January 29, 2014

State Park Adventures: Harpeth River

Michael and I love to hike. And Tennessee is the perfect state for hiking! We decided that we want to explore as many Tennessee State Parks as we can. There are 54 state parks in Tennessee but we will start with the 22 closest to us.
Genevieve has already been to two of the parks 'in utero'. I plan on taking her back now that she can actually experience the park but we will save those for once we have explored all the others.  
This has been an incredibly cold winter so at the first opportunity to enjoy the outdoors - we jumped on it. We spent our Martin Luther King Jr Day at the Harpeth River State Park. It was so lovely spending time with my family of 3. It was Genevieve's first time in her ergo carrier and it was so great exploring the bluff and river with her. Genevieve loved it! Oh, and we've become experts at using the self-timer ;)

We hiked along the 'Narrows of the Harpeth'. There wasn't any long trail but rather 3 short trails. One took us way up on top of the bluff, another followed the river, and the third took us to one of the first 'full-scale' man made tunnels, built in 1818. This is also the park where many people go canoeing and kayaking. I can't wait for Genevieve's first canoe trip!

So many more adventures ahead!

January 21, 2014

Nursing Cover DIY

Before I got pregnant I knew that breastfeeding was important to me. I know there are circumstances in which women have trouble maintaining breastfeeding for an extended amount of time, but I was determined to try whatever it would take to make breastfeeding a priority. I had a list of resources and names to call if breastfeeding proved to be challenging. I had no idea how much work would be involved! I truly believe it is a full-time job those first few weeks. Between latching, milk supply, fore-milk and hind-milk, food intolerance, let-down... there is a lot to figure out. I contacted 4 different moms, talked to the pediatrician and my midwife, and called a lactation consultant all in the first 5 weeks when issues came up. Their input gave me confidence that I was doing the right thing and that my body was designed to provide the right amount of food for my baby.

I love the sounds and squeaks Genevieve makes and her expression when she first latches. She is so cuddly and sweet. There are many 2am-feedings where all I want to do is sleep, but I choose to remember what so many moms told me when I was pregnant. They all look back with such fondness to that special time they had with their child when everyone else was asleep. I also love that my body provides food for my child. Not only as a means of saving money but it's like a specially designed meal for Genevieve. And I've said it before, I love the intimacy it creates with my daughter. Though there are some challenges, it is worth it all.
Once I got a hang of breastfeeding, I was less intimidated by the idea of feeding in public. But there is still such a stigma about it. It was probably week 2 that I was out shopping with my mom and sister. It was lunchtime and Genevieve was getting hungry and so were we. It was the first time that I had to feed Genevieve in public and I didn't know where to do that. In the car? Bathroom? I hated those ideas. So we found a back booth at a sushi restaurant where I felt like I could be discreet. I certainly didn't feel awkward, I just didn't want to make other people feel uncomfortable. After giving birth it was amazing how my breasts became a means of feeding my child. But in our unhealthily sexual culture, public breastfeeding is frowned upon. I was so paranoid that someone was going to make me leave the restaurant or reprimand me.

This comic made me laugh, because it is so true:
It is sad that women feel uncomfortable with feeding their child. Breastfeeding is hard enough. The last thing women need is another obstacle making it more challenging. I was so thrilled to hear the latest news about the Pope praising breastfeeding. He said about breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel, "If they are hungry, mothers, let them eat, no worries, because here, they are the main focus." 
But this isn't really a post about whether or not people should breastfeed. There is enough of that information going around. (You can read 'why breast is best' here and here). 

This is more about how to make feeding in public more doable. Because I am so determined to exclusively breastfeed until Genevieve is 6 months old (when I will stop feeding is not yet determined), I decided to make a nursing cover. When I was pregnant I didn't really think one of these was necessary because I could just use a blanket or burp cloth, but that proved to be cumbersome as I tried to maneuver the baby and blanket with a level of discretion. I borrowed a friend's cover and it made a world of a difference! I was not about to pay $30-40, so I decided to make one. It was so easy!

At other people's houses, parks, restaurants, you name it - I bring this with me and I feel comfortable feeding my baby in public. The best part about this cover is that you can see the baby while still being modest because it is designed with plastic boning. This is a simple project that took me about an hour to make.

Nursing Cover DIY
-1 yard of fabric - I used 100% cotton and a bright design from one of my favorite designers - Anna Maria Horner.
-Two D-rings - I used 1 1/4 inch
-1/2 a yard of corset boning - you can get this at a fabric store like JoAnns or Hobby Lobby. It also comes in a variety of stiffness. Mine was 1/4 inch wide.  
-Sewing Machine
-Rotary cutter and board - if you don't have these, you can use a ruler and scissors.
1. Cut the fabric 26 x 38 inches. This will make your finished product 24 x 36 after seam allowance.
2. With the excess material, cut 2 strips for the neck straps. 30 x 3 inches and 10 x 3 inches
3. Fold each strip in half (hot dog style) with the good sides touching.
4. Sew the long edge together on each strip
5. Turn the tube of fabric inside out. This can be tricky. Using a pencil can help or attaching a safety pin to one end as you push the fabric through. 
6. With the longer strip of fabric, attach both D rings. I did this by folding one end over the rings.
7. Take the shorter strip and fold one end - sewing it like a triangle (See below). The raw ends of the the strips will be sewn into the hem so you do not need to finish those.
8. Now take your big piece of fabric and hem 3 sides - the sides and bottom of the cover.
9. Take the top of the cover and fold it over pining one strap about 10 inches from the corner. I tucked the raw end under the hem.
10. Sew the hem and strap in.
11. Now take your boning and pin under the hem starting after the strap.
12. Sew the boning into the cover.
13. Complete the cover by attaching the second strap to the other side of the boning.
14. And hem the rest of the top.
Here is the backside of the completed cover. 
And the front. 
I just love it!

January 10, 2014

My 2 month baby

Genevieve is 2 months old!
And she is getting huge. 
She weighs 11 lbs 8 oz and is 24 inches long. 
That puts her in the 85th percentile for weight and 97th percentile for length. Which is crazy considering her birth weight had her in the 10th percentile. Week 5 - 6 she sprouted overnight. She wore newborn clothes the first 4 weeks of life and is now in a solid 0 -3 months. I was a chunky baby and I certainly have a chunky baby, too. It actually makes me feel so powerful that my body is making the food she needs. I am grateful for the intimacy breastfeeding brings me and Genevieve. Going from carrying my baby every day for 9 months to being separated was tough emotionally. But having breastfeeding has helped me maintain the connection with her. 

The first 4 weeks were so special because of the newness of it all but every week that follows brings so much more joy. Watching her hold her head up, putting weight on her legs, making contact with our eyes and now the smiles - all of these milestones are so much fun! 

I am learning that with each stage comes joys and challenges. My goodness week 7 - 8 have been terribly fussy! We have had quite a few nights of Genevieve being a total fuss bucket. It is exhausting! As a new parent it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what is wrong. Diaper is clean, I just fed her, she burped, she's not too warm or too cold, no fever, I am off dairy, she gets adjusted at the chiropractor weekly, her pediatrician said she was totally fine - so why the tears?? Michael keeps reminding me that we are still in the 4th trimester. Genevieve is only 60 days old and everything is new to her. So during her fussy fits we just hold, rock, and kiss our sweet girl. This has definitely taught me to put my to-do list and daily expectations on hold because some days my daughter needs me to simply hold her all day long. And those days are tough. I am someone that always has to be 'doing' and multi-tasking but I am certainly learning to slow down. I know this season is short and we will get through it. In the last few days we have already seen such a happy baby emerge. I am hoping week 8 is our peak of long, hard evenings. But those quiet alert, smiley moments are making the tears worth it! One day at a time!

Genevieve is also the most expressive baby around. She makes 100 faces a minute. We can sit and watch her for hours. It is so fun to get a small taste of interacting with her. I have been anxiously waiting for these smiles. She has been grinning for a while now but week 7 was when we got to see her first real smile. When she looks at me and smiles, my goodness, I melt. It makes such a huge difference having a baby that can interact with you. I no longer feel like a feeding machine. A few nights ago I actually got emotional feeling so much love for my daughter as she stared into my eyes. I mean seriously, it was like the moment I feel in love with her. 

This month has been another month of so many firsts:
1. Genevieve met her first baby friend.
2. We celebrated our first Christmas
3. And also celebrated our first New Year's Eve
4. We had our first picnics at the park
5. She got to see downtown Nashville
6. And best of all we had our first smile!!

Other big news this month, Lauren and Evan are having a girl!!
Little Nora Marjorie will arrive at the end of May and I am so excited for Genevieve and Nora to have each other growing up. 
Our dear friends, Jonathan and Becca, welcomed their son Edmond into the world. They were our pregnant buddies and now we get to share parenthood together. It is such a sweet time. And once again, so grateful to walk through the same season of life with these friends. 

Of course it was a big month celebrating Genevieve's first Christmas! Being around family as we start our new family is very special. Christmas felt so much more magical holding my little daughter. I am so excited for next year when she is a 1 year old and interacting with all the festivities! 
My mother-in-law, Omi (as Genevieve knows her), made the girl granddaughters these adorable tutus. Genevieve wasn't too sure about dress up but I know she will grow into it. Her cousin, Ellis, knew exactly how to sport the outfit and will have to teach Genevieve the ropes. I am so happy that Genevieve has girl cousins her age on both sides of the family!
Our first New Year's was not quite as memorable. Staying up until midnight was a feat! I am used to an early bedtime but I was determined to stay up for the midnight champagne toast. We had Evan and Lauren and Becca and Jonathan over. It was the perfect pace for 1 pregnant mama and 2 new mamas. 
And Genevieve got to see her friend Edmond again. (Note the matching everything :) Totally unplanned - we have the same bouncer seat, pacifier, and diaper bag!)
Thankfully month 2 had many beautiful, warm days before the arctic weather hit. So we took advantage and went to the park and took walks around downtown Nashville. 
Sweet Genevieve,
You are so big! I can't believe it. Every day we love watching you emerge as a individual. It's like you are awakening to this new world. Goodness your expressions are the sweetest. When you smile at me it's like my heart is about to explode. Who would have thought a simple smile could stir up so much emotion! We know it can be tough and overwhelming being so new to this world. Some days you let us know and we just hold you and sing to you. Don't worry, you can always count on me to rock you and comfort you when you are upset. It has only been 60 days so we are still learning all about each other. Thank you for the nights where you sleep for 7 hours. Those make me so happy. But if you need to nurse every 3 hours, I will cherish the closeness too. You have shifted all my priorities. Knowing you are growing and happy is my greatest joy. Oh we have so many exciting days ahead!