Tag Archives: Neola

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!

Neola Bethany: 1 Month

14 Jun

Neola is one month old! She was 4 weeks last Wednesday, June 9, and one month on June 12.

Size

Neola just had her well-child check today and she now weighs 10 lbs 11 oz (83%)! She is 21.25 inches long (50%) and her head circumference is 14.75 inches (75%).

She outgrew her newborn sleepers around two weeks, and switched to size 1 diapers at 3.5 weeks (but that was mostly just because we ran out of newborn diapers, and have a ton of size 1!)

She seems to have a longer torso and short legs like Corbin did, because length-wise, she fits just fine in 3-month sleepers, but 3-month pants are too long (and she’s apparently completely average in terms of length!).

Eating

Neola is still drinking bottles of breast milk instead of nursing. During her third week of life, she did nurse a little after a feeding to fall asleep, but in week 4, she wanted nothing to do with nursing. I’m still hopeful she can turn it around as she gets older but who knows.

She eats every 3 hours on average, but has gone 4-5 hours between feedings once a night (and sometimes during the day when I’m busy with the kids and forget to go wake her up).

She has increased her feeding amounts from 1 oz that first week, to 2 oz the second week, to anywhere from 2.5 to 5 oz the third and fourth weeks. Most often, she drinks about 3 oz. We burp her every ounce or two, otherwise she swallows too much air and spits a lot of the milk back up. She has some pretty impressive burps!

I am still pumping, and aiming to do so every 3 hours, but between feeding Neola a bottle, burping her (which sometimes takes a while), changing her diaper and possibly her outfit, and managing the other kids, it sometimes stretches to 4 or 5. The first couple weeks, I was getting 3-5 oz per pumping session, but now I usually get about 3 oz. We are also supplementing with formula as we need to.

Neola makes the funniest sounds when she’s eating — lots of squeaking, groaning, and nose-whistling. She also farts a lot when she first wakes up and gets out of her sleepsack. She’s had two blowouts so far… just today, she had such a blowout that it was literally dripping off the back of her sleeper (and onto my dad’s T-shirt 😬).

Sleeping

Neola still sleeps most of the day, but has periods of time when she’s alert and happy. I haven’t watched the clock at all like I did with her siblings to know how long she stays awake. If she’s been awake for a while and starts getting fussy, then I know it’s time to put her in her sleepsack and get her to sleep. She sometimes wants a pacifier, sometimes not. Sometimes she wants a little snack before going to sleep, sometimes not.

When she’s awake and happy, Neola loves looking around, and doesn’t protest at all really when getting jostled around by her older sisters (who treat her like a living doll). It seems we are constantly telling Emma and Annabelle, “Careful! Sit down with her. No, you may not do x and y with her; you’re just not old enough.”

Sometimes after being awake, Neola is difficult to get back to sleep or won’t let us put her down. She is tricky that way! She’ll fall asleep drinking a bottle and you think you’re golden but just a few minutes later, those little eyes pop open again. Or you’ve been holding her for a while and are confident that she’s pretty out so you put her down, but just 5-10 minutes later, she’s awake again. Or she’s out but gas pains wake her up.

If she keeps waking up when I try to put her down, I put her in the Baby Bjorn. She seems to like it for at least the length of one nap so if I can’t sit and hold her because of needing to help the other kids, then I put her in there. Honestly, if this is as fussy as she gets, she’s a pretty easy baby!

Besides the Baby Bjorn, Neola mostly sleeps in the Rock n Play, but during the day, she also naps in the swing. Overall she’s not a fan of her car seat, and will only sleep in it if she’s asleep when we put her in it.

Development

Neola loves looking around and is a pretty content baby. She has started cooing and smiling a little. She has pretty good neck control for her age, and doesn’t seem to mind tummy time (but we haven’t done a ton of it).

Neola Bethany: 1 Week

21 May

Neola was one week old on May 19, our 14-year wedding anniversary.

Unfortunately, her first week of life outside the womb was a blur of doctor appointments. We got discharged from the hospital the day after she was born, around 5 PM. Since I was Group B Strep positive, they wanted us to go see our pediatrician for a checkup right away the next day just to make sure everything was ok. So we did.

Before our appointment with the pediatrician though, we had to stop back by the hospital for Neola to get her hearing test redone (her right ear had failed the day before, but the way they test the hearing is so pathetic!!). She passed that time just fine. We also met with the lactation consultant because Neola was having trouble latching in the hospital, so one of my nurses helped me start using a nipple shield (which I’ve never used before). We weighed her before and after feeding, and she didn’t really gain anything, but we chalked it up to my milk not fully being in yet.

At the appointment with the pediatrician afterward, we discovered that Neola’s weight was down to 7 lbs 7 oz (from 8 lbs 4 oz at birth). Since my milk was just starting to come in that day, Dr. Winter wanted us to come back on Monday for a weight check.

At the appointment on Monday, Neola was down to 7 lbs 4 oz. I nursed her while we were there, and we weighed her before and after, and she had only eaten 0.5 oz. No wonder she wasn’t gaining weight! They also wanted her bilirubin to be checked, so the lab come up and poked her heel. Poor girl! It took the lab tech a good 10 minutes to get the blood, and even then, she wasn’t sure it was enough. (It was.) Her bilirubin level came back at 17.7 — high, but apparently not high enough to treat.

We scheduled another appointment with the lactation consultant for Wednesday. In the meantime, Dr. Winter told us we should start supplementing her nursing sessions with bottles. Since I was already using a nipple shield, she explained, there wouldn’t be any nipple confusion with using bottles that early. At her age, Neola should be drinking 2 oz per feeding, at least every 3 hours.

Neola took to the bottles like a champ. We started her off at 1 oz, but quickly increased it to 2 oz. I was mostly able to pump 2 oz consistently after nursing attempts, but we did get some premade formula from the pediatrician, who said we could mix breastmilk and formula together if we needed to (and we needed to).

At our appointment with the lactation consultant on Wednesday (the day Neola turned 1 week old), Neola had gained 4.5 oz! She was up to 7 lbs 10.5 oz, which meant she was only 7% down from her birth weight (from 11% before). They apparently want babies to be back up to their birth weight by 2 weeks, so I feel like she’s right on track for that. We again weighed her before and after a feeding, and she only took in 6 mL with the whole nursing session. She latches fine, but just doesn’t suck fast or strong enough to get my milk to let down — with or without the nipple shield. Part of that is the sleepiness from the jaundice. She got a heel poke after that appointment, and her bilirubin was up to 18.8. (Since I’m posting this a little late, I can say that she got heel pokes again on Thursday and Friday, and she went down to 18.2, then 17.3, which satisfied our pediatrician. So we are done checking her bilirubin!)

She’s had plenty of wet and poopy diapers, and her poops started off as the dark meconium, but have changed to the yellow mustard color. She is sleeping much better now that she’s taking in enough milk, but part of that might be the jaundice. She has a hard time staying awake drinking a bottle, and falls asleep almost immediately when I try nursing her. I’m going to keep trying to nurse her, but for now, bottles seem to be the way she’s going to build up her strength and energy.

Which means I pump every 3 hours, even at night. Valine, the lactation consultant, gave me some tips on how to maintain my milk supply while pumping, since when I’ve pumped before after I went back to work, my milk supply eventually dried up. I discovered that my breast pump flanges are a size too small, and I wasn’t pumping long enough. Just since yesterday, I’ve seen my pumping yield go from 2 oz every time, to 2.5-3 oz. So that’s encouraging!

As far as personality, Neola hates being cold, and has strongly disliked diaper changes overall. She has a good loud cry when she is upset. When she’s awake, she is pretty mellow and likes being held. She seems to prefer either not having her arms swaddled, or just one swaddled. She sometimes takes a pacifier.

She’s been sleeping in her swing or the rock ‘n’ play during the day, and just the rock ‘n’ play at night. Sometimes we have to wake her up to eat, and sometimes she wakes up on her own. I just borrowed a Moby wrap from a friend so that when my MIL goes home, it’ll be easier to be outside doing stuff with the other kids. And we bought a new car seat that snaps into our jogging stroller (our old one expired) so we can take her on walks that way too.

Emma and Annabelle were over the moon for Neola right away, and very eager to help, which was a little stressful because they wanted to do things slightly outside their capabilities, and they were competing against each other for turns holding Neola. But now they’ve mellowed out a little, and are better about taking turns.

Corbin says Baby is cute and brings her toys. He also likes bringing me my nipple shield — “Try it!”

And that’s Neola at 1 week old!

Neola’s Birth Story

14 May

Neola Bethany was born on May 12, five days before her due date of May 17. She was 8 lbs 4 oz and 20 inches long, with a full head of hair like Annabelle and Corbin.

This time around, I decided to do an elective induction. Corbin was 8 lbs 15 oz at 39.5 weeks, and even though we knew we were having a girl and boys tend to be bigger than girls, subsequent babies tend to be bigger too. So to avoid a bigger baby, and be able to arrange childcare for our other kids easier, I was induced.

We were told to arrive at the hospital around 7 AM. We were moving slow the morning of the 12th, so we got there closer to 7:30. The birthing floor was really quiet that day, so the nurses were expecting us, and showed us right to our room.

First, we talked about the plan with my nurses, Jess and Katy — I was Group B Strep positive, so needed to have antibiotics started first thing. I was already dilated to 2 cm at my last OB appt so was hoping that the doctor would break my water first to see if that would start things without Pitocin. If not, then we would start Pitocin. While the antibiotics got going, Katy got us checked in. I watched part of a Burn Notice episode on my phone while waiting for the OB on call, Dr. Senica, to arrive.

At 9:15, Dr. Senica attempted to break my bag. It was tough apparently, and he tried a few times before saying he thought he nicked it. My antibiotics had a little bit longer to go, and while I sat there in bed, I felt some leakage, and discovered that indeed, my water had broken. After the first round of antibiotics were done, the nurses unhooked me and Travis and I walked the birthing floor for a while. I ate some Jello, sat on the birthing ball a little, then they hooked me back up to monitor baby and contractions for a bit. Nothing much was happening, so I walked around some more.

By 12:15, things still weren’t happening, so we started Pitocin with my second round of antibiotics. Travis ate lunch. I was super hungry, but apparently, they don’t let women in labor eat anything but a clear diet anymore in case of emergency c-section (sad day!).

Before the Pitocin had had a chance to kick in, I had a few real contractions so things had started to pick up a little. With the Pitocin, I started having contractions more consistently, and they were getting stronger. At 1:15, they increased my Pitocin to 4. Once they were satisfied with seeing baby’s heartbeat during contractions (now 3 minutes apart) and had checked my cervix (now dilated to 4 cm, 75% effaced), I decided to labor in the tub for a bit. The contractions were strong enough that I had to stop talking and breathe during them, but felt pretty normal otherwise.

After 30 minutes in the tub or so, I decided that the contractions were strong enough to warrant nitrous oxide. So I got out of the tub, got back in bed, and started nitrous oxide around 2:30. Travis got my music going on the bluetooth speaker.

By 3:15, I was starting to feel a lot of pressure, and the pain was getting to be incredibly intense, so I asked to be checked. I was 7.5 cm and almost fully thinned out. My nurse Jess said she thought I would be ready to push soon, so she asked the front desk to nurse to page Dr. Senica. “Tell him she’s at 7.5 cm and feeling pushy.” This was also the point where I started questioning why I had thought it would be a good idea to not get an epidural. Jess said she could start the liter of fluids for an epidural, but she didn’t think I would make it (it takes at least 45 minutes). The point of no return.

Contractions got incredibly intense from there. They were 1-2 minutes apart, lasting for a minute. I kept my eyes shut the whole time, and was in the zone. I shifted in bed from sitting cross-legged to hanging one leg off the side so that Travis could massage my lower back during contractions. The pain radiated through my lower back to my sides and hips.

For the most part, the nitrous oxide really helped to take the edge off the contractions, but as I entered transition, and got closer to pushing, the nitrous actually felt like a burden to hold, and I was groaning/moaning so much during them that I couldn’t breathe the gas in, so I ended up not using it a ton. I did use it a little between contractions.

At some point, I started feeling a lot of downward pressure, and was starting to scream a little at the pain, so Dr. Senica came in. He checked me and said I was still right around 8 cm (if he stretched it), but I was in such an incredible amount of pain, and feeling so much pressure during contractions, that I think he decided to stay and help baby along. Having to bend my legs into the stirrups with that pain in my sides and back — oh man, it was absolutely horrible. Suddenly, so many memories of my other birth sans epidural came flooding back. And just why am I doing this again!?!

During the next few contractions, Dr. Senica tried to help my cervix dilate those last few centimeters so that I could start pushing. He had me gently push with a few contractions too, and then he said I could go for it. I have never felt that kind of pain. I think because this labor went so much faster than with Annabelle (my other unmedicated birth), it was that much more intense. I was screaming my head off, with the nurses and Travis holding my legs up (because I just wanted to straighten them from the back/side pain), everyone in the room telling me I had to push now, and I could do it, and hold my breath in and bear down with everything I had, and I felt completely confident that the description I used last time — that it feels like you’re taking the biggest poop in the world and it’s tearing your insides out along with it — was 100% accurate. During contractions, I wanted to cry because I just wanted to pain to be over, but it wouldn’t be over unless I just pushed through it.

As I bore down during contractions (Travis wrote down that I pushed 8-10 times), there were points where my body just took over and pushed for me, which is kind of cool when you think about it that the body knows what to do, but it also makes me feel out of control and scared. Finally, baby’s head was out. I had to take a break though — everyone kept telling me, “The head is out. You need to keep pushing.” After a break, I did it. I screamed louder than ever, and it was SO incredibly painful there are not even words to describe it, but FINALLY baby’s body came out. Neola was born!! She came out crying right away. Like last time, I laid there for a while completely dazed and saying “Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.”

Dr. Senica clamped the cord, then had Travis cut it. Neola was completely covered in vernix, so the nurses toweled her off a little before putting her on me skin-to-skin. (I still got completely covered in the sticky white stuff.) Meanwhile, Dr. Senica was pushing on my stomach to release the placenta. One more push from me, and the placenta was out. I asked Dr. Senica if I had torn — he said there was one small nick, but that if he could stop the bleeding with a little pressure, I wouldn’t need any stitches (and he was able to, so yay!) The nurse took baby’s vitals while the rest of them cleaned up the birthing mess. I asked to get some pain meds for the afterbirth pains, because with Corbin, they were intense.

After a little while, I handed Neola to Travis so that I could eat my dinner. With just the baby blankets on, she ended up getting too cold (body temp was down to 97 something). So they brought her back to me for more skin to skin. She started moving her mouth so I tried nursing her, and she did latch a little that first time.

By 6 PM, Neola’s body temp had stabilized enough that they were able to weigh her, give her a bath, the eye drops, etc. Then I took a short bath to soak my bum, which felt amazing.

Between 6 and 9 PM, it was a cycle of checking mom’s and baby’s vitals, seeing if Neola would nurse (she wanted to suck on something, but wasn’t latching), and me eating. I ate 2 personal pizzas, 2 bowls of fruit, a brownie, a chocolate pudding, and a fig bar.

A little after 9 PM, my night nurse, Heather, brought me a stool softener and more pain meds, and then we tried to go to bed. Travis walked Neola around the room for a while, but she wouldn’t settle, so I took her and tried to nurse. She wasn’t interested — she was spitting up amniotic fluid — so I just held her upright in the chair for a few hours, and she slept well that way.

During the night, I showed Heather that Neola wasn’t latching, or that she would latch but then stop sucking almost right away, and she ended up bringing me a nipple shield to use, which helped a lot. Neola was still sleepy enough that she wasn’t interested most of the time, but it did increase her sucking when she was interested.

Unfortunately, the combination of Tylenol 3 every four hours and Ibuprofen every eight wasn’t enough to keep on top of the afterbirth pains, so I ended up cramping quite a bit during the night. But Heather brought me some heating pads, and those really helped a ton. I had her reheat them probably half a dozen times.

Travis took a shift with Neola during the night, and toward morning, Heather helped me do skin to skin again in bed with Neola, and she slept contentedly that way for several hours (which meant mommy got some sleep too!). That is a sweet memory with my last little newborn.

Just before 7:30 AM, Heather introduced our new nurse, Amber. Then the pediatric nurse came in (I was nursing at the time, so she came back a little later), as well as the OB on call. They all said that as long as baby passed her 24-hour tests, and we scheduled a follow-up with our pediatrician for the next day (because of my being Group B Strep positive), we could go home at 24 hours.

We ate breakfast, Travis took a quick shower, and then around 11 AM, Travis left to meet the kids and his mom at a park (they were all missing us), and get coffee from Caribou. I tried to rest during that time, but Neola wanted to nurse. After he got back, I downed my coffee while the nurses took Neola’s newborn photos, and then I laid down for an hour or 2. I didn’t technically get to sleep (too much commotion in our room), but I was 80% out of it. Then Neola wanted to nurse again.

Around 3:15, Travis was napping, but I woke him up to take Neola so that I could shower and pack before 4:03, which is when the nurses were going to come do Neola’s 24-hour tests. While they did her tests, Travis ran a load of stuff out to the car. By 4:45, all the tests were done, and we were on our way out to the car to head home with our newest little. By 5:15, we were home! Big sisters ran outside, ecstatic to meet little sister. So sweet. My heart was bursting.

And that’s Neola’s birth story!! More details to come in her weekly updates.