Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ellie's First Month: 6.20 - 7.20

One month later...
Weekly Pics...

My favorite picture of the month..


I will admit that when I was pregnant I would worry that I might not love Ellie as much as I love Eli.  Eli filled my heart with so much love, I sometimes thought it was impossible to have that much love for another child. Well, on 6.20.13 my heart literally doubled in size.  It didn't fluctuate and give some of Eli's love to Ellie -- it doubled.  My mom told me this would happen.  But it was hard to imagine before I met her.  I loved Ellie the moment I found out I was pregnant but she was intangible and it was a different "faith" type of love.  However, holding her in my arms and getting to know her this last month has been the BEST times of my life and I am so grateful to God for allowing me to be her mother.  

Hospital Stay

Overall our hospital stay was awesome.  The nurses were all very nice; however, we had different nurses every 12 hours so it was hard to create any type of rapport with them.  Ellie slept most of the time.  She liked to sleep on us -- just like Eli.  She was still so tiny and puffy.  

Like I mentioned in Ellie's birth story my mom just missed her birth, shortly after my dad and Eli arrived and later my sister and her daughter came.  These were our only visitors the entire time we were in the hospital. Wouldn't have it any other way.  The first few days with your infant our so special and important that I feel (at least for me) it is best to try to get as much rest as possible while taking care of your baby.  That being said, to each their own, right?!?!

Ellie passed her hearing test and the nurse said she was a rock star during her heal prick for state testing (which all came back negative).  We did send her each of the two nights to the nursery for a few ours so we could rest easier. 

The biggest difference between our hospital stay with Eli and this one with Ellie was that my recovery was SO, SO, SO much easier.  I could walk around the room, go to the bathroom on my own, and change Ellie's diaper if needed.  Also we had Eli at Center Point in Independence and Eli at St. Luke's East.  I definitely liked SLE better.  I love their "Rooming In" policy and that the baby gets to stay with you the entire time you are there.  However, I did like that at Center Point you get the same day time nurse and night time nurse the whole time you are there.  

Mike and I were ready to leave on Saturday at 2:00.  Ellie did well in the car on the way home (wish I could still say the same about the car at the 5 week mark!). 

1st Week: Welcome Home and Getting to Know our Precious Bundle of Joy

Once we arrived home with Ellie, we knew "life as we knew" was gone.  We just didn't know exactly how gone it was.  There is no "What to Expect" book for when you have two little ones at home.  However, the first and second weeks went very well.  Much better than the "survival mode" we were planning for!I love the way Ellie smelt as a brand new baby.  I wanted to bottle her scent up so I could keep it for the years to come.  I love that she so contently sleeps on my chest and nuzzles into my breast when hungry.  I love her chubby little face and her sweet, soft hair.  I vow I will never forget these first precious times with my baby girl.  

Ellie slept a ton and was pretty content when she was awake.  Mike was home so he could help with Eli so that I could focus on getting to know baby Ellie.   We saw the Pediatrician this week and Ellie looked fabulous!

The meals that my sister set up for me started to roll in this week!  I can't say enough how much I appreciate these meals.  What an amazing gift for new parents -- to be fed and to enjoy some time together as a family.

2nd Week: Sleepy Week

Mike was still home this week and him and Eli did lots of fun stuff together!  They were off each morning doing a new a fun activity -- gymnastics, splash parks, the pool, feeding buffalo, parks, etc. Ellie stayed home with me and slept.  :)  I began to worry about how much she was sleeping -- I swear it was like 23 hours a day.  Shouldn't complain right?  At our two week dr. appointment I asked if this was something to worry about and they assured me she would be more awake in the days to come ('twas true!).  We celebrated the Fourth of July at my parents house and had a few neighbors over for fireworks that evening.


3rd Week: Just the Three of Us

Mike headed back to work.  I was so sad.  We had such a great time as a family the past two weeks.  I leaned on him for so much during this time and I knew things were about to get difficult!  

My sleepy baby began to stay awake a little more this week and along with that came the crying.  Oh, no!

We survived Mike going back to work, thanks to my mom coming 3 days to help out!

4th Week: A Whole New Meaning of "Beautiful Bouncing Baby"

The fourth week of sweet miss Ellie's life is the week I sent Mike this email with the subject: I have a feeling...

that the next few months are going to suck.  Suck. Suck. Suck.  I'm not sure we will have much fun at all.  BUT, we do have TWO beautiful babies that need us and need us to be kind to them.  Lets pray and try are damndest to nurture and love them through this extremely difficult time.  3 months is a short period of time in the scheme of things and we CAN do this!  

I am just so thankful I have you and Eli and Ellie to make my life what it is.  It may not be all peaches and cream but it sure is great.  

I hope one day we can look back at these times and smile.  Or at least laugh our asses off thinking about how we didn't blow our brains out!  Ha!

Love you.

It truly became survival mode.  Ellie was awake often through out the day and crying.  Generally, Eli is a high needs child but now that Ellie is around he is super needy (or maybe I just didn't notice as much when it was just me and him).  Mike was back to work and my mom wasn't at my beckon call 24/7.  The house went from being super clean to super messy.  My anxiety began to rise as Mike was already working some late hours and I didn't know if I could handle two fussy kids on my own.  

I made a doctor's appointment and, sure enough, the pediatrician felt that due to 1. the way she like to be held -- facing out, sitting up, tipped forward and 2. a swallowing thing she does when she is not feeding and 3. that when she burps she cries -- she has reflux.  Poor babe!  We started her on Zantac but had to quickly take her off of it because of a rash she developed.  After researching a bit I started to think that maybe Ellie has MSPI - Milk/Soy Protein Intolerance.  So currently, I am only eating turkey, pears, squash, potatoes and rice -- the things we do for our children!  :)  I hope to see an improvement in her behavior soon but know it can take up to four weeks?!?!

More Reflux/Colic Info:

Ellie needs to be constantly bounce when she is awake or she will cry.  I know it is okay to let your child cry some but she is still so tiny and I can't take much more than a minute or so.  So, if I have to set her down to get Eli something or clean up a spill  or put my hair in a pony tail, I do my best to make it quick and get right back to her.  Thankfully, depending on the day -- she still sleeps more than she is awake.  Her fussiest time is when Mike is home and we can rotate who is bouncing her! Ha!

She doesn't spit up but there is "silent" reflux in which the baby still spits up the food into their esophagus but it doesn't come all the way up to their mouth.  I think she must have this.  But there is no definitive test or at least we aren't quite there yet. 

Ellie's Likes: 

Sleeping (especially on your chest when she was brand new)
Walking around facing out
Swaddle - its a love and hate relationship, we started enforcing it (dispite all my efforts not to) around 4 wks
Play gym - for maybe 5 minutes
Being wornMusic
Being submerged in warm water - for maybe 5 minutes
Transitioning from inside to outside

Ellie's Dislikes:

Laying flat on the ground
Changing clothes
Being left alone for more than a few minutes

Ellie's 1 Month Milestones:

Briefly lift her head while laying on stomach
Social Smile -- we have all seen a smile from her reacting to us!
Looks in our eyes -- from day one!
Hold her head steady while upright
Follow objects with her eyes
Possible -- batting at objects under play gym


What would a blog post be from me with out the subject of sleep in it!?  :)  Fortunately, she has been a little miracle child when it comes to night time sleep.  From the very beginning she would have a good four hour stretch to start out the night and then wake every 1-2 hours to nurse and go right back to sleep.  We had some trouble at first getting her to sleep in her crib and currently she sleeps in her crib during her first 5-6 hour stretch of sleep. 

By four weeks:

10:30 Bedtime
3:330 - 4 Wake to nurse
6ish - Wake to nurse
7:30-8 Awake

NOT COMPLAINING!  (Eli on the other hand... but that is for another post :)

Transitioning from One to Two: My Thoughts:

This could be because I have a fussy baby but I think it is harder than from zero to one.  At least in the first month or so.  With one, yes your life is somewhat over but at least you can sleep when your one child is sleeping.  With two, you are truly sleep deprived and taking care of two young ones is HARD!  

Breast Feeding and Tandem Nursing: 

Ellie caught on to breast feeding right of the bat and has been a champ ever since.  I only had slightly sore nipples for a day or two.  It has been amazing.  So much different from my first go around with Eli.  So glad I kept at it with him though and can't believe we have made it to 22 months!  Proud of myself.  However, part of my does wish that I would have weaned him before Ellie.  It is just so sad to see him want milk when I am nursing her.  We made a grand attempt to wean him on my birthday weekend when my parents took him for a couple of days but he returned from their house with a high fever and crazy hives and just wanted some milk -- so I gave in after four solid days!  We will try again this weekend! 

Back to Ellie and the boob :) .  She is so different than Eli who could be at the boob all day long.  She nurses for 5ish minutes and is done for 2-5 hours.  I started to worry a little bit about my supply dropping but she is getting what she needs because she is growing like a weed!  On average, she gains around an ounce a day.  I must have some fatty milk!  :)  I know how much she weighs because I attend a breast feeding support group at SLE at 10:00 on Mondays.  It is an amazing support for women looking for breast feeding advice and parenting support.  I loved it with Eli and have enjoyed it so far with Ellie.  It is just so nice to know you are not alone in the journey of motherhood.  

Eli and Ellie: A Comparison

Not sure how long I will keep this category because I know comparing your children is probably not the best thing.  It won't compare which baby is "better" in this or that, but more to focus on the fun and interesting ways they are alike and different.

The main difference this month is Ellie is already crying -- we didn't notice it get bad with Eli until around 5-6 weeks, Ellie on the other had was 3 weeks.  Also, Ellie looked into our eyes right away and Eli didn't until around 4-5 weeks.  Eli was an aggressive nurser and wanted to be at the breast all the time while Eli is laid back but nurses fast and pops off herself after about 5 minutes.

They both gained about an ounce a day in the first month -- my little chubbers!  Both of them like to be held on their armpits and bounced.  Eli and Ellie have the most adorable little mohawks!  I think they look alike.  They both like to be swaddled and bounced like crazy... And, I love them both to death!

What I've learned...

Never say never...
Traveling with two is harder than with one (everything is harder with two)...
God doesn't give you more than you can handle...
That my heart could double in a moment...

I am Extremely Blessed because...

I have a healthy daughter (besides reflux)
I'm in love with two beautiful children
My husband took TWO full weeks off to help me and continues to help as much as possible
Eli loves his sister


Ali -- officially mama of TWO!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Spring 2013 with Eli: 18 - 21 months 3.14 - 6.14

My last few months with just Eli were bitter sweet.  I wish I hadn't been in my 3rd trimester so that I could have had more energy to run around with my rambunctious and FUN toddler.  Yet, I tried to enjoy every precious moment with him and succeeded at least half the time.  :)  He has changed so much in the last few months.  I feel like he is a "little boy" now.  Where has my baby gone?

March (end of)

*Click on the collage for a larger view 
Lots of fun stuff going on here: Flip Zone gymnastics, lunch dates, first "real" hair cut, bundled up in late March?!?!, Eli and 1st cousin Kate taking a bath together, Eli and Sam, Eli having fun on mama and daddy's bed!

I was hoping that it would start to warm up in march but as you can see by our clothing -- it did not.  In fact, it snowed several times!  We did what we could in doors and headed to Flip Zone Gymnastics every Tuesday.  Eli is really good at hanging on the bars!  He likes to run on the trampoline and monkey through the bounce maze.  He got his first official hair cut and he looked like such a big boy afterwards!  

Easter 3.31.2013

*Click on the collage for a larger view
We had fun searching for eggs at grandma and papa's house!  Eli didn't quite get the concept but still enjoyed putting eggs in and taking eggs out of his Elmo Easter basket (that his Oma and Opa sent him!).  


*Click on the collage for a larger view
Lots of fun again:  more gymnastics, bath time, fun with friends, play dough, tractor riding, mowing with dad, feeding goats, hair brushing, and nap taking!

April was seasonably cold here in KC.  We had to find fun things to do indoors!  This pregnant mama was getting cabin fever though so we headed outdoors with our jackets a few times! My dearest and longest friend, Mary Beth, came to visit me this month and Eli sure enjoyed the extra attention!  (Finally, someone who understands how truly "needy" this child is -- after staying with me for a week she was probably thanking her lucky stars for her two boys! :))  Eli is the most wonderful child, he is so sincere, thoughtful and sweet.  He just needs your constant attention.  It is wearing, yet endearing at the same time.  I love him for exactly who he is!


*Click on the collage for a larger view
Eli loves to: sweep, cuddle with his bf "Momo" (aka Elmo),  slide, play at the park, big trucks and tractors, animals, muffins, jump houses, his daddy, etc!!!

Not too much happening here in May.  I was getting to be super, duper pregnant and my energy ebbed and flowed. We still got out and about because my mommy guilt told me to knowing that it was Eli and I's last full month together just two the two of us!

We planned on having an "Eli Weekend"  on May 3-5 and we got about half of what we had planned in before Mike and I headed to the hospital Saturday night because I was having severe kidney pains -- in which I was diagnosed with severe hydronephrosis and stayed for two nights.  Those nights were the FIRST nights I spent away from Eli!  Mike stayed in the hospital with me.  My mom did a fabulous job taking care of him and she kept him so entertained that he probably could have cared less that we weren't there.  He didn't even ask for milk!  Success!  Before all of that happened, on Friday night, we took Eli to a bounce house play gym in Belton, MO and he had a blast climbing and bouncing.  The next morning we went to the KC aquarium and Eli LOVED looking at all of the fish.  He makes the cutest fish face too!  

June (beginning of)

*Click on the collage for a larger view
Zoo fun, pool fun, riding Sammie and Bea like a horse, bath time learning, dates with mama, park fun, dinner time learning, curly hair shots, feeding horses, fountain fun!!!
God really truly is amazing.  I think He knew I needed these last couple of weeks with just Eli to be perfect and he gave me my energy back!  Yes, I was 38-39 weeks pregnant and was doing all kinds of things with my babe.  We went to the KC Zoo, Powell Gardens, fed horses, went to lots of parks, went swimming 4-5 times together, and had a couple of dinner/ice cream dates while daddy was working late.  I can literally say I soaked up every moment with my precious son before his little sister arrived!  I am so proud of all he has become these last few months and during my entire pregnancy.  I'm sure he picked up on my lack of energy, stress and anxiety.  He was a trooper indeed.  Couldn't have asked for a sweeter boy.  

New Milestones:

Eli can:
- say lots of words on his own -- his vocabulary is really expanding right now.  Words we hear most often: bug, night night, mo mo (aka Elmo), Papa, mama, daddy, truck, more, please, yes, ya, no (sounds like "mo"), juice, Mammy (for Sammie), boo boo, up, mine, none none (for all done) and Yay!
- repeat almost any 1-2 syllable word that we tell him too, repeat the whole alphabet and numbers 1-10
- follow directions
- color pretty well (chalk, crayons, markers, etc)
- climb almost any play ground equipment there is
- hit a golf ball, hit a baseball off a tee, make a basket with a basketball
- so close to jumping with two feet at the same time
- swim with a puddle jumper on his own
- jump into a pool on his own
- wash himself in the bath
- take off his pants; jackets, socks, shoes, etc.
- hang from the monkey bars
- understands that the street is dangerous and won't go into with out an adult (most of the time)
- tell us when he has gone poop.

What Eli likes:

- Climbing, swinging, gymnastics
- listening to everyone's hearts with a stethiscope 
- Stuffed animals
- Being outside
- Wrestling and running around on the couch especially with Daddy and Papa
- Playing Fee Fie Foe Fum 
- Riding on dog's backs  and pretending that your leg is a horse while saying "nay, nay!"
- Pushing furniture and large trucks around
- Running around on a trampoline
- Bath time with either mommy or daddy
- Destroying block towers
- running
- our neighbors!
- riding on the tractor with daddy and papa
- going to grandma and papa's house
- ice cream!
- bubbles, play dough, stickers
- books are hit and miss with Eli right now -- he just wants to be go, go, going all the time but we try to read to him through out the day and sometimes he enjoys it
TV: Barney, CHUCK!!!, watching youtube videos of garbage trucks, Cailou
Foods: You never know with Eli.  One day he will love something and the next day he wants nothing to do with it.  He likes oatmeal in the morning.  He will always eat blueberries and raspberries.  He likes pasta most of the time.  He likes to dip things in ketchup and bbq sauce.  Sometimes it is quite the battle to get him to eat/drink.  But, we think that he eats when he is hungry which is what humans should do!  So, we are trying not to stress about it.

Stages and phases :/

3 weeks before Ellie arrived Eli decided to start hitting, spitting, biting and pinching.  Seriously?!?!  Yes, seriously.  We have done many, many time outs in the last month.  Sometimes I think they work and sometimes I am not so sure.  Things have slowly gotten better but occasionally he still thinks he is being funny. Just yesterday he through a big chunk of mega blocks right at my face.  I could tell he felt bad though and didn't complain at all when he had to go to time out.  

He, like most other toddlers, it also having trouble sharing.  We are working on it.  

Bring on the terrible two's (if they haven't already arrived!)


Haha.  This category is just a joke in the world of Eli.  Sometimes I get so excited thinking he has finally figured out this sleep thing.  I mean, come on, most humans LOVE sleep -- why can't he?  

Currently, at 21 months he goes down usually around 9 (mostly due to Mike coming home late) and then wakes anywhere between 6:00 and 7:00.  Not bad but not ideal either.  He never, ever wakes up happy.  I feel so bad for him but I think he must just take after his dad -- who takes FOREVER to wake up and is very cranky in the mornings.  At least this is what I am telling myself to make me feel better about the whole thing.  

Naps are also hit and miss in the Stephen's household.  I try to put him down between 1-2 and he may take a 1.5 hour nap if I am lucky.  He cries when I set him down for a nap 30% of the time but usually just few a minute or two but every once and a while he will surprise me and cry for nearly 30 minutes.  These past 3 months he would wake up mid-nap and need to be held to finish it out 75% of the time.  It got to be exhausting but I caved because I wanted more rest myself.   

Thoughts on weaning...

I am currently "tandem" nursing Eli and Ellie.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined doing this but, here I am.  The first week with Ellie home was tough on Eli.  Before she arrived, he was only nursing for a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes before bed and maybe once during the day if he fell down.  However, when he saw little sister nurse so much he started to constantly want mama's milk.  There was a lot of, "Mommy's milk is for baby" and "Tiny nurse" and "After baby" and a lot of tears on Eli's part.  However, things have really started to get better and we are back to just a few times a day with out much fussing at all when I nurse Ellie.  

My goal is to completely wean Eli by 23 months.  I'd like to be done by the end of July but we will see how it goes.  Breastfeeding is a two person relationship and even if Eli is not ready to be done, I am.  I think we will send Eli to my parents house towards the end of July for an entire weekend and when he comes back there won't be any more milk for him.  Please say a prayer that this goes well or even better that Eli just weans himself.  

Confession:  Some part of me wishes I would have weaned him sometime in my third trimester when I didn't have any milk anyways.  He didn't seem to really need it and I would have been done before Ellie arrived but I didn't and now this is our situation.  We'll deal and survive as always.  

The many positions of nursing a toddler!

Oh Eli,
I can't believe in 2.5 short months you will be TWO!  You continually amaze me with new skills!  You are a mover and a doer!  You are so sweet and cuddly!   You have made me so proud.  Your laugh is super contagious and I love to hear you squeal with delight, especially when you are with your "Papa."  I feel so blessed that God chose me to be your mom!  You have been a big brother for two weeks (I am writing this on 7.5.13) and you love your little sister so much already.  You like to give her kisses, hold her and point out when her eyes are open!  I can't wait to see how your relationship with her progresses!  You are going to be the BEST big brother!  

Here's to your last few months before you turn TWO!  I love you through and through, yesterday, today and tomorrow too!