E’s One Year

I had this video ready and posted for little E’s first birthday on May 25, but neglected to post it here. But here it is.. I still can’t believe she’s a year!! And SO full of personality :).

 

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A Letter to my Eldest Daughter

A whole year has passed since I wrote anything on your blog, and I apologize. I hardly find it coincidence that my first day back at work was April 7, 2014, and my last entry was April 2, 2014! Life clearly has gotten away from me once again.

 

Now we are here, fast forward a year and month later, and your mama is very, very pregnant. Feeling it much more than she ever did with you – every ache, every contraction, every movement – in preparation of the big day which is mere weeks away. And there is so much I was to tell you. So much to say before the arrival of your  baby sister.

 

The first thing I want to say to you McKenna, is thank you. I remember being pregnant with you and feeling so anxious – anxious about pregnancy and labour, but far more anxious about all that was to follow thereafter. I worried about the little things – would I know how to put a diaper on correctly? Would I be able to tell when you were hungry? Would I be able to keep you happy?

The answers were, of course, yes, yes and majority of the time, yes.

And I worried about the big things-  about your health, about your safety, and about

This time around, I am far less worried about these things. Yes, I have a maternal instinct, yes I can keep a baby alive by myself for a 12 hour period. Yes, I learned your hungry cry and your tired cry and your just pick me up and cuddle me cry. The summer of 2013 was the best one of my life to date and holds so many precious memories for me. And although things are going to be different for this summer of 2015, I promise, they are going to be just as fun and filled with just as much love.

Of all the things I am most excited for, I have to say seeing you become a big sister is at the very top. I know just as everything else you have done so far in your life, you will excel, my love.

 

Here’s to a new chapter <3.

15/16 Months

Here it is – a 2 for 1 update on your 16 month birthday!

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The biggest milestone hit these past 2 months is definitely that you started walking. It’s funny – you spent so much time leading up to it, with months and months of standing independently, cruising, and using your walker to navigate the house – and then one day you pretty much just took off running and never looked back. It happened shortly after our return from Jamaica, but truth be told, you were almost walking prior to Jamaica but we hindered that progress by carrying you in our arms everywhere around the mostly cement resort.

You now spend your days at home toddling around, going through every open door and picking up any and every object along the way. It keeps you entertained for hours.

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You are happiest when you are naked, which happens about half an hour or so a day. You run around gleefully as if you are finally FREE, and evade capture when we try to come at you with a diaper in hand. I look forward to saving on laundry when summer finally comes around and we can allow you to roam freely a little bit longer without worry of you catching a chill.

You are still very comfortably in size 4 diapers. You wear mostly 12-18 month clothing but can still fit some 6-12 month outfits as well. You are 21.5 pounds, so on the smaller size for your age but still look cute and chubby for your height :).

You babble nonstop. You are constantly experimenting with your voice, in true McKenna form, by letting out a constant array of shrieks and squeals and testing out different tones with your voice. You say quite a few words – hi, puppy, bird, bath and book to name the more recognizable ones – and then a couple that I feel only your father and I really can translate. We do get a kick out of you walking into whatever room we are in an letting out a pleasant high pitched "hi!" as if you are just so happy to see us. We are always happy to see you too, little bug.. The feeling is more than mutual.

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Sign language is being used more frequently than before, because you are now seemingly starting to pick it up. It’s really exciting to see you sign when you’re tired, want more, or if you are all done with your meal. We are working towards mastering “milk” (which will be used as a general sign for all drinks) and “thank you”. You truly are learning things at such a rapid pace I’m sure we will have these signs mastered in no time!

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You blow about a thousand kisses a day. When people are coming and going, when you are saying goodnight, or when people wave or look in your general direction, really. You also like to give kisses, and they are now more like kisses than open mouthed drooly ones. You also like to kiss inanimate objects – such as my iPhone, your binky (blankie), the television, your books.. Etc.

You know where quite a few body parts are located, and know what sound a cow, chicken, cat and dog make. Old MacDonald is your favourite song of the moment.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here, but Curious George is still a giant hit and a nighttime staple around here. We watch it to help you wind down at the end of the day and it’s the only 20 minutes of the day you actually sit still. Put George on, and after dancing around like cray to the theme song, the rest of the world disappears for you. You have inherited your fathers knack for “zoning out” as it is impossible to get through to you at times like this. I call it karma for him :).
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^^that up there? that’s your Curious George face.

Still love the puppy, and our latest edition, our budgie Petrie! Every morning we say hi to the birdie together and you visit him at least 5 times a day to talk/yell at him.

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Still super attached to your binkie, but you have officially ditched the soother. Hurrah!

You still nurse about 2x a day – you had almost self weaned before we left on holiday and I panicked about not being able to confirm if the milk was pasteurized or not. Oh well, it will come soon I’m sure, as you drink milk from your sippy cup all day like a champ :).

January Fourteenth

Today marks 13 years since my beloved mother passed away.

Grief is such a funny thing – It is constantly changing. It takes different forms and makes us feel different feelings, but the one thing that is always the same is the longing. The longing for time, more words spoken, less moments wasted.

I still long for my mother every single day, but my grief has once again transformed this year. It has reached an entirely different stage, where it has never been before, and even though it still hurts my heart every time I think of her, this year the hurt is different. Lessened. The reason being is that I can now confidently say I have become a person my mother would be proud of. The person I imagine she’s always wanted me to be. And that, makes it hurt a little less this year. That brings peace to my heart that I never knew could be possible, because I feel that she too, is at peace.

My journey of growing up a motherless daughter will never be over. But I am on a new journey, a journey of motherhood and I am so proud of the person I have come, the struggles I have conquered, the family I belong to, and the daughter I am raising. And all of this goodness is because of her, and the million of invaluable lessons she taught me in the short 13 years we were together.

I love you Mum. I will always, always be your baby girl.

Family Music Class

My darling McKenna,

Today, we attended music class as we do every Thursday – but today was special. Today your father came along!

He had a great time watching you interact with all the babies, banging on drums and shaking shakers and doing what it is you do at your KinderMusik class – having a lot of fun, and making a lot of noise.

He was the only father in class, and he danced and played along with us. You need to know this, and I need to remember this; because no matter how hard he is working (he’s on about day 20 or so of working STRAIGHT, on night shift no less), he always makes time for us. What little time he has for himself when he is not sleeping or working each day is a mere 4 hours ; and he spends every minute of it, with you. He loves you so.

I have to admit; sometimes I can be hard on him. Sometimes we don’t see eye to eye when it comes to work. I always feel he works too much but he sees it as sacrifices that need to be made to live the life we dream of. And we are spoiled – thanks to your Dad’s hard work we are looking forward to an upcoming trip to the mountains, a week in Jamaica this winter, he is giving me the wedding of my dreams, and a honeymoon to boot. To say we are spoiled would be an understatement.

I write this post not only to let you know how lucky you truly are, but I also write it just as much to remind myself of that fact also. He is one in a million, your Dad, and we are so blessed to be his girls.

xo

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McKenna: 5 months

Holy bananas.. where do I even start to begin my little love. Month 4 was a CRAZY month, a crazy month of development for you, of growth, exploration, of firsts. I debated splitting this post into TWO because it is so insanely hard to keep up with you and your rapid growth these days! Okay, here we go….

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Eating-wise, not much has changed. You nurse approximately 6 times a day, every 2 1/2 hours during the day, and at night, we can almost count on you getting an initial 4 or 5 hour stretch, after which you continue to wake every 2 1/2 to 3 hours to be fed. We have been seriously considering introducing you to some veggies in the VERY near future, as you have shown such an interest in what Mum and Dad have on their plates and are even reaching for our food when it is about to enter our mouths. All signs point to you being ready, it’s just up to us to now settle on a real plan of action (baby-led weaning or otherwise).

Things have been a-changin’ in the sleeping department, that’s for sure. And for the better! We started off the first half of the month with you waking every 2 hours… for comfort, for your paci, and sometimes to eat.  Your nighttime schedule goes like this: Daddy gives you a bath every second day at approximately 6:45. At 7:15, you crawl into bed with Mama who reads you two cuddly bedtime stories (sometimes Daddy reads one too – always Green Eggs and Ham, I’m sure you will be able to recite this by your second birthday if things keep up this way) and then I nurse you. Once you are almost asleep, I give you either Nugget or your taggie blankie, say our little goodnight poem, and you close your eyes and drift off peacefully. I can’t remember the last time you fought going to bed at night. Mama then turns in for the night between 10:30 – 11, at which point I dream feed you (dream feeding is a LIFESAVER, post to come soon) and then you sleep until 3 or 4am :). After that initial stretch, we generally go back to wake ups every 2 1/2 hours until you are up for the day between 8:30 & 9. We are loving this schedule and will not be changing it anytime soon! Unless of course, you’d like to sleep a little longer for your Mama – I wouldn’t complain Baby Roo :).

Looks-wise, you are turning into more and more of a little lady every single day. I am happy to announce your eyes are still as big as marbles and as blue as the ocean. You now weigh 15.5 lbs (as of yesterday when I went and weighed you) and have just recently moved into size 3 diapers. You are quite short still, only 23 inches, but great things come in small packages :). You wear size 3-6 months in most of your clothing but you fit some 6 month stuff juuuust fine.

Your physical development is where we have seen the BIGGEST of changes this month. You can pre-occupy yourself for up to an hour at a time, sometimes longer. You still love your playmat, but Mama had to rearrange some toys and add some new.. as you were getting a little bored with the same toys all the time. Smart little girl. You now LOVE your exer-saucer, and squeal and play and keep yourself entertained and busy for long periods of time. When you are finished, you let me know by moaning and groaning, and I come over to you and ask “up?” to which you now respond by lifting your arms up towards me. Siiiiigh. Be still my Mama heart <3.

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You love being outside, which is lucky for me because we spend a fair amount of time walking these days (makes for a veryyy happy puppy dog). You always nap better on the days we are on the go. With the weather growing warmer I have a lot planned for us, and I am happy you are such a content little traveller. You love your carrier most of all, and are perfectly content being pressed against my chest and looking at the big world surrounding you.

You love to grab your feet, with both hands. You do it when you’re awake, falling asleep, and when you are completely asleep. Silly bum.

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You haven’t quite completely rolled over, but I can leave you on your playmat on one side and in another ten minutes you have wiggled your way to the other side, and sometimes off the mat completely. This is why safety straps – in your stroller even when walking, in your swing – are now a necessity. You love to wiggle. You still love tummy time for 5 minute periods and then you get frustrated, flailing your little legs and not quite getting anywhere, yet. Soon baby, soon.

You love to stand so much that I am afraid you may bypass crawling altogether (I only say afraid because geeze kid, slow down with the growing already!) and just start motoring around this place on those two adorable feet. You are curious and reach and grab for everything in sight (toys, glasses, noses, hair, lips, chins… whatever), and it then promptly goes into your mouth. You have taken a huge interest in the zoo as of late, and we have been reinforcing how to pet the puppy and kitties nicely, versus grabbing hold of their fur and not letting go. I think you are getting it 🙂 (and  I sure am happy to have such chill pets who take it all in stride).

You are getting pretty creative with the sounds that come out of your mouth. Your obsession with squeaking last month has now turned into an assortment of moans and groans that last upwards of a minute. I like to joke with your Daddy that you are auditioning to be a zombie in The Walking Dead. You love babbling, and love it most when Mama copies and babbles back at you. We are working on a few key signs – “Mama” “Daddy” “Milk” and “Baby” – and everytime I sign to you, you look at me with such a look of thought that I think it’ll be no time before you are signing all over the place.

You love bathtime with Daddy. You used to scowl quite a bit and have such a serious expression during bathtime, as if you weren’t quite sure whether you liked it or not.. now it is official, you love the bath. Daddy likes to let you “swim” and you look so relaxed while you float around in the tub. You also love when Mama sometimes crawls in there and has a bath with you. We have a lot of fun when we do that.

You still smile a thousand times a day.. and I’ve said it before, it lights up the entire room. You are just such a happy little girl. We can literally go days and days without crying (not fussing, crying.. important to mention!). As previously mentioned, you let out your first, real genuine laugh last week. You have done it one more time since. I think it shocks you when the noise comes out of your mouth, so you have yet to master this skill. By the end of May I am counting on having a giggly, happy little girl on my hands.

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You are a little uneasy around people other than Mama and Daddy these days, which I think is just a phase. You are happiest with people when Mum and Dad are close by… and not too fond of when we leave the room. It’s just a phase baby, it will pass. I want you to be comfortable with other people than your parents, as it is an important life skill to have, to be resilient to new situations. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t flattered, however.

 

Here’s to another beautiful month of moments, my Little Love! xo mumandme

Slow Dancing in the Living Room

My little girl has not been herself today.

Between her 4month shots last night, and a stuffy nose today, she has been having a rough go. I am so blessed however, that even when feeling under the weather, she still smiles warmly at her Daddy and I so we all stay positive. 

We slow danced around the living room to The Lumineers (one of our favourites), and while I held her close she looked in my eyes and cooed her sweet baby coos, and for the hundredth time today and billionth time these last four months, my heart melted.

So here is to hoping that a runny nose remains a runny nose. And here is to a beautiful baby girl, who even when feeling under the weather, can lift your spirits and bring such happiness to those surrounding her. We are so blessed.

 

Happy Birthday Shiloh!

Happy Birthday Shiloh! AKA: My Shybear, Shypup, Shybug, Shybum, Shybutt, Shymonkey, Toothy, Wookie, Shyroo, Puparoo, Puppyface (there’s quite a few more I can’t think of at the moment).

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I am taking some time out of my family weekend to write a special post about a special puppy who is celebrating a birthday today!

That’s right, my first-born furchld is 6 YEARS OLD TODAY!

Shiloh has been the best dog a girl could ask for these past 6 years, and the way she has taken to McKenna just reiterates the fact that she truly is the greatest animal love of my life. I don’t think I will ever quite feel for another animal the way I feel for Shiloh – she has been there for me through my many ups and downs, and has always there to listen (and not talk back). I have taken her with me through all my walks of life in these past 6 years and there have been some dark times (especially when poor Shiloh was stuck with me in a one-bedroom apartment on the 11th floor), but Shiloh has always, always, been a constant in my life. Before Matthew came along, before there was Esme and Lily and long before our baby McKenna, it was just Shiloh and I.

I love you puppy. Thanks for always being there to lend a furry ear when I needed it most. Here’s to the next 6 years together, and beyond!

A Post All About Nursing

There. It’s right there in the headline. So please consider yourselves warned, that should you have no interest in the topic of breastfeeding (which I am now solely referring to as nursing – I think it sounds much better) or my personal struggles to obtain a healthy nursing relationship with my child, MOVE ON!

Lastly, before reading on, please understand that I do not judge anyone who makes the choice to not breastfeed their child. For some people, it isn’t the right choice. This post is simply about the choice I made, and how I worked to stick to it. So please, PLEASE do not take this as judgment. Everyone needs to do what is right by them when it comes to motherhood. A happy mother, equals a happy child.

I think everyone has a moment in life where they realize they are ready, as in mentally, to become a parent. I have referred to my miscarriage in this blog before, but for those who haven’t read that far back, I had a pretty painful and devastating miscarriage back in 2010. Now looking back on that time, I realize I wasn’t quite ready to be a mother. God has a funny way of making things work, and He knew it wasn’t my time.

The moment I realized I was ready this time around was when I was already pregnant (that’s me – never looking before I leap), and got excited at the thought of nursing my little one. The first time around, I wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with the concept and was firm in the belief that my body was my body (how naive I was!) and there was no way that this was even an option for me. Clearly, I was not in a place to be taking on the responsibility of a parent.

In my view thus far of motherhood, it quite literally means giving everything you are to that little person you created. Therefore, nursing was not just an option, but a requirement. We are all aware of the health benefits of nursing, both to your baby, and also to yourself. Nursing is supposed to be the ultimate definition of bonding between mother and child. And I knew I wanted this baby. I wanted all of her, and everything that went along with being her mother. So the thought of nursing literally had excitement running through my veins.

When McKenna was born, one of the first things we did was nurse. She was immediately placed on my chest, and I knew from countless books that this was the time to place baby to breast… the nursing relationship quite literally starts from birth. I was SO PLEASED that McKenna took to me so easily. I thought in my head “YES! She’s got it! We’ve got it!” and that was it…. relationship established…. how wrong I was.

With a little advice from the nurses in the hospital, we brought McKenna home and she was still nursing like a champ. Mind you, in those newborn days, nursing sessions last all of about 5 minutes as all they require is about a teaspoon of colustrum, which isn’t even really milk (but just as important, if NOT MORE than milk, nutrient wise).  When we returned home, our little baby girl was so sleepy I had to wake her to feed her, and did so every two hours, knowing the importance of having her constantly suckling to bring in my milk.

I think it was day 3 at home when the trouble started. Our little McKenna was SO sleepy, she would constantly fall asleep at the breast. Then she would SCREAM when awoken, and show signs of hunger immediately. And this cycle would continue – baby to breast, straight to sleep, wake to cry and scream, and so on. Feeding sessions would take hours and by the end I had one cranky baby, and Matthew had one discouraged fiancee. His words of encouragement and support helped us get through many days where we surely otherwise would have quit.

Things did not get better. As days progressed, it was as if McKenna forgot how to latch. I did everything by the book. I called nurses to the house no less than 3 times to give me a one on one lesson. Thank goodness they told me I really was doing everything right, I just had a lazy baby, who had a lazy latch, who always wanted her food, in her tummy, RIGHT NOW. I was introduced to the nipple shield, which worked all well and good for a few days, but soon, it wasn’t working either.

Now I do want to tell you about one mistake I made that I think contributed to the problems we experienced. On day 6, at about 4 AM in the morning, Matt & I were dealing with a screaming newborn who just would not latch. As a result, I thought maybe she wasn’t getting the milk from me that she needed. So I went and hooked up my electric pump for the first time, which did show I was producing milk, and gave McKenna her first bottle. I don’t regret doing it, because as you will see, this story does have a happy ending. But I think it did hinder our relationship as McKenna realized how easy eating could be, and took a huge preference to the bottle.

It was the morning after this incident I decided I would give exclusively pumping a try. We invested in a better pump, one that would do double the work in half the time, and I started pumping, and pumping some more. I was doing about 8 sessions a day. It worked really well for us, to start. McKenna was getting breast milk, and I was providing for my child 100 percent. But I still longed for that easy nursing relationship, and the bonding that came with it. So I continued to put McKenna on the breast at least once a day. These sessions always ended with her screaming and never getting in a good feed. I thought our nursing days were over for good.

But then, one day, she JUST GOT IT. I don’t know what changed.. to this day I think it really is just because she was older, (about 9 1/2 weeks) and understood better what she needed to do. Her latch improved, and she finally seemed full after a nursing session. I was so happy.. by this time, pumping was quickly getting old (I’m sure I was hooked up to that damn machine at least 2 hours a day). Nursing also helps us all get more sleep, as the process before would be to pump everytime McKenna drank a bottle – not ideal at 4 o’clock in the morning, and ESPECIALLY when Matt went back to work. I would literally have to feed McKenna a bottle, then go and pump some more – it would take a good 45 minutes. At night now, I simply latch McKenna on, she nurses (dreamfeeds), and then we both go back to sleep (if she is ever even awake in the first place). The whole process takes 15 minutes.

I am now SO PROUD to say that McKenna is fed 85 percent directly from the source, and 15 percent from the bottle. The 15 percent is ONLY because sometimes Matthew feeds her or another family member, or for when we are out and about (still not comfortable with the whole nursing in public thing). I am also SO PROUD to say that to date, McKenna has been fed 100 percent breastmilk. Exclusively pumping is no easy task, it takes a ton of dedication and patience, and to all you mother’s who do it, you truly are nothing short of amazing.

Nursing McKenna is truly one of my greatest accomplishments in life. It is getting easier everyday, and what used to be a painful, frustrating experience, has now become a time filled with some of my favourite moments – I especially love her morning feeding, when she smiles at me and stares lovingly with those big blue eyes (seriously, this kid is such a morning person, No idea where she gets that from). There is no better feeling than knowing you are providing for your child, and I hope to continue this beautiful relationship with my baby girl until she is at least 8 months, with the big goal being 1 year.

My dearest McKenna, I am so proud of us. :). We have come so far. Thanks for never giving up on me. I hope you know I never did, and never ever EVER will, give up on you, nursing relationship, and beyond. I love you kid.