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Monday, September 26, 2011

Musings on baby led feeding

Now that we're a month away from Norah's 6 month old mark, I figured it was time to start researching how we want to introduce solid foods when the time arrives.  All along I've wanted her to be exclusively breastfed until at least 6 months, and after that take a "baby led" approach to introducing the next stage of foods. But I wasn't totally sure what that really meant, and how it might look for us.  Being a bit of a planner, I didn't want the time to sneak up on me and be unprepared for what to feed her! Ha, I know, it's not like the day she turns 6 months old she will be pounding her fists on the table and demanding a bowl of rice cereal or she'll starve; I obviously can (and will) continue to breastfeed her while we figure this out.  I'm planning to still primarily nurse her/give her expressed breastmilk in bottles as her main source of nutrition until 12 months, but I know that solids will also make up a necessary part of her diet by then too.

Much of the research I've found indicates that the longer you delay feeding certain foods, the less likely you are to have a child develop food allergies. Of course, some things are unavoidable, but for those high allergen foods (cow's milk, eggs, peanuts/tree nuts, wheat, and soy), delaying at least until 9-12 months seems preferable, and later for peanuts, egg whites, and cow's milk if possible. It scares me to think of dealing with potentially fatal food allergies, and while I know many many families manage their children's allergies with great care and they do fine, it's something I'd rather be able to avoid if we can.

There are so many opinions about what to feed a baby, when to start, how to introduce flavors so that your child's palate develops appropriately, etc, and as with pretty much everything else related to raising a human being, people come at it from an emotionally connected stance that is often quite powerful.  People will inevitably tell you that you're making the wrong choices, that what they did with their little ones worked perfectly and so what other way could there be?  Human beings are, by nature, emotionally influenced and connected, and such a large part of our social and emotional connections are centered around food. The preparation and planning of meals, the aromas and sights associated with favorite foods and ingredients, the memories triggered by even the thought of a particular home cooked meal.  Anyone who knows me knows this is true to the core of my being, and food is such an important part of the way I nurture those around me, and hopefully my children will know that as well.  So of course, the thought of introducing my child to the world of food beyond breastmilk is exciting!

That being said, I also cherish my time nursing Norah, so much more now that I'm back to work and it offers me precious time to slow down and connect with my baby while my body nourishes hers.  I'm hopeful that with a "baby led" approach, introducing solids will not lead to weaning before I'm ready.  I've never been someone who plans to nurse into the "extended nursing" territory, but I do want to get her solidly over the 12 month mark before weaning completely. KellyMom has some great articles about the subject, and I'm finding that there are lots of resources and support for mamas who feel the same way.  Here's to diving in and making a plan for what to feed my baby next! The world is ever changing for an infant in the first year of life, and it's just amazing :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Norah Grows: 5 Months

Little one, you are 5 months old today, and more amazing than ever! The world is starting to hold your interest in new ways every day, and it's so exciting to watch you experience the newness of life over and over.  You are so strong, and sitting up is your most recent development! You are pretty close to sitting up unassisted, and boy are you happy about it! The perspective of your world is so different from that position, and think it's exciting to you.  

You are so giggly and joyful, and over and over again we hear how pleasant and wonderful you are from others.  I love that you are such a happy baby, and somehow it makes me feel that we are doing something right for you when your face cracks open into that sweet toothless smile and suddenly a shriek of laughter breaks through.  You have a sense of humor, and think Mama and Daddy are pretty funny! I'm sure we'll remind you of that sometime later...

Your hair is turning blonder every day, and I love watching you change almost as if in tune with the change in seasons.  Fall has arrived and you seem to love the chillier weather and colorful leaves as much as I do.  We are looking forward to sharing some of our favorite fall activities with you this season.

You are enjoying grabbing on to your ankles and clapping your feet together.  You do this whenever your legs are free during a diaper change, and it seems like you are going longer and longer stretches being able to entertain yourself with things like this.  I have some videos I'm hoping to attach, but right now Blogger is giving me trouble. I'll addend this when I get the chance! 

You have a seriously strong grip with those pudgy little fingers! You are now into pinching and grabbing ahold of whatever you can find; hair, lips, cheeks, clothes...if it's in your reach you go for it! We have to keep those little nails trimmed close or else those pinches really have a bite to them! 

Bath time is one of your favorite times of day - you seem to understand that this is part of the bed time routine, and I think it really does help you wind down and get in the mood for going to sleep.  You love the warm water and your new thing is to grab the wet washcloth and suck the water out of it! You love kicking and splashing and floating around in the big tub!  

You are starting to babble a little bit, but mostly the sounds you make still sound like a baby dinosaur.  We've heard what sounds like "ma-ma" a few times, and you say "Nee" quite a bit.  I love imagining what your voice will sound like when you do begin to communicate with words.  
You are growing into a beautiful, sweet, charming little girl already, and I'm so proud of how well you are developing.  I love being your mama more every day! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Munchkin lovin'

I love days like today when I am just home, relaxed, and able to watch my girl as she plays and grows and learns.  She is such a delightful baby, and I don't get endless hours to languish in her littleness any more, so I have to soak up my little munchkin when I can! My sweet friend Aidan and her sister came to visit today, and Norah got extra lovin' which is never turned down.  

Sister is developing a sense of humor, and it's hilarious to listen to her shriek and giggle and entertain herself with her own vocal chords.  She is like her mama, and already has lots to say! 

We had Norah's 4 month check up last week, and she is now about 28" tall, weighs 16 lbs 14 oz, and is in the 99th% for height and 92nd% for weight.  She's a growing girl, and everything looks exactly like it should! She's doing all the right developmental tasks on track, and she's probably a bit ahead of the curve in some areas. I am so proud! 

This week at work has been a challenge in many ways, and I'm struggling a bit to find a comfortable place now that I'm a full time working mama. There have been days since coming back that I've wondered what in the world I was thinking entering such a field, where day in and day out, children and their families are affected unfairly by circumstances most often totally out of their control.  I have a whole blog post written out in which I examine my feelings on the matter, and who knows if I will end up actually posting it, but writing it has at least made me think about how I want to approach my work life.  More importantly, I think it makes me realize how I want to approach my life at home - I literally try to soak her up through my pores and breathe her in and keep the sense of security I feel when she's safe in my arms.  I know the world awaits her, and she will not always be safe, and she may not always be healthy, and she will certainly experience emotional upheavals, but for right now I have her and she's perfect, and what is within my control is to love her and do my best to provide the things that she needs and to teach her to be a compassionate human being.  Sometimes that feels like a huge task, but I know that as long as I do my best in each moment, the moments will string together and turn into the foundation for teaching her about who she can become. 

I've been told by several coworkers and friends in the past few weeks that I seem to be handling the return to work gracefully, that I don't look like a zombie, that I seem to have found a positive work-life balance so quickly.  I can assure you that while it is wonderful to hear these things, it's not exactly a mirror image of the way I feel about it.  It's going to be a bit of a struggle to evolve into this phase of my life, and I'm just grateful for the support and love from those around me.  Because to be honest, there are more days than I'd like to admit that I went to work without showering, and perhaps without deodorant.   I've dropped Norah off with Grandpa in her overnight soaked diaper rather than wake her up at home to change it before leaving the house, because we were already late.  The other day I brought all of my pump supplies, except I forgot the tops to the bottles for the milk...good thing I work in a hospital where such things are always around!  Obviously, I'm still working this whole "working mama" thing out, but one thing I know is that this sweet face makes it totally, completely, worth it. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011


In a way, it's incredible to think that it has been an entire decade since the Tuesday morning we all remember and now just call "Nine Eleven", and yet at times it seems as though it's been merely a heartbeat since we were all frozen in time, a nation, watching in horror as the unfathomable happened.

It was my first experience of sharing a tragedy with the world in such a way that marks, like a ring in a tree trunk, the passage of a specific moment in time.  My first "I remember where I was when..." moment.  It was the first week of classes my freshman year at the University of Michigan.  It was Tuesday morning, and I had ballet with Judy Rice, and a bunch of dance majors who either had spent time in NYC, or were from there, or had friends and family there.  I remember thinking I wanted to get there early and get my space at the barre established, because once you stand in a certain space, it tends to be "yours" for the duration of class.  So, there I was in the basement of the dance building, all by myself, watching the clock as it ticked closer and closer to class time, without any other dancers coming down.  I started to get nervous that I was in the wrong studio, or had the class time all wrong, or maybe it wasn't even Tuesday and I was really supposed to be in French class or something! So I ventured back upstairs to see if I could find someone to check for me, and there were all these dancers in leotards and tights and legwarmers, bunched in the hallway around our instructor's office door, shoes and dance bags and water bottles left all along the hall.  I crept closer and heard Judy tearfully saying "the plane...the plane crashed. Now, it's gone." She had a small TV in her office, and it took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about. I thought that she must have had a relative on a flight that had crashed somewhere, and my heart instantly lurched for her thinking of her loss.  Then, looking at the television, I realized that she meant one of the towers of the World Trade Center was gone. It had just collapsed moments before I walked up.  As we watched and wondered what was happening, the second tower came down in front of our eyes.

I began shaking, and it dawned on me that what I was watching as "footage" meant something very different for many of the people around me, who had loved ones in downtown Manhattan.  Judy cancelled our class for the day, and later that morning all classes at UofM would be cancelled for the first time in many years.  I walked out of the dance building into a sunny September day, and immediately tried to reach my mom, but it took a few tries as all of the cell phone towers were overrun with people all trying to do the same thing.  I went up to my dorm room and turned on the TV, and watched, over and over and over, those planes crashing into the towers, those giant, solid structures crumbling down like a child's block set.  I couldn't peel my eyes away from that screen for hours, and I felt numb thinking of the magnitude of the losses.   Already feeling homesick and a bit stranded as a freshman who had so recently packed up and bravely moved out in the world on my own, I suddenly felt an overwhelming need to be home, with my family.  My mom came to get me that evening, and I spent the afternoon hours with my roommate and other girls in the dorm, watching, crying, worrying about friends who knew someone there.  We watched at home that night, too, until we all had to turn away from those images and turn to each other and just hold on.

A decade. 10 years.  Nearly a third of my lifetime has passed since that day, and yet the memory of those moments is as fresh and real as if it were today, an oddly symmetrical, perfectly sunny and mild September day.  But something has changed. I'm a mother.  The thought of experiencing that day as a parent makes my stomach flip-flop.  The thought of something happening to one of us and not coming home to each other. Not being here to see our baby grow up together.  That feels entirely and wholly different than the emotions I felt as an 18 year old college freshman. And I want to someday be able to share with Norah the power of the emotions I feel at this anniversary, and to someday tell her about that day and what it meant for our nation. But I also want to protect her, to shield her from the imagery and awfulness that was that day.  I want to teach her about the amazing men and women who rushed in to save others, teach her to be as kind and thoughtful of a person.  What will I tell her?  I don't know yet how to navigate those waters of parenthood, but what I know today is that I can love her, hold her close to me and breathe her in.  I can live every day with her in my life as fully and with as much love as I have.  And that will have to be enough. For now.

Remembering those whose lives were lost, and those whose lives were changed forever that day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting lots of S.L.E.E.P. Hahah yeeeeah.

Well, 2 weeks down being back to work full time, and this mama is hella tired! All in all, the adjustment to being away from her has gone better than I thought it might, even though of course it's hard to be away from her all day.  I know she's in capable, loving hands when I'm not there and I find that I don't spend my whole workday worried that she's having a hard time.  I've also been busier than shit, so that seems to help the days go by faster, too! What is catching up with me, however, is the 4.5 months of no longer than 3 hours of sleep at a time.  Norah's a fabulous baby. A charming baby. A smiley, happy, giggly baby. What she is not, is a sleeping baby.  She enjoys 30 minute catnaps throughout the day, preferably on someone's lap.  She enjoys snacking throughout the night to her heart's content (I knew she was my kid!). This has lead to her waking up just about every 2 hours, and while she's not typically waking up crying and needing help going back to sleep, it's still very much an interruption in my sleep cycle, and I'm finally getting damn tired.  This was fine when I could nap or at least rest and zone out during the day while on my leave, but back at work it's hard to get to the end of the day without wanting to crash! At least I have 3 built-in 15 minute breaks every day to pump, and I may or may not be catching the tiniest little bit of shut eye as I sit there listening to the BRRRR-tsh-BRRRR-tsh of my trusty little Medela. It's soothing, you know? Haha.

Sister's rocking some drool soaked duds, again. Still. Always with the drool. 

My girl with her playful crazy eyes (and ridiculously adorable cardigan! <3 fall clothes!)

Check out who's going blonde! Girl's got some golden locks coming in! 

"Dis Mah serious face". Ha, note the dog fur clinging to her lip, and in the right corner of the photo.  Housekeeping skills, for the win. 

As it's turning from summer to fall in earnest, the smell of a new season is in the air, literally.  It's been down in the 50s at night, which is perfect sleeping weather with the window cracked a bit.  There are some leaves starting to turn and fall to the ground, and there's something about the smell of probably moldy dried leaves mixed with late summer grass that just gets this fall-lovin' girl's heart to skip a beat now and then.  The Dexter Cider Mill is open for the season, and you can just catch the wiff of apples and cinnamon sugar coated doughnuts as you drive by.  Our own little backyard garden seemed like it was going to be a sad affair this year, and last week I went down to check on whatever might be straggling through the heat of August to make it to harvest, and this is what I found! We still have butternut squash on the vine, many more tomatoes, green beans and some bell peppers yet to ripen.

2 summer squash, a handful of sweet tomatoes, green beans, 4 green peppers, and 3 Scotch Bonnet peppers - holy smokes those suckers are HOT!! I tasted a bit about the size of a pencil eraser, and my entire mouth was instantly prickly with heat! 

Tonight we're off to the first ever night football game at Michigan Stadium.  Hoping the weather holds out as it's been raining like it's freaking Seattle around here since last weekend and seems it might continue.  I'm sure it won't stop 109,901 fans from tailgating and whooping it up all day and bringing it to the BIG HOUSE tonight for some fun filled fandom! It's fun to be part of such a football town this time of year! Wherever you go, Go Blue :)