Must-Haves – First 8 Weeks with a Newborn (Feeding/Nursing)

As an overly organized and very eager mom-to-be, when I was pregnant I did extensive research on what everyone was buying and what we really needed vs what was more of a luxury. This post is about our experience during the first 8 weeks of life with a newborn – what worked for us may not work for you, and what I deem to be a luxury may end up being a necessity for you!

When Baby E arrived, I had planned on nursing exclusively for 6 weeks and then pumping when I returned to work part-time. As it happened, it was very difficult for her to get a good latch on my right side in the first few days and by the time she would have developed a good habit on the left for it to work on the right, I was so full of milk that it overwhelmed her and she still couldn’t nurse on that side! After a few frustrating days and nights, Chris and I went to see a lactation consultant and we tried pumping on the right side – it was incredible! Since that point, I have been nursing about once or twice a day and she takes a bottle with pumped breastmilk the rest of the time. It’s been like that since she was a week old and I have to say, I do not believe in nipple confusion. Baby E nurses, takes a bottle and has a paci (or ‘dummy’) and has not had any trouble switching between the three. I love that pumping my milk means that other people can feed her (if she wakes up at night I change her diaper, and then Chris feeds her while I pump) and that wherever we are I can just pull out a bottle and feed her in public without having to fuss with a nursing cover or feel self-conscious. I do believe that if I had nursed exclusively for 6 weeks like I was planning and only introduced the bottle when I went back to work, it would have been a lot more difficult for her to be away from me and feel settled with whoever is keeping her in the mornings. She would have been so used to that time with me and not familiar with the bottle at all – very difficult! I have to say that if I was a stay-at-home mom, things may have been different. With our current setup though I do feel like I have the best of both worlds – I get to work and pump but I still get the bonding experience of nursing.

Medela Hand Pump – I think everyone is so different, it’s hard to recommend things like this for others but what works for the absolute best is the hand pump instead of the electric one. I have an electric one that I used for a while in the beginning but I have more control with a hand pump and I feel like I get more faster. It is also helpful that if we’re going on a long car ride I can just take my pump and use it in the car if I need to. One particular day that this was handy was when we went to Pigeon Forge, TN for a day of shopping – I pumped on the drive there and halfway through our shopping trip too! Here’s a tip: I forgot the little white ‘membrane’ thing that goes on the inside on that trip and found out that Walmart sells them, thank goodness! So don’t panic if that happens to you, just find a nearby Walmart (they were only $7 too!).

Medela Harmony Hand Pump
Medela Harmony Hand Pump

Boppy Pillow – Whenever I do nurse, this comes in handy like you wouldn’t believe! It provides just the right amount of cushioning and support that Baby E needs. Since I can only do the ‘football position’ on my right side, I love that I don’t need to fool with a bunch of pillows – all I need is my trusty Boppy! This is a must-have for everyone. I have three different pillow cases for it –  I would definitely recommend having at least 2.

Boppy Pillow

Neosporin or Triple Antibiotic Cream – Here’s the thing, everybody swears by Lanolin ointment for sore nipples (I have some by Lansinoh) and I have to go against the grain here and say that I am not a fan. It is pretty thick and gloopy, you have to wipe your fingers after you apply it and it rubs off on your bra/clothes (I still have an oily looking stain on one of my nursing bras)! It’s also pretty pricey. After struggling to get a good latch, especially on my right side, it really made me quite tender and I was so worried that I would crack and bleed like all the horror stories I read when I was pregnant so my lactation consultant actually recommended Neosporin (or any generic brand of triple antibiotic cream) which I never would have thought of! It soaks into the skin really quickly so you don’t have to wipe it off or wash up before you nurse, and it took the tenderness away immediately! I got a couple tubes for a dollar a piece at Dollar Tree and never looked back.

Lansinoh Milk Storage Bags – If you are blessed and have enough of a supply to store milk, these are by far the best storage bags to freeze with. I have never, ever had one break on me and have recently been storing up to 6.5oz per bag! They are reasonably priced and easy to defrost too.

Lansinoh Milk Storage Bags
Lansinoh Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown’s Newborn Natural Flow Feeding Set – These are the only bottles we have ever used, so I don’t have anything to compare them with but they have worked wonderfully for us. Since my baby is a true guzzler (she eats very quickly and greedily!) the insert that slows everything down helps so much. At the moment she feeds from the 4oz bottles and I pump into the 8oz bottles.

Dr. Brown's
Dr. Brown’s

Muslins – I don’t know if Americans call them muslins, but that’s what I grew up calling these light, airy, breathable blankets. They are perfect for soaking spit up, wiping dribble and pretty much anything else! We have a set of 4 Aden + Anais muslins, a Laura Ashley one and a couple from Chicca Chicca Boom Boom. The Aden + Anais ones are larger and we also use them to lay over Baby E when it’s cool enough for some kind of covering, but too hot for an actual blanket. I can never have too many since they’re completely multi-use items. I’ve also used the Aden + Anais ones for nursing/pumping covers on occasion (for example, in the car!)

Eleni swaddled and covered in her muslins
Baby E swaddled and covered in her muslins

Let me know what your feeding/nursing must-haves are, whether you’re a new mom or have children that are all grown up, I’d love to hear from you! Comment on this post or send me a message.

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Must-Haves – First 8 Weeks with a Newborn (Feeding/Nursing)

Must-Haves – First 8 Weeks with a Newborn (Sleeping)

As an overly organized and very eager mom-to-be, when I was pregnant I did extensive research on what everyone was buying and what we really needed vs what was more of a luxury. This post is about our experience during the first 8 weeks of life with a newborn – what worked for us may not work for you, and what I deem to be a luxury may end up being a necessity for you!

Sleeping:

Fisher Price Comfy Time Bouncer – This is what Baby E slept in for the first 3 weeks of her life! We left the toy attachment off and put in one of those little inserts that are meant for car seats to support her head and she slept so soundly. Since she was little there was no need to strap her in, so we laid down a soft blanket for her too. I think the shape of the chair made her feel snug and safe, while the bassinet at that point was just too roomy. The calming vibrations feature was also a big plus for us – it helped to get her into the habit of putting herself to sleep as I would lay her in there while she was getting sleepy, and the vibrations would soothe her to sleep. Now that she’s older (9 weeks) and more interactive, if she’s happy I’ll put her in the chair and attach the toys and she’ll entertain herself for a good amount of time, leaving me to make the dinner or pump milk or do whatever else needs doing. If we’re going to a friend’s house or if I’m leaving her at someone’s house while I’m at work we’ll take it with us as it’s pretty easy to throw in the car!

Fisher Price Comfy Time Bouncer
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We even took the bouncer to Granny’s camper at the lake!

Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – I found this on a blog somewhere and really liked the look of it.  When Baby E was first born and we were using the bouncer for her to sleep in we didn’t use this one at all. As a newborn (and she was a pretty big newborn – 8.5lbs and 21in!) it seemed to swallow her up a little. Then as she got a little bigger (around 3 weeks) we decided to put her down in it for a nap and it was wonderful! The shape is so perfect as she doesn’t feel like she is totally out in the open, but she can still stretch out pretty well. I think this is a great transitional item to move towards her sleeping in her crib at night. We use this exclusively at night time so that she knows it’s time to sleep and not just nap, and then we occasionally use the bouncer during the day for naps still. It’s been really handy having both of these (the sleeper and the bouncer) so that she can get used to sleeping in different things and places. I L-O-V-E the way that this thing folds up – so handy! Since we have such crazy schedules and just take her along to wherever we’re going, the fact that it’s easy to carry around is a major bonus. Another nice little feature is that if she starts fussing and waving her arms or kicking, it rocks with her movements so she essentially rocks herself back to sleep!

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Baby E in her Rock n Play Sleeper
Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper

Swaddle Me by Summer Infant – When we first brought Baby E home, we thoroughly enjoyed swaddling her up in our own blankets/muslins and I actually completely forgot that we even had this! I bought it at a consignment event and put it somewhere in the nursery – out of sight, out of mind! I finally remembered that we had it when she was about 6 weeks old. Although it looks somewhat like a straight jacket, babies absolutely love these! It takes so much less time to put on than wrapping them up yourself and it is much harder to break out of. We only use this at night (again, trying to get her to associate certain things with nighttime vs nap-time) and she on the nights that she has slept without waking up once, it has been when she’s bundled up in this. Some bloggers swear that you need two or three but honestly, one is plenty for us!

Swaddle Me by Summer Infant
Swaddle Me by Summer Infant

Let me know what your sleeping must-haves are, whether you’re a new mom or have children that are all grown up, I’d love to hear from you! Comment on this post or send me a message.

Must-Haves – First 8 Weeks with a Newborn (Sleeping)

CrockPot Tuscan Chicken

I am on a quest to become BFFs with my CrockPot. Now that I have a little baby and most of my cooking is done one-handed, I have to get better at planning ahead! I found this recipe from Moms With CrockPots on Pinterest and was really excited because it’s a high-protein, low-carb meal. It was absolutely delicious and I’ll definitely be making it again soon.

CrockPotTuscan Chicken, serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen)

1 can white beans (I used Great Northern), drained and rinsed

1 can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp Italian seasoning (the original recipe calls for dried basil, but I figured I’d just use the seasoning I already had at home)

– Place the chicken (still frozen) on the bottom of your CrockPot. Layer the bell pepper on top of that, and top with the beans and tomatoes. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. My CrockPot runs quite hot so I cooked it on low for about two hours and then switched the temperature to warm. You can serve this meal with pasta or another veggie side, but we didn’t feel the need to add to it.

CrockPot Tuscan Chicken

Morning Glory Muffins

I am so excited about this recipe I could burst! I found this on Pinterest and couldn’t wait to try them. They are healthy, filling, loaded with fiber and so delish! One thing that I love the most about these muffins (other than the fabulous taste) is that they freeze very well so I literally bagged them in separate ZipLock bags and popped them in the freezer and every morning since then when I get out of bed I take one out and leave it to thaw for a few minutes while I’m getting dressed, stick it in the microwave for 20 seconds and have a wholesome, healthy and delicious breakfast all ready for me! Here is the recipe, I promise you will love it:

Morning Glory Muffins

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

3/4 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)

1 large apple, peeled and grated

1 cup (8oz) crushed pineapple, drained

2 cups carrots, peeled and grated

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

3 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions: Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add the coconut, raisins, apple, pineapple, carrots, and nuts. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil and vanilla. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and blend well. Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake wrappers/muffin cups, filling each to the brim. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Morning Glory Muffins

Proverbs 16:24 – Pleasant Words

“Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24

I am on a quest of kindness. Kindness towards my husband, kindness towards my friends, my colleagues, and strangers too. A kind word can change the direction of someone’s day – they ‘sweeten the soul’ and ‘heal the bones’. One thing I have noticed is that my kind words towards others change the direction of my own day too! A conscious effort to be kind is also an effort to be Christ-like and if we are actively pursuing being like Jesus in little things throughout the day, how much more is our desire to be like Him sweetening our own souls and healing our own bones? By extending grace and kindness and love to others, we see the blessings and benefits of those actions in our own lives too.

So this is my challenge to you today: show a little kindness. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top or forced, sometimes just a simple smile to another driver on the road or a ‘Have a nice day’ to the girl working the checkout is all you need to do. Others around you may not see your kindness and commend you for it, but God sees everything and that my friends is the most rewarding acknowledgement of all.

Proverbs 16:24 – Pleasant Words

Anna the Prophetess

Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-38

Only a few short verses in the book of Luke are dedicated to Anna the prophetess, but they are so profound and I believe we can learn a lot from her story. Anna was one of the few female prophets mentioned in the New Testament. After seven years of marriage her husband died and I cannot imagine what that was like for Anna. We can guess that even if her husband was not a good man, this would still be a tragic event in her life because being a widow in those times was not exactly glamorous. Widows were not considered heirs, and it does not mention that she had sons to take care of her, so we can assume that she had her fair share of struggles. What I admire about Anna is that in the midst of tragedy and a complete life change, she held fast to the Lord and to His word. She had distinct gifting in the area of prophecy and the Bible says that she never left the temple and worshiped God day and night with fasting and prayer. That’s dedication! Since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down to dwell among us on earth, we no longer need to visit temples and offer sacrifices of atonement – in fact 1 Corinthians 6 says that since the Holy Spirit is inside us, our bodies are now temples. So the fact that Anna never left the temple is key to this lesson – she was always dwelling in the presence of God, always pursuing Him, always in tune with what He had to say and we can experience this same thing throughout our daily lives because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and His word is readily accessible to us. We have to be constantly aware of the Holy Spirit’s promptings and convictions so that we can grow spiritually and get to know and recognize the Father, Son and Spirit deeper as we continue through life. One day, Anna walked past Simeon who was talking with Mary and Joseph as they were holding Jesus as a baby (for more reading, this is just as Simeon had finished prophesying over Jesus, Luke 2:25-35). This was the day that Anna had been created for, I believe. She was a prophetess, and her whole life’s purpose was to know God on a deeper level each day so that when she saw Him with her own eyes, she recognized Him immediately and without hesitation. She knew God so well, she enjoyed such an intimate relationship with Him, that when she walked past, she knew who this baby was.

Anna knew God because she spent all her time in His presence and therefore she recognized Him immediately. It’s hard sometimes to discern when God is speaking or if it’s something we have conjured up in our minds. The more we know Him, the easier it is to recognize Him. The way we get to know Him? We dig deeper and more frequently into His word, and we spend time in His presence in prayer and reverence for who He is. This is the journey that I am on. I want to know him so well as a result of my ‘dwelling in the temple’ that I cannot question what is God and what is not – I will know immediately His voice, His presence, His promptings in my spirit. Join me on this journey, you can never have enough or too much of Him and His word.

Anna the Prophetess

Psalm 119 – Choose Obedience!

Psalm 119 is one of my absolute favorite passages in the Bible. It is full of wisdom and encouragement, and I love that as a busy new mom I can pick out one or two verses to meditate on all day instead of having to take time to read large chunks of scripture – free time is not something that I always have! God led me to this passage this morning and it has been speaking volumes to me today. I want to break it down, pick out the particular verses that are speaking to me right now and unpack them a little so that we can get as much out of them as possible. I pray Psalm 119 encourages you as much as it has encouraged me so far!

We’re going to begin with verses 1 and 2. The author of this Psalm is unknown, some say it was Ezra the priest but there is no real proof of this and I don’t think it’s relevant in this situation – what’s important is what we can learn from what we read!

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. – Psalm 119:1-2 (NLT)

Out of obedience comes joy. When we choose to follow the instructions of the Lord, there is joy and joy abounding. God only has good for us and when we obey His word, that is what we get – fullness of joy, life, peace, hope, GOODNESS. Later on in the Psalm, in verse 143, it says “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands”. When we are bogged down by the stresses and trials of this life, we can find joy in God’s word, and in obeying what it commands us to do. So often we get stuck in a rut, wallowing in the misery of our circumstances but if we would just immerse ourselves in His word and do what it says, we can find joy! I was recently blessed to hear from the Lord about what He wanted me to do in a certain situation and I decided to be obedient – let me tell you, I received so much joy from that experience! Just to know that God would care enough to instruct me on something and that He would bless me for being obedient is beyond my understanding. I challenge you to choose obedience, and to ask God to bless you with an incomprehensible joy!

Psalm 119 – Choose Obedience!