Friday, May 18, 2012

Ellie FAQs

As of yesterday, Ellie is seven weeks old. Time is flying! I'm torn between being so excited to watch her grow and change, and wanting to stop time so she can stay this small forever.

Since Ellie arrived, I have been asked a few questions pretty regularly, so I thought I'd like to put together a little bit of a hodge-podge post to answer them. Plus, this will give a little more of an update as to how things are going with our little bundle of joy, aside from the visitor recaps and the like. So, let's answer those questions!

How did Ellie get her name?

As you know, we kept Ellie's name under wraps until she was born, so since then we've been asked many times how we chose her name. When I first got pregnant, I was convinced that if I had a girl she would be named Emily. However, when we found out the baby actually was going to be a girl, Emily just didn't feel right. Elizabeth was a name we had both always liked (it's actually my middle name too, although that's not why we chose it), but Eric was not really a fan of any of the usual nicknames for Elizabeth. However, when we threw out the option of Ellie as a nickname for Elizabeth, it sounded pretty nice. Once we knew she was a girl, we spent some time "trying it out" - writing her name down, imagining using it in conversation, etc. Ellie just felt right, so that was decided pretty quickly. We both just loved the nickname Ellie, but also loved Elizabeth as a more formal grown-up name in case she wants to be a Supreme Court Justice or CEO or something fancy someday. So, Elizabeth it was.

Every week during pregnancy, Eric would draw me a new picture on the white board in our kitchen to celebrate another week down. As you can see, we had Ellies's name chosen by week 21!

The middle name was much more difficult. We were stuck on Elizabeth Rose for a long time, which would have given her Eric's initials. We even considered Elizabeth Ryan, which would be both of our middle names put together. However, we also always had Alice in our minds, because Alice is Eric's mother's middle name. As you may recall, I have written quite a bit about my mother-in-law on this blog, both before and after her stroke in 2009 (you can read all I've written about her here). Long story short, she is an amazing woman and incredible mother - she's just the kind of person I really aspire to be like. And Alice is such a sweet name, isn't it? So, Ellie's middle name was decided - it would be Alice, after her grandmother.

And that's how Elizabeth Alice got her name!

How is Achilles adjusting to the baby?

We were definitely a bit nervous about introducing Achilles to Ellie. When we first got home from the hospital, we planned to leave Ellie in her Pack 'N Play bassinet for a while so Achilles could focus on saying hello to me before we did the Big Introduction. That was all well and good for about five minutes, before Ellie stirred and Achilles' ears shot straight up to attention. He then paced all around the bassinet, trying to figure out what was going on up there, until Eric finally picked him up to show him his new little sister.

You can't fool me, there's a tiny person up there!

Trying another angle

The first look

Since then, Achilles has been pretty much indifferent. He mostly steers clear of Ellie, with two exceptions: when I'm on the couch with her, he will sometimes try to come and cuddle with me; and sometimes when she cries he runs to her. I'm not sure why he's running to her, whether it's to try to shut her up or to comfort her, but he just does it sometimes. Of course, we always intercede before he gets to her, which is why we don't know his motives. And sometimes when she cries, he just hides under the bed.

Is that a look of concern? It's hard to say for sure.

Yesterday he did show his first bit of interest in cuddling with Ellie, which was sweet, although we're still keeping them pretty separate for the time being. Someday, little pup!

Patiently waiting for his turn to play with the baby

How is the "nursery" working out?

Our little mini nursery in the corner of the bedroom is working out perfectly so far. Ellie has slept in her crib since the first night we brought her home, but she's still just a few steps away from me. The glider has been great for middle-of-the-night feedings (although there are very few of those anymore, bless that child!), and the little dresser/changing table has been working out quite nicely. Of course, maybe in a few months I'll wish we had a separate room for Ellie so Eric and I can have sole control of the bedroom once again, but for now it has been perfect.

Sleeping in her crib on her first night home from the hospital

How is Ellie sleeping?

Splendidly! (Knock on wood, because I'm sure now that I have actually put that in writing, I just jinxed it and doomed myself to a demon child at night from here on out.) Pretty early on she started sleeping five hours straight at night, and now she's holding steady at six (although there have even been a couple of seven hour nights, too!). Generally, she'll fall asleep as I'm feeding her for the last time at night, and then will sleep for six hours, then will wake up to eat again and will go back to sleep for another two or three hours. It is fabulous. I may never have another child just because I doubt I will ever get it this good again. I just pray, pray, pray this keeps up!

My sleepy angel

During the day it can be a little more of a struggle to get her to nap, although I feel like I've really been getting to know her better and am figuring out what methods I can try to help her fall asleep when she's fighting it. They don't always work, but something usually will do the trick. Her favorite strategy is almost always being bounced on the exercise ball. She also likes her Snugabunny swing. If all else fails, I can always just take her for a walk - she loves her stroller and if you walk briskly over the brick sidewalks along the water, it at the very least calms her down if it doesn't knock her out completely. I guess that's the city dweller's version of putting her in the car and driving around the block? Hey, whatever works.

My mom demonstrating the power of the exercise ball

Asleep in the stroller

What else do you do with Ellie all day? Do you like being home with her, or do you miss working?

Miss working?! Oh, how I laugh! No, I don't miss working, although I do kind of miss going into the city each day and having some adult interaction. But as Ellie gets a little older I'm planning to hit up some moms groups and maybe some Mommy and Me type exercise classes to get out a bit more. That will hopefully come soon. But I do very much enjoy being home with my baby. Sure, it can be challenging sometimes, and very monotonous. But I love and appreciate that I'm able to be here with her each day. We've got a good thing going.

As for what we do, Ellie and I try to go for a nice long walk each day (see the previous section about her love of the stroller and brick sidewalks!) - usually through the parks along the waterfront, and/or to the mall or Target. She'll also spend some time playing on her play mat, swinging in the swing, and of course, bouncing on that exercise ball (seriously, that exercise ball was the best baby purchase ever). She also loves to be on her changing pad, so whenever it's time for a diaper change, we usually spend a little extra time in there, just talking to each other and singing songs. I sing "You Are My Sunshine"to her a lot, but aside from that, for some reason most of the kids' songs I can think of harken back to my Bible School days: "Jesus Loves Me" (that's her favorite), "This Little Light of Mine," "Father Abraham," etc. So although she isn't going to church yet, she's definitely getting her "Jesus loves you" lessons in!

Playing on her play mat

Having a grand old time in her swing!

And you know, sometimes we just sit around looking adorable.

How are you doing? How is your recovery?

I had my final postpartum checkup this week and my doctor says I'm recovering nicely. My scar is looking good and things are all getting back to normal. We also had a good chat about HELLP syndrome and what that could mean for future pregnancies, so I'm feeling very informed on that front.

As for how I feel physically? I'm feeling pretty good. Sometimes if I overdo it with the physical activity I'll feel some pains in my belly, or if my pants are rubbing too much my incision may hurt a bit, but for the most part, I feel back to normal. My belly is still a sad state of affairs, though. Oh, the stretch mark carnage! That will take time to improve, I know - no rush over here. I have other things to worry about for the time being!

How has motherhood compared to your expectations?

In some ways, it has been about as challenging as I expected. I feel like my extended recovery meant it took a little longer for me to start to really get to know Ellie. Here we are, seven weeks later, and of course I don't have all the answers, but I'm just now starting to feel like I know her well enough to figure out what she needs and provide it for her...most of the time, at least! Of course, whenever I start to feel too cocky she'll do something to keep me on my toes, but I'm feeling much more relaxed and confident in my mothering skills now than I was just a few weeks ago.

And really, in some ways, it has been easier than I expected, but I know that's really just the luck of the draw. I happened to be blessed with a baby who eats well (no breastfeeding problems, hooray), sleeps well, and is generally very happy. Her smiles just kill me and I'm so happy that they come about as frequently as they do. She is such a good baby!

Smiling at me in the stroller

What is your least favorite part of parenting so far? What is your favorite?

My least favorite is the unpredictability. I'm just never sure how to plan my day, because so much of my productivity depends both on Ellie's mood and nap schedule. And even if she does follow a roughly predictable nap schedule, I'm never sure how long each nap will last. Of course, ultimately this makes me more productive because as soon as she falls asleep I run around like a crazy person trying to get as much done as quickly as possible, but I'm not really much of a "go with the flow" kind of girl - I'm much more of a planner. So that has been an adjustment for me.

My favorite part is hard to pin down, but I'd have to say that at this point, it's that smile. When I go to pick that baby up out of her stroller or her swing or her crib and she grins up at me, I just die. My heart just wants to burst. I honestly don't know how I'll handle it when we get to the age where she actually wants me, actually asks for her mommy or wants to cuddle up with me and read a book, things like that. I think that will be amazing. But for now, I'm very happy just with that adorable little smile.


Have a great weekend, everyone!


Lauren said...

Thanks for sharing girl, love how Ellie got her name :-) So precious!! Love those smiles too!

Jessica said...

I just love this post! I wish I could have done one after having Em. But more importantly....thank you for not making her middle name Ryan. That's my middle name and I am just now telling people what it is without them prying it out of me (yes...I'll be 30 in August and I'm still acting like this). To this day, I still give my parents grief for naming me that! Sorry to any other gals with Ryan as a middle name! But I just love Ellie. And I love that you came up with a nickname from the beginning. Emmy is Emily Paige but we knew from the moment we picked that name, we'd call her Emmy. She's just learning that her name is Emily!!!

Congrats again! Ellie is absolutely stunning and I can't believe she's so grown up now!!!