Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If I Could Do it All Over Again...

For several weeks leading up to Maleah's birthday, I couldn't help but begin to think about how my first year as a mother went. I can definitely say I was much less prepared than I thought because, ultimately, there are some things you just can't learn/know/understand until you actually experience them. And now that I have experienced them, there are some things I'd change and others I'd do the next time in a heartbeat!

Today I'll focus on the things I would want to do differently. Also, quick disclaimer: those who don't want to know some personal details about me should skip this little post!

What I Wouldn't Do All Over Again...

1. Give up on nursing. I wouldn't really say I "gave up". The odds were just really against us! Not only did we have the normal newborn/new mommy feeding problems (exhaustion, anxiety, stress, jaundice, etc.), I had to get over pneumonia. It was easier to pump than to nurse and it worked pretty well for me to do that instead. But, as I have said many times, I was TOTALLY unprepared for exclusive pumping and did give that up when she was 9 weeks old. Now I know so much more and am so much more confident. So, if I could do it all over again - EVEN if I had to pump exclusively - I know I could do it for more than 9 weeks!

2. Leave the hospital early. You can guarantee this chick will be hanging out in the hospital until they force us to leave next go 'round. We left before Maleah was 48 hours old and it was a terrible decision. Not only did I have to return to the hospital to be checked out for a Pulmonary Embolism (which turned out to be pneumonia), but we also just did not get anywhere CLOSE to the needed amount of rest before returning home. Sure, the nurses and doctors are bugging you constantly in the hospital, but they also come and clean your room, bring you food and ice water, and - if you want - they will "babysit" for you for a little while so you can get the rest you need.

3. Return to work early. Returning to work when Maleah was 4 weeks old was out of necessity, since I was still pretty new at my job. Thankfully, though, I was allowed to work part-time until she was 6 weeks old and even after that, they were very flexible with me if I needed to sleep a little longer in the mornings! Hopefully I will be able to take a longer leave for future children.

4. Start solids at 4 months. Of course, as new parents, we were SUPER EXCITED to start Maleah on solid foods as soon as the doctor gave the O.K.! She was really interested in our food at that time and took right to it! There wasn't really a problem with starting so early, but I just think it would be easier to start closer to 6 months. I might just try to do rice cereal or oatmeal around 4-5 months and wait until 6 months for the real deal. We did a little bit of Baby-Led Weaning with Maleah, but honestly I found it to be more difficult and frustrating than making purees and she is a super-great eater (and likes lots of textures!), so I don't know that either way is better than the other - just personal preference.

5. Skimp on photos. I try to be very financially responsible. I do not like to spend a whole lot of money on... well... anything. I want to find the best deal, a great bargain, and... well... that's wonderful. Until it comes time for photos. I know now to hire a professional photographer, pay what they're asking, and enjoy the memories for a lifetime. Maleah's newborn pics were awful - only a few shots out of the dozen or so we purchased are even remotely cute to me. Thankfully we've had two great sessions with professionals since then that produced beautiful pictures, but I learned my lesson! I will, say, though, that I'm glad we didn't do the Newborn-3-6-9-12 month package. Five photo sessions in one year is just too much for me! We decided that for each of our children, we'll do newborn pictures, pictures at Easter/springtime, and pictures around Thanksgiving/Christmas. We will also do first birthday pictures, but not yearly birthday pictures after that.

6. Worry about what everyone else thinks. If we could all do this, wouldn't we all be much much much happier people!? I am the world's worst! I feel like I have to over-explain everything I say/do about parenting. That's half the reason I hardly ever blog - I don't want to hear someone else's opinions about how I am parenting my child! ANYHOO - I am learning to get over this. If anyone has met my baby girl,  they'll be the first to tell you she is an extremely happy, well-adjusted, well-fed, mama-lovin' little baby girl. Apparently I have not done anything terribly wrong to corrupt her, despite what any nay-sayers might suggest!

7. Try to do it all. I tried to let go of the housework, I really did. But at some point... dishes have to be done, laundry has to be folded and put away, the floor has to be vacuumed. Honestly, one of the gifts I'd like to register for next time is the gift of a maid. I am not joking! I'd like to hire someone once a week for the first several weeks - it would be a worthwhile investment. Even now, I have to continually remind myself that I am only one person. (Prioritizing and goal setting have really helped me in this area!)

8. Lack confidence. Being a parent is hard. There are a thousand decisions to make each and every day. Sometimes I make the right decisions and other days, I am very, very wrong. But I am learning quickly to just go with my gut and that some days, truly, NOTHING I do will make it all better. Maleah cried to & from her birthday dinner earlier this week. Nothing I could do would make it better! She was just having a moment... or two. And that's alright.

I realize most of my difficulties this first year really have nothing to do with Maleah. They have to do with my perception of motherhood and about how others perceieve me. Motherhood is a strange community - we all want to support each other, but sometimes we just don't know how. I hope this helps someone else out there who struggled with the same issues as me!

I want to hear from you!!! What are some things you learned during your first months and years of motherhood?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baby Ball: 1 Year

It pains me to write the title of today's post. One year. One whole year since our sweet little girl entered the world. One whole year has passed since I caught the first glimpse of her tiny little arm flailing back and forth. One whole year has come and gone. And, oh, how quickly it went.

I tried so hard to soak up each moment. To savor the time with her. I have tried to frequently pause and say to myself, Remember this moment. But, still, it flew by like everyone warned me!

Thankfully, I have kept a good record of Maleah's life on a regular basis. This blog, a calendar in her room, my journal - little scribbles of memories here and there so that I could remember this time with her. It is because of those writings that I can even remember what she was like as a tiny 7 pound 2 ounce newborn.

But, today, she is no longer that teeny tiny little baby. She is an independent, walkin', talkin', almost-toddler. She has become quite the "ham" over the past few months - craving attention much like her mother (admittance is the first step, right?). Little curls are forming at the nape of her neck. Teeth are poppin' through left and right. And when we sit down to play, I get the sense that she actually understands what we're doing. She watches for cues, for responses, for recognition - and she communicates. It's amazing!

So, the time has come to do a twelve month update on my cutie pie. Here we go... no tears, no tears!

Stats: She weighs 19 pounds 5 ounces and is 29 inches tall. She has six teeth, technically. Two of them are still making their way in but I say they count because you can see white! She wears a size 3 diaper, 12-18 month clothes (mostly), and a size 4 shoe.

Lately it has been a little all over the place. She is transitioning into taking a mid-day nap, apparently, so that has been a little confusing. This is an average of what the past few weeks have been like:

5:45-6:30 - Wake up, 6 ounces milk*
7:15 - Breakfast (waffle, yogurt, banana, fruit, Cheerio's, eggs, etc.)
9:15 - Snack (fruit, crackers, cheese, etc) and offer a cup of milk
11:15-12 (somewhere in there) - Lunch (meat, vegetable, fruit, pasta, etc.)
11:30-3:30 - a 2-3 hour nap in there somewhere
3:30 (or upon waking) - 6 oz milk
4:30 - snack (again fruit, crackers, cheese, etc.)
6 - dinner
7:15 - bath, 6 oz milk, bedtime

*She is now drinking whole milk. See "eating"!

Again... this hasn't really worked perfectly each day. We're not really sure where she's headed with this mid-day nap. I noted on Facebook that she has been waking up really ill and hungry, so she'll get up, drink some milk and sometimes even eat breakfast, and then want to go back to sleep before 9am. Not really sure what to do about all that... hopefully next month we'll have most of the kinks worked out!

     Moving to all-table foods has been an interesting transition. In some ways, it is MUCH easier. In other ways, it is MUCH harder. Easier in the sense that we no longer have to prep foods ahead of time, puree things, etc. Harder in the sense that we are having to learn how much she wants/needs and how often. And we've finally learned to feed her in stages - give her the fruit/veggies and protein first, followed with the grains... otherwise she'll eat only teh grain. She's a very good eater - she likes just about anything we give her... except green beans (which is weird... who doesn't like green beans!?). I am also a little neurotic about what she is eating. I am so concerned that she's going to become a junk food baby that I am hestitant to give her lots of bread or crackers or sweets. But, I am realizing she needs more grains than what I have been giving her so that's a goal for the next few weeks.
     We also decided to start transitioning to whole milk because we were running out of formula. MY plan was to SLOWLY transition her. My husband's plan was different. After a whole 24 hours of being down to 3oz formula/3oz whole milk, he decided to just give her some straight whole milk and she took right to it. So we haven't been making any more formula. We're still trying to make it about room temperature, but will work on the drinking it cold thing when we get to it. There have been way too many transitions in the past few weeks for my liking!
     Her daycare teachers also suggested we try eliminating the bottle. That went quicker than I expected, too. The first few times we gave her milk from her sippy (straw) cup, she shook her head "no," thinking it was water. Once I showed her there was milk inside, she was game. Now I think she knows that there will be milk in it when she wants milk (usually after she wakes up in the morning and from her nap and just before bed) and water in it at meal times.

     We have a walker! She started by taking just a step at a time and now she is a little teeter-tottering baby girl! She usually can take about 8-10 steps before stumbling, but she's getting better everyday. She will also walk with you holding just one hand instead of two, so we've been trying this to help her get a sense of balance. It's so fun to see her walking around!
     Maleah also really likes to talk. I'm amazed at how much a one-year-old can actually communicate. She can say all sorts of words, but even more interesting, is that I can tell she actually understand what I'm saying at times. Mostly she just likes to say animal sounds, though. "Baa!!!" for sheep is currently her favorite!
    One other interesting change is that she now will play with you. She is learning how to do something together rather than just on her own. She likes to play with cups and plates, hair brushes and balls with us. We might have also played with a dollhouse a time or two together! :) I love playing with her!

    Has anyone else witnessed their child suddenly turning into a whiney little brat!? Yes? Good! I'm not alone. It started Christmas morning... Maleah was opening her presents and we noticed she was pooping. When it seemed like she was finished, Blake picked her up to change her diaper. She IMMEDIATELY made a horrid face and started to cry! He took her back to change her and realized she had not used the bathroom, so I thought she must be a little constipated and maybe we didn't just see a mini temper tantrum. We gave her some juice to sip on as she opened presents and she "went" again. So, Blake picked her up again when she was finished and AGAIN she made this horrible face and started to cry! Since then, she has pitched a few of these little fits. Nothing outrageous - no head banging or fist pumping or screaming... but just enough to let us know that even the happiest, sweetest, most loving babies have their moments!
     When Maleah seems to be throwing one of these fits, we try to talk calmly to her and redirect her attention and usually that works. We try not to give in to whatever it is she is wanting just to show her that this is not how we get what we want. We try to give her what it is she is wanting once she calms down. There haven't been too many of these instances, but hopefully we can handle each one with calmness and understanding, while also trying to teach her self-control in the process.