Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Been a While!

My life as a busy mom and a teacher has caught up with me when it comes to blogging. I have not disappeared, just been too busy to get on here to play catch up. It's been an interesting school year so far, and that keeps me very busy with my head in my teacher's manuals. And, life with Isabella is ever exciting! She's into everything and is very hands-on and it leaves no time for blogging.

So, since she is peacefully napping next to me and I have the day off from work (NJ Teacher's Convention), I thought I would catch up. Isabella had her 15-month check-up today. 15 months! I can hardly believe that she is that old already. Time just goes by too quickly. The pediatrician we saw today is far from my favorite, but I realized that she's really not all that evil and actually has a sense of humor, I just still don't prefer her. But, onto the good stuff. My little munchkin is still a petite diva. She's 19lbs 13.5 ounces, which puts her a little over the 7th percentile. Length is another story...she's 28 3/4 inches long. That puts her in the 3rd percentile. Yes, my baby is little. She's always been little and she continues to grow within the same curve on the percentile chart. She's my sassy little lady and although she's a munchkin in every sense of the word, she's my cutie and I love her!!

What else is new? Isabella is full out walking and running. She thinks it's funny for you to chase her. She'll wait for you to come around the hallway and then she'll turn and walk away from you slowly until she realizes you are chasing her. Then, she will giggle and run. It's adorable! She teases the dog. She knows the difference between a dog and a cat, since we have a Shihtzu and my parents have a pit bull and two cats. Most days, she'll just call Angel "Og." Get it? Og=Dog. But, when she wants to tease the dog, she'll walk up to her, try to cuddle with her, pet her, then call her "Key Cat" (Kitty Cat). It's pretty funny, and she knows it is since she laughs as soon as she says it. She humors herself! She's got a vocabulary bursting at the seams already. She knows a lot of words and is starting to speak in phrases. It's great. She gets less frustrated when she wants something because as long as she isn't beyond the point of frustration already, she can tell us what she wants or at least walk to it and wait for us to get it. She amazes me with what she is able to do these days. Now if only she could put herself to sleep...

Everyday brings new adventures. Some of these adventures are fun, like watching my baby play in Chickfila with the bigger kids and flirt with little boys. Yes, my "sweet" Isabella is a sassy one who loves her boys. She will flirt with the cutest of the cute! Some of these adventures are not fun, like our car ride home from my mom's house the other day. With these molars coming in, My Sweet One has been sticking her fingers in her mouth and then she jams them down her throat, I guess to see how far back her fingers can go. Well, she did this in the car and caused herself to throw up all over herself  and her carseat. Needless to say, I couldn't get home fast enough, strip her down, and get her in the tub/ Febreeze is a lifesaver, as my car now smells normal again. Adventures like that are not my idea of fun, but it's all part of Motherhood and I wouldn't EVER trade it for ANYTHING!

The thought occurred to me earlier today that two years ago, on this day, I went to my RE's office for my IUI. The IUI that would give me my sweet Isabella. Yes, two years ago, I truly embarked on my adventures in motherhood. Two years ago, I laid in the exam room, with my knees in the air for the 10 minutes they want you to "baste" before you can start "baking." I was doubtful. I wanted to believe that this would be it, this would be the time I conceived my long-awaited child. But part of my doubted it would be possible. I started my two weeks of agonizing waiting. Waiting for a negative test. Waiting to start the next cycle. Waiting for disappointment to greet me once again. But that disappointment never came. November will forever be a special month for me. I conceived my beautiful, precious Isabella in November 2009, had my IUI November 11, 2009, and my life has never been the same. I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

We are here, we made it through Hurricane Irene (Isabella's first hurricane and my first REAL hurricane) just fine. Earlier in the week, we had an earthquake (well, Virginia had the earthquake, but we could feel it in NJ), but we were in the car. So we didn't physically feel the earth move. Scary to think about, though. 

Hurricane Irene was a very scary experience for our little family, but we made it through. Hubby went grocery shopping and made sure to get lots of non-perishable food items on Friday, since the threat of losing power was very real. We filled up the cars with gas and parked them away from the giant tree in our front yard. The rain started Saturday afternoon and it wasted no time getting to be a heavy rain. The wind didn't pick up until the evening. On Saturday, we brought all the food down to the basement, packed a bunch of things into a basket for the night, set up the air mattress in the basement, and set up the pack n play. We didn't want to sleep in our bedroom, with a giant tree right outside the window. In the back, we have some pine trees and I was worried about them, but not nearly as much. We played with Isabella with all of her toys downstairs (our basement is fully finished and her favorite place to play) until we got her in her pajamas and down to bed. But as the evening turned into early night, the tornado warnings started for South Jersey. We maintained electricity, so we heard all the warnings. It was VERY frightening. At one point, I grabbed Isabella out of the pack n play and ran to our closet under the stairs. Hubby made me move to be behind the bar, since that was a better place, further away from the sliding glass door. I was scared to death that we would lose power, the trees would all fall on the house, we would have a tornado rip off the roof, and we would be helpless because we were in the middle of a hurricane. But God protected us and watched over us. The tornado warnings calmed down around midnight. They started up again around 3am, but they were to the north of us, so I tried to get some sleep. Thankfully, I slept for a few hours, off and on. Isabella slept on the air mattress between Hubby and me, since she was restless and I was still too scared to put her farther away from me. 

Sunday morning brought very heavy rain and heavy wind gusts. We continued to maintain our electricity, though, and for that, we are very thankful. When the rain stopped, we surveyed the house/row of homes in our townhouse unit for any damage. A random piece of siding trim was in our backyard, but we don't know where it came from. No other damage, just some branches down, a lot of leaves lost from the trees, and some MAJOR flooding around the area. We took a drive after the rain was gone so that we could see how much flooding was around our local area. It was unbelievable how many roads were closed due to the flooding. The entire state is water logged. The flood waters are starting to recede, but it is crazy.

We survived here in this house without any damage. We are blessed and thankful. But some of our friends have not been so fortunate. Many homes have water in the basement. Some homes are flooded. A friend of mine lost her home when a tree fell on it during one of the isolated tornadoes. She had to get stitches in her head, as she was hit by the falling tree. Very scary. I watch the news and see all the devastation up and down the east coast and I feel blessed to be safe and yet sick to my stomach to know that I am safe while so many have no homes left. Many babies were born during the hurricane, they say the barometric pressure being so low causes women to go into labor. I'm sure many babies will be born nine months from now. As for me, I survived my own paranoia and nervousness. Isabella wasn't bothered by any of it. The dog was mad because it was raining. And I'm married to a man who is so calm and level-headed during situations like this and I needed that more than he will ever know.

 I will leave you with pictures from Hurricane Irene as we bunkered down and then took pictures of a very small amount of the local flooding.

 Hiding during the tornado warnings
 Hubby and Isabella napping Sunday morning
 Our sleeping arrangement
 My hiding place under the stairs
 Flooding just a few blocks from our house
 Small driving trail completely flooded

 Major highway (Route 73) flooded

 Parking lot completely under water
Notice the sandbags by the door of the PNC bank
 Drive-Thru at the PNC bank
Local intersection flooded

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Journey Through Breastfeeding

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would write a post on my own personal journey through the past year of having my little nursling. I know that breastfeeding isn't for everyone. Not everyone can do it, whether it be for time reasons, health reasons, having multiples (and for those who have multiples and nursed or pumped, that's just amazing), etc...But breastfeeding is an amazing way to nourish your child and spend that bonding time with them, building a lifetime relationship that is like no other.

I will admit, before I was pregnant, I was one of those non-moms who was not a fan of breastfeeding, especially not in public. I always had the thought "how is a mom supposed to explain to her young kids that the mom over there with a child to her breast is just feeding her child?" With the shows on TV that oversexualize women, it can be a little tough to justify breastfeeding uncovered to someone who may not understand. So I was the skeptic. I was all for the idea of just buying formula, making a bottle, and having one ready. For whatever lunatic reason, it seemed more "convenient" to bottle feed. Uh...milk on tap at 2am or get up, make a bottle, warm it up, and feed from it, then wash it. Hmmm...I'm glad I got a little wiser! But I seriously wasn't such a fan on the idea of a child clinging to my chest all the time. I don't know what made me change my mind, maybe it was friends who have breastfed successfully and loved it, or maybe it's the mere fact that formula is a huge expense and my husband and I are both teachers. A summer baby on formula? Not smart, there's no money for all that nonsense if I've got the milk for free, a 24-hour dairy bar! 

The first day breastfeeding, July 28, 2010, was not the easiest. I suppose for some women, it comes so naturally to them and their child. Isabella wanted to nurse, she desperately needed to. She spent a lot of time rooting around, but she just couldn't get a good latch. I refused to allow them to feed her from a bottle, this was something she had to learn to do. A c-section, although the best to birth Isabella, since she was breech and still all over the place during the section, is not good for breastfeeding, as the morphine makes all your body tissues soft. Poor little newborn couldn't get a good enough latch to nurse. I'm thankful for a night time nurse who knew exactly what my baby needed-something to help her latch on, despite my soft tissues. So she brought in a silicone shield. I only used it for the first 24 hours, until I was no longer on the morphine. It helped so much. Isabella was a pro at nursing from the beginning. Although she would fall asleep mid-feed, what newborn doesn't? We worked through it and she made breastfeeding seem easy and well worth it.

When my milk came in 5 days postpartum, I wasn't ready for the engorgement and pain that goes with it. I was warned, but I don't think you are really prepared for it. Poor Isabella again could not latch on very well. I found myself pumping an ounce out each time I wanted to feed, just to relieve some of the engorgement until she could empty out the rest of my milk. It all just became routine. What mattered to me was that I had this uninterrupted time with my beautiful daughter, where it was just the two of us, doing what we did best. Those first few weeks of breastfeeding were wonderful. It was a bonding activity that I am thankful we were able to share. It helps as a new mom to really make you feel needed, useful. 

Our breastfeeding relationship was perfect. She nursed on demand, but got herself onto a good schedule...and then the day came to return to work. She handled it better than I thought she would. I'm the one who struggled through it. Getting into a good pumping routine is hard and I suspect that is when a lot of women throw in the towel. I stuck it out, fell into a good routine, and continued that through the end of the school year. It is not easy, pumping twice a day just to have the milk to give your child and to relieve the engorgement that ensues in those first few weeks of changing the routine. But we worked through the changes and our breastfeeding relationship became perfect again. 

We worked through the intolerance of dairy fats. She didn't have an allergy, just a sensitivity to milk fats. So I had to cut out all dairy that had fat in it. She did fine when I had skim milk, but that was about it. Cheese? Nope. Ice cream? Forget that. Yogurt? No way. Mommy made sacrifices to make it through those first six months or so before she outgrew her milk intolerance. But like all experiences in life, you change to meet the needs of your child. 

When February came and her first cold started, she continued to nurse through it. I suspected an ear infection, but every time we took her to the pediatrician, they said it wasn't that at all. Finally, a month after the cold first appeared, we encountered our first nursing strike. Yes, my 8-month old was striking. I was at my wits end. She wanted to nurse but when she would try, she would then scream in pain. I had to pump a lot those first two days of this nursing strike because it was the weekend and we had a bridal shower and a baby shower to go to. We finally got her in to see the pediatrician after day 3 of the nursing strike and sure enough, her one ear was badly infected. So, she was put on Amoxycillan and sent home. Ten days later, the dose ended and the next day, the second nursing strike began. Yes, this time, I knew what was going on. Those ears were not better. So we took her in again and this time, it was a double ear infection. Poor baby. Poor Mommy. She was put on Cednafir and given a well-check appointment to recheck her ears a day after the antibiotic was done. Ears were clear, nursing was back on track. A few days went by and then, on Easter Sunday, the fever started with the runny nose and the nursing strike. Thankfully, this time, I had the ear numbing drops to help with the pain, so she was able to nurse once the drops kicked in. Three ear infections in a month in a half, which equals three nursing strikes. And yet, I pushed through it, we continued our journey through breastfeeding, even if at times, it's a frustrating journey.

In late June, she started with yet another nursing strike, the fourth one in our relationship together. That one was hard because we weren't home. We were on the road visiting family and she was in pain from something and wouldn't nurse. Well, her top middle teeth were working their way in and she does not teeth well. So she couldn't muster up the strength to nurse through the gum discomfort until some Tylenol was given to her. Poor baby. Poor Mommy. But just like all the times before that, we worked through it and in the end, she was still nursing just fine once those teething stopping pushing so hard on those sensitive gums.

Just before her first birthday, she was running a fever on a Saturday, but we didn't make it to the pediatrician because we had nursery for a friend's wedding. Sunday came, she was still running a fever. Motrin would take it away, but as soon as it would wear off, it would be back. She embarked on another nursing strike until five minutes post ear numbing drops. Once those drops were in, she would nurse again, through the stuffy nose and all. Sure enough, she had her fourth ear infection. The majority of her nursing strikes are from ear infections. So we work through them and get by. 

We've now been on this journey together for a year and nine days. There is no end in sight, though I am planning on weaning fully by 18 months. Then, it's time to get my body back in gear to plan a second child. But for now, we're contentedly enjoying the most of this relationship together. It has taught me a lot as a mom. No matter what I am doing, I am never too busy to let my little nursing suckle. No matter how frustrated we both get, we can get through it with some patience, creativity, and persistence. No matter how many things change around us, we have our routine and it works. 

I'm glad I got a little wiser when the time came to choose breast or bottle for how to feed this beautiful child of mine. And although I always swore I would not nurse in public, I have, many times, though most of them covered. I survived the glares, the comments, the cackling. It's all par for the course. It's all natural, my baby needed to eat, to drink. People just need to know more about it before they make comments or give stares. It's just part of life, you feed where and when you need to based on your child's needs. 

I make milk. What's your superpower?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ear Infection+Birthday Party=Queen Fussypants!

 Yes, another ear infection. Isabella was running a fever the weekend before her birthday, so I kept an eye on things, knowing the signs by now of an ear infection, as she already had three before this one. Sure enough, by the Sunday before her birthday, the ear pulling was in full effect, so  we made an appointment first thing last Monday morning to see the pediatrician. Poor baby had a bad ear infection in one ear and wasn't too far away from having a double infection. She doesn't teeth well. This ear infection is due to three bottom teeth coming in. She tends to drool more when those bottom teeth are coming in and so the fluid backs up into her ears and doesn't drain well (pediatrician suspects narrow ear canals). So, another round of Augmentin was prescribed. It didn't bother her the last time she was on it, but between the ear pain, the teething, the medicine making her belly upset, and just being all around fussy, she was very clingy and Mommy-needy. All this just in time for her birthday. 

Four days into the Augmentin, we had a small birthday party with family on her birthday. Sure enough, Queen Fussypants was in the house. Yes, she was very fussy and very clingy. She refused to let anyone else hold her or even try to take her from me. This became increasingly frustrating for me, since every mom needs a break and my child is usually a social butterfly. But we all survived the small family party, clingy baby and all. 

We had a big party for her on Saturday. It was so nice to share such a special event with so many friends and family. For those who have struggled with infertility, you know the specialness of reaching that first birthday. All these friends and family had prayed for us long before Isabella was conceived. She was prayed for, thought of, and dreamed of by many before she ever arrived in the womb and out of the womb. So for so many people to share with us as our little miracle turned one, it gets me a little teary eyed. I'm so blessed to have many family members and friends who just love my Isabella, even when she's fussy and only wants Mommy. 

It was a nice event and we held it in our basement. It's so nice to have a house to host festivities in! Living in our apartment for so long, I never realized how much fun entertaining could be, even if I wasn't able to prep much or do anything besides decorate to get ready, since Isabella was so fussy. I'm glad I have understanding friends and family who knew she just wasn't feeling up to par, since they know her normal fun-loving behavior. She just wasn't herself. 

The clothes...I dressed her in a birthday shirt with an adorable tutu made my Jennie from Designs by Cupcake Cuties. She was nice enough to bring the tutu over, even with Isabella's ear infection. Our babies enjoyed their playdate, even if half of it seemed to involve pigging out on their snacks.
I was going to put a cute hairbow that I got just for her birthday in her hair, but it was very big on her and she just wasn't feeling too well. So we just settled for a small hairbow. Nothing wrong with downsizing. So Isabella was dressed as the adorable baby she is!

Cake....she loved the cake her Poppy made for her birthday. It was an angel food cake with pineapples and cool whip/dream whip. She loved it so much that she stole part of my cake slice and fed it to herself! Her big birthday cake for the big party? She hated it. She cried. It was awful! Poor baby girl. 

All in all, it was a nice time. We are so glad we got to celebrate one year of having Isabella in our hearts and in our lives. Here are some pictures from both the smaller party and the main festivity!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Isabella Turns One!

Today, my sweet baby girl turns one. 

Hard to believe that just one year ago, I checked myself into L&D so that I could have my c-section at 1:00pm. Last year at this very minute, 9:31am, I had such bad butterflies in my empty stomach. I hadn't eaten anything in over nine hours. I hadn't had anything to drink in over nine hours. I was hungry, thirsty, anxious, and jittery. The nerves can get the best of you as you await what will forever change your life, your world. At this time a year ago, I sat at home with my feet up watching the clock. I anxiously awaited that clock changing to 10:00am, when we would load up the car and head to the hospital. 

A year ago today, I cried on my way to the hospital. Some of those tears were fear and nervousness. I was afraid of surgery. I didn't know how much pain I would be in, how sick I would be. I had heard stories from other women and I didn't know what to expect. Hubby comforted me and reminded me of what awaited on the other side of the surgery. Yes, what awaited was sure to be a beautiful newborn girl, MY baby, the one I had dreamed of for so many years. Although that was supposed to be comforting, indeed, it made me cry more! I was emotionally fragile, with so many different emotions running through me. But, I maintained myself long enough to get through the main hospital doors, check myself in at the front desk, and head up to L&D. Hubby offered to "give me the full experience" and wheel me up there in a wheel chair as if I was in labor or something. Of course, I denied it. Nothing like a nine-month pregnant lady in a pretty dress walking around the hospital just mere hours before holding that sweet baby!

All of that was a year ago...seems like yesterday. A lot of it is still so clear in my mind. The first time I heard that sweet cry, the first time I looked at my sweet girl's beautiful face, the first time I held her in my arms, the first time I was able to breastfeed her, the first time her Daddy held her, kissed her, and let her steal his heart forever, the first time her Poppy held her, the first time I saw both of her grandmothers hold her, kiss her, cradle her rock her, and snuggle with her. It all seems like yesterday. It feels like that was mere hours ago and yet, it was not hours ago, not a day or a week ago, but 365 days ago. Yes, a year can seem so small in time.

We are getting ready for the birthday celebrations around here. This day has been so long awaited! When you try for so many years to conceive a child, that long awaited miracle baby is so welcome with open arms. And now that she turns one, everyone is so nurturing and excited along with us! There is something extra special about an infertile's child turning one. Yes, we infertile myrtles make beautiful babies and they are so extra special. We're celebrating with a very small group of family who could make it tonight and then the REAL party is on Saturday. Isabella's friends will be here along with her very special and very close family members. It's sure to be an exciting day for all of us! 

There was a long period of time when I almost thought a day like today, a 1st birthday celebration for your child, would ever be mine to experience. But indeed, the day has come to celebrate what the Good Lord has given me. He has given me a perfect, beautiful baby girl who no longer counts her age in mere months. She now has a full year of life in her. I am so thankful for and blessed by all that has been given to us in the past year. This child of mine is the biggest and grandest of blessings by far. She's made it through one year of milestones, changes, and adventures. Now, on to the next year!

Friday, July 15, 2011

So Much to Catch Up On!

My goodness, where do I even start? I've been such a slacker about blogging lately. With a baby on the go, it's been increasingly difficult to find the time to really sit down and catch up! I shall try to do it all at once. I'll put pictures and videos on here, too, to show all the fun times we are having.

Isabella is almost a year old already. Time sure has gone by so quickly. In a little less than two weeks, I will have a one year old. That seems to strange to say. My little baby is no longer a baby. She is very much a little girl. I treasure everything about her, even the past month of sleepless nights and not handling teething well. It all goes with the package and I wouldn't want it any other way. Those are the things that make up who she is. 

So let's see, Isabella is fully crawling now. She gets around pretty quickly. If you don't keep your eyes on her, she's across the room in no time. She pulls herself up on anything and everything she can find and is wanting to walk on her own, but she's still too wobbly in the knees. But that will come soon. I think that by the end of the summer, she will be walking. Hubby thinks she'll be walking by her birthday, but that gives her two weeks to not only take her first steps, but get beyond her sea legs. I'm not so sure about that. But I guess we'll see!

We have lots of teeth. She now has 6 teeth. Her gums are all swollen by her cuspids and molars, so we'll see what comes in next. She only has two bottom teeth, though. Her top middle two teeth just came in during June and are still dropping into position. They have caused her so much discomfort. I feel so bad for my baby. She really doesn't cut teeth well at all. But with all these teeth, she has been eating more and more yummy foods. Breakfast is such a challenge. I can't seem to find anything this child wants to eat for breakfast besides dry cheerios and watermelon. Strange combination, but that's what she likes. We're going to try scrambled eggs with sausage mixed in and see where we get with that. 

You would think the teeth would deter me, but I am still breastfeeding. It's a challenge to breastfeed a one year old, her attention is getting worse. But when she really wants to nurse, she lets me know. She often times doesn't like to nurse when her daddy is around unless it's the middle of the night. She nurses so much better when it is quiet and it's just the two of us. I guess it's all par for the course. She is showing no signs of wanting to wean, just signs of wanting to nurse in different positions and different times of the day. My goal is to get to 18 months and be fully weaned by then. That means that by the end of January, I want to have a fully weaned child. I guess if she weans herself by then, it's not going to be as difficult as if I have to wean her. So we'll see how things go. 

She went to Kentucky to visit her Great Grandma and Great Grandpa. I took some videos of them together. All of my grandparents are deceased, but thankfully, my husband still has his mom's parents. They are wonderful, especially with little babies. Isabella will cherish the videos when she is older. They are a wonderful way to capture the moment. With the distance between New Jersey and Kentucky, we won't get out there again until November. So it was definitely a nice trip. She was smitten with her Great Grandpa, but who wouldn't be! 

Isabella is a beach lover. We've been to the beach three times now (gotta love living an hour and a half from the beach!) and although she was unsure of it the first time, she loves it now. She tries her best to eat sand and even though she spits out that first handful, she always goes back for more. She loves to roll around in the sand. She also has come to love her toes being in the water. She was unsure of it the first time went to the ocean. But now, she loves it. Next year will be even more fun! 

There's not much else going on. We're planning a first birthday party with lots of friends and family over to celebrate the first year of this little miracle baby. It took a lot of work and prayer to conceive her and so this celebration is an extra special one. She is my blessing and we will celebrate it fully. 

Sorry it has taken me this long to make this post, I just had so much to catch up on! Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Goodness, it's been a while since my last post! Isabella sure keeps me busy! There's been a lot that has been going on, lots of changes with her, good and bad. Me? There's nothing new with me. Where do I start with Isabella...I'll make a list of all the new things she does.

*She waves! She's been waving for at least three weeks now. She waves "hi" and "bye." Sometimes, we remind her to say hi to someone and she'll wave. Other times, she just does it on her own. Every now and then, she plays the shy game and won't wave. Instead, she'll give this little shy smile and bury her head in my shoulder or her Daddy's shoulder. 

*She speaks words! Sure, she's been saying "Dada" and "Mama" for at least a month or so now, but she's added more words to her vocabulary! She's said "Hi," "bye," and "hello." She also says "thank you." What ten and a half month old that you know of has manners like that! She tries her best to say "Angel" and "doggy" when the dog is around, but it never quite comes out right. We're working on it, though.

*She now has 4 teeth. This last tooth to come in was absolute torture. She went on a modified nursing strike for 4 days. It was horrible! She would only nurse at bedtime, in the middle of the night, and first thing in the morning. Otherwise, she would scream out in pain and arch her back all the way backwards. Hubby to her to the pediatrician to have her ears checked because it was the same behaviors that started the first ear infection. Her ears were completely clear, it was just teething pain. Thankfully, by Thursday, the tooth had fully broken through the gums and seemed to be no longer a pain for Isabella. She's back to happily nursing and laughing instead of crying throughout the day.

*She crawls...backwards. Yes, she still doesn't crawl forwards. She would rather try to walk than work on crawling. She doesn't walk on her own, she holds my fingers and walks, pulling me along behind her wherever she wants to go. This is not a good sign, she'll be walking on her own before I know it. I think she's going to walk before she crawls forward. But we'll see. Maybe she'll crawl for a day before she walks. Who knows!

*I'm STILL breastfeeding. I know, the girl who swore she'd NEVER EVER breastfeed is the same girl who after ten and a half long months is still going strong with it. My long-term goal is 18 months. With each tooth that comes in, I've survived the biting (Isabella only bites when a new tooth is breaking through the gums), the nursing strikes, the ear infections (poor/frustrating nursing sessions), and the pinching. I am over halfway to my goal! I can't believe I once said I wouldn't ever do this. I would have missed out on so much beautiful Mommy-Daughter time. I cherish my moments with Isabella when I can cradle her while nursing and just look into her bright blue eyes. Gosh, I love that girl! There's not a whole lot of things better than just being able to look into those little blue eyes that I thought I would never get to see.

*Summer break is almost here! There's one good thing about being a teacher and that's having the summer to spend with my beautiful daughter. I'm so excited to spend this summer with her, teaching her lots of new fun things. She's going to walk, hopefully crawl, and maybe even learn some simple sign language! I'd love to have a child who can communicate better and not be as frustrated when I don't know what she wants. 

That's about it from this world. As we speak, Sesame Street is coming to an end and Isabella is getting frustrated about not being the center of Mommy's attention. So I'm going to end this blog post here with a few pictures of my Isabella from the past few weeks. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More Reflections on Motherhood and the Journey to Get Here

A friend of mine texted me over the weekend and asked about what was specifically not working right with my body that caused my difficulty conceiving. It got me thinking about the journey I went on to get here. Times like that can cause me to reflect on how I feel about things like that. So I thought I would share some reflections I had and then some of my reflections on Motherhood. So, thoughts about the journey...

It's hard. Nobody said it was easy. Nobody thinks it's easy. It's emotionally hard. It's physically hard. It's mentally hard. It can be spiritually hard. But, for as hard as it was, I don't regret a single step in that journey. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat if it meant the end result was another beautiful child like Isabella.

I wouldn't wish this journey on my worst enemy. Yes, I said I would do it again in a heartbeat. But I have the end result to hold in my arms, to snuggle with, to kiss goodnight. Not everyone does. And it's so draining. It can be hard on a marriage. It can be hard on friendships. I wouldn't want anyone to ever go through what I went through to get Isabella. And the reality is that a lot of women go through much more to get their beautiful miracles and I'm sure that knowing the end result, they would do it again in a heartbeat, too.

Part of me is scared to go through it all again in a few years. Hubby and I have decided to wait until 2012 to start with fertility treatments again. And although the idea of a second child is exciting, I'm so nervous and scared of the journey to get there. Silly, maybe, but it's the truth! All those thoughts go through your head like "What if it doesn't happen this time around?" and "What if all my hormonal issues have multiplied and are worse?" All thoughts I have no right to be thinking, since I'm not even thinking about conceiving that child until a year from this coming fall. But the thoughts are still there...

And then, some reflections on Motherhood.

Before being a Mom, I thought I knew how much I could love another human being. I love my parents, I love my husband, I love my siblings. But nothing prepares your heart for the overflowing love you feel as a Mother. My mom told me there was no love like that of a mother. But you just don't understand until you are one yourself. I looked at Isabella as she slept in my arms tonight ad said to Hubby, "Did you ever think you could love such a small, delicate being as much as you do?" It just amazes me how much I love my little baby girl.

Time does not march on. It zips on past. No marching band can march as quickly as time seems to go by. I miss those first few months. I saw a little boy at the allergist tonight and it made my heart a little sad because I feel like that was already forever ago. Every stage and milestone is hit so quickly and time zips on past. First, it's cereal. Then, it's baby food. Then, it's the teething. Then, it's more solid foods, crawling, and practice walking. It's the talking, the waving bye-byes, and already forming personality. Time just goes by too quickly.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reflections before Mother's Day Arrives

I was thinking to myself today how strange it is to actually be celebrating Mother's Day as a mother. And then, I was taken back to a time when I bitterly sat in church in Mother's Day and watched as all the kids would go and get a flower to give to their moms. And there I would sit, no child to bring me a flower. I remember all those emotions and I know that some of you who read this blog are feeling those very emotions right now. Mother's Day is a holiday that is so hard for the woman fully engrossed in the infertility world. It's so hard to watch as your friends, your family, and your blogger friends celebrate such a special, enchanted day. It's one of those holidays that the woman who is battling infertility would rather sleep through and not have to deal with. I've been there and even though I have a child, I can't help but remember how that felt. 

Life is so different now for me. I'm hosting Mother's Day lunch tomorrow for my parents and it's my first official Mother's Day as a mother! It's very surreal, almost like a dream, to think that I have a daughter, I am a mother, this holiday is now for me, too. It's exciting to realize that nine months in, nobody has pinched me to wake me up from this beautiful dream. But I guess that's because it's not a dream. Indeed, my reality of being a Mother to the most beautiful little girl I could have ever dreamed of is a wonderful reality. I am a Mother. Me. A Mom. I still have to repeat that to myself. It's so strange to think about it! 

Happy early Mother's Day to all the moms reading this, both young and old, both moms to human babies and moms to furry babies. Mother's Day is celebrated once a year, but we're moms all year long!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award!

Thank you, The Disheartened and Jessica for the nomination! I'm not used to getting blog nominations and sometimes, I just think people skip over my blog, since it really isn't always the most interesting! I appreciate the love TONS!

Here are the rules:
1.) Winners- Put the above image in your blog.
2.) Include a link back to the person who gave it to you.
3.) Tell 10 things about yourself
4.) Award 15 other bloggers
5.)Contact the bloggers you awarded and let them know they won.
So, I put the picture there right in the beginning of this blog. AND, I linked back to the two awesome women who nominated me. Now, for ten things about me...
1. I still consider my doggie to be my "firstborn." I know, it's not the same, but fur babies are babies and she was my first one. Shhh! We won't tell Isabella!

2. My husband actually chose our daughter's name. I was really leaning towards "Azaria." I think it's a beautiful name and it means "Helped by God." I thought it seemed perfect for my child after all I had been through, but we had four names on the list and in order to secure the middle name "Joy," I let Hubby choose her first name, Isabella.

3. I'm a teacher and I LOVE my job. Regardless of how bad things are politically in New Jersey at the moment, my students are my job and I love them.

4. My husband and I met at our first real teaching job. He's a music teacher and I'm a special education teacher. It was almost love at first sight. I just had to stop denying how I felt about him.

5. I play the flute. In fact, I played at the Earth Day assembly at my school on Wednesday and ended up with my picture in the county newspaper.

6. I'm in love with nature, mainly the spring flowers. I just love to go for walks on warm spring mornings and evenings with my camera in tow so I can take pictures of the blossoms on the trees and the flowers in full bloom in the gardens.

7. I'm a quilter. I haven't yet made a quilt for my daughter, though I plan on doing that this summer. I have made other baby quilts and have a few to make for my new mommy and mommy-to-be friends.

8. I used to work at a camp called "Mt. Misery." For real, that's really the name of the United Methodist Camp. Google it. It's an awesome place with a very quirky name.

9. I went to an all women's college, Georgian Court University (it was still a college back then). In order to get some men around, we "imported" them from the military base. One of my dearest friends is one of those military guys.

10. I have almost no sweet tooth. It died when I got pregnant with Isabella and hasn't really returned. I guess it's really not a bad deal.

Now, the nominees (in no specific order):

1. Christina from The Subfertile Frugalista
2. Jennifer at Thoughts From a Blonde
9. Journey Girl at Donor Eggs Journey
10. ~Sabine~ from A Land Far Away
11. Catrisha T at Baby Dreams
12. The Mrs. from In God's Hands
14. Olivia from Traveling Within

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Few Lessons Learned on Planet Mom

There are a thousand lessons a mom learns on her first adventure in parenthood. And certainly, I can't write them all down. I don't know most of them, since I haven't yet learned some of those lessons. But I thought I would share some of those lessons with you. Some are comical, some are personal, some are just common sense. Enjoy!

Lesson 1: Sleep has a new-found value. Yes, I thought it was best to start with this one. The truth is that you will still get sleep as a mom. But you won't get as much sleep as you used to and it often is broken sleep, with a baby waking up in the middle of the night. Again, not a big deal, you still get sleep, but sleep takes on new value. Being a mom is exhausting and it's always good to have those extra moments to nap.

Lesson 2: You're time is not your own anymore. Yes, you may still have a few moments of "me time." But it just isn't the same. Your time is spent doing laundry for the baby, giving the baby a bath, nursing, feeding the baby breakfast, lunch, or dinner, playing with the baby, cuddling with the baby, or rocking the baby to sleep. Yes, those few moments of "me time" are usually spent driving to work, getting a shower, or letting Daddy play with the baby.

Lesson 3: You can NEVER have enough baby clothes. Okay, my loving and very frugal husband would definitely not agree with that statement. But it's true, especially for baby girls. They need such a beautiful wardrobe filled with dresses, rompers, jumpers, leggings, athletic pants, khakis, jeans, onesies (short and long sleeved), t-shirts, long sleeved shirts, socks, hair bows, jackets, etc...you get the idea. There can never be enough. Everything out there is just too darn cute!

Lesson 4: Babies want to spend a lot of time with Mommy. There are moments when I would just love for Isabella to want her daddy. But the reality is that she wants to spend a lot of time with me. Sometimes, it's just sitting on the floor playing with her and that's all she wants. Other times, it's a soft place to sleep and loving arms to rock her to sleep. But it's a lot of time spent with Mommy.

Lesson 5: Sleep deprivation is a natural thing and you learn to work through it. Yes, I never thought I would say that. But I get a lot less sleep now than before I had Isabella and somehow, my body has adjusted to it and it's fine. But, of course, I still get 6+ hours of sleep a night, so it's not full sleep deprivation. 

Lesson 6: Ear infections+teething=a very unhappy baby. Okay, that's common sense. I just had to add it in. It was a miserable weekend when the ear infection was in full force. Thankfully, it's gone and the first tooth is working its way in (just broke the gums today).

Lesson 7: A smile from your baby can make everything feel okay. Maybe you had a bad day at work. Maybe you're just feeling sad or depressed. Who knows what's going on with each of us day to day. But I know that when I'm not feeling fabulous, Isabella gives me that Hollywood smile (I know, an eight-month old can give a Hollywood smile? Really? Yes!) and it just melts my heart. It makes everything all better, even if it's just for the moment.

Lesson 8: Strangers are going to admire your baby (and not always from their own personal space). There are too many dirty, germy hands that reach out for my baby because they want to admire her. It's just I need to teach adults about personal space and the rule of "if it's not yours, don't touch it!" They will feel the need to "pet" your baby's head, touch their feet, and try to hold their hand. Yes, it happens quite often and I am irritated by people's lack of personal space.

Lesson 9: Your post-baby body is still beautiful, baby pooch and all. I know, this is a hard lesson to listen to. But it's true. There is nothing more beautiful than the body of a woman who brought life into this world. That kangaroo pouch is a beautiful thing, just think of the purpose it served! Of course, it helps to be even more beautiful when you put that beautiful baby in your arms. It's like arm candy!

Lesson 10: Time goes too quickly during the first year. Everyone says this and we all nod our heads and say "Sure it does." But seriously, it does. I am at a loss for where time has gone. It has flown by, too quickly, much too quickly. Write down everything, take lots of pictures, too, because the time just goes by too quickly.

Lesson 11: All moms need mom friends who know what they are experiencing. I could not have embarked on this adventure alone. It has been so important to me to have friends who have babies Isabella's age or just a little older who know what I'm going through. Their knowledge and wisdom has been so important to me.

Lesson 12: That beautiful hair you gained in pregnancy? Gone. Yep, gone. I lost so much hair around 2-3 months postpartum. Now, I have these annoying baby fuzzies on the top of my head, right around the front of the hair line. My hair is not as lustrous or full as it was during pregnancy. My husband still says it's beautiful, but it isn't what it was nine months ago.

Lesson 13: Anything that makes noise can help distract an angry baby. I love that I can distract Isabella with my cell phone, the dog's squeakie toys, or any of her rattles. She can get moody, but I can easily get her attention on something new instead of whatever was making her mad before.

Lesson 14: Everyone will offer advice on every situation. Some pieces of advice are great. Other pieces of advice are not worth much. The best piece of advice I was ever given was that not all advice given to me would be worth my time. But everyone, even those friends without children, think they know everything. They have been there, tried that, done that, and experienced that. They have the answer for this problem and that problem. Just take it all in and decide what applies to you.

Lesson 15: Quality spouse time can be hard to find. This isn't always the case, but especially with ear infections, teething, and hungry babies, it can be hard to find time to really enjoy quiet time with your spouse. 

Lesson 16: Put away those pretty trinkets that dangle around your neck. Yes, I mean your bling. It becomes an excellent pulling toy for the baby. Isabella LOVES necklaces. Mommy doesn't wear them, so she loves to be held by anyone wearing them. She pulls on them, chews on them, and loves the feeling of the chains on between her fingers. But if it's an expensive piece of jewelry, you may not want to wear it for a while.

Lesson 17: You will gain an infinite amount of patience dealing with a baby. Maybe you didn't think it was possible to have the patience of a saint. But have a baby and you'll learn that you'll gain it quickly. It can be very frustrating taking care of a fussy baby, especially when you don't know why they are fussy. But sometimes, all it takes it a lot of patience and a lot of love (plus some gas drops, Tylenol, or cuddling) to help ease the grumpiness.

Lesson 18: Your adventures are endless, as there are always new things to do. Isabella is getting into more and more things and yet, she isn't even crawling yet! Imagine the adventures once she starts crawling and then walking! We've already had a lot of adventures and she is so much fun. There are so many more adventures just waiting around the corner!

Lesson 19: Taking an adventure with your spouse (even to the grocery store) without the baby is a DATE. Okay, so maybe not a trip to the grocery store, but any time you can get out without the baby, it's a date! And it really doesn't happen that often if you're like me and want to soak up every moment you can with your baby.

Lesson 20: Babies make the world a much happier place. This needs no explanation. It just is true!

Those are my lessons learned. And of course, there are so many more to share, but I'll leave you with those 20 lessons for now! Thanks for reading them all!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ear Infections, Teething, and My Little Princess

I know, I know, I'm a slacker and haven't posted for a while. Lots has been going on, keeping me very busy and unable to really get on here to post anything. 

We survived Isabella's first ear infection! It was NOT easy. She was running a fever two weeks ago, so we called the triage line for our pediatrian. They weren't too concerned about it and told us to just keep a watch on it. So we did. The fever broke and we thought nothing of it. Then, two weekends ago, she wouldn't nurse. In fact, she pretty much lost her appetite and would just scream and cry at the drop of a hat. We would lay her down. She'd cry. I'd try to nurse. She'd cry. I'd try to feed her some baby food. She's cry. We were at a loss. She was really gassy, so I just chalked it up to the gas and teething. An entire weekend of this went by with no change. So we got her in for a sick baby visit and sure enough, she had an ear infection. She had lost weight because of what the pediatrician called "Baby Anorexia." I call it a modified nursing strike. She's been on antibiotics for over a week and it's made all the difference. The old Isabella is back and it's nice to have her back! My milk production took a serious nose dive from her ear infection. In fact, my cycles started again because of her nursing strike. But my milk production has increased in the last few days, so hopefully, we're fully on the rebound. She's now up to 16.19 pounds. I'm sure she would weigh more if she didn't have that nasty middle ear infection. 

Now, the teething. Ugh...those teeth are still not in! The bottom two are trying to push through the gums. In fact, the tooth bud for the lower right side is working on coming it. You can feel it and see it clearly, but still no teeth. She's wanting to chew on EVERYTHING. She wants to massage her gums with anything she can get her hands on. Not always a good thing. She decided tonight to chew on the TV remote! That's a no-no for sure!

As for everything else, things are going well. Isabella is such a little ham. She knows when the camera is out and she'll pose. I know, an 8-month-old who poses? Come on. Well, I'm serious! Here are a few pictures to leave you with. I'll try to post a better, longer post this weekend. But we'll see how busy Izzy keeps me!