Language

Since this is supposed to be our version of a baby book… I really ought to write some updates of what Ada has been doing developmentally.


Language at 11 months

The past couple of months Ada’s language has really exploded.  Ada has been both saying words and signing, and putting the two together.  And she understands so much of what we’re saying. It really amazes me. Pretty quickly after learning the sign “all done” which we mostly use in the context of meal time, she was signing “all done” in all sorts of situations, like while standing in her crib, refusing to nap (which I could see thanks to the video monitor). Or when Ian does something silly that she likes, she’ll sign “more” and say “Da.” When I know she is hungry, I can ask her if she wants to eat or nurse and she’ll tell me which one she wants at that time. More and more often, the answer is eat. She responds to simple instructions. I can say “Can you give that book to Shiya?” and she will take the book and crawl to him and hand him the book.
 
Verbal words:

  • Mama
  • Da/ Dada
  • Na/Na-ah (Nora)
  • Eye-Ya (Shiya)
  • all done
  • dog
  • bath
  • book
  • ball
  • night night
  • And she also has been saying “Ada” very clearly for several months. But I don’t think it is fully realized yet.

Signs:

  • more
  • all done
  • eat
  • nurse/milk
  • diaper change
  • water
  • ball
  • car (uses it for ‘going out/ going bye bye)
  • phone
  • bird
  • sleepy

Animal sounds:

  • woof woof (dog- but she also thinks giraffes and Elmo say woof woof too)
  • tweet tweet (birds)
  • quack quack (duck)
  • baa baa (sheep)
  • neigh (horse)
  • Vroom vroom for any vehicle. It’s not an animal sound, but it goes into the same category in my head.


She is completely obsessed with dogs at the moment and says her cute little ‘woof woof’ all day long. She reminds me of the sounds of a guinea pig. If we go near a window near our side yard she’ll start to say woof, in hopes that Be is out there and might hear her.

I love hearing her new words. It’s just a little window into what she’s thinking. The other morning she woke up and called out excitedly “Na! Eye-ya!” first thing. I love that she woke up thinking about Nora and Shiya. Or when we talk about my mom (Grammy) she puts her hand up to her ear for “phone” since we talk to my mom a lot on the phone.

We’ve been using the Baby Signing Time DVDs to learn signing. They use ASL and teach us the signs along with Ada. Shiya really loves watching and learning along with Ada too.  We watch it maybe once a week. I put it on while I’m making dinner and we watch it together. Just like verbal language, there are times that she will just absorb. And there are are times that she really seems to have an explosion of signs that she picks up seemingly all at once. And then we make sure that we use the signs throughout the day. Some become second nature.

There are all sorts of other ways of communicating that have also been really multiplying too. A couple of months ago she learned how to point. It’s such a simple thing that communicates so much! Ada loves to point to things while she’s eating (like the box of Cheerios sitting out on the counter) and sign ‘eat’ and ‘more.’  We try to keep extra yummy things, like Cheerios, out of sight during meal time. (Seriously, is there some special addictive ingredient in Cheerios?) Yesterday after lunch I put her down in the living room while I was cleaning up in the kitchen. She made a straight beeline back to the table and reached up, pulled down the box (when did she get tall enough to reach stuff off the table?!) and started eating Cheerios on the floor out of the box. She was so satisfied with herself. For a few weeks she would only eat banana if she could point and ask for it herself. She also points when we’re holding her in order to “direct” us to take her in a particular direction. I remember Ayrie and Shiya both doing this. It’s like the adults are just a vehicle.

She is really into books. We have a really amazing collection of board books that are mostly hand me downs from Ayrie and Shiya. She has clear favorites. They rotate, but right now books with dogs, photos of babies and touch and feel books are at the top of the list, though she’s now losing interest in babies and gaining interest in animals, but a month ago she was indifferent to animals. She also has a tiny little Richard Scarry book that she ‘reads’ during diaper changes. We have a book case in the living room that she obsessively, and thoughtfully, empties each day, usually stopping to look and turn the pages of each book as she goes. She holds the books upside down often, and flips to random pages, but is pretty good at manipulating the pages.

Other forms of communication: Clapping when she’s proud of herself. Waving – especially if we’re out and she can engage friendly people that she sees. And when she is either eating something yummy or thinking about eating something yummy, she says “nom nom nom.”  I know I’m forgetting some things… but I just wanted to take note of this little moment in time because it changes so quickly.

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As we near Ada’s first birthday, I have added photos from the past 11 and a half months to this album. If you want to save any, or have prints made, you can do it from this album. The photos are all at full resolution.


And I have been adding some family videos to my You Tube channel here. Ian’s been working on a project that I hope he finishes and shares. He’s been taking a short video each day and is hoping to compile them together.

 

Middle of the night diaper changes….

On the occasion that Ada needs a diaper change in the middle of the night- it really wakes her up. And then it takes too long to get her back to sleep. Usually when she wakes up just to nurse, she immediately falls back asleep. But if a middle of the night diaper change is required, it is because the diaper is a poopy diaper. And that requires enough light that you can see what you’re doing. And the light signals “it’s time to be awake!!!!!!” even if it’s 2am. And then suddenly it’s play time.

So this is where the book-light comes in… You can aim it just where you need it and there is no light in baby’s face signaling wake-up time. I know that I read this tip somewhere online months ago, but I can’t remember where at the moment. We have a little shelf above the changing table that I clip the light to.

If you’re a parent of a little one in diapers, I highly suggest trying this out if you haven’t already. We had tried other things- closet light on, or hall light on. Very low wattage bulb in a lamp, a battery operated candle…. they all failed by either providing too much light or not enough. I’m sure Goldilocks would declare that the book-light is just right…

Ada at 4 and a half months

 Here’s my current stream of thoughts about what Ada’s been up to over the past month. There’s a pretty cute video below of her jumping in her jumper too.

  • Ada is rolling around like crazy now. I will turn my back for just a moment and suddenly she’s all the way across the room!
  • She has been really focused on trying to scoot (on her belly) to get from point A to point B. This week she successfully moved (quickly!) about 3+ feet. I was really shocked to see it! She is one determined little girl!
  • Ada started to develop a ‘stranger’ anxiety. She will cry when someone new holds her or someone who she doesn’t see very often. She’ll almost always warm up, but she needs to make sure that mom and dad are right there with her. So we’re trying to respond to this by hanging out with with a new visitor for a bit before handing her off. That seems to usually take care of it.
  • Even with some discomfort when someone ‘new’ is holding her- she is quite at easy with large groups of people and lots of activity.
  • Auntie Nora makes Ada laugh more than anyone else! Sometime I have to sneak up on them and try to get a little video of it.
  • She really loves toys! She’s very focused on them and loves to explore them. There is a turtle toy (stuffed with lots of different textures, etc…) that we have in the car seat with Ada. When she’s tired, she’ll clutch it in the car and fall asleep.
  • Trips in the car have become pretty reliably easy. We haven’t pushed it too much… but although she might fussy occasionally in the car, I can’t quite remember the last time she really cried in the car. For my own sanity, we usually do at least one outing a day. When Ada was only a couple of weeks old, I started doing this. I thought of it as practice for when we would really have to go somewhere (like a doctor’s appointment, etc…). There were times when we went out and never got out of the car and just had to turn around and come back home. Luckily, we’re passed that time!
  • Ada had been waking up more often at night for a variety of reasons: 4 month sleep regression; testing out no-swaddling; growth spurt; teething; discomfort from her 4 month vaccines. She’s still having good nights of sleep between these moments. So I don’t think she’s totally thrown off. But there are nights that we’re up more often than we were when she was a newborn!
  • We’re still swaddling at night. We attempted to swaddle with 1 arm out, both arms out (just around the body), and no swaddle at all. And it meant that she woke up every 30-60 minutes throughout the night. Her startle reflex is still too strong. So we gave up giving up the swaddle for now. She’s back to sleeping through most of the night and we’re all much more bright eyed and cheery now.
  • She’s learned how to jump in the jumper and is really pleased with herself! She gets a cute little rhythm going that looks like she’s dancing.
  • At her 4 month check-up she was 16 lbs and 25.5 inches. 90th percentile in height and weight! She’s already outgrown most of her 3-6 month clothing and is in 6-12 month clothing now!
  • Ada has gotten much more efficient at nursing. She had been nursing 24 minutes at each feed. Now she’s nursing 5-8 minutes at a feeding. Although she still cluster feeds for an hour or so at bedtime. It’s a long way from the 3-4 hours of solid nursing that she was doing at bedtime in the beginning! And the daytime nursings are so much shorter.
  • Naps have gotten much easier over the past month. We started a routine- which mostly had to do with going into her dark room to signal that it was time to sleep. I knew that the routine was really working when, 2 days in a row, Shiya came into the room as she was nursing and was *almost* asleep and she didn’t get distracted and fell right to sleep. It was a great test!
  • Although there are no teeth yet, she’s been teething quite a bit lately. If she can reach it, it will go into her mouth (and buckets of drool will come out!).  Her favorite thing to put in her mouth is any hand/finger/knuckle that she can reach out and grab. And her own feet. I’ve nibbled them and they are quite tasty!
  • Several times this week when I put out my arms to pick her up, she responded by reaching out her arms. It’s so sweet!
  • She seems to be responding to her name now.
  • Ada really has the ability to play by herself for very long periods of time. When I was talking with her pediatrician about this at her recent appointment, she kept saying “that’s so unusual…” She also remarked that Ada could teach a class on tummy time.
  • Ada is really such a joy to be around. We feel so lucky.
    So that’s what Ada’s up to as we approach her 5 month birthday!

baby gear – for the first 3 months

I wrote most of this post a month or so ago, but I just haven’t been able to find the time to finish it up. So right now I am totally ignoring the mountain of dishes and other things that are taunting me within site of this computer so I can finally get this posted. If I wait too much longer, I will have forgotten what a 3 month old needed! I really can’t believe how quickly time is flying by.
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If you know me, odds are that you know I’m a researcher. I carefully study, compare and contrast options and labor over decisions. It could be researching the best car seat to buy or it could be an interesting/non-mainstream hotel to stay in on a trip or something much smaller like a pH tester for testing the soil in our yard. Over the past couple of weeks, I have gotten a half dozen emails from friends and family who are pregnant or are close with someone who’s expecting asking for my suggestions for baby gear. I starting writing, and realized that it would be good to turn it into a blog post.

With that said- I think it’s definitely possible to get away with very little. A newborn has few needs. And everyone’s lifestyles are different which leads to different needs. But with that said, here’s my list and recommendations.

Car seat:
It is very convenient to have an infant seat. I rarely take it out of the car- but it’s nice for the occasions that the baby falls asleep in the car. Also, there are times that you go out and need to put the baby down somewhere, but s/he is too little for a high chair, etc… In the first month or so when the baby is in the sleep-constantly phase, you can easily go out to eat. And the infant carrier is nice. And if you’re a 2 car family (or have relatives nearby or a sitter with their own car), it’s a lot cheaper to get a 2nd base. And it’s a lot easier than moving the seat back and forth between cars. We have the Chicco Keyfit 30. It goes up to 30 lbs.  Ada’s pretty comfy in it and the straps adjust very easily. There are lots of options, and a whole bunch that have high safety ratings so there is a fair amount of choice. I think the big difference is that some are rated to about 22 lbs and few to 30 lbs. The 22 lb rated ones are lighter if you’re likely to carry it around (good for a cold Minnesota winter), but I know that the seats feel too small before actually reaching the weight limit so you’ll need to move up to a convertible car seat much more quickly with the lower weight one. Another thing to consider that we did not is a “travel system.” That’s the car seat, stroller and stroller adapter for the car seat all in one. I stayed far away from them because they are heavy and bulky. We have a tiny car and really needed a stroller that did not fill up our small trunk.

For the next size up, Britax gets the highest ratings for safety. It’s what Nora has always had for the boys and she loves them. They easy to adjust, install and clean. We’re not sure if we’ll definitely get that for the next car seat or not. It depends on if we have the same car, or not. And also depends on if Shiya is still in a car seat or in a booster seat by that time. We need to be able to fit 3 adults and 2 kids on a regular basis (at least once a week, if not more often). The narrowest car seat is Sunshine Kids. You can actually fit 3 of them across in a car (the only brand that you can do it with). But we might get a bigger car before that time, so we’ll see what we need when Ada grows out of her infant car seat. My preference would be the Britax. Everyone’s considerations are going to be different for car seats. One option is to go to a store that will allow you to try out the car seats in your car. We have a store here called USA Baby (they have locations across the country). They will let you test out any car seat in your car. You just have to leave your ID with them and then you can bring the car seat out to your car. I’m sure there are other stores that will let you test them out- you just have to ask!
Stroller:
We don’t have a stroller that the infant car seat goes into. There are definitely occasions that it would be nice. I’m thinking about tracking down a 2nd hand Snap’n'Go off of Craigslist. We have several trips coming up- including one that I’ll be flying solo (and navigating airports) that I realized it would be very handy to have. But silly to buy new. They get so little use, they’re usually in good shape 2nd hand. We got a high end umbrella stroller. I knew from spending so much time with Ayrie and Shiya, and both our car and Nora’s car being small, when the stroller was too large- we NEVER had it with us when we wanted it! So we went with small. We got an Aprica. The reasons: it’s very compact when folded so we can leave it in the car and still have a trunk full of groceries or camping gear. It’s small enough that we can leave it open inside our back door and it doesn’t get in the way. Once I started doing this, I also started taking Ada out on regular walks in it. We also push Ada around the yard so she can watch us doing yard work (and play with her toys). And when it’s folded- it stands up on it’s own which is a nice feature. Especially if you’re living in the city with limited space in your apartment. It’s tall- most umbrella strollers are too short for a guy to comfortably push. And also the baby is up higher in it than others. And the seat lays back the furthest of any of the umbrella strollers that I’ve found. So it’s good for littler babies. We ended up getting a positioner for it to because Ada was too floppy for it early on.  I think we’ll use it for a while even though she’s already 13.5 lbs (edit: now she’s 16+lbs!). You can also put it in different things like bouncy chairs, car seats, etc… The other reason why I picked out this stroller instead of other umbrella strollers (like Maclaren) is because of the sun canopy. Babies are soooo incredibly sensitive to the sun, the large canopy is really great. I think we’ll eventually get another stroller. We’ll need a jogging stroller with larger wheels to be able to get around in the winter here. I know a bunch of people who have a Bob Stroller and they can’t stop raving about it.  There seems to be an huge difference between the lower end jogging stroller and the higher end ones. Nora borrowed a Bob recently and took Shiya in it for a 5K that was incredibly hilly, and she said it was almost as though she was not pushing a stroller because it was so smooth. I think you both really need to go out and test out strollers. Babies R Us has a decent selection, but for a more “serious” stroller, you will probably need to go to more of a boutique type store. Their sales people will be really knowledgeable and will probably be able to help you figure out what kind of features you might want to look for. I also think it’s really ok to wait on the stroller. Wait to see when you’re really wanting it. It might tell you a lot about when you’d really use it.Gear:
A swing is a “must have” in my book. I would like to write a love poem to our swing.  It’s so soothing for babies. And for younger babies- the side to side motion is more soothing than a front to back swing. Ada will easily nap 3 hours in her swing. (edit: it’s less easy now. 1.5 hrs is probably her average. But without the swing it’s 30 minutes, so that’s pretty good!) So if you just wanted one piece of gear to get started with, I would say this is it. We got one as a hand me down, but the motor died and we missed having a swing sooo much. So we got the Snugabunny Swing and it’s awesome. It plugs in so you don’t need an insane amount of D batteries. The music and nature sounds are great. The nature sounds button on it is like an auto-nap button for Ada. And it’s just really soft and cozy. It’s rated to 25 lbs and I’m sure we’ll use it right up to the weight limit. And then wish the weight limit was higher.
A bouncy seat is nice. You can put it on the table while you eat dinner (just don’t tell anyone since it’s a no-no). The toys are fascinating from an early age. At first baby will just look at them, and later on they will grab and play with them. And it’s portable so if you want to bring it onto a different floor, outside, etc…, it’s easy. We have this one that is a rocker and it’s useful for a long time. We got the same one when Ayrie was a baby for $5 from a yard sale. And then used it again with Shiya. It was pretty worn out after 2 kids! We decided to get it for Ada. I know lots of parents will bring the bouncy seat into the bathroom so they can take a shower with the baby near them. And babies usually like the sound of the shower so it’s a good way to sneak a shower in. I tend to take a shower during nap-time- but I’ve also brought the seat into the bathroom when I didn’t feel like waiting. But our bathroom is really smally so it’s a bit crowded.Bath tub. Some people just use a sink. I actually like having a real baby tub because wet babies are slippery and they will be secure in the baby tub. We got this Whale Tub. Ada loves having baths. I think it’s because, in part, she feels safe. So I do think that a bath tub is a good thing to have. We put her up on the kitchen counter which make my back happy that I’m not leaning and reaching. I also have a mesh shower sling. It’s supposed to be really great for babies who do not like baths (which isn’t a problem for us, so I can’t personally attest to that). And it can be used while wading in a lake or pool. We’re going to be traveling a lot in the coming weeks. I think I’ll bring the sling with me because it might be a good bath alternative in a hotel.

Baby wearing!!
Really this should be its own post. But for now, it’ll just be part of this one. Babble.com has good reviews of baby carriers. Also- lots of other good reviews and overviews on their site (look up reviews on strollers, bouncy seats, etc…).

Moby! I love it! If I only had one baby carrier, it would be this one. I was intimidated by it for the first month. And as soon as I started using it, I kicked myself for not using it sooner! Look up videos on You Tube for how to use it. When I go out, I put it on before I leave, and then put her in it when I get to wherever I’m going. Ada has napped through many shopping trips! It’s nice because it’s adjustable between parents. I was given a lavender one. Ian didn’t really love wearing it, but he loved the Moby. So we bought one in grey. I now leave the first one in the car because there have been several times that I’ve gone out in a rush and forgotten it at home. So now I don’t have this problem. I did choose to avoid black because it’s too hot. Ada is almost guaranteed to fall asleep in it. I would suggest (as with any new baby carrier) that you practice at home first. And then you’ll be really comfortable with it. I think the biggest mistake when people first start using a Moby wrap is that they don’t make it tight enough. So you feel like your baby is unsecure and uncomfortable- which they might be. The videos really help, though. It’s really long so I have mastered the art of putting it on in a parking lot without dragging it on the ground. You can too! :) Ada loves being swaddled and I think the Moby gives her a similar sense of comfort.

Baby Bjorn: I call these the daddy carriers. I almost exclusively see men wearing these- and Ian really likes using it. I think they fit a man’s body better than a woman’s. Some people think that it is not good for baby to be 1) facing forward in a carrier (bad for their spines) and 2) the design of a Bjorn type carrier puts pressure on their pelvis. I’m not worried too much about either of these because she’s just not in the Bjorn for any long periods of time. One of the nice things about it is that it’s easy to get on and off and easy to get baby in and out of it. So it’s almost exclusively used for shorter periods of time. And really anything that is baby related, you can find someone on the internet saying that whatever it is that you’re doing is wrong. I choose to use common sense.

Slings – great for when they are little. And definitely good for putting on quickly. The sling that I have is normally pretty pricey, but I got it with a major discount. At the moment of writing this, the beautiful sling is once again marked down. So here is a link to it. But I don’t know how long it’ll be discounted for. Whatever sling you use, make sure that you learn how to use it safely. They all come with directions and you can also find the information online. I haven’t had a ring sling, but Eliza always swore by it because it was so easy to take off when baby falls asleep in the sling. Ring slings are nice because they can be shared between parents since they’re adjustable. I also think as Ada gets a bit bigger, a ring sling will be nice for doing a hip carry. You can’t get much faster than a sling for getting baby in and out of it quickly! Big bonus points for convenience!

Ergo- Probably the best carrier for using for the longest time. Shiya can still comfortably be in it (on the back) at 36 lbs. It is so much more ergonomically comfortable than other carriers. (Is that where the name Ergo came from: ergo-nomically?) We have the infant insert. But when she’s so little, we’re using mostly other carriers. But I know we will use the Ergo (passed down from Nora) for a long time to come. It’s also easily adjustable between users. There are buckles and adjustable straps. There is definitely a cult following of Ergo fans!

There are so many other possibilities! Some of the smaller baby boutiques/ natural baby stores have carriers that you can try on with your baby. Some even have classes that you can take on baby wearing where you learn how to use them and figure out what’s best for you and your family. Each age/stage and each season will bring up different baby wearing needs. They are so great for you and your baby – and they allow you to get stuff done. I really think they’re worth getting new/different ones when the need arises. Also, they’re easy to get 2nd hand or as hand me downs. I would just make sure that you look up directions online when you get one used. I just got a K’Tan Breeze to wear when it’s hot. It’s a modified Moby, but it is not adjustable between 2 different sized people. But it’s a breathable fabric that is so much cooler. Babies get so hot! And also a Baby Hawk Mei Tai carrier which I’m loving. And I think it’ll be even better as Ada gets just a little bit bigger. Again, it’s adjustable between users. It’s also reversible. So I can have a fun print on one side and Ian can have boring black on the other!
Toys for the very beginning.

  • A play mat is a must. Ada can easily spend a half hour playing on hers now (an eternity in baby time!) (edit: it’s now an hour+ and the way she plays on it has really evolved). And it gets longer all the time! We got the Infantino. Folds up nicely- and it’s nice looking too. And a bit cheaper than others.
  • A mirror for “tummy time.” At Ada’s 4 month check-up her pediatrician said that Ada could teach a class in tummy time :)
  • Rings. You can’t have too many of these! Perfect for linking toys to everything. And also easy for them to grab. Ada spends a lot of time grabbing rings off her play gym. You can attach toys to everything. I have a toy attached by the rings to her car seat. It’s nice because if it falls out of the seat (or stroller) it doesn’t end up falling all the way to the floor/ ground.

Sleep stuff:

  • We have an Arm’s Reach Mini-CoSleeper. We started using it around 2 wks. Ada sleeps in it better than with us in our bed – and so do we. But I love having her just inches from me.  And it’s great for breastfeeding. I definitely got more sleep in the beginning because of it. We have the mini version because our bedroom is tiny. If we had the room, I would’ve gotten the larger size (Nora used it for Ayrie). We didn’t buy this until after she was born because we didn’t know how we wanted to sleep.
  • Swaddling: It’s so great. We can move her around and she stays asleep because the swaddle is “hugging” her. We swaddled for the first week. Then she fought it so we stopped. Then read that that happens sometimes but it’ll ultimately calm them down. After swaddling for 2 or 3 days, she started looking forward to it. It’s also a great que that “it’s bedtime!” since they have a hard time knowing the difference between day and night / sleeping at night and naps. Infants have a startle reflex that will wake them up, so the swaddle really helps. Our hospital used Halo Sleepsack Swaddles. We swore by it for the first 2 months. Then she outgrew it, but the size small was too big and she could break out of it. So then we started using the Miracle Blanket and they are seriously a miracle!  But I’m glad we used the Halo ones when we could. By swaddling, you can seriously add hours onto the stretches of nighttime sleeping! It also makes it easier to move a sleeping baby (from person to person or from a nursing mom to the co-sleeper, for example) because they feel a constant pressure.
  • White noise. A must! Some people use a fuzzy radio station, a fan, a Sleep Sheep, a white noise iPhone app…. We have this noise machine.

A couple of things to watch/ read in the beginning:

  • Happiest Baby on the Block. Watch the DVD or look up videos on You Tube. It’s so good to watch in the first couple of weeks. And it also gives the dad ways to soothe a baby since they can’t nurse!
  • My favorite parenting blog is Ask Moxie. The comments section is amazing- and not at all crazy. Search the archives whenever a new “issue” comes up!
  • My favorite book, by far: Wonder Weeks. It explains the developmental leaps that babies go through. Explains the signs that they’re going through a leap, what you can do to help them adjust, etc… It’s based on the due date. Ada was born almost on her due date, so when it says that a developmental leap will start around 11.5 wks- it really does. But if baby is a week early or a week late, you’ll most likely need to adjust the timeline. Right now Ada is going through a leap called “Smooth Transitions.” Things to do with her: play airplane, give her fabrics to play with, etc… A lot of it is intuitive, but it’s so great to be able to read about it. Also, if there are a couple of night where baby is sleeping worse than usual- it’s reassuring to know that it’s part of a phase. There is also a Wonder Weeks iPhone App (if you have an iPhone). It’s great, but doesn’t go into all the details. (edit: as the weeks have gone on, this book/ app has become increasingly helpful and accurate. I feel like this should be sent home with all new parents from the hospital.)

Breastfeeding:
It’s hard in the beginning for most women. Ask for lots of help. See a lactation consultant as many times as you need to.  When the time comes, I’m happy to share more of my experience.
With that said…

  • Lanolin Cream is great. And your nipples are so sensitive in the beginning, it especially helps in the shower. But eventually, I needed something different- I had a crack that wouldn’t heel. And then I discovered Motherlove Nipple Cream. I wish I had discovered it sooner. I think it really would’ve helped. It’s thinner than the Lanolin and allows you to air dry, which you’ll discover is important. They also sell it at Whole Foods
  • The book Breastfeeding Made Simple changed everything in a couple of hours for me. I saw several lactation consultants. They were helpful. But things keep changing- and also, your home environment is different than being in an office, etc… So at 5 wks, I said- ok, this isn’t supposed to hurt anymore. And I sat down to breast feed with the book in hand and over the course of several hours, I went from wincing with each latch to no pain. Seriously. Each feeding a tried a new suggestion. I had read tons of other info- articles online, other books. But this book approached things slightly differently than everything else, and that’s what I needed. And really within a couple of hours, everything got significantly easier!
  • A glider/rocker/recliner. I have an glider/recliner. It looks like a real upholstered chair, but it also glides. I liked the idea of not having a chair that I’ll want to get rid of when I am done breast feeding. I love having a breastfeeding station set up. I’ve got a tiny TV set up with a Roku player set up to stream Netflix. My breast pump and all the needed parts are right there. The Boppy is always there. There is a side table for a cup of ice water, nipple cream, one handed snacks, my phone and iPad. Once you have the baby latched- you don’t want to get up! So having everything ready for you is great. Especially when you’re first home alone with the baby. Every night Ian fills up 2 cups of ice water for me so it’s waiting for me for early morning feedings (or middle of the night ones). It’s a small gesture, but I’m when you’re blurry eyed in the middle of the night, it makes me smile to know that Ian’s so supportive.

So that’s everything. Well, everything that I decided to include in this post. I had to stop somewhere! I hope this was helpful to you, or if you know someone who might benefit from it, please pass it on! Oh, I do want to apologize for any bad editing. I wrote and edited this over the course of weeks, almost always with a baby at my side so I might have been a bit distracted.

Shiya loves entertaining Ada

Shiya had so much fun entertaining Ada yesterday. She was pretty mesmorized by his sweet dance moves. It was hard to narrow it down to just one video… so I didn’t.

I think this is Shiya’s best opening moves sequence:

I really have no idea where he learned to dance, but he’s a natural.

I love that before he gets down to the business of dancing, he has to make sure Ada is all set with her toys.

Each one I watch I think “this is my favorite…” And I think that this one might be my favorite….

Cousins!

Ada and Indigo interacted with each other for the first time last night. It was really fun to watch them. And made us all excited for them to grow up together.

And some still photos from Ada and Indigo’s play time:

Shiya continues to be absolutely delighted by his cousin Ada. And the feeling is completely mutual. Last night at dinner, Ada was napping in the other room. Shiya had the reciever for the video monitor and for about 45 minutes straight he was completely entertained by watching his cousin sleeping. Way more amused than the rest of us thought was possible!

We got to spend some time in New Hampshire in June. Ada’s cousins Jonah and Orion enjoyed snuggling up with Ada. We’re all anxiously awaiting the arrival of another cousin (and sibling to Jonah and Orion!). Eliza’s due in December!
This is no way that I can write about cousins without thinking about Ayrie. It’s hard not to think how much he was looking forward to having a new cousin-sibling. He had decided that cousin wouldn’t properly describe the relationship that he and Shiya would have with our baby. So he had decided to make up his own word to describe it- “Carin” (I’m not sure how it would be spelled…). Ada’s toy basket is overflowing with toys that were Ayrie’s as a baby. And one of her favorites is a butterfly that Ayrie picked out for the baby when I was pregnant. He’s a constant presence in our lives and we miss him every minute of every day.

At 3 and a half months…

Since this blog is, in part, our version of a baby book, it’s time to share what Ada’s up to at this moment in time. She’s been going through a lot of changes this month. At 3 months, babies become infants and are no longer “newborns” and the change is really noticable. 

  • Ada discovered her feet about a month ago. She still hasn’t really put them in her mouth yet (although I hear that usually happens shortly after the discovery). But she grabs them whenever possible. This discovery definitely led to the next one…
  • Ada can now roll over from back to front and front to back. She had done a back to front roll one week, and then didn’t try again for a week. And then in one day, about a week later, she suddenly started rolling front to back and back to front non-stop. When she’s really in the mood, she’ll try to roll over while nursing. This isn’t the best idea for either of us.

  • She is trying really, really hard to crawl, scoot forward. She works on it with great determination and frustration. She can actually propel herself forward a couple of inches at a time.
  • Ada is discovering her voice. She’s making all sort of new sounds and starting to play with phrasing. She also has really been enjoying making sounds as she inhales, which sounds a little creepy (according to Ian). On a 25 minute car ride home this morning, she did this just about the entire time. I think it distracted/amused her enough to keep her from fussing.
  • She spends lots of time watching our mouths when we talk. And mimicking sounds as much as possible. If there is a simple tune, she’ll “sing” along with it. Today she was “singing” along with the hum of the breast pump. It was pretty hilarious.  
  • She can pick up toys and other small objects with good control. Then put them in her mouth or pass between hands.
  • She can play by herself, easily, for 30+ minutes at a time. Sometimes even up to an hour or more. Sometimes she is cool playing by herself, but wants one of us nearby.
  • She loves to play on the play mat, bouncer chair, Bumbo seat and her crib with mobile in it. Or just a blanket on the floor with a couple of toys on it.  She enjoys standing (with help, of course!) We just introduced a jumper this past week. She hasn’t figured out the jumping part, but she really loves standing so it helps her with that. It’s nice when Shiya is around too because the two of them can really interact together when she’s in it.
  • She’s laughing quite a bit now. I can now tickle her and she’ll laugh. It’s such a sweet sound!
  • Another “layer” has been unveiled and Ada has a new level of awareness of the world around her. This new awareness has led to her regularly having a hard time focusing on nursing. Thankfully it’s not a 100% of the time, but for now I can’t watch the Daily Show while nursing at night. Or if I’m drinking something, she’ll pull off and follow the cup from the table to my mouth and back again.
  • We still go for a walk in the Moby daily. But she now rarely sleeps in it. The world is way too exciting and she’s afraid she’s going to miss out on something. If we’re out and have to get in the car to come home, she’ll fall asleep instantly when I take her out of the Moby and into her in the car seat. But I wish she would fall asleep in the carrier, still. She won’t sleep in the car seat unless the car is moving, and never stays asleep if I bring her inside in the car seat. So the car seat naps are much shorter than a Moby wrap walk which could easily be 1-2 hrs.
  • Which brings me to naps. They’ve gotten a lot harder. Mostly, she’s not staying asleep longer than a cat nap. But, developmentally, she really needs longer stretches. We’re actively working on trying to lengthen her naps. In fact, she’s now been asleep for 1.5 hours (and counting!) for the first time in a long time.  So I’m hoping it’s a result of the changes we’ve been making. But the nap thing will be a whole other blog post…
  • Ada loves watching Shiya. He’ll dance for her to amuse her. And in the car he will try (often successfully) to sooth her if she’s fussy. Since his car seat is front facing, and hers is rear facing, they are facing each other in the backseat. Shiya will also hold her hand and pass toys to her. And if she’s asleep, he likes to wake her up because that’s a lot more fun for him!

So that’s what Ada’s up to as she approaches her 4 month birthday!

Sleep at 3 months

We have a good sleeper. Please don’t hate us. I’m not quite sure how it happened. I’m pretty sure that most of it is Ada. She’s been a good sleeper from the beginning (although a good sleeper at 2 weeks is very different from a good sleeper at 12 weeks). We know how lucky we are. And we know that it could all change at any time.

She sleeps in an Arm’s Reach Mini-Co-Sleeper next to our bed. This means that she is sleeping merely inches away from me, but separate enough that we can all sleep a little more deeply than if she was in bed with us. Being so close to her I have observed her sleeping/waking cycles from the beginning. I think if she was sleeping in another room and we had a baby monitor where we could listen to her I’d be popping up every hour or two. Babies are pretty noisy and active sleepers. Being able to observe her, I learned that I could watch her squirm, thrash around, open her eyes, make lots of noises… and fall right back into a deep slumber. Phew!

I have read a ton of books, blog posts, articles and talked with other parents about sleep in preparation. Preparation for the inevitable? I know that all of this could change in an instant (maybe in a month at the 4 month sleep regression?).  But we’re enjoying the moment. I’m know that some of what I’ve read has seeped in and influenced us. But really, most of it is Ada. She’s in charge. And all of this preparation might be for naught. And our next kid might be the world’s worst sleeper. So maybe it’s in preparation for that. Who knows.

A month ago we traveled to New Hampshire. Ada was 9 weeks old at the time. I realized that I didn’t know when she “needed” to nap.  And napping just wasn’t as easy as it was when we were at home. Sometimes it was hard to pick up on her cues. So I decided to start tracking her sleep. I thought maybe, just maybe a magical pattern would emerge. It didn’t, but that’s ok. It’s been really interesting and helpful to track. And not a lot of work either. After a bunch of research, I discovered Baby Connect. It’s an app that I have on my iPhone (which I always have with me) and my iPad (which ‘lives’ on a side table next to my glider/nursing station). I just ‘tap’ to start her sleeping cycle and ‘tap’ to finish it. The app does the work of organizing the date in a pretty slick way. There are a ton of things to track – like poopy diapers. But I really don’t need to know that or have it graphed out. Really, I don’t. But if something starts changing with her sleep cycles, or we travel, or something else changes, we have data to look at. And I also admit it’s a little OCD. But that’s ok. I accept and embrace that.

Here’s what Ada’s sleep looks like after a couple of weeks of tracking:

I just started tracking nursing/ pumped milk bottle feedings with the Baby Connect app too. I had been using a much simpler app from the beginning (iBaby Feed) to track nursing. Mostly, it helped me remember which side I had nursed on last, and how long it had been since her last feeding. It’s been helpful in a couple of ways- to plan my time if we’re out, and to get a sense if she is, indeed, going through a growth spurt. I decided to switch apps so I’m tracking everything on Baby Connect. It’s kind of satisfying to have it all laid out like this. So below is the feeding date laid on top of the sleeping data.  edit: A couple of days after I wrote this, I had a couple more days of feeding patterns layered on the sleeping data. And a pattern is starting to emerge. We’ll see if it’s just a fluke or if in a week or two it’s still holding true.

There are all sorts of graphs that you can export. I won’t share them all. Below is the total number of hours of sleep per day. You can also see how many naps happen per day. And then the most helpful (I think) is the interval of time between naps. It averages out to something like every 2 hrs 20 minutes. On the app it says “Ada has been awake for 1 hour 54 minutes” so I know that it would be good to work on starting a nap. Or if someone calls and asks if it’s a good time for them to come over to visit Ada, I can see that she will most likely be asleep before they get here. Most of the time I can rely on cues. She has started rubbing her eyes when she’s sleepy. It’s pretty darn cute. But it’s nice on those busier days, or when I’m out to have the app do a little of the thinking for me. We’ve evolved a bedtime routine over the past several months. It will continue to evolve as Ada’s needs change. So I’ll share where we’re at at the moment.

Around 8:30pm (roughly), playtime. This is new. We started to notice that bedtime goes a lot more smoothly if she has some playtime before the wind down. This has coincided with her new ability to play (intentionally grasping objects, etc…) and new ability to self amuse.  We have a new projection mobile that is just about the most exciting thing in the world to her right now. She could easily play in her crib with it on for an hour or more (this is the only thing her crib is used for right now). But usually playtime is in her crib or on her play mat for a half hour. I get myself ready for bed, fill up a cup with ice water and maybe grab a yogurt or small snack..

At about 9pm we settle in to nurse. Ada started cluster feeding at night from week 1. I will attribute this cluster feeding to why she started sleeping longer in the first place. In the beginning, cluster feeding could easily last 3 or 4 hours, sometimes even longer. That was hard and exhausting. It’s down to about an hour now.  In the middle of that hour, we stop, swaddle her and then I switch sides. Ada absolutely loves being swaddled. It makes her so happy. I think it’s an important part of her bedtime routine- it’s definitely a signal that it’s time to go down for the night. And of course it’s very comforting to her. At some point we’ll stop swaddling her but not now–she loves it. And I know she sleeps hours longer than she would without it. She still has a startle reflex. It’s getting better, but it still wakes her up if she’s not swaddled. And now that she rubs her eyes when she’s tired (or ungracefully flails them at her head), it’s actually become even more important that she’s swaddled. I had been getting stressed out about stopping. But I’ve decided to stop worrying. Ian and I have realized that Ada’s sleep has been changing and evolving and it’ll happen when it’s time for it to happen. We worried that we’d be subtly modifying or breaking her sleep patterns in our desire to make things easier, but we realized we’ve really just been reacting to her changes.  We’re going to try not to over think it too much.

In the beginning, we used the Halo Sleepsack Swaddles because that’s what they used at our hospital and we really liked them. They didn’t even have receiving blankets there, just long sleeved t-shirts and the swaddle. They’re great for diaper changes (unzip from the bottom up) and are easy to do in the middle of the night. But somewhere around 2 months, she outgrew it- it was too short for her. We tried the next size up- but she was too narrow for it. She’s a long (tall?) girl. 97th percentile in height! So she could break out of the swaddle too easily. So after several less-than-satisfying nights of sleep, I tried a bunch of different things… and then I discovered ***The Miracle Blanket***. It basically swaddles down the arms, and then around the whole body. And one size fits all- so she won’t ungrow it before we stop swaddling. Every once in a while, when maybe we don’t do the swaddle well enough, Ada will break out of it early in the morning. I look over at her, see her little fist sticking up in rebellion- and a very proud look on her face.

At night I nurse for a while longer after she’s swaddled. And she usually falls asleep. Ian and I then trade off. He has Ada on a pillow in his lap. In the beginning, it was much more vigorous rocking. But that just stopped being necessary. In the early weeks (months…), when Ada would nurse for hours at night, I needed a break. So we started this routine. Ian would take over, rock her, and then give a bottle of pumped milk if necessary. I would go to bed and Ian would bring her in after she was asleep- and after I was asleep. This has been key for me getting enough sleep. Going to sleep without her next to me allows me to get into a really deep sleep. Otherwise, I hear every noise (it’s a mom thing- and it’s really hard to ‘turn off’), and can’t fall asleep. Now she might only take a bottle once a week, other times, 3 nights in a row (growth spurt!).

For quite a while, she’s been waking up only once in the morning. I would guess that 7am would be the average wake up time. I nurse her, and then she falls back to sleep until around 11am (sometimes earlier, sometimes later). She’s very active in the mornings. Kicking her legs in the air, working through gas/digestive things. We started moving her to the swing for the last bit of sleep. Ian sleeps on the couch to be next to her, and then I can fall back into a deep slumber (usually) in bed. I still get up hours before her, but getting this quality sleep in the morning has made it ok for me to rarely take a nap with her anymore. Without moving to the swing she’ll wake up closer to 9am. I sometimes feel a little funny about using the swing. But really- she needs the sleep. And in the early months, I think it’s all about getting sleep however you can.  She stopped needing to be actively soothed like she did at first, and I’m sure she’ll stop needing the swing on her own. I think we’re establishing some habits that will help future sleeping transitions. And we’ve been thinking about adding in other parts to the routine (like the mobile) that will help. But right now, everything is working. Bedtime is not a stressful time. It’s a peaceful time. So I’m not going to mess with it too much.

I’ll write about the napping part of sleep later. We’re working on that now. During the change-over from newborn to infant, naps stopped being automatic. Now we have to make sure they happen. She’s become much more engaged with the world so when I take her out in the Moby, she is totally chill, but no longer falls asleep. If we’re out (like at the grocery store), and I have her in the Moby, she used to always fall asleep. Now she stays awake because the world is too exciting. But the second I put her in the car, she’ll pass out. But… another post.

What’s in a name

People have asked us about where Ada’s name came from, so we thought we’d share…

Ian and I started our name lists fairly early in my pregnancy, Ian keeping a big list of boy and girl names. For some reason, the boy list was always longer. With all of our nephews, a boy seemed like the natural course these things take. Of course that is not how it works, but I still found myself unexpectedly surprised when the doctor told us that we were having a girl.

We wanted a name that was unique, but not gratuitous. But mostly we wanted something that had some meaning for us. Ian loved the name Ada from early on. I wasn’t a big fan. We’d only talked about the name out loud (not writing it down), so in my head, it was spelled “Aida.” And I didn’t like it. One night I was researching names and it hit me that Ada was spelled A-D-A and I immediately loved it. Ian knew the name from Ada Lovelace, the person who wrote the first computer program – a theoretical program for a then-theoretical mechanical computer. That the first person was a woman is kind of awesome. She also happens to be the daughter of poet Lord Byron.  Ada is also a computer language – but not one that Ian’s particularly impressed with.  Coincidentally It’s also a city in Oklahoma, and there was even an Ada Bicking who taught music in Indiana. We only found out about Ada, Oklahoma when Facebook suggested to my cousin Ian that he should be a fan of Ada, OK on Facebook.

The other thing we were thinking about is that we really wanted to honor our nephew Ayrie. He passed away on September 29th, 2010. We weren’t really sure how we wanted to do this, but we liked the idea that the first letter of our daughter’s name would start with an A. In several cultures it’s a way of honoring a family member who has passed away. Ayrie’s name means the nest of an eagle or other bird of prey (Aerie). His little brother, Shiya, often talks about how Ayrie is up in the sky, and how he can see him up in the sky. In October, we were up north at a cabin with Nora, Shiya and my brother’s family. One night Nora was awoken, and compelled to go outside, out to the boat launch (it was cold) and lay down at the end of it. She looked up to see a perfect moon. A perfect sky and felt filled with Ayrie’s presence. There are many stories like that. So the name Sky was the perfect name to go along with Ada.

And the rest of the name: when Ian and I got married, I added a 2nd last name. I did lots of research and I can legally go by Emily Murphy, Emily Murphy Bicking or Emily Bicking by having 2 unhyphenated names. Just as long as I’m consistent in my usage. So for example in my clay life I can use the name I have built my career around. Ian added Murphy as a 2nd middle name. We decided that we wanted Ada to be a Murphy too, but not have to later decide what she wanted to do if she was going to add/drop/change last names if/when she gets married. So we decided to give her 2 middle names: Sky and Murphy. So her last name is officially Bicking. But we all like to go by “The Murphy Bickings” so whatever variation on the last names you’d like to refer to us as is just fine.

So that’s what’s in a name.