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Motherly Guilt


A couple of days ago, after about half an hour of unsuccessful pumping, and in a rush to get to school and daycare on time, I turned to the emergency formula. And made Petals a bottle. I haven’t felt this guilty since…I can’t remember when. I cried for a good ten minutes on the way to work and it ate away at me for the next half hour.

The most ridiculous part? That I fully realize that this is not the worst thing in the world. 1) I, my husband, his brother, and two of my sisters were formula fed. We’re still pretty awesome. 2) Many of my friends feed or have supplemented feedings with formula. 3) She’s a good nine months old and doing a good job of weaning herself.

So why the guilt? Maybe it’s because if all the “breast us best” literature. Maybe it’s because of the tons of blogs and books I’ve read that warn that turning to formula is often the beginning of the end of a successful breastfeeding relationship. Or maybe it’s because after compromising on the natural birth thing, caving to pressure to forget about trying cloth diapers, and forgoing baby led weaning for purées, this was the one crunchy mom promise I’d made that I’d actually been keeping. It kind of hurt to let go of that a bit.

She drank the formula. And aside from a few spit-ups (to which she is prone anyway) she appears to be just fine. Perhaps supplementing with formula will give me the break I need to get some pumping done. And with her first birthday fast approaching (Yikes!) she will be hitting the cow’s milk soon anyway.

I think I’m cool with it. Especially considering the bug I found in her dirty diaper the other day. It would appear that formula is far from the worst thing on her menu.

Fenugreek is For Real

Like, fo’ real, fo’ real.

It works.  Just in case you were wondering.

And I smell like maple syrup, which is apparently a common side effect.  I’m not really too mad about that.

I bought some of the capsules from our local Whole Foods to help boost my supply.  After taking the teas and trying to munch on as much alfalfa as I could, I was doubtful that the herb would actually do that much.

Oh.  It did.  I was wrong to doubt.

My Big(gish) Girl

Happy 8th Month Petals!

Petals Stuff:

  • Last week, Petals began waving.   It’s pretty hit or miss, and I’m not always sure what her waving means, but she’s doing it!  It’s also hilarious because she waves with the palm of her hand facing her instead of facing outwards, and she kind of just shakes her arm around in the air instead of just moving her wrist.
  • Petals spent the night with grandparents where she played with cats and tried juice for the first time.  Apparently, she’s not a fan – of juice, anyway.  She had a great time with her grandparents and aunt and uncles.
  • Petals learned about the joys of string cheese.
  • We’ve finally got a sleep routine that works!  No more screaming nights…I hope!
  • Just when I was ready to give in and buy some formula, Petals decided that she needed to nurse every two hours again.  While I’m pleased that she’s back at the breast, I’m also a little peeved that my through-the-night sleeper is back to her newborn schedule.

Me Stuff:

  • I have yet to make it through one week of “cooking” meals from home, though I am making progress.  We only ate out two nights last week! On Sunday, I made brown rice to accompany delicious beef panang left over from date night.  On Monday, I made pasta, sausages, and asparagus/mushroom/onion saute.  On Tuesday, I had leftovers from Monday for lunch – which was awesome.  Then I went to Zumba, which was also awesome, which means that I had nary the time nor inclination to cook when I got home.  We ate hot dogs.  Wednesday, I was back at it.  I baked some chicken in cream of mushroom soup, made Brussels sprouts with pancetta and balsamic vinegar, and more of the brown rice.  Thursday we had hibachi from Japan Express.  Friday I made “Green Eggs and Ham” – translate: Spinach Eggs and Bacon.
  • Speaking of food, at school one of the teachers has been keeping a Big Mac in her classroom since the beginning of last semester.  As I’d seen before on numerous websites, it still looks the same, smells the same, and demonstrates the chemical nature of fast food treatment.  It was disgusting.  That said, I still want to eat a Big Mac.  I know.  I know.  (Although, later I read that according to an experiment conducting over at Serious Eats, apparently this is not unique to McDonald’s burgers – that other burgers, even homemade ones, do not “rot” either.  Thanks J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.  That makes me feel better about some of the decisions I’ve made in my life.)
  • It’s the end of the semester, and I’m getting those “beginning of the year” jitters again.  Who will these kids be?  How will this semester go?
  • Speaking of school, I am very frustrated with new projects and undertakings.  I realize that I need to calm down, go back, and rethink my strategy.  But at the moment I’m too frustrated to do that.  So I’m going to eat some ice cream instead.

And oh yeah, about the formula.

I still haven’t made a final decision about the formula.  I recognize that she’s happy, healthy, and growing well.  But I do worry that the nature of my work, which doesn’t allow me to go to the bathroom on a regular basis let alone take a sixty minutes a day to pump (three twenty-minute breaks ain’t happenin’ at when you’ve got classes of kids to teach), means that my dwindling milk supply won’t be enough to satisfy her at school.  I don’t want the kid to go eight hours with only one measly bottle of milk.  Yes, she’s eating other foods, but don’t babies need milk?

Sigh.  I thought I had the kinks to this breastfeeding thing worked out months ago.

I might need to eat some ice cream now.

Let Them Eat Solids! Baby-led Weaning

When Petals was born I knew that I wanted to breastfeed.
It was very important to me that she only receive the best – and breastfeeding was, as I’d been told many, many times, the best.

I was already disappointed in my inability to be completely natural. I attended all the classes. I avoided all the medicines. (I almost cried the first time I had to take an Excedrin during my pregnancy.) I fulfilled a craving for beer by allowing myself to, only once, dip my finger into my husband’s hefeweizen and taste the delicious beverage.  And of course, I ate only the healthiest of cheeseburgers…

But there were a lot of things that I couldn’t give my baby.

I had wanted to quit drinking caffeine – I couldn’t.
I had wanted to go into labor naturally – I was induced due to possible hypertension.
I had wanted to move around during the birth – I was hooked up to so many machines I couldn’t.
I had wanted to birth her without drugs – I ended up taking the epidural.

So when it came time to breastfeed, I was determined that it was going to happen.  She was going to pop up out and lay on my tummy until she decided to latch for the first magical time.  She was going to room in with me and at every “engh!” she made, I was going to be there, with a breast and the crook of my arm.  I had practiced multiple holds with my pillows, and I was ready.

Except, she wasn’t.

She did lay on my tummy for about an hour – before my family got too impatient to hold her – in which time she tried to latch, but couldn’t really get the hang of it.  Later that night, I called lactation nurse after lactation nurse.  One of the nurses put a shell over my nipple and used a bulb syringe to fill it with water, trying to encourage her to learn the important lesson: if you suck on this thing, liquid will come out.  By the next morning. her constant gnawing had taken the skin off of me and she still wasn’t getting the hang of it.  (I remember looking down at her little mouth and seeing a strip of dark nipple skin in it.  “J!  She’s sucked the BLACK off of me!” I yelled.)

Her weight dropped dramatically and they asked us to come into the hospital to continue monitoring her.  For the next week, we stayed up nights trying to feed her and spent our mornings hauling her into the hospital.  When she cried because she couldn’t get any milk, I cried because I couldn’t give her any.  It wasn’t until another lactation consultant, the most awesome in the world, showed me how to pull down her little tongue – so that she wasn’t biting, but she was sucking – and pull out her lips that we began to have success.  She also told me that it was okay to give the nips a break, that pumping and giving the kid a bottle every now and then wouldn’t be the end of our breastfeeding relationship.

Five months later, Zuri is a pro.  She loves breastfeeding. (And she ain’t bad at bottle feeding either.)  And I love it too.  (I thought I’d never hear myself saying…er…typing…that!)

So at four months, when the doctor said that she was old enough and big enough for cereal, I was skeptical.

Still, I didn’t want her to not have anything she was supposed to.

As always, I did tons of research on the internet.

And then I spent two days hemming and hawing over cereal brands.

I finally made the purchase, at the behest of my husband and mother, mixed up some cereal and breastmilk, and, one bright Saturday morning, sat Dad, Baby, and Camera down to capture the glorious moment: Z’s first bites.

She was less than thrilled.

I tasted it.  I forced J to taste it.  It was gritty and cold.  Who would want to eat this?

The next week, we tried bananas.  We pureed them with breastmilk.  She didn’t like it.  So we tried them the next day, mashed.  She didn’t take to ’em.  “Maybe she doesn’t like sweet stuff that much.   Maybe it’s all too sweet?” I said to The Boy.

The next week, we tried avocado.  She actually spit it out and almost cried.  So we mixed the avocado with breastmilk.  Nope.  With banana?  Nope nope.  If she didn’t like cereal or banana, she put up with us trying to shovel it in her mouth.  Avocado though?  She hates avocado.

The next weekend, we laid off her…she began swatting at our plates.  So I gave her tastes of my food with my finger.  She pushed it around in her mouth for a bit before spitting it out.  She’s still not ready to eat any of this foreign stuff, but at least she didn’t look so miserable about trying it.

So now we’re faced with a choice.  As her little teeth begin to bud, we must decide: to train her to eat solids?  Or to let her discover solids on her own time?  Certainly, websites and blogs about baby-led weaning (and the relatively lazy side of my parenting style) seem to be leaning to the “Meh…she’ll do it eventually” side.  Then there are the maternal parental units that are all about “Givin’ that baby somethin’ to tide her over…at least some grits or somethin’…you could even put rice cereal in her bottle so she’ll sleep good”.  And there are websites and articles about starting solids to back them up.  Besides this, they have, clearly, beautiful and healthy kids as proof that their methods work.

But the thing is she doesn’t have trouble sleeping through the night.  And there is scientific evidence that it really might not matter that muchbut it couldbut maybe it doesn’t.  And the fact of the matter is, we’re just going to have to do what feels right for us.  For right now, that means letting her play with her food and keeping off the pressure.  If that’s baby-led weaning, then I guess that’s where we’re going.

Month 3 – 16 weeks

Zuit Suit is getting big –  growing by leaps and bounds, even.  And it’s amazing to be a part of that. In the past month she’s started going to daycare (while Mommy goes, sadly, to work), rolling with a little more control, grasping and grabbing easily, and sleeping through the night.  She’s hit the pool.  She’s even the right size to wear some of the stuff I obsessively pieced together during pregnancy.  But back to the best update….Yes.  She now reliably sleeps through the night – at least six hours, sometimes up to nine. It’s glorious.  This sleeping through the night means that she’s extra awake and aware during the day. This, too, is fun. Unless she’s grumpy – which is hardly ever….except, of course, for now that I’m trying to type this.  (Her nickname at daycare? “Smiley Baby”.  I can handle that.) Now if I could get back to sleeping through the night, that’d be great. As it is, I wake up thinking that she’s awake.  And then I lay there listening to every little sniffle and snort thinking “This is it.  She’s awake now.” Right now, she’s gumming pretty hard on her hands.  Usually, this is a sign that she’s hungry.  However, I’ve fed her.  She’s fallen asleep twice. And she’s even been doing this thing where she sucks twice and then pulls off the breast.  It’s annoying, but I hope it’s not indicative of something more serious. I should check that out.