My sweetest (spoiler: she’s not that sweet) babe turned ONE YEAR OLD on the 12th! A year ago I was giving birth to a huge-o baby, spending hours and hours on my coach learning to breastfeed, soaking in all those newborn smells of joy and fear and wonder. Oh how times have changed. Now my big girl is leaping off the couch and trotting around like a crazy girl, talking about babies, and papas and sisters (her cat). She’s pushing her toy shopping cart around, swimming under water, and hosting her first party like a pro.
Here’s what 12 months is looking like in our world:
The End Of Nursing:
Around 11 months, Vada weaned herself. She just plain old stopped caring, and never made attempts to nurse again. Our 11 months of nursing were NOT like I had planned. They weren’t easy, they weren’t that enjoyable, and they were anything but perfect. The start of nursing was fine, painful but fine. Vada had a good latch, and although it was more time-consuming than I had thought it would be, we got the hang of it. Around 3 months I felt a drop in my supply, but was told by breast-feeding advocates that this was just my supply evening out. By 4 months Vada was thin and angry. I had two lactation consultants come to my house and tell me that she hadn’t gained any weight in a month, and that she was “failure to thrive” ugh. We spent about a month pumping, taking supplements, drinking water, nursing around the clock and supplementing with formula via an SNS tube. It was hell and it made no difference in my supply. by 5 months I threw all the pumps away, swallowed my pride and began a formula schedule of 4 bottles a day, plus nursing when she wanted. It worked great, Vada gained weight and was happy as a clam. I however felt sad and hurt and robbed of this magical breastfeeding process. Why did this happen to me? I tried so hard! I was so on board! All those stupid Le Leche women acted like if I tried hard enough it would work for me! WHY DIDNT IT WORK FOR ME!? It took me 10 months before I let the anger and guilt wash away, before I felt ok with our situation, ok with how things turned out. If we have another baby I’m going to give it another shot, to start fresh and hope for a better turnout, but I won’t be nearly as let down as I was this time around. I will say that there were a lot of really great things about feeding Vada formula, and I think that mothers who formula feed should feel good about those good things. The fact that Mr. Gaunt could feed Vada, or my mom, or her nanny, that was wonderful! When she was older Vada fed herself, even in the car she could hold her own bottle, or she wander around the kitchen while I washed morning dishes holding her bottle. NO PUMPING! Weaning her from the breast was no big deal, I didn’t even do anything, I would have been happy to let her continue her (by then once a day) feeding for a few more months, I had no plans to take it away, but she just didn’t care about it anymore. Formula also probably was a huge contributing factor to Vada sleeping through the night by 5 months. Being able to give her 6 oz right before bed kept her belly full from 7pm-7am, and lordy that is nice. So I’m glad that she is healthy, and happy, and perfect, and I’m glad that I tried and managed to give her at least some breast milk for as long as I did despite our struggles. Hooray to all moms that keep their baby bellies full.
My little Fish and Other Activities:
We have now completed our 3rd session of swim lessons at the local pool, and we have hit a major milestone in Vada’s swimming abilities (we started at 6 months old). Now when we count 1,2,3 Vada plunges her own head underwater and kicks her feet and arms and can swim about 3-5 feet underwater. ITS AMAZING! She will also on the count of three jump off the side of the pool and swim to you (again about 3-5 feet). She is such a good swimmer. Her teacher was absolutely amazed at her skills and has encouraged us to push her limits with distance. We hope to regularly keep her swimming to she gets more and more comfortable with swimming. Id love for her to be swimming on her own (like being able to stay afloat) by next summer. We also did a music class this fall, it’s been fun, but not amazing. We won’t do another session, as it just isn’t quite are style. To be honest I HATE The Itsy Bitsy Spider, that song is so stupid, and I refuse to sing it or do them dumb hand signs. Really I hate all kids music, cant we just play Vada the kind of music we like? Cant we teach her how to drum or play the piano, or dance hip hop? Toddler music is a bit too cheesy for me. I feel this way about library story time too, and to be honest, I think Vada thinks it’s lame too. She’d much rather run around the restaurant chatting with the customers, or play outside, or do toddler indoor gym time, and I’m cool with that. Those baby-baby activities just aren’t for us. We are thinking about trying out a toddler gymnastics class soon, which I think Vada would really like. It’s a slippery slope of signing up for too many activities though, I like to keep busy, but I also like to be able to do last-minute play dates too, and sometimes just quiet dinners at home without a bunch of stuff going on is really nice.
This might sound odd, but as Vada has gotten older, and smarter, I have found it easier to be kind and patient with her. When she was younger it was so frustrating because we just couldn’t understand each other, I couldn’t always meet her needs. Now that she’s smarter I can manipulate her emotions with my words and actions a little more. For instance she doesn’t like to have her hands and face wiped down after a meal, but if I get down on her level and I make a goofy song “wipe wipe wipe those hands, pat pat pat those cheeks” she loves it and will happily stick out her hands to be washed. If she’s in the hallway whining, I can stick my hand out and say “come see mama” and she will get up and run over to me and hold my hand, and we can take a little stroll over to some toys and talk to them until she is happy and lets go of my hand to play. In the morning when I brush her teeth we say “ahhhhh” and show our teeth, and if she gets distracted I show her how to brush mine and then she lets me finish brushing hers. I know that seems so DUH! But I couldn’t do those things a couple of months ago, she didn’t understand commands or jokes or fun games like she does now. It makes connecting with her on a friendship level so much more rewarding. I can make her feel happy with things other than food, or nursing. Its been really good for me too, I feel so much more compassion for her when she’s having a tough day. Sometimes she just needs to sit on my lap while she plays with her legos, when she’s done feeling needy she will climb up and venture out to play on her own. To know that my mood and reactions can keep her calm and happy is really empowering as a mother. I’m hoping that her and I can continue to grow and communicate with each other through all these coming stages.
Mom Friends, and having the best ones:
I’ve been really really fortunate to meet some awesome moms with babies Vada’s same age. Mom’s who are like mindedly “chill” with their parenting technique, mom’s who have good style, interesting hobbies, who like to drink (; Mom’s that are supportive, and casual, and up for random play dates, good birthday parties, and chatting about shoes and food and business. Last weekend I threw a big birthday party for Vada, and at one point a family member came up to me and said “what an awesome group of friends you have” and I looked around and had to whole heartedly agree! I hope these are the friends Vada grows up with, that these mom friends of mine last a long long time. I’ve had a little bit of a rocky year with my own pre-motherhood friends, I had always imagine that all my friends would have children around the same time as me, and that our kids would all grow up together, but life doesn’t always work that way. Most of my friends have moved to other cities, some other states, and are in various stages in their lives, some ready to have children, some not, but we are all in different chapters of our lives and that’s ok. We aren’t connecting the same way we once were, maybe we never will, sometimes holding on to what you had makes the present harder than it needs to be. I’ve decided to let my relationships be fluid, to let them flow to and away from me as life sees fit, and to respect and be ok with that. For now I know that I have love for my old friends, and love for my new friends, and to feel really damn lucky that there are so many cool people in our lives.
Marriage and The Empty Heart:
You know how people worry about having a second baby, that they won’t love it as much as their current baby, and people say “you will, your heart will automatically grow to accommodate your new love” and I hear this is true, that there is instantly enough love. That same thing isn’t really true with your spouse. When you have a baby your heart doesn’t necessarily grow to accommodate equal amounts of love for your baby and your spouse. When I say “love” I really mean: Patience, kindness, sensitivity, passion, love, strength, tolerance, control…… you get my point. When you have a baby, your spouse takes a back seat, even if you really really really don’t want them to. I love Mr. Gaunt to the moon and back. He is my best friend, and the greatest person I have chosen to have in my life. I believe our relationship is the backbone of our lives, of our family, and nothing will be good if we are bad. That being said, I had to pull some of my compassion, patience and kinds from him in order to tolerate this first year of motherhood. Vada, and ALL newborns are greedy greedy love-sucking creatures. They take take take take take and they give you back so little, but you MUST LOVE THEM! But where do you find the strength to muster up all that extra love? Well in my case, I ripped it from my husband and left him a big IOU that I have yet to repay. It’s been a rough year. We take it day by day and we say IM SORRY, I FORGIVE YOU every single day, because every single day we are not nearly as loving to each other as we should be. We talk about this a lot, we acknowledge our shortcomings as spouces all the time, we know we will get through this, that in our lifetime together we will have shitty days, months, years, maybe even decades, but when we got married, we swore to stick it out, and we will, because when times are good, he is my greatest love, and our family is so worth it. Until then we will be kind when we can, and we will forgive when we can’t. We will respect each other as much as we can, and we will love our baby with everything we have, even if it means short-changing each other a little bit.
It’s been a really interesting year. Its been fun, and sad, and challenging, and adorable. I’m excited for all the fun and new experiences we will have with our big girl this year.
Also I’m hoping to get photo back from Vada’s birthday soon to share with you, it was an amazing party!