Ava is 6-week old now. We're amazed by how time is really flying. All the parents that I know always say that, but now I really understand what they mean! The picture on the right is from last Sunday. Ava snoozed on the bed next to Aaron and the dog. I lay her in the pillows in the bed and it's like a little baby recliner chair! She loves it because she's close to us. Of course, she doesn't sleep there all night, but maybe to snooze in the morning.
Family Time: We've had a very busy week with family coming to visit us. Ava met her Aunt Megan, Uncle Todd and cousin Colin for the first time. They came last Friday from the Chicago area and stayed through Sunday morning. Our nephew, Colin, is about 6-months old. You'd never know now by looking at him that he was born 5-weeks early and was so teeny when he was born. He's healthy, giggly, and so cute! We put the cousins together on the Baby Einstein, which they both love! Check them out in this picture...It was so cute to see them together. I can't wait until they can play and socialize together!
Megan and Todd made dinner for us for Saturday night. My mom and aunt were visiting from the West Coast and they arrived Saturday in time for dinner. They stayed for the week and just left this afternoon. We had a really nice meal together in our sun room overlooking the backyard and listening to Latin Lounge music.
My mom kept saying how she was surprised how heavy Ava felt when she held her. I got a chuckle about because she's only about 10 lbs! I'm used to carrying her around all the time. I'm telling you...caring for a baby is a workout. My little one soothes by walking around while holding her. All of that has been quite a workout for my upper body in her short 6-weeks so far!
You can see the pictures here of my mom holding the baby during her visit and the picture of Ava in her poppy outfit with my aunt Liberty on the morning before they left. It was a rare visit for my mom who get anxious flying and traveling in general. She came out with the confidence of traveling with my aunt by her side, but we all had such a great time!
We did running around a lot with the baby and I'm getting practice with all the logistics of taking a newborn out of the house. Mom and Aunt Liberty treated us to a taco dinner Sunday and a from-scratch enchilada dinner on Thursday night before they left. It's always great to have your mom's cooking! Even though I took a break from my normal cooking schedule, I made Homestyle Buttermilk Waffles with bacon for breakfast one morning, coleslaw with creamy poppy seed dressing, and a slow-cooked pork roast with a locally produced honey chipotle barbecue sauce. I tried to share local Indiana foods during their visit and my mom even placed an order with my favorite meat shop, Yoder's, in Northern Indiana, to enjoy the all-natural meats like pepper bacon, steaks, and ground meats.
This week - Nursing in Public! I've nursed Ava at so many places so far - Aaron's office after lunch one day, the museum, restaurants, my doctor's office, and Le Leche League meetings! I've joined the Indianapolis Le Leche League to meet other nursing moms to get tips and information. One of my goals is to feel confident about nursing in general that it's easy to do it in public. Nursing in public is a challenge because you don't have the home comforts like a back-support or pillows to rest your arms while holding the ever-growing baby! I've learned to be resourceful. My friend, Rachel, sent me this Hooter Hider nursing cover and I love it! It's big and has a big gap on the top for me to see what's happening and maintain eye contact with Ava. It's a bit tricky to find places. This picture is me nursing Ava outside the Indianapolis Museum of Art on the bench. It turns out they have a nursing station in the museum with a chair and a changing table! I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far.
Nursing your baby has logistical things to work out. For example, my mom, aunt, and I went to the symphony one night and Aaron stayed home with Ava. I was gone for 4-hours (the LONGEST time apart from Ava since she was born) and that was my limit without taking my pump or Ava with me! Walking around with very full breasts is not comfortable.
Prepping to Transition Back to Work: Many breastfeeding moms fall off exclusive breastfeeding when they return to work because they may not have a supportive work environment to pump or they get so busy that they don't keep their supply up. When you return to work, you need to replace your baby's feeding with a pumping session, the key to keeping your supply up. Breastfeeding is based on supply on demand. I started reading a book, Working Without Weaning: A Working Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding, and I LOVE it! It's written by a lactation consultant/working mom and she makes very practical tips and suggestions! This book has sample schedules that I found really helpful. There are so many questions in my mind about daycare and breastfeeding. I'm lucky to have a flexible work schedule and I'm going to work from home a lot in the beginning, but I still plan to take Ava for a couple half-days so I can have dedicated work time at home. The author gives practical tips about how much milk to take to daycare and how to train your daycare not to overfeed your baby. There are major differences between formula and breastfed babies because nursing babies are used to being held a lot more because it takes longer to eat. I'm going to nurse Ava as soon as I get to daycare to get bonding time right away and it's one less feeding she'll get from a bottle (that I have to pump, too!). I'm taking Ava to the daycare next week to drop off paperwork, supplies, and instructions for her care.
After reading the daycare's breastfeeding state guidelines. I felt sabotaged when I read that they THROW OUT YOUR MILK after your baby has finished eating from the bottle. Any expressed milk leftover will be tossed out! I learned in the book that it's best to make small 2-oz servings so there is less waste and to ask daycare how much she's eating at each feeding. My daycare takes milk in bags and I've started freezing extra milk. I'm trying not to pump more than a few ounces a day because more would make my already plentiful supply too high. It's a careful balance. If you're a breastfeeding and working mom and have tips for me, PLEASE include a comment!
Ava's Baby Pouch Saves the Day! I believe the experts when they say that newborns in the first 12-weeks are in the "4th trimester." My friend, Stephanie, recommended this baby pouch because her two boys love it. The Wallababy pouch is made by a local Indy woman and she sells them at the hospital gift shop near my house where I go for my breastfeeding support group.
It's been a lifesaver! The pouch is convenient because it folds up in the diaper bag and I can slip it on before Ava goes into "melt-down" mode. I used it at the grocery store this week and it was perfect! Newborns like to feel close and secure so this pouch is ideal because it is like a hammock and she can sleep and nest near my heart beat. Too much time in her stroller, I discovered, makes her only want to be held more. I can have my hands free to eat a meal or walk around with her without making my arms tired. The drawback is that I can't bend to much to do the dishes or housework, so I guess I'll have to take it easy! We've had some nights this week that Ava is especially fussy, but the pouch helps calm her. Aaron and I realized that she wants to be near me when she's worked up so this really works well!
Decoding Baby Cries: Aunt Liberty told me about an author/researcher featured on Oprah that discovered universal baby sounds. It's called the Dunstan Baby Language method. Liberty downloaded the info for me so I can read it, but already just the few sounds like "neh" for hunger and "eh" for burp me, really works! It helps parents know what the baby wants before the crying starts. I'm looking forward to learning more about it.
Two More Weeks of Maternity Leave: When I go back to work, I'm planning to cook meals on Sundays like when I had to work 6-days a week like when Aaron and I were first married. I predict there will be nights that we scarf down a quick sandwich, but my goal is to get rest and spend family bonding time at night with our little Ava. I've heard that babies like to nurse all night when mom's go back to work. Ava already does "cluster feedings" at night around our dinner time until she falls asleep for the night. She's consistently waking up at 2:30am and 6am to eat, but goes back to sleep easily. I'm starting to prep my new schedule in my mind and thinking of what I'll need.
It breaks my heart that we'll be apart, but I have to get back in the working world again. I'm treasuring every moment with Ava now, soaking in her smell, her smile, and the sweet way that she looks into my eyes. My love for her has already grown to a never-ending sea. Now, I understand motherly love.