Vada is just shy of five months old. Seriously. Where did time go? The tiny infant stage flew by so fast, and although I am so grateful to be over those panicky exhausting days of nursing and sleeping, I honestly feel like I didn’t get enough tiny baby snuggles. She was big to begin with, and although her weight has leveled out (she’s only 15.5lbs, about 60 percentile) her height has stayed above the 90th percentile. She also just seems older than most babies. She’s strong and sturdy and so alert. She doesn’t nap, she sleeps through the night. She’s taken a bottle perfectly, she’s loving solid foods, and hasn’t met one she doesn’t like. She’s just an older soul. She’s ready for everything, and seems to take every new step with such grace and strength. She’s amazing. I know all moms say that, but for real folks. All this change and growth is so awesome to watch. It happens so fast, just days, weeks and she’s a different baby. We take photos and videos and do our best to watch and enjoy each stage, but in her 5 little months, it’s all gone by so quickly, and like I said, I miss a little bit of the tiny stage, but I love the bigger baby stage too. I will never regret capturing and sharing all the joys of her life. She is so lucky (and DESERVING!!!) to have so many people who thinks she is so wonderful.
Things going on these days:
1. Sleep Training:
Touchy subject. People have strong feelings on sleep training. I have strong feelings about LISTENING to my strong feelings, and doing what feels right to me. When Vada was born, and we went to bed that first night, despite having already decided I didn’t want to co-sleep, I had to bring her to bed with me. It was the only place I could trust, could keep her safe and watch over her. It felt right at the time, and it worked well for night nursing, and we all slept well. Vada slept 12 hours a night right from the start, only waking to gently squirm so I could nurse her for 10 minutes, and back to sleep. At three months things began to change. I woke up sore and achy from always sleeping on my side. My elbows ached from always keeping my arms above my head to make room for her. I felt like I was 9 months pregnant again, and sleeping like crap. Vada also began crazy arm thrashing, waking herself up by hitting her face, and making me feel attacked all night long. Shortly after she turned 4 months old I woke up sobbing one morning. I begged Mr. Gaunt to take her for a drive so I could sleep for an hour alone, and damn was it a glorious 2 hours by myself. That’s when I knew I was ready to get my bed back. We tried one night to move her to the pack n play next to our bed, but that really did not go well, and I couldn’t take the crying, it wasn’t right for us. I also wondered if simply moving her next to us, was only making the process harder, would we really want to add another transition into her route to her own room?
We went to Colorado for 5 days mid-march, and I told Mr. Gaunt that when we got back I wanted to get her in her crib, in her room. I prepared for the worst. I figure we would try as mild of a “cry-it-out” situation as we could. I figured there would be lots of nursing and rocking, and checking in on her. Maybe a few sleepless nights. We got back from Colorado on a Sunday afternoon. That evening at 7:45 we put her in her jammies, I nursed her until she got sleepy, laid her in her crib, gave her a paci, turned on her white noise machine and shut the door. She fell asleep instantly and didn’t wake up until 8am the next day (MY BOOBS ALMOST EXPLODED!). It was the best night sleep I had in over a year. Everyone said it wouldn’t last, that it was a fluke night, and I prepared again for the worse. It’s been 12 days now, and my baby sleeps every night, (almost)all night in her crib. She was obviously just as ready as I was! She does occasionally wake up, somewhere between 11 and 1am, and I go in and silently put her paci back in her mouth, restart the white noise, and she falls asleep. Then most mornings between 5 and 7am she wakes up to nurse, I bring her into bed with me for about a half hour, and then when she falls asleep I put her back in her crib to sleep until 8am. I’m sleeping and she’s sleeping, and we all couldn’t be happier. I know teething and illness may affect this later on, but for now I’m thanking my lucky stars. She’s such a big girl, and I really hope that she knows how much we love her, and that she is safe, and that we will always come get her if she needs us. The best part of this whole thing is that now Mr. Gaunt and I get at least 2 hours of quiet time to eat dinner and watch a TV show alone together. It gives us the slightest glimmer of our old life, and time to snuggle Hula. It’s splendid.
I had planned on doing a long post about this subject alone, but really, who cares but me? Long story (kinda) short: Vada didn’t gain any weight between 2 and 3 months, not a pound. Her breastfeeding style also changed, and she became increasingly frustrated at the breast. She would cry a lot, pull off, whine, and hit me while nursing. I could tell my supply had changed too. I no longer ever felt engorged, I didn’t leak, and I went from being able to pump 4-5oz every morning, to only getting 1 oz. I felt sad and scared and really discouraged. I cried a lot, and finally turned to the online mom group I was a part of and begged for advice. A few mom’s recommend I talk with a Wallgreens Lactation Consultant, so I got a recommendation from my doctor, and they sent one over. The LC was very kind. She weighed Vada, and had me nurse on one side, then the other, then weighed her to see how much she was getting. After looking at all the numbers it was determined that not only had Vada not gained any weight over the previous 3.5 weeks, but she was also not getting nearly enough food from each breast. The LC recommended I begin immediately supplementing 8-10 times a day using an SNS (a long tube that runs along your nipple so you can feed a baby formula at the breast. This allows for stimulation which helps produce more milk). She also recommended using a Hospital grade breast pump for 10 minutes after each feeding, and taking a lactation extract like Mothers Milk, drink lots of water, and take my placenta encapsulation pills. Long story short, the amount of sadness, stress, money and anguish this whole process caused me, felt wrong. It took me two weeks of non stop feeding, pumping, and stress to finally stop the madness and re-evaluate what I was doing. I did feel like the SNS was helping, and the formula began to feel like friend instead of foe (I was VERY reluctant to even use formula), but how long could I do this? A month? 6 months? I just couldn’t keep it up, so I stopped pumping all together. No more. I would never pump again, as it never worked, and it made me feel like shit. I also switched from the SNS to a larger bottle of formula. Over the last three weeks the stress has melted away, and I stopped feeling like crap about my abilities to feed my baby, I just fed her as best I could. My supply also felt like it had picked up a little. Now we do only one or two, 4oz bottles a day of an organic formula, and the rest straight breastfeeding.
I know they say BREAST IS BEST, but sometimes just feeding your baby is best. Sometimes the guilt and stress that other moms put on each other over stupid things like the ability to breastfeed is way more detrimental than a little formula in a bottle. I wish that before Vada was born someone would have told me that it was ok if I chose not to pump. That if I needed someone else to feed my baby while I was at work, a little formula was ok. That EBF (Exclusive Breast Feeding) is not an award given to the best mom. A happy healthy baby is the award! So yeah, we have found a good rhythm for our feeding, and I feel so happy that all of this came to light at 3 months, instead of torturing me until 9 months or longer.
3. Eating Solids:
Over the last week or so we have started some solid foods. We are doing Baby Led Weaning (aka larger hunks of food, not purees) and Vada loves it! We have done banana, hardboiled egg yolk, avocado, blueberries and some Mum Mums. I’m probably not being as diligent about waiting x-amount of days before trying new things, but I’m being cautious to watch for any allergic reactions, and we are really keeping it super casual. “Food Before One is Just For Fun!”
4. Social Media:
I chose to leave the mom group I was a part of on Facebook recently. I realized that it was way more toxic than entertaining. I can’t even explain why it felt so bad, but it did. Too many opinions, too much information being passed amongst moms. It was helpful, it was just frustrating. It gave me a bad view on motherhood, and made me fearful of judgement and opinions. With that I chose to delete anyone on my Facebook page that I was either “hate-reading” or trying to impress, or just plain didn’t need to have as part of my life. Not in a drama-way, I really have no drama in my life, but I like Facebook, and I like to keep my Facebook page positive and caring and a little more personal. I like to share things with people, and be supportive and generally happy with my FB profile. I have a very private Instagram Account as well. I really only follow, and let follow a select few people who I trust and feel comfortable with. Lastly I left a number of other online groups, where I felt there was too much mom-cliquey-ness. I have no need to give myself an excuse to feel bad about myself, so if it felt bad I got rid of it. Believe me when I say that deleting all that toxic-ness from my life was a breath of fresh air, and I don’t regret any of it!
5. Working Life:
Vada is currently going once a week to a nanny for 3 hours. This is so I can attempt to get office work done for the restaurant. This has been one of the most challenging things, finding time to get things done. A baby demands constant interaction and stimulation. They want to be held and cooed at and walked around. They don’t want to sit and watch you work. They don’t want to sleep for hours on end (well, not my baby) nor should they be expected to. It’s my job as her mom to make sure all of her needs are met, and her needs involve exploring and interacting with the world. So it’s my job as a new mom, to figure out how to make it all work. To adjust my priorities, to let things go that don’t matter, to create new schedules for our life. I want to be a present mom, to help her grow and feel good about herself, and take in all the knowledge and experiences she needs. It’s also my job to keep myself sane, and to keep feeding my own soul, my own heart, my own dreams and passions. I think what I’ve realized is that like so many times in my life, now is not the time for me to have a perfect balance. Right now is just a time for struggling. It’s a time for sweet baby kisses, and late taxes. It’s a time for flabby mom tummies, and easter bunny photos. It’s a time for swim lessons, and being broke. It’s just where I’m at, and in a year, or two, I won’t be here anymore, and things will feel better in ways, and different in ways, and sad because my baby isn’t a baby anymore. So I’m trying to be patient, and remember that although it all feels so encompassing and so important right now, it’s ok to struggle and its ok to fail, and its ok to fall way way way behind. Mom life is so fast, and so slow.
It’s important for me to get it all out. It’s important for me to accept all my feelings about motherhood, and process them, and cry about them, and brag about them. I wish I had more time to blog, to chat with other moms, to just live in the moment. I’m not perfect, never have been, never will be, but for now I get the lucky life of being Vada’s mom, and I’m trying to be an ok one.