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Pumping is Breastfeeding Too

Wesley is almost exclusively fed via bottle because I almost exclusively pump. We nurse once, maybe twice a day, but that's it. It started in the hospital. When Wes was in the NICU they had me pumping the tiny bit of colostrum I was producing and bringing it in, then they'd supplement with formula. Because of his glucose issues they had to know how much he was eating to help get his levels regulated. When we took him home he only had to have formula for one night before my milk came in, and when it came in it REALLY came in. I was struggling a little bit with some postpartum depression (bonding was off with Wes and I... I had a baby, and then my baby was taken away from me for 4 days). Breastfeeding actually made my postpartum depression worse. Wes's latch was a bit off and I had a massive oversupply of milk so every few hours when it was time to feed him he'd be covered in milk and I'd be covered in milk and we'd both be frustrated. I was engorged and my nips weren't used to it yet and were bleeding. I felt like I only held my baby when he was crying and it was time to feed him and I honestly hated feeding him.

So one day I used a little silicone pump I got off Amazon for $15 (it doesn't actually pump, it just relieves the pressure of engorgement - I HIGHLY recommend it). Of course I saved the milk and Conner fed it to him in a bottle later. I said I was just going to pump on and off for a few days because I needed a break, physically and mentally. I felt incredibly guilty. What kind of mother hates feeding her child? Well, when it's a messy, incredibly painful and frustrating experience, why wouldn't you hate it? But with pumping he was still getting solely breastmilk and plenty of it, so I went with it. And a few days turned into weeks... 7 weeks later I'm so glad we feed him the way we do. Conner feeds him often and takes one feeding in the middle of the night. I'm not a human pacifier for my son, and he also doesn't consider me his only source of food. I love that Conner has such a strong bond with him, and that has been helped along by him being able to feed Wes. It's also taken a lot of pressure off me. Pumping is a hassle sometimes, but it's predictable and controlled - we always know how much he's eating and how often. And once again, he's exclusively breastfed, just not always directly from the breast. I have learned to be proud of that, not ashamed. We found what worked for the 3 of us.

And now when we do nurse it doesn't hurt and my supply is under better control. Nursing is a sweet experience and we have that connection I wanted so badly. So this image is to celebrate the process of getting to this stage. I knew prior to having a baby that breastfeeding is hard, but I couldn't fully understand why until I experienced it. Motherhood is so difficult sometimes, and those early days everything feels so raw... in the end you do what feels right for your family. I have a whole new respect for varying methods of parenting because I have a whole new understanding of how different each individual and family are.

Fed is best. 

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Daughter to Mother, Mother to Grandmother

My mom flies home today after 43 days with us: 24 pre-baby, and 20 post-baby! It’s very bittersweet. I’m finally starting to feel better physically, and therefore feeling more up to the challenge of taking care of Wesley on my own while Conner is at work, and also being able to get out of the house occasionally, but we all are going to miss her so so much!

My mom was one of the first people to speak to and comfort my son after his somewhat traumatic birth (which I REALLY do intend to write out VERY soon). I cannot tell you how special this is to me, and I’m sure to her as well.  The photos below… they bring tears to my eyes instantly. Thank you, Conner, for taking them! 

I hardly remember this moment because I was so beyond exhausted, but I DO remember my mom being there during my labor. She was a quiet figure in the periphery most of the time. I totally withdrew into myself to deal with labor, and spent a lot of time with my eyes closed, or tuning out what was around me, but I remember her coming into my consciousness at the moments I needed her most. She’d speak quietly into my ear and tell me I could do this, I was doing great. Apparently I kept asking over and over during the course of the 40 hours, “Is my mom here? Where’s mom?” and Conner would reassure me she was there.

A few days after giving birth I remembered, towards the end of my labor, when things were getting scary and chaotic, Conner said loudly next to me, “Wendy, you’re staying.” I asked him what that had been about and he told me the doctor said more people needed to leave. My mom hesitated because a few of the other people on my birth team hadn’t left yet, so Conner, knowing how much I needed her there and how much it meant to her to BE there, made sure she knew not to go. When he told me this piece I cried, and I’m crying now just thinking about it, about her wondering if she should go. I would have been devastated, DEVASTATED if she’d left. That's a perfect example of Conner looking out for what he knew I wanted and ensuring it happened even when I couldn't. 

During the very last moments before Wes was born I looked at my mom and saw she was crying. I think a lot of people in the room were scared but seeing my mom cry, which she doesn’t do often… I felt the full weight of a mother looking at her child and wishing she could take away the pain. To feel my mother’s love so thoroughly in the moment that I myself became a mother was a priceless experience. One she or I will never ever forget. 

I would NOT have been able to give birth the way I did without her and Conner and the rest of my amazing birth team. And giving birth to Wesley is by far the greatest accomplishment of my life, and she gets to share credit for helping that happen.

Mom: Thank you for spending weeks on end helping me get through the discomfort of being hugely pregnant and ready to give birth. For cleaning and cooking and making my life 100x easier. For being my companion even when I was grouchy and didn’t want one. For letting me cry and not judging my tears. For making me smile and feel supported and loved. For encouraging us when Wes was in the NICU, and when I had to go back to the ER. For walking through the darker days where postpartum depression threatened. For taking Wes in the mornings so I could get a few extra hours of sleep. For loving my son so purely and instantly. For being my mom when I needed you the most! I will never, ever be able to repay you. I love you! And I know you'll be back soon! :) 

I did a bad job of taking pictures with once we were home so most of these are from the NICU. 

Lastly I want to add a thank-you to my dad. Besides the 4 days he was here in Texas to meet Wesley, he's been alone at home without mom. In the 44 years they've been together, the longest they'd been apart prior to this was about 10 days. This was more than quadruple that. It's been a sacrifice for him too, and I want to recognize that.

This was the morning Dad was leaving and this photo... DAMN. It breaks my heart! I was just taking a photo of him looking at the post-its full of birth affirmations and congratulatory messages that my mom orchestrated and he teared up and said, "It's just so nice." I couldn't agree more. I love you Dad, and we all miss you! 

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My Self Portrait Project from 20 - 40 Weeks!

HOW IT BEGAN

This project began at 20 weeks when I wanted to take a pretty gender reveal picture, but it was a weekday and no one was available to come help me take it. So I drove to the snow and took one myself! After moving to Texas I realized I'd be spending a lot of time alone since I'm not working right now, and I wanted something more than mirror selfies to remember my pregnancy by. It was also a great (albeit small) creative outlet for me while not photographing clients. I didn't follow any sort of timeline, I just took photos as they came to me or as I pleased. I'm SO happy I did this little project and plan on continuing with it after Wesley makes his grand entrance earthside. :) 


20 WEEKS // 1.31.16

My Gender Reveal photos in Oregon at Odell Lake. It's a BOY!

My tripod broke while I was there so the first photo was taken with my camera sitting on a snow bank and the second was taken from the hood of my car! 


25 WEEKS // 2.4.17

After our move to Texas we made a trip to Austin to see friends and visit Inner Space Caverns! 


26 WEEKS // 2.13.17

Getting settled into the groove of stay-at-home-momness and nesting away in the nursery! This first image is still one of my very favorites. I've spent a lot of time on my own, inwardly focused on me and my baby, and I think this image captures that peaceful calm quite well. 


27 WEEKS // 2.15.17

More home life. :) 


28 WEEKS // 2.22.17

With early spring upon us in Texas and the amazing weather, I made a trip down to the Dallas Arboretum - one of my favorite places so far! I remember feeling absolutely HUGE this day! Haha! 


31 WEEKS // 3.20.17

Stopped on the side of the road in a few places after an appointment at my birth center. 


32 WEEKS // 3.27.17

Thoroughly enjoying the sun in my backyard, and an ice cold glass of chlorophyll!


33 WEEKS // 3.29.17 - 4.1.17

I wasn't sure if I wanted to share this first one, but showers and baths have been such an IMPERATIVE part of keeping me comfortable during my pregnancy, it wouldn't be an accurate depiction to leave these types of photos out. And to be honest, I don't feel shy about showing some skin now and again. Especially pregnant. :) 

Also a few more at-home images as well as my 29th birthday photo! 


34 WEEKS // 4.5.17

Went down to the lake next to our house for some pretty evening light.

4.10.17

This photo was taken the day after we'd been in the hospital after 15 hours of preterm labor. I ended up having to be sedated to stop the labor, but I spent the next 3 weeks in prodromal labor (a type of labor that happens prior to the onset of full active labor. It is often considered a type of “false-labor,” but this is a misnomer, because doctors and midwives will explain that the contractions are real but they start and stop). Baths, which I've taken every day for my entire pregnancy (sometimes more than once a day) became even more frequent during these weeks. 


36 WEEKS // 4.19.17 & 4.25.17

A simple bump shot and more shower therapy, haha! Wesley was posterior for much of my prodromal labor (probbaly what was causing it) and with my contractions came some back labor helped only by hanging my belly and sitting under the warm water. 


37 WEEKS // 4.26.17 & 5.2.17

This was a big milestone for us. I wasn't able to give birth in my birth center until I was 37 weeks, and I'd been on modified bedrest (I could be up for an hour with minimal activity and then I'd have to lay down for an hour - not sit, LAY - and so on) for 2 weeks prior to this. I was released from bedrest this week and officially allowed to give birth with my midwife in my birth center.

My mom also flew in from Oregon this week. She wasn't going to come until May 7th but came a week early because I'd been showing signs of going into labor early. Of course, because we thought he was coming early, now he's stayed put! Mom and I have thoroughly enjoyed our neighborhood pool which opened May 1st!


38 WEEKS // 5.7.17

My self portrait project has sort of made me look like a single mom, haha! But that's simply because 1) I'm alone a lot, and therefore taking photos of myself only is more feasible, and 2) Conner does not enjoy having his photo taken (and yet he married a photographer!). He didn't mind me capturing this moment between us, though. :) He's been the most amazing and supportive husband a girl could ask for, and my ability to do these fun things and focus on my pregnancy is 100% thanks to him and his hard work! 


39 WEEKS // 5.12.17

I came home one day to find 30+ birth affirmations written out and stuck on my wall by my mom. It was one of the sweetest things, so of course I had to get a photo with her in front of them!


40 WEEKS!!! Hello Due Date! // 5.17.17

That brings us to today! Wesley's due date! Even though first time moms typically do go over their due date, we didn't think we'd get here because of the early labor signs. But here we are! Although I'm quite ready for him to be born, I know it's best for him to stay in there and cook for the full 40 weeks, and I'm kind of proud to be here today. I must admit, though... now I REALLY want him to come! My dad, sister and brother-in-law are flying out in 8 days to meet this boy. It would be nice to actually have a baby to show them! :D 

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Wesley's Nursery!

I have had way too much fun in this nursery! It actually ended up much more cluttered than I intended - that's what happens when you have too many ideas and not enough room for all of them (I didn't even do all that I wanted!) but I love love love it all the same. 

This room is a reflection of one of the major benefits of our move. There is no way I'd have had the time, energy or funds to create a room like this if Conner's job hadn't afforded us this little luxury. And while a cute room and MANY of the items in it are completely unnecessary for having a baby, the process of being creative, crafty, and nesty has helped me feel more connected to and prepared for our son. I know it's really made Conner happy too. The day he came home from work and saw the branch with Wesley's name hanging from it (the first craft I did) he told me it was exactly what he'd hoped for. Not the actual branch, but the fact that I could spend the time on quiet, creative projects for our kiddo. I say it all the time but it's these little things that we are both most grateful for. That has been a big theme during our time here in Texas: gratitude. 

I knew regardless of the baby's gender I wanted the nursery to have a loose PNW theme, especially once we learned of our move to Texas. Let's be honest, Wesley isn't going to remember his nursery, so it might as well be a little piece of my own home to make ME most comfortable and happy. :) Funnily enough, one day I asked Conner what he'd like to see in the nursery (overall I'd say decor is not something he cares about... at all) and he surprised me by answering, "I don't know. Maybe clouds?" Perfect! So trees and clouds and little woodland creatures with a muted palette and pops of color became the game plan. I'd intended to make a cloud mobile but it wasn't turning out so great. I still may make a second attempt, but the changing pad cover has clouds on it! 

Early on my parents offered up the crib my sister and I used when WE were babies if Conner and I wanted it. Not only was it great to receive something that'd normally cost several hundred dollars for free, but I also love the crib! After a brief concern about the drop-side (they're no longer made for safety concerns) we determined we were able to secure it and it wouldn't be an issue to use, and it's in perfect condition! It also closely matched the wood color on the one and only dresser I've had for my entire life and am finally upgrading from, so those two large pieces cost us nothing! 

Overall I'm very pleased with the room and can't wait to add the finishing touch to it: a baby! :D

Can you spot the naughty kitty who's trying not to be noticed? Dizzy LOVES this room, particularly the rocking chair. I even unknowingly locked her in the nursery closet for 14 hours overnight because she snuck in behind my back. She happily slept there and didn't make a peep until morning. 

This chair and ottoman were gifts from my mom and I LOVE them! It's super comfy and supportive. I hand sewed the tree pillow - not a forte of mine! But I love how it came out. :) 

Another little DIY project I enjoyed was his name hanging on the branch. I did this almost immediately after moving and, being the naive Oregonian I am, had NO idea how hard it would be to find a branch in Texas! We live RIGHT next to a lake but the tree branches are so flimsy! Jack and I spent several hours finding thing one. Then the actual craft was a bit tricky as well (I got super obsessive about making sure the letters were straight and evenly spaced) but it was totally worth it! 

My mom bought this sloth because we saw one together at the Dallas World Museum when she flew here with me in January. Apparently it made her think of Wesley. :) She also made the scarf and a super-cute hat that matches it! Also, I'm obsessed with the sheets!! 

Wesley already has nearly 40 books!

The closets in this house are SMALL, so some creative organization was needed. That's a closet door shoe rack! Thanks Pinterest!

Like I mentioned before, the room got a little bit cluttery! But I don't mind. :)

That dresser was the dresser I used for nearly 29 years! Also, gotta LOVE my Dad's creation hanging there!

I'm pretty proud of this silly thing. I looked on Pinterest for changing station organization and there's a different IKEA caddy all over the place, but it didn't come in a color I liked! I found this one in their laundry area for half the price (and it's larger), the diapers on top are in a plate drying rack (ha!) and the little buckets on the side and baskets were add-ons. It's filled with all sorts of diaper supplies and TONS samples I've received from various companies (all of the diapers and wipes in the caddy were even free!). 

I know these drawers will probably not look like this for long after Wes arrives, but some super cheap drawer organizers made putting away tiny baby stuff a lot easier!

One of my former coworkers, Katie, texted a picture of this midcentury side table before I moved. She'd found it on an app called Chairish and noticed it was in Dallas. I purchased it before even leaving Oregon and my first trip into the Dallas metro area was with Conner to pick it up. It's a bit of an oddball piece but it's actually pretty handy with the lack of storage in this big house! Thanks for the heads up Katie!!

Now all that's missing is a baby! 8 weeks to go!!

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Baby Stuff EVERYWHERE!

Last weekend we received so many amazing gifts for Wesley! I ended up having to borrow an extra suitcase from my parents and check another FULL bag to get home but it was obviously well worth it! On Friday I emptied the gifts and laid them all out so Conner could properly see the amazing bounty we received...

First of all, one of my favorite touches was asking our guests to bring their favorite baby book in lieu of a card. These days, with the price of cards, baby books aren't really that much more expensive and they're much more practical! Now we have 28 books to start our little man's library! 28!! It was really fun seeing what people decided to bring and several harkened back to mine and Conner's childhood. Loved this! 

We also received several BEAUTIFUL homemade items like quilts, blankets, toys, hats and even a scarf (my mom is making sure Wesley will be prepared for the trips to Oregon she is looking forward to!). We got clothes (including swimwear - can't wait to swim with my little water baby who ALWAYS wakes up and moves a bunch when I'm in the tub!) toys, swaddles, a playmat, bath accessories, crib sheets, little Converse sneakers (anyone who knew me in my youth knows I basically lived in those - particularly my Sis who bought them for us!), an awesome diaper bag, a boppy (which didn't make it in this picture) and postpartum care items for me. And finally, we were graced with quite a few gift cards which allowed me to place one big order for the remaining items we needed - $650 worth of stuff - and I only had to pay $108 for it! We even still have a $150 Target gift card leftover! Here's some of the stuff I ordered with that money:

Ozzie thinks all of the baby's stuff is for him. Dizzy just wants the boxes it all comes in. :)

To say we feel incredibly blessed is a gross understatement. But beyond the gifts, what really meant the most to me was the support and love from the amazing people in our lives. We are so fortunate to have you all "by our sides" even from halfway across the country! We love you and appreciate you more than you know! 

Now I get to finally put the finishing touches on the nursery! I can't wait to share photos of it! I've had so much fun with that room. :) 

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