So I've been meaning to write a post dedicated to breastfeeding for a while now, but for some reason have put it off. I knew it was important to talk about, because for the last 7 or so months this blog has focused almost entirely on being a new mom, and if you choose to breastfeed, breastfeeding is an ENORMOUS part of those early months with a baby. But I've delayed this post, largely I think because when you're in the middle of nursing, it's hard to wrap your head around the experience in a logical or meaningful way.
At this point Ryland and I are reaching the end of our breastfeeding "journey" (I really hate that word because it conjures images of dramatic music set montages and inspirational moments, and breastfeeding ain't no Hallmark movie). I only nurse one a day, first thing in the morning, and it's more for comfort at this point than nutrition (the rest of the time we use formula, which is why my baby has become such a chunk monster).
It's strange, because the main reason I've held onto that once a day feed is because I am having a hard time letting go of it. I thought I would be ecstatic to finish breastfeeding, and I am mostly on board with the finish line, but a little part of me is scared to let it go, for multiple reasons including but not limited to 1. I can no longer tell people I am breastfeeding and some will judge for stopping "too soon" when there's no real reason we're stopping. 2. My baby will no longer have that one thing she can only get from me, and she will turn on me and become a sullen teenager at 7 months old. 3. I will no longer get that extra calorie burning boost (what? if any mom says this isn't a benefit and reason to breastfeed she is lying through her teeth), and because I no longer get an extra calorie burst I cannot justify eating ice cream every night like I have for the last 7 months 4. My baby will no longer get any antibodies from me and I will catch some horrible virus, pass it to her, and not be able to protect her with antibodies. 5. If we are stranded on a desert island (don't ask me how, we have no plane or boat rides coming up, but it's still possible!) I will not be able to feed Ryland because desert islands don't have formula. 6. Ditto if the zombie apocalypse hits, or Trump gets elected and anarchy reins and all the formula gets destroyed in riots and/or zombie feasts. 7. If all the sudden Ryland turns into a she-beast demon spawn, I will not have the magic and instant ability to comfort her with my boobs. 8. If sleep implodes and the baby stops sleeping in her crib and we all lose our minds, I cannot turn to plan B, which are my boobs. 9. I will miss it. 10. She will miss it.
I probably would not have thought it possible 7 months ago, when we were at the start of our breastfeeding journey (damnit there's that word again!), that I would be afraid to stop. Because here's the thing, breastfeeding is HARD. Like really hard. Like legitimately one of the hardest things you can do. Before I gave birth, my OB told me that breastfeeding would be harder than labor or running a marathon. She said for her it was harder than med school. And that sounds really intense and dramatic, but she was kind of right (I can't vouch for the med school thing but I'll take her word on it).
And it's not hard for any simple reason but rather a whole constellation of reasons. It can be hard for purely physical reasons. For me at the beginning it really hurt, especially the first few days (which we found out was due to Ryland having a tongue tie, which the pediatrician at the hospital discovered on our last day and "clipped", also fun fact that he quizzed us on and my husband of all people got right and not me who had gone through 13 years of Catholic school, Moses had a tongue tie, go figure). I digress. It hurt. Pretty intensely. Which is a lot to deal with when everything else in your body hurts after going through that minor thing called labor. And when you haven't slept and are totally depleted and exhausted. It got better but it still was painful a lot of the time. I had frequent plugged ducts (which if you aren't familiar basically occur when something causes a milk duct to "plug" or get backed up, can be not feeding or pumping enough, over supply, or just wearing something too tight). I knew I had a plugged duct because I would immediately get a huge, rock hard lump in my boob that was incredibly painful to the touch (like the feel of a tee shirt hurt). I also would feel a little more run down than normal when I got one and sometimes even low grade feverish. They would usually stick around for 12-24 hours and then resolve. Ice and ibuprofen helped but not always enough. And for the first 3-4 months I got them constantly, like 2-3 a week. I also had recurrent blebs (which are also basically plugged ducts but on the nipple itself, and if this is all way too much of an over-share for anyone you probably should have stopped reading at the title of this post). These are also incredibly painful, especially with feeding, and would show up out of the blue on and off.
And I was lucky. Some women deal with mastitis which is basically when your boob catches the flu. There are also the other lovely perks breastfeeding can bring like cracked nipples and thrush and engorgement. Women can have an over supply or an under supply. There can be leaking. There can be spraying. It is a non stop party. I'm not sure anyone does the thing without some pain or difficulties.
And those are just the physical reasons it's hard. Emotionally it can be even harder. It is incredible to feed a human being and to know you are their main source of sustenance. And it is also a HUGE mind trip and a feeling of enormous pressure. There is nothing in your life that can prepare you to basically be someone's human pantry, especially if you are dead set against using formula. In those early weeks lactation nurses will tell you do not use a bottle (or even pacifier) for ANY REASON WHATSOEVER, even if it is a bottle of expressed breast milk (they say it confused the baby and can lead them to reject the breast, which is possible, but not common).
So here's the deal then. You come home from the hospital with a new human of whom you are solely in charge. You are still physically spent from labor. You haven't slept and you aren't going to sleep. There are people coming in and out of your house. You are totally in love with your baby but also terrified that you are going to kill your baby. And to this, you add in the fact that you are their only food source. And in the beginning they eat almost constantly. They are like little zombies (I don't know why I keep referring to zombies, maybe because it's almost Halloween?). They are ravenous. And your supply is low at first so they have to eat that frequently to boost your supply. But it means that at best you may have an hour or two between feeds, all day and night at first. And sometimes they take an hour to eat. And the time between feeds is from the start of one feed to the next. So if you do that math it pretty much means the baby will be attached to your boob 24/7. You might have like 30 minutes of free time.
30 minutes is not enough time to take a good nap or run an errand or pretty much do anything well. And so no matter how much you enjoy breastfeeding, you feel enormous pressure to be available for your baby constantly if they can't get a bottle. I remember going to Kroger in the early weeks and just feeling tremendous guilt, because what if my baby got hungry and I wasn't there. I would have people watch her while I napped but if I heard her crying, no matter how hard they tried to comfort her, I knew that the only thing that would really calm her down were my boobs. And yes, it gets better when they can take bottles (either expressed breast milk or formula), but you still feel so much responsibility. It's just a huge mental shift to go from being a free person who can go wherever, whenever, or even take a trip, to being someone who someone else relies on entirely for their nutrition and growth. It also can lead to what I like to call "I think she's hungry" syndrome, where if another person is taking care of your baby, whether that be your husband or a friend or family member, every time your baby starts to cry you hear the words "I think she's hungry" directed towards you. And in their defense, in the beginning, the baby probably is hungry. But it can feel like every time you pass your infant off to someone else for a few minutes, there's is a timer ticking down to the inevitable time you will hear "I think she's hungry" and get a crying baby passed back to you.
And if your baby rejects a bottle like mine did for a while, then you will literally feel like you can't leave your house and if you do have to leave your house, say for work like I did, you will feel miserable the entire time knowing your baby is "starving" (not really, just being really stubborn, but that's not a lot of comfort at the time). I remember for those few weeks she wouldn't take a bottle, I felt this intense pressure to always be with her. I felt like I would never be able to go out for an afternoon of errands or to dinner with my husband or God forbid a day trip. It's a lot.
Breastfeeding can also be isolating, especially if you're not comfortable with public feeding (and some women just aren't, I think it's great for women who are and no one should ever judge a woman who does breastfeed in public, but it's not a universal thing). I spent a lot of time in the backseat of my car feeding Ryland in the early weeks. I spent chunks of time indoors in rooms alone during parties or at my house if I had guests over. And at work after my maternity leave ended, for the first few months back, I basically spent every lunch break in a room by myself attached to a pump. I kept thinking of that scene in Mean Girls when Lindsay Lohan eats her lunch in a bathroom stall. And it really does feel like that. Minus Regina George and with a lot more human cow action.
Breastfeeding also makes getting dressed a very different experience. Let's just say that you can say goodbye to any "cute" bras for quite some time because all that matters is accessibility (plus underwire, at least for me = plugged ducts city). Also dresses don't really work unless you want to pull your entire dress up to feed. For the first few months you pretty much decide to wear based on how easy it is to get topless (I would imagine that's the same philosophy behind many spring breakers in Cabo).
And if you're reading this and thinking to yourself why on God's green earth would any woman breastfeed, I should say that it's not all horrible. Actually some of it is really great. No, some if it is better than great. And I'm not even going to get into the health benefits like antibodies and decreased risk of allergies and yada yada because we've all gotten that speech. Some of the times you spend breastfeeding your baby will become these shining, beautiful moments that lodge in your heart and memory. It is empowering to breastfeed. As much as it's a feeling of pressure, it's also a feeling of enormous capability. Once you get over the mind trip, it's kind of amazing to know that you can keep a HUMAN BEING ALIVE. With your boobs! That's crazy right? But in a beautiful way.
You are your baby's favorite person on earth if you breastfeed. Plain and simple. Sure Ryland is probably going to be a total daddy's girl, but for these early months I was the center of her universe. Fine, my boobs were the center of her universe. But by proxy I was kind of a big deal right? And that bond forms so instantly and irreversibly with breastfeeding.
There's this feeling/emotion you get when you breastfeed and have your let down, which is entirely hormone driven, but it's this weird magic too. One of my best friend's described it as feeling "homesick" and she was totally right. You do feel homesick and almost sad. But you feel homesick for your baby, and if your baby is in your arms, you can experience being homesick and feeling like you are coming home all at once. It's bizarre but wonderful.
If you like snuggles, breastfeeding is pretty much the snuggliest thing in the world. I will miss so much snuggling with my baby while she ate. I will miss the peace of those times, especially in the beginning when she was cranky pretty much any time she wasn't eating or sleeping. I think in some ways it must be nature's way of giving new moms opportunity for rest. It felt overwhelming at the time, but looking back I kind of miss the single minded focus of breastfeeding in the early weeks. I miss camping out on the couch with Netflix on and the boppy around my waist, and pretty much staying that way for hours (and being waited on by the husband, because when you're feeding a baby nonstop you deserve someone who will bring you plentiful Fresca's and cliff bars). I miss how when the baby was just her absolute crankiest, I could calm her instantly. I could always give her what she needed in those early months by breastfeeding (which if you feed on demand, is kind of the idea). I knew when I fed her she was happy and content and everything was okay in the world while I had her in my arms. Your boobs really can feel like they have magical powers because they can instantly silence a crying infant.
And feeding her in bed (IF you do it safely, which we did) is just the best of the best. I cannot overstate how well I slept when I nursed at night. SO much better than now when I am constantly straining to hear her crying from the other room. I think because of the hormones involved in nursing (on top of feeling homesick, you also feel really, REALLY sleepy), sleeping while I breastfeed just felt like the soundest, deepest sleep in the world. I think that's why I always felt pretty well rested the first few months. Until my last days on this earth, I will hold at the very center of my soul the memory of how it felt to lie in bed and feed her as we both drifted off to sleep. Life is very rarely perfect. It's almost impossible to achieve a perfect moment. Those were perfect, 100%. If heaven feels like those moments I'm good for eternity.
Oh and when they get older and stop breastfeeding and look up at you and smile with just pure and total adoration and then go back to the boob like they just wanted to give you a "Go Mom" boost, that's pretty freaking great too. Or when their little hand reaches up to softly touch your face or hair. Or when they fall asleep nursing and you can watch their sweet little face sleep so soundly.
So yeah, the good stuff, is kind of the best, and not best in the way people usually say that and it doesn't really mean anything. But best as in true definition of the word, good in a way I had never experienced good before. I think for me, looking back, there were a lot of reasons breastfeeding was hard, and only a few reasons why it was good, but the few reasons it was good were so huge and magical that they overshadowed the bad.
I guess despite my insistence otherwise, breastfeeding has been a true journey (cue inspirational music and the shots of me walking pensively on a beach or through a field somewhere). I have hated a lot of it. It has often been hard.
But looking back, I would do it again, because the good parts of breastfeeding will go down as some of the best and truly happiest moments of my life. Breastfeeding, when it doesn't hurt and is going well, allows to feel a stillness and peace in your soul that is kind of indescribable, and a connection to your baby that is everything.
But, and this is a big but, it's not for everyone. There are some women who the bad overshadows the good, because the bad can be a lot worse. There are some women and babies who just can't do it, for a plethora of very solid reasons. There are some women who don't want to do it and that is absolutely their choice. I absolutely reject the tidal wave of breastfeeding evangelicalism that has taken over lately. And I'm a nurse. I know the health benefits of breastfeeding. I do think it should be encouraged. I do think it's good for mom and baby.
But so is not eating ice cream or being organic or working out 5 times a day. Just because something is healthier choice doesn't always mean it's the right choice or that it works in the context of a person's life. It is total BS to say that formula is bad for a baby. It's absolutely not. Again, pediatric nurse here. I know what is "bad" for a baby's health. Formula is not on that list. Not even close. Any baby who is well fed is well fed, period, regardless of it's formula or breast milk. There's way too much pressure on women right now to feel like if they give formula they are failing or hurting their baby. And that's just not true. I was scolded in the hospital for giving Ryland a tiny of bottle of formula. Nurses and doctors can advocate for formula and breastfeeding but ultimately it is the mom's choice alone that matters. It's amazing that as a society, we've pretty much gotten to a place where a woman's body is her body and that the only one who should have control of it is the woman, EXCEPT for when it comes to breastfeeding. Then it's everyone's business and everyone gets to weigh in. Nope. Sorry. Doesn't work that way.
Okay, off soap box.
So that's what I have to say about breastfeeding, which is only scratching the surface. After you have breastfeed, you realize that it's a topic that can fill volumes. Early on it's kind of all you want to talk about. And we should talk about it. Women should support each other and be kind to each other. If a desperate, exhausted mom whose baby isn't gaining weight and who has mastitis for the 3rd time is talking about stopping breastfeeding, don't use that as a springboard to preach the breastfeeding gospel and shame her into not using formula. Listen to her and accept her choice. Because it is HER choice.
At the end of the day breastfeeding concerns two people, baby and mama. It is incredible. It is hard. It is beautiful. Any mom who does it is a super hero. Any mom who doesn't do it is also a super hero. We all just want what is best for our babies. There's the saying that breast is best, but I think we should change that. Breast is great. Formula is great. Let's all make our own informed choices, love our babies, support each other, and we'll all be okay.
Hello everyone! Once again it's been a little too long since my last post. What can I say? As always, life has been a little busy! But in a good way.
So let's catch up.
Even though I am super craving fall sweater and hot chocolate weather (I think the kids would say that makes me "basic", which I don't totally get, but I guess if enjoying pumpkin flavors and cold weather makes me basic then I fully embrace it), we have been enjoying these little bursts of Indian summers. However it was interesting that the day we chose to do family pics (SO excited to see these) it was literally pushing 90 degrees. That put a slight kibosh on my plans for matching family sweaters (kidding!). It did mean I had to rethink the baby's outfit (tights + knit cardigans + infant + 88 degree weather = really, really mean). I soldiered on with my boot + cardigan + scarf combo because I am an adult and can pretend, at least for 30 minutes or so.
It DID cool off just in time for our 3rd annual brunswick stew party/oyster roast! Which was perfect timing because stew and oysters really aren't as enjoyable when you are sweating in the heat. I made an almost literal boatload of stew (way too much of course, but last time I made way too little, so I over compensated). So I had two 6 pound chickens to shred and I dread this part of brunswick stew every year, but I did a little googling and saw that you can shred chicken in a stand up mixer. I was skeptical but it worked! And it worked well and fast! This is a game changer.
We also served a spread of delicious fall themed snacks. Mummy mini hot dogs are literally the laziest hors d'oeuvre ever (wrap some crescent roll dough around a hot dog, bake for 15 min at 375) but they look festive and people generally enjoy pigs in blankets, even if you call them mummy dogs. I also bought dips at Costco and got R to carve out little pumpkins to put the bowls in. Also super easy but cute looking. Especially with a baby to watch while getting ready, I am all for the party short cuts.
I of course neglected to get pictures during the actual party (EVERY SINGLE TIME I FORGET THIS), but I did get one of Ryland in her Halloween costume before the party started (kids were encouraged to come in costume and we had so many adorable little princesses and curious George's and cows and witches, so mad I didn't document the adorableness!)
Let's see what else is new. We've still been super in the rolly polly phase of babyhood lately. Still a ways away from crawling but she does like to kick out her arms and legs at the same time while she's on her belly and wriggle around. I like to say she is practicing her worm move to bust out as a party trick later in life.
We're also starting to get a little more interactive with George. And luckily George is a golden retriever and is genetically designed to have little kids pull at his tail and hair without getting mad. He does sometimes get annoyed after a while, but the most aggressive move he is capable of is getting up and walking away. That is the golden retriever equivalent of snapping.
One day they will actually be playmates. George especially looks forward to that day.
We are also still really into knee socks. They are kind of my favorite. I take a lot of pleasure out of dressing her in a long sleeved onesie or dress and knee socks and then squeezing/biting her thighs all day long. Total parent creep move.
I found this baby food that combines kale and apples and it is great. Ryland has not been super into the vegetable purees like peas or green beans. But she LOVES this one, because she loves apples and pretty much whenever you combine kale with fruit the fruit flavor dominates (which is why kale smoothies are a thing, because otherwise gross). So she's happy and I get to feel good that my daughter is eating kale (which besides being a super food is also just super on trend and Gwyneth Paltrow approved, which is really the only thing I care about when it comes to my daughter's nutrition).
We've also started to giggle more, FINALLY. I seek out these baby laughs like I am on a desert island and they are fresh water. They are SO good but elusive. But they are slowly, very slowly, starting to become more common and easier to produce.
So those are our highlights. Will do my best to update more soon (and more frequently :) ). Happy Thursday everyone!
Happy Tuesday everyone!
So yesterday was my birthday (the big 3-1). And it was my first birthday as a mama. And I will definitely say that birthdays pre and post baby are a little different, especially if your husband is working from 7-7 and you're on solo mom duty all day long . I learned quickly that baby does not care if it is your birthday and still wakes up when it is dark outside (can it please start getting light out earlier, please! I never realized how much it sucks until I was waking up between 5:30-6:30 on a regular basis). Baby also does not care if mama wants to do a little birthday shopping and decides to get ornery in Nordstrom, forcing mama to go home and finish her shopping online.
However, even though my birthdays are no longer a 24 hour long me, me, me session, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Because ornery-ness and all, my baby is still pretty much my favorite person on Earth, and how could I not want to spend my day with her?
It really was a lovely, low key day. I took Ryland and picnicked in Libby Hill park with my mom. We ate one of my favorite sandwiches in the entire world (and that's saying something, sandwiches are pretty much my favorite food)-feta brined chicken, kasseri cheese, spinach, and lemon aioli on a crusty baguette from Stella's.
Then we tried to go to the mall, which as I mentioned above didn't work out so great. But I did my second favorite kind of shopping and ordered two shirts (have been searching high and low for nicer blouse/tunics and hope these work in person!, I really am getting old because all I want right now is a good blouse) and a pair of Tom's boot wedges (on sale!) from Nordstroms.
For dinner two of my favorite gal pals came over for pizza. And Pearl's cupcakes!
And then because I wasn't spoiled enough (and hadn't eaten enough clearly) R came home after work with a Gelatic Celesti ice cream pie/cake made with the two best flavors, Oreo and Just Ask (if you haven't had Gelati Celesti Just Ask and live in Richmond go get some right now, it's peanut butter and cookies and vanilla and SO GOOD). And if there's any day of the year you can have two consecutive deserts it's your bday, so obviously I unhinged my jaw and made room for more sugar.
R also had some beautiful flowers delivered earlier in the day.
And he got us tickets for an upcoming show in Richmond that I CANNOT wait for :)
All in all it was a really great birthday. Definitely not the birthdays of yesteryear that involved all day shopping sprees or day drinking or crazy nights out at bars (I'll save that for 40), but a lovely one all the same. I'm a year older, and if there's one thing being a pediatric nurse has taught me over the last three years it's to never complain or feel sorry for yourself when it comes to getting older. When you see little kids face life threatening illnesses like cancer or cystic fibrosis, you realize quickly that aging is a gift and a blessing, and I really try to remember that every day and embrace getting older, creaky joints and all.
I'm beyond blessed with a beautiful family and a tremendous group of friends. It's a wonderful life that I lead, and I'm absolutely thrilled to see what 31 will bring. Especially with this little munchkin by my side.
You know that Beyonce song, “If I Were A Boy”, where she sings about all of the things she would do if she were a man instead of a woman? How she would wake up in the morning, throw on what she wanted and go, and how different so many things would be as the opposite gender.
Since becoming a mom, I’ve been thinking, not about how life would be if I were a boy, but how life would be if I were a dad. Because let’s face it. Mothers and fathers are not the same. We both bring unique gifts and flaws to the table, but the way we approach parenthood is pretty different. And you can say I am over generalizing and making sweeping statements based on sex. And maybe I am. But I also think there is a lot of truth behind it.
So in the style of Queen Bey or Sasha Fierce or whatever it is Blue Ivy’s mom is calling herself these days, here’s what I think life would be like if I were a dad.
1. Anytime I took my baby out in public by myself, people would smile, say “aw”, and pat me on the shoulder for being such a good dad. Admit it. You see a father alone in the grocery store with a baby and you think, “how sweet, good for him.” And if he is wearing that baby, well then forget it. He should be on the cover of a parenting magazine! You see a mom in the same situation, and you blink and turn back to the frozen food aisle. If I were a dad, every time I pushed a stroller down the street by myself or wrangled a screaming baby on a public changing table, people would nod at each other in a knowing way, maybe whisper a “bless his heart.” Because even in 2016, a dad out by himself with a baby is deserving of praise, maybe even a good old public slow clap at Target. A mom out in public with a baby is expected, routine, and not worth any kind of positive feedback. Because of course you are lugging your child around to multiple stores and shops all by yourself on a Wednesday morning. Your baby might get complements for being so cute, but unless you hold a reading lesson in the middle of the produce section, you are not going to be told by total strangers that you are “being such a good mom!”
2. On a similar note, if I were a dad, I would be killing it all the time. There are entire ad campaigns built around the idea of a father meeting the gold standard of parenting because he does his daughter’s hair before school every day. It does not matter how progressive we get as a society, admit it, there is still this pervading idea that dads excel at parenting every time they give a bath or pick out an outfit or read a bedtime story. Moms who do the same things are just meeting the bare minimum requirements of being a mother. To be a great mom, you have to do all of those things plus plan elaborate arts and crafts projects that are both entertaining and educational. And teach your kid sign language. And manners. And make all of their food from scratch. If I were a dad, I could dress my baby in a cute outfit and boom, CRUSHING IT.
3. If I were a dad, I wouldn’t constantly obsess about EVERY LITTLE THING. There would be whole expanses of my brain freed to contemplate the great mysteries of life, because they wouldn’t be full of every single detail of my daughter’s sleep habit or frequency (and consistenty) of her poops. Sometimes I am talking about my baby’s sleep with my husband, talking in loops about pros and cons of earlier versus later bedtimes, or wondering if she is getting enough formula during the day to allow her to sleep through the night, and he will just give me this look, like I am a total crazy person. And I realize to him, I am. Because his dad brain does not work like my mom brain at all. Dad brains see the big picture. Is the baby growing? Generally happy? Okay then, life is good. Moms on the other hand are like those crazy detectives in movies who are a little too invested and have pictures and maps taped to their walls with pieces of thread connecting them. A dad can be pleased that the baby took a couple of naps. A mom knows just how many minutes each of those naps lasted and how many minutes passed between each nap and the position the baby slept in and the exact axis the earth was on when the baby fell asleep. If I were a dad a nap would be a nap, a poop would be a poop, and a bottle would be a bottle. They would be bullet points. They would not be thesis statements.
4. If I were a dad I would still know what sound sleep felt like. I would still wake up a lot with a baby of course, and sometimes still do the night feeds or early mornings. But when I did sleep it would be true sleep, not the weird half awake sleep that mom’s experience. You know the expression “sleep with one eye open.” A mom sleeps with one ear open (yes I realize ears are always open, but go with me on this one). Even when the house is silent, we are always waiting for the sound of that cry. And we do not experience deep sleep ever again after having a child, because we are so alert and attuned to those cries. Moms wake up at the tiniest little moan from a baby’s room. If I were a dad I would possess the ability to sleep through several octaves of baby cries.
5. If I were a dad I wouldn’t be guilty ALL THE TIME. Mom guilt you guys. It is for real. If I were a dad, I would not constantly feel that guilt. I certainly wouldn’t feel it when I went to work, because society would totally support me working full time and in fact expect it. A full time working mom on the other hand is supposed to feel conflicted and guilty. People routinely ask working moms how they can bear to be away from their babies or how they balance work with home life. Do you think people ever ask working dads those questions? If I were a dad I also wouldn’t feel constant guilt about being that perfect magazine cover mom, the one with a plate of fresh baked cookies and immaculate house. A dad who cooks or cleans the house is celebrated. People find it refreshing. His mother would probably beam with pride. Strangers would want to give him a hug. Mothers who do these things are met with blank looks, because of course we do this type of thing. If we don’t we are slobs, lazy, setting a bad example, possibly even reportable to CPS. If I were a dad I wouldn’t feel guilty every time I had someone watch my baby so I could go to the gym or out to dinner with friends or just to the grocery store alone. I could do what I wanted and know that no one would judge me.
6. If I were a dad I would be more in the moment, be able to be silly with my baby and play without constantly thinking about the structure of her day or if she is reaching her milestones or getting a good balance of fruits and vegetables in her diet. I would play and throw her on my shoulders and be totally present, not thinking about lists or projects or if the baby has enough winter coats. I would spend so much more time in the here and now, not be so bogged down with details.
7. If I were a dad I wouldn’t have to worry about breastfeeding. So this one is obvious, but as I near the end of my breastfeeding experience with my first baby, I am aware even more of how both amazing and stressful it is. It is such enormous pressure on a woman, especially in today’s current breastfeed or die climate. In the early weeks when you aren’t supposed to give a bottle (not unless you want a lactation nazi to chase you down), and you’re still recovering from labor, it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You are providing 100% of your baby’s nutrition, and that is the most wonderful thing in the world and also the most terrifying. If I were a dad I would not have to constantly worry about my supply, or if a food I ate was making my baby gassy or if that glass of wine would hurt her. I wouldn’t feel like I was chained to the couch in those early months. If I were a dad I wouldn’t have the stress of feeling like I have to breastfeed exclusively for AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, even if I go back to work, even if it’s hard, even if I have to pump 8 times a day. If I were a dad I wouldn’t know anything about plugged ducts or blebs or latches so painful you can’t breathe for a few moments. If I were a dad breastfeeding would be a vague mystery.
8. If I were a dad, I wouldn’t worry so much about what other people though of my parenting. I wouldn’t assume that every comment was a thinly veiled critique. I wouldn’t read online forums and want to cry at how vicious people can be. On that note if I were a dad I wouldn’t know what LO or STTN or EBF or CIO meant, because I would NEVER stay up late on my phone scrolling through those typically horrible websites or discussion posts where women virtually judge the ever living crap out of each other. I would go with my gut, and not worry about what this expert said or what this book recommended. I would do what I felt was right and trust my instinct, and not second guess it to the point of paranoia.
Here’s the thing. I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything. And I know that a dad could write this same list from his point of view, and there are so many things about being a dad that I can’t understand or relate to. I know they face an entirely different kind of pressure, to be the breadwinner and primary financial support, because again, no matter how much we progress as a society, those roles are pretty hard to shake. I know stay at home dads face judgment of an entirely different kind, because some people think they should be working instead. I know it can be pretty hard to be a dad too.
But I do think it might be nice to be the dad, as Beyonce said it, even just for a day. And until science figures out how to let us body swap, we can all just try harder to be more accepting of each other, to smile at the mom out alone with the baby because it’s as hard for her to do that as it would be for a man, to not ask a woman who works if she misses her kids (because duh, and men don’t get that BS question), to not ask a stay at home dad if he wants to go back to work one day. As men and women, we can learn a lot from each other. And Beyonce. We can always learn from Beyonce.
Happy Friday everyone! So first off, apologies. I have been totally MIA for a couple of weeks on here. And I really am sorry. Life simply got in the way as it has a way of doing. The hubby worked several night shifts in a row, which meant I was out of the house for several days in a row (so he could sleep, babies in the house aren't super conducive to daytime sleep). Then my lovely in-laws came for several nights to visit, so blogging while they were here was also tricky. And then I worked a couple of shifts. Yada yada yada. Excuses, excuses. I know. But I'm back!
And so now some rambling updates to get us all up to speed:
Things have been going well in baby sleep-land around here. Nighttime is still pretty awesome. The baby has sort of fallen into a sleep through the night every other night rhythm the last week or so (from 6:30/7pm-ish until 6-7am-ish). The other nights she wakes up once (usually around 2-4ish). I always try to give her a few minutes to see if she falls back asleep but if she starts ramping up her cries I will go in and give her a little bottle, change her diaper, and put her back down. And then she almost always falls asleep within a few minutes. I know she is old enough to not need a feed in the middle of the night, but I do think there's a big difference between not absolutely NEEDING a feed for nutrition purposes versus her being happier and us sleeping better in general if she does get that middle of the night feed from time to time (plus up until very recently she ate all darn night long, so I think you would get a little hangry in the middle of the night if you suddenly went from sleeping with your head in the refrigerator to fasting for 12 hours straight). We'll work on getting rid of that feed when and if she is still waking up for it in a month or two. For now I don't mind the cuddles ;)
It is funny though, because as soon as our nights got more predictable with sleep, our days got a lot more unpredictable. The baby went from almost always consistently taking a 1-2 hour nap first thing in the morning to now sometimes waking up after 30-45 min. I think a lot of it has to do with her being better rested in the mornings and me being used to having to put her down an hour after she wakes up versus now being able to keep her up a couple of hours. We're working on it. And I would feel like a jerk complaining about short naps when we are getting awesome night sleep, so I won't.
I will say that overall I am still adjusting to not co-sleeping. When my husband worked those night shifts in particular I missed it very, very much. It was everything in me not to bring the baby into bed with me, but I knew that was more for mama than her. I'm adjusting and starting to sleep better without her, but gosh I do still miss it and her (which I know is super obnoxious because I basically spent the last few months complaining about her not sleeping through the night in the crib, and now that she does I say I miss the old days! I know, I know! Grass is always greener right?). But now that I can compare sleeping all night with her (and us both waking up several times at night but always falling back to sleep in a matter of minutes) and sleeping all night without her (and still waking up several times, either because she cries out or because I wake up convinced I hear her cry out, and then taking 30-60 minutes to fall back asleep because I'm paranoid she's not breathing or will start to cry the second I start to fall asleep), I will say I was more rested with the co-sleeping. We also almost always slept till 8ish, and now that the baby sleeps in her crib and goes to bed earlier, she likes to get up at 6 (when it's still dark out! I never realized how much I will appreciate earlier sunrises until I consistently get up at 6 with a baby).
Basically that rambling tangent is to say that even though I know her sleeping in the crib is the best thing for her and our family right now and moving forward, I realize even more how great those 6 months of co-sleeping were for all of us in the beginning. I am so grateful for that time with her and all of those cuddly, sweet nights. And I'm grateful for the fact that I spent the first 6 months of my baby's life RESTED and sleeping well every night, which I know is pretty much the opposite of how most people spend those first 6 months. I think emotionally now I can handle a little sleep deprivation where as in the beginning it really would have crushed me to be sleep deprived and adjusting to life with a baby. Long story short. I'm a big fan of (safe) co-sleeping and recommend it to anyone (who isn't obese, an alcoholic, heavy sleeper, on prescription sleeping pills, etc).
Other non sleep related updates. Baby is rolling like crazy. I didn't know just how much a baby can propel themselves around a room before they can crawl. But she has really perfected rolling as a form of locomotion.
She has also gotten super into the solids lately. Favorite foods include pears, apples, bananas, rice cereal, sweet potatoes and most excitedly after several attempts peas! It is still a massive mess whenever we feed her because she evades my attempts to block her and always manages to grab a spoon full of baby food and fling it on herself, her parents, and every surface in a 5 foot radius.
Baths have also become "messier" in the kitchen sink, because she's figured out how to splash with her feet. The time may be near to move her to an actual bathtub just so our wood floors in the kitchen don't get ruined by the deluge of water that ends up on them with every bath, but my back and I will really miss the ease of washing her in the sink.
Baby had her 6 month check up and passed with flying colors (other than some eczema and possible allergy to cow's milk, but we kind of already knew about that). She got her vaccines like a champ including a flu vaccine, which as an RN I recommend EVERYONE (who doesn't have medical contra-indications) get this and every year. And if you think the flu shot gave you the flu once, please get educated about how that is not possible.
Oh and to continue the theme of overall health and general rambling of this post, I read that sad story about how possibly 10 child deaths have been linked to homeopathic teething tablets that contain belladonna. Belladonna is a poisonous plant. Poisonous meaning it can kill you. I don't care what any homeopathic person says, poison is poison. Please, please think about what you give your child. Just because something is labeled "natural" or "holistic" does not mean it is SAFE. I don't think kids should get a ton of medications, but at least medications are regulated by the FDA. This homeopathic crap is not. Please, please, please be careful.
And on that note too, I was in PB Kids the other day and saw all of the adorable bumpers and briefly considered getting one because Ryland has started to stick her legs and arms through the crib slats and sometimes gets kind of "stuck" (not really but she just takes a moment to figure out how to pull her arm or leg back out). She also rolls so much that she sometimes bonks her little head. And I don't like that so now that she's older I thought bumpers might be a good idea. I know bumpers are absolutely NOT safe for little infants, but thought since she's 6 months they might be okay. But before I bought anything I did my research into bumper safety for older babies, and guess what? They are definitely not safe, even for older babies. And bumpers aren't one of those gray, maybe they are harmful and cause SIDS things. Bumpers are something that we know has CAUSED babies to suffocate on numerous occasions. Not be all crazy doom and gloom, but just wanted to pass this along because we all forget what we were told and it's always good to research before you buy bumpers or homeopathic teething remedies or whatever else is out there. And don't even get me started about how angry it makes me that places like PB Kids sell their $100 bumpers without even a warning (except for maybe a tiny one on the packaging) about how unsafe they are. They LOOK really, really cute. They're not safe, particularly when a baby can roll and is really active and are able to wedge themselves in places like between the crib and a bumper.
Whew. Well that was one, long tangent of a blog post. I find when I've been gone for a while, it can help to do a post like this to jump start the old mind grapes. I hope if you've made it to the end of this, that you're still with me! Promise not to be MIA again and hope everyone has a great Friday!
And because I can't resist, two more shameless baby photos. We are really into baby knee socks these days.
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for the all the big and little things in life.