Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"First" bath

Even though she wasn't happy about it, we got a couple shots from Katie's first real bath (which we had to wait to do after the last piece of the umbilical cord fell off). I love her hair freshly washed! So cute. She was much happier post-bath when she got a warm towel and cuddles from mom.


Here are some overdue pictures of Katie's recent visitors! I didn't get photos of everyone, but here are some shots during our visit from cousins Genny and Jason and Ila (below) ... ... and Izzy (below).
The three girls had some serious fun playing in Ellie's room while the adults got to visit downstairs. There was some bed-jumping (which we are working hard to curb) and some other horse-play, but nothing broken at the end of the day :) I can tell these girls are going to be trouble!
And here's Aunt Maggie hamming it up with the girls. So great to get a visit from Maggie and Chris!
We also saw my Aunt Pat and Uncle Steve this same weekend. We're lucky to live in the path between Rockford and Columbus, Ohio, where my cousin Matt's family lives, so it worked out on a recent trip down there for so many family members to stop at Lafayette and meet the newest family member.
We're looking forward to seeing more family this weekend as we celebrate Katie's baptism!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More Katie pics

We usually keep them covered up since it's cold right now, but I love her itty-bitty feet!
And her facial expressions kill me!

Oh, and the nurse-in is going great :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

At least one

...of them is smiling. Love my girls :)


This weekend is a nurse-in for me and Katie. Not sure if that's the technical term for it or just what I'm calling it, but I know this is a real thing. Basically it's just a 24-48 hour period devoted totally to nursing. It's advised for mom's working on supply issues either at the start of nursing or later on in the process is supply starts to drop. The gist is that you spend most of the time with baby, either in bed or wearing her, and all you do is nurse and cuddle (and sleep and eat). Not a bad deal. I didn't think it was an option for me with Ellie on scene, but earlier this week it was decided that she and Brian would go to STL for a visit. While I'm sad to have them gone, I'm excited to try just about the last tool in my belt for getting my milk supply as high as it can be. I've already seen progress from going on Reglan, which is encouraging. I'm producing almost everything Katie needs at this point. But I know her demands are going to continue growing... and I'm not sure my supply will. (For those who weren't following my blog two years ago when I discussed this problem in more detail as I nursed Ellie... I had a reduction surgery back in 2000 that likely scarred my milk ducts. I definitely don't regret the surgery since it allowed me to be much more active and lose quite a bit of weight, but it sucks that a decision I made back when I was 18 is impacting this part of motherhood for me so significantly now. Sorry if that's TMI, but it's the background.)
I also learned from the lactation nurse this week that I'll likely have to keep pumping up to 8 times a day as long as I want to continue nursing (at least without a lot of supplement). I had hoped the pumping was a means to an end and if I could power through for the first month or so things might get a little easier. But that might not be the case... in which case I'll have to continue to take stock of how breastfeeding is fitting into our lives. I feel like I spend entire days (sometimes) telling Ellie I can't play with her or that she'll have to wait until later while I finish nursing and then pumping... and then it's nearly time to start all over again. Don't get me wrong, I love breastfeeding Katie as much as I can -- but it's heartbreaking when Ellie tries to convince me "no, mommy, baby Katie's not hungry" or "Don't pick Katie up!" I know some of this is normal big sister-transition... but I'm just not sure how long our daily routine can be devoted so entirely to making breastfeeding work.
OK, sorry about the ramble -- and enough pessimism for now! Today starts the nurse-in and I'm sure my supply will benefit from some exclusive Katie time in the next two days. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Team effort

Life in our house is all about team work these days. Ellie helps with giving Katie plenty of love... PLENTY of kisses, hugs and not-so-gentle pokes in the face.
She also loves to "help" change Katie's diapers -- especially the poopy ones, of which there are many.
And Brian has been helping out with nursing by waking Katie up when she falls to sleep on my in the middle of a feeding. He likes to work her through some dance moves to get the blood flowing and (usually) producing an angry cry or two. It does the trick!

Two weeks

Katie went in Friday for her two-week checkup and it dawned on me how fast the first 14 days with her had gone. I know it's cliche to talk about the time flying by, but that's just what it's doing. The days are blurring together, the nights are short, and I'm trying as hard as I can to remind myself to treasure the moments holding this tiny bundle -- even at 2 a.m. when it's hard to keep my eyes open. I am consumed with love when looking into her bright eyes or smelling that wonderful "new baby" scent. (sigh)
Now, beyond the sappy stuff, here's how our little girl is doing. Born at 6 lb, 15 oz. She dropped down to about 6 lb, 7 oz (which is normal for babies and not concerning unless they lose more than 10 percent of their birth weight). We've been monitoring her weight closely as I worked the past couple weeks with lactation consultants. She gained a few ounces early on but then plateaued at about 6 lb, 10 oz for a few days. In consult with my doctor, I decided to go on a prescription (Reglan) that's actually used to treat reflux but has been shown to increase milk supply. After less than a week on it, I'm already seeing improvement. In fact, I think I'm pumping as much milk now (just a few weeks in) than I ever did when nursing Ellie. I'm optimistic about this medicine and how it's working in conjunction with the herbal supplements (Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek) I'm also taking and the mass quantities of oatmeal I'm eating. (Steel cut oatmeal is also supposed to help with supply, and it's really good!) Katie was back up to 6 lb, 12 oz at Friday's appointment.
This past week we've had to give Katie an ounce or two of formula most days, usually in the evening when my supply for the day starts to taper off. But I'm OK with that. She's still getting about 90 percent breast milk. And from the numerous milk supply web sites and forums I've read, it sounds like a bit of formula can be helpful in getting baby's weight up enough to boost her energy and make her an even better eater. Her demand will help fuel my supply, so this is definitely a team effort.
In other news: Katie is still teeny tiny. The 0-3 month outfits I try to put on her are comically huge. Her beautiful head of hair continues to amaze everyone we meet. Her fingernails already needed trimming twice in her short lifespan thus far. Her umbilical cord piece fell off today, so a regular bath will be coming her way in the near future. And she's basically a gem. Hard to say if Katie's full personality has been revealed yet, but our baby girl so far is pretty easy going. She likes to be held, but she's willing to take rides in the swing or chill in the bouncy seat for a while when Ellie needs played with or during meal times. Still, mom loves holding her best... so I'm not complaining when she starts fussing and I have to pick her up :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I think we all know what was happening at the time to produce this little smile from Katie, but I love it all the same!!


Ellie (above) and Katie already showing some sisterly similarities. (Granted, Ellie looks like a GIANT in her shot... but she was bigger than Katie to begin with and this was taken, I believe, a month or two in.) I love the pose :)

School farewell

These photos are late, but we got some very sweet shots of Ellie on her last day of "school" before taking off to be home with me on my leave. The first is her with her favorite teacher, Dena, who misses her terribly! (We'll be going in to visit soon.)
And here's Ellie with her BFF from school, Olivia, who's already visited us for a play date. These girls are very, very cute together -- jumping up and down and shrieking as soon as they got together this past weekend.
Love it!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fancy (and very serious)

Ellie is already sharing with baby Katie... sort of. We explained in a very serious tone that this is as close as she can put her necklaces to her little sister. We're working hard on teaching her limits around Katie, such as no poking in the face, covering with blankets or putting the wrong toys nearby. Ellie is trying to be sweet, but it's a little scary having such a fragile baby around our outgoing toddler. I guess Katie will learn survival skills early :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How are we doing

So many well-wishing friends and family members have been checking in to ask how we are doing as a family of four. The simple answer is: We're doing pretty well. A bit tired, but happy and healthy and blessed.

But the more detailed answer would include our frustrations, fatigue and follies from the past week -- even as we ride out the wave of new baby bliss and continue to adore our toddler. I feel like I'm in the breastfeeding version of marathon training. My supply is low, again, this second time around. But thankfully I know more than I did when Ellie was first born, and I've been throwing everything I have into getting the supply to keep up with Katie's growing needs. Nine days in and so far (*knock on wood) we haven't had to give her any formula. To accomplish this, I am working with a lactation consultant and closely monitoring my output along with Katie's growth to make sure her nutritional needs are being met. My "homework" from the specialist is pumping with every feeding to get additional milk for Katie and condition my body into making a larger supply. This means every feeding takes at least an hour, by the time I've nursed and then pumped and then fed Katie the extra in a bottle. And since I have to feed her every 2-2.5 hours round the clock, I don't have much more than an hour between any of her feedings. It's intense, but SO worth it to me to make breastfeeding work. It's already going so much better this time than it did with Ellie. I'm really hoping if I power through the next few weeks I'll be able to cut back on pumping time... but we'll see how it goes.
Since my days are largely spent attached to Katie or a machine, Brian has had to take on a lot more daddy duties with Ellie. And he's doing the lion's share of the cooking, cleaning and errand-running. Really anything that comes up is more Brian's domain these days. I'm SO grateful that he's been super supportive of the extra breastfeeding efforts and making it possible for me to work so hard on it without letting much slip with Ellie or the house.

On the sleep front, Brian and I have been spoiled for a few nights now with Katie snoozing for long stretches (at least for a baby). I'm only allowed to go one stretch longer than 3 hours between feedings, but the past 2 nights I've had to wake Katie up after waking up myself to find it had been four hours since we heard from her! It's amazing how restful that amount of sleep feels to a new parent -- and it totally freaks us out not to hear from Katie for so long!

Even though things are hard right now, I still stick to my simple answer that things are overall good with the Schneiderheimers. All of the time spent nursing Katie is work, but also such a joy. Whenever I hold her close I am filled with the overwhelming new parent emotions of wanting to do anything in the world to protect her and help her grow. I'd forgotten how intense those emotions are, especially at the beginning. And Brian is enjoying the dedicated time with Ellie. She's testing our patience quite often these days with tantrums and disregard for our instructions. We're not sure how much of that is the age and how much is due to the second child we've introduced into her world, but either way we're trying hard to get her behavior more in line. I'll admit to a breakdown at the dinner table a few nights ago as Ellie threw a fit, Brian and I shouted and Katie somehow slept peacefully nearby. I mostly blame my tiredness and post-natal hormones, but seeing mom break down in tears stopped Ellie in her tracks and put her on her best behavior for the rest of the evening. But I don't want to repeat that scene again. We need fewer tears in our house these days, not more from mommy.

Ellie still melts our hearts a dozen times a day with a sweet phrase or a hug and kiss. And we're even more blown away by how big Ellie seems now that tiny Katie is in the picture. Here's hoping both girls continue to thrive and amaze us on a daily basis... just don't grow too fast, darlings.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rewind: hospital stay

For some reason I'm way behind in posting these photos...
Here's a few more from during our stay in the hospital last weekend. Katie slept in her cart in the nursery for some of the time, while mom and dad snagged sleep during the nights.
And I was beyond thrilled when Ellie finally came to visit Saturday and I got to see her. My two girls!

Here's the obligatory "leaving the hospital" shot from Sunday night. I think our smiles here do a pretty good job of hiding the terror of leaving the hospital support system. But, actually, it was really nice to get home -- especially to Ellie.
The time apart was hard on everyone, but we're so grateful that both grandmas could come into town and help ease the burden. My mom stayed through the whole week after and pitched in a ton at our house, with laundry, dishes, cooking and taking Ellie for some outings. It was a huge help, and it allowed Brian to go back to work for a couple days so he can spread out his leave time over a longer span. For the next month or so he'll be able to take off Monday and Fridays (with paid paternity leave time) and only leave me solo for three days each week. I'm still nervous about how I'll cover all the bases with both girls, but parents do it all the time... right?

Good thing...

...we left the tags on the "little brother" shirt.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Family shot

Our first attempt at a family picture of four netted a few tears, a few smiles and almost open eyes from the newest family member.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Katie's big day

I have to share the story of Katie's arrival while it's still somewhat fresh in my head... although my head is anything but fresh these days as we're a week into new babyhood. But here's my tale of Feb. 3, 2012.

Brian and I checked into the hospital at 7:30 a.m. and got paperwork out of the way. They showed us to Room G4 of the women's center wing at St. Elizabeth East. I spent nearly every minute of the next three days in this room, except for a few walks through the hallways. Around 9:30, Dr. George came in and did an exam (to find I was only 2 cm!)... I thought after the week of cramping and pains I would have more of a head start on this labor, but no such luck. Pitocin started mid-morning and then it was all about the waiting game. By early afternoon I'd progressed to 4 cm and the nurses started to arrange for my visit for the anesthesiologist -- for the epidural. They'd ramped up my pitocin slowly during the day to avoid putting too much strain on the baby and also to make sure I didn't get too uncomfortable (from heavier contractions) before the epidural.
When the doc came in to do the epidural, Brian talked his way into getting to watch the procedure. While Brian had a blast learning all about how to put a needle into someone's spine, I winced through the pain and reminded myself of the greater good we were aiming for. Once the epidural took effect, I felt amazing.
As the pitocin continued to do it's work, I was instructed to rest up for delivery... which seemed to still be far away.
When I was only at 5 cm around 6 p.m, Dr. George said it would be safe for Brian to go home and help with Ellie's bedtime and still make it back in time. She said it would still be hours before baby's arrival. I was starting to wonder if we'd have a Feb. 4th birthday!
Brian left the hospital around 6:30 and within 5 minutes I noticed a change in my pain levels and contractions. At first I wasn't sure if the contractions were getting stronger or if the pain meds were wearing off. I called the nurse and then she called the anesthesiologist to give me a booster through the epidural. He got that done by 7 or so, but I was dealing with a lot of pain. My mom helped me bear through the contraction pains, but as they got closer and closer together she called Brian and suggested he not linger at home. (She told him he didn't have to rush, mostly to keep him from driving like a maniac on his return to the hospital... but I was thinking: get your butt back here!)
In another few minutes I was starting to feel a ton of pressure. A check from the nurse revealed I was at 10 cm and ready to push. My mom made another phone call to Brian and reported he was halfway back to the hospital. I believe he broke several laws from that point on in the trip and he later described a screeching turn into the parking lot (hard to do in our minivan) and a sprint through the hospital to my room.
When he walked in I was already sobbing from the pain, nerves and adrenaline. I was in position to push and more than ready when Brian took my hand. The next 15 minutes (or less?) are a blur, but I remember a few things:
  • My epidural couldn't keep up with the contractions and I was in a lot of pain. A LOT. I'm glad I got the epidural, and would recommend it to other expectant moms, but I guess every tool in pain management has its limits. Thankfully the delivery process was fast.

  • Brian was strong and supportive and helped me tremendously to get through it.

  • After two rounds of intense pushing the baby's head was partway out. On the next one the head was fully out, and the next one pushed the shoulders through... and out SHE came.

  • Brian proudly announced: "It's a girl!" and got to cut the cord while I cried and laughed and cried some more from everything that had just happened.

  • Our baby girl, Katie, was in my arms a minute later. I'll never forget seeing this precious angel for the first time and getting to hold her on my chest, examine her perfect face, her tiny fingers and full head of hair. Too amazing for words to really capture that moment, but I tear up just thinking about it.

I think Katie's delivery story, with all of the ending drama, fits perfectly with the twists and turns we encountered through the pregnancy. Everything from the boy/girl mystery to her crazy activity level in utero to the last-minute rush of delivery tells me we have got a spitfire on our hands with this girl. I love that. And I am so thankful for the "happy ending" we're blessed with, since pregnancy and delivery outcomes are always full of worries and risks. Katherine Elizabeth Wallheimer is healthy and beautiful. She's already transformed our lives. Our new family of four seems as natural as anything. And Brian and I are so grateful for our daughters.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Three days

It's been an amazing first three (full) days with our newest angel, Katie.
Brian and I brought her home late Sunday, just after half-time of the Super Bowl, and then we all had a fairly sleepless night. But that's OK. Katie is getting adjusted to her new surroundings -- and they (Ellie and the dogs) are getting used to her, too. She's eating like a champ, making lots of dirty diapers and even getting some long stretches of sleep in (at least during the daytime hours). We are totally blown away by this tiny, beautiful creature.
Here are a couple more shots from the past few days.
Katie just after the nurses finished cleaning her up.
A hand shot that the nurse suggested we do, to show just how tiny our new baby girl is!
And here are the grandmas helping Ellie enjoy her big sister cake during the "party" the hospital helped arrange to help ease the new sibling transition. The cake even earned Katie a kiss from her big sis.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Welcome, Katie!

We are so excited to share a few first photos of our beautiful second daughter, Katherine "Katie" Elizabeth Wallheimer. Born just before 8 p.m. on Feb. 3, she was 6 lbs, 15 oz and 18.5 inches long. I'll share more stories and pictures soon. But thanks for all of the love and support from everyone!
Ellie got to meet her little sister this morning.
Our daughters... still sounds weird to say, but we couldn't be more thrilled!

Friday, February 3, 2012

30 months

Brian and I are in the hospital waiting on the arrival of baby sister or brother, but we need to mark Ellie's 30-month birthday. We can't believe our little girl is already 2-and-a-half years old!
Where to start? Ellie is such a big girl these days.
When we asked her where we were going today, she immediately chimed in that we were going to the hospital and that the baby would be coming while we were there. I don't think she fully understands the whole sibling part yet (and that this little baby will be coming home with us permanently), but she's very sweet when she talks about her baby brother or sister.
She talks SO much and SO well. Her teachers say she's one of the only kids in her classroom that they can actually have conversations with. And she's definitely not afraid to tell us what she thinks about everything... especially when it's in contrast to what we're telling her to do. But that's OK, some of the time.
Potty training continues to go well. She's a good eater, for the most part. We like that she will try a lot of different foods and eats pretty healthy, but Ellie's stubbornness makes some meals quite challenging. It also makes getting dressed or getting out of the house take forever. But I see the trait paying off, too, in her persistence to do things herself, learn new activities and always stay on the go. I love her imagination and excitement to try new stuff. What fun we have!
Lastly, Ellie has mastered the act of melting mom and dad's hearts. She will say things to us in such a sweet tone of voice, or in a rhetorical question, that cracks us up.
She'll say: "I'm not going nite-nite" and then laugh a little, as if that will talk us out of bedtime.
Or, just the other day, she turned to daddy at bath time and said, "Daddy, you want to take a bath with me?" in a tone that suggested he'd been angling for just that. Not surprisingly, he was quickly talked into donning his swim trunks and splashing around in the tub with her for about a half hour.
It's hard to believe that 30 months ago we were in the hospital still waiting on Ellie's arrival. She was so little and so helpless and so tender. Now she's just tender -- and a million other traits. We love you, Ellie!
(p.s. Ellie is wearing her apron and an old one of mine that I found in a box of childhood stuff... we haven't changed her name to Dorothy. Also, we weren't letting her play with the drill that you see in the background of the pic... oops.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ready or not

Hopefully we're ready, with less than 24 hours until we go to the hospital!
Got the baby's downstairs bedroom all set up. With crib, Pooh painting and stocked shelves...
Freezer is stuffed with soups, sauces, casseroles and muffins. We will not run out of carbs in the next month.Oh, and I'm big. Can't wait to welcome this little one to the world tomorrow. Please say some prayers for a smooth delivery and healthy baby!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Artist at work

Ellie is enjoying the art station she got for Christmas, which is a combo easel and drawing desk. She's really enjoying playing with the magnetic letters and white board crayons... and then transforming her studio into a desk for coloring books and other "projects."
Mom and dad enjoy that it occupies her attention for some lengthier spans of time, so we can work on cooking or other stuff around the house. Fun for everyone?