Moments 02.2021 JoyFoodSunshine - The beginning of 2021 has been wonderful. Baby Zach was born in the beginning of January, we celebrated two birthdays and are adjusting to life as a family of 8.
"I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass."
Welcome to “Moments” here on JoyFoodSunshine. At the end of every month I share a recap of our family's favorite moments! Since I didn't sit down at my computer for more than 5 minutes the month after I had Zach, this post is a combination of life's happenings from January and February 2021!
Life with my tribe
January and February were spent in a newborn haze, adjusting to life as a family of 8. Zach was born on January 9th, and I think I left the house twice the rest of the month! Once to take him to the doctor and once to go to church (and a few walks around the neighborhood because our weather in January was unreal).
Baby Zach (7 weeks)
Wow I cannot believe my baby boy is 7 weeks old! He is the best baby, sleeps like a champ and puts up with being passed around to his siblings without getting too fussy. If you missed it, I shared his birth story, a video of the kids meeting him, and some photos of his first week of life in a blog post: Welcome Zachariah.
So much changes in the first month + of life for a baby. Zach was one of my smaller babies - 7 lbs 7 oz at birth, and down to 7 lbs when we left the hospital. At his 2 week checkup he had already gained over 1 pound - and that trend has continued. He has cute little chubby cheeks now and has outgrown his newborn cloths.
Sleeping & Nursing
He is sleeping and nursing really well - by week 4 I would start feeding him around 8:30, put him down between 9:30 and 10 and he'd sleep until 4 am! Even in the beginning he stayed on a consistent schedule which is so helpful for me as I try to plan our days around feedings! I never let my babies go more than 3 hours during the day without nursing, so that they are nice and full and sleep well at night!
Gabe is the sweetest and every night prays for good sleep for me and Zach. Then every morning he wakes up and asks me how the night went. He is such a tenderhearted, caring boy and I love that he cares about his mommy and brother so much. I also truly believe that God is answering his sweet prayers by giving us the gift of great nights sleep.
Calling him Gabe
I've been most surprised by the fact that I call Zach Gabe all the time on accident - when it's been 8 years since Gabe was a newborn! I figured I'd accidentally call him Keilah but that's not the case and I find it so interesting!
And it's all the time. I call the nursery "Gabe's room," and walk in and say "good morning Gabe" instead of Zach! The kids and I have a good laugh every time it happens!
At around 5 weeks I pumped and Ritch fed Zach his first bottle. I always try to feed my babies at least 1 bottle in their first 6 weeks of life to ensure they will take one when needed. It gives me some freedom to not be so tied down during the year that I nurse. I didn't do this with Gabe and basically couldn't leave him for more than 2 hours his entire first year of life.
Some of my babies have had trouble taking the bottle (It was a total struggle/fight with Keilah for sure) but Zach took his first bottle like a champ and didn't skip a beat! I was even able to pump and leave him at home when I went to my 6 week postpartum checkup which was so nice.
Even though I have been fortunate enough to exclusively breastfeed all 6 of my kids the ability to bottle feed is still important to me. If we go somewhere around feeding time (on a date, out to eat, to a friend's house, etc.) I will often pump in the car on the way and then feed him a bottle upon arrival so I don't have to fumble around nursing and can just be present wherever I am - so I'm very grateful Zach took his first two bottles so well.
Between 6 and 7 weeks Zach started smiling for real. I still sometimes second guess if it's gas or a legit smile -but there have been times that are totally unmistakable. It is such a welcome development when your baby starts reciprocating the love a little bit with those cute newborn smiles. You go from just being a feeding/snuggling machine to knowing your baby is responding and loves you too! I love it!
I feel like God gifted us a wonderful 6th baby experience, from pregnancy to labor & delivery to this first month, so that I can retire from having babies on a high note!
How I'm doing - Physically
Physically I feel so great. Since I'm sleeping again, I started exercising which feels amazing. My uterus is in the process of returning to normal but isn't fully there yet - which is to be expected. Since I felt to great I made the mistake of trying on a pair of my favorite high-waisted jeans - haha OOPS! I mean,I could zip them but not comfortably! Usually it takes a 3-4 months for me to be able to feel fully comfortable in my pre-pregnancy clothes like jeans, so I don't know what I was thinking!
My bleeding has mostly subsided which has never happened to me this early before. After two of my pregnancies I bled for 12 weeks, so that is a huge praise. My ab muscles are still separated but only by a small amount which my OB says could be how they stay - and again that can take up to a year to fully go back to "normal."
How I'm doing - Emotionally
Honestly I'm doing well emotionally too. I mean I am emotional (as you will see if you keep reading) but better than I thought. I prepared myself for a rough emotional experience postpartum since this is our last baby. I even called on my trusted prayer warriors to pray against postpartum depression (which I experienced intensely after Naomi's birth) and I really believe those prayers have been answered.
For a while I was anxious about Ritch leaving me alone with 6 kids - but slowly he started leaving the house to work and we have formed a "for now" normal routine. I've given myself grace with homeschool and feel like as long as we complete math and reading we're doing well - and anything else we're exceeding expectations! LOL! I have gone to church two Sundays in a row solo with 6 kids and no help - so I basically feel like a rockstar! 😉
This lyric from one of my favorite Steve Miller Band songs really sums up how I'm feeling right now- “Come on momma, now look what’s been done. You can only see the stars after the setting sun.” I truly believe that sometimes it takes the ending of one season to truly appreciate the beauty of the next.
I have been pregnant or nursing Bethany's entire life. I am looking forward to getting to just enjoy my kids and be the fun mom without all the hormones and limitations of pregnancy. We went to an indoor trampoline park this month before my 6 week checkup so I didn't jump (I never do strenuous physical activity like that until I get the OK from my OB), and Gabe exclaimed, "MOM! Soon YOU will be able to jump with us!!" And it just made me so happy because he's absolutely right! And I want to jump, and sled and ski and swim and run around and do all the fun things with my babies - so so much.
I was so emotional after my postpartum checkup that I couldn't even bring myself to stick around and get some bloodwork done. To say I love my OB is an understatement. I feel like she has been a friend to me during my last four pregnancies, and I have been so incredibly grateful for her amazing medical care. I cried as I was saying goodbye to her because it feels like an end of an era. I even took a picture of the exam room as I was leaving just for my own archives. I really wanted to get a picture with her but thought that might be weird (it would've been, right?) - and I didn't want to ask her to take off her virus protection (masks, face shield, etc.) so I could see her face. She has been such a huge part of my journey and I seriously felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend - even though I'll see her once a year for checkups. I have only great memories of that office, and leaving there this time felt so final.
I sorted through and gave away my maternity clothes to a friend who is pregnant and that made me really emotional. Just looking at the clothes (and tossing out the bootcut jeans from 11 years ago hahaha) brought back so many wonderful memories of growing my babies. But I let myself feel the emotions - I cried and reminisced and took the time I needed to just give into the moment. This has been the best 11 years of my life - and I am grateful.
Bethany turns 10
My sweet oldest baby turned 10 in January. We had been praying throughout my pregnancy that Zach wouldn't be born on her birthday (I was due on the 11th and her birthday is the 12th). I also have told her for years that she could have her first birthday party with friends when she turned 10, which just so happened to be this year when I was 39 weeks pregnant! LOL!
So I threw her a birthday party on the 2nd, she got to invite a few friends to go ice skating (her request) then they all came back to the house for pizza and cake. She asked me to make an ice skate cake (pictured below - this chocolate cake with this vanilla frosting) which Ritch helped me decorate (I did the flowers, he did the skate). She was in heaven and had the best time, and I'm grateful I hadn't had the baby yet so I could make sure she had a great day.
To prepare for her actual birthday she requested these Chicken Enchiladas for dinner, and I made them 2 weeks in advance and put them in the freezer so they would be ready in the event that I just came home from the hospital or something and didn't have time to make them.
Well, running with the theme of this entire pregnancy, Zach came on the absolute perfect date - January 9th. We came home the next day on the 10th and I was able to make Bethany's cake (Eclair cake - recipe coming soon but based on these homemade eclairs) on the 11th in time for her birthday celebration on the 12th.
She is such a sweet and special girl. She is really coming into her own and growing up so much - she's becoming like my little friend instead of my little kid - and I love it.
Keilah turns 2
A few weeks later my sweet baby girl turned TWO! She requested a pink and purple flower cake which, of course I made for her. She was SO cute, once the cake was in the fridge (the day before) she kept grabbing our hands, taking us to the fridge, opening the door and saying, "My Birthday!" She would squeal with delight every time we told her that she would wake up the next day and have presents and cake!
When we sang happy birthday to her she almost started crying and got a little overwhelmed with the noise/attention - but quickly recovered when we plopped a piece of cake on her high chair tray!
She has been obsessed with baby Yoda for a while, and so I got her a baby Yoda stuffed animal which is has been attached to since she opened it. She wouldn't put it down as she opened her other presents, and now sleeps with it every night. She also dances with him and brings him all around the house - it was by far her favorite present!
She has been such a sweet big sister. She says, "Baby Zach - SO CUTE" and squeals all the time. She has adjusted to being a big sister better than I anticipated - and I think it's because I still snuggle her to sleep at nap time and then snuggle a bit at bedtime - so she doesn't feel like the baby took mommy away! She is also getting bigger and wants to be just like one of the older kids. She mimics them all the time and it's so cute.
Swim lessons at Aquatics Academy
Keliah started swim lessons this month! My goal is to have her totally water safe by the summer. If you've been around a while you know we LOVE aquatics academy. Last summer Mara - at age 3 - was not only water safe (she knew how to survive if she fell in the pool) but she could swim freestyle, do front flips, jump in and swim to the side, etc. She didn't wear floaties or anything once last year and it was amazing. So this year we have her in refresher lessons and put Keilah in the full program so she will be safe come May too!
K cried a lot the first lesson - we're talking screaming "NO" and calling out for Mommy and Daddy - the kind of sounds that break a mommas heart - but it's expected. We talked through it and I told her I understood why she cried and that learning new things is scary! I explained it's ok to be scared, but encouraged her to not cry next time. I told her she could tell her teacher she is scared by saying, "I'm scared" instead of crying.
I also bribed her with chocolate! haha! I told her if she made it through her entire lesson without crying she would get two pieces of chocolate. It worked like a charm and she didn't shed one tear during her second lesson. Ideally kids go 3-5 times a week when they are first learning (which is what we did with Mara). But with a newborn and homeschool I just couldn't do it. So I have her going once a week for now and I increased it to 2x/week in April - when I figure Zach will be easier and I'll have caught my breath a little better. I figure it's better to do one lesson a week than none - and hope it sets her up to really take off once she starts going 3x/week in May!
If you are local and sign up - use my code LS1532 and say I referred you!
A few of my favorite things...
Here are a few things I have loved lately!
Lululemon Align Leggings/ Joggers
The best part of postpartum life has been getting to wear my aligns again. I have lived in them the last two months after missing them during the second half of my pregnancy (I don't want to stretch them out)! I have lived in aligns for four years - and even when I've tried the less expensive knockoffs that supposedly are "exactly the same" no other leggings even come close. Align leggings. Align joggers.
This is the most comfortable sweatshirt (or shirt in general) I have EVER worn in my entire life. It's sufficiently cute to wear out and about (with above aligns) and since it's a wrap it is absolutely PERFECT for nursing. It has pockets, is buttery soft, and I already bought it in two colors - trying to convince myself I don't need more! LOL! Purana Wrap sweatshirt.
We decided we wanted to try to recreate one of our favorite coffeehouse drinks at home - and so we got an espresso machine (not ready to post which one yet, as I'm not sure how we feel about it), but we got a milk frother and it has been a game changer. I love just adding frothed half and half to my normal morning coffee for a fancy but easy upgrade. Ritch has been enjoying making lattes and more with it. I actually have this Aveo frother and the Nespresso Aeroccino. I can't decide which one I like better!
Recipes I'm Making on Repeat
Here are a few recipes we enjoyed in the beginning of this year! I have taken approximately ZERO photos of food since Zach was born, so I'll just list them out for you guys!
- I make these chicken lettuce wraps (but serve them over rice) at least once a week. They're one of my favorite healthy & easy meals. I like to chop all the veggies and make the sauce ahead of time so I can make dinner in 15 minutes!
- Chili has been another easy go-to meal for me the last two months. I toggle between this turkey chili and easy beef chili!
- These Greek Yogurt Brownies have been my go-to healthier sweet treat this year! My kids love them too so I make them a lot.
- As always, I still eat one of my beloved breakfast bars for breakfast every day! Although there was a two week period where I made this peanut butter banana baked oatmeal instead because I wanted a warm breakfast!
Our first trip to church as a family of 8!
The first time I painted Keilah's nails she sat SO STILL - more still than her two older sisters. She loved it and I was so impressed.
My two boys! G loves his baby brother.
Baby Z at 4 weeks.
Little princess K wearing a birthday gift from her mema!
Church on Valentine's Day!
Baby Zach 3 weeks! Always looking at mommy.
This was one of my favorite moments in the last two months. They couldn't find a stool so they were each others' stool. That's what I call problem solving and team work.
Baby Z smiling at 6 weeks! My heart!
Baby Z still sleepy at 7 weeks.
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