Rolling Around

It’s been seven months to the day that Emma was born. I seriously cannot believe that her first birthday is creeping up so quickly!

I’ve been told a thousand times to enjoy her while she’s little because the time will go so quickly. While I’ve been doing my best to really take it all in, I feel that the last couple of months have been impossible to keep up with. Emma’s developing so quickly now that I can barely get my head around all that she’s able to do. It seems like she went from rolling occasionally and starting to suck on things to rolling everywhere, eating solids and getting ready to cut teeth, sitting, trying to crawl and talking up a storm all at once.

I wouldn’t change anything about my little girl, but I can’t help but notice how different she is already. She’s such a little leader and is so excited to try new things. It’s refreshing to watch the world through her eyes. I hope she’ll always keep her sense of curiosity and excitement, and that she’ll be willing to share her views with me throughout our lives together.

Acceptance

The luxury of having your child sleep through the night (STTN) is something that all new parents fantasize about. Whether you’re at home with your child all day or you work outside of the home, it’s comforting to know that once you’re past the newbie stage, you may be able to get a good night’s rest each night. On their website dedicated to parents (helathychildren.org), the American Academy of Pediatrics notes a 2010 sleep study that like nearly everything else in infant development, sleep habits vary greatly baby to baby. The study notes that while many babies begin sleeping through the night around four months, some won’t do so until they’re a year old.

We were fortunate in that Emma was one of those babies that self regulated her night time sleep habits around four months old. She suddenly went from waking every two or three hours (or every hour on a bad night) to going down around seven, waking up at ten or eleven and then sleeping until about six or seven am. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt with all this uninterrupted sleep. Even on a night when she’d sleep for only four or five hours, I felt great.

Things started to change just after Christmas. Emma and I both caught a cold from my husband, which caused Emma to wake up more at night to eat thanks to feeling crappy and having such a stuffy nose. Around this same time, her teething hit hard which also caused her to want to eat/comfort nurse more. Things started to look a little brighter around the end of January, but then her six month growth spurt kicked into gear and we’re just now getting back into longer (three hour) sleep patterns.

During these sleepless months, I’ve consumed my thoughts with getting her to STTN again.  At her six month appointment, Emma’s pediatrician noted that at this age, she would be more likely to wake up for a comfort feed then for a nutritional need. He suggested giving her a bottle of expressed milk at night and slowly diluting it with water until it was just water and feeding that to her when she wakes up. This is supposed to help her associate waking in the night with being given a bottle of water, thus making waking up unnecessarily less attractive. I’ve seen this suggestion mirrored in the AAP’s Your Baby’s First Year book that the hospital gave us, but I haven’t tired it for a few reasons. First off, I don’t like giving Emma a bottle myself unless I have to because I don’t like teaching her that she can eat either way with me. I want it to be nursing only with mommy. Secondly, I know Emma well enough to know that switching out milk for water is only going to frustrate her and will probably result in longer sessions at night feedings.

For about a week or so, I continued trying to think of ways to make her sleep longer at night. I tried keeping her up longer during the day, having a more stimulating playtime at night, nursing her longer before bed, and adding a new (more structured) bedtime routine but nothing really stuck. I realized that this may just be something I will have to live through and that in time, she’ll self regulate again. Emma’s going through a lot of developmental changes right now (trying to crawl, babbling new sounds, sitting and standing on her own for longer amounts of time, severe separation anxiety) and I’m not going to try and determine what her body needs. Letting go of trying to control the situation has made things easier on our entire family.

I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss the days when she slept through the night, but since I accepted that she’s just going to do what she needs to do, we’ve been up less at night and she’s nursing great, which results in her falling right back asleep. Now, instead of me dreading getting up with her and stressing over how long she’s going to eat (resulting in our being up for an hour or more at times), I just let her nurse without thinking much of it. The relief of letting go of the stress of trying to make her do something she clearly isn’t ready to do and knowing that “the norm” doesn’t have to run our family’s routine has helped us all to sleep better.

Taking It All In

The last few months have been a rough road with our breastfeeding issues, teething, colds and my husband’s ever changing work schedule. It’s also winter which has been particularly unkind this year. Being stuck in the house isn’t always easy. Over the last few months, I’ve found myself overwhelmed and feeling quite ashamed about it. Sure, parenthood is a LOT of work, but shouldn’t I just be appreciative for all that I have?

In the past week or two, I’ve been able to (mentally) step back a bit and really appreciate all that I have. I’m not sure what brought it on, but even on the tough days I’ve felt better then I have in a couple of months. I just look at Emma and am still so amazed that we made her. That she grew inside of me and that my body could produce something so perfect. Before I had children, I didn’t give much thought to the whole childbearing process. I liked kids and always hoped I’d have some someday, but the excitement didn’t really hit me until I found out we were pregnant.

Emma is so independent already. Once she discovers how to do something on her own, she won’t let you do it for her. She’s so interested in everything. It’s refreshing to see the world through such new eyes. She makes everything so much more vibrant and beautiful. I try to cherish this time while she’s still small. I know these days are numbered. I can see it fading away each day as she grows.

On the other hand, I look forward to teaching her things, learning about what she likes and dislikes, what her talents will be. I am so anxious to do everything with her and yet I feel like I could live in the quiet moments I have with her now and be completely content. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe she’s mine, but I couldn’t be more proud or thankful to have her in my life.

Teething Troubles

Emma started showing signs of teething at around three months old. At first, she would just suck on her hands and drool a lot. Then came the rosy cheeks and sucking in her lower lip.

In early January (around four and a half months old) she started to really be bothered by her teeth. I even noticed that her gums where her top two teeth will be were swollen and could even see the whites of her teeth through the gums.

At the end of January, I noticed I could feel a tooth on the lower left side of her mouth. I thought for sure this one would “cut”/break through her gums first because of how “sharp” it felt.

It’s a month later and all I have to show for it is a gummy baby who goes from content to miserable in a heartbeat if her teeth are bothering her that day. To think we have another year and a half of this to go? I never thought teething could be such a pain! I hate to complain, but it’s just difficult seeing her in pain.

Occasionally, cool teething rings or other soothers will help her settle down. I’ve even found that refrigerated expressed breastmilk (EBM) can be soothing for her. We’ve yet to try the mesh teether/feeder, but I’ve heard great things about them. On days when these tactics work, teething isn’t so bad. On days like today when she just screams and is in pain until she’s given Tylenol/acetaminophen, it’s heartbreaking. I’ve even considered purchasing an amber teething necklace for her, but the thought of having something around her neck constantly (no matter how forgiving or soft it may be) makes me nervous. I’m just dying to see that toothy grin so we can be be (temporarily) done with the painful part.

Picking a Pediatrician

Disclaimer: This post is simply reflecting on my own experiences and is in no way intended to override professional healthcare advice.

Selecting your child’s pediatrician is quite possibly one of the most difficult decisions you can make about your child’s healthcare. Your child’s pediatrician will be your guide in navigating everything your child experiences from a common cold to puberty. If you’re like me and you spent a good amount of time reading pregnancy and preparing for baby books, you’ll know that shopping for a pediatrician before your child is born is important.

Interviewing and selecting a pediatirican early allows you to get to know your child’s future doctor before you’re completely lost in a sleep deprived world of counting feeding times and dirty diapers. If you’re going for a hospital birth, your child’s pediatrician will most likely be the one to monitor your baby after they are first born. Whether you have a hospital, birthing center or home birth, you will most likely see your child’s pediatrician within the first few days of your child’s life.

I tried to shop early for our pediatrician and even had a few picked out thanks to personal references and “shopping” online via my local pediatrician office websites. Of course, things didn’t go as expected, but I still ended up with a pediatrician that we adore, and who treats our little lady like a queen.

Here are some things I found helpful in my hunt for a pediatircian:

1. Word of Mouth. Talk to other moms, childcare professionals, your OBGYN and even your family about who they use for a pediatrician and why. This can be some of the most useful information about a doctor because it gives you a “review” of what the pediatrician is like and how their office operates.

2. Interivew. Most pediatricans/family doctors will welcome a visit from expecting parents so they can discuss how the office operates, answer questions as to parental preferences (such as circumcision, vaccinations, etc.), and give you a sense of what the doctor is like in person.

3. Keep an open mind. Because I knew I was having a girl, my husband and I were sure we wanted a female doctor for our daughter so that in the future, we wouldn’t risk having to change doctors to meet her comfort level. The only local female pediatrician was one I knew personally from my own experience and while she is a competent doctor, I knew we had differences in opinion on important issues. We ended up selecting a new (male) doctor to the practice and we couldn’t be happier with our choice.

4. Emergencies. Ask perspective doctors about who you would contact during an emergency situation after office hours and who would treat your child. While no one wants to end up in the ER with a baby, it’s helpful to have a bit of knowledge on the process before you experience it.

5. You can always change your mind. Lets say you have found your dream doctor for your child. Things go great for a while and then suddenly, there’s a difference in opinion on an important issue or you discover that your doctor is moving out of state. Doctors are like car insurance — you can change doctors at any time. If you’re under restrictions due to insurance, you will want to check to see who is covered under your plan, but in general there is nothing binding you to a specific doctor.

6. Go with your gut. In my opinion, there is nothing more crucial in parenting then being able to trust yourself. You know your baby better then anyone else and if you don’t feel comfortable with something about your child’s care provider, address it. There’s no shame in doing what’s best for your family.

A Late Lunch Laugh

While we were out to a late lunch this afternoon, Emma decided to laugh at our waitress. Not just a couple of cute giggles, but a hearty, full on laughfest. Emma’s a pretty social girl these days, so smiles and a little babbling is normal but I’ve never seen her laugh so hard. It made me wish my husband didn’t have to work so he could have seen it, or that I could have caught it on camera.

It makes me think about how much she is grown and how quickly it all goes by. Our waitress mentioned how she has an 18 year old and how she misses the days when her daughter was Emma’s size.

I just want to keep these memories fresh. It’s already going by so fast.

Smithsonian Nurse In

I know, I know. Third post in one day on the topic of nursing in public, but I couldn’t resist when I learned about this recent “incident” at the Smithsonian.

In an article from CBS Baltimore’s website, I learned that a nurse in is being planned in response to a security guard at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum who asked a nursing mother to nurse out of public view. I don’t know what prompted this guard to ask the mother to move, but I’m sure (s)he’s regretting it now. You can read the full CBS article here.

One of the things I learned at the breastfeeding support group I attend is my right to feed my child in public, as supported by state law. Each state has it’s own laws and specifications on NIP, but thankfully, most states are accommodating. According to the National Confrence of State Legislatures website, “Forty-four states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.”

When I first learned about these laws, I wasn’t sure what to think. Sure, I was greatful that my rights were protected, but really, I need laws to protect me from being prosecuted for feeding my daughter the way my body was designed to? I understand the argument for decency in public, but I don’t see what could possibly be so indecent about feeding my child when people are allowed to walk through public places wearing halter tops, sleeveless tanks, mini skits, biker shorts, and other next-to-nothing without anyone saying a word.

If I was in the area, I’d be happy to be a part of a nurse-in to show awareness and support for nursing mothers, but I”m not, so instead I’m writing this. In our country’s capitol of all places, I think a woman’s right to feed her child how she chooses should be upheld.

 

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