It’s a…

We are so delighted to be having a boy!  Ava is going to be a wonderful big sister to her brother.

We found out Monday.  The genetic counselor at the perinatal clinic I go to for ultrasounds called with results of the genetic screenings (all good!) and asked over the phone if we wanted to know the gender.  I asked her to write it down and leave it at the front desk in an envelope so I could pick it up.  Then I checked with Kevin to see if he was available for lunch that day.  He was so we made a plan to go pick up the envelope and go to Weck’s for lunch.  This is the same Weck’s we went to when we found out together that Ava was a girl (blog post here), so it felt really special to do the same for this baby.  :)

We were seated at a table, ordered our food, and then Kevin opened the envelope.  Boy!  So exciting!

I have to say…I wasn’t very surprised.  I have been convinced from the beginning that this baby is a boy (although I was completely convinced that Ava was a boy too, so don’t place too much stock in my mother’s intuition).  Kevin had a dream that the baby was a boy (and he dreamt that Ava was a girl, so obviously his dreams are more reliable than my gut feelings).  And when we questioned the ultrasound tech at our 12 week appointment she said that she was pretty sure the baby is a boy – “don’t go buy anything yet, but…I’m usually right about these things.”  So we both had boy on the brain.  And boy it is!

It feels strange to know the gender so early in the pregnancy.  We can really start thinking about name options, which is fun.  I am very excited when I think of having a son (a son!), but also a little intimidated.  I know absolutely nothing about baby boys and am especially nervous about diaper changes.  :)

I’ll end with the same quote I used in the post about finding out Ava was a girl because it is still so applicable:

“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.” -Pablo Casals

Any tips from all the boy moms out there?

An official announcement.

She’s all smiles but has no idea her little only child world is going to be rocked this autumn.

We’re due October 12.  I kind of have it in my head that the baby will come in September and I probably just jinxed myself by typing that out and will be banished to 41+ weeks or something.  But Ava was early (evicted, you may recall – part 1 / part 2), and my doctor is highly unlikely to let me go past 40 weeks because that’s just how he rolls, so early October or late September it will likely be, God willing.

We found out on Valentine’s Day.  I decided to take a test before downing my Moscato – just in case – and good thing I did.  Pregnant.

It helped explain the roller coaster emotions I’d been demonstrating, much to my (and Kevin’s – poor guy) relief.

Overall I can’t complain BUT I will say I feel like I’ve been more nauseous this time than I was with Ava.  It may just be that I can’t lounge around like I did during the first pregnancy.  Ava isn’t one to allow lounging.  I’ve also been more fatigued, but again – fewer daytime naps may be contributing to that.

I’ve been so much more chill with this second pregnancy.  Less worried about every little ache and pain.  Less anxiety over all the things that could go wrong.  Don’t get me wrong – I catalogued all the pregnancy don’ts I’d blissfully done in those first few precious weeks between not knowing and knowing, like the good little Type A personality I am.  Lunchmeat!  Hot baths!  Caffeine!  But then I released the worry around them because there was no going back and all I can do is hope for the best.  Since then I’ve been more relaxed in what I eat (Dion’s sandwiches – toasted, but all the same – I never would have touched those in the first pregnancy; and steak, cooked to medium instead of charred), but trying to make good decisions.

So far we’ve had two doctor appointments (my weight is down a pound between week 8 and week 12 – celebrate those first trimester victories, hashtag party emoji) , two ultrasounds (all looks good!  Blessings galore.), genetic testing (all looks good!  Blessings galore.), and we opted to find out the gender with the blood work.  It’s a….

:)

Any gender guesses?

Feeding Ava.

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I want to start by saying that I believe fed is best.  Whether that is accomplished with breast milk or formula, I believe that we all do the best we can for our babies with the resources we have available to us and in the circumstances we face.  This is simply the story of my experience feeding my one and only child and that experience has been breastfeeding and a baby led weaning introduction of solid food.  If we have another child, I imagine that the experience will have some similarities but also be unique and different and personal to that child.  I’m not a lactation consultant or a pediatric nutritionist, so I say again – this is simply the story of my experience.  I did learn a few things though from lactation consultants and my extensive online research (wink wink), so I’ll put those little gems (wink wink again) in bold font in case anyone is interested in what I actually learned and not just anecdotal story.

Breastfeeding was not easy.  For the first 6 to 8 weeks (it’s all a blur – I don’t remember exactly), I would start each nursing session with the goal of simply making it through that session.  If there had been the slightest obstacle to me continuing to breastfeed, I don’t know that I would have persevered.  The stars aligned though and really, I had the best situation possible.  I never had a milk supply problem, I didn’t go back to work until Ava was three months old and even then, I only went to the office for four hour stretches, I pumped a bit to be offered to Ava in a bottle when I wasn’t with her (she was never very interested in a bottle), and really – I know I had it easy.  But it was still hard.  It was painful and it was emotional.  But we made it work and at around four months, we really hit our stride and I started to enjoy breastfeeding.  She got her first two teeth at six months old and then the second set at seven/eight months old.  Between six months and nine or ten months, I would be really tense during each feeding session because I had felt the sharpness of those teeth and I did not care for it.  I returned to the mindset of starting each session with the simple goal of making it through THAT session and that session alone.  Ava was overall, in hindsight, not a biter, which I’m very thankful for, but the anticipation and uncertainty was nerve-wracking.  At some point, I grew more comfortable and while my guard is never completely down, I guess I’ve just accepted the fact that she may bite (on purpose or unintentionally) and I’ll survive.  As of now, Ava, at 15 months old, is down to three milk feedings a day and that is working well for us.  She would probably nurse more if I offered – sometimes she tugs at my neck skin, which is her way of saying, “Hey Mama, is the milk shop open?” (she’ll also sometimes pull at Kevin’s neck and look down his shirt, which is pretty funny) but I have stuck with only feeding her milk three times a day for the past couple of weeks.  My goal is to continue to nurse her around three times a day until she’s eighteen months (if she gets a cold, I’ll likely up the feeding count), then feel out if she seems ready to start weaning further.  I imagine we’ll drop to two feedings a day and then one, so I anticipate that it’ll be a slow and steady process.  I’m definitely ready to not feel like a milk cow, but I know I’ll miss the quiet moments that we share.  The thought of weaning is bittersweet, for sure.

As I mentioned, I was lucky and never had a supply problem.  If anything, I had oversupply, especially if she went more than six hours between feedings.  I’d use a hand pump when I first woke up to slow the flow a little bit because otherwise she would sputter and choke a bit.  I know that sometimes there are health issues and supply simply isn’t there, no matter what.  I found that drinking a lot of water (80 ounces a day), eating a balanced diet, and offering milk often was key in establishing and maintaining a good supply.  I used this lactation cookie recipe, which may or may not do anything to help but they’re delicious and any excuse to eat cookies, amiright?  Provided there are no underlying issues, it is truly a supply and demand system.  The more the baby is offered the breast and the more the baby consumes, the more is produced.  I pumped around once a day from the time Ava was about three months old until she was around six months old (I think – I don’t remember for sure) and built up a little supply of frozen milk for her to drink when I was away from her.  I hated pumping and didn’t get much from a pumping session so it felt kind of pointless.  If you pump and don’t get much, don’t worry about how much the baby is consuming, provided the appropriate number of diapers are being change and weight gain is on the curve (even a low curve – Ava was in the 3rd-5th percentile for the first 9 months or so, but she was gaining steady and staying on that curve, so there was no need for concern.)  A baby is always going to get more milk than a pump!  Always.  That’s how our bodies are made.  If we have another child and our lifestyle remains the same in terms of when I go back to work and how often I’m in the office, I anticipate that I won’t pump and we’ll have formula on hand for when I’m not there to feed the baby (provided I am able to/decide to breastfeed in the first place!).  But who knows – why make that plan before it needs to be made?

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We got the go-ahead from our pediatrician to offer cereal at four months, but I was intrigued by the idea of baby led weaning.  After reading Baby Led Weaning:  The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater and talking to Kevin about what it entails, we decided to go that route.  Official baby led weaning means that the baby is only offered breastmilk or formula until they are at least six months old and even then they need to meet other criteria like being able to sit up unsupported, have lost the tongue thrust reflex, and be able to grasp and hold on to food.  The book talks about how a baby’s digestive system isn’t fully developed at four months old.  I am no doctor and know nothing about the development of a baby’s digestive system, but I genuinely believe that it does not hurt to let their little systems develop without the introduction of solid food (even something as mild as rice cereal) in the first six months.

When Ava was six months old, she met the above criteria, so we started introducing solid food to her at that point.  We started slow, but basically gave her whatever we were eating.  Ava loved food from the beginning.  She loves flavor, including a bit of spice, and she’s been very good about trying things.  It was really, really cute to watch her discover different flavors and such a relief to skip right over the puree stage.  If baby led weaning is something that interests you, I highly recommend the aforementioned book.  A few things that stood out to me as I read it are as follows:

  • An advantage of baby led weaning is that a baby learns to chew early.  With purees, the baby can continue to suck, like they do from a bottle or breast, and they do not learn to chew.  When solid chunks of food are eventually introduced, the baby has a tendency to suck rather than chew because they are accustomed to sucking.  This can lead to choking.
  • Speaking of choking, there is a difference between gagging and choking.  A baby’s gag reflex is much, much further forward in their mouth than an adult’s gag reflex.  It is triggered very easily!  This is a defense mechanism because it forces forward anything that has triggered the reflex before the item moves further back and gets lodged in a baby’s throat.  The baby learns early on how easy it is for their gag reflex to be triggered and how to control the amount of food they put in their mouth because they, by instinct, want to avoid triggering the reflex.  Baby led weaning can include A LOT of gagging.  The baby is learning about that gag reflex and because it is so far forward, it doesn’t take much to trigger it!  The gagging part of baby led weaning is scary.  It is so hard to sit idle and watch a baby gag.  But it is really, really important that the baby is allowed the opportunity to let the reflex push the food forward and that they work it out for themselves.  Adult intervention can cause the food to move backwards and get lodged in the throat, which can lead to choking.  If the baby is turning blue and not breathing, follow the steps of infant first aid/CPR, obviously!  But if they are gagging, let them be.  This was by far the scariest and hardest part of baby led weaning to me.  And Ava wasn’t a frequent gagger at all, so we were lucky.  But it’s still nerve-wracking.
  • Baby led weaning allows a baby to eat at their own pace.  They have control over what goes into their mouths and the quantity.  If they try something and don’t like it, they can spit it out and not try it again during that meal; the food can be offered to them repeatedly but it isn’t forced on them.  (Recently we have repeatedly offered vegetables, and Ava has repeatedly refused them and that’s okay.  We’ll keep offering and eventually she’ll come around to them.)  Eating is enjoyable to them because they’re in control and they’re part of the family gathering at the table.  There aren’t any tricks like zooming the airplane (spoon) into their mouth to get them to take another bite of something they don’t really want.  They follow their own instincts and also learn by example.  They won’t forever be eating with their fingers as long as they are given the opportunity to use utensils, because ultimately, they want to do what mom and dad and older siblings are doing.   Mom and dad can focus more on their meal because the baby is picking up their own food and bringing it to their own mouth, versus mom or dad wielding the spoon. 
  • A baby learns to recognize when they are full which can help them develop healthy eating habits as a child and later as an adult.  Rather than meeting a “quota” amount of jarred pureed food, the baby follows its own instincts, eats at its own pace, and stops eating when he or she is full.  Healthy eating habits are established as young as infanthood, and can help prevent obesity later in life. 

I haven’t read the book in around a year and I know I’m not mentioning so many perks, so again, read the book if you’re interested in learning more!  The biggest con is the mess, but really, isn’t feeding a baby and/or toddler messy regardless of how the food is delivered to them?  I reiterate what I said above – we all make the decisions that we feel are best for our child so if that means cereal at four months for you and your baby, you do that, mama (or dad!)!  Baby led weaning was simply the option we chose for introducing solids to Ava and we have been very, very happy with how it worked for our family.

How did you introduce solids to your kids?  What did you like or not like about the process? 

Garden update.

Our garden is doing well overall.

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Some of the flowers we planted are past their prime but others (I think they are begonias) are thriving.
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We have harvested three tomatoes and there are many many more on the vine. Hopefully they’ll ripen up soon.

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We have three eggplants in various stages of ripe and two bell peppers on one of the pepper plants.

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The two types of thyme, rosemary, and lavender are doing quite well. Really the biggest disappointment this year has been the basil. You know how I love my basil pesto and our basil plants have really struggled since about late June. I think it got too hot for them. Or maybe we should add some nutrients? I don’t know, but they are a sad light green color.

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The monsoon season has brought a few really good rainstorms and there is nothing quite like rain to help the crops (even when the crops are our little garden). It has been another fun summer in the garden.

Did you plant a summer garden? Is it thriving or wilting?

Snapshot {July}.

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Making: A tough decision.  I think I have to break up with the girl who has cut and colored my hair for the past 5 years.  It’s not me – it’s her.  She moved to a new location across town that is kind of a pain to get to, and the price goes up every. single. time. I go, which is kind of annoying.  I’m still not absolutely certain I’ll make this change, but am drafting “let’s go our separate ways” texts in my head.  It’s okay to break up with a stylist via text, right?  Maybe I’ll go one more time and break up with her in person….

Cooking: Nothing!  I went out to breakfast this morning with my great aunt and a couple of great uncles and cousins, so didn’t have to cook breakfast.  Tonight we’re having dinner with Kevin’s parents and his cousin Doug who is visiting from Paris.  So it’s a cooking free day for Amy.

Drinking: Water.  I may indulge in a little peppermint mocha this afternoon though.  Feeling wild.

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Reading: Still making my way through The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Wanting: To leave a legacy.  Not for a very long time, of course, but recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact our lives have on others.  It has been on my mind because of The Bully Pulpit (what a legacy Roosevelt and Taft and the journalists of the era left!) and because my great uncle Tom loaned me a CD with a recording of an interview he did for the Library of Congress about his time in the military.  I have had the disc on repeat in my car for the past week and find his stories fascinating.

Looking: At this shirt.  And these shorts.  And this shirt.  Sometimes I like nothing at J. Crew.  Sometimes I like everything.  I’ll let you guess what phase our relationship is currently in.

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Eating: Nothing now.

Wishing: The weekend lasted just a few more days.

Enjoying: Frozen cookie dough that I bought as part of a fundraiser.  One by one, the cookies are not making it to the oven because I am eating them raw.

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Loving: Ava.  As always.  Also…alliteration.

Hoping: We continue to get some late afternoon/early evening rainstorms.  One of my favorite summertime weather patterns.

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Needing:  A snack.  I really enjoy fire roasted tomato Triscuits with sharp cheddar cheese slices.

Smelling:  I never have a good response for this one.  I guess I’m seldom around scents.  Unless I’m changing a diaper.

Feeling: Good.  I’ve been doing 10-15 minutes of yoga each day.  It’s not much but it’s enough to make me feel limber and a bit more centered.  I also have been consistently doing squats while I brush my teeth – fifty in two minutes, twice a day.

imageWearing: My summertime uniform – shorts and a white t-shirt.

Watching: Kevin typing.  The new system at work has gone over quite well really, but he’s still fielding a lot of questions.

What are you wishing/needing/loving/eating right now? 

My kitchen bucket list and other randoms. 

I’ve had this kitchen bucket list draft going for awhile, and I am not good at keeping drafts in limbo for a long time.  Publish or trash, that’s my motto.  So {lucky you} publish it was with this one.

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Here are a few things I’ve never cooked with but want to:  leeks and fennel.  I want to cook with more fruit zest and I want to use more fresh herbs.  I want to make a few varieties of herb butter.  And I want to make angel food cake.  When I was a kid I made a mean angel (does that make it a devil?) food cake, thanks to my old trusty Baking III project in 4-H.  I remember separating the whites from the yolks and whipping, whipping, whipping, until the dough was light and fluffy.  I also want to learn to make the perfect poached egg.  I’ve poached a time or two, and they were passable eggs, but nothing special.

And that’s a pretty wimpy post, so here are a few other random recents and upcomings.

For the first time in probably 10 years, I’m watching The Bachelorette.  I usually pride myself on NOT watching those shows, but a Junior League friend has a Bachelorette bracket competition and I do love a good bracket.  So I joined and I’m holding steady in 2nd place.  I like Luke and Jordan best.  Don’t tell Kevin I’m telling you this {oh wait – he reads all my posts.  Everyone say, “Hi Kevin!”}, but he’s actually kind of getting into the show too.  It’s fun to cuddle on the couch and watch the crazies.

Have you seen this video?

This is me being, like, super honest and vulnerable right now – I can’t get enough of that video.  I love it.

I also loved Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.  Sat on the couch laughing out loud because some parts were just that funny to me.

Our garden is doing great thus far.  The basil in particular is looking especially vibrant and healthy, which is great because it’s my favorite of our crops.

In other house news, we’ve got some big projects coming up – replacing a furnace and a swamp cooler, new rain gutters, new blinds on our new windows…  Grown up stuff, you know.

And here’s an adorable baby, because she’s far more photogenic than rain gutters.

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Do you have a kitchen bucket list?  Are you watching The Bachelorette?  What fun (or not so fun) projects are you planning around the house?

The Whole30 that wasn’t. 

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I was intent on starting a Whole30 on the day after my birthday.  Kevin was hesitant, but willing to take the challenge on after he thought about it a bit.  No sugar, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, among other things.  Basically no happiness.

Kevin got sick on my birthday and didn’t feel well the following day.  I cooked a Whole30 approved breakfast for myself and snacked on the carrots and celery that I’d so carefully prepared over the weekend.  Then Kevin’s mom brought over a big pot of chicken, rice, and dumplings soup, and I was like, “Whole30 will be there tomorrow….  I can’t let dumplings go to waste.”  So I was Whole30 compliant for one meal and one snack.

And we started talking about it. What did I hope to accomplish by taking on the Whole30?  I don’t think I have food sensitivities, so that wasn’t it.  Mainly, I guess, I just wanted a reset.  And to show I could do it.  And if I lost a few of the 10 lbs that are lingering around my thighs, hips, and midsection, well, that’s the icing (mmm, icing… Cake.).  But Kevin was very not excited about the 30 day challenge, and I didn’t have a noble or necessary reason for taking it on.  As I thought about it more, I started worrying about whether cutting out dairy and legumes (specifically peanuts) abruptly and then adding them back in after the 30 days while breastfeeding could raise the risk of Ava developing allergies to those things.  That’s probably never happened and not a risk at all, but mama’s gotta worry about something, so why not that?

So we came up with our own plan for January (no sweets, no pasta, no fried stuff, no fast food, no cokes, etc.) and decided to just do our best to remain righteous in our food decisions post-January.  It’s manageable and nearly sustainable as a lifestyle (sometimes a girl needs some pasta).  It was a good decision for us now.  Maybe I’ll do Whole30 in the future, just to prove I can.  But today…I’ll take some cheese, please.

Have you tried the Whole30?  Or any other cleanse or eating challenge?