Raising Vada: 9 Months in, 9 Months out.

IMG_3998I feel like the title of this post is only perpetuating the LIE that is being pregnant for 9 months, you’re not, you’re pregnant for 10 months, or 9.5 months, or 40 weeks. It’s all very confusing. And hell, if you go over due, you’re pregnant even longer.

Vada is now 9 months old!  I haven’t blogged much recently, because I worry it’s all a bit boring, but then I remember that this is MY journal, and that one day ill look back and say “hey look at that cool shit Vada was doing around 9 months” so without further rambling:

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MOVING:

This could be two topics, hell, its gonna be two topics! First is Vada being on the move. She started crawling the night before her 8 month birthday. We got it on camera, and you can watch it here:

Adorable right! Similar to the video of her laughing for the first time, this crawling business made us ecstatic! We just think she is so smart and so freaking cool. BUT then we woke up from our parenting wet dream and realized that HOLY SHIT OUR BABY CRAWLS and gets into everything! Every electrical cord, garbage can, pile of papers, dirty shoes, everything. And it all goes in her mouth. Its disgusting. I feel like I can’t keep my house clean enough, and the worst part is, I now have even less time to keep it clean because I’m too busy chasing after her. So yeah, its adorable and all, but hell its challenging. Let me be clear though, in no way has this development stopped me from taking a shower and getting dressed every single day. MOTHERS OF THE WORLD! STOP USING YOUR CHILDREN AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!  (unless you have 3+ kids, in which case I’m shocked you are even still breathing). Vada also loves to stand up. She pulls up to everything, and has even started “cruising” around furniture. She also likes to downward dog a lot, I’m thinking we have about a month until she stands up alone, and maybe 2 months until she takes her first step. It wont hurt my feelings at all though if it takes longer. PLEASE be A 15 month walker! She also loves to climb, crawl under things like tunnels, and break through any possible barricade I make for her. Shes sneaky like that. We have also mastered stairs and most playground jungle gyms.

Second part of this moving topic is our house. The bigger that baby gets, the smaller this house feels. Just to remind you all, we live in a 2 bedroom 1 bath 936 sq feet home. And we love it, we really do. We live in about the best neighborhood in town, we feel safe, we have a pretty great private yard, and the character of the home is divine. But its way too small. So small. Teeny tiny. Our living room is also our office, playroom, and entryway. We have no closets, so our stroller lives in the living room too, and the sewing machine, and the computers, etc. Its all a bit much. I just really need one extra room and a little more storage. I need a place to pile all my tax stuff where Vada can’t get to it. I want her to have enough room to have a large safe play area. I want a dining room where we can’t eat meals as a family. Our current house is just not cutting it, but we don’t have the money to live in anything bigger. Mr. Gaunt and I have continued to live just below our means, and part of that is because we drive old cars we own outright, we rent a small house (that is honestly priced way below market), and we don’t have any debt. There are so many days that I am able to look past the problems and see our personal success, our sweet home, and our lovely lives. There are also days where I drown us in “I want more!” and I let everything become and excuse for “its not fair” its one of my biggest character flaws. I know. The only thing I can do now though, is plan for things I want, and look for the good in the things I have. I love our home, I do, but it is not our forever home, which we are planning for. I’ve got a 5 year plan, hopefully more like 3, for us to increase our income, build our credit (funny story, no debt often leads to no credit too) and find the home we really want and can afford.

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BIG BABY & BIRTHDAYS:

Having a big baby (6+ months) is soooo much better than having a tiny baby. Despite the fact that I often act a little like this kid, when talking about Vada getting bigger, really it’s the bees knees, and I wouldn’t go back in time no matter what. BIG BABIES ARE BOMB. Now we can go places and Vada actually plays, like by herself, or with other kids! Its soooo cool. We have an indoor play place in town that we have started to frequent. They have a special area for 3 and under (although its more like 2 and under) and its filled with safe toys, books, furniture and benches for moms to sit on. It’s so fun to go and hang out and drink coffee (or wine!) with friends and let Vada crawl around, make a mess, and play for HOURS! Seriously, hours folks, its so great. ALL WE WANT FOR HER BIRTHDAY IS MEMBERSHIPS AND GIFT CARDS TO PLACES LIKE THIS FOR THE WINTER. Why buy toys to clutter my own living room when we can go somewhere fun with other kids and tons of toys and room!

As you can tell I’m already thinking about Vada’s birthday (November 12th), and boy do I have BIG plans. And for all you nay sayers who think “save your money, she wont remember it” well jokes on you because it’s not for her, it’s for me! Her party planning-loving mama! Its my party! If I were to list my top 5 superficial favorite things about being a mom, it would be this:

1. Decorating a Nursery

2. Dressing them

3. Baby Showers and Birthday Parties

4. Taking photos of them next to cats

5. Hanging out with other moms

See, doesn’t that all seem like a great time! So yeah, not doing a big birthday part was just out of the question! Ive got at least 10 years of big fun themed birthday parties (until she asks me to just drop her off at the mall with my credit card and her friends) so I’m not missing a single one! BIRTHDAYS FOREVER!

And in talking about how big Vada is, and since I didn’t do a baby book (aint nobody got time for that) here are some milestones we have met:

-At her 9 month visit she was 30.5″ tall and 22.66lbs! 95th percentile for everything.

-Dancing! Vada now rocks back fourth or shakes her booty when certain songs come on. She likes this song and this song the best. Check out her sweet dance moves here.

-FAST crawling

-Pulling up on everything, and quickly getting down. She also climbs everything.

-Some “cruising” along furniture.

-Downward dog (I’m thinking she’s getting ready to stand soon.

-2 teeth (and the top two are looking like they may show up this week)

-Clapping

-Waving

-Shaking her head

-Responds to her name

-Open mouth kisses!

-Gets excited whenever she sees people she knows (mama, papa, grandma, nana, nanny)

-“talks” back when we talk to her

-Can mimic mouth noises (tongue clicking, whistling, etc)

-Eats all foods (except peanut butter and honey at one year) and can drink from a sippy cup, straw or bottle.

-Good pincer skills, and other fine motor skills. Likes to pick at tiny things on the floor.

-Much better at riding in the stroller since we upgraded to the BOB stroller and have been using it more. I also still wear her in the BOBA, but only on my front.

-Takes 1-2 hour naps once or twice a day

-Loves swimming. Will “jump” off the edge into our arms, and holds her breath when she goes under water.

-Loves to swing at the park and to yell at other kids.

-Has started to listen to me. She knows when I say NO, and she will sit still while I put her shirt on. She’s got great balance.

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SAFE & CLEAN: or things my house is not.

Childproofing. We have done a very very small amount of childproofing. I have one of these on the cabinet under the kitchen sink so she doesn’t suck on a bottle of bleach, and we have a few of these in exposed outlets next to her toy basket. That’s about it, and honestly we probably wont do much more. I also bought one of these for our front door once she is big enough to reach the door knob. Last week I also broke down and bought this baby gate at Target. It was cheap and has a pretty easy arm to remove it. It’s not one of those annoying ones that falls to pieces when you remove it. I move it a lot, depending on what room I’m in, and what room I don’t want Vada in. If I’m in the kitchen, then I let her play in there, and block off the laundry room. If I’m in the living room I use it to block off the kitchen (and laundry room) and if we want the front door open, we use it to block that off. Downside is that Hula can’t jump over it, so it can’t stay up all the time or she can’t get to her litter box and food (in the laundry room). Overall though, I’m glad we got it, and I use it all day long. Otherwise I’ve started sweeping and steam mopping a lot more, so all of her pants aren’t dirty on the knees all the time. I’ve also just been slowly clearing out all the rooms of stuff she can get into. The livingroom lost a lamp, and the coffee table. The kitchen lost the little shelf I used for bills and printer paper, garbage cans all over the house have been moved on top of tables. Less clutter and less things for her to get into. And doors are closed more often now. It’s nice to keep things uncluttered, but its a full-time job keeping her alive…sheesh. If I had a bigger house (see above) we could have rooms that were baby-off-limit, as well as bigger areas that were just for her to play, someday. For now she likes to crawl all over the house, so the more space I can keep baby safe, the more time I get to do things like blog.

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EAT ALL THE FOOD:

Vada is still breastfeeding twice a day, in the morning after I get her out of her crib, and usually at night in the rocking chair. She also drinks about 25-30 oz of formula a day. On top of that we have been pretty good at doing breakfast and lunch with her most days (We eat dinner after she goes to bed, so dinner for her). Her and I are often home alone in the morning, so I try to make a good breakfast and sit and eat with her. She likes eggs, green beans, blueberries, peaches, potatoes, grilled onions and peppers, yogurt, pretty much anything I’m eating. For lunch I usually give her whatever I am having: sliced turkey, sweet potato fries, olives, string cheese, pretty much anything. I actually love feeding Vada, she has such an open mind about food, and seems to love nearly everything. I can’t wait for her to have more teeth so we can do more vegetables that require chewing. I have no qualms about giving her interesting “adult food” like sushi or ribs, or soups, she gobbles them down! Mostly she feeds herself (except soup, yogurt, and the very occasional puree) and has a great pincer grasp and is so good at gum-chewing. A few fun foods we have tried:

-Sushi (Avocado Rolls & California Rolls)

-Coconut Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

-BBQ Ribs

-Roasted Eggplant

-Salmon

-Beans and Rice (Mexican and Creole style!)

-Pork Belly

-Bruchetta

-Bread soaked in clam sauce

-Eggs Galore (poached, fried, hardboiled, scrambled)

-Meat Loaf

-String Cheese

-Roasted Vegetables

-Goat Cheese, grilled onion Pizza

The list could go on and on. The only food she hated so far was homemade Kale chips lol! I want Vada to have  a love and appreciation for all good food, and to be willing to experiment and try new things. I know this could change, but so far, she’s a little baby foodie, and I love it!

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WHATS NEXT:

Having a baby puts a lot of things on hold, and gives you a whole new set of stuff to do every day. I’ve stopped working a lot. I mean I still do a lot of little things for our restaurant (office stuff, taxes, bills, marketing, emails, ordering, and some cleaning and shopping), but I don’t work in the restaurant.  Mr. Gaunt got a new job, with longer hours, so I’m doing a lot more of the home stuff too. I have Vada go twice a week to a nanny right now so I can have a few hours a week of time to just get things done without her. Sometimes this is work specific, sometimes its home stuff. It’s nice though.

When Vada was born I had a lot of preconceived ideas about what I thought I wanted, what I would be able to do, and what would work for our family. I thought I would want to work more, I thought I would be able to do more with Vada, I thought things would be easier. But the truth is, I don’t want to work a lot, and I don’t want her in daycare full-time, and even if I did, my brain is full up right now. I’m on edge a lot when it comes to work, and problem solving, and feeling overwhelmed. A lot of these things made me feel desperate and depressed and anxious in the beginning. Now they make me feel angry and annoyed. My ability to multi task family and work stuff sucks. I’m hoping it gets better as Vada gets older, but only time will tell. I’m trying to accept it and to keep myself in check, but it’s always a struggle. I also have noticed that no matter what, unless you spend 90% of your day with a baby, you do NOT understand what it’s like, you just don’t. I’m not saying it’s bad, but the limitations with a baby are real, and other people may chose to have judgements about that, and I just have to remind myself that other peoples feelings are THEIRS and not mine. I know whats best for us.

Vada is on the peak of being able to do more big kid stuff like finger paints, reading books (we try to read to her, but it does not hold her attention and she just rips at the books) and actually playing with things (stacking blocks, pushing buttons, that stuff) so I think this winter will be lots of fun. I have a whole Pinterest board of toddler activities that I’m excited to start with her. Hopefully the “put everything in her mouth” thing will die down around 15 months.  We also plan to start swim lessons again in September, and we have signed up for a 10 week Mommy (and daddy) and ME Music class, which I am so excited about! I’m hoping to also get a membership to the children’s museum too.

The days of summer are coming to an end, and I genuinely feel sad. This has been such a fun and exciting summer for us, and for Vada. Getting to do all the fun summer activities with your kid, really makes things special, at least for me. This will be a summer to remember, really a year to remember, and I’m going to try to focus every day on living a good life and loving my family.

Happy 9 months you beautiful person!

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Raising Vada: Right On Schedule

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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:

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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.

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2. Nursing:

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!”

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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!

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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.