Something tells me…

…that this will be the same color coming out as it was going in. I suppose that's what we get for sticking store-bought baby-food squash with fresh avocado in a food processor.

I swear I saw this same stuff in her diaper (and also my shorts) yesterday.

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And now it's all over her face.

And just for the record, I don't think a little girl has ever loved her Daddy as much as this one does.

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Breastfeeding FAIL.

Linnea turned three months old this week, and as of her weight check at the doctor she still only weighs a whopping 7 lbs. 12 oz. When people see her the first comment is usually,"Oh, look at her! She's a brand new one, isn't she?"

Nope. She's three months old.

When she was first born, at 6 lbs. even, and 5 lbs. 6 oz. when we left the hospital, she was pretty tiny to begin with. I was on a mission to exclusively breastfeed, simply because it was the best thing for her, and at first things seemed to be going pretty well. The doctor said she was "perfect" at her two-week checkup and said that we didn't need to come back until her two-month checkup. I continued breastfeeding and had no idea it wasn't working until we went in at two months, and she only weighed 6 lbs. 5 oz.!

I felt awful. A-W-F-U-L, awful.

Leading up to the arrival of our daughter, we had decided that we were going to keep her on a feeding and sleeping schedule- we had read the first of the Babywise series and it sounded like a good plan for us. We knew some families who followed the Babywise plan and it was working well for them, plus we agreed with the principles presented in the book, so we were going for it. But after Linnea arrived, and we fed her every three hours 24 hours a day for a while (which is pretty typical for every child at first), we noticed that she was pretty fussy, pretty often. My parents insisted that she was hungry, but I insisted on keeping her on a schedule. Turns out they were right. (When is mom ever not right? Someday Linnea's gonna learn that about me. Ha!) I wasn't producing enough milk for her (only about an ounce at a time)
but I had no idea because, needless to say, I was ignorant. It's been
such a learning process but it's been amazing.

So we started supplementing with formula and she became a much happier baby. Her skinny little legs are filling out and her knees aren't so knobby anymore. She's also pretty much outgrown her newborn clothes- finally. She's much more alert and content- and even though I never wanted to have to give her formula because it's the second-best thing for her and not the best, her health is much more important. While formula is much harder on our wallets, I'm not gonna lie- it's much easier to deal with bottle feeding in public than it is to nurse anywhere outside our home. 

On that note, I've pretty much transitioned completely from breastfeeding to formula. I still try to breastfeed her at least once or twice a day, but unfortunately it just isn't working anymore. As a mother, it's surprisingly difficult to have to let go of that ability to nourish your child the way God intended, but on the flip side it's also somewhat of a relief. This motherhood thing can be a crazy ride- no doubt this is only the beginning!

So anyway, here are a few pictures of Cody and Linnea last weekend.

Burps:

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Try and resist me:
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Look at my loooooong eyelashes like my Daddy's:
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Linnea loves Daddy! He's the best.
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(Un)happy camper.

I am now on day number three of what I have dubbed "inconsolable afternoons." Clean diaper? Check. Full tummy? Check. Burped? Check. Won't burp? OK. Mylecon? Check. Comfortable? Don't see any pinchy diapers… Check. Rocking in her boppy doesn't work, binkies don't work, holding her and rubbing her back doesn't work, singing lullabies doesn't work (although my singing voice may just exacerbate the problem…).

Only two things have changed this week that are completely new to her since she was born. Number one is that Cody returned to work on Wednesday. So is this in any way connected to my husband's absence after being here consistently over the first six weeks of Linnea's life? I'm gonna say no, mostly because I'd like to think I'm enough to console her, but I may be in denial because she is already so clearly a Daddy's Girl. All he has to do is hold her and speak gently in her ear and she is GOLDEN. Sometimes when I pick her up she screams even louder… unless, of course, I'm feeding her. Then it's the epitome of peaceful in this household. 

See? Screaming when Mom holds her:

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Happy as a clam when Daddy holds her:

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And I will spare you a picture of me feeding her. But trust me, she's perfectly fine when I do.

Anyway, RULING THAT OUT, that leaves me with a solid theory as to why she's so upset in the afternoons, because I just don't think these are so-called "daily fussy times." This is knock-down, drag-out, top-of-the-lungs screaming as soon as she is done eating that has lasted almost until her next scheduled feeding. With no daytime naps. And it is COMPLETELY my fault. The theory?

Coffee.

I started drinking caffeinated coffee again. Not a gallon at a time, but a cup or two in the mornings. And after drinking strictly decaf when I was pregnant, this may have been a bit of a shock to her tiny system. Consequently I have a very unhappy infant who doesn't sleep longer than 15 minutes at a time between feedings and crashes at night. (But hey, at least she sleeps at night!) No wonder she doesn't like me. Ha!

Anyway, we'll see if my theory is correct now that I'm giving up the stuff… again. God forbid we have a colicky baby- I would feel so bad for her because I imagine that is miserable! We'll just keep our fingers crossed for more times like these:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9254462&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Mommy loves you from Andrea Alley on Vimeo.

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Daddy's girl from Andrea Alley on Vimeo.

Nursery photos and a happy baby in pink.

I think I've mentioned before that I never thought I would be the "Pink Mom," but it's safe to say that I threw that thought out the window when I found out I was having a little girl. Pink is now my favorite, favorite color ever, and I find all kinds of inspiration in its many shades. Here's a cute video of her cooing in her crib I shot yesterday- Cody and I love when she is awake and alert and not fussy- it's the best.

Pink crib from Andrea Alley on Vimeo.

When we first started planning the nursery, we had originally intended to paint the walls in a super pale shade of pink, but we nixed that idea the closer we got to her due date. I narrowed down the color scheme to pale pink, ivory, and black, with natural wood furniture and a vintage bird theme. I also wanted to incorporate as many handmade items as possible, made by myself or anyone else who was so inclined. Cody's mom and my parents were also huge contributors to her nursery! Here are some pictures of the finished product:

This is what you see when you walk in the door.

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I made the mobile and the flags hanging on her crib and painted the
giant "L" gold for the shelves. On the shelves are some pictures from
our maternity shoot and my childhood prayer plaque that I always had
hanging above my bed when I was little. It says, "Jesus, guide me
through the night, wake me with the morning light." We may add some more photos from our birth shoot and newborn shoot as well. My best friend
Amber made the birdhouses on the book shelf and my Hummel music box is sitting on top- I always used to fall asleep to it as a child. My Amma's dear friend from
Centralia made the blanket hanging on the rack in the corner, and our
friend Adria made the pillow in the corner of the crib. We found a night stand at Savers for $8 that Cody refinished and adorned with hardware from my favorite store ever, Anthropologie. We even have my dad's newborn shoes sitting on the bottom shelf 🙂 I love all the
handmade touches and keepsakes that went into our little girl's nursery!

Below is a night time shot.

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View from glider. Cody refinished and antiqued my childhood dresser for Linnea's room! He did a great job 🙂

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One of my favorite details- the vintage bird hardware Cody surprised me with from Anthropologie for the top drawer of the dresser.

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Another wonderful detail is this chalk board Cody made. We found the frame at Goodwill for $3 and bought a board and some chalk board paint and voila! Homemade chalk board!

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The glider and changing table. My Amma gave Linnea the beautiful mirror, and the quilt hanging on the back of the glider was made by my great aunt Inga in Iceland. I made the pillow and the pictures on the wall with the help of Cody, who sanded and painted the frames black (he's such a rock star).

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Another night time shot.

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And of course, how could I leave out pictures of the nursery's precious occupant?

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Our dear friend Katie made the green bird rattle laying next to her- so adorable!

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Drumroll please…

"Since the day they got married
He'd been praying for a little baby boy
Someone he could take fishing
Throw the football and be his pride and joy
He could already see him holding that trophy
Taking his team to state
But when the nurse came in with a little pink blanket
All those big dreams changed

And now, he's wrapped around her finger
She's the center of his whole world
And his heart belongs to that sweet little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect
All-American girl."

All-American Girl, Carrie Underwood

Today was the biggest day yet in our journey toward parenthood. This morning, at our ultrasound at 9:30, we learned that Baby is a GIRL! I cannot begin to explain the change this news has made in my heart as we anticipate the arrival of our little one. Seeing her little face for the first time, hearing the ultrasound technician say that she appears healthy and growing at the right pace, pointing out her brain and her organs and her tiny little hands and feet and watching her kick her legs was the most awe-inspiring, breathtaking thing I've ever seen. Perhaps it was the pregnancy hormones kicking into gear (OK, I fully intend to blame it on that), but I was such a happy, weepy mess the whole time as I took in the life that's taking shape in my belly. I was changed forever, through and through.

I had a feeling for a while now that our baby is a girl, although my pregnancy didn't start out that way. For much of the first trimester I was pretty intent on the idea that we were having a boy. There was no rhyme or reason to this whatsoever, it was just my thought process at the time. But as things progressed, I started gravitating toward female names, the color pink, and the idea of making adorable, frilly things for a darling, imaginative daughter, and a life of watching her grow and learn new things every day, and the idea stuck like glue. I actually began to think that if I learned we were expecting a boy, there would be a little twinge of disappointment. I always scolded myself for thinking such ridiculous thoughts, since the most important thing would be having a healthy child, and loving him or her no matter what kind of news comes out of that ultrasound.

And then, when I woke up this morning, my mind was flooded with thoughts of a life with a girl, and life with a boy, and the realization that I had absolutely no preference of one over the over. I was completely at peace with the possibility of either outcome, and when the ultrasound technician said, "Oh! There it is… are you guys ready?" I was totally unbiased, and completely ready for whatever she had to say. And when the news came that we are having a girl, I squealed with delight and cried very happy tears, and knew with all my heart that I would have felt exactly the same way had she said, "It's a boy!"

Without a doubt, a switch was flipped, and my life was changed forever. I was flooded with such a sense of connectedness and love and bliss that I couldn't stop smiling all day. We are one step closer to knowing this person- our daughter!- and raising her to be the best version of herself. Cody and I do not want a spoiled princess, and have all the intentions in the world to keep her from becoming one. I have all kinds of ideas and hopes and dreams for who she will become, but the truth is, I have no control over that- only influence. She already is who she is, and all we can do is our best to raise her in a home full of love, joy, and encouragement; to set positive examples of what it is to be a woman, and how a man should take care of his family, and set the standard for the men that will inevitably enter her life someday; to keep her healthy; to point her toward the God that Cody and I know and love and pray that she finds Him too. She is our little gift, our little girl, and nothing could have prepared me for the joy that I have found in getting to be her mom.

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One week out

We are a whopping one week out from two major things: the halfway point of our pregnancy, and finding out whether we will have a pink or a blue nursery! I cannot tell you how excited I am to find out what the little occupant in my belly is so we can start seriously thinking about names. I have only briefly looked at name books and Web sites, and while I've found some interesting ones, I have not found anything that I am absolutely crazy about. I also find it hard to believe that we are pretty much halfway through this whole process- and I must admit that I have all but forgotten about how awful I felt that first trimester. However, the past day or two I have been visited by the nausea elves, as if to say, NOT SO FAST! We are here to remind you about your all-time favorite part of pregnancy! In case I forgot. Which I did, until then.

In the meantime, my belly is getting huge. For some reason, this revelation of mine just never gets old, and every day I look in the mirror and say to Cody, "My belly is so BIG…" To which he replies, "Yes, dear. You're pregnant." Every day, we share this exchange, without fail, like it's some sort of new discovery on my part, and PLEASE BEHOLD THE AMAZING GROWING MIDSECTION, HUSBAND O' MINE. I wear the belly loud and proud, but at the same time I can't help but wonder if strangers on the street look at me and wonder, is she pregnant, or did she just have a GIGANTIC lunch? So I am now that girl who walks around with her hand on her belly constantly, as if that is somehow going to help confirm my pregnant state to those wondering about my status. Yes, I do realize that this could just as easily be viewed as me suffering from a stomach ache because I ate too much for lunch.

On a side note, I'm sitting in the living room, and Cody and both the dogs are napping on the couch. Hanalei is yelping in her sleep. TOO CUTE NOT TO SHARE.

In other pressing news, I think I felt baby kicking around in the belly a couple of days ago. I had to shut off the volume on the TV, lay perfectly still, and put my hand on it in order to positively identify the source of the twitchy sensation, but based on what I've heard it resembles, I think that was it. In fact, since I'm sitting here pretty quietly, full from a big meal, I feel little pokes and prods right now. Anyway, the other night, as we sat there trying to figure out if that was indeed Baby kicking and not just gas or my stomach muscles spazzing out due to THE SUDDEN GROWTH SPURT, Cody decided that he would say things directly into my belly, like "Helloooooo?!!" and "RAHRAHRAHRAH!" The next day we got our weekly BabyCenter email and found out that Baby can hear things that happen outside of the womb.

So we won't be yelling random sounds into the belly anymore. We will, however, attach headphones to the bump every now and then with classical music and other genius-inducing harmonies emanating into his (or her!) precious little ears.

Rough day.

Actually, it's been a rough couple of days. No energy, extreme nausea, wobbly legs. I remember when I ran track and cross country in high school and then college and having workouts and races that left my legs so shaky it was hard to so much as hold myself up. I have never remembered that feeling with such clarity as I do now- I feel like that ALL THE TIME. But instead of feeling that way because I just ran 10 laps around the track at a successively fast pace, I feel that way because I'm… laying around on the couch, doing nothing. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever tried to explain. "Yes, I sit around on my butt ALL DAY LONG. And MAN does it wear me out!"

What?

For the past couple of weeks, I seem to have settled into a pattern of feeling generally well during the day and pretty gnarly at night. This is OK because I work during the day and there is nothing worse than being around food that you normally love but now that you're prego makes you want to blow chunks, and dealing with the already-overwhelming smell of the 5-pound block of bleu cheese that the sweet salad lady, just doing her job, is cutting into manageable crumbles, all while trying not to either dry heave or pass out on customers as you take their order at the register- with a smile. 

Yesterday and today were definitely out of the "norm" that I have been experiencing lately. My Sunday started off well enough- woke up, went to church, went to a class, and that's when the fun started. Nauseous, uncomfortable, hungry for a croissant sandwich. We went to Paradise Bakery and I ordered the roast beef and havarti on a croissant, which I was completely unaware contained horseradish, which is definitely one of those things I have a VERY hard time eating these days. Ate it anyway and proceeded to relive the taste sensation for the remainder of the day and night with the release of even the tiniest burp. This was quickly followed up by such intense fatigue that I crashed on the couch and fell asleep- immediately. My poor husband. I had signed us up to babysit Cruz again that day, and guess who did ALL the work? He is such a trooper. And will be such an amazing dad. I have never been more in love with him than I am now.

Anyway, today sucked too.

It's amazing how bringing a life into the world is one of the hardest and one of the best things that a person can ever do in life. With every day that goes by that I feel AWFUL, I breathe a sigh of relief because it means that my baby is taking what it needs from me to grow and be healthy and strong. It's hard, and sure, I wish I felt great all the time like some women do, but if I felt great all the time I would probably wonder if my baby is really in there, growing up a storm. I feel better the worse I feel because of what it means.

It's funny how pregnancy changes your outlook on life. Cody and I both said the other day that no matter how surprised, unprepared, freaked out, uncertain, panicked, or desperate we have felt through this process of facing this new responsibility, it never even crossed our minds to want the baby to stop growing and not make it. It's not that we ever would have wanted that- don't get me wrong. We're still scared, and excited. It's just that our perspective has shifted to want the best for this new person that has been placed in our lives no matter the effect it has on us.

It's made us grow up.