Friday, February 7, 2014

Happy first birthday, Gianna!

My beautiful, beautiful girl

I've been meaning to write this post for...well.. exactly a year. Today my little girl turns one. ONE! My heart is filled with joy that we have been blessed with such an amazing addition to our family, but I'm amazed at how much I had forgotten about the day my Gianna entered our lives. As you might know, I was on bed rest for almost six months prior to delivering Gianna, and the last week before she arrived I was on hospital bed rest. I had a history of HELLP syndrome with Luca, and because I was starting to show the signs of it again the doctors figured it was in my best interest to be in the hospital. The day I came to labor and delivery my blood pressure was sky high and I had a terrible headache. So, we waited. I sat in a dark room because I was so sensitive to light, and after a few days of this my levels still hadn't changed. So the afternoon of February 6th 2013 I was told I would be induced.

I'm still not certain exactly how things went down because I had such a horrible headache. But I do remember refusing pain medication because I already felt so out of it and I just wanted to be aware when I saw my little girl for the first time. My mother in law was in the room and she and my husband switched off staying awake with my through my contractions throughout the night. I was trying to meditate and focus on my goal- delivery. Nothing else mattered, and I kept my eyes closed almost my entire labor. It was actually sort of peaceful. Around 4am my contractions were pretty intense, and I requested the nurse. I wasn't sure I could do it anymore without pain control, and she assured me that I was entering transition and that this was probably the worst of it. She checked and it seemed I was still a little way away from pushing, so she went back to the computer to monitor my situation. I switched positions, and within minutes knew I just had to push. In a panic, I screamed "she's coming now, I can't stop", and the nurse came rushing over. Sure enough, little G was right there and I began to push without our doctor.

It felt like an eternity, but it was really only a few minutes before the doctor was there and the entire team was ready for miss Gianna to rock our world. I can't recall exactly how many pushes it took, but I know it wasn't many. G was ready, I was ready, hubs was ready, and here she was... my perfect girl.

6 lbs, 1 oz

My mother-in-law with Gianna

Tiny feet

Big brother Luca meets his sister for the first time

Miss G- baby sister to Luca, precious daughter to mama and daddy, and light of our lives. Happy first birthday Gianna!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Luca 21 months (a bit late)

Dear Luca,

You have changed SO SO much since the last time mama wrote your monthly update. You've joyfully welcomed a sister, and you are possibly the best big brother I could've imagined.

You are SO inquisitive. Every picture, new person, place, or experience is so special to you and I can see you processing all around you. It's really incredible to watch you learn. You're able to comprehend SO much when we interact. One of your favorite things to do is "cheers!". You even notice when there are two of any item and you try to cheers them- tried to cheers two remotes last night, and it was adorable. Your favorite books these days have to do with trucks, trains, and more trucks. 

You are the happiest boy when you're happy, but pretty upset when you're not. I guess this kind of goes with toddler territory. I am loving watching you grow every day, and I adore your little face.

Happy (late) 21 months Luca! edit: I wrote this post a while back and just forgot to publish it! Luca is now almost TWO! I will be updating soon!

G 8 months (catch up)

So I know this is a month late, but I wanted to catch up a little on Gianna's growth- she is such a big girl now, and becoming more and more of a blur in front of the camera with her quick movement!

Gianna has gone from a quiet little sweet baby to a bouncing, bubbly little girl! In the past month, she's really sitting up without any assistance and her interest in people and strangers has really perked.

She's eating SO much and really loves broccoli and tomatoes. It makes me remember when Luca would eat anything I put in front of him, and boy do I miss those days!

At 8 months Gianna was taking two pretty good naps, first was about an hour and the second was 2-3 hours. Since then she's started napping a little less and I think it's because she really doesn't want to miss anything!

She's so curious and starting to get into everything- now at 9 months she's almost crawling but I swear she's wanted to crawl for much longer. She started to do the baby push ups and scoot backward at about eight months.

Gianna's relationship with Luca is undoubtably intense. They love each other and giggle with each other, but she's starting to show signs of a little sibling rivalry- if we take away something she is playing with or do not give her a toy that Luca has she will let us know she's upset! It's going to be so much fun watching their relationship grow.

I'll be updating with Gianna's 9 month photos soon, but I just couldn't let her cutie 8 month photos pass me by.

Happy (late) 8 months, Gianna!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Confessions of a PAWM (pumping at work mom)

When I went back to work with my first child, I knew pumping would be difficult. I had a busy schedule and I was really nervous about it all, so I tried my best to get a decent freezer stash just in case. I don't necessarily think that a freezer stash is necessary to be a successful working, exclusively breast feeding mother, but I do think it helps with any supply-based anxiety. I'm a health care provider so I see patients all day and my schedule, although predictable on paper, is sometimes unpredictable! I wasn't sure if I could really carve out an exact time every day to pump. But I've done my best, and I've literally pumped almost every (work)day the past two years, so I have a few suggestions for those moms who may need some support.

#1... It's hard. Don't expect to pump every day and get the milk your baby eats at home. Your daycare or nanny may tell you that your little one just ate a 6oz bottle (or in Gianna's case a 7oz bottle)! And you may think, Oh- that's super because I just pumped 4 ounces! UGH. Listen... it happens sometimes. You may not produce as much as baby eats, but that's OK. The more you stress, the less you pump (in my experience). It's not the end of the world if you have to pump once overnight or your baby has to have formula. Seriously. It's not.

#2 There are techniques that will allow you to have an increased output. I am a FIRM believer that manual compression is necessary when you pump. Let's face it- pumping isn't exactly natural. So if you're noticing a decrease in your output, squeeze or massage. If you're not sure you have any more to give after a pumping session- squeeze into the bottle. I guarantee you you're not done. As much as they try, pumps don't stimulate like a baby does, and you're bound to have some milk in the ducts after you pump.

#3 Use a good/great pump if you're going to consistently pump. If you're not using a double electric (preferably hospital grade if your insurance will cover it or you can rent) pump, you should be. Pump style and brand matter- personally I've used the PISA (medela pump in style advanced) and I've been very happy with it for the past almost two years. I know friends of mine (E @ Oh'Apostrophe for one) have loved the Hygeia pump- she talks about it here. Related to the pump, breast shield (or flange) size matters! I can't stress this enough. Pumping should not hurt, should not make you bleed, and you should be able to tolerate some suction. If you can't, or if you are not producing as much as you would hope, try going up a size. I'll admit (and I'm sure I'm not the first) that I've bled from trying to use the standard 24mm medela flange for way too long. This link has some info about choosing the correct size.

#4 Output changes and possibly decreases with time. Part of this is completely normal because your baby will start eating solids around 6 months, and part of this is normal because your body just does not respond the same to the pump after while. If this happens, add fenugreek, blessed thistle, mother's milk tea, oatmeal, and lot of fluids if you think they may increase your supply. I've used all of them, and I've actually had great success with the combination.

#5 Hands free pumping is awesome if you're trying to work- I use this regular nursing bra (from Motherhood Maternity).
Motherhood maternity Seamless Lift Up Nursing Bra

This bra has been my best kept secret for the past two years- I simply wear a regular tank top under whatever outfit I am wearing to work and push the tank top down and lift up this bra (it's a lift up opposed to the flap down like most). Picture a sports bra with two holes for your breasts underneath. I use the material at the bottom of the bra to hold the flange in place and I use the flap (that is lifted up) to cover the top of the flange. This allows me to pump more efficiently because there is some pressure holding it in place. I wear this bra and I'm not sure how I could pump at work without it. I do know that the hands free bras are popular too, but I tried it and found it quite annoying that I had to put it on and off every time I wanted to pump.

#6 You don't need to wash and sanitize your pump parts throughout the work-day! I was so worried when I first started work that I would have to carry my parts back and forth to the bathroom to clean them. It was that, or I brought a few sets of the pump parts and washed them all at the end of the day. But I've realized that if breast milk is good at room temperature for around 5-8 hours, it makes sense that it will be fine on the pump parts until the next session. So I will pour the milk into a separate bottle and either refrigerate the parts or just leave them until the next time. This allows me to use one set for the entire day, and I just clean it all when I get home. Easy.Peasy.

So my schedule looks a little like this:
Kids up between 6-7
Nurse Gianna on one side at 7, pump the other
Around 10am pump
Noon or 12:30 lunch/pump
4pm nurse
.. and so on

Any other helpful suggestions for the PAWM?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer fun!

Where has Life with Luca gone?

Op! There he is! Here we are! I'm (hopefully) back!

So life with Luca and Gianna has been SO wonderful but having two kids and working full time has kept me seriously busy! I returned back to work after an almost 7 month leave and we hired an absolutely wonderful/amazing/we can't live without her nanny to watch the kids. It's made my life SO much more manageable. Luca is growing like a weed and Gianna is the SWEETEST baby I've ever met. To top it all, it's summertime and life couldn't be any better! Our weekends have been super busy, and lately I'm having to tell myself to slow down and just enjoy the chaos. I absolutely love living so close to my husband's family, because the past few weekends we've been able to get the cousins together and it's hysterical watching them run through the sprinklers and just laugh together.
Since I've last posted, Gianna is now SIX months old! She is giggling, and smiling all the time.
She's also starting to sit up a bit- what a big girl! Love her fluffy hair
We've also discovered that she lovves herself in the mirror and will imitate your face when she sees it in the mirror- it might be the cutest thing she does.
We also had Gianna baptized, and she wore the most beautiful family heirloom gown from my mom's side of the family. Seriously she was breathtakingly gorgeous, and I am so proud to be her mom.
Where do I start with Luca man- he's not quite 2, not quite 1 and quite the handful and combination of playful energy and frustrated whineyness (don't think that's a word, but that's the best way to describe him). He wants to speak in full sentences SO badly, and he understands literally everything you say, so I can understand why he's frustrated. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that I would be frustrated too if I couldn't communicate what I'm feeling, and seriously I can't be mad at his little smile and cute cheeks.
We've spent a LOT of time outside this summer, and Luca loves our local town beach.
Even my mom got in on the fun while she was here- love summer. 
So I'm hoping to get back into it, but I'm just not sure what to do with the blog's name- keep it Life with Luca, or change it to something else?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

Gianna and mama

Luca and mama

I know this is late, and I know I haven't posted in what seems like years, but I wanted to say Happy Mother's Day to anyone who still reads this! I can't believe that two years ago on Mother's Day we told our family members and parents that we were pregnant with Luca, and now here I am with two children. Two healthy, perfect, beautiful children. I am so blessed.

I have to say that I really didn't know how motherhood would affect me. I knew having children would hit me emotionally in my core and ignite a love I've never known, but I guess I just never thought I would be a woman who actually enjoys the identity change from "educated, motivated woman" to "educated, motivated mom" or just "mom". As I've returned to work this past week I'm both enjoying my time at work and missing my kids terribly. I've worked really hard to get where I am in my career, and I always thought I would really take pride in that. I now take pride in the fact that my kids are healthy, growing, intellectually stimulated (well Gianna is still a bit young, but you know what I mean), and will hopefully be well-rounded and kind children. To put it simply, it's no longer about me. At all. And I don't mind. It also makes me appreciate how much my birth mother must have loved me to give me a better life with my family by putting me up for adoption. That's the most selfless act a mother could ever give her child and I am (again) so blessed.

So I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day- mine was about as non-glamorous as they come- I stocked up on diapers because of a super sale. Woohoo!

Monday, February 25, 2013

She's here!

I've been a little MIA lately, and that's because we welcomed our daughter! A few weeks ago I was feeling pretty lousy, and I called my Dr. who told me to head to the hospital for a blood pressure check and to be monitored. I was admitted and on hospital bed rest for a while, and they decided to induce me. So here she is! Gianna was 6lbs 1oz and 18.75 inches long. I'll be sharing my labor story when I have some time, and I do need to catch up on Luca's monthly post (he's almost 15 months now- big boy!). Life with two has been wonderful so far, but I've had help and help will be running out soon, so I'm super nervous! I know one thing- I love my family more than I could ever imagine, and although life is going to be hectic I wouldn't change a thing!

Monday, January 14, 2013

13 months!

Dear Luca,
You are SUCH a big boy right now. Every day you look less and less like a baby, and I love the little man you're becoming. This past month has been pretty busy with Christmas and family gatherings, and you've loved every minute of the social interaction. You're such a busy boy and constantly on the go. Unfortunately for mama this means I can't take care of you for the majority of the day because I'm taking care of your baby sister. But you're having the most fabulous time with your Rara (grandma), and you also still see your cousins a lot.

Your favorite toys are any kind of ball, truck/car, any sort of remote or phone, and your new bike. You love to play catch with us, and you're throwing really well with both arms- I still think you're probably going to be right-handed, but we'll see! You make the cutest noises when you're playing with your trucks, and you occasionally get into your own little world while driving your cars around the wood floor.
You really understand a lot of what we say- mama will tell you to throw the ball, press the button, put the cap/top on the box, give a kiss/high five, ring the bell, turn the lights on/off, open or close a drawer, and that's just the beginning! When we say "where's your head/feet/toes" you're able to show us- it's adorable. We're working on nose and belly, but you always point to mama's belly when I ask you where yours is!
You're still pointing at everything asking "that?". We'll tell you what it is, and you sometimes try to say the word. When asked, you can identify and point to a ton of things- to name a few: window, chair, table, light, lamp, cup/milk, door, fan, hat, head, toes, foot, socks, pillow, toy box, box top, ball, bike, helmet, truck, dinosaur and of course mama and dada. You love to point to mama's growing belly and give your sister kisses.
Your vocabulary is growing slowly, but a few weeks ago you discovered the word "whoa" and you said it enthusiastically non-stop for a week or so. Here's a cute little video of New Year's Eve.
 You also say: mama, dada, ball, more, light, blow, pess (early please?), bum bum. We spend a lot of time with the alphabooks, and you really like watching mama sound out the different letters. You sometimes try to imitate, but sometimes just watch my mouth closely.
You're not quite walking yet, but you seem to really want to. You can coast from furniture to furniture without any assistance, but you don't really want to walk by yourself without at least touching a hand or holding onto a pant leg. You do want to climb on everything, though, making it more difficult for mama to take your monthly photos!
 You're very goofy sometimes and you do the silliest things- you love blowing your nose in socks or any kind of tissue/paper towel. You scrunch your lips up to your nose when you blow and it's so darn cute.
Mommy and Daddy are so happy when you're around, and you light up our days! We love you, Luca- happy 13 months:)