“He want mummy”

Charlotte is becoming a pro at speaking in full sentences.  This morning from her crib I heard “I WUV you Grampie” on repeat.

Last night at dinner it was “peanut butter and jelly sandwich for you” because she didn’t want the beef stew.  (“you” actually means herself.  pronouns are tricky!)  “Just put it over here” when the sandwich was finally delivered.

Or “There’s another baby here!” when she is tired of having to act like a big girl.  (She’s right.  We demand a lot of this not-even-two-year old).

But I have to shamefully admit that there is one that really gets me.  “He want mummy”.  He being Baxter, and mummy being me.  And this sentences goes hand in hand with the one so often spoken by my husband, grandparents, visitors, friends, etc.  “I think he’s hungry, you better feed him.”  He allllways wants mummy.  And according to well-intentioned others, he’s alllllways hungry.  Which means this mummy never gets a break.

Resuming work yesterday after a two week vacation, I returned home to chaos.  Between the hours of 4-7:30pm, someone was always crying.  Usually more than one someone.  Charlotte needed ice in her cup, help on the stairs, a play mate, a hug, new socks, a different book.  Baxter needed…well, mummy.

I went to bed feeling pretty sorry for myself, and felt even more defeated and frustrated when Baxter woke up at 11:30, 1:45, and 4am.  At 6:15 this morning, I tried to pump with my broken breastpump (more on that later).  I checked my email, and found this article/blog shared by my mamas group that put it all in perspective…it brought tears to my eyes thinking that these days of being needed won’t last forever.  It was timely, emotional, and spot-on.  So I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and changed another diaper.  Life goes on, and these moments are so short.

Enjoy the read!  Click here:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-morton/mommy-somebody-needs-you_b_4900686.html

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A little rant

Our long and sometimes windy road with breastfeeding is slowly coming to an end–and while I’ve said for the entire past year “When I’m done breastfeeding, I will do X!” and “I will have so much more time on my hands when I’m done breastfeeding!” ,  the reality is that the end is kind of murky, and I’m left with more questions and worries than I am with free time.

I can’t detail the nuances of Charlotte’s weaning process, because to be honest–I don’t even know the details.  There are no patterns.  Instead, I’ll just get right to the heart of the issue, and the frustration that I’ve been feeling all year long: breastfeeding is one of the best, most healthy, and most meaningful choices we can make for our babies, and yet it has built feelings of guilt within me like nothing ever before.

When I just can’t fit in two pumping sessions at work, I feel like a lazy mother.  When Charlotte refuses to nurse at her normal times, I wonder what’s wrong with me.  When she sucks down a bottle of formula as if she hadn’t drank for days, I question if I’d done enough to prod, prompt, and bribe her into nursing before I gave into the bottle.  And when I’m just so tired and sore that I just CANNOT pump at 10pm before bed, I lie awake thinking about the selfish choice I just made.

How does this happen?

Breastfeeding is shoved down the throat of new moms: at the pediatrician, childbirth classes, in the hospital, and on every parenting website and blog that I’ve ever read.  The message is that if you aren’t exclusively breastfeeding your child until 12 months–or older–you’re just not trying hard enough.  “Babies under a year do not self-wean,”  the leader of my breastfeeding support group says.  “If you give them a bottle of formula, your supply will decrease” the nurse says.  “If your baby is too distracted to nurse, you must pump diligently in order to maintain your supply for when they return to the beast” my mama websites say.

My body hasn’t had a break in the past two years, first spending nine months growing the baby, and then spending 12 more months feeding the baby.  Furthermore, this dogma surrounding exclusive breastfeeding simply does not give working moms any kind of slack.  It’s impossible to be 100% committed to work , 100% committed to Charlotte, give 100% to my marriage, and still have anything left for myself.  The numbers just don’t add up.

In all this effort, I seem to have lost myself along the way.  Charlotte is becoming more independent now.   I don’t have to spend as much time nursing her, or cleaning her bottles, or pumping.  And when I find myself with a rare 30 minutes free, I feel idle and lost.  What did I do with my free time when I wasn’t nursing, googling issues about nursing, or doing something else baby-related?  What happened to my hobbies, my exercise, my reading?

That part may take some time to rediscover.  But in the meantime, let’s stop judging nursing moms for taking a little time and space to themselves.  After all, a mother was a person first–with interests, hobbies, passions, and the space and time to explore them.  And if she doesn’t protect little pieces of time for herself to continue to be herself, will she be able to be the mother that her child deserves?

Cooking up a [snow]storm!

With 12″ of snow, 2 snow days, and temperatures hovering at 0 degrees, we’ve barely left the house this week.  This has given us lots of time for playing with Charlotte’s new Christmas toys and videos, and has also meant that she’s taking some extra long naps!  (What a blessing for a shoveling-daddy and a house cleaning-mommy!)

I’ve been baking up a storm here while Charlotte naps, and wanted to try some new recipes for her that would go beyond fresh fruits and roasted veggies.  She eats a ton of whole foods and especially produce, but I can see that she’s getting kind of bored when her dinner consistently is made up of one green veg, one whole grain, and maybe some yogurt or applesauce.  She also seems less interested in nursing, which  means that she may be starting to drop some of her feedings.  It’s been a long and sometimes-bumpy road with nursing for us, and it will be a little bittersweet when it’s all done (more on that in the next post).

In the meantime, it’s increasingly more important that Charlotte gets quality nutrients from the solid food she’s eating.  We’re nearing the end of our “food is fun until age one!” theory.  Just one month until her first birthday!  We got a juicer and a new dutch oven for Christmas, so Fred and I have been playing with our new toys too!  Here’s what we’ve been up to, in the kitchen and at the dinner table….

Milestones

I am always amazed when mothers (such as my own) can remember back 20 or 30 years and say with exact certainty “You said your first word when you were 9 months old!”  or “You weaned yourself at 9 and 3/4 months of age”.

I worry that my memory is already fading, and Charlotte is a mere 10 months old.  So I’m getting some things down here quickly, before I forget!

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One of my all time favorite pictures, 1 day old.

First smile: Charlotte first smiled around 7 weeks of age, and those early smiles were few and far between.  As I was home on maternity leave, I was with her every minute of every day (and night).  I had seen the smile a few times and was eager for Fred to see the same–but it took a week of disbelief before he finally saw it and had the same reaction I did…tears in his eyes that this little newborn blob was finally responding to us!

Grampie plays with his little Charlabee

Grampie plays with his smiley little Charlabee

Sleeping through the night:  Fred and I were already debating our foggy memories about this last night!  Sometime around 4ish months, Charlotte started sleeping about 8 hours at a time.  But she’d be up for the day around 4am.  Does this count as sleeping through the night?  It wasn’t until 6 months that she slept solidly from 7pm-6am, and she’s still doing it now at 10 months!

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Rolling over:  Charlotte rolled over one way, by accident, around three months old.  When I excitedly told her day care provider about the news, she said “Oh yeah!  She’s been doing that here for a few weeks!”  Doh.  Enter mommy guilt.

Crawling:  No dice on this one!  At ten months, Charlotte still hasn’t managed to get up on her knees and get her belly off the ground!  She has gotten good at rolling as a means of transportation though.

First solid food:  We held off on the normal 4 month baby cereal routine, as we really wanted to go the baby led weaning route.  Charlotte had her first taste of baby oatmeal around 5 1/2 months, and started solid finger foods at 6 months.  No mush, no fuss here!  She has the best baby appetite I’ve ever seen.  Her first favorites were prunes and baked apples with cinnamon.  Now, at 10 months her favorites are meats of any kind, fish, and fresh raspberries.

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black {bean} beard

Sitting up:  At six months Charlotte could sit up and play upright for a change!  Tummy time fell by the wayside at this point, as she preferred to see things from a higher angle.

Sitting and reading, reading and sitting

Sitting and reading, reading and sitting.

Walking:  Beginning at 7 months, Charlotte loved to stand with support.  She’d stand all day long if someone would hold her fingers for balance.  At 9 months she began high-stepping around the living room with us holding her fingers for balance.  Now at 10 months, she holds on her little push cart and takes wobbly steps towards the cats, the Christmas tree, and the TV….stopping to wave at everything along the way!  No independent steps yet, so we cannot say that she is actually walking.  Give it time…

Practicing walking on Thanksgiving

Practicing walking on Thanksgiving

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Talking/signing:  Right around 10 months, Charlotte started signing “dog” (although to her it means any animal), signed “milk” in the middle of the night, and said “MAMA” when mama was wiping her nose too aggressively.

At 10 months we are still exclusively breastfeeding, eating three solid-food meals a day, and sleeping through the night (with a few bumps along the way).  She loves peek-a-boo and row row row your boat, and is practicing clapping.  She follows the Wonder Weeks theory like clockwork.  And for someone who cannot tell time, she is on a regimented schedule of 7am wake up, 9am nap, 1pm nap, and 7pm bedtime.  “She even poops on a schedule!” says Connie her day care provider!

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happy holiday baby

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four generations

 

 

 

Feeling boobie

I’m in a facebook group for breastfeeding moms called The Boobie Group.  It’s Portland-area moms that have met through Mercy Hospital, Maine Med, BirthRoots, or cyberspace.  All of us have babies around the 6-7 month age, and all of us started out breastfeeding.  We share stories, we ask questions, we seek advice, and we ask for commiseration.  I read The Boobie Group facebook page almost daily.

But here is my problem:

To find The Boobie Group (it’s a secret group), I have to type “BOOBIE”  in the search bar at the top of facebook.  And more than once, I have mistakenly typed “BOOBIE” not into the search bar, but into my own status update.  You know, the one that asks you “What’s on your mind?”  <BOOBIE>  I have caught myself nearly every time (I think?  I hope?!).  But there will inevitably come a sleep-deprived day where my facebook will simply proclaim “BOOBIE” for all the word to see.

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If you see this someday, feel free to raise your eyebrows or write a little joke on my wall.  But it actually might not be far from the truth.  I really am feeling pretty boobie these days.  (think boobie as an adjective, not a noun).

It’s the end of summer, and I finally, officially have to go back to work.  I was home with Charlotte for twelve amazing weeks, returned to school for a short bit, then had another glorious ten weeks off with her.  [I am spoiled.  Yes, I know.]  And as I look back on what we’ve done for the past ten weeks, I realize how much fun we had, and how I thoroughly enjoyed it.  But what do I have to show for it?

Not much.

Not much meaning that we didn’t hike a lot of mountains, run a lot of miles, read a lot of books, or travel to a lot of places.  I didn’t leave the country, the same book from January is still on my nightstand, and I don’t have a tan.  I used to measure my summers by things accomplished and fun had with friends.  What have I accomplished this summer?

I’ve changed an average of 9 diapers a day for ten weeks.

I’ve breastfed Charlotte an average of 8 times a day for ten weeks.

I’ve pumped three times a day–every damn day–for ten weeks.

The funny thing about feeding and diapering a baby is that once you do it…you have to do it again.  And again.  And again.  There’s really no checking it off the list.  I read another blog recently about the ‘treading water’ nature of mothering.  Each day is busy and blurry.  You may have done a lot, but you’re not anywhere different the next morning.   aka, feeling boobie.

So tonight, on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, I’m sitting at my computer at 7pm in my pajamas.  My hair is frizzy, my skin is pale, and I don’t even have a glass of wine within reach.  I’m feeling pretty darn boobie.  The milk that I’ve worked so hard to feed Charlotte with this summer?  Gone through her system and out into hundreds of diapers…all of which have been picked up on the last ten Wednesdays by the garbage truck.   My summer cannot be measured, because there is nothing tangible left over.  We lived, eat, slept, and dreamed breastfeeding this summer (fred included–you cannot and will not successfully breastfeed without a supportive and willing partner).

I think, quite literally, all I have to show for it are the few pictures that remind me how much Charlotte has grown and learned in ten weeks:

 

I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining.  But let’s be honest, I am.  I’m just feeling pretty boobie about the fact that in a few days, I have to resume my day-care-drop-offs and pumping-at-work-madness.  4pm on a weekday will soon be my new happy hour 🙂

Wherever, Whenever

Wherever, Whenever

I just came across this article in our local Portland Press Herald, and it completely hits the nail on the head!  Nursing in public….modesty….bravery….and the new campaign for ‘wherever, whenever’ breastfeeding.

So if you see me openly breastfeeding Charlotte in a park, restaurant, library, or public bench, please remember that it takes a lot of courage and the more mothers that do it, the easier it will get!

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Self-feeding

It’s about that time: Charlotte is nearly six months old, and she is chomping at the bit to get her hands on some solid food (pun intended).  We are trying something new and slightly adventurous with Baby ‘Bee called baby-led weaning.  In essence, it’s a no mush/no puree approach to eating by babies (as opposed to the traditional feeding by parents).  No spoons, no tiny bowls, no unrecognizable jars of combined foods.  Just finger-sized tidbits and mushy handfuls of whatever ‘Bee can put into her own mouth.

Baby-led weaning was first recommended to us by our pediatrician at our four month appointment.  Fred and I looked at each other and thought she’d lost her mind.  Chunks of fish?  Handfuls of shredded cheese?  No way.  For a baby?!

Since then I’ve been trolling pinterest and blogs for info on this idea of baby self-feeding, and I’ve quickly realized that it just makes sense.  Why go through the effort of steaming, pureeing, and mixing things down to an unrecognizable state that Bee may or may not like?  We don’t eat our food like that, and it seems like a silly stepping stone to learning how to eat.  Why not let her explore the textures and shapes and flavors of actual food?  She will join us at the table, eat what we’re eating (in a modified, softer, and more grip-able state) and learn by doing.

The keys to self-feeding are these:

1) Babies under a year do not need anything nutritionally besides breast milk.  Breastfeeding is going well, Bee still loves it, and she’s growing healthily.  All systems go.

2) Always let baby feed themselves.  We will not use spoons, nor will we encourage her to ‘finish the meal’ or have one more five more bites.  She will eat when she’s hungry, and stop when she’s full.  Milk will be on tap around the clock, and oatmeal will make it’s morning appearance.

3)  My job is to provide as much variety and nutrition that I can, and modify the foods in way that she can manage with her own two hands… and then trust that the learning and exploration is worth the mess.

Mind you, we are only three days in.  And I’m pretty sure she hasn’t actually ingested any food yet.  She’s done lots of sucking, pinching, gumming, squeezing, and dropping.  But she’s exploring and learning about how hard to hold a banana so that it doesn’t mush; how to grab the ‘handle’ on the broccoli so she can get the good part in her mouth; and why it’s easier to hold the skin side of the cucumber than the slippery insides.  It’s a mess.  It appears, at a quick glance, to be a waste of food and time.  But we’re sticking with it for at least 2-3 weeks and examining her diapers every day for signs of digestion.

Here are some of Charlotte’s first foods…

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carrots at the beach

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broccoli has lots of interesting textures

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the mush stops here! (but the mess doesn’t…)

concentrating hard on some slippery watermelon

concentrating hard on some slippery watermelon

fistful of turkey

fistful of turkey

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getting her started early on!

Giving Charlotte some food in public, I’ve already heard the questions I had been asking myself before I did all my research…

Won’t she choke?

No.  Babies of six months old have a very sensitive gag reflex, which is different than choking.  It’s actually a safety mechanism.  And if she gags, she learns not to put things so deep into her mouth.

Doesn’t she need to eat more?

No.  Breast milk can make up 100% of her nutrition until she is 9-12 months old.  Our goal is to continue breastfeeding until Christmas, when Charlotte is 11 months.

“Food is fun til age one.”  Self-feeding is about the experience of food rather than the nutrition.

What about allergies?

The new research about allergies shows that holding off too long on certain foods may actually be causing all these peanut allergies/gluten sensitivities etc.  Earlier introduction to a wide variety of food can help your child to be a more well-rounded eater, and like more foods.

She doesn’t have any teeth.  How can she eat?

Apparently she doesn’t need them!  The massaging/sucking motion of breastfeeding is more like chewing than you’d think, and breastfed babies take to real food quite naturally.  To begin, we will steam or roast foods to make them soft enough to gum.  Think things with “handles” or skin still attached for traction.

She’s really going to eat that piece of watermelon?  Or that handful of fish?

Yes!  It may take awhile.  It will be a mess.  She might not swallow all that much of it.  But she’s learning how to eat, and it will go down the right pipe when she’s ready for it.

[I’m still building my patience on this one, and have to sit on my own hands when she eats!]

This sounds a little tree-hugging and hippy-ish…and also kinda lazy…

I already know Uncle Teddy Bear and Uncle Tommy Gun might be thinking this  🙂  I’m a new mom.  I don’t know everything anything about raising a baby!  I can’t say that self-feeding is THE way to go, or that all babies should do it.  If we try it and it doesn’t work for us, I’ll be the first one to say so right here on this blog.  Which reminds me, I need to write about our failures in sleep training…

But I’m all about trying things, and if it works…great!  If it doesn’t, there is always the opportunity to change it up!  It’s important to us to raise an independent, curious, and adventurous child, and this seems like a great way to get her started very young.  And while the prep may be pretty easy, the cleanup afterward is not!