Four weeks ago today, our baby girl Stella Marie came into this world. In one sense, four weeks seems to have flown by, but on the other hand, it seems like much, much longer. Days at home seem to creep by as we go through the feedings, playtimes, fixing meals, loads of laundry. However, at the end of most days, it seems like time has escaped me. The hardest part at this moment is that my baby girl is growing soooooo fast! I am just loving having her as a part of our lives, and I am wanting to cherish every moment we have with our newborn blessing, but she won't stop growing!!!
One of the things that I want to express is how much I am ENJOYING Stella! With Nora, I was a nervous wreck. I could hardly make it through the day and fit in a shower, let alone keep a clean house. Nora was particular and fussy, and I think I was just so anxious for her to get out of the fussy stage and start sleeping through the night. I don't know that I enjoyed her first few weeks as much as I could have. With Liam, I think I realized how I was with Nora and I tried to enjoy him more....which I did. I was much more relaxed the second time around. With Stella, I think I am just realizing more and more that this time with her so little is SO SHORT! Getting up in the middle of the night is not quite as burdensome. Her little newborn cries are so sweet to me, and I just love every single minute she is with us. (I just wish I had more free time on my hands to just hold her tight!). She is such a little blessing!
Here are some things about Stella at four weeks:
Stella has been my best eater (and pooper) so far! We have had few nursing issues and what little ones we did resolved themselves within the first week. My girl eats about every 2 1/2 to 3 hours during the day, and she is already stretching her feedings in the night. She has done several nights of a 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 hour stretch, followed by a 3-4 hour stretch after that! It is really nice having to get up only once in the wee hours of the morning. Here is a rough estimate of her feeding schedule as of today (and I include this for my personal reference only):
8:30 am- designated wake time (I try to wake her up to "start" her day at this time or within 30 minutes of this time, depending on when her last feeding was. Starting around the same time everyday helps to get us in a rhythm and puts her to sleep for the night around the same time).
11:00 am- feeding/awake time/nap
1:30-2:00 pm- feeding/awake time/nap
4:00-4:30 pm- feeding/awake time/nap
6:30-7:00 pm- feeding/awake time or bath/bedtime
9:30-10:00 pm- last feeding and straight back to sleep for the night
She usually wakes between 2:00-3:30 am for a feeding and then wakes again anywhere from 6:00-8:30 am. We are just taking it as it comes and letting her wake to feed as she does in the night. All together she usually gets 8 feedings a day. And lately, she will take at least one really good, long nap during the day which pushes our schedule back a bit so that her final late-night feeding is around 10 pm.
For the first three weeks, Stella slept really well for naps, and I contribute that to "newborn sleepiness." Just this week she is becoming super alert during her wake times, but her nap times are pretty hard sometimes. She fights sleep, and she is not fully committed to a paci. Sometimes she will take it really well, other times it seems like she wants nothing to do with it. Also, sometimes I can put her in her bed wide awake and she will happily drift off to sleep without anything (no paci, no soothing), but then other times she will fuss for a long time. I am trying to figure her out! I'm not sure if she's going to have to cry it out for naps, but if she takes fully to the paci, then we may go that route. Too soon to tell, I guess! Patience is the game...although, I must say, sometimes I get tired of going in again and again to "plug her up."
Stella is growing like a weed and changing daily. She is still wearing newborn sized diapers, but sometimes at night when I know she'll sleep longer, I will put her in size 1. She is still wearing most NB sized clothing, but her NB onesies are beginning to look snug. She is definitely filling out in her arms and legs, and she's had a double chin for atleast a week now! Like I said, she is growing too fast!
Stella has been a pretty busy girl in her first four weeks of life. We have spent lots of time over the past month at Granna and Geegaw's house. We had our "stay-cation" there and we've visited them over the weekends several times. She has been to church the past two Sundays, and she has done really well in the Infant Care Room with me. We went for our first neighborhood walk yesterday thanks to the help of Anne (my friend and next-door neighbor). That was funny to watch: Anne pushed Nora and Dillon in the double stroller, I pushed Liam in the jogger and wore Stella in the Bjorn. What a workout! Most days we stay at home all day, and I have not dared to even think about getting out by myself with all three kiddos to hit up Target or Kroger. Jonathan has been so wonderful to me and goes to the grocery for me in the evening if needed.
Nora and Liam are in love with Stella. Nora asks me at least 5 times a day if we can keep her forever! I tell her that we will gladly keep her as long as God allows us to have her!! Nora loves to check on her and tell me that she is crying (as if I can't hear her ;)). She is definitely my little momma. Quick story: Yesterday Stella was having a hard time going down for second nap. We had just finished lunch for the kids and I had to return some books to the library, so I thought I would stick all the kids in the car and take a quick ride. Plus, I really wanted a sweet tea from McD's to get me through the afternoon. I naturally assumed that Stella would pass out in the carseat, soothed by the ride. However, I was WRONG! That girl screamed from the moment we pulled out of the driveway until we pulled back in. It was the longest 25 minutes of our lives! Nora sits next to Stella in the car, and she kept trying to give her the paci, but Stella just wouldn't hold onto it. Poor Nora was so frustrated because she was trying so hard to help her, but Stella just wouldn't have anything. Nora asked me if Stella was going to get into trouble for throwing a fit, and I told her that babies didn't get disciplines because they were too little. I tried to explain that Stella didn't know how to talk to us and that her way of communicating is to cry. She was just having a hard time, and it is our job to care for her, comfort her, and do what we can. But, sometimes babies just cry! Nora was just looking for a mute button on that baby girl for sure! I told her that sometimes it's hard to be a big sister, but thanked her for trying to help so well! Needless to say, we dropped the books off and came straight home (no tea for me!). Once we got home and I fed Stella, Nora was back in love with her little sister.
Liam. Whew! First of all, he LOVES "Baby Stella." Usually when speaking, Liam has this very low and almost monotone voice, but whenever he is addressing Stella, his voice instantly jumps up several octaves. Even a two year old boy knows that you speak "baby talk" to cute little ones! He loves to kiss her, and man is he rough! He has know idea how strong he is, and I know he just wants to love on her, but I have to watch him like a hawk because he is so strong and squishes her. Stella will be one tough cookie thanks to her big brother. Liam likes to help me "pat" Stella during feedings (pat=burp), and he gets the biggest kick out of her loud belches. He's been really good about the whole nursing thing, and although he has had some curiosity, he hasn't gotten weirded out by the whole thing. He will say, "My baby, I eat milk" which means, "When I was a baby, I ate milk (like Stella)." Only one time did he try to help himself to some milk (hehe!).
I also want to say that my concerns for Liam prior to Stella's birth regarding how he would respond have dwindled. He was such a Momma's boy prior to Stella coming, wanting to be held a lot and preferring me over anyone else. Since Stella's arrival, he has definitely become less clingy (it's practically disappeared), and he is not jealous of her at all. At least not in a physical, tangible demonstration. Where we are having difficulty with him is his disobedience and testing the limits. We have to be very consistent with him, following through with disciplines all the time, which can be exhausting and wearisome some days. However, I have seen God's faithfulness in the past few weeks. I cannot wait to see some fruit from all of this training! We love our boy, no doubt, and are always cracking up at his antics and always in love with his sweetness. He is so much fun, craziness and all!
All in all, the past four weeks have been wonderful. Life with three is very busy, and most days I hit my limit about the time that Jonathan walks through the door. I have once again been reminded that I am indeed dependent on God's grace every minute. Our little family is a work in a progress, and even though we have a newborn who does require a lot of attention, I need to pour myself into the other two kiddos just as much as before. This came seem daunting sometimes, but God has blessed us with a very good baby girl who seems to mostly "go with the flow."
Stella's one month birthday is this Saturday, July 2nd, and her one month check-up is next Tuesday! Check in then to see her stats and to know for sure how much she has grown in the past few weeks.