Sunday, July 29, 2012

Adventures in breastfeeding

Ahh, breastfeeding. Natural, beautiful, painful, peaceful, political hot button issue... when I look back on this first year, I imagine breastfeeding will be the best expression for my transition to motherhood. The loss of freedom and personal autonomy that comes from having your small baby so utterly dependent on you. The pain, the sacrifice, and the peace and joy of nourishing something so helpless. Seeing them grow and thrive and knowing that everything has come from you. Everything that was internal made external. Then slowly watching your baby grow away from you. One spoonful of food soon followed by handfuls and you're needed less. The first step in many that H is going to take away from me (if we do this thing right). I feel like we might be in the home stretch, so I wanted to write down some of my early memories before they're too faded.

In the beginning, we did everything wrong. Medicated birth, mom and baby separated in the first hour, unable to feed when baby show interested I gave him my finger to suck on and eventually he squirmed himself over and started to suckle my heart rate monitor. A sad start indeed. But we were lucky that didn't cause too many problems. H was a champion nurser right from the start. I have to say, I was so glad that I'd taken a breastfeeding class where they showed videos of the mechanics of breastfeeding and provided tips like that you should line the babies nose up with your nipple, etc. I don't know what I would have done without that knowledge since at first it feels incredibly awkward.

H was gaining weight like crazy, so I was never too worried if he was eating enough. But he had a bit of colic and in those early months and would fuss and fuss while trying to feed in the evening. It was incredibly frustrating wondering if I was doing something wrong, wondering if your baby was hungry, did you not have enough milk, too much milk? In the end it was just a fussy baby, and sure enough by 10 weeks he was pulling out of colic-y times and he was much calmer. H was also a fast nurser! At first he'd take 40 minutes or so, but by a few months old he would only nurse 5-10 minutes! I remember trying to keep him nursing for longer, thinking he must need more right? But nope, he just got it done quick, and I feel like I was so lucky. I never felt like I was trapped nursing all the time.


I also came down with a mild bout of mastitis early on, and this lead to weeks of living in fear of mastitis and thrush. Night after night, if H didn't nurse enough or decided to sleep longer than usual, I was up pumping. Oh and did I mention that H never took a bottle? Yeah, all that milk wasted. I also had a bit of ... not pain, but irritation for the first couple months. 6 weeks came and went and it still didn't feel easy or comfortable nursing H, and I was considering going back for help with his latch when I finally swapped out my lanolin for Dr Jack Newman's All Purpose Nipple Ointment. Seriously, amazing. A few days later pain/irritation was gone and everything fell into place.

We've been nursing happily ever since, but these days as H has ramped up his eating he's starting to ease off on milk. If we're out and about he will barely nurse, and even at home he's happy to go 6 + hours sometimes without it. As he's starting daycare in just a couple weeks, I really don't know how things will go. For now, I'm leaving it up to H to keep going or wean. If he decides he's done, I'm OK with that. But I am so grateful that we've had this year together to make breastfeeding work.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer!

Yes, it has finally arrived! A straight week of sun and hot hot hot, and I'm remembering why it is that we live in this part of the world. The nice weather has also opened the way to a whole bunch of new activities for H and I. Splashing in the inflatable pool in yard, splashing in water on the deck, and today we went to the big pool for the first time (OK, so basically warm weather = play with water).

I'd wanted to take H to the pool since he was little. But it was winter, and it just seemed too cold to dunk a tiny baby into water. And since he's been playing in the kiddie pool and in the big bathtub, I almost felt like there was no need to go to the pool. After all, how different could it be to a baby?

Turns out, very different. H loved the pool. And not in the 'doesn't hate it so mom infers baby loves it' kind of way. No, he loved it in the huge smile, kicking and splashing and laughing kind of way. So, I guess we'll be doing that again. And as a bonus he took a 2 + hour nap afterwards!
At White Rock Beach
Splashing around on the deck

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Still still

At almost 10 months old H is still a non-crawling baby. I've been trying to stay really laid back about developmental milestones. I don't get the monthly updates from babycentre, I only glance at my 'What to Expect' book if I have a question, and I've been trying not to compare H to other kids since it really seems like in the grand scheme of things every baby gets there eventually. And considering the crazy critical voice I have in my head, I think I've actually been doing a pretty good job.

But this morning I had a total breakdown. My kid ins't crawling, and obviously there is no other reason than that I am a bad mother.

Now, he likes to sit, and if a toy rolls away from him he just goes for a different toy. If all the toys roll away from him, he just sucks his thumb. He does not seem interested in reaching forward and going from sitting to being on his belly. Maybe it's just that one too many hard knocks to the head on our hardwood floors have taught him to be super cautious. Or maybe I've just been helping him out too much.

I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter when your kid reaches these milestones. Can you look at 18 year olds and tell which kid crawled a couple months later than the others? Nope. Heck, I was an early crawler/walker and I'm about the clumsiest person I know (and my legs are covered in the bruises to prove it). Still, it's amazing how as a mom this stuff gets under your skin and can drive you crazy.

So, I'm going to try to take a page out of my son's book and not care about this ('cause he's really not at all bothered). And if worse comes to worse and he's still not crawling at a year, well then I can always start lying about his age. 'No, he's not crawling yet but then he's only 8 months old... yes he is very big for his age...' It's always good to have a plan B.

Almost 10 months...

Dear H,

In just one week you will be double digits old! You have now lived on this earth as long as you swam in my belly, and it's amazing what you've accomplished in such a short time. We're visiting your grandparents right now and the house is covered in photographs of you (of course), and it's a sweet reminder of what you were like just a few months ago. You were such a little thing! Now everyone comments how much you're looking like a boy, not a baby.

These days you are around 20 lbs (according to the oh so accurate bathroom scale) and holding you is becoming a challenge. After a few minutes my biceps start to burn, and it doesn't help that you've become a very squirmy boy. Reaching, lunging, arching your back to try to escape my grasp. Yes, holding you is a challenge. But when we put you on the ground you're pretty content to just sit there. Maybe you only like to perform you acrobatic maneuvers from the safety of our arms? Whatever the reason, you are still our stationary boy, though if forced to go onto your belly you are now pushing yourself up to your hands and knees. I know I should just enjoy these pre-mobile days as life will surely be more challenging when you're on the go, but I can't help but be anxious for you to start moving and exploring the world on your own more.

You are getting to be just so chatty! You speak what's on your mind, and make your points emphatically. If only we knew what you were trying to tell us. You've started to copy sounds we are making, and when I say 'wheeee' while pushing you on the swing it's often echoed by your 'eeeeee'. Your conversation always makes us laugh, and you may have said your first word last weekend while staring at a picture of deer. It was 'deer'. Other words you may be saying include 'indeed' and 'kajiji'. But like I said, we're having a hard time translating.

You are eating more and more finger foods, and I've started letting you try almost anything on my plate. You have 6 teeth and love putting them to use! So far you've got a very open mind and seem to like almost everything you try. Little by little you're appetite is growing, and the other day you ate an entire banana's worth of baby banana pancakes. We still nurse quite a bit, but it's down to every 4 hours or so and usually just once during the night. You are solid three nap baby these days, but you might be ready for just two naps soon.

People often comment on what a happy and calm baby you are. You are generally pretty laid back and able to just go with the flow. So long as there is someone to give you some attention, you'll tolerate travel (even hours and hours in the car), missed naps, or sitting at a restaurant for a couple hours while mom visits with friends. It may take you a bit to warm up to new people, but once you've given someone the stamp of approval you melt their hearts with your sweet smiles and laughs. Seeing you with family and friends is such an unexpected joy, it's so fun watching you with the people I love.

We're in the home stretch now of our first year together. Thanks for making it so much fun to be a mom, little man. There's no one I'd rather be doing this thing with than you.

Love, 
Mama