We survived month 3…

Yay for 4-month-old Owen!

Owen 4 months

Baby boy at 4 months!

Man. Month 3 was rough. For the first time, I felt like the crazy new mom who calls and visits the doctor’s office a thousand times for what turned out to be nothing to be concerned with. First, it was an ear infection. We scheduled a follow-up appointment for two weeks later for the ear infection, but we went back to the doctor the following Monday and again on Tuesday because Owen was screaming in pain and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. Our guess was that he was having bad side effects from his ear infection medicine, but it turns out his acid reflux was just acting up terribly. This acid reflux has been kicking our butt. Majorly. Anyways, when we went back for the follow-up for his ear infection, the doctor and nurse gave us the name for a pediatric gastroenterologist to get Owen checked over. When we went to the GI, the doctor was concerned about his weight being so low for his age and gave us some tips for helping that. Long story short…Owen’s acid reflux is awful.

Owen 4 month doctor

Even at the doctor, this guy is smiling and laughing!

The good news is that both the GI and our pediatrician said that 3-4 months is kind of the climax for acid reflux so hopefully we’re on the downward slope of this. The Prilosec seems to be doing its job because Owen doesn’t seem to be in any pain…just spitting up a ridiculous amount.

Acid reflux hasn’t been our only issue. Randomly, Owen developed a rash of sorts when I woke him up one morning. It would only last up to an hour and would disappear but would come back each time we put him down for a nap or for the night. Turns out, he was having a reaction to the Dreft baby laundry detergent! What?! So we changed that. Whew.

Mama and Owen faces

Staying home with this guy is the biggest blessing

More good news is that his 4-month checkup went great! Our guy is 26.5 inches long and weighed 13.5 pounds! The pediatrician isn’t concerned at all about his weight and said that all GIs seem to want babies to be above the 50th percentile, but the fact is that not all babies will be. That was super encouraging because he has always seemed healthy so it was really affirming to hear it.

Four months means adding solids, as we feel ready! We’ve done this once so far – we put rice cereal in a bottle. He seemed confused by it and man… I didn’t realize solids were going to make us all miserable, making him constipated. Ugh. We’ve had a rough few days and started giving him apple juice and all of a sudden, he’s good! Whoohoo!

Owen stomach

He is getting SO strong!

With all of this going on, I am extremely thankful for our doctor’s office. They have an after-hours on evenings and weekends that have been such a relief as a parent, especially a new parent who has no idea what she’s doing. The staff is amazing – the nurses, the techs, the doctors. We’ve been to the after-hours twice now and have called about issues and been given an appointment on the same day. Not even to mention the thousands of times I’ve called to ask a question about everything under the sun.

Here’s hoping that our month 3 troubles are behind us so we’re ready to face the new set of speed bumps before us! This little guy is such a joy, even in the midst of him feeling bad and the spitting up. Life has forever changed and we’re so thankful.

Family photo shoot

Our little family!

Breastfeeding in Public: My Two Cents

Obviously, the older Owen gets, the more I feed him. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to exclusively breastfeed him without formula or supplements these three and a half months and I hope to be be able to continue for more months to come. During this time, I have found myself needing to feed him outside of home several times. I try to work around his schedule as much as possible but sometimes it’s just impossible. Because of this, I have a better understanding of the stigma of public breastfeeding. To be completely honest, I would have the same thoughts mentioned below. I never felt a repulsion of public breastfeeding or felt in inappropriate, to be clear. But I realize now that I have had to do it for three months how irritating these comments or suggestions are, despite the good intentions.

[Side note: there is a hilarious satirical video about this topic that I highly recommend watching. I’ll talk about many of the things mentioned in the video – and may have some of the same comments – but I want to add my own voice.]

Here are some common arguments against public breastfeeding and my thoughts.

1. Just bring a bottle.
In order to bring a bottle, we have to use a breast pump to get the milk. For me, the pumping itself is not painful or necessarily a headache. The problem comes with finding the time – or making the time – to pump. It can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes to pump from start to finish. That may not seem like a long time, but in terms of what else you could be getting done, it is a good chunk of time. I could unload/load the dishwasher. Fold laundry. Vacuum. Work on a sermon for Wesley. REST (whatever that is).

On top of that, pumping with a 3 month old and a 95 pound, 3-year-old dog is difficult. Sure, I could pump while Owen is napping and I’m watching TV. Absolutely. But you’re kind of immobile while pumping because of the equipment. If Owen wakes up from a nap early and I have to get him, I can’t. If Lucy happens to grab something she’s not supposed to have, I can’t hunt her down to get it back. Or if I need to get to her at all, I can’t.

Finally, expressed (pumped) breastmilk is liquid gold. I never quite understood that expression for breastmilk until now. It takes works to get it and you don’t want any to go to waste. Honestly, I’d rather use these bottles when I am not with Owen – when he’s in the nursery, attending Wesley worship, or on the rare occasion that Greg and I can get away by ourselves. I’d really prefer not to use up that precious milk when I am present with him.

2. Just cover up.

Nursing covers are a complete pain in the behind. Owen has never really liked them because they make him hot with our body heat being trapped in the cover; it doesn’t help that we’re both hot natured. Even though he would get hot, for the most part he would cooperate and we were able to make it work.

The older he gets, however, the more mobile he gets and the more he squirms and flails. He LOVES to grab on to anything within his reach and moves around like a crazy person. Because of that, he grabs the cover and moves it around all the time. There’s no telling if the cover will stay in place. He could pull it up entirely, as much as I might try to keep covered. I mean, would you want to eat with a sheet over your head? Probably not.

3. It’s an intimate act – not public.
I partially agree with this argument. Breastfeeding is certainly an intimate bonding experience between mom and baby. When we’re at home, Owen and I go up into his room and sit in his glider while I feed him, even though I’m perfectly free to openly feed him in our house without covering. I prefer to spend that time with just the two of us.

However, being in public completely takes away the intimacy of breastfeeding. If I use a nursing cover, I’m all sorts of distracted with trying to hold him properly, making sure he’s eating, and making sure I stay covered up. In no way is intimacy possible when feeding in public, at least with the proposed solutions of a bottle or nursing cover. A bottle does not have the intimacy factor and the nursing cover creates more stress than intimacy.

4. It makes everyone uncomfortable. I don’t want my kids seeing it.
This one may irritate me the most. It’s OK for Victoria’s Secret to have giant ads of women in sexy lingerie in the store’s windows. Provocative magazines are sold at many convenience stores. Pornography exists. But it’s not OK for a mother to naturally feed a hungry baby. If you see a woman breastfeeding, you don’t have to look or watch. It is indeed possible to look away from images that make you uncomfortable. You’re an adult. You should have developed self-control by this point.

As far as your kids seeing a woman breastfeeding, instead of acting like it is something bad, take the time to educate them. If you (or your wife) breastfed your kids, say something like: “That’s how Mom fed y’all!” If you (or your wife) didn’t breastfeed your kids, you can say something like: “That’s how some moms feed their kids before they can eat real food!” Use that time to help them understand. Because breastfeeding is a natural part of life and is not an inappropriate act.


With all this said, I still try to cover up in public, but I think a huge part of that awkwardness I feel is because of the stigma on public breastfeeding. I’ve always been someone who cares too much about what other people think about me – something I’m working on – and that would keep me from even trying. Even when I use a nursing cover in a restaurant, I try to sit in a booth that is in the back corner away from as many people as possible for fear of the cover not staying. I would love for society to finally come to a consensus that breastfeeding is not sexual. It is the way that my son gets his nourishment and stays healthy. And I hope people can begin to realize that.

Three months in!

Owen is 3 months old today! Holy cow! We’ve tried to measure him and weigh him at home and our best guess is that he’s around 12.5 pounds and 25.5 inches long! The doctor is pretty sure he’s definitely going to be a buy guy – following my side of the family, especially my dad and brother.

Our happy, smiling guy

Our happy, smiling guy

He’s continued sleeping through the night! Whoohoo! In addition, he takes around 2-3 naps each day. He has developed his own schedule completely on his own and he is like clockwork. I know that if I feed him at 9am, around 10:45-11am he will be ready for a nap (his fussy “nap cry” is very specific), and then at 12noon, he’ll be ready to eat and we start the cycle again! I essentially live my life in 3 hour increments, but I’ll take it!

Owen started in the nursery at church shortly after he turned 2 months and he seems to be great in it! It always warms my heart when the nursery workers get excited when we enter the room and to walk in and see him sleeping in their arms! I can’t imagine a better group of volunteers to love on that little guy!

We were really wanting him to take the paci instead of sucking on his thumb, but we seem to have completely lost that battle. It’s certainly not the end of the world and we’re just grateful that he’s found some way of soothing himself and we’ll deal with breaking the thumb-sucking later.

Caught in the act! He's just so darn cute!

Caught! He’s just so darn cute!

He still highly prefers sitting on your lap looking out or on your shoulder looking forward or backward. He is SO aware of everything around him and super curious about everything! I try to describe the things around us (like trees, leaves, pictures, puppy, etc.). He LOVES to talk, squeal, and smile! He’s also loving lying on his back right now. We have full conversations when he’s lying on the changing table! He’s super interactive which is awesome!

I absolutely love staying home with Owen. He’s such a joy to me and I can’t imagine a day that isn’t filled with hanging out with him. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do this because it’s what I’ve wanted since middle school. Working quarter time with Wesley was an awesome surprise because I also love my college students and I love watching them with Owen. They expect to see him every Tuesday night at worship and the Wesley guys expect him to be at Guys’ Lunch every week! They are tremendous with him.

One of our favorite things: the swing outside!

One of our favorite things: the patio swing outside!

Greg and I joke that Owen is truly my child. Every time someone talks to Owen while I’m holding him, he’ll smile big but then bury his face in my chest! He’s getting to be shy! I’m not necessarily shy, but I don’t always like attention. With this, he laughs and smiles a ton, but seems to be camera shy! As soon as I pull out my phone to take a picture of that smiling face, he stops and just stares at the camera. For every picture I have of him smiling, it took about 10 to get it! Ha! He just cracks me up constantly.

He just loves his Mama and Daddy. He is showing his recognition of us when we talk to him or he sees us. His face lights up! I love it!

Watching SpongeBob with Daddy!

Watching SpongeBob with Daddy!

I feel like I say this all the time, but we are so thankful. My heart is so full with him and we can’t imagine life without him. Lucy is so intrigued by him and just loves him. Owen is surrounded by people who love and care about him already! Full speed ahead!

Oh, Lucy.

Oh, Lucy.

I love our little family!

I love our little family!

Trusting My Gut

We’re just over the 2 month mark! Man. This is flying by! I didn’t fully understand the whole being emotional about a child growing up until now. I’m truly enjoying every day of it – even the hard days. Because I’m quarter time with Wesley of Macon, I am able to stay home with Owen most days of the week and do Wesley stuff from home on my computer and on the days I go into the “office” (the Wesley House), I can bring him with me and still get to spend time with him. I’ve also started collecting little keepsakes in a shoebox for later! I don’t have high expectations of myself to do a baby book – at least right now, or maybe ever – but keeping little things like hospital bracelets, ultrasound pictures, and his first Wesley nametag will be special later on. :)

Over the past month since the last Owen update, he’s grown so much. He has pretty awesome control over his neck/head and has even begun practicing sitting up! He doesn’t like to be held like a baby across our stomachs anymore and instead, his favorite position is sitting on your lap and looking forward. We’ve started putting him in his Bumbo seat for a few minutes at a time to help strengthen those muscles! He loves to “talk” and smile at you and that really makes everything worth it. With doubling his Zantac for reflux, spitting up has almost completely gone away which is awesome!

Little guy at 2 months!

Little guy at 2 months!

On the left is Owen the day we brought him home from the hospital. On the right is Owen, in the same onesie, at almost 2 months!

On the left is Owen the day we brought him home from the hospital. On the right is Owen, in the same onesie, at almost 2 months!

The most important lesson I’ve learned over these 2 months is to trust my gut and my mommy intuition. Many moms gave me this advice before Owen was born, but it wasn’t until recently that I really started taking that advice and trusting my instincts.

We had every intention of keeping Owen sleeping in his bassinet in our room for the first few months. But after a week and a half, we moved him to his crib for our own sanity. Turns out, he loves his crib and sleeps so much better in it! In fact, we have now made it a full week and a half of Owen sleeping completely through the night – sometimes up to 9.5 hours!

Owen had started getting cranky during the day and we could tell he was just sleepy but fighting sleep. So we thought it may help him to sleep in his crib with the lights off and his sound machine going to get a solid nap without any distractions and to hopefully make this a daily routine. When I crowdsourced, it seemed like most people didn’t start a daily routine like this until 5-6 months so I second guessed whether Owen was ready for this kind of routine. I didn’t want to necessarily make him doing something unless he wanted it. Wanting a concrete answer, I didn’t focus on the rest of the advice: “…but follow your baby’s lead!” Finally, I trusted my instincts and put him down for a nap and it worked! After crying for only a few minutes, he was out for about an hour! It seems as though he has set him own routine and I’m just following it! For the most part, I have no idea when you’re “supposed” to start doing certain things with your baby, but I’m trying to just follow him and trust we’ll be OK.

Our strong little guy working on sitting up!

Our strong little guy working on sitting up!

I can’t express how thankful I am for all that I have. My parents have been a tremendous help, coming to watch Owen while we got Wesley off the ground the first week of classes (as well as several Tuesdays afterwards!). Lucy has been terrific and better than we could ever ask. Our Wesley students show love toward Owen and have been filled with grace when Owen decides to cry in the Wesley House. I can’t wait for him to see the positive example they show for him. And finally, Greg. When he comes home from a day at the office, he offers to take Owen off my hands for a bit so I can get work done, make dinner, or simply rest. At the risk of sounding incredibly cliche, we really are blessed and grateful for all the people surrounding us who give us encouragement and support everyday.

Just a typical day in the Harrison house

Just a typical day in the Harrison house

Our little family (minus Lucy, of course)

Our little family (minus Lucy, of course)

#ParentInitiation and the First Month

Little Owen is one month old today! Holy moly.

On one hand it seems like we were just in the hospital yesterday. At the same time, I can’t really remember what we did before he got here! This has been – hands down – the most challenging month of my life. There have been so many ups and downs and tons of trial and error. I’ve started considering it all #parentinitiation.

At about a week and a half to two weeks, Owen started getting extremely fussy – crying and screaming constantly [For you Harry Potter fans, we recently realized that his cries/screams VERY closely resemble those of a baby mandrake]. When we went for his two week appointment (more so at around 2.5 weeks old), we mentioned it to the doctor but because he was continuing to gain weight, the doctor wasn’t concerned with reflux. So we went home.

Side note: at that 2.5 week appointment, Owen weighed 9 pounds and measured at 22 inches long – 2 pounds heavier than birth and an inch longer!

The screaming and spitting up continued to get worse and we began to lose our minds. At three weeks (only 4 days later than the previous appointment), we took him back to the doctor and the doctor prescribed him Zantac for reflux. [They also weighed him and he had gained 6 ounces in that time!] Since that appointment, Owen has been doing MUCH better…therefore, so have Mom and Dad. Owen is not a fan of the medicine and I’m pretty sure he hates me every time I give it to him. I just keep telling myself he won’t remember it. Ha!

We’ve had some rough days these past few days, but we’re thinking he may be going through a growth spurt so I’m HOPING it only lasts a few days. We pretty much live on the exercise ball, bouncing with him!

I keep being reminded that all of this crying and fussing does have an end. Those reminders are helping me push through! He’s certainly worth all the trouble – that truth can just get clouded among the cries and failed attempts to calm him. I’m thankful to be surrounded by family and friends to continue to encourage and lend helping hands!

Each day seems so long with the constant feedings (Owen is still pretty set on being fed every 2 hours – with the exception of at night when he gives me a bit of a break with every 3-4 hours), but this month has absolutely flown by. I can already tell a huge difference between now and when he was born and I am so excited to watch him continue to grow in so many ways!

Mama loves you, little Owen!

Owen collage

A New Addition: Owen Elliott

A LOT has happened since the last update.
– Greg and I graduated from seminary with our Masters of Divinity.
– We have moved from Associates at our campus ministry to Executive Director (Greg) and Director of Spiritual Formation (Alaina).
– My favorite update: we welcomed a baby boy into our family!

I’m going to try really hard to keep our blog updated with different baby updates and thoughts as we figure out this whole parenting thing. Not necessarily because people want to read it, but to look back on one day. Hopefully it can be somewhat entertaining though. :)

We found out we were pregnant at the beginning of November 2014 and the tests were confirmed at the end of the month at my doctor’s appointment and we were told the due date would be July 12, 2015. Words cannot explain how thrilled we were! We told our families at Thanksgiving (8 weeks), but gave them strict instructions that they were not to tell anyone until we reached 12 weeks (end of December/beginning of January) to avoid the heartbreaking conversations in case of miscarriage.

Fortunately, we did not have to endure that hardship and we announced to the world on New Years Day! The pregnancy as a whole was smooth sailing. I had some nausea in the beginning, but nothing terrible. I became uncomfortable and frustrated at not being able to move quite as much toward the end, but the knowledge that our kid was the result kept me in relatively good spirits!

I’ll spare you the intricate details of his birth, but the short story is that labor began at 4:45am and he was born at 4:39pm! Our little guy, Owen Elliott Harrison, was 7 pounds 0.4 ounces and 21 inches long – long and lean! The pretty awesome thing is that Owen was born ON his due date – July 12! Fun fact: only 4% of children are born on their due date. This kid is going to be awesome.

Typically, infants lose about 10% (8-12 ounces) of their birth weight by the time they reach their first pediatrician appointment a few days after they are born. Our guy GAINED 8 ounces, making him 7 pounds 8 ounces! Any concerns I had about him not getting enough to eat were calmed by that point.

The past 2 weeks have certainly been challenging. Overall, Owen and I have developed somewhat of a nightly routine with feedings and diaper changings, but the poor guy seems to have terrible gas so the past few nights have been rough. Greg and I are quite literally taking each day one minute at a time, trying to figure out this whole parenting thing. As tough as it has been so far, it is all worth it when those blue eyes study our faces or he finds comfort when we hold him.

Alaina and Owen

Greg and Owen


Much Needed Update

So turns out I (Alaina) am awful at keeping an updated blog. But I’m going to try this again!

We’re about 1/4 done with our last year of seminary! Hallelujah!
In terms of seminary, this has easily been the best semester of our seminary career. The classes are overall enjoyable and the workload isn’t absolutely terrible.
One exciting piece of news in regards to seminary is that we will be attending an evangelism seminar in the Bahamas on January 2-12 of next year! It counts as a 3-hour credit and a Missions credit which puts us another step closer to graduating on May 11, 2015!
[We are still about $700 short of the cost of the trip, so if you feel led to donate – or if you’d like to know more about the seminar – go to www.gofundme.com/harrisons-to-bahamas!]

So the question is: what’s next?
Well, in March 2015, we will both go before the United Methodist Church Board of Ordained Ministry for them to approve or defer us into provisional membership within the UMC. Basically, Greg will go up to be a Provisional Elder and I will go up to be a Provisional Deacon.
So next spring, Greg will put his name into the “pot” of pastors to be appointed to churches next June. Because I will be a Deacon, I can find a ministry job volunteering wherever Greg is sent.
Greg’s hope is to be appointed as an associate pastor somewhere, learning the ropes of what it means to be a pastor in a church setting while hopefully leading worship at that church.
As for me, my calling has also continued to develop. Within the church, I hope to lead a young adult Sunday School class. Outside of the church, I hope to work at a women’s shelter, helping women escape domestic violence.

All in all, it’s been a good year so far.
And we can’t wait to see what God has in store for us!