Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Eli's 10th month

Dear Eli,
You are 10 months old! I'm having a hard time believing that when we celebrate your 11 month-iversary, we'll begin counting down the final month of your first year!

This month we celebrated your first Halloween. We dressed you up as a lobster and your dad and I were chefs. You seemed to enjoy riding around in your stock pot, as we showed you off to the students at mom's work! You got to explore the insides of a pumpkin in your typical inquisitive way.

You are really on the move! You've figured out how to really crawl and get going so fast. You pull yourself up on everything and get frustrated when there's nothing for you to pull yourself up with. You've also started walking around furniture while holding on.

You get so much joy out of life. You love to play chase and giggle when we catch you. You are extremely ticklish and it's such a fun way to make you laugh! You love to swing, and I am grateful that we've continued to have some good weather days and live close enough to the park to walk there on a nice day. You absolutely adore animals and squeal with delight (and start chasing them down!) whenever you see Max or Lewis walk by you, or Bailey the little dog at day care (especially when she comes to give you kisses!). You also make silly faces-my favorite is when you stick your tongue out of your mouth quickly-you look just like a little lizard!

We keep trying some new table foods. You love to eat and will try anything we give you (and have yet to dislike something we've given you). You aren't great at chewing before you swallow, so the table foods have been slow going (plus, you just shove as much in your mouth as you can!) but we will keep trying. This month we tried blueberries, zucchini, different kinds of yogurt, applesauce, and teething cookies.

It is so fun to watch you continue to discover your world. I know the adventure is just beginning! We love you, sweet boy, and just can't get enough of you!
Mom and Dad

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

7, 8, 9...

Yes, I can still count...which makes me feel like a pretty terrible mom. I thought missing one month was bad...but three??? Therefore, this is a summary of the last QUARTER OF A YEAR (ridiculous, Mara. Just ridiculous!)

Eli's 9 month measurements:
Weight: 18 lbs, 0.6 oz (24th %)
Height: 26 3/4 inches (4th %)
Head: 17 inches (10th %).

Dear Eli,
The past three months have been such a huge developmental time for you. After learning to roll over just after you turned 6 months old, you started to get the bug to move. Once you realized you could control your body, you started sleeping on your stomach. Then, you began to realize you could propel yourself forward-similar to the dance move "the worm"! I thought crawling would be next, but instead you've perfected this move and can get across a room in no time! You can go from "crawling" to sitting up, and back to crawling all on your own.
You are really beginning to explore things more and take a lot of time to intently study whatever you find in your hands. You love to play with the car keys and whatever is in my hand, too! You have started to remember things that you like and as soon as you see them, go for them-like turning the light switch on and off and playing with the door stop. You still love bath time and splashing is so much more fun now that you can sit up!
We've continued the solid food adventures and so far you love everything you've been given: green beans, peas, avocado, banana, apple, pear, spinach, sweet potato, prunes, carrots, beets, black beans, mango, puffs, oatmeal, squash, and bread. We are just starting to give you pieces of things (like bread, whole peas, and beans) and you love to play with your food and explore it before you eat it.
You make all kinds of sounds: mama, dada, baba, squeals and shrieks. You've started to wave bye bye and give high fives. And, about a month ago, you got two teeth! They sure have made your smile cute!
I am really trying to cherish the (rare) moments when you give me cuddles. Now that you can move on your own, you'd rather be on the floor than be held in our arms. But at night, when you're really sleepy, you'll lay your head on my shoulder. Those are some of my favorite moments-sitting in the dark of your room, rocking in our chair, while your cheek rests against mine, or your head is tucked just under my chin. I know it won't fit there much longer, but I hope you'll always find time to cuddle your mama.
You love to play and laugh-you're so ticklish and it's so easy to get a giggle and big smile out of you! You smile big every time your dad comes in the room, and when we come to pick you up at daycare you squeal and bounce until we come and pick you up.
Eli, as we enter the final quarter of your first year, I pray that we can continue to find moments of joy, laughter, and fun in the midst of our busy lives. As you get more mobile and independent, I feel torn-between the pleasure of watching you grow and become more of your own person, and missing how much you used to need me for everything-food, transportation, and entertainment. I know as you get older the ways you rely on your dad and I change-not that either one is better than the other, just different. But it's just another way for me to realize how quickly this first year goes.

Eli, sweet boy, we love you so much! I can't imagine a world without you in it to brighten our every minute.
Love, Mom and Dad

A casualty!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

6 months-Half a Year!!

6 Months:
16 lbs, 3 oz (25th percentile)
25 1/4 inches (5th percentile)
Head circumference 16.5 inches (12th percentile)

Dear Eli,
I can't believe you're 6 months old! I cannot believe you've graced our lives for half of a year. With each month that passes we get to know each other better and my love for you continues to grow and develop.
We had a couple of big events this past month: on June 24th, you were baptized! Your grandpa Dennis came down and did the baptism, and we got to share the day with both of our families as you were baptized at Centenary United Methodist Church in Beatrice. It was so amazing to be reminded of the grace and love that God has shown at work in your life already-and it was incredible to witness to that grace and love alongside everyone who celebrated with us. Later that day (which was your dad and I's 6th anniversary!) we left you with Grandma and Grandpa Bailey for our first night away from each other so that your dad and I could celebrate our anniversary. We all did really well and made it!
This month was also about a battle of the wills. Right before our planned night away from you, you decided you didn't want to take bottles anymore (a complete 180 from a few months ago when you didn't want your mamma at all!). So we spent a day waiting you out and eventually you took the bottle again-and we've had no problems since! Your dad and I also decided to work harder on your nighttime schedule since you were still getting up to eat every 3-4 hours. After a few hard nights with lots of tears (from you and me!) you now sleep 8-9 hours and then wake up for one feeding a night-and I am SO GRATEFUL! we are both doing better with more sleep!
You also had a big milestone, as you had your first taste of solid food! I am so proud and grateful that your only food source up until now has been what I could provide-your mother's milk. But it was time to start teaching you how to eat solid foods-you were so interested in what we were eating and I just felt like it was time! So, when you were 5.5 months old, we gave you rice cereal for the first time (mixed with Momma's milk). You've also tried avocado, which you really love! You seem to really enjoy being a big boy at the table and love to "help" me feed you!
You are so fun right now. You are so ticklish and love to laugh. You don't roll over yet but you rock from side to side and go to sleep on your side. You love being held up so that you can stand up, and you sit up with help. You take in the world around you-always taking some time to "inspect" people but warming up to them quickly. Your hair is coming back in, and it's lighter than when you were first born. Everyone says you look just like your daddy and I see it more and more every day. We have a small pool for you in the backyard and you love to splash in it, just like at bathtime. You read books with dad almost every night before bed and love to look at the pictures. You've discovered your feet and love to grab them-you try to put them in your mouth but you need to become just a little more flexible! You say "daddadadada" and make lots of other sounds (vooo, grunts, shrieks). I know this next month will bring even more development, and I can't wait to see it! We love you so much, little man-thanks for bringing so much joy to our lives!!

Can I eat these yet??

Just chillin-cause I'm 6 months old!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Homemade Lime Tortilla Chips

What's this? A post when it's not my son's month-iversary? I know, I know...but this recipe was so easy and delicious I had to share!
We grilled up a great meal on Father's Day this year, and while we waited for the food to cook I whipped up these homemade tortilla chips with some leftover corn tortillas we had in the fridge (don't you hate how they come in packs of 30? I only ever use like 8 at a time...). We then ate them with some salsa for an appetizer.
The recipe is based on a recipe from my recent issue of Eating Well, but I adapted it to use up some lime zest I had from a previous recipe.
Here it is:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Coat both sides of 8 corn tortillas (I doubled the batch) with cooking spray; cut into quarters (a pizza cutter makes this very easy!)
Spread on 2 large baking sheets
Sprinkle with 1/4 t salt (1/2 for double chips)
Sprinkle with zest of one lime

Bake at 375 on the middle and lower racks, rotating the pans from top to bottom and stirring once halfway through until crisp-14-18 minutes.

What I learned: measure your salt. Ours ended up way too salty when I decided to just "throw some salt on". Also, I made a mess trying to get lime zest and salt on both sides-just put them on one, they will turn out great!
I can't speak for how well they keep, as we went through them pretty quickly! I think there were a few leftover the next day, which Jon ate and seemed to enjoy...they would keep well in a ziplock bag, I'd imagine! These will be the star of your next fiesta-themed party or tailgate!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

5 months!

Dear Eli,
Yesterday you turned 5 months old. I am kind of scared to write this post because that means that the next time I write about your month-iversary it will be the big S-half a year. And I just can't believe that you have been with us for almost 6 months!!

You still aren't rolling over, but you are so close! You tolerate tummy time a lot better, especially when daddy reads to you or you watch your light-up music player. You seem to enjoy being naked more than being in a diaper or clothes, as you still fuss when we start to get you dressed. You are really starting to express not just your delight in life but also the things that frustrate you-when you lose a toy you're playing with, or when mom or dad are playing with you and have to get up for a minute.
You continue to vocalize all the time. Although we still see the occasional raspberry, we're more likely to hear you "rawring" like a dinosaur or lion (or sometimes it's more like a pirate "ARRRRRR!"). You've realized you can fake cough and do that all the time as well.

What is especially enjoyable about you right now: how you study other people, and then give them a big smile. How comfortable you are around other people. How you like to hold my hand while you nurse. How it's so easy to make you smile and laugh-and your laugh is such a delight to listen to! How content you are all the time-whether you're playing by yourself, riding in your carseat, waking up and talking to yourself in the much fun it is introducing you to new people, and watching them shower you with so much love. How much you love to splash in your baths-you use your arms now too! How your legs don't stop moving, ever! And, of course, how you helped me to celebrate in such a big way my very first Mother's Day!

We kept you very busy this month! During Memorial Day weekend, you went with us to a cabin at Black Hawk State Park in Iowa with our friends the Leos and the Olsons. Evan and Eric, your bestest buddies (whether you like it or not!) both learned your name, and although you aren't the most interactive playmate yet, they still had some fun with you. And of course your honorary aunts and uncles had a great time cuddling you and making you laugh!
You also attended your first two (of many!) Annual Conferences-first Iowa, then Nebraska. Of course you were a welcome distraction to all around us-everyone loved meeting you! You also helped do your part raising money for Imagine No Malaria as you donated a net for every month of your life, and challenged everyone there to donate a net for every year of their life. We know you will continue to do so much good with your life, and pray that we do our part to raise you to be aware of the needs of the world around you, and always willing to respond to those needs in a helping way.
Eli, you are so very special to us, and we just can't remember the last time anything or anyone brought us so much joy! It is an honor to be called your parents.
Mom and Dad

Friday, May 25, 2012

3-4 Months

Dear Eli,
You are four months old now! I missed posting your three month letter and am late with your four month letter because we have not slowed down lately! Your dad and I wondered if when you came into our lives it would slow us down much- but it appears not :) for your three-month birthday we were staying with Bibi and Pappy in Des Moines while your dad and I attended a conference (your first of many United Methodist conferences, I'm sure!). Your four-month birthday was on graduation day at Nebraska Wesleyan University so I hardly got to see you at all that day-but your dad took great care of you and even brought you to see me during one of my breaks.
At some point just after your two-month birthday, your dad and I looked at each other and said, "he's not a newborn anymore!". We're not sure when it happened exactly but somewhere in there you really started showing your personality, learning new tricks, and stopped being the cuddly, floppy baby who would sleep on us all the time! I am sure from here on out we will meet each transition in your stages with a similar feeling: mourning, in a way, how fast you are growing and the things that are no more, yet so excited to see you continue to grow and develop into the sweet boy you are becoming.
You still aren't rolling over yet but your doctor tells us that can be the sign of a very content baby! You continue to smile more and more and always have a story to tell-we can't wait until the day when we know exactly what you are saying :) You love to read books and you are able to sit up in your Bumbo chair. You don't like having your clothes put on or having your diaper changed anywhere but home.
Just after you turned three months we took you on your first big trip and plane ride to New Orleans for a family wedding. It was so much fun introducing you to the LeHew family-you will have so much fun with them as you get older! Of course the happy couple were the stars of the weekend, but you were a close second as people were anxious to meet their newest cousin and grand nephew! We also got to go and see our friends Jared and Alina and meet your new best friend Palmer! You did two new things on this trip. First, Bibi taught you how to blow raspberries-and I don't think you've stopped since! You wake up blowing raspberries, and do them while you play on your playmat. Your dad says that's how you communicate :) On April 21, you also gave us your first belly laugh. Bibi and I were playing with you in the hotel room and you just laughed, it was so sweet! Of course since dad wasn't there he didn't believe it happened-and you wouldn't give us another one for a week or so! But now we are able to make you laugh with tickles, silly faces and goofy games.
The other really neat thing about this time in your life is that during your fourth month, your daddy got to take paternity leave and stay home with you for a month. I loved it because dad got to see how much work it is to stay home and take care of you-he loved it because it was priceless time you two got to spend together. He really got to know your habits well during that time and is usually the one educating me on your schedule and needs!
Eli, you are such a sweet, happy baby and so many times your dad and I look at each other and ask, "how did we get so lucky??". We love you dear boy. My favorite moments lately are when I am feeding you and you stroke my back with your hand or play with my shirt. I also love the sweet smiles you give just before you fall asleep! I know the next few months will be so much fun as you become more mobile and we continue to see your personality come through! We love you little man!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2 months!

2 months yesterday, on 3/12/12! I didn't take pictures until today because he got his shots yesterday :( so he was a little grumpy and sleepy all day! Here's a few good ones:

2 month 2

2 month 3

2 month 1

Dear Eli,
You are two months old! So much has happened in the past two months as you have continued to grow and experience the world around you. You have changed our lives so much-by making them so much better. Some nights your dad and I turn to each other in bed and question if we're lame because we're excited to be in bed by 9:30-because honestly, you kind of wear us out! But we just laugh and talk about how much we love sharing our lives with you, and how much better you've made our day to day routine.

Since the weather's getting nicer, we've been able to take you on walks-and we think that you love them. Although you usually sleep through them, it's funny to see you experience the elements-squint when the sun hits your face and we aren't quick enough to pull up the shade on your stroller; try to eat the wind when it hits your face because you don't quite know what that feeling is.

You talk all the time-and it's the cutest thing ever (and yes, I know every month there will be a new "cutest thing ever")-but seriously, it's very cute. You have a sign over your changing table that your "Aunt" Skye made for you and it's truly your favorite thing to look at-no matter what mood you're in, whenever we lay you down to change you, you have a good long conversation with that sign, and it usually includes lots of smiles, so we think you're happy with what you see.

You've started smiling-but just a little! It's hard to get you to smile and when you do smile at us it seems to be at the most random times, but I think you're just saving them up to make them extra special. There have been a few times when you've been fussy and one of us picks you up, and after a minute or two of staring at us you just smile this huge, toothless grin (I think I see a dimple or two!) that seriously melts. my. heart.

We started using cloth diapers on you this month and so far, so good! Eli, we care a lot about the world we live in and we hope that you do, too. It's not always the best place because a lot of people don't care about or respect our planet, but we want to do our part to help raise you to always be kind to this planet you live on. We hope this is just the start of your environmentally-conscious way of living!

As much fun as this past month has been while we watch you continue to grow and develop (you now enjoy your play mat and the toys that hang off of it; you track us with your eyes; you learned how to suck on your fist and your thumb; and your head and legs seem to get stronger by the day!) this month I also had to do a very hard thing: go back to work. Today was my first day back and it was a day of mixed emotions. Eli, my sweet boy, I want you to know how very much I have cherished the past two months I've been able to spend with you. And today, as I was away from you the longest I ever have been, my heart yearned to be back home with you. BUT. You get to hang out with your grandparents this week, which they love and I'm pretty sure you do too. And it makes me feel better knowing that you're spending good quality time with people that love you so much. And that made heading back to work at a job that I do love a little bit easier. I think it would have been even harder if I didn't enjoy my job so much and find it so fulfilling-I pray that when you're older and ready to work, you can find a job that makes your heart sing as you go through the day to day.

Eli, we love you so so so very much, and can't wait to see what the next month brings!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


So my friend Skye at Neathering our Fest tagged me in a getting to know you type thing. It has rules and all but like Skye I can be on occasion a rule breaker...this is what I'm supposed to do:

here are the rules:

you must post the rules.
answer the 11 questions that the tagger posted for you
then create 11 questions to ask the people you've tagged.
tag 11 people and link them in your post.
let them know you have tagged them.

but I'll be honest...I don't have it in me to create more questions and tag more people, so I'm answering Skye's questions and that's about it!! Sorry, but I'm only pooping on half of the party, so that doesn't seem so bad...

Questions from Skye:
1. have you ever gone back and read your very first blog post? what is one thing that makes you cringe and one thing that makes you smile?
I started my blog when we spent two weeks in Ireland a few summers ago as a way to share pictures and notes about our travel with family and friends. It wasn't until much later that I tried to be better about regularly blogging about our life! I would say that I had a lot of passion in those first few posts-that makes me smile :) but I still cringe at the fact that I never had much of an identity for this blog, it was just a place to share a few thoughts and experiences! I am in awe of all my fun blogger friends who have a much better direction and are much regular posters than I am.

2. tell us all about your favorite pair of shoes. where did you get them? what did you buy them for? what is your favorite memory while wearing them?

My absolutely favorite, go-to pair of shoes are a pair of Teva flip flops (they are green and black). I know that I got them at an REI store but I can't remember where! I bought them thinking ahead to summer and I've worn them many summers since...I would say my favorite memories from those shoes are the first summer we spent a week at Possum Kingdom Lake!

3. if you could go back and do one thing you didn't do, what would it be?
Call my grandmother the week before she passed away. I had been telling myself all week to call and I never did, and then I got the call that she'd had a brain aneurism.

4. what is your go-to beverage first thing in the morning?
COFFEE. no question. Pregnancy only changed me from fully caffeinated to half-caff. Now, I'm back to the full-strength stuff, especially after a long night with several wake-up calls!

5. do you sleep with the fan on or off?
On in the summer, off during the winter.

6. what is your favorite thing about the home you currently reside in?
Our nursery! It was the first room I feel like I've really been able to put together!

7. money aside, you get to plan the absolutely perfect date. spill the details.
dinner at a swanky restaurant (a la Abacus in Dallas), a night at a bed and breakfast, followed by a day at a winery. Sorry I don't have great details, I'm super bad at planning things like this.

8. do you get nervous pulling your car into the bay when you get your oil changed? or is that just me?
heck YES I do! I never trust the guy when he tells me to keep pulling forward either!

9. the eternal debate: mac or pc?
I've been a pc all my life, then when I started my job I was forced to work on a Mac. It's now my preference and as soon as the new Macbook Air comes out (rumors are it's on its way...) I will finally get to purchase my Christmas gift!!!

10. what habit do you have that you would pay someone to help you get rid of?
Always questioning how others view me. As a people pleaser, this is a daily struggle!

11. what is one habit you wish you could naturally pick up and have for the rest of your life?
The ability to hop out of bed when the alarm goes off-no more snooze button!

I had fun answering these questions, so if you want to go ahead and answer these or come up with some new ones, let me know and I'll update this post with your info! that's my lazy response! Thanks Skye!

Who does Eli look like?

As soon as you have a baby, everyone has an opinion on who your child looks like! I would have to say that overwhelmingly we hear that Eli looks just like his daddy, but a few have said he looks like the perfect combination of the two of us, and fewer still have pointed out his features that seem to resemble mine.

When I was pregnant, as I thought ahead to meeting our baby boy, I thought for sure I'd be able to pinpoint right away who's eyes, nose, mouth, etc he has...but I still don't always see what people point out! I just see Eli.

We pulled out our baby pictures to do some comparisons.

What do you think? Here's some of my baby pictures:

Mara sleeping

Mara 6 weeks
We only have a couple of Jon's, and only one that I could get a decent picture of:
Jon 6 weeks

I think the pictures of me sleeping look a lot like Eli.

Here's a 6 week and a sleeping picture of Eli, for comparison...
Eli 6 weeks

Eli sleeping
I know for sure Eli has his dad's hair (dark and curly) and his dad's feet! I think he has my nose, inherited from the LeHew family (my mom's family).
Eli feet
I love these little feet.
Who do you see in Eli?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Adventures in Sleep

I wanted to take some time to write about what we've been working on with Eli's sleep schedule-mostly because I was initially really overwhelmed by the process and it's way easier than I expected it to be! I have lots of new mom and mom to be friends so if this is helpful to anyone, great!

Most of what we're doing is based on the practices of a book called "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Mark Weissbluth. When I babysat in Dallas the family I babysat for recommended this book and her two boys were champion sleepers! This is by no means a book review but rather what I have gotten out of the practices this book suggests, what's worked for us and what I've learned, and what we're still working on. The idea is that the ability to fall asleep is a learned process, and many children don't sleep well through the night because they never learned how to fall back asleep on their own as they wake up throughout the night.

I would say that there are three principles from this book that have been the most helpful: 1. Never wake a sleeping baby! (sometimes Eli naps for so long I wonder if I should wake him up...) 2. Learn to notice your baby's tired signs (like you do their hunger signs) and 3. Put baby in bed drowsy, but awake. Of course there's way more that Dr. Weissbluth has to say (it's a whole book for God's sake) but without being overwhelmed by everything else (including a ton of information on soothing collicky/fussy babies and other troubleshooting for older kids) this is what's been easiest for me to operate with.

We just started this process this week (when Eli was 6.5 weeks old). Many people choose to start later but because I will be going back to work in a week and a half, I wanted to see if we could get him into a good sleeping routine before then since we'll have parents and then Jon staying with Eli at home until mid-May when I can work from home.

We've started a simple bedtime routine that includes a bath (because Eli LOVES them-but if your baby is not relaxed by a bath, don't use this as part of your routine!), sometimes infant massage, reading a book or two, feeding, and then singing a song or two (he usually gets serenaded by a selection from the United Methodist Hymnal!). We haven't established a true bedtime yet since his days aren't on a real schedule yet-but we'll get there I'm sure! After he is nursed, we swaddle him, use a pacifier, sing him a song or two and once his eyes are heavy (he usually closes and opens them several times while we sing) I lay him in bed, turn out all the lights, and close the door. He usually sleeps 4-4.5 hours for the first stretch before waking up to eat. After his first feeding we are putting him back in the sleeper in our room for the rest of the night because it's just easier.

For naps, it's the same process, though he doesn't always eat before a nap (if he ate right when he woke up and goes down for another nap 1-1.5 hours later, he isn't hungry). We change his diaper, maybe read a book, swaddle, then sing/rock until he's drowsy again.

If he starts to fuss after laying him down, I give him 5 minutes. If his crying really starts to escalate, then I will go in and either soothe him while he's in the crib (give him a pacifier, rub his tummy, talk/sing to him) or pick him up and sing/rock until he's drowsy again, then put him in the crib. I've never had to repeat this process twice (I probably just cursed myself...). As he gets older, we may have to be more disciplined about how long we take before going in to soothe him, but I feel like he's too young to cry it out right now. Sometimes, after fussing for a few minutes (even full-out crying) he stops and goes to sleep. The key, I've learned, is give him 5 minutes, no matter what.

What I've Learned:
During the day for naps, Eli rarely makes it more than 1.5 hours before needing another nap. This has changed my perspective of taking him out and about when he can't fall asleep and stay asleep in his car seat (we're going somewhere where we have to take him out, people want to hold him, etc). I used to think on these outings he was just having a fussy day-but no the poor kid was worn out because he hadn't had the chance to have a good nap for several hours!

I've also become much better at learning his tired signs, and am starting to be able to distinguish them from his hunger signs. The early ones can be hard to catch: decreased movement/more quiet while playing especially. Usually when he starts to get fussy, it's because he's tired, not hungry. He also wrings his hands in front of him and that's when we start the downhill slide of super tired, hard to calm down baby.

Most of his naps are a good 2-3 hours long. If he wakes up before an hour and I can't soothe him back to a drowsy state, he gets up and will go down for a nap again sooner rather than later. When he wakes up from a good nap, his awake time is so much more fun-he is interactive, happy, and more alert rather than having to be held all the time.

What's Worked For Us:
I was so doubtful that after putting Eli in his bed still awake, he would fall asleep on his own. But it worked the first time! I had to get over my guilt the first couple of times he was fussy because I felt like he felt abandoned. But since I never go more than 5 minutes without going in there I just try to distract myself by doing something else for those 5 minutes, and telling myself that he is safe and fine. And sometimes he doesn't fuss at all, just rolls his head to the side, eyes open, and he eventually falls asleep without a peep!

While I feel like my days are a little more restricted in terms of being able to get out of the house, it's really for the better for our little guy. And I know as he gets older we'll be able to do that easier (run errands, etc).

Swaddling has also been a huge benefit-I'm not going to try to go without it to see otherwise :) but I feel like it calms him down sooner, and it helps him sleep longer. We also use a pacifier to help him get to sleep/calm down, but he doesn't require it to sleep (as in, if it falls out of his mouth he doesn't wake up). Oftentimes he spits it out before he's ready to be in the crib anyway. Eli has always had a strong need to suck (like many babies) and I felt like this was one way to help him with that-especially since he's swaddled, he can't suck on his hand/thumb.

What We're Still Working On:
Obviously, sleeping through the night :) but since he's still so little, I expect him to be waking up for at least 1 feeding for awhile. His first stretch of the night has gotten longer little by little, so I'm hopeful he'll be at 5-6 hours over the next few weeks.

We're still working on determining a schedule, both during the day and the night-but over the next few weeks/months according to the book is when a more consistent, earlier bedtime, longer nighttime sleep periods, and the morning nap develop.

The other thing that's been the hardest is the temptation to let him sleep in places other than his crib/pack n play. Some afternoons, when he's had several short naps in a row, it's so tempting to just lay him on my chest and lay with him on the couch. And sometimes, we still do-because I know he won't be this little for much longer and I cherish those moments. But overall I try to be disciplined about where and when he naps, because I've seen how much better it's made both of our days. I know when I can get things done (or take a nap if I need it) because he's napping so much longer at a time when he's in a place where he's not disturbed by noise around him. And as I said before, he seems more happy when he's awake. Some evenings especially, he ends up taking a nap in the Moby because it's the only way I can make dinner or get something to eat. But, I'm okay with that-because he's still responding so well to the times we put him to sleep in his crib.

I can't say how this process works for others, but it's worked for us. If you're interested in learning more about this theory and the process of teaching your child to go to sleep, then please check out this book! It has a ton of great information about sleep for children from newborns through school age, case studies, etc and is very easy to read. It's broken down by age and so it's easy to follow as well. I'm so glad I decided to start trying this when I did, and have been pleasantly surprised!

The sweet sweet face that greeted me when Eli woke up from his nap the other day...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Eli-1 Month Old!

Well this post is a few days late...Elijah was 1 month old on Sunday, February 12th! I am stealing the traditions of two good friends as we celebrate his monthly birthdays...first, Calia's cute cupcake pictures each month. Second, Tiffany wrote her son Milo a letter each month, and I love that idea as a way to record what's happening and I will be printing these out to stick in his baby book as well.

Here are a few of the pictures we took (we plan to take them each month in this chair in his nursery):
little boy big chair
Little boy in his big chair!

look over there!
Looking at daddy...

intent stare
We see this look a lot!

almost smiles
Almost a smile!

Dear Eli,
As you turn one month old, I can't believe how much your dad and I have experienced in such a short amount of time! Everyone says the time flies-and it so does-but we've been so consumed with getting to know you and taking care of you that I truly feel like we've fully experienced each and every moment (or at least the ones we were awake enough for!). You are such a calm baby and we feel so fortunate to have a baby who's easy to calm down. I have to admit that the first two weeks of your life were incredibly hard for me. I knew that I loved you but I just didn't know you that well. Personally I was recovering from bringing you into the world and it was hard on my body and my emotions. But we made it through, and we are both better on the other end of it. You've always been a good eater and for that I'm so grateful! You've become a very active baby-it's incredible to think about those first few weeks and your awake time was alert, but just staring at us and the world around you. Now, you like to lay on a blanket and move your arms and legs. And Eli, you've started doing the cutest thing-over the past week, you've started to coo and talk to us. Your Grandma and Grandpa Z-L were at our house last weekend and you really came out of your shell and found your voice while they were here-it was such a delight for everyone! So far we only see smiles while you sleep, but we know they aren't far away.
Eli, you came into the world two weeks early-and I have a feeling you're going to be just a little ahead of yourself from here on out. You've held up your head since day one, and everyone always remarks how strong your muscles are. The other day during tummy time-I'm sure it was a fluke but I'm still a proud mommy-you pushed yourself up on your arms and then rolled over on your back!
Everyone tells us who you look like-and the majority of people say you look just like your daddy :) I've been trying to pick out who's features you have but right now, all I think is that you just look like yourself. It will be fun to see you continue to grow into your features. And by far, my favorite part of you is your feet-that might sound weird but they are just the sweetest.
Eli, no matter how hard things might get as we continue to get to know each other-when we're both tired and cranky and I don't respond to you with as much grace and patience as I should, or I get frustrated because you peed on me again while I am changing your diaper-I want you to know how very much you are loved. Of course you are loved greatly by your dad and I-but there are so many others who love you just as much. Your family members, and all of your honorary aunts and uncles-they welcomed you into this world with so much love for you, so much celebration with your arrival. I pray you always know how much love surrounds you, and I pray that you will learn how to love by experiencing the love of the people around you.
You are our sunshine, bud!
Mom (I love being called that!)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Bailey birth story

It's important to me to document how Eli's birthday went...I don't think the details are too much or anything, but I also love hearing about other birth stories because everyone's is unique and different and if my story is helpful to anyone else, then even better! But this post is more for our sake-a place to record how everything went before I forget all the details-hence the length!

Here is the rundown of Thursday, January 12th...I had gone down to Beatrice with Jon in the morning to work from the church and then go out to lunch with a parishioner. As we were leaving Beatrice to return to Lincoln for my 38 week appointment (we were 38W1D) I told Jon I wasn't feeling great-I felt fairly lightheaded and a little nauseous, and wasn't sure what that was about. I told him I'd be curious if my doctor noted any more progress at our appointment (2.5 weeks ago I was dilated 2 cm). Here's the timeline from the appointment on:

2:15 pm: Went in for 38 week appointment. My blood pressure was pretty high (hence the lightheaded/nausea) and this was odd as I hadn't had any issues with blood pressure thus far. The nurse had me lay on my left side for awhile and try to relax so that they could take my BP again. 10 min later they came in to re-check-still high. My doc came in and I remember her saying "what's going on with you?" She did the ultrasound and things looked good-plenty of fluid, baby in the right position, etc. She said she was going to check me to see if there had been any progress, and she said I was at 3cm. She said since my BP was high, I'd have to come back in tomorrow to be checked again, and if it was still high we'd have to talk about induction. She knew I wanted labor to begin naturally if possible so she asked if she could do a membrane sweep to see if that would speed things up. I remember looking at Jon and not knowing how to answer-after all, we were technically ready to have a baby, but were we really ready mentally?!?! I remember saying, "I guess so!". She did the membrane sweep (honestly, not the most pleasant thing ever...) and when she was finished she said "Oh, there's a lot more liquid here than there should be...I think I just broke your water. Well, we're going to go to the hospital and have a baby!" She seemed pretty frustrated at what had happened and later I told her it was honestly a good thing-I appreciated removing the element of surprise, not knowing when labor would begin! Plus, what a good story!

Jon and I looked at each other-we were obviously a little taken by surprise by this turn of events. I told Jon he'd have to find coverage for the funeral he was supposed to do the next day :) and my doctor instructed us to go home, grab our bags, then get to the hospital and get checked in.

We went home, grabbed the hospital bag and a few last minute things, fed the cats, and called our parents. I remember on our way out the door we stopped, kissed each other, and noted that this was the last time we'd be in our house as a family of two!

3:30pm: We checked in to St. Elizabeth hospital. By the time we got there, I was having fairly regular contractions between 3-5 minutes apart. It was pretty incredible, because prior to the appointment I hadn't had any labor signs and once my water broke, things really picked up! We got checked in to the hospital and our labor/delivery room, met our nurse Mary (who was AWESOME), and they got me hooked up to get baseline readings for baby's heartbeat, my contractions, etc. My doctor had said that when I got to the hospital she would have me started on Pitocin to make sure things were progressing, but Mary noted how regular my contractions were. I told her we were really hoping to let things progress naturally and wanted to be able to try things like laboring in the tub, walking, etc rather than being hooked up to an IV and monitors for the entire labor. She said she would call my doctor to see if walking would speed things up a bit and thus wait to start the Pitocin. She checked me first and I was still at 3cm, so no progress there, but I was still having decent contractions.

All hooked up and ready to go!

Mary was able to get ahold of a doctor at the practice who said they'd give me an hour to see if walking would speed things up-otherwise I would have to start Pitocin. I got ready to go walking with Jon around the labor/delivery floor. As we walked, the contractions continued to strengthen, lengthen, and get a little closer together-I'd say more like 3 minutes apart or so. However, they were much more manageable when I was up and moving around, and it was nice to have the time with Jon to talk through what was happening. We both noted how surreal this was, that we couldn't believe the day was actually here!

Ready to walk! We also call this our "38 week" picture, since one was never taken the day before!

We made our way back to the room about 5:30-5:40 and checked in with Mary. I was checked once again but was between 3-3.5cm-so no progress, bummer!

5:45 pm: Pitocin started. Mary said she would start it with a lower dose and build it up as needed. I was pretty bummed about this, knowing that labor could last HOURS and I didn't want to be confined to the bed the whole time. I was also worried about the kind of contractions Pitocin can bring on. Mary said while I had to be hooked up to the fetal monitor and IV, I would still be able to walk around my room a little bit, use the birthing ball, etc. That made me feel a little better but I was still upset about not being able to use the tub! I thought it would have been one of the greatest relaxation tools I could have put to use-oh well, maybe next time!

As soon as the Pitocin was started my contractions started getting longer, stronger, and closer together. About 30 minutes after being on pitocin I started to have back labor-NO FUN. Mary said sometimes contractions from the pitocin can start in the back and work their way to the front, or it could have been from the baby's position. After about 2 1/2 hours I couldn't stand it anymore-I would get 2-3 contractions right on top of each other, lasting 60-90 seconds and then get a little break, but they weren't consistently spaced or anything. It hurt to do everything, no matter what position I tried to stand in, lay in, etc. I remember being in the bathroom and telling Jon, "we need to discuss pain management options". He later laughed at me for being so calm about it-I guess I didn't know how else to say it :) In our birth plan I had said that I wanted to labor naturally as long as I felt able, but that I wasn't opposed to pain management. At this point, I just couldn't fathom continuing with labor as is, not knowing how long it was, and have the energy for the actual delivery. I was also VERY anxious about the pain of delivery, and not confident I could handle it. I told Jon, if I anticipate needing something for the pain, I may as well get it our nurse called the anesthesiologist and began to prepare me for the epidural.

8:30 pm: I received the epidural. Mary checked me right after it was put in and I was at 8 cm! I was able to rest for about 30 minutes-I didn't sleep but I closed my eyes and was really able to relax. My doctor was in the hospital since she had another patient in labor so she came to say hi and see how things were going. She said that she was pretty sure I was at least in early labor when I came to my appointment because it shouldn't have been that easy for her to break my water! She made a comment that I must be very "stoic" in terms of handling the discomfort of early labor and not admitting to feeling any differently-but I truly hadn't felt any differently in my pregnancy than the past few weeks!

Epidural relief...

9:30 pm: my doctor stopped by again and checked me-I was at 10cm! She said I could start pushing so Mary and Jon got me ready to go.

9:40pm: I started pushing. While I had the epidural, I was still able to feel the sensation of when I needed to push. I couldn't feel the contractions but I could feel the pressure as our baby continued to be in the position for delivery, and felt the pressure of where to push at the right time. I remember after receiving the epidural, everything I imagined labor and delivery to be went out the window. In my mind I had this very frantic, anxious, painful experience. Like what we see in the movies-women screaming, mad at their husbands...honestly that is one of the biggest reasons I was glad to have gotten the epidural. I was truly able to relax, and had a much better attitude about the experience. Instead of dread and worry, I had a "let's do this!" attitude. When they told me it was time to push, I felt ready. Jon and I were both anxious to meet our son!

After pushing for about an hour, maybe a little less, my doctor came back in. She took over with assistance from Mary and the delivery team (I don't know what to call them-I don't know who all was in the room to be honest!) and continued to coach me with Jon at my side. At 10:52, our son Elijah Robert Bailey was born!

Jon cut the cord and they toweled Eli him off a little and placed him on my chest. I remember looking at Eli laying on me, with Jon at my side, and knowing in my head that he was ours yet feeling in some ways like he was a complete stranger. It's weird, because it's like the world tells you you instantly bond with this baby-and in certain ways I did, but seeing him for the first time was like meeting a person you've never ever known. I knew in my head where he came from, that we had created him, but I was curious about who he was. Eli was very alert and quiet. He cried when he first came out but as soon as he was in our arms he just started to take the world in.

Meeting Eli for the first time!

My doctor had a lot of "fixing" to do on me which took quite a while. I honestly didn't pay much attention since we had plenty to focus on after meeting Eli! We decided on his name (we were torn between two) and stayed in the labor/delivery room for almost 2 hours (I had to be monitored for a bit longer than normal because I had quite a bit of bleeding). I was able to order food (a cheeseburger, it was delicious!) while Jon held Eli. Eli ate quite a bit and has been a great eater ever since!

On our way to our room we stopped at the nursery for his first bath and a couple of shots. We finally made it to our room around 2am and tried to settle in for the rest of the night-I think I slept for maybe an hour? Between feeding Eli, the adrenaline running through my body, and just being in awe of this little boy who had come into the world, I just couldn't sleep!

The next day (Friday) around noon both of our parents arrived to meet Eli and spent the day at the hospital with us. Most of the rest of the hospital stay is a blur-but it was an incredible experience.

Dr. Fiala and our new family!

Honestly, everytime I think about our delivery experience I truly miss it. The moment we became a family of 3 is something I will never forget. Our room felt like our space, and even though there's lots of medical people around, it still felt like our experience. I am so grateful for our awesome doctor, Dr. Fiala and the wonderful staff at the hospital. I am still in awe of how wonderful Jon was throughout the whole process-doing what he could to make me comfortable, being amazed by the birth process, being excited to meet our son and sing "You Are My Sunshine" to him. How proud he was to show him off to our parents. Overall, I was so anxious about the whole labor and delivery process-and now that I'm on the other side of it, I can truly say it was the most incredible process of my life. To know that my body knew exactly what to do, and to experience the different stages of labor. To be frustrated with the changes in how I'd hoped labor would go, yet still arriving at the endpoint of a healthy mom, healthy baby. To finally get to meet the baby we had prayed for and tried for for over a year. I will always cherish that night in the hospital, with the darkness outside and the low lighting in our room, being encouraged by everyone around me to do what had to be done in order to meet our little boy. Staring into Elijah's eyes for the first time, wondering what he thought about all this, and being amazed that his little body knew exactly what to do as well.

I think I could write about this forever...but I'll just end by saying how grateful I am to have experienced this process in the cycle of life. To see the miracle of life in our arms, knowing that by God's grace he was brought into this world with us as parents (God help him...) to raise him and nurture him. I still cannot believe we have this precious baby, and can't wait to see the man he grows up to be.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Elijah Robert Bailey!
Eli tummy time

Born January 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm
Weighing 6 lb, 15 oz
19.5 inches long

This little guy has come into our lives and changed them in a huge way.
first family photo

coming home

He loves his baths.
bath time

He loves his daddy (and his daddy is such a natural!).
holding daddy's hand

He has wonderfully curly hair when it's wet (thanks to his daddy).
curly hair

All in all...
holding pacifier
We think he's a keeper!