7 Months

Dear Riley,

I know I say it every month, but you are 7 months old and I just can’t believe how quickly you are growing up!  It wasn’t that long ago that 7 months seemed so far away, and now here we are.

This month was another huge game changer – you started crawling!  You spent about three weeks getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth.  You started moving your legs, but you wouldn’t move your arms, so you did a lot of falling forward onto your face.  One day you actually fell face first onto one of your toys and gave yourself your first little shiner.  It was tough watching you struggle – Daddy and I tried coaching you as much as possible, but you just would not move those arms no matter what we tried.  Then suddenly one morning, you put one hand in front of the other, and just like that you were crawling!

Now that you can crawl, you just won’t sit still.  There’s always something you want to look at, inspect, and put in your mouth if possible.  You are constantly on the lookout for something new to touch or taste.  And if you spot something you really shouldn’t put in your mouth – like mommy’s shoe – you are off to the races.  Always on the move, now I’ve started to miss the days when as a newborn, you would fall asleep on my chest.  Sometimes I wish that – just for a few hours – I could have you as a newborn again so I could hold you close and savor that brief period of time just a little bit more.

You also started to really babble a few days ago.  You went from simply squealing in delight all the time to stringing long syllables together.  When you see something that excites you: “ga ga ga ba bah…  Da da ba ba da…  Guh… guh… duh duh da da da Da Da DA DA!”  And when you are concentrating on inspecting some new object you say “boof…  boooffff…  boof…”  Our home is suddenly filled with the beautiful sound of your constant babbling.

You and I have more and more fun every day.  One of your favorite things to do is try to grab my feet.  Now that you are crawling that game has become so much more exciting!  You love playing with me and will often crawl to me for some personal interaction – and I just love that so much!  I will sweep you up and lift you in the air and you’ll squeal and grin from ear to ear.  And then we’ll play tickles or peek-a-boo as you bathe me in your giggles.

Sweet Pea, I’m just so in love with the little person you are growing into.  I can’t imagine my life without you.

Love, Mommy

 

Music I Need To Share – Vance Joy

This song just makes me happy.  Every time it comes on in the car, I find myself smiling and singing along.  And yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m singing the words wrong…

“I love you when you’re singing that song
And I got a lump in my throat
‘Cause you’re gonna sing the words wrong…”

Baby Products 0-6 Months

Now that Riley is 6 months old (holy cow time flies!) I decided to put together a list of the products that I absolutely love and made my life as a new mom a little easier.  I can also name a few that I probably could have lived without…

 

1.  The Boppy – Or as Kenny calls it “the oversize neck pillow” – a classic must have.  I have two – one for the couch in the living room, and one for Riley’s nursery.  Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it really doesn’t matter – they are great for propping baby while feeding.  I have also used it for tummy time, and as a sitting prop.  I still use it to nurse, and I also place it behind Riley when she’s sitting on the floor in the nursery just in case she falls backwards so she won’t hit her head on the floor.

2.  Fisher Price Rainforest Gym – Riley has used this gym every day since she was about a month old.  It’s perfect for tummy time!  Her play gym has seen her through learning to kick with her feet, swat with her hands, and roll from her tummy to her back and vice versa.  We have also taken the detachable toys with us on outings – the toucan rattle is her favorite.

3.  Summer Infant Swaddles – My absolute favorite thing ever.  Priceless – can’t stress this enough!  I’ve heard people say “my baby didn’t like being swaddled, he/she would just bust out of the swaddle…”  Well, Riley did the same thing in the beginning.  No matter how tight I wrapped her with a blanket, she would wiggle free.  The velcro on these swaddles are fool proof, and Riley would sleep so well swaddled all night long – in fact, she STILL gets swaddled for naps, and swaddled with one arm out at night.  Being swaddled is part of her nighttime routine, and she seems instantly ready to sleep once she’s snugly wrapped.  I am going to give these as gifts to anyone having a baby from now on.  Yes Ady, that means you!  ;-)

4.  Fisher Price Rock-n-Play – I read mixed reviews about the rock-n-play before giving birth,  so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend the money on one.  However, my wonderful cousin Dena gifted this to me, and now I can say it’s worth every penny.  Riley has napped in her Rock-n-Play every day since she was born.  The vibration, the slight incline, the snug fit at the sides – all wonderful things for helping her to sleep.  I kept it next to the couch, and for the first three months she practically lived in it.  I wish there was an adult size – I’d sleep in it too!

5.  Fisher Price Cradle-n-Swing – Another item Riley has used every day since she was born.  I put her in it every morning and it gives me time to make and eat breakfast.  I really don’t know what I’m going to do when she outgrows this swing – and that day is coming soon.

6.  BabyBjorn Carrier – I used this carrier to take Riley with me when I did my grocery shopping once I finally gathered the courage to venture out of the house with her as a newborn.  I preferred this carrier because it’s just so simple to use.

7.  Fisher Price Jumperoo – Riley LOVES this thing.  As a matter of fact, she’s in it right now as I type.  I have it right by my desk (my office is quickly turning into her play area).  Putting Riley in her jumper gives me at least a half hour of hands free time to get some work done, which is wonderful.  Not to mention the exercise benefits for her.

8.  4Moms Infant Tub – I never even knew I wanted this tub until it was given to me.  I love it because it’s designed to let dirty water flow out through the side drain while clean water flows in.  I also love that the temperature display tells you if the water is too cold or too hot.  This might seem sort of unnecessary – obviously anyone can easily check the temp of the water by hand – but I was one of those new moms that panicked about pretty much everything, so this gave me one less thing to worry about.

1.  Medela Breast Pump – I recommend this pump for anyone planning to breastfeed.  I never used any other pump, so I really can’t compare or guarantee this is the best pump out there, but it works great for me.  It’s extremely easy to use, and I love the bag – it looks so much like a purse that I’m able to leave it right in plain view in the living room where I normally pump, and no one even notices it’s there.

2.  Zip Up Footie Pajamas – Love these vs. button up footies.  Who wants to unsnap and re-snap a zillion snaps in the middle of the night for a diaper change?  Not me.

3.  Baby Bullet – I’m using this now to make Riley’s food.  I’m sure a regular food processor would do the same job, but I love the storage system – and the ‘cookbook’ provided with the system makes things just that much easier.  I love anything that I don’t have to think too hard about.

1.  Tommee Tippee Diaper Disposal System – I’m on the fence about this one.  This diaper system actually seals each diaper in plastic during disposal.  I like the idea of sealing the diapers to lock in the odors, but the system gets stuck – a lot – especially when the bin starts to get full.  It’s a real pain when you are trying to hold the baby with one hand and turn the dial with the other, and it suddenly gets stuck.  Another drawback is that the refills are expensive.  The only reason I’m still using it is because it really does do a good job of keeping the nursery odor free, and I don’t really want to spend the money on a replacement diaper bin.

2.  The Moby Wrap – I was in love with the idea of “baby-wearing” and was really excited to use the Moby.  It’s a little complicated to use – I had to read and re-read the directions, and giving ANYTHING a ton of thought during the newborn period was just way too difficult for me.  I ended up using it only 3 times.  I live in Miami, and even in December, it was way too hot.  I’d start dripping sweat after just a few minutes of wearing Riley – and this was indoors.  This is probably a great wrap up anywhere else, but here in South Florida I found it impractical.

3.  The Bumbo – I will admit, I probably bought this too late – I didn’t get it until Riley was over three months old.  And I also can’t say for certain that it wasn’t beneficial to her.  She did start sitting up a little early (just before turning five months old) and maybe the Bumbo had something to do with that, or maybe it didn’t.  But honestly, Riley only used the Bumbo about a dozen times.

I instinctively feel like it’s a waste to spend money on any product that your baby will only use temporarily.  But that’s what babies do – they keep growing and changing, and they grow out of stuff so fast.  So I guess I value products much more based on how long and how often Riley gets to use them, and how much they help her development – as well as how much easier it makes my life by either giving me some hands-free time, or by taking the guesswork away.

That’s just my two-cents!

6 Months

Dear Riley,

You are half of a whole entire year old, and I really Can’t. Even. Believe It.  You are growing and changing so fast, mommy and daddy can barely keep up with you!  My tiny, sleepy newborn is long gone, replaced by the most scrumptious, vivacious baby, so full of glee and wonder.

You can roll over from your back to your tummy, so now you can roll pretty much any WAY and any WHERE you want – which you do ALL THE TIME – even in your crib when it’s time for you to go to sleep, you little stinker…

You have started to shake and bang things while holding them, which has made every toy seem new to you all over again.  You have been exercising your vocal chords every chance you get, squealing, grunting, and saying ‘ga’ and ‘ba.’ I love when you spot something that excites you, like a certain toy – or mommy’s hand -  you lunge for it and make this excited ‘kah’ sound.  You also love making razzing sounds – you tend to do it non-stop some days.  It’s funny, as if your opinion on everything is that it’s just a bunch of hooey.  “Riley, what do you think about the San Antonio Spurs?”  “pfpfpfpfpfpfpffffffff…”  You got it, baby.

Go Heat

Born a Miami Heat fan!

You went to the beach for the first time with me and your Auntie Debbie. You really weren’t sure how to feel about it.  The ocean is just so big, and there was all that weird sand stuff at your feet – I think you were a little overwhelmed.  Mommy and Daddy also took you in the pool.  You enjoyed that a lot, and only got upset when water was accidentally splashed in your face.

beach

Beach 2

You started eating real food this month too. You are a really good eater so far – you pretty much finish anything I offer you, and you make the cutest ‘yummy’ sounds the whole time. So far you have eaten peas, squash, sweet potato, banana, avocado, apples and pears.

I’ve tried reading books with you, but all you want to do is eat the books!  Luckily, mommy finally figured out the secret – I let you have a pacifier while we read.  Now we can actually finish a book without you trying to grab the book and shove it in your mouth.

We read this book now mommy?

Speaking of pacifiers, we are in trouble because you LOVE them. You insist on having one in your mouth in order to sleep, which has ultimately resulted in many mid-night trips to your room to fish the pacifier off the floor behind the crib and put it back in your mouth. Not fun for mommy. Your Auntie Sarah suggested we litter your crib with pacifiers and since implementing this plan, you and mommy have both slept a little bit better. It’s kind of funny seeing you laying in a forest of pacifiers, but you really love it.

I don’t know why, but you LOVE my singing…  even though I can’t sing worth a dime.  But any time you are cranky or upset, all I have to do is sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ (your favorite song) or any other tune, and you calm right down and smile at me.  I sing to you every day, especially when it’s nap time or bed time.

My sweet baby girl, you have brought so much joy into my life. You are just the best little baby I could ever hope for, and I can’t ever give you enough hugs or kisses every day. I love you so much!

Love, Mommy

5 Months

Dear Riley,

You are 5 months old! This past month was so busy for you, I almost don’t even know where to begin!

You started sitting up without support! You started by sitting for only a few seconds at a time before falling over, and now – only a few short weeks later – you can sit for minutes at a time without falling. You are amazing!

When you turned 4 months old, you started waking up at all times of the night – mommy had read about the “4 month wakefuls” and you definitely went through that phase. So, since the doctor had already given us the green light to start rice cereal, we decided to try it. Kiddo, I never thought you would be this excited about plain old rice cereal, but I’ll be damned if you don’t act like it’s filet mignon. And you absolutely love sitting in your high chair and eating from a spoon. It’s so much fun for the both of us – and what a mess you can make!! Sometimes I have to take you out of the high chair and plop you right into the bath.

Mmmm… delicious!

Soon after we started rice cereal, you SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT for the very first time! And I mean all the way through the night – for 10 hours straight. Crazy! You haven’t done that every night of course, but you are back to sleeping through most of the night again, and that makes mommy very happy.

We started a mommy and me fitness class this month too. You go with mommy to the park and sit in your stroller and watch me exercise with all the other mommies. Then at the end of class, you get to play with the other babies. You love this of course, because you love doing anything that involves being outside.

Making new baby friends

And for the days we spend inside, mommy bought you an activity center that you stand in and play with the toys all around you – and jump jump jump jump jump – you LOVE jumping!

This month your Pops got sick and had to go to the hospital, which was a huge bummer. But in the world of Riley, this meant that you got visits from your Uncle Jay, Uncle Robbie, Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sarah. Luckily your Pops is feeling better and will be home soon, cause I know you really miss him.

You’ve also finally started to notice the animals in our house, and the cats are definitely your favorite. I will sit you on my bed, and if one of the cats jumps up on the bed too, you get so excited and fall over trying to touch it. You also laugh at them when you spot them walking by.

Riley-bug, you are just so adorable, and you just keep getting cuter by the day. It just doesn’t seem possible for you to get any cuter – and then you do!

With your Uncle Robbie

and your Uncle Charley

and your Aunt Sarah

Cutie Pie!!

Four Months

Dear Riley,

You are four months old, and my goodness how you have grown and changed in the last month! You weigh 14.5 pounds, and you are 25.5 inches long.

4 months

Others may still see you as a little baby, but I already see you as a little person – you have such a personality! You started to laugh out loud this month, and it is such a wonderful sound, I wish I could make you laugh every day. I try, but I’m not always successful. Then other times, I can be doing something completely routine, and you will just crack up. One day I was pulling out a piece of tin foil to heat up leftovers, and that foil had you in stitches as though it was the funniest thing you had ever seen. Tin foil…? Really…? Whatever floats your boat, kiddo!

photo shoot

Model baby!

You also started rolling over from your tummy to your back. I always clap and tell you “good job” when you roll over. At first, you would look at me like ‘what did I do… why are you clapping?’ – but now you’ve started to look at me right when you roll over like ‘ok, go ahead, you can cheer for me now’ – so cute!

Mommy and daddy took you to a few festivals this month. We met up with your Aunt Debbie and Uncle Hal at the Renaissance festival, and then another day we took you to your first seafood festival. You did great, although you weren’t too enthused about the crowds. Anytime the crowds cheered, you would cry – you just didn’t understand why so many people were all yelling at the same time.

With your Aunt Debbie

You also started teething. You love chewing on mommy or daddy’s fingers, and pretty much just about anything else you can put in your mouth – including your feet. Chewing on a foot is seriously one of your favorite pastimes.

chewing feet

feet, feet, yummy yummy feet!

You do this thing that is SO ADORABLE – when I’m changing your diaper, you will grab my hand and try to bring it to your mouth with this little impish grin on your face as if you are doing something sneaky. You crack me up!

Mommy and Riley

My sweet little baby, you are growing up so fast! I wish I could slow you down, but you are just so independent and eager to learn. Next month is sure to bring even more changes – you are almost sleeping through the night, from about 9pm to 5 or 6 in the morning. And you are going to start sitting up soon too!

This has been such an exciting month, mommy decided to put together a little video…

It’s such a thrill to watch you grow, but slow down just a little… please?

Three Months

Dear Riley,

It seems like you were just born a minute ago, and now you’re three months old. Every day I spend with you is so wonderful, I can’t wait to do it all over again the next day. I’m equally torn between wanting to see you grow and change, and wanting you to stay my sweet little baby.

3 months

One of my favorite moments of the day is when I first go into your room in the morning. You stop crying the moment I turn on your light, and when I lean over the side of your crib and our eyes meet, your face bursts into a mega-watt toothless grin that turns me to mush every time.

You love being outdoors, and we go to the park at least once a week so you can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, and mommy can get some exercise. But you really don’t like being confined to your car seat with the sun in your eyes. Sorry sweet pea, not much I can do about that while I’m driving.

Enjoying the park

Enjoying the park

You are starting to like taking baths, just as long as the air conditioning is off and the water is warm enough – you hate being cold. There’s nothing more adorable than when you’re wrapped up like a burrito in your towel after a bath – and then you try to eat the towel! You want to put everything in your mouth these days – you even try to eat your clothes while I’m trying to dress you, which is pretty hilarious.

Play time

Play time!

nap time

Your favorite way to nap

grabbing feet

Grabbing your feet – a new trick you just learned this week

You’re such a happy baby, you really only fuss when you’re tired. Every once in a while a loud noise will startle you (like one of daddy’s sneezes) and you will cry. To soothe you, I rock you in my arms and pat your back, saying “it’s okay, mommy’s here” and you cuddle with me for a few moments until you calm down. I love being able to make you feel better – it’s one of my favorite things about being a mommy.

mommy time

I love being a mommy to you so much that I decided not to go back to work. That’s right, I’m a stay at home mommy just for you, and I absolutely love my new job! The hours are really tough, but the perks are just priceless…

Music I Need to Share – Morning Parade

Morning Parade is a favorite little group of mine from England. I’ve featured them before here.

They just released another EP and I’m already in love with a couple of the songs. They are coming to the Big Guava Music Festival in Tampa in May – I’m hoping we can take Riley on a road trip for her first concert!

Riley’s Birth Story

Miss Riley’s birth story – it was the most wonderful day of my life, so of course I want to share the story with everyone.   However, this story has some very personal details, and I’ve struggled with whether I should divulge them to the entire Internet.   If you would rather not know all the gory details, you can skip this post.  Otherwise, read on because I’ve decided to share it all.

It all started on December 11th at 5pm.  I had been wrapping Christmas gifts for a few hours and decided to take a break.  As I walked down the hall toward my bedroom, I started to feel like my water had broken.  I calmly went to the bathroom to check, and discovered my water had not broken – I was bleeding.  A lot.  I called Kenny right away to tell him we had to get to the hospital, FAST.  During my pregnancy, I had been diagnosed with Placenta Previa, which means the placenta is lying over the cervix.  In my case, the placenta had eventually pulled away from the cervix just enough for my doctors to believe that I could avoid having a c-section and deliver naturally.  However, the placenta was still close enough to the cervix that there was a risk I might start bleeding during delivery, and depending on how much bleeding there was, this could be very dangerous for me and the baby.

So, off to the hospital we went.  I had started having contractions immediately after the bleeding started, and I was convinced I would be admitted right away.  I was wrong – the hospital staff did not seem all that concerned about my bleeding.  Apparently, what seemed like a shitload of blood to me, was no big deal to the labor and delivery nurses.  Even with my diagnosis of marginal placenta previa, they felt the amount of bleeding I had was pretty normal and not cause for too much concern (unless it got worse, of course).  I was only 2 centimeters dilated, and after being told to walk around the hospital for an hour and not dilating any further, I was told to go home and come back when the contractions worsened.

Back home we went – contractions, bleeding and all.  My contractions were getting worse, but the bleeding had actually pretty much stopped, so I labored at home for as long as possible so that I wouldn’t be sent home again from the hospital.  By 4am I had had enough.  My pain had been about a 4 on a scale of 10 when we had left the hospital, and now my contractions were a big giant TEN.  I woke Kenny up and we began the arduous trip back to the hospital – the drive back was a special kind of torture – every bump, stop and turn was horrendous!

Back at the hospital, I was told I was 3.5 centimeters dilated.  REALLY?  I couldn’t believe that after about 12 hours of contractions, I had only progressed by a centimeter and a half.  I was scared to death they were going to send me back home again when I heard the most wonderful words I could ever dream of…  “you can have an epidural any time you want.”   YES – Now Please!

Feeling good after the epidural

It still took a couple of hours to get admitted and get the epidural – all in all, I labored naturally for 14 hours.  Eeep.  Finally, with my epidural flowing, birds chirping, and angels singing, I was able to sleep.  For about an hour.  I was just too excited and nervous to really sleep.  I kept looking at the monitor watching my contractions come and go.  They never did get all that close together, but before I knew it, I was starting to feel my contractions again.  The epidural was wearing off.  The anesthesiologist came back in and said she was “topping me off.”  Sure, whatever, as long as I don’t feel anything.

About two hours later, I started feeling pressure, like I needed to push, so I called for the nurse.  Sure enough, I was finally 10 centimeters dilated.  With every contraction I was feeling more and more.  A few contractions later, I realized my worst fear – the epidural had now completely worn off and it was too late to do anything about it.  It was time to push.

The next 45 minutes were the most surreal of my life.  I had dreamed about the birth of my baby all through my pregnancy – I would have only Kenny and my doctor or midwife in the room and no one else – everyone else could wait outside – I didn’t want a giant audience.  And I would not scream or moo like a cow, I would get an epidural, and would give birth quietly without losing my dignity.  That was my birth plan.  Simple.

Right.  So the room was full of people – the doctor, a midwife I had never met before, my husband, my mother in law, and a slew of other hospital staff.  Kenny told me later that at least two of the nurses in the room had just decided to come in to observe because they had never seen a natural delivery before.  I had an audience.  A big one.  But I didn’t care – all I could think about was the pain.  Oh, the pain!  It was so extreme, I couldn’t do anything but scream – I had lost the ability to speak.  All I could do was scream and moan and scream some more.  Dignity was out the window.

In the end, I was glad to have all those people in the room – they were cheering me on, encouraging me to push harder, push harder…  I could hear the nurses marveling that I was doing all of this without pitocin, without an epidural, and that I was doing this well without ever having done it before.  I was miserable and wanted to give up – I wanted to scream at the doctor to stop and give me a c-section – but the crowd in the room kept me going, letting me know I was getting closer and closer to my goal, that it was almost over.

And then suddenly, it was…  My baby girl was born at 3:56 p.m. on December 12th.  I had labored for 23 hours, and had delivered my baby completely naturally without any drugs.  It was not my plan, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  I was flooded with endorphins, and just started weeping uncontrollably.  My baby was so beautiful, and oh my god, the pain was gone….  I felt high with love and accomplishment.  All I could do was stare at my baby and bask in the flood of emotions I was feeling.

So in love

I had absolutely no idea that I was actually in danger.  The doctor was saying something about the placenta, and I didn’t care.  I just wanted him to finish what he was doing so I could have my baby in my arms. All the while I was hemorrhaging. My condition had evolved into Placenta Accreta. My placenta was stuck to the wall of my uterus, and instead of detaching the way it should have, it was still attached and pumping my blood to a baby that was no longer there. The doctor had attempted to pull the placenta out himself (which was even more painful to me than the entire labor experience) but he was unsuccessful.

Next thing I knew, I was being whisked to the operating room. My doctor was saying “I’m going to remove your uterus if I have to, do you understand” and “do you agree to have a blood transfusion…” Finally, I was beginning to realize the reality of my situation. I could hear my heart rate on the monitors and it was way too fast. I looked over at my hand as they were strapping me to the operating table and saw that it was sheet white. I had a few moments then of absolute fear… my heart was beating so fast I thought I might have a heart attack and die…

They were moments from opening me up to remove my uterus and giving me a blood transfusion. But luckily, my doctor tried one more time to remove the placenta by hand, and this time he was successful. Let me just say – my doctor rocks!

I spent the night in the recovery room, and Riley spent the night in the nursery. It was a rough start for us – we didn’t get to bond right away the way I had hoped. And my recovery from her birth was long and hard. But we are both healthy today and that’s all that matters. I had a rough pregnancy and a rough delivery, but it was all worth it – every single bit – to have my baby Riley. I’d do it all over again for her if I had to, no question. That day is still the best day of my life – it was the day I met my daughter…

Two Months

Dear Riley, you are two months old already!  You weigh 11 pounds, 10 ounces, and you are 24.5 inches long. You are so big – you’ve already been wearing your 3 months clothes for several weeks.  I feel like you grew overnight, and suddenly one day I realized you were no longer a newborn.

You’ve had another amazing month.  You smile a lot now – and my oh my, your smiles LIGHT THE WORLD!  I want to spend the rest of my life just trying to make you smile because of how wonderful it makes me feel.   You coo and babble almost all the time – you have so much to say!

smiles

All Smiles!

The many faces of Riley

You are learning so much every day, especially how to grab things.  I love to watch the sheer delight on your face when you manage to grab your little pink bear toy and work it up to your mouth.  You play on your gym mat every day, and you are learning how to kick at the toys that hang above you when you lay on the mat.

Another big thing happened this month – you started sleeping in your crib!  You are such a good sleeper – you sleep for about 7 hours before waking up to eat, and then you go back to sleep for a few more hours.

Doing some heavy thinking while napping in your cradle

In love with your new Pooh-Bear mobile

One day mommy discovered you had a fever.  You had an infection in your bladder, and the doctor decided you should stay in the hospital for two days to get antibiotics through and IV.  That was tough – mommy and daddy hated to see you feel bad.  But you really lived up to your name – “Riley” means “courageous” – and you were so calm and definitely brave.  You were back to your smiley chatty self in a snap.

my poor baby!

My little Riley bug, every morning I wake up I’m so excited to spend the day with you.  It’s amazing how every tiny little part of you is just so awesome to me.  You probably don’t know yet just how MUCH I love you, but you will – I promise!

My little angel – I love you!