Ellie

7 & 8 Months- Ellie

Ellie’s jumpsuit is linked HERE, her bow pack is linked HERE.

Weight: 7 months: 16lbs, 10oz & 27 inches long.
8 months: My scale today says she’s 21.4lbs, which wouldn’t surprise me because she’s huge, but that also seems like a huge jump from 7 months. Maybe I will actually weigh her on my fancy scale and update this. Probably not.

Linked my wallet, which can be personalized HERE.

Eye Color: Blue, blue, blue. Our friends tell us she has white walker eyes.

Bow from Little Ella Rae.

Hair: Blonde! It has finally started to come in thicker, and as of month 8 she can officially wear a clip bow, and it is finally starting to touch/cover her ears!

Size: 9-12 months. 12/18 month pants fit her butt best, but she could still wear 6 month tops, honestly. Baby has some THIGHS, that’s for sure.


Ellie knows I come into a room the second I do. She senses me, she follows me, she never takes her eyes off of me.

Lots of month 8 was spent wearing masks after the craziness with HFM hit. Henry even had a mask of his own.

Month 7 was fairly uneventful, but man, month 8 was nuts. Dealing with HFM seemed like it consumed all of the last YEAR, even though we were only sick for around 7 days all together. It was BRUTAL for Henry and I.

Girlfriend handled her fever and spots the best by far out of all of us, still smiling while she had a 103 degree fever. By the way, she smiles ALL. THE. TIME. Like, you can just make eye contact with her and she will smile. She is definitely a mean mugger to those she isn’t sure about, though. Much like Henry did at her age, she has the eyebrows for glaring.

This is the look she gives 99% of the Japanese who try to talk to her. Poor people.

My favorite new Ellie-ism is the fact that she hyperventilates like 90x per day. Any time something is even remotely funny, you will hear her hyperventilate laugh at it. Daddy is her favorite to do this to.

Girlfriend LOVES food. LOVES it. The boob, purees, random cheerios off the ground, whatever is on our plates- she is ALL about it. She is much better at eating semi-solids than Henry is. Ellie loves the little yogurt melts and can easily handle whole ones. We broke up Henry’s into small pieces for months and months longer than we have to with her. The girl will down a whole package in no time at all.

Ellie likes to randomly stand in the middle of the room, and is ALMOST walking. I am betting that month 8 will be the “walks unassisted” month, but perhaps it will be month 9.

The child will nose dive into a bowl of rice if we let her.

She LOVES her brother, which clearly hasn’t changed since birth. This month, Henry is starting to love her. And by love her, I mean he screams “AHH! SISSY! SHE COMING! SHE COMING!” when she starts crawling towards him. He also tickles her regularly, and pushes her over if she stares at him too long.

Vest linked HERE, jeans linked HERE, bow pack linked HERE, similar moccs linked HERE.

Much like Henry, Ellie loves the outside. She absolutely hates her carseat, but does sleep rather well in the car if we take long rides.

Girlfriend still has some serious stranger-danger. Mama is still the only one she loves consistently, but Drew is starting to grow on her, FINALLY. She grins every day when Daddy comes home, as of 8 months old.

Ellie has two teeth, but sported one single tooth on the bottom for her entire 7th month. I was REALLY hoping that the one top tooth she has coming in would pop through before her second bottom one. Can you imagine a baby with only one top and one bottom tooth?!

Lots of baby cuddles when she had HFM, but honestly the worst of it for her, she just slept through.

I definitely have to watch her in her swing. She will go from 100% awake to 100% slumped over like this in about 14 seconds flat.

She likes to smile with both her top and bottom teeth, and her overbite is so bad that her top gums completely cover her bottom teeth. It’s rather hilarious.

Typical faces given to strangers in public. Yeah, I wasn’t kidding about the mean muggin’.

Baby girl unfortunately still has her heart defect- we are hoping at her 12 month cardiologist appointment we will find that it has closed.

Ellie’s favorite word is “mama” and she says it ALL night when she wakes up. “MAMAMAMAMAMAMA.”
She also thinks it’s hilarious to repeat it when I ask her to say “mama.” She will say “mama,” “dada” and sometimes shakes her head yes and no. She also will punch me in the face if I ask her if “she wants a boobie.” Apparently that is a stupid question, because yes, yes she does.

Ellie loves Blippi too, and will watch any time her brother is watching. Girlfriend is also almost as obsessed with the cats as Henry.

I will do a Henry update separately soon, but he is a doll as well. Everything in his world is exciting, and my favorite thing in the world is the fact that he will run up an entire flight of stairs, just to tell us about the number 3. The kid is a hoot right now, and learns so much every day, I swear. He is cuddly and sensitive and ornery and strong-headed, and I think that three is going to be so much harder than two, but also so much more fun.

But this little goober of a girl just lights up our whole world. It seems like there has never been a part of our lives without our Ellie, but I also can’t believe she is well on her way to turning one.

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Ellie

6 Months- Ellie

Weight: …..I forgot to update her 5 month weight… But, uh… I promise I will update this one. Can I just put “thunder thighs” here? (Don’t hate me when you’re older and read this, Ellie. They’re super cute.)
Eye Color: Blue, and I am officially confident they will stay this way. Hooray! We have a brown eyed babe and a blue eyed babe! How cool is that?!
Hair: Very very little hair, but very blonde! Her cradle cap has disappeared (I might have brushed it out…) and her new hair is starting to grow in now!
Size: 9-12 months. She wears size 5 diapers, because her thighs and legs are bigger than her 2.5 year old brother’s…
Baby girl has had an eventful month, to say the least. Following in the footsteps of her brother, who took his first steps at 7 months, she has begun to pull up to standing on our couches.

Girlfriend has shown very little interest in her thumb over the past month, and doesn’t take a paci SUPER often. She still loves her Cutie-Pats, but does not need a paci or her thumb to fall asleep anymore.

Ellie moved to her own room this month, and while she wakes up SLIGHTLY more in her own room, she still only wakes 1-2 times/night. After nursing, she always returns right back to sleep.

Little lady is adventurous, to say the least. Naps are becoming harder and harder to have, because the little squirt is just too interested in everything else. When she wakes up, she is immediately wide awake, immediately happy, and immediately ready to play.

Girlfriend had her first solids this month. We plan to do a mix of purees and baby-led weaning, but you can see her first purees experience here!

Ellie loves her big brother and mama, and she has found a love for my bible study friends, as well as Judah; Erika’s son. Judah won’t leave the house without crying for Ellie to come with him. There might be an arranged marriage in the future, though I believe Judah may already be promised to about 4 other little ladies on base. Haha.

Ellie loves her Rock-A-Roo, which we got for free from a friend on base. (Shout out to you, Vanessa- it has been a lifesaver the past month!)

Henry likes to bring Ellie toys and her paci, and is very good with noticing when she is crying. He still will not DARE let her touch his blanket, and he likes to block her attempts at following him by jumping directly in front of her with a sumo-power-stance while yelling “GOTCHA.” Most of the time he likes to do this in his underwear or when he is not wearing pants. (insert laughing-until-you-cry emoji here.)

Ellie yells “MAMA MAMA MAMA” constantly. I’m still her favorite person in existence.

Girlfriend’s thighs and calves are larger than her 2 year old brother’s, and she wears the same size diaper that he would.

Ellie girl thinks it’s hilarious when Henry is upset and cries. She belly laughs at him.

She is still a stomach dweller, and will still ONLY sleep on her stomach. If she is laid on her back, she will wake up immediately. We are big on safe sleep, but have started putting her to bed on her stomach, as she has very clearly proven that she has the muscles needed to flip if she has to.

Ellie crawls with ease, sits up on her own without hesitation, raises up to her tippy toes, and stands frequently. I am predicting first steps by 7 months.

This little babe’s tooth came COMPLETELY through on the day she turned 6 months old. She now has one (very sharp) tooth. Henry got both of his bottom teeth at once, but it looks like only one is coming in for now for the little lady.

The Japanese still adore her, and ALWAYS open their eyes super wide at her since her eyes are so huge.

And your Henryisms of the month:

As mentioned, Henry likes to “GOTCHA” his sister, and will jump into a power stance in front of her to try and block her. He most often does this after using the potty, meaning he is most often naked.

Henry loves to watch my ER/Fire shows, and yells “OH NO, NEED AM-BOO-WANCE!” when he sees someone in need of help.

He thinks everything that is foggy/smokey means a fire. Every time I run the dryer and he sees the steam outside, he screams at me about there being a fire outside.

He reminds me that Ellie is in the car still if I ever take him out first by shouting, “OH NO! Sissy! Car! Sissy! Car!”

The kid still has a love for chicken fries, and cries if we pass Burger King without stopping. (Which is unfortunate, considering they are closed for renovations for several weeks.)

The two of them are driving me nuts in one way or another on a daily basis, but MAN are they fun. Ellie is developing such a funny personality, and I know I say it every month, but I 100% can’t believe she is already halfway to one.

We love you, sweet Ellie Alice! You are such a pain in the butt to my ability to leave the house without you, but such a ray of sunshine in my every single day.

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Ellie · Parenting

5 Reasons You Should Choose Natural Baby Food | Ellie’s First Solids

This post is sponsored by Beech-Nut® but this post was written 100% by me, and all opinions are 100% my own.


It is unbelievably hard to believe that Ellie is already 6 months old, but she is amazingly already halfway through her first year of life, no matter how much I will her to stay little forever.
We went to the commissary this week and bought our favorite purees, since she has hit the age to start solid foods. I reached out to collaborate with Beech-Nut® Naturals™, because I absolutely love their commitment to only use real ingredients you can actually pronounce; 100% natural ingredients.

We have been moving as a family more towards natural products in our home, and love to use homemade products when possible, but honestly I just don’t have time to puree and make all of my own baby food. On top of that, produce is NOT CHEAP to purchase in Japan. Beech-Nut® Naturals™ is inspired by homemade, so I am more than happy to always purchase their foods and save myself some serious time and money in the process. Nothing better than looking at a jar of baby food and simply reading “sweet potatoes” on the ingredients list.

Ellie was more than happy too, and sincerely enjoyed her orange sweet potato goodness yesterday.

On a side note, because I feel it is important to mention: Ellie girl took her first bites of food today, right at 6 months old.
Did you know that it is actually recommended that infants actually remain exclusively breast-fed until ALL signs of readiness are met, and the same guidelines should be followed if you are formula feeding? This includes sitting upright without assistance, the lack of a tongue-thrust reflex, having a clear interest in foods, and having met 6 months of age (while other recommendations state that as early as 4 months is okay to start solids, our family chose to wait until Ellie hit 6 after reading various studies on the subject.)

So, when my baby is ready, why should I choose natural?

1. There are no artificial colors or preservatives in natural foods.

Are you familiar with the dyes in so many foods that can cause allergic reactions? I was a kid that was allergic to red dye 40, and I used to have to watch EVERY. SINGLE. FOOD. LABEL.
Buying baby food without added preservatives and dyes allows your baby to only get the foods found in nature, not a bunch of added chemicals. Beech-Nut® Naturals™ is inspired by homemade, and their baby foods are vacuum-sealed, meaning many preservatives can actually be left out completely while still keeping the food safe to eat.

2. There is minimal processing, so you don’t have to worry about lots of major allergy risks.

Having a son with a still unconfirmed peanut allergy, and carrying an epi pen around constantly is pretty terrifying, so we are extremely cautious with Ellie now as well. Being able to read an ingredients list that ONLY states that the fruit or veggie is included in the product is a breath of fresh air for an allergy mom. All of the Beech-Nut® purees are free from peanut, tree nut, and soy, though some do contain wheat or dairy. You can use the allergen filter to clearly see which foods could be a concern for your babe, by using the checklist on the sidebar here.

3. Natural just tastes better.

Perhaps this is a statement of opinion, but I would venture to say it’s true in almost all cases. I try everything that I give my kiddos, and I finished off the jar of sweet potatoes that Ellie ate last night after she had taken her fill. Normally I won’t touch purees of veggies, but the sweet potatoes were actually excellent. I loved that they weren’t overly sweetened, and actually taste like what a whole cooked sweet potato would.

4. Natural usually means ingredients are processed as little as possible.

Did you know that the more a fruit or veggie is processed, the more the nutrients cook out of it? Choosing a product with less processing and less artificial ingredients means more nutrients are going straight to your baby. Beech-Nut® Naturals™ is simply prepared using indirect heat, meaning as little cooking as possible is used in order to produce safe and nutrient-rich foods for your families.

5. Simple and uncomplicated flavors encourage your babes to love fruits and veggies.

Keeping your baby foods tasting the same as ACTUAL fruits and veggies encourages your baby to love those same fruits and veggies when they transition away from purees. We plan to do a mix of baby-led-weaning and purees for Ellie, and I am confident that using natural baby foods will allow the transition to munching on solid fruits and veggies that much easier.


Furthermore and aside from anything related to their food, I have been so impressed with Beech-Nut® as a brand. Being a small company of around 300 employees located out of New York, they choose to operate out of a green, energy-efficient building, and they choose to LOCALLY source their ingredients whenever possibleincluding all of their apples for the Naturals™ range from a farm near Lake Ontario, just down the road from their facility! I’m all about supporting small and supporting local, so that is AWESOME in my mind.

If you are starting solids with your babe, cheers to this milestone! I encourage you to do your research on baby foods, and to consider choosing natural if possible. Our family will definitely continue choosing natural whenever possible, and this little ham will continue loving every second of it.

 

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Ellie

5 Months- Ellie

Our little love is five months old!

Say whaaaaaaaaat?!


Weight: (Uh, more than 13lbs. I swear I will weigh her tomorrow and go back to fill this in… hahah.)
Eye Color: Blue! Very blue! Getting more hopeful that they stay blue now. One brown eyed baby and one blue eyed baby would be so cool!
Hair: Thin, blonde-red! It’s darker in her mullet. Haha.
Size: 6-9 months. Drew accidentally put her in a size 5 diaper of Henry’s the other day… and it fit. And didn’t leak at all. It actually fit better than the size 1’s I did have her in. Henry potty trained this month, so she has just continued using the box of 5’s that we already had opened. Hahah.

Ellie still LOVES her thumb, and is 100% still a thumb sucker above all else. She even likes to slip her thumb in her mouth in the middle of nursing sometimes.

Baby girl has chunky thighs and pretty eyes, that’s for sure. Her thighs are the same size as her brother’s.

Speaking of her brother… he is Ellie’s BIGGEST love. Little lady really only likes two things consistently- her brother, and myself. And sleep. She’s such a fantastic sleeper, and I will FOREVER praise Jesus for that fact.

Ellie girl is still only a stomach dweller. Like, all the time. Like, you don’t understand. She spends maybe three minutes per day on her back, and that’s it.

Baby girl is officially army crawling rather fast. She rocks back and forth on all fours, and probably only has a few days left before full-blown crawling begins.

Girlfriend can sit up when placed sitting. She is definitely working towards being able to pull herself up.

WE HAVE HAD NO THRUSH THIS MONTH! (Thank you, Dr.Tomlin!)

I’m still thinking we will have a walker by 8 months- possibly 9. Henry crawled a couple weeks before her, but she also pulls up on WAY more things than Henry did at this age.

Looking back on last month’s photos has fully convinced me that the poor little lady is definitely losing hair. It is growing, but is very thin and whispy. (Don’t worry, Ellie girl. Mama’s hair is basically gone too. Again, #postpartumjoys.) Perhaps it is just getting lighter, giving the illusion of being thinner. Also, it is turning red.

No filters on this one, just red hair.

Henry says hello to her every morning, and good night to her last thing at night. He still won’t hold or touch her, but he talks about his “sissy” often, and calls her “I-E-Ass” (Ellie Alice.) Possibly the best thing that has happened all month is his pronunciation of her name (other than him being FULLY potty trained!)

She LOVES when I sing to her. Especially You Are My Sunshine, which I have rephrased to “You are my Ellie, my pretty Ellie.” That can get a smile any time.

“Toofers” are coming SOON. I can see swelling and little bumps, and girlfriend can’t get enough teethers to gnaw on.

The Japanese LOVE her. Since her eyes are giant and still super blue, she gets lots of “kawaii, kawaii” comments while we are off base.

Ellie is MUCH less vocal than her brother was at this age, but she did speak her first word of “mama” this month. Both of my babies said “mama” first.
Ha, suck it, Drew.

And here are some Henryisms for this month, because he is fun too.

The stinker has decided to potty train completely out of nowhere. We had regressed a little bit, but as soon as we stopped diapers, he totally got it. Thank God.

Henry LOVES cars, car parts, and talking about cars. Fire trucks (“pie trucks”), cars, ambulances (“lances.”)

Broski counts to 10, knows how many fingers he is holding up, knows his entire alphabet, and can type in “Blippi” into the search bar of his iPad.

Henry gives thumbs up all the time when he approves of something. It’s my absolute favorite when he does it in response to something a stranger asks.

He brings Ellie her toys all the time. He often likes to drop them on her head while she sleeps. (I’m not rolling my eyes.) 

Man, both of these kids are a hoot. Life is so fun watching them grow.

I forget so often how big Ellie is getting, simply because her big brother seems so much bigger. We are almost halfway through our first year with the little love, and while I love watching her grow, I find myself consistently wishing time would slow the heck down.

Forever thankful for these quiet, cozy, “little” days with these two. Life is good, y’all.

 

 

 

Ellie · Japan Life Updates

Two, Three, and Four Months- Ellie

Two, three, and four month updates… Isn’t that title just the epitome of second children? I always swore I wouldn’t be this mom, but here I am, making one blog post update for three months. Oops. At least I have 14,000 photos of my kids on my phone.

So here is some photo dumping- mostly month four, but also a mix on months two and three.

Ellie girl is four months old!
Weight: 13 lbs, 3oz.
Eye Color: Pretty darn blue! I keep saying I’m not convinced they will stay blue, but I somewhat am now. Ask me again at 10 months, they will probably be brown by then.
Hair: A little thinner than before maybe, and a little lighter too! Don’t worry, mom’s hair is thinner too. #postpartumhairsucks
Size: 3-6 months

  • Ellie girl started sucking her thumb around 5-6 weeks old consistently, and is still doing it daily at 4 months.
  • She ONLY sleeps on her stomach. We lay her on her back to go to sleep, and it takes about 6 seconds for her to roll to her belly. If you lay her on her back when she’s already asleep, she will 100% wake up. She sleeps on her belly with her thumb in her mouth. I.e. don’t touch my kid’s hands. Ever. Ha. (I only somewhat kid there, they are ALWAYS in her mouth.)
  • Poor little lady has battled thrush since around 6 weeks old. Seems like every time we get rid of it, she passes it to me or I pass it back to her. I think we are finally near getting rid of it for good at 16 weeks though! She has been very cranky for a couple months now, and understandably so, because that thrush is brutal.
  • Ellie has pretty severe “stranger danger” and hates big crowds. We are working on it. She only loves her thumb and her mama, and she’s not sorry.
  • She loves car rides still, and almost always goes to sleep in the car.
  • Girlfriend rolled for the first time around 8 weeks, and both front to back and back to front around 11-12 weeks, and does both with ease now. She has been scooting around and rolling where she needs to go for several weeks. She mostly sits up on her elbows, and raises her legs completely off the ground. I’m guessing crawling will happen during month four.
  • Baby girl is getting some chunky legs, and I’m not mad about it. Chunky thighs and pretty eyes for life, right?
  • Ellie 100% prefers tummy time or to be sitting upright. She HATES being on her back.
  • I’m predicting she will walk by 8 months like her brother. (Which is both really cool, and terribly frightening. You don’t understand until you see an 8 month old walking upright with their tiny, squishy little heads…)
  • Ellie is more of a mean-mugger than anything. She smiles every once in a while, and definitely has her favorite people that she grins at, but she’s usually just quietly watching and listening.
  • When she laughs, she almost never smiles. It’s kind of the funniest sight ever.
  • The baby mullet has arrived. I’m hoping her hair grows fast. Her brother had already had a haircut by this time. Her hair is definitely much lighter than her brother’s was. I can’t wait for baby piggy tails, for real.
  • Baby girl had her second heart checkup. Unfortunately she still has a hole. Thank goodness though, it has not enlarged any- praise Jesus for that!
  • Henry acknowledges her more lately, and likes to drop things on her face while saying “here you gooooooo!”
  • Baby girl is about a week or two from consistently sitting up. She tripod sits with ease and unassisted sits frequently too. She LOVES to sit up and watch her brother.
  • Ellie loves Henry and me. That’s about it. She sometimes decides that she loves Drew too, but mostly she’s a mama’s girl. That’s okay, because Henry has decided he is 100% a daddy’s boy.

Our babies are sweet, beautiful, funny, kind, and darling little ones. They make life so fun, and it’s hard to believe Ellie is almost through her first year of life. I really can’t imagine what life was like before these two existed, and I’m pretty blessed for their existence.

Ellie · Japan Life Updates

One Month- Ellie

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Ellie Alice is 1 month old!
Weight: 9lbs 12oz
Eye color: Blue! Don’t let that fool you, Henry’s were blue/green until like 10 months.
Hair: Lots. Ha. Mullet status.
Size: Newborn. Some 3 month.

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  • Ellie takes a pacifier extremely well and likes to make obnoxiously loud noises with it if she’s hungry and does not want it. Henry now wants a paci all the time, and will take sister’s and fall asleep with it in his mouth.42397503_10156717643744525_7751075849289334784_o
  • Girlfriend only cries for two reasons: if she is hungry or if she has pooped. She will cry briefly if she has a big burp, and will burp like a man- but the hunger cries are the serious ones.
    Before we realized how serious she was about her food, we thought she was seriously hurt a couple times when she cried. For example, she let out a shriek in the sushi restaurant that made around six Japanese families turn to look at us with deep concern. Nope, I did not just pinch my infant. She has simply decided she needs milk… right here, right now. And she definitely gets it with her shrieks.
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  • So yes, this little gal loves her milkies more than the air she breathes. Ellie latched immediately after birth- probably not even ten minutes after she was born- and nursed constantly for the first three days. My milk came in immediately, and due to her constant demand for a full belly, I also had to pump for some relief. So we now have a freezer stash of 280 ounces at 1 month old!
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  • Holds her head up 99% unassisted, and actually surpasses her brother’s crazy creepy head control that he also had at birth. She has not rolled at all though, and shows no interest in it so far- Henry had rolled both back to front and front to back by 4 weeks.
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  • She doesn’t mind tummy time and actually prefers it. Chest naps are the best in her mind.
  • Ellie girl absolutely loves car rides like her brother did. She rarely cries in the car (unless she is hungry. She will always cry for food.)
The crazy hair and the beginnings of a killer mullet.
  • She is a champion sleeper, thank you Jesus. Wakes 1-2 times per night to nurse, be burped, and promptly returns back to sleep.
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  • Ellie doesn’t like to be swaddled, but also doesn’t have a startle reflex, like at all. She can sleep in just a onesie and not wake herself.
  • Girlie doesn’t scratch at her face at all. She has never worn the little mittens.
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  • Ellie’s hair has formed a baby mullet. Still lighter than her brother’s at birth.
  • She loves to stare, and crosses her eyes often.
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  • This month her sacral dimple and heart murmur were both cleared as being normal! Praise Jesus our girl is healthy!
  • Her eyelashes look longer than her brother’s were at birth… and Henry’s are LONG and DARK now. I’m remaining hopeful that she has those long eyelashes too!
  • Daddy left this month, and mom has been adjusting to two kiddos alone. So far they are both still alive, and I’ve even gone grocery shopping once.
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  • Big brother calls her “I-E” (eye-ee) as of yesterday, and has finally started to notice her. He likes to walk up to her and pat her head, and will also bring her a music playing seahorse that she likes.
    He likes to cover her feet with a blanket and say “night night I-E!”To include a few Henry milestones in this post, his favorite phrases currently include:
    “Wow, look at that!”
    “Oooh, look at that!”
    “Wow, it’s a (vroom vroom, plane, car, cat)”
    This week he has learned virtually all of his colors and how to count to 5. Yes, in one week. “Blippi” is a genius and YouTube actually isn’t totally worthless.
    He sings several Blippi songs, and particularly likes the “airplane, airplane” song.

We are so richly blessed to have our healthy, sweet babies, and it is so fun being a family of 4!
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Ellie Alice is our beautiful, funny, sleepy, hungry little stinker. She is the sweetest and most calm little thing, and she is the absolute perfect addition to our family. I can’t imagine my life without both of my sweet babies.

Ellie · Japan Life Updates

Ellie’s Birth Story

It’s hard to believe we already have two babies. I never would have guessed at twenty-three that we would have two kids after only three and a half years of marriage, but I can’t imagine a better existence now that they are here.

I have always had lots of contractions through my two pregnancies, and often I physically progressed from these early contractions. I walked around for weeks with Henry at 5cm. When I was pregnant with him, my coworkers used to joke that I had been in labor for months before I actually delivered him. Doctors always tell me to prepare for premature babies with how my body starts labor so early, but alas, both of my kiddos have been considered “full-term.” Henry born at almost 43 weeks, Ellie born at 39 weeks and a day.

My sweet babies both sleeping a few hours after Ellie arrived.

Since I was induced with Henry and never went into active labor without medication, I have always thought that those contractions that I felt while walking around were as bad as they ever got. The only time my contractions became painful with his labor was after they hooked me up to my pitocin drip. Dear Lord, if you have labored naturally with pitocin, you are either crazy or a hero- possibly both. But I had decided this time around that I might not even know when I was in active labor, because my contractions were just never painful, even when I was having them 10 minutes apart for weeks and weeks before Ellie was born.

Boy, was I wrong.

My whole heart in one photo.

I woke up at 5:45am on August 25, and within three contractions I KNEW this baby was coming, and I knew she was coming fast. I had been checked the day before, and was dilated to 4cm but by the time I woke up I was confident I might even be complete and ready to push already.
Poor Drew had made prior plans that morning to help out a couple of his friends with a project, and he was about to leave the house to meet them when he had to call them. I am sure they heard me screaming at him to hurry up in the background. Ha.

I never told Drew that I hated him through labor, although I did tell the anesthesiologist that I loved him more than Drew. Oops. 

We dropped off Henry at our sweet friends’ house around 6:00am, and got checked in to the hospital by 6:30. They were fairly quick to check me, and upon arrival I was already dilated to an 8. They finally got my IV started probably around 7:00. (I say finally only because it felt like an eternity to me as I was still totally unmedicated at this point. My labor and delivery team was speedy and awesome.)
I was begging for an epidural from the moment I buzzed in at the labor and delivery unit, but knew they had to push a unit of fluids first.

You see, I watched the all birthing videos. I totally get it. It’s an empowering thing for women to labor as it happens naturally, and it is totally a thing to be proud of. I don’t deny that.
This just isn’t me. Not at ALL.

At our first hospital when we had Henry, we took every class they offered. Being brand new parents, we really wanted to be prepared. I watched two videos that stuck with me. Both were of women giving birth. One had opted for an epidural during her birth, the other was laboring completely unmedicated in a bathtub. Bathtub lady was clearly sweaty and miserable as I watched her moans turn to screams as she progressed into pushing. Epidural lady was eating a popsicle.

I wanted to be the popsicle lady.

Henry getting to know his new sister. For the first day he only growled at her and told her to “shhhhh, get down!” repeatedly.

So, with Henry, I felt two contractions after pitocin started, and immediately requested my epidural. My anesthesiologist happened to be down the hall, and came right in not even five minutes later. Within 4 total contractions, I couldn’t feel anything from my belly button down. And I had a grape popsicle, and a baby 4 hours later. What a glorious labor that was.

But I was also warned all through this pregnancy that Ellie may come much faster, as my first labor was fast for being a first- and especially fast for being an induction.

They weren’t wrong.
Actually, in hindsight, I didn’t even realize just how quickly things were happening until I saw all of the time stamps on my discharge papers a few days later.

So, they eventually got me set up with my IV around 7am. I was able to walk into the hospital at 6:00, but by 7:00, I was definitely feeling like I might just die on the spot. Shout out to my sweet nurses and doctors, you were all absolutely amazing, and I can’t think of a better team that I would have liked to have in the delivery room with us.

Laying there, I watched as the nurses quickly brought in table after table of medical tools, only around 30 minutes after I arrived at the hospital. It hit me pretty quickly that this little girl was definitely coming soon.
I remember looking at my med tech who was inserting my IV and asking him, “Um… so… I’m not going to get an epidural in time to push this kid out, am I?”
“Well ma’am, that is definitely a good possibility.”
My reply to that might have been a four-letter word.

After my IV was started and I got my bag of fluid pushed through, the anesthesiologist came to my room. By this time, I knew I was likely complete and ready to push, but I was dang determined to get that needle in my spine before that ever happened.

I held as still as humanly possible, and waited as they did their procedure. Both of my epidurals have been absolutely amazing. Basically no pain at all during the insertion, fast and quick, and no side effects afterwards.
Epidural was successfully places, I was checked again, and was absolutely ready to push. Unfortunately, I could still completely move my legs and the epidural had only slightly numbed me up to my shins. Perhaps it took the edge off a little bit, but I definitely felt every bit of this labor compared to the labor I had with Henry.
Nevertheless, I had delayed for as long as I could. It was time to push, and so I did.

My OBGYN that was with me from the very beginning of my pregnancy unfortunately moved about two weeks before my delivery, and the second OB that I had routinely seen for appointments as well also moved the week following the first one. Thus, I met my brand new OB when I was 10cm, and ready to push. He walked into my room, and I shook his hand probably a solid ten minutes before our baby girl arrived.
My water never broke on its own, so he broke it at 7:52am at 10cm. I pushed for what I felt was quite a while, but in reality, Ellie Alice was born at 7:58am.
So yep, I gave birth before my epidural even numbed me.
Yep, I was the woman that got an epidural at 9-10cm. (Most likely 10cm.)
Yep, I was the lady that screamed bloody murder and probably scared every other laboring woman in that unit, even though I only pushed 3 times.
Although I felt the labor and the pushing, it was quite nice to not have to deal with any of the painful following details.

It’s funny- in hindsight, I am still pro-epidural to the core of my being. I had a lot of friends ask me if I regretted getting it this time around since Ellie was born so shortly after I did. I guess my answer is yes and no.
Yes, I regret it only because I probably could have pushed 25-30 minutes earlier if I had not got it. I’m pretty confident I was at 10cm well before the anesthesiologist even came into the room, so I likely did prolong my labor by fighting the urge to push while I tried to wait. I sat there just trying to see if the numbness would creep up fast enough as my anesthesiologist pushed several doses to my IV. In hindsight though, my postpartum recovery was a million times better because my legs never became completely numb, so I was up and walking about 4 hours after Ellie was born. During my recovery with Henry, I was unable to walk for around 16 hours after delivery.
But also no, I don’t regret it, because I hate pain. Ha.
We were already pretty confident that we will not (intentionally) have any more biological babies after Ellie, and I am pretty set in that decision after experiencing a mostly unmedicated labor. Ellie makes me want to have another baby because she is such an angel, but pain that makes me barf uncontrollably and tell men that I don’t know that I love them more than my husband is just not for me.
Kudos to all of you women who labor for hours and hours and hours before your babies make their arrivals, and kudos to you women who push more than three times. My three times convinced me that my body might be splitting in half, and that I will never willingly do that again, so I am very confident y’all are the real MVPs.

Hospital attire for babies always cracks me up.

It’s amazing how as soon as you give your final push, and that little babe makes their entrance into the world, you are instantly relieved.

They laid the squishy and gross little girl on my belly, and suctioned out her mouth and nose as they did. We chose to do delayed cord clamping, meaning we waited until the cord stopped pulsating before messing with it, and so it was several minutes later before Drew cut the cord. (And somehow sprayed blood ALL over our med tech when he did. Poor guy. Ha.) Ellie latched immediately, and has been an absolute champ at nursing so far. She made the hours after delivery so incredibly easy.

Our poor med tech, covered in my blood. Haha.

It’s funny how I hated this entire pregnancy so much, and honestly didn’t feel super connected to Ellie for most of it. I was just so sick during the first trimester, and so tired during the third, and those two trimester’s symptoms each bled into the second, too. I was so busy during my entire pregnancy that I had a hard time connecting with my babe before she was born. Maybe that makes me a crappy mom to admit, but honestly pregnancy just isn’t something that I enjoy. I love my babies with every fiber of my being, and I am forever grateful that we have had no problems conceiving or carrying children, but that 9 months is pretty much hell for me.

But the second that that little girl was laid on my chest, my heart expanded more than I ever thought it could.

Ellie is the sweetest and most perfect little addition to our family, and our family feels so complete. Maybe this will change for me in a few years, but for right now, I can’t imagine life any different than it is right now.

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Welcome, my darling Ellie Alice! The world is so much better now that you are here.

Ellie · Japan Life Updates

5 Surprising Facts About Maternity Care in Japan

A few weeks ago after Ellie was born, I had the opportunity to talk to several different doctors, nurses, and translators through the process of getting Ellie’s heart checked out for her murmur. My interest was definitely sparked after my conversations, and ever since, I have been doing more reading on the differences between America and Japan in regards to birth and maternity care.

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It’s funny how as an American, I thought that the entire world functioned the same way that we do.
I thought that epidurals and pain relief were available everywhere.
I thought all women and babies were released from the hospital only a few hours or days after birth.
I thought that a “support person” was encouraged in basically all delivery rooms, and that all women usually chose to have their husbands present.
I really never gave a second thought to how the rest of the world functioned in regards to maternity and newborn care, at least until I lived in a part of the “rest of the world.”

Sitting in the Japanese pediatric cardiologist’s office, I had a pretty cool discussion with our translator. She began to ask questions about our birth experience, and told us how things were different in Japan. We gave birth at an Americanized hospital, so though our daughter was born in Japan, I had a birth experience just like I would have in the states.

The conversation between her and me started with a question that she asked.
“Did you have an epidural?” She asked me kindly.
“Ohhh, yes. But it didn’t even work in time, unfortunately.” I replied, likely with wide eyes. After all, my birth experience was still very fresh on my mind as it had only been two days since I delivered Ellie.
“So you felt everything?” She questioned.
“Yep!”
“That’s what women over here do- they don’t have epidurals!” She said as she smiled at my raised eyebrows.
“You mean they don’t have pain relief?” I asked with what I’m sure was even wider eyes.
“Nope, not at all.”

I had heard this rumor through the grapevine as I neared the end of my pregnancy, but wasn’t sure if it was totally true. So after coming home from Ellie’s appointment, I did some reading on the cultural aspects of birth in Japan. From what I read, Japan is slowly becoming more like America in the practices they have regarding birth, but there are still some very drastic differences. So here are 5 facts that I found fun and interesting about the differences between birthing and recovering in Japan vs. America.

1. Pain relief isn’t a thing in Japanese births.

As I said, many of my American friends told me that the Japanese do not readily use pain relief during birth, and the vast majority of information I read states the same. Most state that even the use of ibuprofen is often looked down upon. Traditional Buddhist beliefs within Japan state that women should receive the full experience of childbirth, pain and all, due to a few different factors. This is said to prepare the mom for what motherhood holds, and is supposed to help her bond better with her baby. Because traditional Japanese views regard patience and suffering as important life lessons, receiving a medicated birth is often looked down upon, especially by older generations. Pain is often said to be a major life “experience” and something that is to be felt, not masked.

2. Japanese insurance only provides a “lump sum” payment for the coverage of your delivery.

This payment is said by multiple sources that I found to be 420,000 yen, or approximately $4,000 USD. According to the Japan Times, the average cost of an uncomplicated delivery is around 500,000 yen, or a little less than $5,000 USD. Often though, uncomplicated births are completely covered by the lump sum allowance.
Typically women are expected to pay up front for their deliveries, and will be reimbursed at a later date by this lump sum. If a delivery is complicated, or a C-Section takes place, deliveries may cost thousands of dollars more, and the woman/her family are expected to foot the total bill.
Women are first required to report their pregnancy to their city upon its confirmation. They will then be provided with a handbook on their maternity and new baby’s care. Many hospital sites that I visited stated that all checkups must be paid for out of pocket, but that your city may have coupons covering the vast majority of an office’s services. These coupons can be found within your handbook.
In addition, if an epidural is asked for (this only happens in about 5% of all births) the cost of said epidural is usually completely uncovered by insurance. From the sources I read it is likely that an epidural will cost at least 100,000 yen, or a little less than $1,000 USD. Oddly enough though, many sources state that newborn and child care is often completely free and covered until the child reaches the age of 15.

3. Fathers are not often present in the delivery room.

At both hospitals we have delivered at, it was expected for Drew to be my “support person,” and he was actually involved in several aspects of my labor such as holding my legs during pushing, cutting our babies’ cords, or verbally encouraging me during contractions.
Many accounts of birth stories in Japan that I read stated that women often do not have their husbands in the delivery room with them at all, and that they were sometimes even encouraged to face the pain of birth bravely, and alone. Furthermore, women will often choose to deliver their babies in their hometowns, and often their husbands/the fathers will not travel with them for a variety of reasons. Many women leave two to three months before they are due, and return home months later with their newborn. This is not a strange occurrence, and most hospitals will not even blink at a woman arriving to deliver completely alone.

4. Babies typically do not stay in your room, they stay in the nursery.

The concept of “rooming in” with our baby was also a very startling concept to our translator. She stated that she thought that would be incredibly tiring for the mother, who had just given birth.
During my research, many sources stated that mothers are immediately encouraged to nurse their babies- sometimes for up to two hours straight after delivering- but as soon as the nursing session was over, most infants were required to stay in a nursery for the first three days of their life.
I have now delivered at two hospitals who do “total rooming in” meaning my babies have been with me from the second I gave birth to them until the second we left the hospital. Any procedure, any need to take the baby from the room- I have been fully allowed to come along for. In general, most sources stated that mothers and babies are almost fully separated for the first three days of life, with visits being allowed for nursing the newborn.
This could also be due to the sharing of recovery rooms, sometimes up to 4-5 patients per room, which seems to be a fairly normal practice in Japan. The Japanese view privacy and remaining polite very highly, so the absence of newborns from shared recovery rooms makes sense from a “let’s just keep to ourselves” standpoint. No crying babies means everyone in that room is able to sleep.

5. Postpartum care extends much longer than most American hospitals encourage or allow.

According to our translator, the minimum hospital stay for mothers after giving birth is one week from the time of delivery. She was actually absolutely shocked when we said that Ellie was only two days old and that I was discharged around 24 hours after giving birth. Our Ellie was in the hospital for a bit longer due to her heart, but I as her mother was completely released and allowed to simply stay in the room with her until she was as well.
The Japan times states that from their survey, at least 60 percent of women asked stated that their hospital stay was from five to eight days. Even when a woman gives birth at a birthing center or at home with a midwife, the typical range of care extends around five days. This seems to not be viewed as a sad or lazy thing, but rather a privilege that allows the mother to sleep, recover, and heal. During this time, mothers use the advice and help of doctors and nurses, and learn how to properly care for their infants.

Living overseas has broadly expanded my narrow mind in regards to so many aspects of my way of life, and the way the Japanese view the birthing process was seriously eye opening to me. It is funny how stepping foot out of America makes you realize how culturally different the rest of the world is from your tiny little “Americanized box.” If you have time some day, I encourage you to pick another country, and read about their birthing practices. Some of the things you will read will absolutely baffle you, both about the other country, and about how we do things in the United States. In the end, babies will be born every day all over the world. The beauty of birth absolutely remains the same across the world, the process may just look a little different from various sets of eyes.

 

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Citations from the reading/research I did:

“No Pain, No Gain. Maternity Culture in Japan” The Economist. October 20, 2016. https://www.economist.com/asia/2016/10/20/no-pain-no-gain

“Make Giving Birth Easier in Japan” Japan Times. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/12/03/commentary/japan-commentary/make-giving-birth-easier-japan/#.W4ke82QzaAw

“Pregnancy and Birth in Japan” Japan Times. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/06/03/issues/pregnancy-birth-japan-cultural-primer-foreign-mothers/#.W55icSN97-k

“Prenatal Care” Japan Healthcare Info. http://japanhealthinfo.com/pregnancy-and-childbirth/prenatal-care/

“Giving Birth in Japan” RCM. https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/analysis/giving-birth-in-japan

“Giving Birth In Japan” Japan Window. http://japanwindow.com/giving-birth-in-japan/