Monday, March 7, 2016

Adventures in Parenting: The 5 Month Mark

Another month down.  We may be getting the hang of this whole "parenting" thing...which must mean that EVERYTHING is about to change. 
Chillin' w/ his Yodas.

Our little man has put on an extra pound since his 4 month checkup; he now laughs every day and has developed a love for standing (with Dad's assistance).  The Hubs is convinced he'll just skip that whole "scooting/crawling" thing.  
Oddly though, he seems to have regressed and forgotten how to roll over from belly to back--even though he did it like 6 times in a row on his 4-month-i-versary.  He gets realllllly close, but doesn't realize he just needs to pitch that giant noggin of his sliiiightly further and gravity will take care of the rest.  So then he just gets mad and loudly requests that I do it for him. (I hear this will be trend for the next 18 years.)  He desperately wants to roll from back to belly, but hasn't quite got the momentum yet, so instead he just arches his back while on his side and ends up spinning around like the world's slowest breakdancer.

He's also discovered his toes, which are fascinating and MUST go in his mouth (much like everything else he can wrap his mitts around).

Here's everything else that has happened in the last month!

1. "Houston, We Have Toofers."  The first one poked through on 2/12/16, and the second made it's way to the surface on 2/18/16.   We weren't even the first people to discover it, which sort of sucks.  My sis-in-law was babysitting while we were out on a date, and after we got out of our movie, there was a text and a photo waiting "did you know *Baby J* is cutting a tooth?"
Pardon my son's nose-boogins.

Cue the Mom Guilt.  We were out having a good time, while Someone Else found his First Tooth.  We had been with him just 2 hours before--was it there then and we just didn't notice?  How DARE we not notice a tiny tooth breaking through his gums!  It sorta put a dampener on the rest of the evening.  Mostly I just started to think about how with him being at day care 5 days a week, there may be a lot MORE Firsts that we miss...and I kinda hate it. (Separate post about Mom Guilt to come later.)
Funny how two teeth can change his whole appearance.

2. Experiments with Spoon Feeding:  At his 4 month visit, our pediatrician said since Baby J had good head control and was good at sitting up with just a little support,  we could start trying to see if he's interested in cereal.  He generally sits on our laps while we eat meals at home, grabs at our plates, and loves to watch us use utensils.  So we started "experimenting" a little...since he loves to lick everything right now anyway. One day The Hubs let him lick a carrot, which produced a "WTF" face (a few weeks later we let him lick a lemon and got the same face).  Then one day we let him lick a piece of toast...which he licked a couple of times with pretty much just a blank expression.  THEN The Hubs let him lick a piece of bacon...and he cut his first tooth the same day. (Coincidence?  Not with our DNA. #lovebacon)

So about a week ago, rather than buy a bunch of cereal, I took some of the oats we already had in the pantry and ground them into a fine flour.  We started with a 4:1 milk to oat flour ratio, which seems to work well at this point for basic spoon training--we're also not feeding him very much yet since he doesn't really need it, just a few teaspoons' worth.  He still has a bit of tongue thrust reflex, but he seems to really love the cereal--his eyes get huge and he opens his mouth, and then bangs on the tray of his high chair if I'm taking too long to get him another spoonful.
"Oatmeal is nommy, Mommy."

BTW--thank you, anonymous person on the interwebz, who said "start with a 4:1 or 5:1 ratio of milk to cereal".  That was really helpful.  Unlike the anonymous person who said "his first cereal should be slightly thinner than gravy".  That is NOT a useful comparison--or at least clarify.  What KIND of gravy?  Turkey gravy?  Brown gravy?  Sawmill gravy?  Not. Helpful.

3. Tata Juice Economics: Supply & Demand:  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I had a personal goal of making it to 6 months nursing/pumping.  However, around the 4.5 month mark, I started doing some milk math:  Baby J was eating about three 6-ounce bottles a day at the sitter, but I was only able to pump about 10-12 ounces each day at work.  You don't have to be a mathematician to figure out that's not sustainable.
You might have to be a mathematician to follow my calculations, though.

So, we decided to start introducing some formula--essentially, just one bottle's worth to make up the difference, so that he would still be getting breastmilk for 5 of his 6 daily feedings.  We tried a bottle of straight formula (no chaser)  first to see what he thought...not interested.  So his sitter started mixing it half & half with his bottles at day care, and he didn't seem to notice.  Success!

Am I disappointed that we couldn't make it to 6 months on solely breastmilk?  Not really.  I was a little frustrated at first--it's really hard to watch your stockpile disappear, because you've worked so hard on it.  I mean, seriously...I JUST sent a cooler full of milk to the sitter's, how can it ALREADY be gone?  Instead of being happy that my kid is a good eater, I started wondering if my childcare provider was selling my stockpile on eBay. (just kidding...sort of.)

But ultimately, it's not worth stressing over.  Over 80% of his food is still coming from me, and the formula is just a stop-gap method so that I can continue nursing/pumping longer.  Otherwise we'd have run out entirely before he hit five months.  And I made a point of telling myself before the baby even got here--treat breastfeeding as a cost savings, not as a requirement for him to be a healthy child.

Soap Box:  Can we just STOP shaming/guilting moms for having to use formula?  I can honestly say I don't know a single mom who just *decided* with her first kiddo to go straight to formula and not at least try breastfeeding.  The moms I know who did go straight to formula were on their second/third kiddo, and had already been through the psychologically-scarring battle of trying to nurse and not being able to for some reason or another.  If given the choice and appropriate circumstances, I imagine most moms would be perfectly content to nurse as long as they could--but life and reality get in the way.  Some babies just won't latch.  Some babies are allergic to what mom eats.  Some boobs just don't produce.  Some boobs stop producing once you go back to work.  It's not a CHOICE--it's just what happens.  And to shame a mom for that is just deplorable.  To tell a mom that she just isn't trying hard enough, or that she just isn't making enough concessions to nurse her baby, is total CRAP.

I like nursing because a) it's free, and b) it's a lot easier than having to mix formula or heat a bottle. The fact that he gets my immunities or any additional health benefits from it is just a bonus. Yes, the first few weeks SUCKED, like they do for all moms, but after that, everything worked out well for us.   But that's MY reality.  For some moms, it's NOT free--not if they're shelling out mucho dinero for fenugreek and teas and lactation cookies and lactation consultations, or if pumping takes up too much of their work time. And it's only easier if you, as a mom, have an easy place TO feed.  If you're constantly on the go and having to try to find a comfortable place to nurse or pump, it SUCKS (as I know from when Lil' Man was needing to eat every 2 hours).

So to all moms--whether your baby is breastfed or bottle-fed, boob milk or formula, brand name or generic--SO LONG AS HE/SHE IS FED, then you are awesome.  You deserve a medal, or a trophy--preferably made of chocolate. Frankly, I know there are days I don't take good care of myself--don't eat enough, don't drink enough water, and I know I'm not alone.  So the fact that you are making sure that your child DOES have a full belly, and is happy & healthy, then you are doing good, Momma.  < /soapbox. >

Speaking of formula...

4. Formula PooP.  Dear. God.  I can remember as a pre-mom thinking that diaper changes were going to be SO disgusting.  But then the baby came, and while yeah, it's poo, the poo of a breastfed baby does not STANK.  I'm not saying I'd want to wear it as a perfume, but it's really not that bad.  However, as soon as you start giving that kiddo anything other than boob milk, his poo actually starts to SMELL LIKE POOP.  Like, regular human adult stanky pooP that requires an extra "P" at the end.  I feel like we're going to be emptying the diaper pail a LOT more often, or just start using those Arm & Hammer bags for all the pooP diapers.
And they're SNEAKY. Thank GAWD they generally start only pooping like every other day, but at first, I was really wondering if my son was broken.  Don't get me wrong, it's AWESOME when you only have to change a pee diaper...but it's sorta like Russian roulette, just wondering WHEN that super-stanky, melted-chocolate-sticky pooP diaper is going to show up, and who's gonna get to change it: Mom?  Dad?  The Sitter?  You always sorta hope for the latter (sorry ladies, but it's true...you're at least getting paid to deal with it).  Unfortunately for us, Dad got the first Formula PooP Diaper...AND it was a blowout. I was nice enough to help...and by "help", I mean take the diaper trash bag out to the garage and then pre-soak his soiled outfit while Daddy changed him and tried not to gag.

And because they're more infrequent, they also tend to be blowouts, which REALLY sucks.  We had a few blowouts pre-formula, but not to this extent.  If anyone knows the secret to keeping my son's Number Two's from resulting in his back getting coated with crap, I'm all ears. At this point, I'm almost ready to duct tape the back of his diaper to his skin. (kidding, of course...unless that's a viable option.)

5. Stop Trying to Discuss Pumping with Your Male Coworkers.  The dads, while they are respectful of the time it takes and vaguely remember their wives going through it, don't actually have any way to empathize with feeling like a dairy cow.  That's the difference between the Farmer and the Cow--the farmer sees it done, and helps facilitate, but it's the cow that's hooked up to the machine. 
The non-dads tend to go all "squirrel in the headlights"--because you're talking about boobs (in case you forgot), and boobs have only one function to a non-dad dude (*winkwink*).  And honestly, the non-mom females will, at the most, have something of a detached curiosity, equivalent to that of asking about recent repairs to your car.   Save the pump-talk for the other moms who know what it feels like to be Bessie.

6. Changing Caregivers:  We started searching for day cares when Lil' Man was about 12 weeks in utero, but every place we went had a wait list of like 40+ people.  We put our names on a bunch of lists, but most places were at least honest enough to say, "Look--we're probably not going to have spots until at least mid-next year".  Thankfully, a coworker recommended a really wonderful lady who does in-home care...we called and she had a spot open.  The price was right--the only downfall was that she lived out of the way, so it was going to add about 30 minutes to my commute each way, and since she was closer to my work than to our house, it also meant I was going to be the primary person to pick him up & drop him off.  But hey--good price, sweet lady, and she came with shining recommendations.  She got our son drinking out of a bottle and doing tons of tummy time. We were happy.

Fast forward 2 months, when one of those other daycares calls us back.  The one that's only 5 minutes from our house.  And tells us they have a spot starting in March.  What do you do?  Do you leave him where he's happy with the sweet lady who's like an extra grandma to him?  Or do you move him somewhere that both you & your husband can equally share the responsibility of pickup/drop-off?  Ultimately, we decided to move him.  It hurt, because we really LIKED his sitter--if she lived closer to us, I'd have left him there 'til he started school.  

But it comes down to time with our kiddo--in order to get him to her house, we were spending an extra hour each day in the car.  But with a daycare closer to our house, that's an extra hour per day we can now spend with him at HOME, actually getting to play with him--and when you only get about 3-4 hours of awake time with your kiddo, every extra minute means so much. It means that if the Hubs finishes up with work early, he can pick him up early and get extra Daddy Time, rather than waiting for me to get home with him at 6pm.  It means that I could go the gym after work on occasion, or run errands, without having to have a kiddo in tow.
60 more minutes of snuggles = 100% worth it.

But it also means someone gets the shaft.  I know sitters are used to kiddos coming and going, but it really stinks to make that choice.  It would be one thing if they weren't jiving, or if we/he didn't like her for some reason, or she had done something that made us mad.  It would be easier.  But it's literally like telling a grandma that she doesn't get to see her grandkid any more after a certain date. It sucks.

7. Time With Your Kiddo:  Now that I'm back at work, my time with my little man during the week is really limited.  We have about 20-30 minutes together in the morning while I feed him, then he goes to Daddy while I get ready for work.  Then we drive to the sitter, I work for 8-9 hours, and then go home--now that we're at the new day care, The Hubs generally picks him up around 5pm.  By the time I get home, it's 5:30-6pm, and by 8:30, Lil' Man is ready for his last feeding and in his crib by 9pm.  So I really only have a 3 hour window of time w/my son...a time slot that is also occupied by making/eating dinner, a few chores (if needed), baths (which he is starting to tolerate better), talking with my husband about his day, etc.  
Love those baby blues.

We do our best to streamline things--I try to take care of miscellaneous things while I'm at work, and The Hubs does a lot of the household chores like laundry and dishes if he's not out working on claims during the day.  I started doing a little bit of meal planning and we're doing our best to share cooking responsibilities (and make big batches of things so at least one night a week we're just eating leftovers and not having to cook).  I try to include Lil' Man as much as I can--carrying him on my hip as I grab things from the pantry or pick up the house, and have him sitting in our laps or the high chair as we eat dinner.  Post-dinner we always do some Tummy/Back time on the floor with his play gym--he just got a Kick 'n Play a few weeks ago and has been enthralled with it ever since.  
This elephant is his absolute favorite thing on the Kick 'n Play--forget the keyboard, just let me lick that elephant!

I just do my best to make sure those 3 hours are as much quality time as possible.  Once he's off to bed, I can do other little things, like laying out my clothes for the next day, take a shower, pack my lunch, wash bottles, watch TV/play on Facebook, enjoy a glass of wine with The Hubs, etc.

So here's one of the nice things about nursing--it guarantees me at least 40 minutes/night of one-on-one time with my son.  He usually wants to be fed around 6:30p, and then he nurses again at bedtime.  In the event that he wakes up during the "night" (really, it's closer to 4am anymore, if he wakes up at all), that's still on me.  I know a lot of moms like bottles because then Dad can help with putting the little one to bed or deal with mid-night feedings...however, as a working mom, I actually like having that little bit of extra alone time with just the two of us.  

8. Stop Eating Crap.  I ate pretty well during my first and second trimesters, and logged my food with my FitBit.  During my third trimester, I was so miserable I gave myself a pass to eat pretty much whatever sounded good at the time.  Thanks to my diligence over those first 6 months, my baby weight fell off by the time he was 8 weeks old.  Then...I was on maternity leave, with a baby that hated me and cried all the time and a house full of food (particularly holiday sweets). I was nursing, so that gave me an extra 500 calorie allowance each day.  I didn't even put on any holiday meal weight. (There's your new holiday diet--nursing!)

But here's the thing--on maternity leave, I was actually getting more exercise than I am back at the office. I was going for walks, bouncing the baby on the exercise ball, running around the house doing chores, much of which while carrying a 10+ pound squirmy weight in my arms.

Now that I'm back at work, even though I'm still nursing/pumping, I've noticed I don't get a free pass to eat crap anymore.  That belly pooch is trying to make a comeback.  And in another month or so, I may not be nursing anymore, so it's time to get my sweet tooth in check.  Plus, I wonder how much of that sugar is making its way into my son's food supply:
"Your milk tastes like CANDY!!!!"

BTDubs--if my coworkers could stop bringing 4 dozen Krispy Kremes into the office break room, that would help.  Cuz...I mean...there are starving kids in Africa & stuff, and those donuts aren't going to eat themselves.

9. Sleep Regression:  I've been told this happens around 4 months...but so far, we have been lucky. *knocks on wood*  He's in his crib by 9pm, and is completely conked out for the night.  He might coo once or twice at night, but he doesn't cry out for us--just jabbers for a bit, then sucks his thumb and falls back asleep.  However, he HAS recently started waking up at 5:30-6am to just start TALKING to himself.  Our vain child seems to LOOOOOOOVE the sound of his voice and all the new little noises he can make.  Honestly, I love the sound of his voice too, so it's hard to be mad when he sounds so happy--but Mom & Dad would like to sleep until their actual alarm goes off at 6:30, pretty please.  

So, he talks, coos, gurgles...we turn on his mobile, and then within about 15 minutes he's asleep again.  Usually.  It's not foolproof.  But it gets us a few more minutes of laying in bed.  But I have a feeling that's *not* the sleep regression we've been warned about.  Sooo...maybe we'll have an update in next month's installment. 

10. Hair, Hair Everywhere:  You know how one of the benefits of being preggo is a lusciously full head of hair?  That's because you stop shedding hair for those 9 months.  I'm sure every lady out there with medium-to-long hair is familiar with the typical 10-20 hairs shed per shower.  Well...this stops whilst you have a bun in the oven.  You might still shed a couple, but it noticeably decreases.

And then...a few months after your bouncing bundle of poop & joy arrives, alllllll those hairs that didn't fall out over the course of the last year suddenly start fleeing your head like Syrian refugees.  There is more hair in my bathroom trash can than trash.  I've been assured that this should stop soon...but in the meantime my stylish recommended a biotin supplement...which I usually remember to take.

11.  Being Social:  When possible, we've been doing our best to still get out and see friends.  There's an inherent apprehension every time, but almost every time he surprises us.  He is a very curious, social creature and just loves to silently soak in his surroundings.  We went to hibachi with friends, hoping he would take the nap he was well overdue for and not be fussy.  No nap--but he he was happy to sit on people's laps and stare at our chef as he cooked.  
"Hey...you gonna eat that?"

We went bowling and he spent his time getting passed around as we took our turns [not] getting strikes or spares, and was totally cool until about 8:30pm when he hit his sleepytime wall.  He cried until we got in the car, and was conked out before we got a few blocks from the bowling alley.  We went to a beer tasting event at a local tap room, and after having a bottle of his own (not beer, obvz), he dozed off on my shoulder for 20 minutes, amidst the din of 100+ people and their clinking glasses.  We went to a housewarming party where he wooed all the ladies with his flirtatious smiles and barely made a peep until about 9pm when he was both hungry and tired.

We're learning to overcome our fears about what might happen, and not letting it keep us at home.  Truth is, we have a pretty chill child who loves to people-watch, and we might as well take advantage.  If we can get him used to being out and about now, it should hopefully bode well for his future behavior in social settings.

Previous Adventures:
Birth Story
3 Weeks
Month 1
6 Weeks
Month 2
Month 3
Month 4
Mom Guilt Edition
Working Mom Edition
Things That Suck
Traveling For The Holidays
Living In The Moment

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