Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Month

Weight - 8 lbs. 13.5 oz (39th percentile)
Head - 14 in (88th percentile)
Height - 21.25 in (55th percentile)

Strengths:  Ava is so strong and can hold up her head for quite a long time when placed on her tummy.  Similarly, she is very curious and loves to look around at the world whenever she can.  Ava is also starting to follow objects and sounds with her eyes.  The other day, I walked in a circle around her play mat, talking to her the entire time, and she followed me with her eyes and her head the whole way!  She's also beginning to make some sounds (besides screaming) and smile every once in a while!  Yay!!  We've begun giving her a breast milk bottle every few days, and I was so worried it was going to be a battle.  However, she took it like a champ and sucks down a bottle in no time whenever Brent gives her one.

Struggles:  Ava is sleeping pretty well at night, but she can't seem to get past the 4 hour mark.  She consistently sleeps for 2.5, 3, or 4 hours at night.  Some things I've read say they should be able to do 5 or 6 hours by now.  I'm hoping this will just happen naturally!  The evening time is still our biggest struggle.  Ava's fussy time is typically from around 7 pm - 10 pm, which is hard since it's the end of the day, and it's nearly impossible for us to make and/or eat dinner when trying to calm her.  She gets into what we call a "death spiral" where she works herself into a frenzy and sleep is just not gonna happen.  We try our hardest to intercept death spirals before they happen!

Loves:  Ava loves the car seat and falls asleep within a few minutes of driving anywhere.  This is really nice for Mama who can have lunch with friends pretty easily.  I just pop the car seat out of the car, bring it in the restaurant, and keep the cover on while we eat and chat.  She loves the white noise of a restaurant and usually stays asleep the entire time!  Ava also loves bath time - she sits quietly and looks around while she enjoys the feel of the warm water.  She doesn't like getting out, though... just like her Mama!  Finally, finally... Ava likes the swing!  We were so bummed that she hated it at first.  But, we kept working on it, and now it's one of the only ways we can get her to calm down and sleep during the day.  We even put her in there awake, and she puts herself to sleep!  Ava also loves her Vitamin D supplement drops.  It's so funny... she smiles and licks her lips every time I give them to her!  We call it her "candy", and it's her once daily treat.  If she's really crying and she hasn't had them yet that day, we can give her "candy", and it quiets her immediately.  Ava loves her play mat!  Every morning, she spends at least 15 minutes happily kicking and looking at the animals hanging down.  She spends some happy tummy time on her play mat, too.  Finally, Ava is a lover of white noise!  If she's screaming, a loud white noise will almost always stop her immediately.  We have a "white noise" app on our phones, and lets just say we have to charge our phones 2-3 times per day to keep up with baby girl's white noise habit.

Dislikes:  Ava screams and cries for every diaper change.  We try our hardest to make it cuddly and fun, but she is not a fan.  It is a surefire way to wake her up, though!  Ava is not super cuddly yet.  I am really looking forward to the day when she will respond better to cuddling, hugging, rocking, and kissing, but she does not yet.  Brent says we have to resort to "party tricks" like white noise, swaddling, and jiggling to get her to sleep.  I hope someday that rocking and cuddling will do the trick, but for now, it often makes her angry and she stiffens up and resists us.  We'll keep cuddling, though!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures taken lately!

{headband modeling}


{pacifier skills}

{Blazer hearts Ava}

{mama & me}


Ava, we love you so much and love seeing you grow and change every day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Month One Must Haves

Ava is one month old today!  I wish I could say it's gone by quickly... but, it kind of seems like forever :-)  We have a house full of baby stuff, most of which she doesn't fit into, use, or need (yet!).  However, there are some items that have been instrumental slash required for survival this first month.  Here are our month one must-haves: baby stuff (and mama stuff) we love!

1 ::  Fisher Price "My Little Snugabunny" Bouncer
Ava spends at least a few hours in this bouncer each day.  Thank you, Maggie, for lending it to us!  We use it for naps and for getting Ava to sleep.  It's also a good place to set her down quickly if you need to use the bathroom or grab something. The only thing we haaaate is that it doesn't bounce itself!  A bouncer that doesn't bounce on it's own?!  Is this some kind of joke?!  One time I looked over while I was feeding Ava, and Brent was bouncing the bouncer with his foot out of habit.  She wasn't even in there!!  

2 ::  Summer "Swaddle Me" Wrap
We are definitely pro-swaddle.  Ava loooves her arms and legs.  Which is great and cute most of the day EXCEPT when we want her to sleep.  She absolutely can not sleep unless swaddled.  She is a little wiggle worm, and she will flail and struggle and hit herself in the face until swaddled.  I think the Miracle Blanket is awesome, but it's for an older / bigger child.  The Swaddle Me is very small and snug for a newborn, and it's got foolproof Velcro closures - good for 3 am when I can barely tell you my own name, much less fasten a complicated swaddle.

3 ::  Baby Connect App
There are tons of apps and gizmos out there for baby care, but I think this one is the best.  You can track ANYTHING on here - feedings, naps, diapers, doctor visits, vaccinations, milestones, moods, activity time... the list goes on.  We use it religiously to track feedings.  At the beginning we also used it to track sleep and diapers.  I also love tracking doctors visits because I can record questions for the doctor right in the app as I think of them!  The best part is that the app can sync with other devices.  So, anytime I enter a feeding, it shows up on Brent's phone too.  I have never, ever, once remembered when I fed her last, so having the app tell me how long it's been is truly necessary.  Best $4.99 you'll spend.

4 ::  Moby Wrap
I love babywearing.  We have a near 100% track record of putting Ava to sleep in baby carriers.  She loves them.  Plus, I can write emails, blog, do laundry, load the dishwasher, pick up the house, and even sit down and watch TV, all while "holding" her.  Pretty awesome.  It's also great for trips to the grocery store or Target when I don't want lug around the bulky car seat.  Many people told me the Moby was too complicated and they didn't use it for that reason.  I find it to be pretty easy.  I watched a You Tube video and now I can put it on in under a minute.  It's comfy, snug and secure, and kind of stylish.  I put the Moby on myself at home before going out.  When I arrive, I get Ava right out of the car seat and straight into the Moby - saves time, and I can sometimes do it without waking her up!

5 ::  Happiest Baby on the Block DVD
I read the "Happiest Baby on the Block" book, and it was helpful.  However, we borrowed the DVD from a friend so we could SEE the soothing strategies in action.  We are now experts at the 5 Ss:  Swaddling, Swinging, Side/Stomach, Shushing, and Sucking.  We're not too proud to admit that we've watched the DVD multiple times, sometimes while she is screaming our our ear.  

6 ::  DVR
Let's just say I've watched (more than) my share of The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser, House Hunters, Love It Or List It, 19 Kids and Counting, Top Chef, 24, Chopped, and Downton Abbey.  Don't judge.  Nursing takes up about 50% of my day, so I have to have some entertainment.  Plus, let's be honest... sometimes The Bachelor is just what the doctor ordered.

7 ::  Sleep Sheep
Each time we put Ava down to sleep, we turn on the sleep sheep to "ocean waves".  I'm not sure who likes it more - her or us.  The waves are SO relaxing.  They truly help me sleep.  Brent claims that after Ava doesn't need it anymore he's going to keep it for himself!  If nothing else, I'm hoping that she starts to associate that sound with sleep to help her sleep longer and go to sleep more quickly.

8 :: "Well Versed" App
Yes, I sometimes turn to Downton Abbey on a bad day, but that's a temporary fix.  To really make it through these months, I need the Lord.  I have an even greater desire to memorize scripture and have the word of God overtake me and fill my mind.  I found this awesome free app called "Well Versed".  You can add any verse from the Bible (automatic... you don't have to type it), and it creates flashcards for you!  It even has a "hint mode" to help you memorize.  I can study the flashcards with one hand while feeding or rocking.  It's awesome!

1::  Boppy Nursing Pillow
The Boppy is a must-have for a breastfeeding mom.  I have this with me where ever I am in the house.  It's perfect for propping up Ava while breastfeeding and holding her secure so my arms don't go numb.  It's super versatile and can be used in a ton of breastfeeding positions.  I love it!!!  The cover is easy to take on and off and wash, too, which is great.

2 ::  Car Seat Canopy
When I shopped at Motherhood Maternity while pregnant, I got a coupon for a free car seat canopy, so I went ahead and got one, not knowing just how indispensable it would be.  This thing is GREAT for many reasons.  First, we use it on all walks since it shields her from the chilly North Carolina temperatures.  We've been able to walk in cold weather knowing she is toasty under there.  Secondly, it's PERFECT for going out to restaurants, church, etc.  It keeps her asleep and (added bonus) it makes it much less likely that strangers will try to touch her or ask to hold her!  We use this daily.

3 ::  Gerber Pre-fold Cloth Diapers
These are not glamorous, but they are so necessary.  Right now if you look at our house, we have one on both couches, one on the glider, one on our bed, one on the kitchen counter, and one randomly on the floor.  One of us is always yelling "Get me a diaper!" from across the house.  We don't use them as diapers, mind you, but we use them as burp cloths and general "clean up whatever mess the baby makes" cloths.  They get the job done and can be washed a million times.  I'd recommend getting at least a dozen.

4 :: Girly Headbands
On a bad day, I'm not gonna lie that a cute headband on Ava's head lifts my spirits.  I know she has barely any hair.  I know her head is too small for most headbands.  I know some people think they look ridiculous.  I know they are totally frivolous.  And I DON'T CARE!  I love baby headbands and I'm not afraid to admit it.  She already has at least 15.  I'm in the process of making a DIY headband holder / organizer that I'll post when finished.  I bought these headbands pictured from a "Very Jane" deal, and I love them!!

5 ::  Coffee

6 :: Seven Baby Sling
As I already said, I love babywearing.  The Seven Sling (also free when you buy something from Motherhood Maternity) is another great option that is quicker and more "casual" than the Moby.  While the Moby is great for more serious trips out to the store, this sling is perfect for around the house.  Both Brent and I use this one at least once a day (we have a black and white one that is sufficiently manly).  She loves it, and even if she's crying when she goes in, after a few laps around the house, she's out.  Then, I have at least an hour of hands free time while she naps on me.  I love that we're bonding and close, but I can still do things!

7 :: Carter's Long Sleeve White Bodysuits
Brent calls these bodysiuts Ava's "uniform".  Of course I had visions of dressing my baby to the nines each day in frilly, pink, ridiculously cute things.  And never fear - that day will come... but it's not today.  Here's the deal:  when you never leave the house and don't see anyone all day, there is no need to dress up.  Also, little girl spits up, drools, and poops on anything I put on her.  These white onesies are cheap and come in big packs so we dirty one and just put another on.  Plus, they have MITTENS which are key for Ava whose favorite activity is scratching up her face while flailing her arms.  Plus, the white onesie is easily accessorized with pants, booties, hats, and, of course... headbands.

I hope this list helps anyone who is expecting a baby now or in the future.  If you're already a mom, what did you use the first few months?  What great products am I missing out on?

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Day in the Life

The other night, my mom asked me on the phone:  What is a day like?  Tell me from beginning to end.

As we are still adjusting to our new life, the thing that's been MOST helpful to me is other moms talking to me honestly about these newborn days.  It has been such a comfort to me to know that the good and the bad and all of the crazy emotions I feel are normal!  I'll share a typical day in the life of an almost four-week-old here so you can see the good and bad and everything in between!  This is a typical day, though every day is different.  These pics weren't all taken on the same day, but you get the idea :-)

Let's begin our day at 12 am, shall we?  Because that's when the day begins (at least on my Baby Connect app where I track all feedings).

12:00 am:  Sleeping.  Everyone.  (Praise God)

2:00 am:  Ava wakes with her "DEFCON 5" cry.  This is the cry that means - "I need food - NOW!"  I stumble out of bed, pick her up, carry her to the nursery, and change her diaper while half asleep.  She's still screaming,  but luckily I've developed nerves of steel.  I take her back to our bed and nurse her for 30-45 minutes.  I nurse sitting up so I don't fall asleep, and I troll Facebook (no new posts at 2 am... come on people!) and Pinterest (I see recent pins from two people who just had babies... imagine seeing y'all here!)  I drink an entire Gatorade during this feeding to quench my undying thirst.

2:40 am:  Put Ava back in the pack-and-play, turn on the sleep sheep, and tiptoe back into bed, holding my breath.  Listen for about 5 minutes to see if she sleeps or screams.  She sleeps.  I'm out.

4:00 am:  Wake up freaking out that I forgot to put Ava back in her pack and play.  I think she's lost in our bed, and I wake Brent up asking, "Where is Ava?!"  Brent says, "She's in her bed, Katie.  Go to sleep."  Yep, fully rational over here.

5:00 am:  DEFCON 5 scream.  Jump out of bed.  Grab baby.  Change diaper.  Feed.  Still no new Facebook posts.  Don't you working people get up early, and can't you please post something for my entertainment?  K thanks.

5:40 am:  Put Ava down, tiptoe to bed, snuggle under covers.  DEFCON cry.  Give her a second.  Give her a minute.  OK, a few minutes.  Still screaming.  Say pitifully, "Honey, can you please help me?"  Brent stumbles out of bed, takes Ava into the living room, and sleeps on the couch with her in the bouncer, which he has to bounce every 10 minutes while I sleep in the bedroom.  Love him.

7:50 am:  Wake up.  I have 10 minutes before little miss has to eat.  Dash around the house to make coffee, open windows, empty dishwasher, put in a load of laundry, make the bed, put in contacts.  Wake up Ava and feed her.  Even though I'm exhausted and the coffee hasn't kicked in yet, I enjoy her a lot in the mornings.  She's usually pretty darn sweet.  I admire her and read all of my devotionals on my iPhone while feeding.

8:30 am:  Ava is awake, full, and happy!  This is her happy awake time, and she loves to explore the world.  Her eyes are wide open and she's not crying!  She's awake for an hour, so we do a little swing time,  lay on the floor and read books, and make faces on the couch.

Sometimes we praise Jesus.

9:30 am:  Ava starts fussing and yawning.  Time to sleep.  We rock, listen to lullabies, and sing.  She resists valiantly and screams loudly and flails around as if we are torturing her.

Then I remember she isn't swaddled, and she won't sleep if she's not swaddled.  So we swaddle.  Then we repeat all of the above for 45 minutes until little miss finally gives in and goes to sleep.  

While Ava naps, I eat breakfast (finally), shower, put on makeup, and "get dressed" in workout clothes or leggings and a sweater, all while watching the monitor.

11:00 am:  Time to eat again!  Ava's still asleep, so I wake her up and change her diaper.   She's not happy - until she figures out she's about to eat.  Feed Ava for about 30 minutes while watching HGTV.

12:00 pm:  Put Ava in the bouncer to keep her happy for 20 minutes or so while I make and eat a sandwich, chips, and apple at record speed.  Oh, and drink a giant glass of water - the thirst!!

12:20 pm:  The clock is ticking before the next feeding, and I REALLY want to go to Target!  Bundle up Ava in mittens and hat and put her in the carseat.  Rush out to the car with diaper bag and Moby wrap already on me.  Drive to Target.  Ava sleeps when we're moving and cries when we stop at every red light.  No lie.  Little girl wants me to be a criminal and run red lights, I tell ya.

12:30 pm:  Arrive at Target and try to slip Ava into the Moby wrap without waking her.  Success!  Spend one blissful hour walking around Target with Ava fast asleep in the Moby.  Everyone thinks she is so cute.  I think to myself that this is a really fun part about being a mom.  This cute baby?  Yeah, she's mine.  Except one lady said, "Oh, isn't it just a miracle!  Even when they are screaming and crying, they are so sweet and cute and precious and a MIRACLE."  I kind of looked at her like 'lady you have lost your mind' and I said, "Yeah, you're free to come over to my house any time!"  

2:00 pm:  It's feeding time, and Ava lets me know.  Throw the Target bags on the counter and take off my shirt as fast as possible to stop the screaming.  Feed Ava.

2:30 pm:  Ava's full and dry, but she's grumpy.  Try rocking.  Try bouncer.  Try swing.  Try music.  Try all the "happiest baby on the block" techniques.  She's not having it.  Try wearing her in the sling.  She loves it, clearly!!

j/k she totally hates it.  Mom of the year!  However, I'm determined for her to like it, so I keep her in there and bounce around the house for 20 minutes or so.  And suddenly... she stops crying.  She catnaps happily in the sling for the next 20 minutes as I tidy up the house.

3:45 pm:  Daddy gets home from class, and we pop Ava into the stroller for a walk around the neighborhood.  She screams the first block or so, but then succumbs to the movement and the vibration and sleeps the rest of the walk.  Brent and I see this as a "date" time when we can just be together and talk.  It feels soooooo good to get out of the house, breathe fresh air, and exercise.

4:45:  Time to eat again!  This time, Ava is very fussy for no apparent reason and screams while I try to feed her.  No matter how many times I try, she resists and stiffens up and pushes away like I am trying to hurt her.  She refuses to eat and continues to scream.  It's the end of the day, and I'm frustrated.  I start crying because I feel like I can't feed my child and she hates me and she will starve and she will not gain enough weight and I am not making good milk and I'm a terrible mother and.......... 

Blazer hates when I cry and hates when Ava cries.  It stresses him out.  He comes over and tries to snuggle on my lap (even though Ava's there) to make me feel better and licks Ava with a big sloppy kiss on the face, and this all makes me laugh even though I'm sobbing.  Finally, I get Ava to eat a tiny bit, but it was not a good feeding.

5:15 pm:  Bath time.  One time, we gave Ava a bath at bedtime because we thought that's what you were supposed to do??  Rookie mistake.  Ava hated the bath with all her might and screamed at DEFCON 5 level until about midnight.  Now, we bathe her at 5 so that if she freaks out, she has many hours to calm down before bed.  Of course, now, she loves baths.  Go figure.

6:00 pm:  Ava's wide awake and decides to cry for one full hour.  The bath happiness only lasted so long.  It's time to fix dinner, so daddy gets bouncer duty.  He bounces her for a full hour to get her to go to sleep.

7:00 pm:  Ava's finally asleep in the bouncer and dinner is ready.  We eat and watch TV and savor the quiet.  And we have a glass of wine.  Definitely a glass of wine.

7:45 pm:  Time for Ava to eat again!  This time she feeds a little better, and she is tired afterwords.  We change her, put on her pjs, and swaddle her.  After the evening chores are done, we all pile into bed for some family cuddle time and watch TV together.  How sweet is Blazer in this pic?  He loves little Ava - it's really sweet.

10:30 pm:  Wake Ava to feed her one last time before we go to sleep.  Hopefully, she ends up in a milk coma, or, as Brent likes to say, "Drunk as a skunk".  This is the face you want to see at bedtime.  What we don't want to see is eyes so wide open they look as if they are held up by toothpicks!

11:00 pm:  Go to sleep until the next day begins.....

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nursery Reveal

I planned to post pictures of Ava's nursery before she was born, but the time got away from me!  Now the nursery is complete, and we are enjoying Ava in it.  It is the nursery of my dreams!  Here is the space that little miss Ava can call her own!

Glider :: Rockabye from Target
Plush Owl :: Pier 1 Imports
Yellow Chevron Pillow :: Handmade by my mom
Ottoman :: Custom from Zeldabelle on Etsy
Rug ::  Moroccan Trellis in bubblegum from RugStudio
Book Ledges ::
Side Table :: HomeGoods
Lamp :: HomeGoods  (with DIY felt flowers)
Owl Figurine :: HomeGoods
Books :: Saved from my childhood

Dresser :: Ava collection from Basset Baby at Buy Buy Baby (not lying... that's the name of the furniture!!  It was a sign.)
Chevron Changing Pad Cover :: Carousel Designs
Lamp :: Target
Cross :: Repurposed from our kitchen
Art :: Handpainted by me

Crib :: Ava collection from Bassett Baby at Buy Buy Baby
Yellow & Gray Chevron Bedding :: Carousel Designs
Monogram :: Custom from A Southern Nest on Etsy
Chevron Fabric Banner :: Handmade by my mom

Paris Canvas Baskets :: HomeGoods
Pink & Gray Hamper :: HomeGoods
Hanging Organizer :: Target

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ava's First Two Weeks

Today our little Ava is two weeks old!  We are falling more in love with our little girl every day!  She is just as precious and sweet as can be.

After Ava's birth (read about it here), we were transferred to our hospital room where we would stay for the next 2 days.  In an effort to keep it real, I'll tell you the truth about our first two weeks with Ava.  This is a long post, but I wanted to record it for my memory, and there are lots of pics throughout!

Days 1 & 2:  Hospital

After the joy of Ava's birth, I have to say that the next two days spent in the hospital were probably some of the worst days of my life.  (Don't worry... it got better... keep reading!)  The hospital was just not a place where Brent, Ava, or I could thrive.  Without going into all the details, I'll just say that it was an unbelievably stressful situation.  Because of my long labor, I was in a lot of pain, and neither of us had slept in over 24 hours.  Now, we had a newborn in our room and pretty much no clue what to do with her!  The hospital keeps babies in the room with mom 24/7, which I think is a VERY good policy, but I don't think they supported us quite enough in caring for her those first days.

We thought we would get to sleep once we were in our own room, but no - that was not in the cards.  I am not lying that hospital staff came in our room every ten minutes, around the clock.  This is not an exaggeration.  Ava & I got our vital signs every 2 hours around the clock.  People came to do blood tests on Ava at 3am (for real).  They brought us our birth certificate information at 1am (I am not lying).  Food service came in 7+ times a day.  At one point, we had the following people in the room all at once:  the nurse, my OBGYN, the obgyn nurse, the housekeeper, and the lactation consultant.  They were all trying to tell me things and ask me questions at the same time.  I broke down in tears in front of all of them.  Lovely.  Also, did I mention our room was like a closet?  You couldn't even walk without tripping over something.  Needless to say, we didn't sleep in that room.  By night 2, I had not slept for 72 hours.

Unfortunately for us, night 2 was no better.  Ava was inconsolable all night and would not eat or sleep.  We called the nurse twice in desperation to help us - we just couldn't figure out what was wrong.  The nurse would eventually get her to sleep and leave the room, and then Ava would wake up and scream again five minutes later.  The next morning, haggard and desperate, we asked to see the lactation consultant.  God bless lactation consultants.  This one was FANTASTIC.  When she arrived, she witnessed one of Ava's meltdowns and realized what we had been dealing with.  She spent most of the day with us trying to figure out what was the matter.  Long story short, Ava basically wasn't getting any nourishment.  She was hungry and overtired and frantic as a result.  We tried a few things, and finally settled on a system that allowed Ava to breastfeed but also be supplemented with formula for a week or so until we could get breastfeeding more established.  For the first time in days, Ava ate and was full and slept.  God bless America.

I had visions of going home from the hospital in a cute outfit with my hair all done and my makeup on. Ava would be cute too.  We'd smile and take pictures.  Um,  not so much.  I hadn't showered or slept, and neither had Brent.  We just left Ava in what she had on and packed up.  We were a sight for sore eyes leaving that hospital!  Thankfully my wonderful mom was there to collect us and help us function for the next week.

Days 3 - 7:  Home with Mom 

Getting home from the hospital was when things finally started to look up.  My blessed mother had dinner ready for us.  We took a shower and were finally clean.  The familiarity of home was awesome. We had tools that we could use to calm Ava that we didn't have in the hospital (swing, bouncy seat, Moby wrap, etc).  Still, we were functioning on no sleep, and all of us were still in major recovery mode from delivery.  We headed to bed and put Ava down in her pack and play in our room.  Long story short, we did not sleep from 9 pm - 4 am.  Between eating and crying, Ava was a handful.  She did not want to sleep flat in her pack and play.  At 4 am, we were at our wits end.  I had a major crying breakdown.  I went down the hall and knocked on my mom's door, screaming Ava in hand.  She jumped out of bed and took her and watched her until 7 so I could get at least a few hours of sleep.  This routine went on for 2-3 days, and my mom took her each night around 4 am.  Then, my mom finally discovered that she loved sleeping in the bouncy seat.  Success!  That night, we put her to bed in the bouncy seat, and she slept for three hours straight.  I fed her, and she slept for three more hours straight.  I fed her again, and she slept for three more hours straight.  OMG!!!!  I could have danced.  I know the bouncy seat is NOT a long term solution, but at the moment, I don't care!!!

That first week is kind of a blur, but every day got better than the last.  My mom made sure we ate and picked up the mess that we created daily.  I got more sleep each night, and I started feeling like a new person.  When my mom left on day 7, I had a meltdown.  But I knew we were on track to good things and that we could do it on our own.

Days 8 - 14:  Home Alone and More Visitors

After my mom left, we began to figure out how to be a family of 3 on our own.  Even though Ava doesn't have a routine yet, we usually have some happy play time in the morning, somewhat regular feedings, and we try to have an outing a day - a walk, trip to the doctor, etc.  It felt good to be home with just the three of us (and Blazer).  I've tried to use feeding time to pray and do my Bible study.  One prayer that has really gotten me through these two weeks is "help me get through this hour/day".  I pray that one a lot!  We know that with each passing day, things will get better, and we will find more and more of our "new normal".  On Saturday, Brent's parents arrived, and they are staying with us until Wednesday.  They are spoiling us with plenty of meals and love - such a blessing!  They are always willing to quiet a crying Ava, and they have watched her while Brent and I took a walk yesterday and today.  So awesome!!

Here are some other things I want to remember about Ava's first weeks:

Mama Highs:
  • Mornings:  The old saying that "everything looks better in the morning" is SO, SO true.  On some of the hard nights, I just can't wait for morning.  I know my spirits will be lifted and nothing will be quite as bad as it seems.  Even if we've had little sleep, there is something refreshing about turing on all the lights, opening the blinds wide to let in the sun, and having a BIG cup of hot coffee.  Brent has also been really good about letting me shower and get ready each morning, which makes a big difference in my general outlook on life!
  • My mom helping us:  My mother is a saint.  Part of me thought that we wouldn't need any help when we got home with Ava, but I could not have been more wrong.  We truly would not have survived (and I mean that literally) without my mom.  My mom got here while we were still in the hospital.  Before we even got home, she had gotten everything ready for us, cooked meals, bought flowers, gone to the store, put balloons on the front porch, and set the table with placemats and silverware for dinner.  She functioned as our brain when our brains were not working (which was most of the week).  She was SUCH a blessing!
  • Family Time:  Every night around 8 pm, we snuggle in bed to feed Ava, cuddle, and watch TV until her last feeding around 10 when we go to bed.  These hours are so sweet and precious.  Even Blazer joins us, and we get to just spend time together as a family.  I know we've been a family all this time, but now it's like, wow, we have a FAMILY.
  • Ava's Nighttime Sleep:  While the first three nights home were chaos, by about the 4th night, I think Ava was starting to get the difference between night and day.  She is usually pretty good about sleeping at night.  We have to wake her up for the nighttime feedings, and she usually goes back to sleep after feeding with minimal soothing.  I'm still tired because I'm waking every 3 hours to feed her, and each feeing takes about 45 minutes. However, I'm so grateful that she lets me sleep a hour or two between feedings.  If I was up the whole night, every night, I don't know how I'd make it.  Some nights are better than others, but overall, she's making mama happy at night.  She doesn't sleep hardly at all during the day, but I'll take it if she sleeps at night!!

Mama Lows:

  • Late Afternoons:  At the end of a long day, things can begin to look a little bleak.  My least favorite part of the day is from about 4:00 - 6:00.  It's getting dark, I'm exhausted from the day, I'm kind of dreading the night, and Ava is usually screaming at the top of her lungs.  Just keepin' it real.  These are the times when the tears usually flow.  God bless my sweet friend, Mary Elizabeth, who has been known to call me at 5:00 just because it's getting dark and she knows I'm probably sad!
  • Newborn Photos:  We took Ava for her newborn photo shoot where they take all those adorable pictures of your sleeping baby.  The only thing is, the baby needs to be SLEEPING.  This is not an issue with most newborns, but Ava was not having it.  She cried and refused to sleep for 3.5 hours while the sweet photographer (bless her heart) tried valiantly to calm and soothe her, to no avail.  I was so stressed the whole time - I REALLY wanted those pictures!  We decided it was just not going to work that day, but the photographer was so kind to let us come back later in the week and try again.  This time, we tried the afternoon, and I tried to keep her up in the morning so she would be tired. I also prayed all the way over there that she would sleep.  What a blessing that God cares about the little details of life, too!  She slept like a CHAMP.  Whew.  We will have cute pictures after all.

Ava Likes:

  • Swaddling:  She loves swaddling, especially with the Summer "swaddle me" blankets - we found they work the best and are most snug on a tiny newborn.
  • Bouncy seat:  We absolutely can not live without the Fisher Price "little snugabunny" bouncer seat.  She loves it.  It's pretty much the only place she will sleep.  This is where she naps and sleeps at night by our bed.  We know we'll have to break her of it eventually, but for now... survival.  And if chica likes to sleep in the bouncy seat, bouncy seat it is.
  • Morning play time:  Little girl is VERY alert for a newborn.  In fact, our photographer said she has never, ever in her career seen a newborn stay awake for as long as Ava stayed awake.  Awesome.  However, this makes for some fun daytime play time.  She is most alert and happy in the morning from about 9 - 12.  She loves to lay on a blanket on the floor and move her arms and legs like crazy, looking all around.
  • Car rides: She screams like crazy when we put her in the car seat, but as soon as the car starts moving, she is out like a light and sleeps until we get where ever we are going.
Ava Dislikes:

  • Pacifiers:  I've tried to get her to take one, but she's not having it yet.  Maybe later.
  • Swing:  She's not a huge fan.  She will go in it if she's asleep, but it doesn't really calm her very much.
  • Laying flat on her back:  We might be in for trouble since she eventually needs to lay on her back in the crib to sleep.  She hates being flat though.  She prefers to sleep inclined in the infant seat for now.
We love you so much, sweet little girl!  We can't wait for all that's to come!
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