Thursday, April 7, 2016

Adventures in Parenting: Month 6

SIX MONTHS!  HALF A YEAR!  26 WEEKS!  Lil' Man is up to 17.5 lbs, 27.5 inches, and still has a giant head.  He handled his 6 month shots like a champ, though. So proud.

Here's what we've been up to:

1. Baby's First Sickness - I picked him up after a nap, and noticed that he felt warm.  He usually runs a little warm anyway, but I checked his temp just in case.  Sure enough, 101.3F.  He's been pretty snotty lately, and there was a case of RSV at his day care...but The Hubs was also sick the previous week.  He was a little fussy, so we gave him a little bit of Tylenol, and his fever dropped and he was in a good mood. That deteriorated closer to bedtime (bathtime was a nightmare), so we gave him a little more Tylenol before bed.  He woke up mad at midnight, so I nursed him and he conked back out...until 1am, and then was awake until 2am with The Hubs.  Not fussy, just not wanting to sleep.  Finally he was able to lay him back down & he dozed off....until 4am.  I got up with him, nursed again, and checked his temp, which had popped back up into the 100s.  Tried to give him some Tylenol while he was laying down--BIG mistake, he gagged and spit up all over himself and the crib.  So I got him cleaned up, took care of the crib mess, and then I gave him the rest of the Tylenol while he was sitting in my lap.  He fell asleep in my arms, so I rocked him for a while, then tried to lay him down--no go.  Picked him back up, rocked him for 20 minutes, then attempted the crib dice.  Picked him back up and rocked him again until about 6am, at which point we just brought him into our bed so I could try to sleep the last 30 minutes before my alarm went off.

The next day, my husband stayed home with him (since we couldn't take him to day care with a fever) while I went to work; they both napped most of the day but Lil' Man's fever would never go totally away.  He just looked so sad, my heart was breaking. 
Using a cold washcloth to cool him down.

That night, I nursed him to sleep, and then tried to lay him down, but he was NOT having it, and scream-cried until my husband came in and saved me, took my place and managed to get him to fall asleep.  But he woke again at 2:30am, so I instinctively tried to nurse him...and he wouldn't latch.  My poor son just laid there and cried and I kept trying.  I was completely lost--he's NEVER not latched before.  EVER.  So I held him up to my chest & rocked & shushed while I frantically searched the interwebz on my phone--and discovered that it usually means they have an ear infection, which makes it hurt to either lay in that position or suck on anything, and recommended that you just try different positions to see if there's one where he can eat without it hurting.  

Well, he fell asleep on me while I was searching for my answer, and I didn't have the heart to wake him I propped pillows under my arms and let him sleep on my chest for 2 hours.  I never really fell asleep but I was able to rest my eyes at least.  Around 4:30am he woke up crying, so I laid him down on the changing pad to see if his diaper was dirty.  He was really calm, so I thought, "maybe I'll see if he'll nurse while laying like this".  And he did!  BUT then I quickly realized I could not stand there for 20 minutes, hovering over our changing table so my son could eat--my back was killing me.  So I moved him to the floor and was able to lay next to him while he ate.  He was really content after that, so I put him in the crib and turned on his mobile and tried to go to bed...but he started crying once the mobile turned off.  My blessed husband got up with him, took him into the living room and put him in the bouncer where he was able to sleep for a few more hours (while I was blissfully unconscious in my own bed).

He still had a 102F fever that morning (and still couldn't nurse OR take a bottle, in ANY position*), so we called the pediatrician, and she was able to get us in that morning.  Diagnosis:  Regular ol' cold virus with upper respiratory congestion, and a subsequent ear infection.  We got some antibiotics and went home. His fever broke and was back down to normal by 8pm.  That night, by some miracle, he nursed just fine at 6:30pm and right before bed, and then SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT.  It was glorious.

*In previous posts, I've mentioned how we caught some flack for starting our son on cereal before 6 months, or that we even taught him how to spoon feed at all and didn't just wait until he was ready for finger foods.  But here's the thing:  BECAUSE our son knew how to eat from a spoon, we were able to just mix some cereal in with milk and spoon-feed him while he couldn't nurse/take a bottle.  If we hadn't already worked on that skill with him, he wouldn't have been able to eat anything for almost 24 hours.  So I have ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS about starting spoon training at 5 months.

We still couldn't take him to daycare the next day (because they have to be fever-free without meds for 24 hours), so I worked from home with him.  He was in a pretty good mood, but didn't get enough naps, so he was really tired around 7:30pm.  In retrospect, we should have just put him to bed early. Instead, we let him fall asleep for about 30 minutes in the bouncer, but then woke him up so he'd be awake for a little while before bedtime (8:30-9pm).  
He was in a horrible mood and just fussed nonstop, cried as we changed his diaper and got him into PJs, screamed bloody murder when we suctioned out his nose and put him in his sleep sack...and then he had built up so much new snot that he could barely breathe through his nose and then could only nurse for about 5 minutes before he wouldn't latch, and he just cried and cried and cried and my heart broke into a million pieces.  

I've come to realize that my ability to nurse my son, whether for food or comfort, is intrinsically tied to my psychological well-being.  When all other comforting techniques fail, I've always thought, "well, I can always just bust out the tatas".  But then, when THOSE don't work, it's like I have no purpose in life.  If I can't feed or comfort my son, what use am I?  I'm sure this could also be tied in with the fact that breastfeeding releases ocytocin, so when you aren't able to achieve that release, you don't get that sort of "mother's high"...instead, you get a big fat sense of "you suck as a mom".

That was another rough night--we eventually propped up one end of his mattress with a couple rolled up receiving blankets (see?  All those blankets actually do come in handy!) so he wasn't sleeping flat, and were able to get him to sleep in his crib aside from a couple wakes to feed.

2. Mommy Time - When I was on maternity leave, I made myself a list of nice things that I would like to get done to help keep me sane--things like "get a haircut", "go for a walk", "go visit a mom friend", "go see a movie" etc.  Well--"get a massage" and "get a pedicure" were also on that list, but they never happened.  I feel bad taking time over the weekend or the evenings to do either because it cuts into my already-limited time with my son and husband.  So, 5.5 months in, I decided to take a half-day off work and get both done on the same day.  A half-day of Mommy Pampering. I called and scheduled a massage and a spa pedicure, and made a list of things I wanted to shop for (booze for a Thirsty Thursday cocktail, and a new black tank top--seriously.  That was my list. I am a simple woman with simple needs.) I had plans to try and meet up with my husband for lunch, maybe even have a cocktail to use for a future Thirsty was going to be relaxing and restorative.

Ironically, this half-day of pampering fell right in the middle of the sickness mentioned in the previous section.  Thankfully, my husband is a champ and stayed home with the baby for that half of a day so I could keep my appointments.  My massage was amazing, as was the pedicure. I did some shopping, ate some junk was glorious.  And when I got home, my baby was napping and his temp had dropped to 99.3F, and I got to have a beer on the patio with my husband.  It was a good day.  (This is also the same evening  that he actually slept through the night, which must've been his present to me.)

It was kind of hard to leave my baby when he was feeling so crummy, but I'm glad that I did.  Self care is such a huge part of being a good mom, and you can't really take care of someone else unless you're taking care of yourself too.  When I made those appointments, I had just been craving some pampering and alone time. But after two sleepless nights with a crying baby, I NEEDED it.
Much needed toe-decoration.

3. I bought a NoseFrida.  I almost hate to admit that.  As a non-mom, I remember laughing at these and making snarky comments on Facebook.  Seriously? You want me to suck the snot out of my son's nose?  Sure...why don't I just go ahead and start baby bird feeding him like Alicia Silverstone while I'm at it?  Knothxbye.  

And then he got his first cold.  Before that cold, he didn't mind the bulb syringe--after all, we were only using it maybe once a day if he was congested.  But once we started having to use it 4-5 times a day?  

So...I figured we'd try it.  It was on sale at Toys 'R Us, and we had a gift card.  Granted, he still doesn't love it, but it is a lot easier on his nose than the bulb.  And since I can't ACTUALLY accidentally suck his snot into my mouth, it's less gross than originally thought.  But then again...I'm now a mom. There's a lot of gross things in my world--what's one more?

4.  Movin' and Groovin':  Last month I mentioned that Baby J seemed to have regressed and didn't want to roll from belly to back any more?  Yeah, that ship has sailed. A few weeks ago I put Lil' Man down on his play blanket (on his back).  After a few minutes, he decided he wanted to watch the TV, so he rolled onto his side...stayed there for a bit...and then rolled onto his belly.  He laid there for a while, practicing his Cobra pose and watching the dog...and then flopped himself over again onto his back.  Then a few minutes later, he decided to roll again (still toward the TV) and ended up on his belly on the carpet (thank God I'd vacuumed the day before or he'd be covered in dog hair).
I'm pretty sure it was his first time just laying on the carpet.  He was infatuated with the way it felt, and just kept grabbing at the strands with his lil' fingers. (He may or may not have also licked the carpet...again...SO glad I vacuumed.)

Soooo I guess it's about time we get that box of baby proofing stuff down from the attic so he's not rolling into things and whacking his head.  
Tiny, blurry tripod, briefly captivated by the camera screen.

He's also getting pretty good at the "tripod sit", and LOVES to stand--usually assisted, though sometimes he'll stand up in his exersaucer [for a few seconds, until he loses his balance and flings himself forward].
Standing in the Exersaucer

5. First Solid Foods:  Okay...first things first...why is baby cereal not considered a "solid"? I always see these discussed separately online.  I could make that stuff pretty "solid" if I really wanted to.  

Anyway....once Lil' Man was over his ear infection, we decided to try starting some foods other than his oat cereal.  I decided to wait until after he was well, just in case he had some sort of reaction--that way we could say "oh, that's an allergy" rather than being all, "is he allergic? Or is his ear bothering him?  Is he getting diarrhea from the antibiotics or something he ate?  I DON'T KNOW!!!!!"

His first *real* food was some avocado, mashed & thinned with formula.  And aside from gagging on a chunk that I didn't quite get mashed up enough (whoops), he loved it.  Sweet potatoes, peas and carrots are up next.

6. Sleep Regression:  We're finally starting to get our first taste of this, since he never really went through a "4 month sleep regression".  OR--he did and we just never noticed because he was self-soothing by sucking his thumb.  HOWEVER, he has recently decided he no longer likes sucking his thumbs/fingers.  My guess is that he bit himself with those sharp lil' chompers.  So for about a week, he's been waking up a lot more overnight.  At first I thought it was a growth spurt (and it may have been), but last night he woke up just about every 2 hours: midnight, 2am, 4am, 5:30am... The first time The Hubs got up and tried turning on his mobile and giving him his paci, but he promptly pulled the paci out of his mouth and continued to fuss. So I got up and fed him.  But after that, I was like, "there is NO way he's still hungry".  So at 2am when I got up to check on him, he was craning his neck to the side trying to reach his paci. I picked it up, plunked it back in his mouth, and turned on the mobile...and he never even opened his eyes.  He whimpered a couple times but was fast asleep within minutes.  Same story at 4 and 5:30.  Sooo...I guess I'm really waiting for the day when he can start putting his own paci back in his mouth.

I listened to a podcast on One Bad Mother where they interviewed Dr. Jodi Mindell, an expert in pediatric sleep disorders, who stated for the most part, "a *insert month* sleep regression" is just a term that allows parents to feel like they have a handle on things, when in reality, sometimes things "just fall apart", and it has nothing to do with the kids' age.  She based this statement on an evaluation of sleep data from tens of thousands of babies across the globe: no matter what age they are, babies of all ages have sleep problems.  But when a baby that was normally in a good sleep routine suddenly changes, being able to say, "ah, must be that __-month sleep regression" makes us feel less like we have no idea what happened.  But according to Dr. Mindell, it's usually more related to them learning something new, or some small change that to the kid feels really major (like a parent being out of town for a few days, sleeping in a new place, time change, a slight change in bedtime routine, starting potty training).

We HAVE learned that having his nightly dinner of cereal/"real" food is absolutely essential to sleeping through the night.  Granted, there are still occasional nights that he eats real food before bed and still wakes up (we think due to teething), but the food definitely helps to keep him full through the night.  The nights that we didn't give him some solids for dinner?  That's usually when he wakes up around midnight or 2am hungry.

7. Day Dates: When I get home from work, it's really easy for that time to be mostly occupied by the baby: nursing, playing, feeding, bathing, thing I know it's 9pm and I'm getting maybe an hour with my husband where we're mostly catching up on our TV shows and not really interacting.  Some nights we make it all the way to our own bedtime before I realize I haven't really asked how his day went.  

So, we try to make an effort to meet up for lunch every other week or so.  It's a challenge, because he never really knows if he's going to be in town (he works from his car and has a 50+ mile service area) and I'm usually pumping in a bathroom during my lunch.  But when we make it happen it's really nice.  We can sit across from each other, not worry about the baby, and just talk to each other.  Sure, it may be a $6 meal at Fazoli's, but it's exactly what we need.  This man is more than just my partner in parenting--he's my partner in life.  I don't want us to lose sight of the big picture while we're buried under diapers and poop-stained laundry.

Because ultimately, our son will only be in our house for the next 17-20 years...but my husband will be with me for the next 50+ (God willing).  He will still be there long after our son moves out and starts his own journey in adulting.  
Based on this Easter photo, he's going to make a pretty adorable adult.

8. Imposter Syndrome:  Before a few weeks ago, I had never heard of this term.  Then I was talking with some other working moms and asked them how long it took for them to get back into a groove at work, since I've been back for 3 months but feel really distracted and unfocused a lot of the time, and was worrying about it affecting my work quality.  Two different moms used the term, so I had to look it up.

I guess I have dealt with some of this in my life...even before the baby. The most recent example is my RG (Registered Geologist) certification.  I decided to try for it because... well... because I could, even though I don't actually have a degree in Geology. I met the minimum criteria for taking the exams--30 geology credit hours, no specification for WHAT classes, so my mishmash of mostly "elective-type" courses added up to 30 hours. (Sidenote: after I was approved to take the exam, the state changed that criteria and now specify that the 30 credit hours have to include a certain set of core courses [some of which I don't have]... I can't help but think I had something to do with that.)  I had the right number of years of professional experience. I could afford to take the exam--and even afford to retake it if I failed.  So why wouldn't I at least try?  After two attempts, I passed the two required exams and got my certification.  And I felt validated--I was a *geologist*.  Even if I didn't have a degree in the sciences (both my bachelors and masters are from the Liberal Arts college), that stamp made me a *real* scientist.  ...Right?  But even with that stamp, I still have days where I feel like I'm just...not *real* enough. :/

Prior to getting married I was always focused on work--to the point of being called a workaholic at times.  In college I often had 2 or 3 jobs on top of classes. I dialed it back once I got hitched because there was someone else waiting at home to have dinner with me. Then the baby came, and now I'm not so motivated to spend extra time at the office when I could be with my son.  I still enjoy my job, but I don't feel compelled to throw myself into it 110%--because I'm not 110% career gal.  I'm also part mom, and part wife.  

But so are a lot of people in my office--so why does it feel so hard?  Why will my brain not focus on the task at hand and feel compelled to wonder about things like "can I find an extra wide baby gate on Craigslist?  I really need to delete all the Pinterest recipes I'm never going to make.  What do I need from the grocery store? I wonder if there's any new Ibotta coupons... What am I making for dinner? Where did I put all of Baby J's 6-9 month clothes? What's the best umbrella stroller? I should really write a blog post about __..."

Maybe it's just the extreme contrast.  Before I went on maternity leave, I was in SuperPowerWorker mode. I was hyper-focused on making sure all of my projects were moving along swiftly and as wrapped up as possible so that things would run smoothly while I was gone.  I was sending out reports every week, constantly updating my tracking spreadsheets, getting projects billed, just generally GSD (getting sh*t done).  Now, I'm back, and things are moving along at their normal pace...and I sometimes feel like an underachiever.  

We have monthly meetings at work where individual employees who went above and beyond that month get some recognition for their achievements. I think this is awesome, and a great policy.'s been a while since I was one of those people.  And now that I'm a mom who leaves on time every day, sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be one of those people again.  And I'm still trying to figure out if I'm okay with that. 

I know that this phase is not forever.  It's just a season.  And my fellow coworkers with kids have been there before, and likely aren't going to judge me, because they know what it's like, and they know that it's temporary.  But as I've said before, temporary sucky things still suck in that moment.

To see the entire "Adventures in Parenting" series, click here.

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