Monday, November 24, 2014

Coralie's Christmas List

Last Christmas I really struggled with what to get Cora for Christmas because she was only 2 months old. I couldn't imagine getting her nothing, because it was her first Christmas but everything that Mommy & Daddy got her were essentials. 

This Christmas I'm so excited to shop for my girl, she's old enough to (sort of) open the gifts herself and participate in the holiday fun! We follow a modified version of Want, Need, Wear, Read. We add in Stocking because of course Santa will bring her wonderful stocking stuffers. Santa, we choose to do Santa with our family so he will bring her something fun! Pajamas, a family tradition from when I was growing up that we want to continue is that on Christmas Eve after Chruch and Dinner you get to open a gift and it will have cute winter/holiday pajamas that you wear that night. Homemade - this one is hit or miss. If during the year I have pulled myself together to make everyone a handmade something then great, they'll get a handmade gift, but I don't put too much pressure on myself for this one.
Without further ado,Coralie's Christmas List - 

Want - 
I have several things on this list so that when family asks for inspiration, I have ideas ready to go.

1. Cell Phone! Hopefully Coralie having her own will keep her paws off mine and Johns! :) 
2. Foam Floor Mats - She isn't quite old enough to use these yet, but I thought it would be nice to have them for when she is ready. It would also be a nice soft place for her to play in her play corner.
3. Trampoline - we've gone back and forth on this one. I'm nervous about her getting hurt but she loves jumping! She's about to outgrow her jumparoo so we thought this would be a nice transitional toy. I like that it's small enough it can be inside when it's cold or outdoors for nice weather!
4. Mega Blocks! She enjoys playing with her traditional blocks but also likes putting things together and taking them apart. I like the classic colors so they aren't so girly if she has a brother one day down the road. 

Need - 
Of course all of her needs are fully met, so this is more of a Mommy & Daddy want list right now - the Ergo! We borrowed a friends for the State Fair and loved it! John felt much more comfortable wearing her in it than in a wrap. I love that you can back wear with it (I don't feel comfortable back wrapping yet) and she's about to out-grow the Moby Wrap.
We purchased one from a friend, but it's this style

Wear - 
I saw this one day when I was buying wipes at Walmart. We usually don't buy any new clothing for Cora, she just can't get enough wear out of it to justify the price difference but this is just so cute and it's Christmas so we made an exception!

Read/Homemade - 
I don't have any pictures here - we have picked up a few fun board books for her recently. I also picked up the pannels of fabric at Hobby Lobby recently to make her a cloth Christmas book. I haven't made it yet, and it's not looking promising so that may get packed away to make next year. 

Santa Clause will be bringing little Miss a baby doll this year! We had a playdate at a friends house and she loved playing with the dolly. She picked it up and held it like a baby and patted it on the back. I knew then that she'd be getting a doll for Christmas. 
I like this particular doll because it's designed to go in the bathtub with her. I figure if it's okay for a bath, then it will be more durable and stand up to the gross that it will be exposed to by a toddler!

 I want to stay away from sugary foods, so we will keep with my Mom's tradition of fruit and nuts in the stocking along with a few fun toys. This year I want to start collecting some movies for Cora and I couldn't think of a cuter movie than Frozen. She doesn't sit and watch TV yet, but she will before too very long. I thought the bathtub crayons would be a new fun thing for her since she just recently starting "coloring".

What are you all getting for the children in your family?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Coralie - 13 months old

Weight/Height - Just the other day she was sitting on the bathroom scales while I was in the shower, I peeked out and she was coming in at just over 26 pounds!

Health - She's healthy as a horse! (where did this saying come from!?!)

Nicknames - "Pumpkin", "Cor-Cor", "Cora Bear", "Cora Bora" and most recently "Bulldog" because she scrunches her face and snorts through her nose when she isn't happy with what you're doing (like putting her in the car seat). John has also recently called her "Cora-lizzy" short for Cora Elizabeth.

A last minute Halloween trip to the Deli!

Teething - On the day of her birthday party she cut a 4th tooth (top). She hasn't had any more come in yet but she's certainly teething. She and my Dad have this system worked out, she takes his finger and puts it on the part of her gums that hurt, he rubs the gums and she babbles in appreciation (and doesn't bite him!). I think it's so funny that she goes to different people for different things, she knows who meets what need. She also loves chewing on her little gummy toothbrush to alleviate teething pain. This is great because she doesn't like teething rings/toys other than the occasional cube of ice in a mesh feeder. 

Clothing - She has a few 12 month outfits that fit (as in I can squeeze her in them, but probably aught to pack them away). Everything else is 12-18 months or 18 month clothes. Some of these are even tight! I was just tugging an 18 month shirt down that had ridden up on her belly and was thinking that I might have some 24 month winter shirts packed away we got in hand-me-downs that I need to pull out. I'm pretty sure that if she'll ever start walking for real (opposed to the occasional 3 steps to Mommy or Daddy) she'll loose some of her chunk and these clothes will fit properly again.

Diapers - She's about out of size 3 disposables but I'm making them last because we still have another box of them from a diaper shower! We haven't done cloth since we've been staying with my Dad, but we will absolutely be going back to that as soon as we're settled in. At this rate though, it'll probably be New Years before I break out the cloth diapers again. Her dirty diapers are also getting to be a bit much to handle (#nasty) so I won't lie, I don't look forward to dealing with that in cloth.

Eating - Nursing - Still nursing in the morning at night. She's hit or miss on nursing to go down for naps. Occasionally she wakes in the night and I nurse her back down but I'm really trying to stop that habit (because that's exactly what that is, a habit that needs to be broken!). She doesn't really nurse during the day and if she asks (and isn't sick, or teething etc to warrant needed additional nursing) I offer her sippy cup to her and really encourage that. Usually she's just misplaced it or I haven't gotten it back out of the refrigerator and she's just using me as a walking, talking beverage dispenser. Sometimes she's just really insistent on nursing and I don't ever turn her down if she repeatedly asks after I've offered alternatives.  

Beverages - she loves drinking from her straw sippy cup! She'll drink milk (cow milk and almond milk), water and occasionally watered down juice. This past month she has really learned how to use sippy cups other than the straw type and has gotten the coordination down to turn the cup up with her hands as she sucks! I'm excited because now she's using the collection of cups we bought and tried before finding that she would only drink from straw cups before! (On the way to Branson I also learned that cups with handles out to the side, she can turn enough to get the lid just enough off that she will spill milk everywhere!)
Solids - She eats everything we do! Meat has been her biggest area of growth this month! She loves chicken and tolerates hotdogs chopped up. She has recently started using a fork! She would grab mine off my plate after eating and was really fascinated with it, we kept finding where she was hiding forks for playing with later! She has figured out how to feed me with a fork and is working on the wrist movement to scoop/stab and get it to her own mouth. I will be picking up toddler forks for her tomorrow (but I doubt she will use it, she prefers what we use).

ZZzzzzZZZ Sleeping - This is the one area in parenting I feel like I'm really struggling. With getting ready to move, then moving and all the craziness there for a solid month (September) she would be at my Dad's house until really late 11 pm - 1 am.  A few nights even up until 2 or 3 am (the nights we were moving). Bedtime fell apart for us and she wasn't consistently going down to sleep for the night (though she'd napped quite a bit through the evening/night) until 1 am. I'm still paying for this... through October we progressively worked on backing up her bedtime but our lives were still pretty chaotic and she wasn't accustomed to sleeping at my dad's house. By the end of October, I got bedtime backed up to 9:30 - 10:00. Daylight Savings was a God-Send! Without much work on my part at all she's consistently going to sleep between 9 and 9:30 and sleeping until 8:30 or 9 in the mornings. I still want to back it up 30 minutes to an hour (bedtime routine starting at 8, in bed asleep by 8:30) but we've made huge progress! I worry that the holidays are going to mess things up, but I'm just going to have to be really strict about routine and consistency.
I also really dread getting sleep established in her own crib again, since October 1 she has been sleeping in bed with us, so we might start with the pack and play in our room, then transition back to the crib in her room. Ugh. I don't know. Where's the parenting manual on this???

Our Little Socialite - Play dates are more fun with Cora now that she is more interactive & alert. We go (almost) weekly to story time in our hometown and the neighboring Denton libraries. Twice a month to MOMs where she plays in nursery & she loves going to "Sunday School" at church.

Likes- Playing peek-a-boo with whatever she can find, has started enjoying being read to (as long as they're short books), playing with the Christmas decorations I have out, particularly the beaded garlands. 

Dislikes -Getting dressed... or undressed for that matter. Blowing her nose (which is still a work in progress) or me wiping her face.

New - She has some new words! "DID IT" she will exclaim after even the smallest acts of whatever she was trying to do; put a sock on her head, roll the ball, stand up on a difficult surface, get the lid off her sippy cup etc. She had been saying it for a while but she says it so quickly and without much ennunciation that we had trouble understanding here. She runs it together and you mostly recognize the 'D' and the 'T' and the middle is pretty smushed. She still says "Momma" and "Daddy", she has several other words and mini phrases like 'Did It' that we just haven't figured out yet what they are. She speaks Cora-ese very well! ;)

Fun things we did - 
~Coralie's First Birthday Party!
~Cora's first Trunk or Treat, ~Fall Festival and Halloween with Trick or Treating!
~Last minute trip to Branson, MO to visit Uncle Josh on special liberty 
~Uncle Joshua being home for a few days before leaving for Japan (he'll be gone for 2 years)
~Uncle Jacob's Senior Recital (trip to Marshall, TX)
Her shirt says "My Uncle is a Big Bad Marine"

Uncle Robert discovering the issues...
Goings on with Mommy & Daddy - We are still working on the house. We have managed to spend one whole night out there (before it got very unseasonably cold and we came back to my Dad's house... more because of water issues than cold). Speaking of those water issues... we needed to re-do one of the exterior walls siding. When we took the siding off we found a whole heap of plumbing problems. Water leaking into sheet rock, insulation etc. What was supposed to be a 3 or 4 hour project turned into gutting the wall, re-plumbing the entire kitchen (including washer/dryer), redoing sheet rock and insulation. It's not something I can do alone and everyone else works (and of course I have Cora and I can't really do that kind of work when I'm watching her...) so the project has been squeezed in where we can in addition to other on-going projects out there. It's literally taken the better part of 3 weeks for this to be completed.

Exciting Future- We're going this weekend to Georgetown to visit John's Grandparents for Thanksgiving. Of course Thanksgiving Day back home, I'm looking forward to starting some new traditions with our family. We'll spend Thanksgiving with my family, immediate and extended at my Aunt & Uncles house. Lots of fun Christmas preparations & events!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finish This (week 46)

Join us in the weekly link up! Also, it's just a few weeks until the Year In Review link up (Dec 31)! I participated last year and am already working on my post this year! You can get more info on this on Nicole's blog!

If I could fly to any destination tomorrow, I’d go to
Hawaii. That's just off the top of my head, but it sounds nice, warm and inviting right about now! Besides I think that will always be the destination that got away. I don't know if we'll ever go but I'll probably always want to!

My best advice for travelling is
Well, I don't know that I have any generic travel advice, but traveling with kids - that I have advice for. Plan to make plenty of stops! Don't be in a hurry! If you are driving (or even if you're flying and are taking the car seat) get a Piddle Pad! This has saved my life many times and there have been several times I was kicking myself for not having it in the seat! It's a waterproof liner that the kiddo sits on to protect the seat from moisture, be it well... piddle... or milk, lemonade, poop, water, more milk just to name a few that it has saved me from and a few that I didn't have the liner in place to spare me.
Also take lots of toys and change them out. Cora doesn't have a singular favorite toy but loves many different ones. We would always take all the favorites plus a few that didn't get much use so she had a selection and we would rotate them out every little while to prevent boredom.

I (like / dislike) to travel because
I both like and dislike traveling. To a great degree I'm a homebody. Traveling can be a little anxiety inducing for me. I like seeing new places but by that very same token, I don't like being somewhere I haven't been before. An Oxymoron, I know. When we went to Galveston spur of the moment several years ago, it ended up being one of my favorite trips. When we first got there though I was all kinds of anxious and upset because I hadn't packed properly. I just kept dwelling on all the things I had at home that we could be using. When we were in New Orleans, we left right after having moved. We literally hadn't unpacked a thing except the clothes we packed for the trip. I had a big battle with anxiety over what was going on at home and whether or not the house, the dogs, the cat, the goats etc were all okay.

Planning seems to be key for me. I haven't had one of my panics while out of town in a long time (both of those incidents were back in 2011). I've been the one to pick out specific places and things to do while there. When we have down time, it's planned down time. I also do everything to make sure that stuff at home is in order before we go. Overall, I enjoy traveling and exploring new places, as long as my type A personality can control the situation!

Join us! LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Branson, Vetrans Day Weekend

Last week my brother Joshua called (he's stationed in Missouri for school with the Marines) and he was trying to figure out how to get home for his 10 day leave. They haven't told them what time his graduation is (he's ask, they haven't scheduled it??), so he doesn't know what time he can leave base to be able to catch a flight. Not to mention that the cheapest flight (with military discount) we could come up with for him is over $300 and he wouldn't be able to buy the ticket until that day or maybe the day before with the crazy lack of information. (And he'll have to fly back to Missouri to catch a flight to Japan the week of Thanksgiving and Heaven knows how much that flight will cost!)

We looked at all our options and my Dad and I decided to drive to Missouri and take him a vehicle (that his kind Staff Sergent gave him special permission for) so he can drive home after graduation and give a few of his fellow Texans a lift home. I called Lauren and told her I couldn't make it to craft day :( and we packed our stuff and headed to see bubba!

I was in Saint Louis when I was in high school but that was really my only experience with Missouri. I loved Branson! We didn't go to any shows because Little Miss Coralie can't sit still and be quiet to save her life... but we enjoyed our time together and taking in the area! Which, if you haven't ever been - is beautiful!!

On Saturday after picking Joshua up from base, we checked out the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield. This Bass Pro is huge! We quickly discovered we didn't have the time the store deserved to dedicate to the stop that evening and made plans to return the next day.

Sunday we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast we headed off to a resort in Branson that was hosting the Vietnam War Wall Monument that travels all over the country. When I was really young I vaguely remember my mom taking us to see this on a rainy day in a neighboring town. I knew it wouldn't be a long stop, none of us knew any names to look for on the wall but we wanted to see the Monument.

After visiting the Monument we headed back to Springfield to spend the better part of the day at the Bass Pro Shop. We had a good time! We were there for about an hour before Cora and I went inside, she had fallen asleep and I didn't dare wake her up to just go inside, so we both took a nap in the van for a little bit.

After Bass Pro it was dinner time and we were hungry! We'd heard great things about Lamberts in Ozark (between Springfield and Branson) so we braved the line (we waited 40 minutes, a short wait by all accounts) and we're so glad we did! Their food was delicious and it was a fun experience for all of us. Lamberts is the home of the "throwed rolls" they throw rolls across the restraunt to serve them and there are rotating servers who bring around delicous sides to serve on paper towels at the table in addition to your meal and it's sides (fried okra, macaroni and tomatoes, potatoes and onions...). It was all so good! We took more than half our food home and worked on finishing it the next day.

Monday was the last day of warm weather and our last full day in Branson. We kicked off the day with a visit to the Fish Hatchery in Branson. I think Joshua got a bigger kick out of feeding the trout than Cora did! I learned more about spawning trout than I ever cared to know... it doesn't work like you breed catfish if you're wondering. :)
My father also got a lot of giggles out of telling people who were asking about Josh, Cora and I that both Josh and I are his children. They of course assumed we were married. *eye roll*

After the hatchery we went over to College of the Ozarks. This College doesn't charge tuition to it's students, they are dubbed "Hard work U" because they require all their students to earn their education working on campus. We'd heard there was a tour of a working mill and that they had a delicious restaurant that the students served farm to table food produced on campus. We didn't eat on campus, we weren't hungry and knew we had a ton of food back at the hotel. We poked around at the restraunt/gift shop/lodge and then went to see the Mill. The students weren't working it when we were there, but it was still fun to look around.

We enjoyed lunch back at the hotel of our Lamberts leftovers and then Cora and I took another nap while Dad & Josh went to see a Car Museum (that they were disappointed in ): ).

That night we went to dinner at Cantina Loradeo in Branson Landing, a nice outlet mall shopping center in town. We were seated next to a nice couple with a little boy a few weeks older than Cora. We started talking about the kids and then it was revealed that the husband served as a Marine years ago. Well, it just so happened to be the Marine Corps Birthday & it's a big deal for Marines. The guys continued to visit throughout the meal and really hit it off, as they were leaving the kind gentlemen mentioned something about enjoying our dessert. I just figured he was assuming we would have dessert? Nope, he ordered Joshua a delicious Mexican Brownie for the Corps Birthday and picked up our dinner ticket. It was such a nice gesture from one Marine to another, and of course he and Josh exchanged information & I believe they've been in contact since then.

After dinner we were watching the water fountain (in the cold...) and heard that a big water/fire show should be starting shortly. We were so pleased we stayed to see it! Cora loved watching the display and it was a great ending to such a wonderful trip!

Tuesday (Veterans Day) we headed home, via a 4 hour detour taking Josh back on base. It was a loonnnggg drive home, particularly with a one year old in tow. It helped that my Dad and I could take turns driving back since we'd left one car with Joshua on base. It did not help that throughout the whole trip and on the way home too, I had a bad bit of motion sickness.

I'm so glad we made the trip! It was a fun time for all of us and in a year or two while Josh is serving overseas I'm sure we'll look back on this time fondly!

To see reviews of all the places we went in Branson (and our other trips too), check out my Trip Advisor profile! Trip Advisor is my favorite go to travel site for reviews and suggestions!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Food & My love/hate With Pies

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and all I can think about is the food! 
I am really not a turkey fan, but I'll eat a piece (yes, one) just to say I did. Ham is my preference regardless of the holiday meal. 

Really my love is for all the sides! My Granny's Dressing Recipe, that is the definition of Thanksgiving dressing for me! Every year I make my Mom's cranberry relish and I never eat any of it. It's just not my thing but it's tradition and everyone else enjoys it and there's never any left over.
This year, I'm looking forward to using the leftovers from Thanksgiving to make "Fried Thanksgiving".
Last year after Thanksgiving my father-in-law (who is an amazing cook!) made these and I fell in love! 
I was going to work up a recipe to post, since he just flies by the seat of his pants in the kitchen most of the time. Then, after a quick google, pfft who uses google anymore? Pinterest search I found plenty of great existing tutorials, so why reinvent the wheel? Check it out here.
About the only thing we do differently is we include just about everything into our balls, they're not just stuffing. Mashed potatoes, green beans, maybe (sometimes) a little corn, left over turkey chopped up... the options are endless! And, make sure you make the cranberry sauce or some version of it - it's worth it!!

Really the reason I'm posting this is because of my pie dellima this year. 
Hi, My name is Rebekah and I (generally) don't like pie.
Hiiiii Rebekah.
Now that I've admitted that... I'll scarf down a small piece of pumpkin pie every Turkey Day because, when in Rome? It's also usually pretty lathered up in whipped cream.
I do love a good key lime pie, but that's not very festive for the holiday.
I'm honestly not sure what it is that I don't like, maybe I need to revisit this... but back on point - 
Pecan Pie In-a-Jar #williamssonoma

Pecan Pie - last Thanksgiving our plans changed last minute because our Cousin had strep throat and I had a 1 month old, so we all stayed home and far away from his germs (love ya kiddo)! When frantically running through Kroger the day before getting everything we needed to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal (I had originally only been responsible for a few things when it was going to be a multi-family shared meal) I came across "Pecan Pie in a Jar" I don't recall the brand but it was life changing! (It wasn't this one I found a picture of, you can find at Williams & Sonoma but it looked just like this!)
When I say life changing, I mean it... I don't like pecans and I loved this! 
It was sooo sweet (my kind of dessert) and it was surypy but not runny.
I'll watch for it again this year, but wouldn't life just be better if I just had the recipe to make it?

So please, share your pecan pie recipes! Are they similar to the deliciousness I speak of? I'm craving this pie as I write this! We scarfed it! If I find it, I'll by several jars this year so I can bake them and compare to other recipes I come across!

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 Fall Bucket List & November Goals

This is going to be a busy month! I'm looking forward to lots of Thanksgiving Holiday festivities as well as accomplishing lots of work at our house.

The fun stuff first - 

November is going to end up being just as busy if not more so than October was. In November we're looking Forward to:
Jacob's senior recital
Joshua being home for his 10 day leave
Family Thank-mas with Josh home
Stephanie's lingerie shower (for me to attend...)
Jacob's bachelor party (for John of course)
Thanksgiving celebrations with all the family

Some of the not so fun things that I have to attend to are - 

Getting settled in at our house. For a various sundry of reasons we're still camping out at my Dad's house. It's been so great that we've had his spare room available to us, but we're ready to be in our own home and back on a better routine. 

I need to go to the dentist. :( I've been putting it off for a while. I went while I was pregnant with Cora because I hadn't been in a long time and that's one of the things that everyone says you should do while pregnant. They didn't want to do x-rays while I was there because of the baby but they suspected some cavities. I'm *really* dreading going back, I know that it will be at least 3 more visits, one for the cleaning and x-rays another for fillings on half my mouth and another for fillings on the other half. I don't wanna! :(  Really my only motivation is I don't want to put it off so long that I'm pregnant again and even though none of the cavities are bothering me (they said they all looked very minor - likely a result of fabulous pregnancy hormones) I really don't want to be pregnant, miserable with a cavity and there not be much they can do for me.

And lastly, I have got to give up cokes! I have just never been able to kick this habit completely! I'll get so close to going a while without them and then pick them up because of a "special event"or party and then can't drop them again. They're truly my addiction. Coffee, I like it but I can take it or leave it, sweets same thing I can live without them but Cokes are so hard for me to not to just grab. When we're at our house it'll be easier in the sense that we just won't have them around. God give me will power!!

What are your November/Fall plans?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A year of Breastfeeding

Cora's first birthday marked a whole year of firsts. Our first child, a year of parenting, of being a mom and putting someone ahead of me 100% of the time. It was also a whole year of breastfeeding. 

When Cora was born, I knew that we were going to make breastfeeding work for us! I was not naive of potential problems and challenges with breastfeeding, but I choose to not focus on that. I was going to power through and if I was going to stop breastfeeding, it would not be for a lack of trying every other option to make breastfeeding work first.
nursing at 8 months old

I was initially so determined for breastfeeding to work that I wouldn't allow formula in the house before Cora was born. I told everyone that if I was going to give a bottle of formula, I didn't want it to be easy or a rash decision. I wanted the whole drive to the store to get formula to think about whether or not I was going to quit.

Originally we planned to breast feed until 6 months. When we were first starting out that seemed like such a daunting goal! I would give myself pep talks late at night when I was so weary with it all that we could quit at 3 months if I wanted to. 3 months became 4, 4 became 5 and before I knew it we made it to the 6 month mark and introduced solids (making my job a lot easier)! The second half of the year has been much easier than the first. 

Our breastfeeding journey has been a huge blessing. We have been fortunate that many problems that so many breastfeeding mothers face we have managed to avoid (so far). 

Although by many standards our breastfeeding experience has been without complication, there have been ups and downs. Even without extra difficulties, breastfeeding has been one of the very hardest things I've ever done emotionally. When we started out my concerns were clogged ducts, mastitis, cracked & bleeding nipples. I had no idea that the ideal situation would still be hard...
...For 365 days, one day did not pass that I was not solely responsible for providing my child with nutrition.
... breastfeeding meant that I did every. single. bed time. 
(except the two times my Dad kept her overnight and once that we had a babysitter = 362 bedtimes) 
... there were so many times where Dad wouldn't do the trick, Grandpa wouldn't do the trick, the only person who could soothe or calm the crying baby is Momma. Meaning Momma has to drop everything to sit down and nurse (at least 30 minutes when she was younger).

We got off to a rocky start. When Cora was born there were some issues. For the first day of her life, I only got to hold my child for less than one minute (heartbreaking). We weren't able to try breastfeeding until after she was 24 hours old and even then I was only allowed to hold her for a few minutes at a time, a few times a day. Even with a Lactation Consultant and great, helpful nurses standing right there to help, getting her to latch and suck was hard and time consuming.They only allowed 30 minutes of contact & stimulation for her so in that small amount of time we had to try nursing on both sides then do a syringe feeding with whatever colostrum/milk I was able to pump and then formula as a doctor-ordered supplemental feeding.

When we were in the hospital I wanted to quit so badly. I was exhausted. Each feeding we'd walk down to NICU (which took about all the energy I had), use the 30 minutes we had allotted to us to handle our daughter to get in a diaper change, attempt nursing, do a syringe feeding and get her back in her isolation bassinet. Walk back to the room (moaning, nearly in tears from pain/exhaustion) and then spend at least another 30 minutes of a pump session, then clean the pump parts, send John down to NICU with the milk I was able to pump for the refrigerator. I might get a 30 minute nap or entertain guests that stopped by the hospital or scarf down a quick meal and then it was time to start the cycle all over again. 

Nursing was finally clicking for us until the first night we got to have Cora room-in with us out of NICU. I couldn't get her to latch at all. She was screaming, I was an emotional wreck. There wasn't an LC at the hospital at night to help. It was a long night until we were the first stop on the LC's rounds the next morning. Turns out she'd been getting too much passifier time in NICU (never mind my no-artificial nipple request). The LC taught us how to do some suck training and got her latched for the first time in hours. Now suddenly the latching hurt, it hurt toe-curling bad! Poor Cora had lost that instinctual suck she was born with and we were working so hard to reteach it to her.

Poor Cora was also crying constantly. I'd nurse her and then do a syringe feeding of whatever I'd pumped and then do the required formula syringe supplemental feeding and it just didn't ever seem to be enough. So I'd do it all again just to have her cry some more. Finally at my whits end I called the nursery nurse that I had clicked with in NICU. I explained what was happening, that she just couldn't seem to get full so she pulled Cora's feeding log from the night before (when the passi had been administered and all these problems started). The feeding that I had been encouraged to skip trying to nurse (because I was "over stimulating" my daughter with failed attempts at nursing/latching) she had been syringe fed 4 ounces of formula. 4 ounces! Her stomach should only have a capacity of about 1 ounce at her age!! Her poor tummy was stretched and she just couldn't feel full with breast milk that digested so much quicker than that formula.

The next day the LC stopped by to check on us again. We had gotten the all clear to go home from everyone else, we were just hanging out waiting to see our amazing Lactation Consultant. She watched Cora nurse, we were still struggling pretty badly. She recommended a nipple guard to help with the latch pain & to help Cora to latch properly. She warned not to use it for long and to always try to latch without it first. She also worked out an increased formula supplement schedule to wean her back down to the prescribed amount of formula. She explained that in a day or so Cora would have forgotten the "full" feeling that formula provided with it's slow digestion and that she would go back to being satisfied with breast milk. She encouraged on demand feeding until a schedule naturally emerged and dismissed the silly idea of only 30 minutes of "stimulation" at a time that I was being pushed into. The reassurance and nipple guard helped enough for us to feel confident to pack up and go ahead and head home.

We planned to only use the guard for a week or so, then wean off of it but that was a failed idea. We used the nipple guard for the better part of six months! In fact, Cora basically weaned herself from it because she didn't like how it affected the flow of my milk. It was cumbersome and a pain to always know where a guard was, but I'm so thankful for them. I have little doubt that without a nipple guard we would have not been successful at nursing outside the hospital.

We ended up having formula around the house after her NICU stay while we were still under doctors orders to supplement her feedings. At a 1 week we were given the okay by her pediatrician to suspend the supplemental formula syringe feedings. The formula sat in my pantry for months without being used. Finally we broke down and had to use some to mix with breast milk after a quick growth spurt that depleted my milk store in the freezer and I just wasn't able to pump enough to keep up with her demands. All-in-all I believe she had five or less bottles of half milk/half formula before I discovered the wonder that is Fenrugreek! I can't believe we waited until she was seven months old to try it!

I stopped pumping at the end of July (9 months old) when I started staying home with Cora. I can't tell you how much I do not miss pumping. I am so thankful and love being home with Cora if for no other reason, certainly because I don't have to pump anymore! Pumping at work from March through mid-July wasn't awful because her demand had dropped. I could go seven hours between pump sessions (my employer during this time didn't have a place or allow time for me to pump). At the job I left a few weeks after coming back from Maternity Leave pumping was a full time job in and of itself. I had to pump every three hours for at least 30 minutes and I still wasn't keeping up with what she was consuming while I was away. I pretty much kept my office door shut all day and worked away with the pump whurring in the background (and in a month and a half of doing this my boss only walked in on me once!)

With this year behind us we've started looking to the future and the natural question of how long do we want to continue breast feeding. It seems like that's what everyone is asking me "how long do you plan to do this?". Well the truth is I don't know. It doesn't seem fair to Cora to stop just because we passed some arbitrary time marker. 365 days doesn't mean boo to my baby girl. She knows she wants to nurse and doesn't care that she is a year old. For now, just to make my life easier I primarily feed her first thing in the morning and last thing at night. During the middle of the day I offer her other beverages and will only nurse when she "asks" to by patting my chest or pulling on my shirt. Middle of the day feedings get more frequent when she's not feeling well be it an illness, allergies or teething; some days we may nurse up to three additional times during the day. For now, my plan is to just see how it goes and play it by ear!

This year I learned that breastfeeding, even the most idea situation still isn't easy, but I would do it again without giving it a second thought. Some tips I picked up this year -
  • Babywearing = WIN! You can nurse while wearing your baby, you can get things done & you aren't stuck sitting in a corner trapped there for half an hour or more. 
  • When you're first starting out and you feel like you're juggling 6 balls just trying to master the basics of nursing, it's okay to sit around topless! Trust me, it's just easier to ditch the shirt. Plus this gives you and baby that oh-so-important skin-to-skin contact!
  • Nipple Guards are not of the devil. I know that they don't work for everyone and can cause new problems but if you need them, use them!
  • When you're first starting out, when the baby latches on giving you that toe-curling pain. Count slowly to five before you take the baby off. Usually by the time I got to five the pain had subsided. If the pain was still bad chances were she wasn't latched correctly & I should re-latch her anyway.
  • If you even think you might be getting a clogged duct, pump, pump, pump! Get all that milk out of there! Also, when pumping, let the pump run as close as you can stand to 5 minutes past the end of your milk production to ensure empty ducts (this will also stimulate production)!
  • In the hospital, regardless of if your child is in the NICU or not, be your baby's advocate! Check those feeding logs! Push for breast milk supplementation rather than formula if necessary! You're the parent, don't second guess yourself!!