Happy First Birthday!

Happy Birthday to our sweet little girl! I can’t believe that it has been a whole year since you made your grand entrance. This year has been the most amazing, tiring, and magical year of my life. For such a little girl, you have made the biggest impact in our lives. Hearing you cry for the first time was the most amazing sound in the world and now I get to spend my days watching you run and play. We have been on so many adventures and I know we are only getting started on all the adventures we’ll take as a family. You have brought so much love and joy into our lives and it is so hard to picture what life was before you were born. 

You were just a tiny 8 lbs 1 oz 20 inches long baby and now you’re 23 lbs and 30 inches long as a toddler! Every day that I watch you grow, learn, and explore teaches me more about myself and more about the person you are becoming. You are such a happy, smart, and funny child. You have dance moves that make us laugh and your hugs and kisses are something we don’t ever take for granted. There’s so much more I want to write and say but instead I’m going to lay here and enjoy nursing you one more time as a baby before you wake up and become a toddler. We love you so much Mackenzie! 

Until next time,

The Rivers Family 💜


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11 month update

Happy 11 months sweet little girl!

You have grown up so much in the past month and I can’t believe that you are almost one years old. In the past month, you have become a pro at walking and running and every time we go somewhere you want to be put down to run and play. We have made so much improvement in your sign language! Right now you love to sign ‘more’, ‘milk’, and ‘all done’. You have become quite the adventurous little girl and give me a heart attack every time I see you climbing something new.

Some days you’ll sit by yourself with all your toys around you playing and exploring while other days you just want to snuggle with me and eat your milkies. We are still breastfeeding and have no plans to stop anytime soon. You love to eat everything we give you and can clear a plate i no time at all! We have finally found a sippy cup that you can use and you love carrying it around with you! You have a new found love for music and love to dance and sing to any song that comes on the radio. Right now, you love the songs from Moana and the Pretty Little Liars theme song. Your sleeping habits still haven’t changed and you love to sleep just as much as I do. Currently, you have two more bottom front teeth, two molers, and at least two top teeth coming in but they don’t seem to bother you at all.

Planning for your first birthday party is in full swing and I am looking forward to celebrating your first birthday with all our friends and family. It’s no surprise that our little mermaid is have a mermaid theme pool party for her first birthday.

Everyday when your Baba and I look at you we see how smart and beautiful you are and how you are turning into a toddler right before our eyes. You have been our greatest adventure and we are so lucky to be your parents. We cannot wait to see what this next month brings.


Snow day! March 11, 2016


 

Until next time,

The Rivers Family

 

My journey with postpartum depression

For months now, I have been going back and forth on this blog post. I would type out what I wanted to say or what I was feeling only to delete it. I would read other blogs about mothers struggling with postpartum depression (PPD) and think they are so strong to be able to write about what they are feeling. It has been 9 months of fighting my PPD/PPA and I’m still extremely nervous to make this post public and talk about my struggle with PPD.

When Mackenzie was born, it was the most amazing feeling ever. We were finally parents. Everything we hoped, wished, and prayed for finally came true as we held this little girl in our arms. The next few weeks were a blur but I could feel myself getting more and more agitated and upset with every little thing. I spent most of my days crying for no reason and wondering what was wrong with me. I would stay in bed all day just nursing Mackenzie and only getting up to change her diaper. Every day I was falling deeper and deeper into a hole and I was so unsure of how to dig my way out of it. I heard about baby blues and thought “Okay that’s what I have and this will just pass.” But that wasn’t the case, at least not for me. I went to my 6 week postpartum check up and filled out the questionnaire about how I was feeling and even before this I just knew what I was going through wasn’t normal. I could have lied and said everything was great but I knew it wasn’t and I knew I needed help. I was finally admitting to myself and other that I had postpartum depression. I was diagnosed with PPD and given a few options on ways to help treat it. One of those options was medication and with my midwife we agreed this would be the best start for me. I have since been off the medication for many months now but some days are still extremely difficult for me.

Looking back at pictures and videos from when Mackenzie was first born or those first few weeks is still hard for me. There are some things I just don’t remember about her birth and coming home. There are things my mind has blocked out. Many of those early days were a blur. Sometimes I can look at the picture and remember what was going on that day but other times it’s a blank.

If you know someone who has recently had a baby, please reach out to them. Even if you are just checking to see how they are doing. I struggle with my PPD alone and it was very hard. My support system was very limited and not having anyone to talk to or relate to made it more difficult for me to find my village. I am so lucky I had my wife there by my side every step of the way. She was and will always be my number one supporter and without her by my side I don’t know how I would have made it through everything. I am very lucky I was able to get the help I needed and can enjoy Mackenzie was enjoy her growing up. She is my entire world and I would do anything for her which makes writing this post even more important to me. I want others to know they are not alone, they do not have to go through motherhood or parenthood alone, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes asking for help will be the strongest thing you will ever do. I plan on writing more about PPD in the future but in the meantime I will leave some resources below but I am always available to talk.

Postpartum Progress Website

Facts about PPD

The APA and PPD

Until next time,

Angela

 

Baby Led Weaning

We decided that we would NOT do baby food or baby cereal with Mackenzie when she was finally ready to start solids. We always knew we would never do baby cereal but finding out about baby led weaning just made it more clear to skip all baby food. We found out about a method called baby led weaning (BLW) and it was perfect for us! BLW is not a new concept but you could imagine the looks we got when people found out our 6 month old was eating whatever we were eating. Her first meal was chicken, rice, and peas. Here are other great ideas for BLW meals. No baby mush just straight table food. The first few weeks were hard since she wasn’t really interested in eating. She did a lot of playing (aka throwing food all over the floor) and lots and lots of gagging, which is completely normal.

BLW is done when the baby is around 6 months old, they can sit up unassisted, they have lost their tongue-thrust reflex, they developed a pincher grasp, they are ready and willing to chew, and eager to participate in mealtime. Teeth are not a requirement for BLW. Mackenzie just got her first two teeth a few weeks ago and has been able to eat everything we have given her without any issues. Recommendations say these should all be meet in order to start BLW but each child is different so some of these ‘requirements’ might not appear until the baby is older. Looking back on it we could have held off a little bit on giving Mackenzie food but now at almost 9 months old she eats any and everything you give her.

With BLW, babies feed themselves instead of being spoon fed. But what about foods that need spoons? Well that’s easy, you preload the spoon and give it to your baby and they feed themselves. With BLW, babies learn to chew their food than swallow and they control how much food they eat. It’s pretty awesome watching a 6 or 7 month old eating table food. The only foods to avoid are honey and foods that are choking hazards such as nuts. New studies now say the earlier you introduce foods the less likely of food allergies.

BLW is messy, but that’s to be expected. We bought this highchair from IKEA and it is very easy to clean. We just take it to the shower and hose it off. Mealtime is usually just done in a diaper so if she does get messy we just bathe her. Learning the difference between choking and gagging was hard at first but after the first few times it was clear she did a ton of gagging. After reading and talking to many parents who do BLW, I think the biggest piece of advice I have seen is to learn the difference between the two. I love that we are able to give Mackenzie what we are eating and learn about what she likes and dislikes. We have only had one slight allergic reaction since we started but I’m hoping when we try again it will go a little better!

Food sizes by age for BLW
Choking vs gagging


Until next time,

The Rivers Family

Our journey with baby wearing 

Before getting pregnant, I had time to do tons and tons of research. I researched everything and anything I could about pregnancy and parenthood. My google history consisted of phrases such as, “home birth vs hospital birth or birthing center”, “which car seat is the safest”, “top baby names”, and “what baby carrier is the best”. Babywearing is not for everyone and some people do not understand why anyone would want their child strapped to them for x amount of time. But after hoping, praying, and tons of tears we were finally getting our chance at becoming parents and we were going to cherish every moment. I was finally carrying a little life inside of me. A little person that would be part of for the next 9 months (and then the next 18+ years).

I enjoyed every second of my pregnancy. All the false labor, the weight gain, the counting down until our little girl would arrive made her grand entrance worth it. Once Mackenzie was born we were finally able to put our baby carriers to use! We received many different baby carriers as gifts from our baby shower and our two most used ones are our Moby wrap and Tula.

The Moby wrap was amazing when Mackenzie was still a newborn. It was easy for me to use and kept her all nice and snuggled up while I got things done around the house. We used it for the first three months of her life. You will need the Tula infant insert if you plan on using your Tula with a newborn. The rolled blanket trick is not safe or recommend. Many parents use the infant insert for 6+ months so you’ll get a lot of use out of it! It is a little big and bulky at first but it wasn’t difficult for us to get use to using it.  

Right now our favorite way to wear is back carrying. Mackenzie loves riding on my back and looking out at everything around us. I have finally figured out how to get her on and off my back while we out by ourselves! 


Until next time,

The Rivers Family 

 

Our Breastfeeding Journey

From the time I became pregnant, not breastfeeding was never an option for me as long as I was able to breastfeed. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed and always planned on doing so for at least the first year. That all changed once I had Mackenzie. The first two weeks were horrible when it came to breastfeeding. They were full of tears from both me and Mackenzie, full of cracked and bleeding nipples, full of dealing with my oversupply and overactive letdown, and full of love. I remember there were nights when I was so upset with how painful nursing was that I told my wife to just get formula for Mackenzie. She said no way and together we all figured out how to fix our issues. Through it all I was able to push through with the support from my amazing wife and make it past those first two weeks.

 From then on, breastfeeding became more and more natural and easier for both of us. I still was figuring out how to handle my oversupply and worked on building a freezer stash since I was so worried something would happen and I would not be able to nurse anymore. This is when the pumping started. I had thousands of ounces of milk stored up and eventually our deep freezer became my milk freezer. The fear of not being able to breastfeed was always in my mind so pumping became more and more regular. The downside to all of this was the Mackenzie does not use bottles so I had a freezer full of milk that was just sitting there. Then I found out about two awesome facebook groups, Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets. Each state has their own page and you can make a post looking for milk to donate or milk for your little one.

I have been able to donate to 8 or 9 families/babies in the past few months. All of the moms I have donated to have been found on those facebook pages. I have been so lucky to be able to help other moms and babies. Yes, I could have easier signed up through a milk bank to sell my milk but there was no way I could do that when there are so many moms who need the milk for their babies for so many reasons.

It has been over 8 months now and we are still breastfeeding. Mackenzie still does not take bottles and my freezer stash is now smaller than it has been for months. My pump has been put away since Thanksgiving and now we just spend our days side nursing. Our breastfeeding journey has been fairly easy with no major hurdles to overcome. I am so glad I have been able to nurse for this long and hope for many, many more months of nursing our sweet little girl.

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Nursing necklaces have been a lifesaver lately

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Those eyes 😍

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Our first latch


Until next time,

The Rivers Family

Skylar’s Birth Story-Part 3 (last and final part)

A nurse had to keep massaging my uterus and blood was still gushing out. I ended up with a ton of stitches and lost over 500 cc of blood but did not need a transfusion thankfully. Every time I moved or they massaged my uterus I bleed like crazy. It took over two hours for the midwife to stop the bleeding and stitch me up. Once the bleeding was somewhat under control I was able to sit up and really look at Skylar and she was perfect. I was able to breastfeed her and she latched on right away. I was in the delivery room until 6 pm that night then moved to a regular room. I was checked for bleeding every 30 minutes until 1 am when the bleeding finally stopped gushing when they pushed on my uterus.

There are other things about the birth that I left out part way because I don’t really remember where they fit into the day and part way because I blocked them out.

One of those things was I remember screaming and crying so much and my wife was by my head and she had to step away because of the amount of pain I was in. I remember hearing her crying because she didn’t know how to help me. I remember my mom crying while I was screaming and begging for the pain to be over. I remember feeling like I was being torn in half. I remember crying so much not knowing if our daughter was going to survive. I remember how relieved and excited everyone sounds the second she came out. I remember saying over and over again that she was so small when I first saw her. I remember turning her over on me and saying she’s still a girl. This is a day I will never forget.

The video from her birth:

That little pouty face

 

 Until next time,

The Rivers Family