Everyday Life

Kaia’s 7 month update

April 13, 2017

Seven is a pretty big number when we’re talking about how long Kaia has been Earthside. I can’t believe Alex and I have a baby so big, and I’m pretty sure I say that every month. This stage that we are in is so much fun. I feel like we learn something new about Kaia each day, and it’s a privilege to become more and more acquainted with her personality. She is most content when she is outside being worn or being strolled (because it combines her two favorite things: her parents and stimulation), and she works extremely hard for the things she wants. She is so inspiring, and watching her grow makes me want to try harder, to do more, and to be better.

I was just looking at pictures of her when she was a newborn, and it’s hard to believe that the person in those photos is the one sitting up in front of me, trying to crawl, eating food, drinking water, babbling laughing, playing, and discovering the world around her. Having a child has made the months (which were already passing so quickly) fly by at warp speed.

How we’re doing

We are doing well. Most of month 6 was a lot like the previous month, and not much happened weren’t familiar with for most of it. We were confused and terrified for most of the month knowing that we had been in the middle of the really tough stuff (namely, not sleeping), but just as it started to seem like things were definitely not going to change, and just as every last book, friend, family member, and random person on the street made it explicitly clear that we somehow failed as parents by having a baby that nursed all night and would not sleep without being held — things changed. They changed a lot. Right before Kaia turned 7 months old, on a night where we  spent over two hours of attempting to nurse and rock and otherwise soothe her to sleep, we put her down in her crib so we could have a bit of a break, and she rolled over and slept for something like 6 hours straight before waking to nurse. On that night, pigs flew and snowmen were made in hell. Since then, Kaia has continued to sleep 5-9 hours before waking to nurse, and will often go back to sleep until 6-6:30 AM or even 7:30 AM some days. We have been much happier, I haven’t had any migraines, and we generally just feel like different people. My bedtime anxiety faded, so I was actually able to fall asleep faster, and Alex and I actually got time to spend alone together, which is something we really needed and missed.

While the sleep only started to improve less than 2 weeks ago, it was the catalyst for me, especially, to want to start to feel better in other areas. I was coming up on 1 year of constant pelvic pain when I decided that I needed to either do something about it or learn to live with it, or both. I stopped being active in the middle of my pregnancy when things got especially bad, and after pregnancy, gave up entirely on hiking, walking long distances, or doing anything physical that used to bring joy to my pre-pregnancy self. I called a physical therapist, but before ever setting foot into an office, I decided to see what my limits were. I started to walk 5-8 miles a day, and after the first few days, it was like I was a different person. I’m very happy to say that I am no longer in excruciating pain every time I take a step, and I am feeling far more like myself than I have in at least a year. I would definitely like to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and hopefully my ability to actually do things will help me with my goal. I’m so happy that things have gotten better around here, and truly, it has changed so many aspects of our lives. I’m always terrified that the other shoe will drop, but I’m very much enjoying the rest we’ve been given. Honestly, I’m so overjoyed that I could cry.

Our favorites this month

  • Pack n Play (when filled with toys, this keeps her entertained while we eat dinner)
  • Books written by Todd Parr (she loves the illustrations)
  • Netflix app for our iPhones and iPads (for entertainment during the shifts we take at night to hold her)

How Kaia is doing

Kaia spent most of her 6th month of life learning so many new skills. She started babbling, started sitting up, and started to make her first attempts at crawling. Of those things, I think the babbling has been what has brought me more smiles than anything (I usually just stare in awe as she is sitting or trying to crawl) because it is just so funny. She practices her “b” sounds a lot, so she ends up saying babababa over and over until she eventually starts screaming it, which is hilarious. As she got closer to 7 months, she started sleeping without being held, and since then, she has been far less fussy during the day and generally seems a lot happier. We realized that our fear of not sleeping at all prevented us from allowing her the freedom to explore what works best for her, and it turns out, sleeping on her stomach is her preference — and that’s hard to accomplish when you’re always on your side, being held by your mom. Sleep, combined with the mastering of the new skills she worked so hard to develop means that she is doing better than ever.

We started solids a week or so after she turned 6 months old, and she was confused by all of the new flavors and textures she was exploring. We just recently started to give her actual pieces of food instead of purée on a spoon, and she seems to be enjoying herself more (but we’ll talk more about that next month). We also introduced her small amounts of water in a straw cup which has been going okay, though most of the time she doesn’t actually drink anything. Baby steps!

Stats

We haven’t weighed or measured her length in a while, but she is definitely over 15 lbs! 6-9 month clothing now fits her very well, with Carter’s pants and onesies fitting too loose in the waist but perfectly in length, while clothing from primary.com seems to be best for her. We have also found great fits in clothing from the Gap, OshKosh, and Gymboree, and we are just so thankful that we had so much clothing stored and ready for her to use when she started to outgrow all of her 3-6 month outfits. It’s always sad to put away clothes, but if there is another little one in our future (not tomorrow or anything — I’ve come to realize that talking about kid #2 when kid #1 is so young is taboo AF), we are definitely prepared.

Likes

  • Same as last month, plus…
  • Stacking rings
  • Taggies toys
  • Spending time in her pack n play
  • Going on walks
  • Looking at pictures and listening to stories when being read to
  • Facing forward in her carrier
  • Board books (holding them, trying to turn the pages, and putting the corners in her mouth, specifically)
  • Todd Parr’s books
  • Little Owl’s Night (her favorite bedtime book)
  • Blankets, pillows, and soft toys
  • Zippers
  • Attempting to reach and pick up the things she is interested in

 

Dislikes

  • Same as last month, plus…
  • Unfamiliar people talking to her or making eye contact for too long
  • Diaper changes
  • Putting on shirts and onesies
  • Falling
  • Not having the ability to crawl

Firsts

  • First babbles
  • First time sitting unassisted
  • First time getting herself into a sitting position
  • First attempt at crawling (she moved forward with one knee and one hand before falling over)
  • First time drinking water
  • First time eating solid food

Sleep

A week or so after she reached 6 months, we moved Kaia into her own bedroom. She was outgrowing the weight limit in her bassinet so we had to have her sleep (or attempt to) in her crib, and she wasn’t really able to co-sleep successfully (putting her down, even in bed right next to me, was the opposite of what she wanted), so the timing felt right. Of course, because she only slept while being held, this didn’t actually change anything, but at least we felt like we were moving forward. Just before she turned 7 months old, she started sleeping independently, and it has been glorious. She’ll get 5-9 hour stretches before waking to nurse, and will usually wake up after another 3-5 hours before nursing again very early in the morning. She’ll stay down until 6:00 AM on most days, while we’ve seen a day or two where her wake time is 7:30. I think we’d feel less like screw ups if she could sleep  from 7 PM – 7 AM (with night waking, of course) but 11 hours and two wakings to nurse is nothing to scoff at, so I’m pretty cool with where we are for now. We know that we still have so many developmental milestones ahead of us that will likely mean disrupted sleep, but we feel confident that the worst is behind us.

Eating 

Kaia is still mostly exclusively breastfed because we’ve only given her solids maybe 6 times. She nurses every 2-3 hours around the clock, though sometimes I sneak in an extra feed or three just to see if that’ll somehow help her sleep better (which, by the way, it doesn’t). I’ve been terrified to give her solids without Alex around for fear of her having an allergic reaction (I’m incredibly paranoid given that she’s already dairy and god-knows-what-else intolerant, and at an increased risk for a peanut allergy as it is), though I do much better when it comes to offering her water. I offer her a straw cup with 1 oz of liquid twice a day, and while she hasn’t really gotten the hang of it, she has reliably taken a few sips. It’s fun to watch her experimenting with solids and water, but breastmilk is still her number one source of nutrition and hydration, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Things I want to remember

  • Her cute little babbles
  • Her scream-babbles
  • How she kicks her legs and flaps her arms when being carried
  • How she laughs when I look at her through the bars of her crib
  • The way she squeals when she sees the books she loves
  • Her smiles when we sing “the wheels on the bus”
  • How she watches the cat and dog with fascination
  • Her happiness when it’s time for her first nursing session after she wakes for the day
  • How she grabs my hand and puts her foot in it when she is nursing
  • Her fascination with the rain cover, sun shield, and zippers on her stroller
  • The faces she makes when she eats and drinks

I used to be so afraid of life with an older baby. I pictured chaos, not knowing what to do, feeling lost, and feeling overwhelmed a lot. I wasn’t sure I could handle it. My experience has been the opposite, and I feel like with every passing month life gets easier. Life with Kaia feels so natural. I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for our girl and our family.

Parenthood

Kaia: 6 month update

March 12, 2017

6months

And just like that, we have a 6 month old. It’s exciting to have made it through 6 months of parenthood, breastfeeding, and life with a baby. Aside from meaning time is going by way too quickly, each new stage brings on a new set of anxieties. Four months was all about the sleep regression, five months old was all about getting out of the sleep regression (this never actually happened), and six months old is all about starting solid food. Yes, our baby who is barely coordinated will soon be eating actual food. THINGS WILL BE IN HER MOUTH, no big deal. I cannot believe that we are here, and that we all survived without any injuries or mental breakdowns. Parenthood thus far has been quite the learning experience, and truly the best thing that has ever happened Alex and me.

How we’re doing

Alex and I have really gotten into the groove of this parenting thing. Kaia’s rough “routine” has really made everything easier on us, so most of what is going well for us has everything to do with her. She can usually stay awake for about 2 hours now before things really start to go downhill which makes doing “normal people” things like going out to eat, leaving the house even if Kaia has been awake for over 20 minutes, and driving longer distances less scary. We recently had lunch outside of the house for the first time since she was born (we reeeeeally don’t like to rock the boat, as you can tell). Kaia joyfully screeched the entire time, and an older man spent most of it glaring at me and covering his ears. I feel like we experienced some kind of parenting rite of passage as we ruined the ambiance of the Johnny Rockets (outside seating area) at the mall food court by bringing a little human. We finally joined the ranks of people who are hated on airplanes, in libraries, in restaurants, and basically in public wherever childless/childfree people are, and I was proud. I was proud to ignore guilt, to move past the fear of things not being completely perfect, the anxiety of not being able to control everything, and to get out there and just start living again.

While things are going well, I’m admittedly a little sad to have reached the 6 month milestone because no one in my family has met her yet. 6 months of life, and she still hasn’t met half of her family. Obviously, when you have a brand new baby who hasn’t had all of their vaccines, bringing them on a plane is really not a smart move.  After that, the whole cross-country flight, 3 hour time change, and baby sleep (or, really, not sleeping) thing made the idea of heading over to New York AND Florida seem really intimidating, and honestly, just incredibly annoying (especially now that there is baby gear to haul). A two or three hour flight wouldn’t be anything terrible, but this long cross-country trip can go wrong in so many hilarious ways. Is it possible to lose more sleep? I’m really not sure I want to find out as I sit in a hotel room on the East Coast! I’m sure we’ll get there one of these days, we just need to find a time that works for both of us and get brave enough to make the attempt.

Overwhelmingly, we are doing well. We seem to be in the sweet spot of having a little bit of a clue as to what we’re doing, but because Kaia isn’t mobile, and still loves nursing more than anything else in the world, things are still relatively calm in the Fort household.

Our favorites this month

  • Mei Tai carrier
  • Foam floor tiles
  • Water wipes
  • Indestructibles books

How Kaia is doing

Kaia is as happy, funny, and amusing as ever. She is starting to get her move on, and can always be found leaning over to grab whatever she is interested in, or spinning around on her floor tiles to find the toy she wants to play with. Pretty soon she is going to be crawling, which is crazy to think about. She is screeching a lot, laughing more and more, and is so active while nursing. Unless she is falling asleep, she nurses while holding onto her feet, kicking, grabbing my face/hands/shirt, and generally not being still. I hear this morphs into “gymnurstics” down the road, which I’m sure will be quite amusing. Recently she began to listen to stories and look at pictures in her books without being super distracted, and it seems like she is interested in what’s going on. It’s actually one of the sweetest things I have witnessed, and it makes me excited to think of all of the years we have together to read, go to the library, and learn new things.

Kaia’s symptoms associated with her dairy allergy disappeared (mostly), but then reappeared when I accidentally introduced some traces of dairy back into my diet. It can be a little complicated to keep up with a dairy free diet, I’m learning. Since then, I’ve been very strict and careful about not eating dairy, but things haven’t gotten any better which means eliminating soy is my next step. That is going to be even harder, but it’s worth the effort, and I’m hoping that this will help her return to “normal.”

Stats

Kaia is a string bean. She’s tall (not sure exactly how tall anymore because she is so wiggly when she is being measured), but only just over 14 lbs. She is growing and following the growth curve, but, admittedly, I’m a little insecure about her weight. Upon telling some people her weight, I’ve had responses that include “wow, she’s too tiny” and “she needs more food,” which is a bit frustrating and disheartening. Unlike moms with chubby babies, I can’t be the “valedictorian of breastfeeding,” or get told that I’m doing a good job. Instead, I face a lot of criticism, shaming, and “concern” for my baby. Healthy apparently equals chubby. I’m trying to remember that every human – even the baby humans – comes in different shapes and sizes, and it’s all okay. I’m doing anything wrong by having a tall, thin baby. Kaia’s growing and healthy, her doctor is not concerned, and that is really all that matters.

Likes

  • Same as last month, plus…
  • Nursing in the bedroom
  • Being on her changing pad
  • Having her picture taken
  • Playing with tags
  • Feeling her ears and hair
  • Sucking on a wet washcloth while in the bath
  • Shiny things, particularly soda/sparkling water cans
  • Cellphones (to try to chew on, of course)

 

Dislikes

  • Same as last month, plus…
  • Having things taken from her
  • Having things hidden from her
  • Not having the ability to reach or get to the things she is interested in
  • Nursing in the living room during the day
  • Being in one place for too long

Firsts

  • First time eating out with mom and dad
  • First time touching our pets
  • First real belly laughs
  • First time grabbing non-toy objects to explore
  • First time facing forward in the Lillebaby

Kaia’s favorites this month

  • Tags (the larger the better)
  • VTech Touch and Swipe Baby Phone
  • Garanimals My First Doll
  • Indestructibles books

Sleep

Shortly after last month’s update, Alex and I decided it wasn’t cool that I was losing so much sleep while he got decent enough rest. We started taking one hour shifts with Kaia so we all could get some sleep. Alex would rock her for one hour while I slept, and I’d hold/nurse her the next hour while Alex slept. On all but two occasions this month, she only slept while being held.

Lately, I have found myself holding her for 2-4 hours at a time in the middle of the night. She stays latched almost the whole time, and I’ve gone with the flow because it has given me a bit more rest. I’m not sleeping during this time, but I’m not fully awake either, so it saves me from having to wrestle with my insomnia in an attempt to fall asleep before Alex’s shift is up, and also helps Alex to sleep a longer stretch.

The lack of sleep we’ve been dealing with has really started to take a toll now. Alex and I both have frequent headaches, and I get a migraine 1-2 times a week which renders me a complete mess. Having so many migraines truly feels unsustainable. the pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound makes it so hard to parent. Things are definitely getting harder around here on the sleep front, and we fear that there is no end in sight.

We’ve tried to help her to sleep independently, but to no avail. We’ve tried earlier and later bedtimes, longer and shorter wake times before bed, longer and shorter wake times between naps, and have established a bedtime routine. We have tried fleece, cotton, and terry pjs, lighter and heavier weight Zipadee-Zips, and different room temperatures. We’ve experimented with putting her down after holding her for 10 mins, 20 mins, 30 mins and 1 hr. We’ve used white noise and blackout curtains for many months, and started to sleep on the couch just in case our opening the door to go into our bedroom is what causes her to wake for the first time at night.

She seems to be having a problem connecting her sleep cycles, so it doesn’t seem like anything we’ve tried was going to help anyway, and we’re not sure there is anything we can actually do to help her. I think sleep is going to continue to be our biggest challenge going forward.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Eating

Kaia is still exclusively breastfed. She nurses every 1.5-3 hours, and has been doing a lot of snacking lately. She has also become more distracted while nursing, and pulls off the breast frequently to look around. If she does stay latched, she’s constantly grabbing my hands, face, and shirt, often while making sounds. Nursing is a lot less relaxed these days, but a lot more entertaining.

Now that Kaia is six months old, we do plan on starting solids soon (maybe this week). It took us a little while to finally decide on the high chair we wanted, and we’re still coming around to the idea of actually giving our baby solid food to eat. Neither of us is anxious to get started immediately, and I wish we could wait another month or so longer before making the leap! Kaia is not yet sitting unassisted, so we may delay introducing finger foods (starting baby-led weaning) until she can, and may delay it further if she is just not showing interest in picking up her food to explore. We will start with purées and see how she does. I’m so nervous!

Things I want to remember

  • How she’s so active when nursing
  • The way she laughs when having her picture taken
  • Her sounds of frustration (or boredom, or…something?)
  • How she purses her lips and puffs her cheeks when she makes her sounds of frustration (or boredom, or…something?)
  • How she extends her arms when she is being picked up

Six months have absolutely flown by. It’s definitely bittersweet. Somehow, every month with her is better than the last. I do wish sometimes that time would slow down, but if it must continue to pass, I know that there is no other little girl in the world that I’d rather have by my side. Happy half birthday to our little bear. Kaia, you are so loved.

Parenthood

my hierarchy of needs: new mom edition

February 18, 2017
Physiological

  • Sleep of any duration
  • Caffeine
  • WiFi
  • A fully charged iPhone
  • Enough space on said iPhone to store another few hundred photos without deleting apps, other photos, and/or increasing my iCloud storage capacity (again)
  • Netflix

Safety

  • At least 3 hrs of total sleep per night
  • Therapy
  • The ability run all of my errands by foot
  • A walking path cleared through baby toys in the living room
  • Turning on both the night shift and zoom settings of the iPhone for maximum screen darkness while scrolling through Feedly during a nighttime nursing session
  • Baby gear that can be easily disassembled or collapsed when not in use
  • A clear enough head to distinguish the brake pedal from the accelerator, my finger from a vegetable, and the cry of a baby from the meow of a cat

Love & belongingness

  • Living with the best baby in the universe
  • Having a wonderful, supportive husband (who also happens to go out of his way to buy me vegan chocolate)
  • Speaking to another adult in person during the day
  • Social media
  • Receiving GIF texts from my sisterfriends
  • Blogging
  • A vast internet-based support system of like-minded moms
  • Getting a big grin from the baby when I walk into the room

Esteem

  • Making the baby laugh or smile
  • Showering
  • Brushing every last knot out of my crazy postpartum hair
  • Painting my nails
  • Hearing the words “you are a good mom”
  • Remembering what I ate for dinner last night
  • Replacing at least one cup of coffee or can of soda with a glass of water
  • Leaving the house
  • Narrowly avoiding spit-up being deposited straight into my bra
Self-actualization
  • 4+ hrs of uninterrupted sleep
  • Not becoming anxious when the sun sets
  • The ability to speak coherently
  • Feeling alert and well rested
  • Drinking more water than coffee
  • Eating a meal that wasn’t prepared in an Instant Pot or by a dude in a sandwich shop
  • Remembering what happened between 10:39 pm, when I fell asleep on the couch, and midnight, when I woke up in my bed
  • Daring to think I could actually raise two children
Everyday Life

Kaia: 5 Month Update

February 4, 2017

Kaia is five months old! I’m pretty sure this must be some kind of mistake because I was just in labor 45 minutes ago, right? It’s bittersweet to have packed away her newborn clothes, 0-3 month pants, and many of her 0-3 month bodysuits as the months have passed, but with each month comes a new set of developments in her personality and growth to get excited about. She is smiling, rolling, squealing, blowing raspberries, laughing, and making life more fun (and definitely more interesting) by the minute. Our immobile and sleepy newborn has morphed into an alert and active infant at warp speed. It is a privilege to watch her grow.

How we’re doing

Alex and I are doing well. While having a 5 month old is far harder than having a newborn (for us, at least), we haven’t been struggling too much. We roll with the punches, troubleshoot often, and do our best to embrace the season we are in. Some days are easier than others, and sometimes we find ourselves a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility of keeping a tiny human fed, happy, healthy, and sleeping decently, but the good far outweighs the bad.


Our favorites at 5 months

  • Boppy nursing pillow and positioner
  • Zipadee-Zip (it hasn’t miraculously increased her sleep, but it’s a fabulous crutch for people like us who are afraid to rock the boat too much.)
  • Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother
  • Books that celebrate diversity and acceptance, and/or star individuals of all races, cultures, sexual orientations, abilities, and religions
  • Books that celebrate women
  • Uppababy CozyGanoosh Footmuff
  • Dohm-DS All-Natural White Noise Sound Machine


How Kaia is doing

She is doing well: growing like a weed and developing new skills. Her doctor is impressed by her strength, vocalizations, and alertness, and so are we. While she is generally a very healthy baby, we found out recently that she has a milk protein allergy. This discovery initially led to the elimination of dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, sour cream and the like from my diet, and more recently led to the elimination of foods containing milk protein altogether. Kaia’s symptoms (like eczema, for example) haven’t improved just yet (this can take around a month), but we are holding out hope that things get better soon.


Stats

Kaia is about 13.5 lbs and 26.5 inches long. She is a long and skinny baby, wearing 3-6 month bodysuits, sleep and plays, shirts and dresses. The length of her clothing is just right, though everything is a bit baggy on her. I am still able to comfortably wear her in my Solly (stretchy) wrap, though I definitely feel her weight when wearing her in the soft structured carrier. Because she is so long, rocking her and transferring her to her bassinet is a little bit of a challenge these days with her legs dangling, but we’re doing a better job of not accidentally jolting her awake when we put her down.


Likes

  • Grabbing toys, our faces/hair, her feet, books, and anything else she can get her hands on
  • Sucking/chewing on her Manhattan Toy Winkel rattle, her hands, our hands, books and anything else she can successfully grab and bring to her mouth
  • Bathtime
  • Music (she is fond of “Love me Do” by The Beatles, “What’s Your Flava?” by Craig David, and “The Gnome” by Pink Floyd)
  • Story time, looking at pictures, and doing her best to hold books and turn pages
  • Em (our dog)
  • Sitting up on our laps or in her boppy
  • Rolling
  • Tummy time
  • Being outside
  • Being worn in a stretchy wrap


Dislikes

  • The doctor
  • Being worn in a woven wrap (90% of the time)
  • Loud noises
  • Music being played on an erhu (Chinese violin) by a man at Pacific Place
  • Being any distance away from Alex and me
  • Being taken out of the stretchy wrap
  • Being put down for changing or to be put in her Zipadee-Zip when she wants to nurse

Firsts

  • First time rolling from back to tummy
  • First time sleeping unswaddled (currently sleeping in a Zipadee-Zip).
  • First time splashing in the bath
  • First time holding herself up in a tripod sit
  • First time she has shown an interest in what we are eating, drinking, or holding


Kaia’s favorites at 5 months

  • Baby Einstein Take Along Musical Toy
  • Baby Einstein Octoplush
  • Oball
  • Lamaze Freddie the Firefly
  • Infantino activity gym


Sleep

As you might have gathered from the last post, sleep isn’t exactly going amazingly these days. Sleep began to get worse when she turned four months old, and managed to get even worse when she began rolling and we dropped the swaddle. We begin her bedtime routine at around 6:30 with the intention of having her in her bassinet by 7:30. She generally sleeps anywhere from 1-2 hours after she goes down for the night, and this is usually the longest stretch of sleep she will get. She wakes very frequently for the rest of the night, and only nursing will reliably get her to sleep and keep her asleep. I hold her for 1-2 hours per waking, and when I get brave enough to try to move her to her bassinet, it involves immediately starting the process over again. As a consequence, I end up getting about two hours of sleep per night on average. Alex has taken to letting me sleep in from 6:00-8:00 AM to get some extra rest, which I really appreciate. We’re not sure that this sleep situation is going to improve, but we’re hoping for the best!


Eating

Kaia is still exclusively breastfed, and nurses  every 1.5-2 hours during the day. If she takes a long (2 hr) nap, she will go as long as 4 hours between nursing sessions. Nighttime nursing is every 1-2 hours, and doesn’t extend past that these days. Frequent nursings mean that I have a very healthy milk supply, which is great. Next month she will be starting solids, and we plan on doing a combination of baby-led weaning and purées (which we will make ourselves). Baby-led weaning is appealing to us because it will allow her to explore food and eat on her own terms, but we are terrified of choking and gagging (the latter is normal but still frightening). Purées are appealing because there are no solid pieces to potentially get lodged in her throat — a comforting factor — though there is still a risk of choking. A study conducted by Fangupo et al. (2016) concluded that infants following a baby-led approach to feeding do not appear more likely to choke than infants who are spoon-fed, but here in the US where spoon-feeding is still the norm, going against the grain is intimidating. We are armed with the knowledge of infant CPR, and pray that we will never need to employ it. We are pretty nervous, but have a feeling that Kaia will enjoy herself.


Things I want to remember

  • How she approaches me with her mouth open, making a “hoo” sound when it’s time for nursing
  • The way she blows raspberries as her primary mode of communication
  • Her big gummy smile when Alex comes home from work
  • How she leans back in my arms to look at me when I talk to her
  • Her little arms around my neck when I pick her up
  • The squeals she makes when one of her favorite songs starts playing
  • The way she smiles when she sees me

We love our girl so much, and love being her parents.

Pregnancy

The 5 stages of the 4 month sleep regression (according to new parents and their well-meaning friends/family)

January 27, 2017

DENIAL (new parent): During this stage of the four month sleep regression, you chalk your cumulative two hours of sleep up to a bad night. Later on, a bad week. You’ll cling desperately to the words written in The Wonder Weeks (which you previously thought to be complete BS) which tell you that your child waking every 20-45 minutes is completely normal. It’ll get better soon.

DENIAL (friend/relative of new parent): During this stage of the four month sleep regression you will meet your struggling new parent friend/family member with an emphatic “I never heard of that” and proclamations that your precious spawn slept 12 hours a night from month one. You forget that your baby did, in fact, wake to be fed. You forget that on at least one occasion, your baby woke frequently, too. Basically, you forget what it’s like to have a baby.

 

ANGER (new parent): You may experience a strong urge to punch someone in the face when they tell you that you’re the second person in history whose baby doesn’t sleep through the night or that you’ve clearly screwed up as a parent and have no idea what you’re doing (as evidenced by your baby’s lack of sleep) during this stage of the four month sleep regression. Feeling hatred for the people giving you unsolicited advice that include putting rice cereal in your baby’s bottle is common.

ANGER (friend/relative of new parent): You may experience indigence when your new parent friend or relative refuses to heed your advice. Feeling a strong urge to roll your eyes when your friend or relative also rejects the advice given by a doctor to your best friend, the first person in history to have a child that didn’t sleep through the night, to let the baby just cry it out, FFS, is common.

 

BARGAINING (new parent): It’s not uncommon during this stage of the four month sleep regression to lie down in bed at night and pray to everyone’s god and the universe itself for more than one hour of sleep. You’ll swear that you will do anything for your child to sleep at least two hours. It’s common to say things like “if you please let us sleep tonight, I promise I will never ask for another favor — I won’t even ask for my second born to sleep!”

BARGAINING (friend/relative of new parent): It’s not uncommon during this stage of the four month sleep regression to say things like “if only you could get her to take a bottle” or “if only you’d offered a pacifier.” You know that if your friend/family member did everything in a completely different manner, and likely the way you did it, their child would definitely be “good” and never wake at night.

 

DEPRESSION (new parent): This stage of the four month sleep regression sets in when your child begins to roll leading to the dropping of the swaddle (sending the promise of sleep ever again straight to hell) and/or you realize that it has been nearly a month, and things are getting worse. You may find yourself sobbing during this stage. A lot.

DEPRESSION (friend/relative of new parent): This stage of the four month sleep regression sets in when you notice you’re feigning sadness because, let’s be real: you’re not that sad. You may find yourself saying “awww” a lot, and not offering any sympathy, empathy, or understanding in any form.

 

ACCEPTANCE (new parent): You’re exhausted, you’ve been getting 3 hours of total sleep a night, you’re broken, weary, and hopped up on enough caffeine to render an entire preschool class sleepless for a week. You accept that this is a part of babyhood and a part of parenting. You accept that this is often called the “worst” of the sleep regressions you’ll face for good reason. You accept that your baby is going through so many developmental changes and mastering so many new skills that even expecting two hours of sleep in a row may very well be too much to ask. You accept that like all phases your baby has gone through, this is temporary, and will get better in time. You accept that when your baby is capable of sleeping longer stretches again, they will. Until then, this is your life. Welcome to parenthood!

ACCEPTANCE (friend/relative of new parent): You’re tired of hearing lamentations of terrible night sleep, and you’ve been offering advice to no avail. You accept that your friend or relative would ask you for your advice if they wanted it. You accept that the answer to sleep issues isn’t always formula feeding, thickened feeds, or sleep training. You accept that your friend or relative is just doing what feels best to them. You accept that every baby is different, and just because your little Johnny slept like a log from the very first night, it doesn’t mean that your friend or relative is somehow getting parenting wrong where you got it right. You accept the fact that everyone is doing what works, and what may have worked for some might not fit for others. Everyone is faking it ’til they make it.

*This process is unique to each individual and is not linear. You may navigate each if these stages out of order, all at once, or not at all. You may even find yourself encountering stages not listed.  This is a tool to help you identify what you may be feeling — it’a not a timeline! Good luck and godspeed.

Everyday Life

Running toward light

December 31, 2016

2016 was a journey.

I spent most of the year walking trails filled with sadness and fear, with an unsurmountable mountain of anxiety always looming ahead. I carried a heavy pack, stuffed and bursting at the seams with grief due to the loss of my grandparents, the loss of my first pregnancy, and the loss of the trust in myself, my body, and life itself. I spent countless hours in therapy, many in a hospital due to dehydration (the inability to keep down food or liquids for the first half of my pregnancy was to blame), and much of my time on the couch, curled into a ball, crippled with fear.

Although I was overjoyed to be expecting our first child, there were many times where I lost sight of that joy as I stumbled along the path, in the thickest of fogs, to the month of August (when I was due to give birth), and what felt like the end of my life’s journey. I was filled with such doubt. Doubt that I would survive, doubt that my baby would survive, doubt that my body could do something — anything — right in regards to bringing a person into the world, doubt that I would ever feel like myself again, doubt that I would ever escape from the lightless world I inhabited alone.

It took 41 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, 36 hours of labor, and 45 minutes of pushing before I emerged from the darkness on the night of September 1st. In an instant I had no more doubt, and in that moment, I felt no more grief. I faced and overcame my biggest fear, and once I did, I was filled with an unrivaled sense of relief. The skies cleared, the sun rose once more — there was never a night so bright.

During 2016, most of my dreams involved me running. Sometimes I would be running into nothingness, or running away from a bear on the side of a dark and narrow highway, or around the high school track in Bethesda, MD. Sometimes I’d be running in Radburn Park, or up the stairs of the Empire State Building, or down the street we lived on in Georgia. I was always running, and seemingly always running away from something. Maybe I was running from fear. Maybe I was running from the life I knew so well into unfamiliar territory. But maybe I wasn’t running from anything at all. Perhaps I was running toward a better life, or toward a new self, or toward the light — this light that now fills my life — I was so desperate to find in the midst of my despair.<

This year was a struggle, but when I squint through the fog, the never ending darkness, the confusion, the fear, the heavy sadness — I can see that there is so much beauty, and so much to be grateful for.

2016 brought me to my beautiful daughter, the most magnificent human I have ever met. It brought me to motherhood, a deeper purpose in my life, and the filling of a hole in my heart I wasn’t aware existed. It showed me that I am capable of doing hard things, and taught me to have faith that the destination can be great even if the journey is perilous. 2016 allowed me to grow as a person, gave me a renewed appreciation for life, taught me that there are some things that I just cannot control, and that it’s possible to go on without it. I confronted my deepest fears, and learned that just because I haven’t done something before doesn’t mean that I cannot. I discovered the ability to embrace change even when it’s chaotic and terrifying, knowing that it allows for growth.

I’m starting the new year with a calm spirit and excitement for the future. I know that I am up for any adventure, and that I can navigate any obstacle. I know that although everything in this life is a wild unknown — I’ve got this. I’m holding fast to a trust in life, and the knowledge that whatever happens this year will lead me to where I am meant to be.

Here’s to a new year, a new start, and new opportunities. Here’s to growth, and lessons learned, and change. Here’s to facing fear, and having trust, and climbing our mountains to whatever summits await us.

Parenthood

I’m still here, I just have a 3-month-old baby.

December 14, 2016

Before I became a mom, I was basically the best mom ever. All of my ducks? Totally in a row. I knew I would still be productive, and social, and on top of self-care after the baby came along. I’d shimmy into my pre-pregnancy clothes, stand up like it was NBD, go to 13 Coins (where we were brunch regulars) with Alex at six weeks postpartum, and my pelvis definitely wouldn’t (still) feel completely broken as I pushed our 28 lb stroller the few blocks to get there. I would walk around the mall or park with friends, strap an infant onto my chest with ease and go hiking, put my baby who never cried in her car seat into my anything-but-a-Subaru-Outback to get to all of these places to do these things, and when I got home, I would find a way cook dinner like I did every other day.

My motherhood game was strong.

Well, the baby has been on the outside for three months, and guess what? All of the things I thought I would do, all of the ways I thought I would feel, and the person I thought I would be: I haven’t done, felt, or been. Like, at all. I have eaten more sandwiches one-handed while nursing than I care to admit, can count the number of times I have been brave enough to venture out, and I even drive a Subaru (though it’s not an Outback, but only because we hate the way it drives — so, at least I was right about one thing).

My how the mighty have fallen.

Childless me just didn’t get it. I didn’t know how exhausted I would be trying to feed and keep a tiny human alive. I didn’t know how my insides would feel in the weeks after birth whenever I stood up and especially when I walked (like they would legit fall out). I didn’t know that showering, let alone leaving the house, would be an accomplishment. As for the hiking, shopping trips, and the regular brunches I thought I’d be enjoying? No way, and no thanks. I’m going to need some serious recharging, motivation, and painkillers to make any of that sound enjoyable.

The image I had of my life was grand before I became a mom, but back then I also didn’t realize that anything I imagined of my life would pale in comparison to the reality. It turns out that there are far better things in life than YOLOing naptime on a hike with friends or trying on clothes in my pre-pregnancy size at the J. Crew in Pacific Place. I didn’t know that everything would change when a warm baby was placed on my chest. I didn’t know how much I’d truly love my child, or how I’d prefer being at home bonding with her than anything else. I didn’t know that a single smile could make my day or a joyful screech would be the best sound I had ever heard. I didn’t know how often I would laugh or smile, or how I would thank the universe, tears streaming down my face as I rocked my sleeping baby, for giving me the most meaningful gift I have ever received. I also didn’t know that naps were not to be toyed with or taken for granted.

When I last wrote a post, I was five days into solo parenting during the day while Alex went to work. Now I’ve been at it for close to two months, and worry a lot less than I used to about  dropping her or whether or not I’m a complete failure as a mom. Nowadays I only feel like I’m a complete failure when it comes to self-care, or being more than “just” a mom. Unsurprisingly, I don’t really have time to do much for for myself, but this is par for the course when you have a baby so young. Taking care of my own needs and the needs of a baby is a balancing act, and I’m still figuring it all out.  I’m sure I’ll get there soon enough.

My days with Kaia consist of lots of play and tummy time, reading stories, and listening to music. Sometimes Kaia will spend time playing independently while I do things like unload the dishwasher or put clothes in the dryer. She will go down for a nap (always on me) after about an hour of awake time before she gets upset, and nurses every 1.5-2 hours (and will sometimes go as long as a 3-4 hour stretch if she takes a particularly long nap). Bedtime is still not consistent, and most days I am lucky to get an hour where I don’t have to tend to a baby before I head to bed myself (this is probably what I find hardest about parenting). Night sleep has been hit or miss these days. Sometimes we get a five to seven hour first stretch, while other times we get a two to four. On a few occasions she has woken up every 30 minutes to an hour which makes for a really interesting night. Either way, she wakes up ready to start her day at 6:00-7:00 AM, and is her cheerful self regardless of how much or how little sleep she gets.

Kaia has been thriving, and seeing her personality bloom has been wonderful. She is so much fun to be around, and I genuinely look forward to seeing her face when we get up for the day. She wakes up squealing and making gurgling sounds, likes to kick, has finally found her hands (which she has in her mouth at all times), licks anything she can get near her mouth, and even rolled from her tummy to her back (once).  Just this afternoon she laughed for the very first time, and it was amazing. We’ve discovered that Craig David’s song “What’s Your Flava?” is a surefire way to calm her down (sometimes Springsteen’s version of “Jersey Girl” will do the trick), and so is giving her a bath. Her dislikes consist of getting out of the bath, being put down after she has gotten out of the bath, and nursing from the breast with a particularly forceful letdown when she only wants to comfort nurse.

She is in the 50th percentile for weight (12+ lbs these days), and off the charts for height (about the size of the average 6 month old). Her doctor is impressed with her head control, and her development in general, and we are very proud of her. She is meeting all of her milestones, gaining weight and growing taller consistently, and is a very healthy baby. We are so lucky.

I was a few weeks pregnant with her this time last year. I was anxious, and happy, and wondering what life would be like a year later. Life doesn’t look the at I expected it to, and it is so much better than I thought possible. It has been three months since we welcomed this bubbly little girl into our lives, and being her mom is the best, hardest, and overall most rewarding thing I have ever done.

 

Parenthood

50 thoughts this new mom has on a daily basis

October 27, 2016

I have no idea what I’m doing.

She will surely be speaking to a therapist in a few decades about her horribly inadequate mother who never knew what she was doing.

Am I a bad mother because I rap Biggie and Tupac songs while changing her diaper?

Am I a bad mother for finishing up the last bites of my banana if she is crying?

Am I a bad mother because I surf the internet on my phone while nursing?

Am I a bad mother?

DON’T DROP THE BABY.

If you think about dropping the baby, you will surely drop the baby.

Please don’t cry, please don’t cry.

Why is she crying?

I have no idea what I’m doing. I have  no idea what I’m not doing. She is crying for one of those reasons.

Wait, is she seriously hungry again?

I literally just stopped nursing her 20 minutes ago…

Why do  you time nursing intervals from the beginning of one session to the beginning of the next?!

Holy cow, she has the best smile ever.

Is that the cat or the baby?

Do I want to mess with either the  stretchy wrap, woven wrap, or soft structured carrier to take the dog out this time?

How many more buckles can this Lillebaby carrier possibly have?

Do not drop this baby while putting her in the carrier.

Will she ever sleep, or is that just not a thing she does anymore?

Today’s goal is to be okay with not achieving today’s goals.

What if I fell down with the baby in my arms?!

For the love of god, DON’T fall down with or drop the baby!

She makes the cutest noises known to man.

How does she have so much lint in her hands?

She is so cute when she sneezes.

She is so cute when she coos.

She is so cute when she lives and breathes.

She is so damn cute!

How did poop get on the side of her onesie?

I need to thank Kristen for telling me you can take a onesie off from the top down.

What if she suddenly learns to roll while on the changing pad?

I really want  to staple pillows to the floor just in case she falls or I drop her.

I should keep 10 burp clothes in every corner of the house.

I can’t believe how big she is already.

I can’t believe my milk made her so big.

I can’t believe I actually birthed this tiny human.

Is it normal to reflect upon her birth so often?

Is there a word that’s kind of like “traumatized” but a little less extreme? That is how I feel about that whole birthing experience.

How is she already holding her head up so well?

She is basically the most advanced baby ever.

Should I be playing Mozart for her or something?

Do I dare to leave the house when I have to nurse her so often?

How cool are Seattleites about the whole breastfeeding in public thing?

Get up slooooowly, do not wake the baby.

I should probably work on getting her to nap in her bassinet and not on me.

NOPE. Naps in the bassinet will never actually happen, so I should probably just do what works for now.

How badly am I screwing up this kid?

I hope she will like me when she grows up.

I seriously, seriously have no idea what I am doing.

Everyday Life

Our rainbow to keep

September 19, 2016

Alex and I are thrilled to have welcomed our daughter, Kaia, into our family earlier this month.

On the morning of my scheduled induction, I was admitted into the hospital in active labor. Twelve hours later, with the help of Alex, a doula, a midwife, and a nurse, I brought our little girl into the world.

Labor was much more intense than Alex or I expected, but I survived, and I love when that happens. I’m so grateful for the prenatal care I received, my good health, and everyone who assisted me while laboring and delivering which made that outcome possible.

Life with a newborn has been wonderful. It’s less exhausting than we thought it would be (we get at least 8 hours of sleep a night), and so much better than we ever imagined. Kaia’s arrival is the most wonderful thing that has happened to us, and Alex and I agree that we couldn’t love anyone or anything more than we love her. She is beyond compare.

We have spent the last few weeks getting to know our little one, soaking up newborn cuddles, and enjoying our new role as parents. So far, this experience is like everyone said it would be: simply the best.

Everyday Life

I gave birth! (just kidding, that’ll never actually happen)

August 26, 2016

I’m 41 weeks pregnant. There are no words.

My journey through pregnancy

The moment I woke up at 40 weeks pregnant

7 days later, what is currently happening in my body

How I’m feeling these days

How Alex is feeling as he watches his wife become increasingly pregnant and miserable

When I’m climbing into bed after yet another day of no labor

My reaction every time someone asks me if the baby is coming, or if it’s time yet

When a friend tries to console me by telling me that this will all be over soon

My reaction when my midwife answers with what essentially amounts to “maybe” when I ask if my contractions should feel different than menstrual cramps

When someone due several weeks after me announces that they gave birth

Walking into yet another midwife appointment at 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant

Not getting the news I was hoping for in regards to my “progress”

Finding out during the NST that I’m actually having contractions which could maybe, possibly, magically be doing something to progress this whole situation

When I ask my midwife when I can not be pregnant anymore

When my midwife throws me a bone with the words “induction” and “next week”

When someone tells me to do what I have already done as a means to start labor

What I tell myself to feel better about being overdue

When the person scheduling my 41+3 appointment repeats several times that I might not make it until then

Waking up at 41 weeks pregnant

How I feel during conversations with anyone since I surpassed 40 weeks

 Whenever I take a step, or lift a leg, or get in the car, or get up from a chair

One of the many reasons I don’t sleep well these days

When someone 35 weeks along complains that they are still pregnant and want their baby

When I need to take the dog outside but I can barely walk because I’m in so much pain

When I see people with their newborns

My plans for the weekend knowing that my body has no intention on giving birth

How I feel about going into another week still pregnant, and about next week in general

When I finally and miraculously go into labor

The TL;DR for this entire post