Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sleep is my Favorite

I love to sleep. There's no question about that. The only thing I'm dreading about having a newborn in the house again is the lack of sleep I'll be getting.

One thing I was so blessed with Emmalyn was that she was sleeping through the night at four months old. [Please don't throw things at me!] I had it ingrained in my head that I needed to "sleep train" my baby to make our lives easier. Honestly, our personal version of "sleep training" Emmy really worked. For us, at least. I would put Emmy down to sleep while she was still awake, and to this day I still believe that was one of the best things we could have done. She's always been such a good sleeper--walking to her crib/toddler bed and going to sleep on her own.

That is, until now. Or rather, a few months ago.

When we moved this past July, we had a couple of smooth weeks of sleep, where Emmy would crawl into her bed on her own after we read, sang, and said prayers. Then once new things started popping up in her life--like school & dance class, she started putting up a fight over going to bed.

& by "fight" I mean, kicking & screaming & hitting...

It was miserable.

For e v e r y o n e.

We tried a couple of different sleep training "styles" (if you will). 
The first we tried was to lay (or is it lie??) in bed with her for several nights...

...then sit on her bed for a few nights... 

...then sit on a chair in the middle of her room for the next several nights... 

...then on a chair outside her door. 

The point was to eventually not be in her room at all. We didn't want to get in the habit of lying in bed with her because either the hubs or I would fall asleep, then wake up who-knows-when and miss half (if not all) of our evening together. Not to mention I always felt so groggy after falling asleep in her bed.

This really seemed like it would work, but alas, she just kept getting out of her bed. Some nights she would put up a fight, and others she would simply be a little Miss Chatty Cathy.

I swore I could get the whole "Super Nanny" technique to work for us. If you aren't familiar with it, it's where you put the child to bed and say, "goodnight and I love you," then, if & when the child gets out of bed, you don't say a word, but put him/her back into bed. You may have to do this 20-200 times a night, but with each day it's suppose to be less and less, until at last they don't get out of bed at all. I'm telling you I tried this--and I was s o o o o patient and consistent (for well over a month!), but it just didn't work for us. There are days when I'm still in denial over it not working for us. I was seriously such a firm believer that this was the way to go to get Emmalyn to sleep.

By the time Emmalyn would finally wear herself out and hit the hay, it would be after 10pm!! We would be at this whole bedtime torture thing for over two hours! Not okay.

When you know something isn't working for your family, you have to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.

So what did we end up doing?

Well, through a lot of prayer & reading, I felt in my heart that it was okay to scratch the whole "sleep training" theory and just.be.mommy.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that Emmalyn is only three--although she talks like she's seven, and often acts that old, too. Sometimes I just need to cut her a break and treat her like she's three years-old.

Therefore, our current bedtime routine, starting around 6:30-7pm, is:

1. Bath, brush teeth, pajamas

2. Sit on rocking chair in family room with a dim light & "Relaxation" Pandora

3. Review our letter flash cards

4. Read three books

5. Turn out the lights, but keep the music on

6. Say our prayers

7. Sing lullabies

8. Rock her until she falls asleep

Typically, she will fall asleep within thirty minutes or less (around 8-8:30pm). On a "bad" night, which is pretty rare these days, it can take her closer to an hour. I make it clear to her from the beginning that she either has to rock with mommy or lie in bed (by herself). Of course there are days when she wants to get down and go back and forth between her bed and the rocking chair, but those days are getting fewer and farther between. No matter what though, I stay consistent and don't let her walk all over me by changing the "rules" on me. This sometimes means being patient while she throws a few tears around until she gets the picture that mommy means business. 

One great piece of advice I got from a family member is to make sure Emmalyn is waking up at the same time every morning. On the two days she goes to school I wake her up around 6:45am, but if I were to let her sleep in on all the other days, she would stay in bed until 8:00am. [again, don't throw things at me!] I'll admit, I got spoiled with her sleeping in because it meant this momma could sleep in, too; and it's been such a luxury to me while being pregnant. However, this inconsistent wake-up made for a really mixed-up bed time because one day she was tired enough to fall asleep at 8:00, but then the next she was nowhere near tired until closer to 10pm! Since waking her up at 6:45 every day (although not every Sunday), our bedtime routine has been so much smoother and more predictible--just how I like it! I also make sure to wake her up from her nap no later than 3:30pm, whether she falls asleep at 1:30 or 2:30. If she sleeps past 3:30, her bedtime is pushed back... causing wifey-hubby-time to be pushed back... no bueno...

At first I battled with if this was the "right" way to go about getting her to sleep, since it seemed like we were heading in the opposite direction, but then I realized that this is what works for us. For our family.  I'm tired of reading the judgmental posts I see on Pinterest and mommy blogs that say: "This is what you MUST do to get your child to sleep!" What works for some may not work for another. I think about how my daughter will never be this little again; & one day she's not going to want to cuddle with me anymore. [tear]

Even if I've had a super stressful and frustrating day, rocking my little girl brings me back to reality and puts me in a happy place. I hold her in peaceful silence, thanking God for my beautiful angel. And that's all right.

loyally,
katie

So what's your bedtime routine like for your little one(s)? Have you ever had to change your "original" plan and try something new? How did it work out?

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Baby Girl's Name

Choosing a name is so much more difficult the second time around! With Emmalyn, we pretty much knew right away what we wanted to name her. We threw around 'Olivia' and 'Amelia' for a while, but we loved the name Emmy and my husband actually came up with Emmalyn as a more "sophisticated" name. Done! In the first trimester. Woop!Woop! (& as you know, we just chose to keep her name a secret until she popped out!)

Now we are a little more than halfway through and I'm having nightmares that Lil Sis won't have a name come Birth Day. My nightmares actually consist of us coming home from the hospital, and her still not having a name two days postpartum. The nightmares continue with me crying; feeling super frustrated and pressured to pick The Perfect Name.

We have an on-going list of about twenty names, but only a handful are semi-semi-serious contenders. If we had a boy, the name was already decided months ago... Alexander. Piece of cake. I think it's a tougher decision the second time around because she's the second girl and her name has to *go* with Emmalyn's. It has to fit in the same category of "unique," (or whatever that means these days) but not too far-fetched. Both 'Emma' and 'Lyn(n)' are classic, traditional, and southern-sounding names. Therefore, we feel like Lil Sis' name needs to match that. Then there's the whole nickname situation: I feel like we must give this next baby a nickname because Big Sis has a nickname. I want her to have a nickname not just to be fair, but I think nicknames are fun and cute, too. 

With Emmalyn, we were able to *try out* her name. We would call her by name in conversation and hear it out loud to see if it was fitting for our family. This time around, it's quite difficult because we don't want to confuse our big three year-old. If we start calling the baby by a name, say, for a week or two, and Emmalyn picks it up, what's she going to think if we change it on her?? Instead, we've been writing names on her chalkboard, looking at them and soaking them in whenever we walk by.

We have casually and fleetingly thrown around names over the dinner table and have asked Emmalyn what she thinks about them, too. We've even asked her what she wants her little sister's name to be. So far she's come up with: Minnie Mouse, Baby Ariel, Boopy Baby, and Lasagna. 

While those are great options, Em, the nicknames are looking a little bleak...

We were set on a name--or so we thought--but then realized it's a name that has been recently been climbing the popularity charts. We actually just met a little girl Emmalyn's age, named Emma (coincidentally), who's new baby sister was just named this. I won't say the name just in case we still use it... I love the name regardless, and am in denial that it's becoming popular, but Blake has pretty much closed the door to it. (If you're pregnant and looking at the The Charts, too, you can probably guess what it is...)

We won't be like the family who is asking the Internet to name their baby, but any suggestions are greatly appreciated! ;-)

If you have more than one child of the same gender, how did you decide on #2's name? Did it come to you right away or were you making last-minute decisions while the Birth Certificate was dangling in front of your face?

loyally,
katie

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bumpdate: 22 Weeks ~ Baby #2



How far along: 22 weeks


Symptoms: Heartburn, indigestion, and nausea... ugh! I don't remember getting heartburn with Emmalyn until the third trimester. It stinks, y'all! Plus, my hips are crazy sore 24/7. 


Maternity Clothes: Pretty much everything. 


Total Weight Gain: 5lbs.


Gender: girl


Movement: Lots! All the time. It feels like she's predominately on my bottom right side.


Sleep: If the heartburn isn't keeping me up, then sleep is pretty successful, minus my hips giving me trouble.


Cravings & Aversions: Been craving ice cream! The really bad for you kind of ice cream ;)


Not So Funny Moments: Being hormonal and emotional. Any little thing could set me off. Whether it's forgetting to pay the cable bill (...never happened before! Damn pregnancy brain...) or a commercial, or some reason I don't even know the reason! Hormones are weird! 


Nesting: The desire to nest is there, and prevalent all over my Pinterest, but the desire to physically get up and take care of it is not--ha!


Best Moments This Week: Emmalyn feeling the baby kick for the first time. I put her hand on my belly and she said, "My little sister 'booped' me!" Then she pretended to tickle the baby back.


What I Miss: Feeling like a normal person, physically. 


Looking Forward To: Emmalyn having a little sister!


loyally,
katie


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Monday, January 6, 2014

Bump, Birth, Baby, & Beyond



51 Tips on Pregnancy, Child Birth, Postpartum, & Being a New Mommy

...only 51 or we could be here for days!

*On Being Pregnant



1.  Let people touch your belly. Sure, every now and again it can be a little awkward, but really, it's not that big of a deal. People get curious and excited (and sometimes carried away) that you're bringing a new life into the world. What's weird is when they touch your belly after you have the baby. Now that's awkward.

2.  Stay active, but know when to take it easy. I found that if I did too much one day, I was a pile of cement the next. Sore and tired and pretty much miserable and useless.

3.  Take (weekly) belly bump pictures. They're fun to look back on. And if you want to post them to Facebook or your blog? Do it. It's your life. I guarantee people secretly (and not so secretly) love to look at them. Same goes for maternity pictures.

4.  However, if you choose to post belly pics to social media, don't get offended when someone makes the comment, "Oh you look so tiny for eight months--are you sure there's a baby in there?" or, "You're huge! Are you sure there's not two in there?" Because it's inevitable. Just let it roll off your shoulder and remember their comment for when they're pregnant so you can make an equally offensive one back. Just kidding. Don't do that.

5.  Don't compare yourself to other mommies-to-be. Especially those who are right around your due date. The second you read on Facebook they felt their baby moving, and you haven't yet, you'll start freaking out and calling your doctor every five minutes. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Remember that.

6.  To continue along those lines, stay far away from places like BabyCenter[dot]com where women are notorious for comparing themselves to other women. And don't even get me started on the competition! I was always afraid WWIII would break out on those message boards. Yipes! It's brutal out there. No need to add that kind of stress to your life.

7.  Consider keeping your unborn child's name a secret. We did this with our first. We didn't want anyone 'hating' on her name before she was even born. Because guess what? Who is going to say to your face and the face of your new plump bundle of joy that they really dislike his/her name? No one. They'll save that kind of talk for behind your back... 

8.  There's no need to buy the fancy, expensive Pottery Barn matchy-matchy nursery bedding set. It's overpriced and the baby will never use the quilt. In fact, s/he cannot use the quilt in the crib because it's illegal. Okay, it's not illegal, but it's completely not safe.

9.  With the latter being said, I know you'll still order the fancy PB set because you're saying to yourself, "She doesn't know what she's talking about." or, "I MUST HAVE IT! It's soooo perfect!" Yep. I said the same thing. People told me the same thing. I didn't listen just like you won't either. & then regretted it. It must be a right-of-passage into motherhood or something. 

10. Don't take the tags off of anything, and keep your receipts. After my baby shower I got so overly excited that I ripped off the tags and washed everything and put it neatly in the nursery in preparation for the baby. I think that's called nesting. It turns out Emmalyn didn't need ALL of those onesies and socks and receiving blankets.

11. Research, but don't over-research information about childbirth. Personally I felt much more relaxed throughout the whole process because I had read (and watched) about it.

12. Savor all the baby flutters and kicks. You'll miss them terribly.

13. If this is your second pregnancy and you have a toddler running around at home, please don't feel bad about the amount of television you let him/her watch--especially in the first trimester. You're nauseous and tired, and there will not be life-long-lasting side-affects on your toddler because you let them watch seven hours of TV in a row. Just make sure you feed them something edible in between.

*On Child Birth



14. Make a Birth Plan. Review it with your spouse and communicate your concerns and feelings with him.

15. Take that birth plan and THROW IT AWAY. Seriously. I never even took mine out of the bag. There are so many things going on that as long as you talk to your nurse, doctor, and hubby, you'll be just fine. Honestly, I never gave my birth plan a second thought in the hospital, and laughed when I remembered it was in my bag after I came home from the hospital.

16. Book mark the page in the baby book where you want the baby's footprints. It'll make the nurse's job easier and you won't forget to have it done either. As an extra 'happy' we laid out a scrub shirt to have the baby's footprints stamped on. My dad did it with me, and since the hubs is a doctor, we wanted to continue the tradition. Super adorable, if you ask me ;)

17. Epidural or no epidural, give yourself a break. I went in determined not to have an epidural, but was paralyzed with pain after a few hours. I made the decision to have an epidural (after talking with my husband) and never looked back. No regrets. Don't feel guilty! And if you choose to do it au natural, please don't go all Rosie the Riveter on the rest of us. You make us feel bad about ourselves. I applaud you, really, but guess what?? We both got the same end result--a happy and healthy baby.

18. Your spouse is your advocate. Make sure he can read your mind. Or at least talk, talk, talk about everything and anything. That way, when you're in mid-contraction and everything seems to be moving a mile a minute and you physically cannot open your mouth to speak, he can do so for you... with confidence and trust.

19. Pack chap-stick.

20. The "Going Home" outfit is pretty pointless because you put the baby in the car seat to go straight home anyway, but with that being said, buy the most ridiculous outfit you want because YOU DESERVE IT! You just had a baby for goodness sake. You can do whatever the hell you want!

*On Postpartum



21. You will bleed. A lot. A lot. A lot. Holy cow! I thought I was going to die of blood loss. Put raggedy old towels on the bathroom floor after taking a shower, or strip the rugs off the floor. Or both.

22. "Tucks" and hydrocortisone are your BFFs. Them, plus newborn diapers in the freezer instead of regular pads. Greatest concoction ever. The nurses will tell you what's up in the hospital.

23. Take lots of pictures in the hospital. You never get those moments and memories back.

24. Steal--I mean, take everything in the hospital home with you. Even if they tell you to leave them behind, like the thick hospital bed pads. You'll use them for things like tummy time, stomach viruses, and potty training later on down the road. Take all the baby blankets, too. They won't miss them.

25. You're not going crazy. I swear.

26. There will be times you feel like throwing your baby against the wall when s/he won't stop crying. That's normal. You are not alone.

27. There will be times your spouse feels like throwing the baby against the wall. That's normal, too.

28. You won't throw your baby against the wall. Or down the hall. Or out the window. I promise.

29. Walk away. Your baby will be 100% safe if you put him/her in the crib and shut the door to the bathroom, read a trashy gossip magazine, cry your eyes out, and eat a piece of chocolate. The same technique works when your child is one, and two, and three...

30. If breast-feeding isn't for you and your family, then it isn't for you and your family, and don't let anyone--I repeat, anyone, make you feel bad about that. Sometimes it's just not in the cards. If mommy's not happy, baby's not happy. I know plenty of breast-fed babies who are sick wayyy more often than my little girl who was only breast-fed for two weeks. Everyone survives.

31. Get out of the house as soon as possible. Throw away the old "rule" of waiting a month before taking your baby out in public. The longer you wait, the more anxious you'll become. In the very beginning, I made a quick and simple trip to Target and refused to let my husband help me so I could get the "complete experience". Just a quick trip is all you need. Then go home and pat yourself on the back.

32. MOST IMPORTANTLY: If you're feeling depressed or overly-anxious, please talk to your doctor and seek help immediately! If you are new to my blog and don't already know, I developed a severe case of postpartum depression after the birth of my first daughter. Worst and best thing to ever happen to me! [You can read more about it here.] 

*On Being a New Mommy



33. The first 3-4 months are hands-down the hardest of your life. Everyone kept telling me to "hang in there" until the baby was three months, and honestly it took me closer to four before I didn't feel so stressed Every!Single!Day! There was more of a routine established and I had gotten used to the fact that I could run on little-to-no sleep.

34. Drink lots of water! Fill up a tumbler with a straw and drink, drink, drink. Your body will thank me. Oh yeah, eat, too.

35. I have kept a journal (almost) every single day of Emmalyn's life since Day One. I used this amazing journal. It made it so simple for me to jot down 1-2+ things about what she did during the day. I highly recommend it. I've made my own variation of the journal through Microsoft Word and Office Max for each year of Emmalyn's life. I leave it open on the counter and write something down whenever I can remember to. From first words and foods to play dates to ridiculous temper tantrum scenarios. With that being said, if journaling ain't yo thang, don't sweat it! Which leads me to...

36. Every mom has "their thing". Mine happens to be documenting/journaling my daughter's life. It's something I've basically done since I was kid anyway, therefore it comes naturally to me. Your "thing" might be making pretty hair bows or bow ties. Or, taking really creative pictures. (I wish that was "my thing" but it's not.) My point is, don't feel bad if "your thing" isn't "her thing" or "this-really-hip-and-cool-mom's thing". Cut yourself some slack. If it stresses you out too much to do the latest Pinterest-new-baby-trend, then don't do it. It's not worth it.

37. Don't worry about the appearance of your house. No one truly cares, and everyone totally understands. Because trust me, your house won't be "back to normal" until... until... well if it ever gets back to normal, someone please tell me when.

38. No matter how many years of babysitting and nannying experience you have, you'll almost entirely forget everything you know. She just pooped all over me! What the hell do I do? Go to the sink. That's what you do. Needless to say, you'll inevitably forget that's the most practical solution and simply freeze with poop in your hands instead.

39. It will take you at least three days to do one load of laundry. Day one to wash, day two to dry, and day three to fold. Oh wait--make that four days. Day four to put them away. This is just for one load, mind you.

40. Making freezer meals totally saves your butt. Granted, you won't feel like cooking at all in the beginning (that's what moms and mother-in-laws are for), but eventually you'll ease back into it. My life was dramatically easier for the week I made freezer (Crock-pot) meals. Yes. One week. I really should take my own advice.

41. Let them get a little dirty. One of my favorite new-mommy memories was when I let Emmalyn loose at the strawberry patch. It had just rained the night before and she couldn't walk yet. It was so muddy, but I let her crawl through the fields and she had the most fun ever. I did too. I didn't even care that I ended up having to throw away the outfit she wore.

42. Always over-prepare. Stock up on wipes, diapers, paper towels, regular towels, and extra clothes. Keep them in your car at all times. You never know when you'll need them and you'll always be relieved to have them. On that note, pack an extra pair of clothes for yourself. 'Ya never know...

43. Don't ever let anyone convince you to do something you don't want to do, or convince you to stop doing something you want to do. Case in point, I had many people deter me from cloth diapering Emmalyn before she was born. They told me it was disgusting and I wouldn't be allowed to use their washing machine. I gave in and didn't cloth diaper. I completely regret not standing my ground.

44. Never underestimate how long it takes to get out of the house. Your normal fifteen minutes can easily turn into thirty (or more) when you realize Little One has a messy diaper just as you're putting him/her into the car.

45. You probably won't feel like you have the whole "motherhood thing" under control until your baby turns a year old. It's almost as if a light switch goes off and your shoulders become more relaxed and you exhale, ahhh....

46. Your belly button CAN go back to normal! I've read all these blog posts about how women's bodies stayed squishy after baby, and I'm here to say it doesn't have to be that way. Personally, my hips are a little curvier, but I happen to like it better that way. I feel more womanly. I easily fit back into my skinny jeans within six months postpartum. And my abs totally returned--maybe even better than pre-pregnancy. All it takes is a little determination and hard work, but you can do it!

47. Get involved in Mom's groups and outings as quickly as possible. You'll feel less insane.

48. Don't be afraid to ask other moms for their phone number. Sure, you'll feel silly at first, but then you'll come home to your spouse, jumping up and down, feeling like a giddy teenager who's crush just circled "Yes". Trust me when I say the other mom was too scared to do what you had the guts to do. After all, we're all in the same boat--desperate for other mommy-friends.

49. Ask for help. People really do want to help when they offer. Take it. Trust me.

50. Do something for yourself, and for you and your spouse. Don't ever forget about the man who helped give you the most beautiful gift you've ever been given.

51. Never forget the most important piece of advice I could ever give to any new mommy: No one ever has it all together. If they tell you they do, they're lying.

loyally,
katie

P.S. What tips would you share with mommies-to-be and new mommies out there? Or if you're anxiously awaiting the arrival of your newest one, do you have any questions?


If you think this post was helpful, please feel free to share with other prego/new mommies!!
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Professional pictures by: Marissa Poulter

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Time We Became "The 3 Little Pigs"


This second day of January started off as a rough one. I woke up to Indy peeing on the bed. Yep. Then Emmalyn threw a tantrum because she didn't want to hold a toy that she was ...ehem... already holding. Seriously??

But the turbulent start got me reflecting on all The Little Things that means so much in life.

Like, how whenever Emmalyn comes to the doctor's office with me for a well-prenatal checkup, she whispers, "Introduce me, Mommy." And I have to announce to the doctor, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, introducing... Emmalyn Grace Van Brunt!"


Or, laughing about how Emmalyn tells her teachers at school that "Mommy does yoga and boring things" after I drop her off. Hey, if it gets her to go to school, go for it girlfriend!

Those are The Things that get me through the tough days.

And that's just the beginning.

I love how Emmalyn always has to FaceTime with Joey, my parents' dog--or else! She even goes so far as to ask BopBop if she can see the growing tomatoes in the backyard.

Karaoke dance parties for an adorable one year-old's birthday party makes me smile. And the fact that his momma makes cupcakes with apples-and-bananas-slash-all-natural-no-added-sugar-ingredients just like me, makes me grin even wider.

& can we talk about the fact that living in Central Time Zone rocks my socks off because we got to watch the ball drop at 11pm instead of 12am? Therefore, this tired momma could go to bed an hour earlier? Yep. Smiling.

My love tank was filled to the brim when I witnessed my reluctant little nephew step outside the pew at church to follow Emmalyn into Liturgy of the Word. All by himself... for the first time. His braveness was inspiring, and the look on his proud little face when he came back melted my heart.

The two cousins, in general, melt my heart. Their opposite personalities attract one another, creating an inseparable bond. One I know they'll have for life.

The guilt I feel for not sending out Christmas cards this year?? Gone. Gone because The Little Things filled me up to the fullest. And so what? There's always Valentine's Day... or Easter... or, well, let's be real... I probably won't send out family cards until it's time for a Birth Announcement.

And that's all right.

The biggest Little Thing took place when Emmalyn and I went to watch Daddy play basketball at the Y. The three of us were passing the ball back and forth before he played and Emmalyn said, "Look at us! We're like The Three Little Pigs!" 
The Three Muskateers ain't got nothin' on us!

Happy 2014 to you, my friends!

May it be a year of lots of loving and learning.

loyally,
katie



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