why sleep is important for babies’ development, and for their happiness. Babies who sleep well are happy babies. They are alert and well rested when they are awake; therefore, they are able to enjoy and learn from the environment around them better than babies who are tired all the time because they don’t sleep well.

Plus, is there anything more precious than a sleeping baby???

5 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

Here are the things we did that, when combined, revolutionized Bonnie’s sleep, both at nap time and at night.

1) Give your baby her own sleeping environment, in her own room.

Bonnie somehow understands that her bedroom is hers. She enjoys spending time in her room, whether she is sleeping, cuddling, nursing, or playing. It’s her safe place. The atmosphere is calm, and the activities we allow in her room are calm as well: reading, playing with puzzles, blocks, and dolls… no rough-housing or noisy toys.

In the evening, when it’s time for Bonnie to go to bed, we keep it dark (no lamps or night lights) and we use a sound machine, like this one. Since it’s winter now, we are also using a humidifier.

Bonnie almost always sleeps in her nursery. I can count on one hand the number of times she’s slept with us in our bed. And though I used to hold her for naps often, I do not even do that anymore, unless she happens to fall asleep when we’re out and about, which rarely happens now that she is 8 and a half months old.

2) Don’t nurse your baby to sleep, or put her to sleep with rocking, cuddling, singing, etc.

If you nurse you baby nurse until she falls completely asleep she will not learn how to put herself to sleep on her own. This is a problem because once babies begin to have adult-like sleep cycles (by a few months old,) they actually wake up between sleep cycles. We adults wake up between sleep cycles too, but we put ourselves back to sleep so quickly and easily that we normally don’t ever know we’ve woken. A baby who does not know how to put herself back to sleep between cycles will cry, and need help falling back asleep between every cycle. In Bonnie’s case, she was wanting to nurse between each sleep cycle, even when she was not necessarily hungry.

It’s fine (and wonderful) to nurse, or rock with, or sing to your baby before bed, but it’s best to stop and put her in her crib while she’s drowsy, but not asleep. This way, she’s forced to learn to put herself to sleep without your help.

3) Give her a sleep toy.

I was really skeptical about this suggestion, but it’s turned out so well! Bonnie’s cow (which you can see in her crib in this post) was a big splurge (we bought it here.) I am so glad we went for it though, because she loves her cow, and absolutely associates the cow with resting in her crib. I only let her play with the cow when she is in her crib for naps or bedtime, and I think this has helped her learn that holding the cow means it’s time to wind down.

4) Don’t go into her room when she wakes at night. She’ll put herself back to sleep!

This one is so tough. Moms on Call recommends putting your baby down at bedtime (which is around 6:00 for Bonnie lately) and not going back in the room until 6 or 7:00 the next morning…no matter what. As hard as this was the first few nights, it’s been a game-changer. Doing this has helped with nights, but it has also helped tremendously with naps. Bonnie now puts herself to sleep quickly between sleep cycles.

I do have feelings, and normal mom emotions, so there have been occasions when I’ve broken this rule, like when she’s teething (although the professionals would say not to even go in when she is teething!)

The great thing about sleep training is that it really does teach you what your baby’s cries mean. I can tell if Bonnie is crying out of frustration, pain, or hunger. Thus, I know whether she actually needs me during the night or not (and more often than not, she doesn’t.)

This might be a good time to mention that it’s not appropriate to sleep train until your baby is six months old, and no longer needs to nurse or take a bottle at night.

5) Create consistent bedtime and nap time routines.

This is a biggie because babies thrive on order, routine, and predictability. That’s part of the reason I’m such a believer in scheduling. Bonnie’s bedtime routine is something we never skip, and the same goes for her nap time routine. The two routines are similar, except the nap routine is shorter, and does not include a bath.

Bedtime Routine:

  • Bathe and brush teeth
  • Baby massage, put on a clean diaper and pajamas
  • Nurse
  • Read a book (or two or three)
  • Pray, sing, and rock
  • Put in crib, with sound machine on and lights off

Nap time Routine: 

  • Play quietly in the nursery
  • Read a book
  • Nurse
  • Put in crib, with sound machine on and lights off

These are just quick snippets of what we’ve done for Bonnie, but if you are wanting more details, I cannot recommend these two books highly enough: 

  • Moms on Call– They have a book for babies ages 0-6 months and 6-15. These have been great lifelines for me, as a first time mom.
  • The Sleep Sense Program– Perhaps the best $10 I’ve ever spent. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll breeze through this book in one night!

5 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

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3 Fun Baby Shower Games {For Those Who are Expecting and Those Who are Expecting to be Expecting}

My hope for this blog is that it is a haven of Christ-centered hope for women walking through infertility. But this is also a place where new life is celebrated… empty wombs being miraculously filled, and aching hearts being made new. Regardless of how or when it comes about, new life is worth celebrating, and praising God over!

So this post is for the women whose empty wombs have been filled. I hope you are soaking up every moment of pregnancy.

There is nothing quite as magical as experiencing the miracle of welcoming a new baby to the family, and if it is your first time, it can be both a rewarding and harrowing experience, especially in the months leading up to the birth of the new member of the family. New parents have friends and family to share in the journey, as well as to give them love and support at this time, and one fun way that family and friends show their support is through… baby showers!

Baby showers are a time-worn tradition, and whether or not you choose to throw one for yourself or have one of your child’s godparents throw one for you, it is bound to be a special event. Playing games at the baby shower is always a great way to make the event more fun. Here are some games you may want to play:

1. Daddy Relay
Being a parent requires a very special set of skills. From changing diapers to making formula, burping the baby, and dressing her up, it can all be frustrating for first-time parents – especially the dads! This game allows them to practice these skills, while pitting them against other dads. To play the game, secure some baby dolls – one for each of the participants – and some diapers, baby powder, baby wipes, baby clothes, and baby bottles. Set these up in stations across your house, and ask the dads to line up at the starting line, handing them one doll each. Have them go to each station and perform the set tasks on their baby doll: changing the diaper, dressing the baby, and feeding it in the proper position – complete with burping!

2. Baby Shower Bingo
With Free Bingo Hunter, there are now hundreds of online bingo sites that transform the game with varied themes, and custom bingo is always a big success. The game has been used in bridal showers and baby showers for a while, and all you’ll really need are custom bingo cards like the ones on Babbee.com. The cards have items you would often see at a baby shower, and the host draws bingo call cards from a hat. The first to complete a bingo pattern wins the game. This is one of my personal favorites.

3. Clay Babies
This is probably one of the most fun games you’ll ever play at a baby shower – and you might even discover that some of your friends have hidden talents in the process! All you need is some modeling clay – enough for all your participants – and some space for them to work. Give your participants some time, maybe 10-15 minutes, to create their own babies out of the modeling clay, and then pick which one you think is the best! You could have different categories too, such as Most Creative, Most Disturbing, Most Realistic and Most Lazy.

What games have you played at your baby showers?

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