Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Sixth Month

*warning - this is a long one!*

I'm pretty sure I said this last month, but the sixth month has been one of the most exciting months yet. Not only has Kaitlin grown and developed so much over the last 30 days (31? I don't know) but it has also been a very busy month - we had family in town, she celebrated her first Halloween, started swimming lessons, got her first tooth and started solid food!

Over the last month she has become even more of a woman on the move. She is scooting and rolling and turning in circles like a champion. She is still lunging for everything in sight and wants to touch/grab/chew on anything and everything. This month she got her first TWO teeth (both bottom teeth have arrived) and we got to learn about the joys of teething. I think she lucked out pretty well with the teething thing. We had a few days of disrupted naps, definitely some irritated gums and an urgent need to chew/gum on anything wet and/or cold. But other than that she handled it pretty well, especially considering she had two teeth coming in at the same time.

In addition to moving around the floors like a wild woman, Kaitlin also learned how to sit up on her own. I still use the Boppy to help balance her but she is geting better and stronger at sitting on her own every day. She started off staying upright for a few seconds and can now sit for a few minutes on her own at a time. If she wasn't constantly trying to reach for something she could probably sit for a bit longer, but that would be too boring. I started putting her in her high chair at the beginning of the month to get her used to it because by the end of the month we were going to start solid food! We started off with some oatmeal baby cereal and it was a rousing success. She made a few funny faces and pushed the majority out of her mouth the first time around but overall she seems to really like it! Actually, what she seems to love is chewing on the spoon. But if it helps encourage eating and she gets excited about it then I am all for it!

We also had Kaitlin start swim lessons this month. Although they haven't been too successful - most of the time is spent with her crying and mom/dad trying to distract her - I think she will love being in the pool eventually. We got her a new bathtub that allows her to sit in the water and splash around. I'm hoping that helps get her used to being in deeper water. Of course her little ducky tub is a lot different from the giant community pool, but hopefully it will help a little.

Our little pumpkin loved Halloween. I hosted a Halloween party with all of her (my) friends and she had a grand old time. She didn't even seem to mind being in costume, she was too busy watching all the other babies and playing with her toys. We took her to a pumpkin patch (she was not impressed) which rounded out our fall activities and started to gear up for Thanksgiving. It was a super busy and very exciting month, and to say I learned a lot would be an understatement.

A few (more) things I have learned...

Look Up
Kaitlin has always been very inquisitive about the world around her. From the day she was born she was constantly looking around, taking it all in and trying to figure out everything that was going on around her. Now that she is a bit older and can filter out more of the "stuff" that is going on, she can hone in her concentration to things that really interest her. One of her favorite things to do lately is look up. She is always looking at the ceiling when I carry her around - although what, specifically, she is looking at I'm not sure. Whenever we go outside she always, always stares at the trees and their leaves. You will very rarely find her outside with her head down. Sometimes I think she must be getting a neck ache with all the looking up that she is doing but she perseveres. Often times she is staring at something so intently that it causes me to look up to see what she's looking at. I've seen some beautiful sights this way - birds on a wire, leaves rustling in the wind, beautiful fluffy clouds - and I am thankful that she has caused me to pause, look up and observe these everyday, yet special scenes, that I might otherwise miss.

It only gets more expensive
Everyone always says that having children is expensive. But, at first, I didn't really believe them. As Kaitlin gets older I am finally starting to understand. Now that she is on formula and starting solids her food budget has increased (not hard considering it used to be free). As diapers get bigger so does their price tag. Clothes are the same way. And toys...don't forget the toys. In the beginning there is very little that babies need and what they do need you will have probably received as a baby shower gift. But after the first few months the well dries up and this little, smiling, stinky bundle of joy starts to make a dent in your bank account. And it only gets more expensive as they get bigger. Soccer teams, rollerskating parties (umm, do kids still do that?), prom dresses - I can hear my bank account screaming as we speak. Now - finally - I understand why my parents were always on me about getting a college scholarship ;)

Babies are strong
Sure, they may look cute and innocent - but babies are freakin' strong! Kaitlins little legs kick with all their might and I am always surprised at how strong they are. I can't see a six pack but her abs must be made of steal. She is constantly trying to sit up when she's in a reclined position. I started pulling her up to sitting from laying down and now when she sees my thumbs she automatically grabs on and starts to pull herself up. I barely have to help her. And man, does she have a good grip. Your hair is only safe when securely tucked away in a tight ponytail, and even then it's not a guarantee. Your ears, eyes and nose aren't safe either. I'd guard your cheeks and chin too, just to be safe.

I will always think she is the best/brightest/smartest...
I think every mom/dad/parent/grandparent must think - at one time or another - that their child is gifted. Just think about all of the new things that baby learns in the first year of their life. When is the last time you have seen someone learn so much in such little time? Especially during the middle of their first year, they are mastering so many amazing tasks and learning new things every day. Personally, I don't really know much about when babies are supposed to learn what. I know rough timelines of when certain milestones are supposed to be achieved, but the time frame is usually so wide and varied that it isn't really much help. The phrase "every baby develops at their own speed" gets thrown around a lot and for good reason - it's true. I am continually amazed at what Kaitlin learns and accomplishes on a daily basis. I am almost always certain that she is ahead of the curve, mastering things many babies her age aren't learning yet. Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am wrong - but I don't really care. In my eyes she will always be the best, brightest, most talented, funniest, sweetest, intelligent baby/child/person I  have ever known. It's hard not to compare your baby to someone else's, just as it is difficult not to compare your pregnancy to someone else's. But in the end it doesn't really matter what Johnny, Jack and Jane are doing. What matters is what your baby is doing at that moment and how proud of them you are. Just rolled over for the first time? Shout it from the rooftops! Found her fingers/toes/fist for the first time? Blast the news out on facebook/twitter/newest-social-media-too-cool-for-me. I hope I never get over the excitement of my child(ren) learning and accomplishing new things - big and small.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Watch Me Grow - Twenty Seven Weeks

Happy belated Thanksgiving! It was a crazy week over here and I am just now beginning to catch my breath. On Saturday this little munchkin turned 27 weeks old!

We started off the week with her six month check up at the doctors. It went good and bad. Good because she is now in the 25% for weight (Woohoo! Up from 15% at her four month appointment). Her doctor was very happy and encouraged us to start with solid foods now that she weighs a bit more. She also checked on her TWO teeth - thats right there are TWO of them in there now! - and said that overall she is in great shape. It went poorly because she had to get five inoculations; four shots and one oral. Believe it or not it was the oral one that set her off and got her upset and then the four jabs in her thighs didn't help much. It was one tearful walk home, thats for sure.

But she soon perked up because Grammy and Pop-pop were here! She LOVED having them around and was showered with attention and affection for five days straight, she was so spoiled! Kaitlin has been super smiley lately (if that's even possible) and I'm sure their visit had something to do with it. Grammy got to help feed her some solid food, we went on lots of walks and had a wonderful Thanksgiving together.

What We're Lovin' - Six Months

As Kaitlin gets older her personality and preferences are starting to come out more and more. She is starting to show interest in some things more than others. I thought it might be fun to highlight things that she (and I) are loving every once and a while. Kaitlin just turned six months old last week, so these items are good for babies from around 4-5 months and older. Where possible I have tried to include a link to where you can buy these items too!

This is Kaitlin's favorite toy to date. It makes a soft rattle noise (without being too loud of obnoxious like some of her other rattles) and is super soft. She absolutely loves to chew on the bunnies ears, legs and feet. Poor bunny has been through the wash more times than I can count! I love it because the soft chime noise is easy on the ears and it is small enough to bring with us everywhere we go. This was given to me as a gift and it looks like it's only available in the UK/Europe. JellyKitten is a range under the very popular  Jellycat brand.

Rainforest Jumperoo
Kaitlin has been in the Jumperoo since she was about three months old. At the time her feet couldn't reach the ground and she didn't really know how to jump, but she LOVED being able to be upright and look around. She started off slowly, touching her feet to the ground and playing with one or two of the toys. But within no time she was jumping around like a crazy person and playing with all of the toys and gadgets. Since Kaitlin is super active (I swear she doesn't stop moving) this is a perfect toy for her. And it gives me some time to get things done around the house with both hands - I can leave her in it for 15-20 minutes before she cries out for me. This was, by far, one of the best items that I registered for. We have been getting so much use out of it and she is still on the lowest height setting, which means she still has lots of time to grow into it!

I like to make bath time fun but it also has to be relaxing. Since we give Kaitlin her bath right before bed time I don't want to wind her up too much. I have been using California Baby almost from the beginning and love it. The light lavender scent of the Calming series is just perfect for getting ready for bed. It is all natural and non-drying which means it is safe to use every day without irritating her soft, baby skin. And since it is made from all natural ingredients I don't have to worry when Kaitlin sticks a bubble-coated hand or foot into her mouth. It might not taste good but I know it won't hurt her. And perhaps the most fun thing about this bubble bath is that it comes with a bubble wand! Kaitlin goes back and forth between loving and hating bubbles (depending on how tired she is when she's in the bath) but for the most part she is intrigued by them and loves to watch them float around the bathroom. It's probably the most expensive bubbles I'll ever buy, but I think it's a cute touch to add the wand, making bath time even more fun for babies and for parents. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

There are many, many things I am thankful for this year. But perhaps the thing I am most (and probably quite obviously) thankful for is this little bug; she never ceases to amaze me and brings a smile to my face and laughter to my life each and every day.

(oh, and her dad's not too shabby either)

(and I should probably mention my parents, sister and my husbands family too, because they all rock my socks as well)

(and my friends, near and far - and there are lots that are far - because, well duh. just because)

Monday, 19 November 2012

Watch Me Grow - Twenty Six Weeks

Twenty six weeks...that's half of a year. How is it possible that Kaitlin is 6 months old already??

Week 26 was a big one - ladies and gentlemen we have a TOOTH! After four months of me thinking that she was teething she finally actually was! I felt her first tooth pop through on Friday afternoon and on Saturday I could see it poking out of her bottom gums. I thought something was going on midway through the week when she refused to take her afternoon nap. Now I know that I complain about her naps (or lack there of) a lot, but I can usually get her to take some sort of nap eventually. But for a couple of days she was just plain skipping her afternoon nap all together. That combined with chewing on EVERYTHING in sight and being a little bit more fussy than usual, I thought she might be getting a tooth since this time it's actually age appropriate for her to be teething. And wouldn't you know on Friday she actually was! I couldn't believe it. She's like a real baby now...and she's starting to grow up so fast!

I got to go to swim class with her and Brian on Saturday and finally understood what he meant about her not liking it. She really does not like it. Like, at all. Pretty much from the minute we got in the water with her she started crying and didn't stop for longer than a couple minutes at a time until we got out. Once we got home she was all smiles! The teacher said it's normal for babies her age not to like the water, but with time they usually start to like it. The biggest thing is for us to keep going so she gets used to it. I might start taking her during the week during open swim times to help get her used to it. I can sing all the same songs with her that we do in class so that they become even more familiar to her.

I feel like so much else happened this week that my tiny brain just can't remember - this is why I write everything down! ALSO! We started solid food this weekend! Technically we started it during week 27 but I probably won't be able to remember that by Saturday, so I'll fill you in now. It was hilarious. She seemed to LOVE it at first - lunging towards the spoon with oatmeal baby cereal on it, chomping away. She still had that blank stare that is her signature look, not really showing any emotion, but since she wasn't crying that pretty much means she loves it. And then she realized what was happening. She realized that the pretty green spoon wasn't being put in her mouth to ease her aching gums, no! There was a weird, tasteless mush on that spoon and it was being put in her mouth - gross!! Then she started making some funny faces and protesting. All in all I think it was a big success. We'll keep trying little by little and she'll get there.

Tiny brain just remembered one more thing that happened on Saturday (Saturday was a big day, in case you couldn't tell). We went out to brunch and Kaitlin sat in a high chair all by herself! I know that I am pretty much the only one who is excited about this but it was a big moment! We usually keep her in her carseat when we go out to eat, or let her sit on our laps while we wait for our food to come. Since she is getting so much better at sitting up on her own we put her in the high chair and let her hang out there for a while. We couldn't strap her in quite as tight as we do at home, but she did a great job sitting on her own. 

I'll be sharing some photos of her eating and other fun stuff in her Six Month post that I hope to get out in the next day or two. 

This is going to be another big week. Kaitlins first Thanksgiving, a visit from Grammie and Pop-pop, her 6 month doctors appointment (and more shots) and lots more fun stuff. Happy (early) Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Watch Me Grow - Twenty Five Weeks

Next Monday Kaitlin turns 6 months old. I thought it would be fun to make a list of her likes/dislikes halfway through her first year. This is just a sample. My three remaining brain cells can't remember the rest :)

Things Kaitlin Loves:
- Looking out the window
- Watching the leaves on the trees when sitting outside or in her stroller
- Blowing raspberries with her tongue
- Listening to you blow raspberries with your tongue
- Screeching (just about the only sound she knows how to make)
- Reaching for anything and everything in sight
- Chewing/gnawing on anything and everything in sight
- Her bunny stuffed animal/rattle
- Playing with people (especially mom and dad) and other babies
- Wiggling and rolling and generally moving as much as possible
- Attention
- Smiling

Things Kaitlin Does Not Love:
- Getting her clothes changed
- Laying still
- Playing by herself for longer than ten minutes
- Toys that are out of her reach

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship with Breastfeeding

When I first found out that I was pregnant I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I knew that it would be hard and that there were dozens of obstacles that could get in our way, but I wanted to at least give it a chance. It was free, it was natural and it has a myriad of health benefits (for baby and mom). For some reason I had it in my head that I would breastfeed for the first six months and then transition over to formula. Where I got six months from I have no clue. I think I read somewhere that breastfeeding for the first six months is the most important time to breastfeed your baby, and I knew around that time that we would be starting solids as well, so it seemed like a good time to wean.

Now that we are approaching that six month mark I have extremely mixed feelings about giving it up. No one is forcing me to do so but a part of me still wants to stick to that time frame. Every day I have this do I/don't I conversation with myself. Considering I am the WORST at making decisions, I'll probably end up breastfeeding the poor kid until she goes off to school (kidding - though I'm not judging those who do that).

We had a rough start to breastfeeding, as most new moms do (especially first time moms). In my birth plan I indicated that I wanted to have skin to skin contact as soon as Kaitlin was born. My hospital is a big supporter of that, but unfortunately there were a couple of minor complications that prohibited us from trying to breastfeed right after birth, and I didn't get a chance to do so until after we were settled in our recovery room. At that point I was so exhausted (as was Kaitlin) that our first try at breastfeeding was a complete failure. I couldn't get her to latch, it was the middle of the night, she was crying (and I was close to it) and I gave up pretty easily. Over the next couple of days in the hospital I saw a lactation consultant a few times. I was still having trouble getting Kaitlin to latch on properly and it hurt, a lot.

After a week of being at home and trying breastfeeding on my own I was geting very discouraged. It just wasn't working right and each feeding seemed to be a struggle. I was getting frustrated and over and over again thought about throwing in the towel. I was afraid that I was starving my baby yet was hesitant to give her a bottle for fear of the evil nipple confusion. While my parents were here I had them take me to an appointment with a lactation consultant at the hospital. She showed me a couple of things and reassured me that everything was going to be fine. It was just the pep-talk that I needed. It still wasn't easy, and I had to practically force myself to keep going, but in the end we made it just fine and Kaitlin turned into a great nurser.

In those early days and weeks I can't tell you how many times I said to myself, "Just make it through this feeding" or "Just make it through the end of the day, you can quit tomorrow." or "Just make it until Saturday, she'll be XYZ weeks old, you can quit then". But I didn't quit, and I'm really proud of myself for that.

Fast forward a couple of months and here I am ready to throw in the towel again. Sometime during month three Kaitlin started nursing for shorter and shorter periods of time. At first I just thought that she was getting to be a more efficient nurser and that it just didn't take her as much time to eat. But after her four month check up I found out that she wasn't gaining as much weight as she did in previous months. She wasn't getting enough to eat. In addition to shorter nursing times her latch also got worse. She was busy looking around and not paying attention. Wherever her head went, I went to - if you know what I mean. It started being painful again, something I was not prepared for this late in the game.

The main problem and biggest source of stress for me about nursing is that you never know how much the baby is getting to eat. Sure, you can weigh the baby before and after feedings to find out how many ounces they took in (which I also tried doing) but who can remember to do that all the time and it made me super stressed out (especially when she only ate an ounce or two). I knew that her short feeding times were decreasing my supply. I tried a few things to increase my supply (more pumping, mothers milk tea, oatmeal, etc) and started feeding Kaitlin in a calm, dark room so that she would be minimally distracted. Even so, she seemed to push away the boob and the bottle after a few minutes of feeding.  I even had her tested for a protein allergy just incase there was something in my milk that she was reacting badly to. I started giving her a bottle in the afternoon (when my supply is lowest and when she seemed to be eating the least) and we replaced her bedtime bottle of breast milk with formula.

As important as it was for me to breastfeed my baby, I am in no way opposed to formula feeding. My mom formula fed my sister and I from the get-go and we turned out just fine (well...that might be debatable ;) ). I have a lot of friends who formula feed and I would never judge their decision to do so. I am a firm believer that you should do whatever is best for you and your baby, as long as you are both staying healthy. I don't have any problems giving Kaitlin a bottle of formula at bedtime, which is what we started doing around month four. I don't hate formula at all and many times have even thought how much easier it would be to just feed her formula. So why do I feel guilty about stopping breastfeeding?

Maybe part of it is because I'm not officially at the six month mark. Even though that's only a couple weeks away, if I were to suddenly stop breastfeeding today I know I would be disappointed in myself. Maybe it's because I know that switching to formula would be an added cost to our budget, and why should I spend money on something I produce for free? Maybe it's because I feel selfish giving her formula when I produce the perfect food for her already - why give her something that's "fake" when I can give her the real deal myself? These are my fears, and this is what stresses me out about stopping breastfeeding. Deep down I know that she is going to be just fine when we finally make the switch to all formula and that I shouldn't feel guilty for even one minute - we are going to have much bigger fish to fry as she gets older. But I do.

I have had a number of conversations with friends who were going through the same thing, in one way or another. Either they were having problems breastfeeding or found themselves having to supplement with formula, and the guilt that we all feel is the same. And I have told all of those friends - and am 100% genuine when I say it - "don't feel bad, you need to do whatever you have to do in order to make sure your baby is healthy." I guess it's tough following your own advice, isn't it?

For now I am revisiting those early days of breastfeeding and talking myself through each day. I'm stuck in this weird place of not wanting to continue and not wanting to give up. I am only breastfeeding three times a day now, the other two feeds are bottles (one breast milk and one formula). If I can continue this way until month six I think I'll feel better about weaning her off of breast milk. My plan, at the moment, is to slowly drop one feeding a week throughout month six until we are breastfeeding free just before month seven. I will continue to pump a couple times a day to help slowly decrease my supply and will have a stash of extra milk that I can feed her into month seven.

I'm hoping that by making the transition slowly the guilt that I feel about stopping will gradually disappear as well. We will be busy trying out solids as well so I'm hoping that will be a bit of a distraction.

Did you feel guilty when you stopped breastfeeding? Any words of advise for getting rid of that guilt?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Watch Me Grow - Twenty Four Weeks

In two weeks Kaitlin will be turning six months old. SIX MONTHS OLD.

I'm going to go hide under the covers and cry. How did she get to be so big?! She had her first Halloween this week and seemed to love it (ie didn't throw a fit when I made her wear a costume for a good part of the day). Besides the chaos of Halloween we laid low the rest of the week. We spent a lot of time outside since the weather is cooling down a bit and she loves it. She loves to look at the trees and the shadows from the sun, and she loves listening to the fountain that's in our backyard. Another thing she loves is looking out the window. Whenever she wakes up in the morning or from a nap I take her to the windows in her room and open up the curtains and we say "good morning" to everything outside. We say good morning to the sun, the sky, the trees, the neighbors - anything that we can see. She absolutely loves looking out the window. She reaches for the windowpane and just stares, stares, stares taking it all in. 

This weekend she had her first swimming lesson! Our community pool has a program that starts with babies as young as six months old (sshhhhh - she's a little early! Just kidding, the instructor knows she's a little underage) and Brian took her for her first lesson on Saturday. I was gutted that I couldn't be there (but SO excited to be working again) but so excited for them to go. He said that she did pretty well and had fun in the water splashing around and singing songs. The only part she didn't like was when they blew bubbles in the water, which caused her to have a little meltdown. Considering that was her first time I think she did great! I can't wait to go with them in a couple of weeks.

ps - she's getting to be really good at sitting up on her own :)