Dear Sadie: 4 Months

Dear Sadie,

You are FOUR months old! I think it is safe to say that you are now out of the “newborn” stage and are well into babyhood! Something about four months just seems so BIG to me, despite the fact that you’ve only been living outside of my body for less than half the time I was pregnant.

Of course, as it will do with increasing speed from here on out, the time is flying by. Often, when I wake up to pee and can’t get back to sleep because I’m certain you’re mere moments from waking up yourself, I pick up my phone and scroll through pictures of you. This morning, the photos from late October caught me by surprise, because I so clearly remember taking them about five minutes ago. I was just marveling at the excitement of your first Halloween, and now your first Thanksgiving is in the past.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we sure loved celebrating it with you, sweet girl! There were twenty-eight people at Aunt Pati’s house this year, and for the most part, you handled the crowd like a champ. You even participated (briefly) in the family dance party. Daddy and I enjoyed our Thanksgiving Dinner as we do most dinners these days, passing you back and forth. During the day, you can entertain yourself on your play mat or in your swing, but by the evening you are over those and just want us to hold you. That said, when we are holding you, you’re rarely content to sit and snuggle. You like us to sit you up or better yet, stand you up on our laps so you can look around. Your curiosity and need to check everything and everyone out is a tad exhausting but I wouldn’t trade it. I love watching you figuring your world out.

After putting you to bed on Thanksgiving, Daddy and I played cards with the fam (someday we’ll teach you!) and crawled into bed at around 10:30pm. It was a far cry from the days of staying up till 2am dancing and drinking and singing at the top of our lungs. It was only eight years ago when our gallivanting woke up your Great-Grandma Sue. She came up the stairs to ask us to quiet down, and ended up staying up with us for over an hour, belting out showtunes and telling stories. We grazed on dessert and pulled leftovers out of the fridge for a midnight snack, before we’d all collapse in various bedrooms or couches.

It feels a little bittersweet, looking back on those days, knowing they’re behind us. In our family, the parents have become the grandparents, and the kids are finding love and making families of their own.  We’ve traded multiple cocktails for bottles and pacifiers and hide and seek. If we’re awake at 2am, it’s because our kids need us. I do miss those carefree, crazy nights. But what makes it all AMAZING, my girl, is that there is so much yet to come for us! Life changes and moves on, but every new stage is wonderful. Now, by the grace of God, we get to make more memories. And the best part? They will all include YOU.

Baby, thank you for joining our family and being part of the craziness. In a scary, changing world we know how blessed we are to be safe, healthy, and loved. We are more than blessed that you are safe and healthy, and it is our privilege to love you.

We are so thankful.

Love You Forever,

Mommy

On the Road with Sadie.

Sadie is becoming quite the fun little sidekick on our near-daily adventures. Once we get out of the house, that is. Getting us both fed, cleaned, dressed, and packed for whatever two-hour long outing I’m planning is proving to be a bit time-consuming, especially given that we have to build in time for one of us to nap.

Once we’re actually on our way, though, she does pretty well. Provided the car is moving 90% of the time, Sadie has reached a tentative peace with her car seat. Should there be a long stoplight or a similar traffic hazard, the dialogue between us goes something like this:

 

Me: “Okay, so it’s just a red light. You’re doing great, and we should have you moving along again in just a moment!”

Sadie: (Disapproving grunt)

“Sadie! You’re doing so great, being so patient! Mommy is so proud of you!”

*Mommy has also developed a knack for referring to herself in the third person.

Sadie: (Silence, whilst reaching for feet.)

“See, it’s just a little stoplight! Almost our turn…”

(Louder squeal of disapproval, continued examination of feet.)

“Boy, this light is taking a while, isn’t it?”

(Squealing louder still, whilst removing socks)

*Sadie: 48, 383. Mommy/Socks: 0.

“Wow, this is definitely taking forever. It’s okay, little one!”

(Full-on crying, bare feet kicking furiously)

“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YOU GUYS, WHAT IS THE HOLD-UP!”

Thankfully, those moments of car misery are decreasing dramatically. I’m learning that not unlike myself, my daughter is a people-watcher. She genuinely seems to enjoy being out and about, as there is always something new to see. She’s perfectly content to ride around in her stroller, darting her eyes all around so as not to miss anything. She’s also a huge flirt (another trait she inherited from me, I’m afraid. My college roommates used to say I’d flirt with anyone—man, woman, or beast. So I’m chatty, what’re you gonna do?) Because she is a baby, and a pretty damn cute one, people are constantly peeking, smiling, and cooing at her while I stand by, cringing, hoping they don’t sneeze in her vicinity. She returns their attention with this coy smile that makes me picture her as a teenager, at which point I’ll need to have her microchipped.

Still, I love watching her interact with the world and love it. She’s a happy little kiddo most of the time, though she can throw down with the best of criers when she wants to.  When I’m driving us around, I sneak frequent glances at her through the mirror above her seat, and her innocence and curiosity melt me, every time. I’m so grateful to be showing her around this big world, while it’s all still new and safe and beautiful to her. I hope to keep showing her around when it stops being all of those things, too. But right now, she’s just so eager to discover EVERYTHING, and it reminds me how much more I hope to discover myself.

Unlike her tiny, useless socks, I hope she never loses that.

 

Dear Sadie: 3 months

Dear Sadie,

As I write this, you are 3 months and 13 days old, and taking a miraculously long nap.  Once you hit about 6 weeks of age, you stopped taking the long, 2-3 hour naps that we so enjoyed when you were a newborn in favor of 30-minute catnaps. You are strikingly regular in this 30-minute time frame. If your eyes close at 9:22, you are awake again at 9:52. It has been your pattern for quite some time, and though it hasn’t allowed me to get much done around the house with any regularity, you have been nothing if not predictable when it comes to daytime sleep. Today, however, you have been at it for almost two hours, and I can’t help but hope we’re nearing some kind of turning point in naps. Or maybe you’re just hitting a growth spurt. I try so hard to analyze and explain your behavior, but I am learning that you are a baby, and so much of what you do is just you, being a baby.

And what a baby you are!

Nighttime sleep is going better than naps, lately…several nights you will sleep from your 8pm bedtime right on through to 4:00am, when you wake up to eat. Tired as they make me, these nighttime feedings are some of my favorite times. Holding you in your tiny footie pajamas (you are the cutest thing that ever was in those, by the way) while you nurse, with the lights dimmed and the rest of the world asleep. It’s so quiet, and so still. When I feed you during the day, you are so awake and aware; your eyes dart around and you fidget to no end, and nurse just long enough to stay alive before you’re back to playing. In those wee hours of the morning, though, you’re still heavy in my arms and your eyes stay mostly closed. I can watch you and breathe you in and marvel at the wonder of you being mine without interruption. I know one day soon you’ll start sleeping right on through till morning, and though I’ll be grateful for the rest and routine, I know I’ll miss when it was just me, you, and 4:00am.

Mornings with you are the best, little one! You wake up SO happy that even on our most sleep-deprived of mornings, Daddy and I can’t help but laugh and fuss over you and your bright-eyed, gummy grin.  Our wake-up routine consists of a feeding, then 10-15 minutes of you lying on our bed, kicking your legs, babbling, and swiveling your head around like crazy trying to take it all in. Then after a diaper change, we go downstairs, where you sit in your swing and gnaw on your favorite stuffed bunny while I make myself breakfast and coffee.  I eat breakfast on the floor in front of that swing EVERY morning, because you seem to enjoy the company. As soon as I sit down, you flash a big smile before resuming your oral attack on Bunny.

Speaking of oral attacks, you have developed quite the affinity for putting anything that goes in your hand directly into your mouth. Your grasp is getting consistent, and you love batting at the toys hanging from your “activity gym.” Now you’ve started grabbing them and are making valiant efforts to pull them into your mouth. You’ve had little success with that so far, which is a source of great frustration for you. Tummy time, which was previously hated and rarely tolerated, has become somewhat enjoyable for you. You’ve always had good neck strength, but when I’d set you on your belly, you’d just face plant and scream, or turn your head to one side and take a little breather. Lately, you’ve started looking up and around and pushing up on your hands. Figuring out that there’s a whole new vantage point from there was a game-changer, and now you seem to enjoy looking around and occasionally reaching for your toys.

You continue to be a good little traveler. Over Halloween weekend, we journeyed to Orcas Island for Cousin Dave’s wedding. You were a duck for Halloween, by the way, and adorable doesn’t even begin to cover it.

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(Quack! Gah, you are so cute my heart hurts a little. )

We took a ferry, and due to a two-hour delay, practiced our ability to breastfeed in the car and pace with you in the carrier until you fell asleep. You were well-behaved and slept well all weekend, though we’ve decided that partying after 7:00pm is really not your thing. We went out to breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa on Sunday morning, to a restaurant about a block away from where we stayed.

“I’ll just wear Sadie in the carrier”, I thought.

“It’ll be fine!”, I thought.

Due to some slower service, you awoke from your slumber before our food even arrived. Then, you soiled your diaper, your shirt, and the carrier, right there at the table. The restroom was too small to turn around in, let alone change a blown-out diaper. So, Daddy and I looked at each other and determined we’d just have to go. So off we went, down the block to our rented condo. It was a blustery November 1st, and you were not at all pleased with being held out in front of Daddy with your blowout stain to the wind as he speed-walked ahead, while I scurried behind, holding your pacifier and diaper bag, still wearing the carrier covered in poop. We ate our lukewarm breakfasts from to-go boxes that morning, but the snuggles we got on the ferry ride home were more than worth it.

Sadie, you are so WORTH IT. You are worth every moment of lost sleep and sanity that comprises parenting a newborn and infant. You are worth more than anything else this world could give us. You are changing us, in the best possible ways, my darling girl. Our priorities are shifting and our self-centeredness loses the battle to what’s best for you, every time. Wanting to be a great Mama to you is making want to be a better person altogether. Constantly asking myself what kind of person I want you to become has reminded me of the kind of person I want to BE.

Thank you, Baby Girl, for rocking our world in the most wonderful way. Keep on growing and changing, and we’ll be here to love every minute of it.

Love you forever,

Mommy

Breastfeeding: The Good, The Bad, and the Leaky.

Disclaimer: Breastfed, Pump to Bottle, Formula-Fed. All good…I believe a fed and loved baby is a happy baby, no matter the method. The following is just our journey, complete with ups and downs. Carry on, Mama Warriors!

When I was pregnant, I was a bit of an information sponge. This, combined with my hypochondriac tendencies, really enhanced those months for my husband.

“Honey, did you know the baby is the size of a blueberry this week?”

“Babe, did you know the baby already has fingernails?”

“Sweetheart, did you know I’m not really eating for two and only need 200-300 additional calories per day?”

(I’m not sure why I shared that last tidbit with him. I would later regret it.)

Throughout my pregnancy, Ryan and I both made an effort to gather as much information as we could to make the best possible choices for our baby. We decided on prenatal care, a birthing class, a car seat, etc. When it came to feeding our little one, we took the hospital-offered breastfeeding class and determined that yup, we’d be doing the breastfeeding.

It all seemed so simple! I mean, you have boobs, you have a baby…bada-bing, bada-boom, breastfeeding!

No.

In our Hypnobirthing and Breastfeeding classes, we were led to believe that when our babies were born, they would simply crawl to your breast and begin to feed. When Sadie was born, she mostly cried and wriggled in my arms. The nurse asked if I wanted to try breastfeeding. Of course I did! We tried it, and it didn’t go well. We might as well have been offering Sadie a turkey leg for all the interest she had.

After a couple of failed tries, it was determined that she had a tongue-tie that would need to be clipped. In the meantime, why don’t I try hand-expressing colostrum into a plastic spoon?

“Uh, okay…sure.”

And really, I was totally okay with doing whatever was necessary. Fast forward to our 72-hour postpartum checkup: We had been struggling with feeding at home, and despite the tongue tie being resolved, Sadie was not latching well. When we’d left the hospital, she weighed 6lbs, 13oz, down 10oz from her birth weight. At that appointment, my little girl weighed 6lbs, 8oz. Not just a weight loss, but a dramatic one. In other words, my poor baby was starving.

I burst into tears right there in the exam room, feeling like an absolute failure of a mother. I was completely wracked with guilt that I hadn’t been sufficiently nourishing my child, and angry with my body for its refusal to do its job. The lactation nurse was a saint, and told me over and over again that I was doing just fine and this was all going to work out. She said I’d need to immediately start pumping to increase my milk supply, and introduced a regimen that involved breastfeeding every two hours, followed by supplemented breastmilk or formula given to Sadie through the thinnest little tube I’ve ever seen.  We were supposed to go home and implement this new system and drop into the pediatrician for a weight check the following day.

The tube feeding/pumping situation was a little insane. Ryan was an absolute champ, patiently holding the tube on his finger and placing it in her tiny mouth, depressing the top of the syringe of milk so gently and slowly to keep from overwhelming our sweet girl. I remember it being kind of a relief that he could be involved with each feeding. It was such a scary, isolating feeling, being solely responsible for Sadie’s food supply. It was comforting to have him join me in the process, especially in those early days when breastfeeding included a nipple shield and a baby who (seemingly) fell asleep every 30 seconds or so.

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(Our little tube-feeding wonder!)

Within a day, Sadie had gained over two ounces—it was working! At our next visit to the lactation nurse, we learned that Sadie was still not taking milk from me (3 milliliters at that appointment…about 1/20 of what she needed) so we had to up the supplementation. At this point, tube feeding 2 oz. of milk was just not reasonable, so we switched to bottles.

I spent a few minutes bemoaning this new development—I hadn’t planned on introducing bottles yet. Nipple confusion and all that. But what mattered was that our baby was getting what she needed—where it came from was suddenly less of a concern. Still, I was hyper-emotional during this period. We were feeding Sadie every 2 hours, around the clock. At the conclusion of each feeding I would have to pump, so you can imagine the delirium. After one particularly disappointing pumping session, I wandered to the sink and without thinking, rinsed the bottle out. Upon realizing my mistake, I just leaned over the sink and sobbed. Poor Ryan discovered me there, topless and hysterical, and sent me upstairs to nap.

(By the way, when you are struggling with breastfeeding, you are topless all the time. Modesty goes straight to hell, and pretty much anyone you come into contact with sees your nipples, and you don’t give a crap. It’s a fact of life.)

Slowly, it got better. Each week, Sadie gained weight. Each week, we reduced the amount of supplemental milk. My supply increased, and thanks to the help of a mighty-hearted friend willing to donate some of her milk, we only had to use formula a few times. At 4 weeks, we “graduated” from our weekly visits to the lactation consultant. She and I both cried, we were so proud of Sadie’s progress. At 5 weeks, we weaned off the nipple shield and supplemental bottles.

Now at 3 months, our Sadie is exclusively breastfed, save for the occasional bottle when I’m not with her. She is still petite but thriving, and feeding her is more joy than frustration. I still stare at her in awe when she eats, eyes darting around the room because there is SO much to see. I remember the sleepy, wrinkled newborn whose tiny mouth couldn’t quite stay latched and I marvel at how far she’s come. She could be elected President someday and I’m not sure I’ll feel any prouder than I do now.

I know mamas who’ve fought much harder battles to feed their babies.  To be honest with you, if things hadn’t clicked for us when they did, I wouldn’t have lasted much longer. It was so hard.  Still is, really.  Sadie is sensitive to dairy and soy, which has forced a rather dramatic dietary change for me.  I miss pizza, you guys. So much. Ryan gave me crap throughout my pregnancy for requiring a weekly pizza, but now I am fully vindicated in that I’ll be going the remainder of Sadie’s breastfeeding career without it. Or until she grows out of her allergy, whichever comes first.

It wasn’t and isn’t easy, but I’m trying not to take it for granted.  Hopefully we’ll be able to continue until she’s ready to be done. Or, circumstances could force us to stop sooner. I’m hoping and praying for the former, but will be grateful for all the time we get.

Oh, and breast pads. I’m grateful for those too.