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Neola Bethany: 10 Months

20 Mar

Neola is 10 months old as of March 12!

Size

Neola went to the doctor on March 6 for her 9-month checkup, and was 20 lb 9 oz (80%), 29 inches tall (85%), with a head circumference of 18.5 inches (98%).

She is wearing mostly 18-month clothes now, though some 12-month things still fit. I will say that I have zero tolerance for annoying clothes with the #fourthchild so some things that Emma and Annabelle wore quite a bit, I haven’t used at all with her because they are just so high maintenance (mainly dresses and non-onesie shirts). So I did just buy her some more long-sleeve onesies and pants in size 18 Months, because she’ll use them even during spring here in Minnesota.

This month, I also passed along a lot of our baby gear to a friend who is having her fifth (and thought she was done after four, so got rid of her baby stuff then). I got rid of all baby clothes 9 months and under (I’ve saved a few things, but most I am donating), our Bumbo seat, Rock n Play, all our bottles, pacifiers, bouncy seat, playmat, and swing. I will probably be sad later, but right now, I am just on the high of freeing up space!

Sleeping

Neola’s sleep is still a struggle. I just went back and read all the 10-month blog posts from our other kids and it’s safe to say that Neola is the worst in the sleep department. (Neola, your sleep is the woooooorst!)

Her naps are *almost never* over an hour long (on a rare occasion, she will take a longer afternoon nap, if I nurse her the whole time). Most of the time, her naps are 30-45 minutes. She nurses to sleep 95% of the time (I try not to, but she fights me until I do it), but I can detach her, hold her for another 5-10 minutes, and then put her down in the crib. She will stay sleeping initially, but always wakes up after 15 minutes or so. So I try to only do that for her morning nap (I don’t want her to get overtired).

Because her naps are so short, she still takes three naps a day (occasionally four). She is usually up for the day around 6/6:30 and goes to bed around 7:30/8. Her bedtime should probably be earlier some nights, but that means Travis has to put the older three to bed by himself then, and I feel bad doing that night after night.

We have worked out a decent system though — once all kids have put pajamas on, brushed their teeth, and gone potty/had a diaper change, I go nurse Neola, Corbin watches iPad, and Travis reads a book to the girls. When he’s done reading, the girls go to bed, and Travis moves to Corbin’s room (Corbin has developed a bad habit of wanting us to sit in his room until he falls asleep). This is also the routine I follow if I have to put all the kids down by myself, though I put the girls down earlier and then nurse Neola in Corbin’s room while he falls asleep. Four kids at these ages/needs is a juggling act!

I’m kind of in a quandary for how to fix Neola’s sleep habits, because our house is always so loud, and Corbin almost always interrupts her naps, and how do you time a baby’s naps while taking care of 3 other kids and homeschooling?? And then at night, even if we wanted to let her cry it out, Corbin’s room is right next to hers, and the girls’ room is right below. Uff da.

Between Corbin’s intensity and Neola’s sleep struggles, this season of parenting is relentless and has humbled me more than any other, save the season of when Emma was a newborn. There is rarely a moment when I feel like I have things under control, and even when those occur, they are invariably followed by an incident that reminds me clear as day that NO, no, I do not have things under control. I am not in control. God is in control. (See me doing a science experiment about bird beak shapes with the kids {fun! success!}, followed by Annabelle and Corbin fighting over a laundry detergent pod, and it exploding all over Neola’s nursery, staining the carpet blue. 🤦‍♀️) I have many more thoughts on this, but will stop there. Maybe the rest will make it into a different blog post.

Eating

Neola is a champion eater. While we were in Florida, she decided that she didn’t want to eat purées anymore. She would let us feed her a few bites, but then wave her arms in front of her face, knocking the spoon down.

So now she eats table foods. And the only food that she has tried and not liked was avocado. She does like: grapes, clementines & mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas; chicken, turkey lunch meat, taco meat; teething wafers, puffs, waffles/pancakes; cheese, yogurt, scrambled eggs; cooked broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, green beans.

She has also tried ice cream and cake, and liked those!

She is still having issues with constipation. 😕 It got better when we were taking her to see a chiropractor, so we thought it was solved, but then she started pooping only a very little bit again back in January. Our pediatrician recommended giving her watered-down apple juice, and that has helped. We’re also going to try a prebiotic. If those don’t help, we’ll probably go back to the chiropractor.

Neola is still nursing. I nurse her before every nap (trying to move this to after her naps so that she doesn’t nurse to sleep), and she still nurses in the middle of the night. We tried giving her a bottle of formula in Florida when my milk was low after being sick, but she had no idea what to do with it (we haven’t given her a bottle since she was about 3 months old). We have an anniversary trip planned in a neighboring town at the beginning of May… hoping to have a couple kid-free nights but we’ll see!

Development

Neola is mobile, but not crawling. She gets around by leaning forward on to her belly, then scooting backwards and spinning around. She also rolls from her belly on to her back, but then kind of gets stuck there. She is also not very steady standing up yet, and doesn’t pull herself up at all, though I can see that she is getting more curious and wanting to do things like that.

She started saying “nana” in addition to “dada” and it is so cute! Baby talk is just so precious. She has also started fussing a bit if she wants a toy but you don’t give it to her, or if you take a toy away from her that she wasn’t done playing with. Love seeing their personalities emerge!

Neola hasn’t figured out how to use a spoon yet, (but we haven’t really given her many chances), but she does know how to tip up a sippy cup.

A few firsts for Neola during her tenth month of life were:

* going to the ocean

* riding a Ferris wheel

* swimming (I think technically her first time was before she turned 9 months while we were in Florida but 🤷‍♀️)

She also started sleeping in my bed toward the end of February… 😩 Now I’m on a mattress on the floor in her room.

And that’s Neola at 10 months!

Neola Bethany: 9 Months

20 Feb

NINE months!! So hard to believe!

Size

Neola will go to the doctor for her next well-child checkup when we get back from Florida, and I will come update this then. But we weighed her while we were packing for our trip and weighing suitcases, and she was right around 20 lbs.

She’s still wearing size 3 diapers, but we’ll probably buy size 4 when we run out (which will be a little while as we just bought a box from Costco right before we left for Florida).

Neola is wearing all 12-month clothes, and starting to wear some 18-month too.

Sleeping

The only notable thing in the sleep department for this month is that Neola is officially out of her Rock n Play! Before we left for Florida, we had Neola start sleeping in her Pack n Play. Since she’s not close to crawling really at all, we felt comfortable using the infant insert for the Pack n Play (a shelf that keeps them up higher). We also positioned the Pack n Play in a similar spot as her Rock n Play had been, and she really didn’t skip a beat with the transition. So that’s really encouraging!

But she still wakes up 3-5 times a night. I am very thankful that she almost always nurses and goes right back to sleep, which only takes 15-20 minutes. And during those rare times when she doesn’t go right back down, she’s never crying (unlike some of our other children at this age…). I think the biggest issue with her sleep is that my milk production isn’t the best. Down here in Florida, I got (what we think was) influenza, and had a fever for about 36 hours. That didn’t help my milk production at. all. (There were a couple of nights when Neola wouldn’t even let me put her down.) We tried buying formula and giving her a bottle, but she just chewed on the nipple. So I guess I will just try to stay hydrated, eat some oatmeal, and deal with it.

As far as napping, Neola has been a good sport about taking naps in the car here in Florida. I’ve been trying to time it so that we leave to go do something when she needs her first nap, so that she gets a decent nap in the car.

Her second nap is sometimes in the car, and sometimes back at our house. And she still takes a third nap, so that kind of varies as well. To get her to nap at the house though, I have to be nursing her. If she refuses to fall asleep nursing, we have to drive her around. (Hello Starbucks at 4:30 PM.)

Once we get back to Minnesota, we’re going to really work on getting Neola to take naps on her own.

Eating

Neola is still eating primarily purées and baby cereal, though we are starting to branch out into other soft foods, like mandarin oranges, peaches, blueberries, and cheese. She is getting better at picking up food like puffs with her fingers.

Neola has 4 teeth (the 2 in the middle on the bottom and the top), and the next 2 teeth on the top (the lateral incisors) are really close to popping through.

She has bit me a few times nursing but thankfully it’s not a regular occurrence.

Development & Personality

Neola is a pro at sitting up now, and sometimes leans so far forward for something that she ends up on her belly. She can hold her weight up with her arms for 10 or so seconds, and I’ve tried getting her to bend her legs and stay up on all her hands and knees, but she won’t do it.

Neola’s favorite thing to do these days is grab fistfuls of our faces or necks, and those little nails are sharp! Goodness!

She also loves to kick both legs up and slam them down on the floor together — reminds me of when I used to bounce myself up to my feet from my back on a trampoline. We can hear her doing that in her Pack n Play, and she also does it during diaper changes.

She enjoys going for walks in the stroller, but won’t fall asleep unless she’s 1) really tired, and 2) in her carseat clipped in the stroller. I’ve had limited success with her in her Ergobaby. She really just doesn’t like facing in, I think because she’s so curious and because she really loves kicking her legs. I tried buying a cheap baby carrier down here so she could face out but it put all the weight on my back, and I just don’t want to spend a lot of money, when we’re so close to no longer needing one.

Neola still shrieks loudly when bored or tired (and with the echo in our house here in Florida… plus Corbin’s yelling… 🤪😵‍💫).

Neola has gone swimming 4 times in Florida so far! Her first time was in a 93-degree private pool 🙌. She protested briefly but then loved it. The second time she went was in a natural springs, which was around 72 degrees. Third time was a public pool around 80 degrees. And the fourth time was our community pool, which was only 70 degrees! The more she goes in the water, the more she likes it, which is good, because we go swimming at the beach a lot in Minnesota during the summer!

Neola is also fascinated with leaves, grass and sand. So you can’t just put her down outside anymore!

We can tell Neola misses her jumperoo — we miss it too! I’ve been trying to give her time standing up and jumping on my lap, but we will be happy to get home to all our baby gear!

And that’s Neola at 9 months, in Florida!

Neola Bethany: 8 Months

13 Jan

Golly, I feel like I was just writing Neola’s 7-month post. Time is going so fast! This little girl is so fun.

Size

Neola is now wearing mostly 12-month clothes, though some 9-month things still fit. She’s still wearing size 3 diapers, and doesn’t really wear shoes yet (we do have some little boots that fit her right now, but not sure what size they are)!

I haven’t mentioned this in a post yet, but with Neola (#fourthchild), we have pretty much gone the completely practical route in terms of dressing her. She will occasionally wear a dress to church, and a cute, more practical outfit when we go to homeschool group or BSF, but most of the time, girlfriend is in fleece footie pajamas. It’s just so easy and warm!

Sleeping

Nothing much has changed in the sleep department. Neola takes 3 naps a day (while I either hold or nurse her), the first about 2 hours after she gets up, and the others 2.5-3 hours after she wakes up from the previous nap. She naps for 30-45 minutes usually. Every once in a while, she will sleep for 60-90 minutes (but that requires her not getting interrupted, and she gets interrupted a lot).

She typically goes to bed between 7 and 8. When and how often she wakes up during the night is constantly different. Some nights, she first wakes up before I even go to bed. Other nights, she doesn’t wake up until 3:30. And she’s still in her Rock ‘n’ Play (but we’re going to start trying to get her to sleep in the pack ‘n’ play in preparation for our month in Florida in February). She usually wakes up for the day between 6 and 6:30.

I have been hesitant to let her squawk/fuss in the Rock ‘n’ Play, just because she’s getting too old for it, and I don’t want her to get too upset in there. But there have been a few different mornings when I hear her happily cooing a little around 6, and I wait to go into her room until she gets upset, and she actually ends up going back to sleep for another 45-60 minutes!

I have also gotten Neola to take a nap in the Ergobaby outside a couple of days (in 30-degree weather!), so that bodes well for Florida when we’ll be out and about more (but then we won’t be wearing snowpants and winter hats)!

Eating

Neola is still doing well eating solid foods. We’re sticking with the purees right now. She seems to like them better than small chunks of food — I gave her little bits of strawberry and cheddar cheese, and she didn’t seem to care for either one. But she does really like teething wafers, and she also enjoys the challenge of getting puffs in her mouth (she can kind of do it, but it’s tricky still!).

Her favorite foods are whole milk yogurt (blueberry, peach, and pear flavors); baby cereal; and fruity purees, like Pear, Banana, Apple blends, etc. She’s not a huge fan of the vegetable purees, though she will eat some.

One potential explanation for Neola not sleeping great at night is that she is getting her two top front teeth. I just noticed them poking through this past week. I’ve been giving her ibuprofen every night before bed, and try to remember to give her some before we put in the church nursery or BSF. That seems to help when she’s tired and with other people. Otherwise, she seems to be fine, as long as she gets plenty of things to chew on.

Development / Personality

Neola did roll over from back to belly a few times this month, but now she would much rather just sit up to play with toys — she gets upset spending much time on her back. She wants to see all the action (and not be stepped on, or have things dropped on her, probably!). She still tips over a decent amount, so we definitely have to sit behind her, or surround her with pillows, but she made a lot of progress in just the past couple of weeks. I also tried having her stand up and hold on to the side of the bathtub the other night while Corbin was taking a bath. She could stand for 5-10 seconds before her knees would buckle.

Neola seems to be getting tired of the same old baby toys. We are definitely in the phase of “What other random thing would be safe for me to give you to chew on?” Like this bottle of lotion. Or that marker. Or this Ziploc bag. Or an empty disposable water bottle (cap and ring removed). She, like most kids, is most interested in the forbidden things, like my water bottle or protein shake cup — especially when they have water or shake in them! If I take a drink while holding her, I have to pin her arm down so that she doesn’t reach up and grab it, causing me to spill.

Neola still enjoys her jumperoo, but we are getting rid of her playmat and swings. Even though there’s a tiny tinge of sadness in saying goodbye to those things that we’ve had since Emma was a baby, there’s more freedom! So glad to be freeing up more space in our home! Since our kids are 8 years apart from oldest to youngest, we have a decently wide swath of age-appropriate toys. And babies in particular just need so. much. gear!

This past month was Neola’s first Christmas. We spent it in Nevis with Travis’ family. I had pajamas for Neola that matched her siblings, but they weren’t fleece footie pajamas (they were out of them in that pattern 😭), and I was only about half alive because Neola slept terribly over Christmas, so I never mustered up the energy to put her in the matching pajamas.

Neola also went in her first snow fort this month (we have SO much snow!).

She also got blankets, pillows, and stuffies dropped on her from the top bunk (Annabelle); swung outside in her pink swing without being able to see anything (oops); and tried on swim goggles (hilarious). She didn’t cry at any of that! Such a good sport.

She also sported matching pigtails with her sisters. ❤

Corbin has taken much more interest in Neola the past month — maybe because she’s more interactive? Regardless of the reason, it’s adorable!

And that’s Neola at 8 months!

Neola Bethany: 7 Months

16 Dec

Neola is 7 months old as of December 12.

Size

Neola is starting to outgrow her 9-month clothes, and can easily wear her 12-month clothes now. She’s still in size 3 diapers.

Sleeping

Oh man. Sleep with this girl is rough. This past month, she has had a few 5-hour stretches but more often than not, she’s up every 2-3 hours. I definitely think she’s getting some more teeth (I recall from our other kids that teething can last for a month or more before the teeth pop through!) so I do give her ibuprofen every night before bed. But I’m also wondering if her poor napping habits have something to do with her bad nighttime sleep…

(She stayed sleeping on the floor for about 5 minutes after I put her down… we had to go somewhere and I went to find her carseat.)

Neola often only naps for 20-30 minutes at a time, which is just not long enough. It’s been hard to change that because 1) #fourthchild and 2) she won’t stay sleeping after you put her down and 3) she’s a pretty light sleeper around noise.

BUT in just the past couple of weeks, Neola hasn’t wanted to be swung to sleep in the chair swing. Instead, she’d rather be bounced in our arms, and then rocked in a chair, or nurse to sleep. I think that’s progress! At any rate, I’d much rather sit with her in the recliner than the chair swing.

I’m trying to focus on putting her down 2-3 hours after her previous nap (and not pushing her too long) and getting her longer naps — at least 45 minutes to an hour. Unfortunately that means pausing school during that time, and letting the older kids play unsupervised while I sit with her in the nursery. I don’t worry about Emma and Annabelle, but Corbin still gets into trouble (read: makes a huge mess or destroys something) every once in a while. But what can I do? Even sleep training gurus say that night sleep is usually the first to fall into place. On the other hand, it is sweet to rock Neola.

Neola has also been a stinker about switching to the crib, and wakes up even more often when I put her in there. I bought a weight sleep sack hoping that would help, and it did a little, but not enough (and Neola seems to only like the weighted sleep sack in small doses). So she still mostly sleeps in the Rock n Play. It’s just so hard to make changes that result in less sleep! We have talked about sleep training, but I hate to do that when she appears to be in pain.

I’m trying to remind myself that all of our kids had unique sleep challenges at this age, and there will be a day when she figures it out. All we can do right now is pray for wisdom to manage things well and keep trying to nudge things in the right direction.

Eating

Neola has been doing a great job eating solid foods! Most days, she eats 2-3 “meals” — usually around our breakfast time, around lunchtime, and right before dinner. So far, she has tried avocado, banana, applesauce, yogurt, baby cereal, cheese, and a variety of store bought purées — blueberry apple, butternut squash, sweet potato, apple banana grape, etc. She has liked almost everything, but sometimes she don’t seem very hungry and loses interest after 8-10 bites.

Before starting solid foods, she had had trouble with getting backed up and not pooping for as many as 10 days (apparently normal for a breastfed baby, but she seemed really uncomfortable), but we took her to the chiropractor 6-7 times, and that seemed to help. Since starting solid foods, she’s pooped every 1-3 days. She does still get kind of fussy right before she has to poop, and has lots of gas. When she finally does poop, more often than not it’s a blowout that requires you to wash the outfit she was wearing, plus anything else she came into contact with.

Development

Neola hasn’t completely figured out how to roll over yet (we are still majorly slacking on tummy time 😬 but she’s close!). She is getting better at being able to sit up on her own. She is now sitting in highchairs at restaurants, in the shopping cart at stores, and in her infant sled outside.

Neola is very curious and instantly grabs anything within her reach, which now makes it impossible to do anything while I’m holding her. She also shows her affection by grabbing my hair or neck with her iron grip and digging her nails into my skin (I have scratches to prove it!). She also gives “kisses” by putting her open mouth on my face.

She’s still very talkative and gets incredibly (somewhat annoyingly) loud at times, usually when she’s getting tired. Sometimes I’m trying to instruct the older girls about something school-related quick before trying to get Neola to take a nap, but I can’t because I can’t think or be heard over her shrieking.

Neola loves being outside, and still takes a nap outside 1-2 times a week (bundled up in her stroller).

Neola has also started to develop “stranger danger” and has gotten extremely upset a few times while being taken care of or held by someone else.

Neola loves playing with toys and can hold them like a pro now.

And that’s Neola at 7 months!

Neola Bethany: 6 Months

20 Nov

Neola is 6 months old already! Such a fun age. I love it when kids get old enough to start entertaining themselves a little, and when they start eating solid foods, it’s such a game changer. I don’t, however, enjoy the teething process, but what can you do?

Neola’s nicknames these days are Babaduke, Babadoo, Babby, Bibby Babby, and Babbalicious.

Size

At her 6-month well-child appointment, Neola was 17 lbs 8 oz (74%), 26.25 inches tall (62%), with a head circumference of 17.48 inches (95%). She weighs more than Emma did at 6 months, but less than Annabelle or Corbin did. She’s also about 1/4 inch taller than any of the others at this age.

She is wearing 9-month clothes and size 3 diapers.

Sleeping

Neola has been having some rougher nights with more wake-ups (which our pediatrician interpreted as an indicator of being ready to start solid foods). We did just start feeding her baby cereal this week (the day after her appointment) and she slept a lot better. But time will tell if that was just a coincidence.

For naptime, we still swing her in our indoor chair hammock, or get her to sleep in her carseat, either by pushing her around in the stroller or swinging/carrying her carseat around. She doesn’t fall asleep nursing during the day as much as she used to, which is probably good for the long term, but I am soooo sick of swinging her in the chair hammock. I have tried different strategies of putting her down after getting her to sleep, and am often successful in transferring her, but she almost always wakes up after 5-10 minutes.

We are also in the midst of transitioning her from her Rock n Play to the crib. We bought a Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack, which has definitely made a difference—she used to wake up immediately when we tried to put her in the crib, but now she will stay sleeping for a couple of hours at night (we don’t try at all for naps). But Neola has been dealing with a lot of congestion the past couple weeks (from teething and/or a cold) and has been gagging on mucus, so I have been starting her in the crib at night, but moving her to her Rock n Play if she wakes up a lot.

Once we get her sleeping in the crib all night consistently, I will work on putting her down for naps when she’s awake but drowsy. Someday!

Eating

Neola got her first two teeth — the bottom middle ones — about a week before she turned 6 months. And she might be getting the top two also because of the aforementioned congestion/mucus and nighttime waking. Nothing has shown up or poked through yet!

I also mentioned that we started her on baby cereal. Emma and Annabelle are all about feeding her! Neola did great. At first, she just wanted to grab the spoon because she thought it was a toy but by the end of that bowl, she was eating like a champ. Neola has grown to not like formula, and we haven’t given her a bottle since the end of August, so it will be nice that she can eat without always being nursed now.

She has also tried avocado a few times, which she seemed to like, but maybe not as much as the cereal. In the next week or two, we’ll try giving her banana and yogurt.

Development

Neola is still a very talkative, smiley girl. She is so easygoing and tolerates so much chaos and stimulation from her siblings. And she is so patient — I can know that she’s hungry or tired for 20-30 minutes, and be busy making lunch, or changing a diaper, or in the middle of something I just needed to do “really quick”, and as long as one of the big girls or I am holding or playing with her, she’s content. She does finally hit her limit sometimes though, and then she is not afraid to let you know she means business.

Neola still hasn’t rolled over at all but it’s not that surprising because we have been terrible about giving her tummy time (#fourthchild #andiveneverbeengoodatthat). She is getting better about sitting up — sometimes she has enough balance to stay up for 10-20 seconds, but most of the time, she still falls over almost immediately.

She loves her jumperoo (what kid doesn’t?), playmat, and enjoys facing out in the baby carrier (her little arms and legs go crazy!), but is becoming less and less a fan of the Bumbo seat. Which is fine, because now she can sit in her highchair.

Neola got her first haircut right around 6 months. The back of her hair has mostly been rubbed off by her turning her head back and forth when she’s trying to go to sleep. The top of her hair can’t figure out which way it wants to lay (but if you comb it over after a bath, it does mostly lay that way). But her sideburns! They were down past her ears. 😂 So I trimmed her sideburns to be above her ears, and trimmed a tiny bit off the top of her hair.

Emma and Annabelle are still very helpful and loving with Neola. Lately, they’ve been wanting to carry Neola in the Baby Bjorn — which doesn’t last long, because Neola is heavy!

Neola had her first Halloween this month. She just wore her bear snowsuit, and was a great sport tagging along for a Trunk or Treat and trick-or-treating with her siblings and some neighbor friends.

Having three older siblings means lots of chaos, manhandling, and stimulation, but Neola is so easygoing with it all!

We love our little Babadoo!

Neola Bethany: 5 Months

13 Oct

Our baby girl is 5 months old!

Size

Neola won’t go back to the doctor until 6 months, but she is definitely growing! She is now wearing all 9-month sleepers (Corbin wore that pumpkin sleeper for his 7-month photos!), and is starting to outgrow her 6-month clothes. She’s still in size 2 diapers though! She is definitely taller than our other kids were.

Sleeping

Neola’s sleep is pretty much the same as it was at 4 months. She still naps in either her carseat, the chair swing, or while nursing, for only 30-minute catnaps.

She is unfortunately still in the Rock n Play. I’ve tried her in the crib a few more times, and even kept her sleeping while I put her down, but she wakes up after only 5-10 minutes. So I’m getting the crib projector and vibration pad set up in the crib, and we’re probably going to have to do some sleep training. 😢

She sleeps for 5-8 hours straight at night, though she did sleep a straight 12 hours a couple times this past month! Her bedtimes and up-for-the-day times are pretty much all over the place, but lately, she’s been going to bed around 8 and waking up for the day around 6.

Eating

Neola is still nursing well. She has definitely become more alert though, and when we’re out in public, she pulls off a lot and wants to look around. At home though, she nurses to sleep for bedtime, and nurses and goes right back to sleep in the middle of the night. In the afternoon while Corbin naps, I often nurse her while she naps because then I get to sit in the rocking chair instead of the chair swing. Otherwise, if she’s not tired, she nurses for 10-15 minutes.

She still spits up quite a bit but I can tell already that it’s getting better. I’m very ready to not have to change her outfit 6 times a day!

Development

Neola is still a very talkative girl. She is loudest when she first wakes up, and then when she is getting tired. She’s so loud that when she is up before everyone, we have to go downstairs or she will wake them up!

This month, she figured out how to grab toys with her hands. That helps so much! Now when we put her in her carseat, she can entertain herself with a toy hung on the handle.

This past weekend, Neola took her first long car ride down to Rochester (4.5 hours). We stopped halfway for me to nurse her, and we wandered around Cabela’s, which the older kids loved. It actually went really well!

Neola is also learning how to roll over. She is *so close* to being able to roll over from her back to her belly—and if she does, she will be the first if it children to learn to roll over that way first. (Our other kids HATED tummy time, and would never voluntarily roll onto their stomachs. They learned to roll over from belly to back just to escape tummy time!) I don’t have a great picture of her attempts but this will have to do. She lays all the way over on her side, and gets her face all the way around, but can’t figure out what to do with her arms and legs.

Neola had her first “ouch’s” this month too. She accidentally slipped out of Emma’s grip and fell, thankfully just about a foot and onto the carpet. Corbin also took a pen and rather roughly drew a mark on Neola’s forehead. I’ve also miscalculated a few times while she’s in the Baby Bjorn and slightly bumped her with a door or shelf. It’s hard being a baby! Thankfully none of it was serious. As my husband always says, “Close calls are what keep us safe!”

Neola also went to her first pumpkin patch this month. She hung out in the Baby Bjorn for most of it. Such an easygoing baby (except when it comes to sleeping locations!)

And that’s Neola at 5 months!

Neola Bethany: 4 Months

14 Sep

Neola turned 4 months on September 12. This post is over a week late but I wrote it right at 4 months. It just took me this long to put the photos in it!

Size

Neola is now 15 lbs 4.5 oz (71%), 25.25 inches long (80%), with a head circumference of 16.54 inches (85%). She is starting to outgrow her 6-month sleepers but is still wearing size 2 diapers. Long and lean!

Sleeping

Neola is still a rockstar at night and usually gives me one stretch of between 5 and 8 hours. She usually wakes up around 3/3:30 to eat, then again at 6 or so. I usually put her back down until about 7:30 (unless I foolishly change her diaper between sides, then she’s awake for the day —which thankfully I only did once).

Not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post but Neola never did really like being swaddled for sleep (our only child who didn’t!). So she’s been using straight sleep sacks since about 6 weeks old. She is still sleeping in the Rock n Play. I’ve tried putting her in the crib a few times but her legs wake her up. I’m trying to muster up the courage to go for it (same with potty training Corbin!).

But during the day… 😩

I am extremely thankful for a healthy baby and for the fact that we have a few tried and true ways to get Neola to sleep, but this whole catnapping thing is for the birds. I was just reading Annabelle’s 4-month blog post and that girl took a 3-hour nap every day! But she was definitely our easiest baby. Neola hasn’t napped longer than 30 minutes since she was probably 2 months old. Our pediatrician said she might sleep more after getting her vaccinations — our other kids did — but nope, didn’t affect her at all. I’m glad she didn’t have a fever or anything, but couldn’t she have been just a little sleepier than normal?!

Since it’s still nice out, we swing Neola in the hammock swing for almost all of her naps. Her other naps are either in her carseat or while nursing. She likes being pushed across somewhat bumpy ground (like a yard) in the stroller or being swing back and forth in her carseat. I have some gnarly calluses on my right hand to prove that!

Eating

Neola is doing great nursing! She likes bottles less and less. I’m so happy that I didn’t give up and that I muscled through the frustration and discouragement.

I think she nurses every 1.5 to 3 hours, but I honestly do not keep track of the time. We just have more of an intuitive rhythm/flow, and a “when in doubt, nurse” kind of approach. #fourthchild Our days are so chaotic that I often look at the clock and realize that even though it only feels like 9:30, it’s actually noon and I have to make lunch!

Neola is still a spit-up, drool machine. She wears bibs almost all the time now, or we have to change her shirt every 20 minutes.

We plan to start Neola on solid foods around 6 months.

Development

Neola is a very talkative baby, and just in the last couple of days, she has started giggling, specifically when I tickle her neck (cleaning spit-up out of it!). She’s also very smiley and patient — she puts up with so much from her siblings!

Her torticollis is getting better — she will voluntarily turn her head both directions now (though it does seem like she maybe still favors the one side a little more). We haven’t been doing the exercises very often with her 😬 but she is getting more time in the Bumbo, Baby Bjorn, and being carried around. I’m going to break out the jumperoo one of these days too. (Update: Since writing this post a week ago, I did break out the jumperoo. She loves it!)

Neola Bethany: 3 Months

19 Aug

Our sweet baby girl is now 3 months old! We have officially survived the Fourth Trimester. 🤪

Size

Neola doesn’t go back to the doctor until 4 months but she is starting to wear her 3-6 and 6-month clothes and wears size 2 diapers.

Eating

The biggest news this month is that Neola is officially nursing 100%! Back in her 2-month post, I mentioned that Neola was nursing better, and that whenever I offered her a bottle, she only drank 1-2 oz. Slowly, that amount dwindled down to nothing. I did still do a bottle in the middle of the night (and then pumped) for another week or so after that, but one night, I just decided to nurse her and see how it would go. And it went great! I was more than happy to not have to pump anymore, so we are done with bottles. She still does drink a bottle of formula every now and again (nice to still have the flexibility of not being the only one who can feed her), but I am so happy that nursing is working out for us, after our rocky start. (I will say that feeding Neola bottles when we were out and about, instead of nursing with a cover-up in this intense summer heat, was very nice. But whatcha gonna do.)

Similar to Corbin as a baby, Neola makes a clicking sound when she nurses, which lets her swallow a lot of air, which causes her to burp and spit up quite a bit. I’m not concerned about it (Corbin outgrew it), but it does make for a lot of laundry! Thankfully Neola seems to be past the “gassy and uncomfortable” phase of things.

I don’t keep track of how often Neola eats. I only know that 1) it’s enough and 2) she’s content. I do really enjoy the days that Corbin’s nap coincides with Neola needing to eat (which it does fairly often) so I can sit in my rocking chair, in the silence (while the girls have their screen time), and take a little nap while she nurses (because it’s one of the few times she actually naps peacefully).

Sleeping

Neola is thankfully very consistent at night (if she wasn’t, I would be losing my mind!). She usually goes to sleep for her longest stretch between 8 and 9, and wakes up between 1:30 and 2:30. She goes right back down and wakes up again between 4:30 and 5:30 (usually 3 hours from when she first woke up). Then she usually falls back to sleep for another hour before she’s “up” for the day.

So we start our days around 6/6:30, which is generally when Corbin wakes up too. Neola has stretched her awake time out to be… honestly, I don’t even know. 😂 Who has time to keep track of the time? The days are just a blur.

Part of what makes things tricky to keep track of us that Neola is queen of the catnap. She frequently falls asleep nursing but wakes up right when she’s done. (I don’t want to cut her off because I want to make sure she’s getting as much milk from each feeding as possible.) She also doesn’t like being put down even after we get her to sleep in our arms. If we try putting her down, she often wakes up after just 5-10 minutes. Even if you hold her, her naps are most often only 30-45 minutes.

She’s also a little tricky to get to sleep for naps. If we’re at home, swinging her in the chair swing outside is a sure bet. She loves that thing. Another trick we use is to put her in her carseat and either swing her like a pendulum, carry the carseat around while we load the car and get ready to leave, or attach the carseat to the stroller and push her slowly through the grass (she likes it bumpy, but not too bumpy). If we don’t get her to the point of being almost asleep or sleeping in her carseat before putting her carseat in the car, she just cries on the car ride. (She’s kind of a high maintenance baby!) Thankfully, Neola is very happy and content whenever she’s not tired or hungry.

Neola is still sleeping in her Rock n Play at night, but we are going to start transitioning her to her crib. It’s just hard to rock the boat when things are going so smoothly at night! But she’s getting too old for the Rock n Play.

Development

Neola has started babbling and cooing quite a bit, and I just love it! As of 3 months, she was just starting to find her hands, but I’m a week late finishing this post and she chews on her fists quite a bit now!

We have seen a physical therapist for Neola’s torticollis (keeping her head mostly turned to one direction) twice now. Neola had almost full range of motion (passive) at her first appointment and made even some progress in the three weeks between appointments. We are supposed to do stretching and strengthening exercises with her whenever we can, which some days is not at all, and some days is a couple of times. We also try to have her spend time not laying on the back of her head while she’s awake. She actually doesn’t mind tummy time (all of our other kids hated it). She also likes sitting in her Bumbo and being worn in the baby carrier facing out (but since her neck muscles are still a little floppy, we don’t do that for very long). She doesn’t like the baby carrier if she’s facing us.

Neola is such a sweet, happy girl, and gives big grins to the people she recognizes (and even some she doesn’t!). She loves the attention she gets from her siblings (which is a lot!) and hardly fusses at all even when they are carrying her around, sitting her up, moving her from here to there. Emma took it upon herself to learn how to change Neola’s (non-poopy) diapers. And she does a great job! When Neola is fussing, Emma or Annabelle will go pick her up and calm her down. They can even lift her carseat to swing it a little. It is so great to have older kids who are able and willing to help!

My dad and stepmom came to help with the kids at the end of July while Travis went on a team-building trip with his co-workers in Key West. We went to Pillager Beach together, and then I took the older kids to the bouncy house one day and the park another while Susan watched Neola.

And that’s Neola at 3 months!

Neola Bethany: 2 Months

13 Jul

Neola was 2 months old yesterday, July 12. Today would’ve been my mom’s 68th birthday. She has been gone for 5 years. How she would’ve loved to cuddle this sweet little babadoo!

Size

Neola is now 12 lbs 8 oz (78%), 23 inches long (74%), with a head circumference of 15.5 inches (85%). She just started wearing 6-month sleepers and will be moving to size 2 diapers any day now.

Eating

Neola is doing a lot better with nursing. Around 5 or 6 weeks, she started nursing without a nipple shield. That helped encourage my milk letdown, but then she would sputter and choke on the milk. Over the last couple of weeks, though, even that has gotten better, and she hasn’t had to pull off to cough or catch her breath as much. I still offer her bottles of formula if it seems like she might still be hungry, but most of the time, she only eats 1-2 oz from them. So it seems like she is getting almost enough milk from nursing! I still might go back to the lactation consultant just for the weight check before and after a feeding.

Neola tends to be a snacker and a catnapper. With the chaos of three other kids, I haven’t kept track of her eating and sleeping schedule much, but I would guess that during the day, she eats every 2 hours or so. Which brings me to…

Sleeping

A handful of times so far, Neola has taken an afternoon nap long enough that I’ve contemplated waking her up (3-4 hours!). I’ve even gone so far as to walk into her room with the intention of waking her up, but then thought better of it while standing there staring at her sleeping. I wouldn’t have any issues with her taking long naps if there was a guarantee that she would still sleep a long stretch at night. Thankfully, even on those long-nap days, she still slept well at night, and now I think she’s probably old enough to not mix up time of day like really new newborns do.

For the past couple of weeks, Neola has consistently lengthened her longest nighttime stretch to be 5-6 hours (yay!). She slept in her swing for a while, but now she’s back to sleeping in her Rock n Play. She’s pretty unpredictable during the day, but at night, her general routine is to go to bed for her long stretch between 9 and 10. She wakes up between 2 and 4 am to eat — I usually feed her a 4 oz bottle of formula since 1) it’s faster to prepare and 2) I don’t want her to have to deal with milk inundation from nursing, since she’s still just getting the hang of it. I feed her half the bottle, and about the time she starts falling back asleep, I change her diaper and burp her. Then I feed her the other half of the bottle, half-heartedly burp her (if she’s asleep, I can never get a burp out of her), and put her back down. Then I pump and go back to bed. The whole thing usually takes about an hour.

For the first 6 weeks or so, I would give Travis the monitor after that late morning feeding and go back to bed until 8:30 or so. But now that Neola is going a longer stretch at night, I don’t need to sleep in like that much anymore.

Neola wakes up for the day between 6 and 8. She wakes up happy and content, and only cries if she’s been awake for a while and no one has come to get her.

Her awake time between naps these days is about an hour or so. She likes being held for naps, and often wakes up 10-15 minutes after we put her down. Even when we hold her though, she’s just not a great napper and wakes up every so often, whether from gas pains or just being a light sleeper.

I think it’s safe to say at this point that she dislikes the baby carrier. The last couple of times I’ve tried, she just screams. She’d rather be put in a sleepsack, held horizontally in our arms, and bounced or walked around (but it’s hard on our back and arms!). She also really likes swinging with us in the chair swing outside. The other way she will consistently go to sleep (which we really only use if we’re going somewhere soon-ish) is if we strap her into her carseat and swing her back and forth like a pendulum (also hard on the back!). She also likes riding in the car or in her stroller if we swing her a little first and get her sleepy — but the key is to keep moving!

Development

Neola began smiling around 6 weeks, and has started cooing and making adorable baby noises just in the past week or so. So fun!

She is still very easygoing (if she’s not hungry or tired), and still gets plenty of attention from the girls. Corbin has started paying more attention to Neola too, and being a little less careful around her.

Emma can “fart” her like Travis does (bicycling Neola’s legs, and then pushing both of her knees into her belly — sometimes she farts like10 times in a row doing that!), and Corbin tried doing it the other night too (ha!).

Neola loves to lay on her back and look around. Unfortunately, she has a strong preference to look to the left (she can look to the right, but hardly ever does on her own), which has led to her head getting flattened a little on the left side. I asked her pediatrician about it yesterday, and she recommended that we see a physical therapist to hopefully lengthen the muscles on the other side of her neck, which would encourage her to look both ways. If that doesn’t work, she’ll have to wear a helmet (sad day). Hoping physical therapy works!

Neola seems to be gaining better control over her hands, and has comforted herself a few times recently by bringing one to her mouth to suck on. She has also sat in the Bumbo a few times (with us supporting her head). We have been really slacking on tummy time, but she hasn’t seemed to mind it the few times we’ve done it. Our pediatrician said that could help with the neck muscles too, if we put her down for tummy time with her face turned to her non-dominant side. There have been a few times so far, too, that we’ve put Neola down on her back and she’s rolled all the way over to her side. She might beat all of her siblings in how fast she learns to roll over!

Neola’s main nicknames at this point are Baby Sister, Babadoo, and Babaduke.

And that’s Neola at 2 months!

Pregnancy #4: 6 Weeks Postpartum

23 Jun

Neola is 6 weeks old today, which means I am 6 weeks postpartum. I’ve posted about my postpartum journeys with each of my other three pregnancies, so no reason to stop now!

Physical Recovery

I didn’t have any tearing or stitches, so no issues there, though I do notice that my tailbone still hurts if I recline on it when I’m slouching.

The afterbirth pains were intense again, and even the maximum dosage of Ibuprofen and Tylenol with Codeine didn’t keep them under control, but heating pads were a lifesaver. The pains lasted for 4-5 days after Neola was born.

My bleeding was never very heavy, but it did last a whole month, which got really old. I took stool softeners for the first couple of weeks, and didn’t have any issues there, thank goodness.

For the first few weeks after birth, I found it taxing to walk around or bend over much, but by about week 4, I felt my stamina and core strength getting better, and now I can walk several miles and be fine.

My ab muscles are non-existent, and I have only done a couple core workouts, so that unfortunately has not gotten much better. I notice this the most when I have to hold Neola for a long period of time — it ends up being really hard on my lower back. I was wondering the other day, “What would it be like to care for a newborn when you’re actually in shape?” I have never had that experience.

But on the whole, I have to say that the physical recovery from birth has been smooth.

Weight / Body Image

I’m about 13 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.

This pregnancy has been the slowest and consequently most frustrating recovery in terms of weight loss. I still can’t wear any of my pre-pregnancy pants, even the ones that I bought around this time with my other pregnancies. My body shape stores extra body fat in my stomach, so I can get all of my pre-pregnancy pants on but some I can’t button at all, and the others cause major muffin top action and are frankly just really uncomfortable. I’ve bought a few pairs of pants and shorts trying to find something I can wear right now (so that I can stop wearing my maternity leggings!), but haven’t had much luck. I am planning to go shopping this weekend, though, and hopefully find something. I’m pretty sure this is the result of all that candy I ate during pregnancy (whoops), and maybe age? Let’s go with that.

That said, I am extending grace to myself. My body just created a human being. It’s only been 6 weeks. I know from my previous pregnancies that it takes time to get back in shape, but it will happen eventually. It’s just a season… my LAST postpartum season!

Emotional

Speaking of which, that has been the main thing I’ve reminded myself of during the past six weeks: This is just a season. It’s just a phase. This is the hardest it will ever be [in terms of physical exertion and balancing the needs of four young kids]. It will get better. We will figure out a rhythm. Life will find a new normal, where we feel mostly adjusted. Don’t worry about the things that aren’t getting done right now, or that we don’t have time for. This is just a season.

Both Travis and I have had hours or days when we can’t see the truth in what I wrote above (it doesn’t help that he’s extremely busy and stressed at work right now), but overall we’ve been able to keep these challenges in perspective, and maintain our hope and optimism.

Back when Corbin was born, I really struggled with feeling isolated, like I was always feeding a baby or sleeping while my family hung out without me. I prayed about that a lot before Neola was born, and I think God answered that prayer by making her unwilling/unable to nurse, which forced me to pump and feed her bottles. Bottles meant feeding Neola could be done by anyone, so the girls, Travis, and grandparents have all shared the load. It’s not the answer to prayer that I envisioned, but it has made the issue of feeling isolated from my family non-existent, and for that, I praise the Lord!

I’ve also been reading We Would See Jesus while pumping. I read that book several times back in college and early married life, and it’s been such a good reminder that I have access to Jesus wherever and whenever, that I don’t need to be having a consistent quiet time or praying a certain amount to have a relationship with Him. It’s also been a great reminder that Jesus sacrificed everything for me, not just some things, so I can sacrifice for my kids, trusting that God will not only provide, but bless abundantly.

My biggest challenges with managing four kids on my own while Travis is working have been 1) Corbin and 2) the messes. Corbin is a handful. We are trying really hard to have him watch less iPad, but that means that instead of sitting in one spot, he’s making messes or playing outside only God knows where. He’s hard to keep track of. Even when I take Neola outside to feed her a bottle, Corbin only stays on one side of the house for 5-10 minutes. I think that’s the biggest difference between him and the older girls — they would play in one area for an extended period of time. He is all over the place. Not only that, but he also gets into trouble. He dumped out containers of water in the garage, took off his diaper and pooped (not on purpose, but because he’s not at all potty trained) in the playhouse, rode his bike down the driveway out onto the road by himself several times (good thing our neighborhood is pretty quiet). He often plays with water and soap in the bathrooms, and gets into the girls’ makeup. He brings indoor toys outside. He puts the riding toys in the kiddie pool. He definitely keeps us on our toes!

And then there’s the messes. I have tried and tried to get Emma and Annabelle to pick one mess up before making another, and reminded them while they’re making a mess that they’re going to have to pick all of it back up. But the reality of the situation, I’m realizing, is that their energy to make a mess—I should say “get toys out” or “create imaginary worlds”, because their play is at least always intentional these days—is always going to outstrip their energy to clean it up. And then you add Corbin into the mix… the end result is that there are all manner of toys strewn in every location imaginable. Thankfully our house is tucked in the woods so I don’t feel pressured to have things cleaned up for any neighbors.

I am trying really hard for both my kids’ sake and my own sanity to remind myself that it’s ok for toys to be scattered around. It’s ok if playing hard with things occasionally results in something being destroyed or broken. My kids are making memories and using their imaginations, and not wasting their lives watching a screen all day. I’ve also been tapping into the things I learned in counseling—when I sense I’m starting to get overwhelmed, instead of flying off the handle, I calmly ask the kids to pause what they’re doing and clean up one mess. (Because, I’m realizing, it’s not messes in general that stress me out, it’s when there are messes everywhere.)

And as always, coffee is a lifesaver and consumed in copious amounts. When I am up for the day after too little sleep, a cup of coffee brings me joy and reminds me that it will be ok.