Category Archives: formula

11 Months

Man it has been difficult to find time to get to my computer lately! Whoops.

Bean is now 11 months old! (As of a little over a week ago.) See above.

Last weekend, we went to San Diego for Cameron’s brother’s wedding. We had a fun time and Bean was a traveling trooper. We had short flights luckily and she was pretty good both times. The flight home she slept pretty much the entire flight. We were only there for a short weekend, but we got to stop at the beach, so Bean has now put her feet in two oceans before her first birthday!

While we were in San Diego Bean got to meet lots of family on Cameron’s side and everyone was so excited to see her. Although I have to admit that as much as I love her, I probably would have opted to leave her at home for this trip if I thought the family wouldn’t have killed me for not bringing her. It would have been nice to have a baby-free trip and enjoy more of the wedding festivities, but c’est la vie. As it was, Cameron’s aunt and cousins graciously took the Bean for a few hours on our last morning there and we were able to have breakfast and visit the beach by ourselves.

So, what is Bean into these days? EVERYTHING! She figured out how to pull up on things a couple weeks ago and now she is cruising around the house like nobody’s business. She makes laps of the living room and she is working on learning how to let go of things and sit down so I have a feeling she will be taking unassisted steps in no time. She is interested in everything and she is very brave.

She was doing really well sleeping through the night, but then she had two teeth come in about the same time and has been a little disrupted of late, but luckily is usually still only getting up once a night for a few minutes. After another dose of Advil and some cuddles she goes right back to sleep. She still naps twice a day, usually about 2 hours per nap, and gets into bed between 9 and 9:30 each night. I am working on transitioning her off formula soon, but I am thinking I will leave her on the toddler formula for a little while until she is more used to cow’s milk. I started giving her a couple ounces with food but it seems to make her really gassy, so we’re going to see how it goes. She gets 3 bottles a day, so I think soon I will work on cutting out the two daytime bottles and only give her one before bed because it helps her settle down.

Bean has a very independent personality and she definitely does not like to be crowded. She has never been much of a cuddler, and she becomes extremely overwhelmed if she is surrounded by lots of noise and people. In loud restaurants or gatherings she gets fussy easily but if she is removed from the situation she cheers up right away. Most of the time she prefers to play on her own and only comes to us to play occasionally. She still loves her kitties most of all and I have a feeling she’ll be using Sherlock as her dress-up doll/doctor patient/plaything in the future. She plays fine with other kids when we take her out to play with the neighbors, though she is more interested in observing the older kids than she is actually engaging in play–so she might be a little shy or socially nervous around strangers like I am. Now that she can cruise and do things a little bit more independently the playground is becoming more accessible, so I think the more I introduce her to other kids the more she will hopefully open up. I don’t think she’ll be much of a social butterfly, though.

Bean is a chatterbox and has started to say “mama” and “dada” with more regularity now. She also says “ooh-day” when she is excited or interested in something. She loves birds and airplanes and points at everything. She LOVES to dance and she likes to watch nature shows and recently has become interested in Curious George. She has been spending a lot of time with her Papi when I am at work, and they go for walks and hang out at the playground a lot.

We are trying to take her out for lots of fall activities, and yesterday she went to her first pumpkin patch. Just a small one; we planned to go to a place called Anderson Farms that has lots of activities, but she was a grumpy gills and wouldn’t take a late nap, so we opted for the one nearer to our house and we are planning to take her up to the big farm next weekend. Oh–and she is dressing up as an owl for Halloween! I also have to start figuring out what to do for her birthday…I can’t believe I will have a toddler in a couple weeks. When did that happen?

 

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Moar Food!

Dude. The Bean has suddenly turned into a real person who eats real food. It’s sort of weird and really awesome. She decided that purées are for babies and she wants to chew food on her own now. And mostly pick it up on her own, though she’s still working on how to make that happen since she seems philosophically opposed to using her index finger and instead insists on scooping it with the side of her fist and hoping it hits the target. We’re working on it. She will eat anything. I don’t think I’ve put anything in front of her that she has rejected so far. She even apparently got the lemon gene from me and eats them like you might an orange. I need to get better at introducing more veggies…fruit is easy because most of it is soft enough to eat without having to steam it first. Even with only two teeth she can take down crackers and cookies, but I don’t think a carrot stick is going to go down very easy.

Oh, but will she hold her bottle on her own? Yeah right, mom. Dream on.

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7 Months

Well, I normally use that chalkboard to write what month we are at as well as the date…but the Bean had other plans for it this month. As soon as I set it down in front of her she grabbed it and rubbed all the writing off. Oh well!

We had a lot going on this month with the Bean! She now sits up on her own, eats basically everything I give her, started chewing real food, has 2 teeth now, and has started saying consistent sounds that seem to be actual concerted efforts at words. We’ve even heard what we think might have been attempts at “hi,” “kitty” (though it came out “tikky”), and maybe, possibly, even “daddy.”

I’m happy to say that the un-swaddling effort seems to be going without much of a hitch. When she’s not teething, she sleeps pretty solidly even for nap times. When she is teething, well, that’s a completely different story, but I guess that’s just part of the package.

I try to give her 2 “meals” a day now, as well as snackies in between bottles. I’m not full-on baby-led weaning (I don’t think) but if I see something on our plates that I think she could handle, I give it to her. Tater tots, beans, small bites of frozen yogurt…she eats pretty much anything and everything. This morning she tried orange juice for the first time and she didn’t even bat an eye at the taste. She loves the yogurt bite treats and apple-sweet potato crunchies from Gerber Graduates. In the mornings I try to give her pieces of fruit, strawberries or blueberries, along with some yogurt, and she snarfs it all. She even likes hummus! I’m so thrilled that I appear to have a baby who enjoys food. She still drinks 4 bottles a day plus usually one overnight, but I’ve noticed that with the addition of the solids she doesn’t appear to be as hungry for as much formula as she used to, which is good because that makes it last a little longer. She can sort of feed herself, but usually I put it in her mouth for her just to keep the mess to a minimum. She is still working on the pincer grip but usually she grabs the food with her fist and then tries to shove her fist in her mouth. So, still a work in progress obviously. We are still working on getting her to hold her own bottle too. (Yesterday we left one of her bottles with handles at a restaurant and I’m super annoyed.) She gets the idea but the application isn’t quite there yet.

If you read my last post you recall that I was fighting with her teeth. She popped one a few days after Mother’s Day and I didn’t even notice. Seriously. I happened to peek in her mouth and there it was. The one right next to it was a completely different story, oh lord. That thing sat right under the skin of her gum for weeks. It finally popped about a week ago, or I’m assuming that’s when it happened anyway because the poor thing was up all night screaming her head off. The next day was totally different and the tooth was out. Yay! My mom estimates that the top center teeth are about 2-3 weeks away. Guess I’ll enjoy the tooth-free time while I can.

She loves getting out of the house and hanging out with us. I take her to the park almost daily (though it depends on her nap schedule, if she gets up too late I don’t take her out because it’s just too hot). She can sit in the front part of a shopping cart now which makes my life massively easier in terms of shopping. We’ve gone to the mall, the art museum, a chalk art festival in downtown, a Memorial Day service at the local cemetery, pretty much everywhere we go she is down. She loves hanging in her stroller and is good in the car…usually. Next weekend the Colorado Renaissance Festival opens, and I’m in the process of hunting down a used wagon for her so that I can transform it into a carriage and trundle her around the faire site. (It’s too uphill and bumpy for the stroller and I’m not carrying her all day.)  At least she is ready for the faire!

She loves her kitties. The best way I’ve found to entertain her recently is put two piles of catnip in front of her. The cats come running and she laughs and laughs at them. Sure, the cats are stoned all day long, but it gives me a few minutes to get a couple things done while she is entertained. On that note, she really is pretty independent and definitely doesn’t require my attention all the time, which I’m grateful for. Now that she can sit up, I can put her on the floor or in her playpen with her toys all around her and she will entertain herself for a while. In her bath, as long as she has her wind-up toys, she will stay quiet for twenty minutes while she tries to figure it out. She is curious and loves to explore and observe. She is obviously a hands-on learner and loves new textures and sounds. Anything that rattles or crinkles has her full attention, so tins with snacks in them and pieces of paper are super handy. She sits in the grass feeling it with her toes which is super adorable. I’m going to be making up some sensory play toys soon because she really likes feeling different things. She loves music too, and she bangs away all day on her little piano and her guitar.

She isn’t too interested in trying to crawl yet, and still usually gets pretty annoyed when I put her on her belly if it isn’t to sleep. On the one hand I’m okay with this because I have a lot of baby proofing to do when it finally happens and I haven’t figured that out yet, but on the other hand I start worrying she’s falling behind when in 1 outing 3 strangers in a store ask me if she’s crawling yet. I know every baby is different and some don’t crawl at all, it’s just one of those paranoid mommy things I guess.

One thing everybody does comment on, however, is how happy she is. And it’s true! I have one happy baby. She smiles and laughs at just about everything now and generally is just one easy-going gal. I feel like if she were an adult, she’d be that friend of yours who is down for anything at anytime because really, she’s just happy to be here.

A Soapbox

I have a bone to pick. I have a feeling this might not be a very popular post. I’m feeling kind of snarky today for no particular reason so whatever.

I don’t have a bone to pick with anyone in particular, really. I have a bone to pick with labeling. Don’t get me wrong, some labels are important. FDA labels. Medication labels. Warning labels. GMO labels. Those kinds of things are important.

I have a problem with parenting labels. It seems to be super important for mothers to label themselves and the kind of “parenting” they parent with. There’s so many “kinds” of parenting out there, and people have some strong feelings about all of them, and I’m here to say that it’s all bullshit. The specific thing that has my goat today (though I’m not sure why) is this whole thing called “gentle parenting” or “attachment parenting.” Mothers who adhere to this idea do things like extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, co-bathing, babywearing, not using the cry-it-out method…you get my drift. And there is nothing wrong with ANY of those things. Nothing. But why do we have to call it “gentle” parenting? So say I don’t do things like co-sleep. Does that therefore imply that I’m not a gentle parent? Or that I’m not attached to my child because I allow her to cry sometimes?

I am really tired of people carrying around this label on their shoulders like it makes them a better mother than me because I don’t let my kid sleep in the same bed. Whatever way you want to raise your child is fine. Breastfeed till age 3? Congratulations. Sleep in the same bed till they’re in kindergarten? Fine. But why does anyone feel the need to broadcast this? Why label yourself an “attachment parent?” Why label yourself anything? Here’s something I’d like to broadcast about all this, in all capital letters because I’d like you to imagine me shouting it from the top of a big soapbox:

NOBODY GIVES A FUCK HOW YOU RAISE YOUR KID.

I don’t look at a toddler and think, oh, he was raised with attachment parenting. When you get to a job interview nobody asks if your mother let you cry till you fell asleep on your own. Chances are unless you were abandoned repeatedly or fed blue meth as an infant, you’re going to turn out pretty much the same as anybody else no matter how your mother(s)/father(s) chose to parent you. My daughter is not going to go to kindergarten and seek out friends who were formula fed and form a clique that talks shit about kids who were breastfed, or vice versa. Kids don’t give a fuck about this sort of stuff, so why do we? Yeah, it’s important that YOU care and feel strongly about the choices you make, but it has no business being anyone else’s business.

Mothers need to quit wasting time worrying that other women care how they are raising their children. Because nobody does. Who has time to care? I have time to raise my child in the manner that works for me, my husband, and our daughter. My motherhood does not make me a martyr and I have nothing to prove to anyone except myself. One method of parenting is not better than the other and nobody cares that you picked one over the other. Make your choices, raise your family, and shut up.

But one more thing, while I’m at it. Since I’m already up on this soapbox. Since my follower count is already dropping anyway. Can we do away with the pictures of the baby eating with the edge of your boob in the picture? I get it, you’re proud to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is cool. But do we need shitloads of pictures of it and your boobs?

You may now return to your regularly scheduled Friday.

Formula.

I know, super engaging title. Roll with me.

I mentioned in my last post how hard it was for me to cope with the ending of my nursing career with Caroline and, further, switching from pumped breast milk to formula. I’ve been wanting to write about it for a while, because it’s something that I’ve been struggling with.

I never was one of those people in the “no formula! evil!” camp. I was a formula fed baby and so was my brother and for the most part both of us turned out just fine. Sure, obviously breast milk is #1 because, well, that’s what we’re designed for. Boobies are for milk no matter what the lingerie industry likes to have us believe. But as an alternative, it isn’t as if formula is poison. Similac has been a trusted resource for quite some time now. And I always knew that, but I had pretty much resolved myself to spending the time and energy required to breastfeed for a year–that was my optimistic goal, but I figured absolutely no less than 6 months. Well, I barely got 3 out of the deal, which upset me a lot. Part of it was pride, because I liked the fact that her nourishment came from me. Another part of it was that I liked it–I liked the quiet time, I liked the fact that it was something that only she and I could do. Obviously it started out rough, but I was proud of the fact that we had worked through the hardest moments and after 8 weeks or so we had finally turned a corner–so I thought–and it was all working out. It never really occurred to me that the reason for the colic/discomfort was potentially due to the mechanics of the breastfeeding and/or the fact that she probably just wasn’t getting as much milk as she needed and wanted. It was a nasty cycle that was feeding into itself (no pun intended) and it really didn’t become apparent until it was already in hindsight.

And of course, once we did start bottle feeding and the change was so dramatic, I had to come to terms with the fact that I probably couldn’t nurse anymore, or at least not exclusively. For a while I tried to hold on to our nighttime feeds, but when a week went by and she woke up every single hour at night we started to sense that she just wasn’t getting full. The first night I fed her a bottle, she slept for 4 hours. So there went my last hold out of night feeds. I was pretty well crushed about the whole thing. I felt like this one thing that I was designed to do wasn’t working and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it.

Then, when my supply started to dip and my anxiety peaked again, I found myself sitting at the kitchen counter with 2 ounces of pumped milk and a hungry baby who was ready to go to sleep. And I didn’t have enough milk for the night. In the cupboard was a box of trial-size formula tins that Similac had sent me in the mail before the baby was even born. We still had a couple little bottles of newborn nutrition ready-feed formula that the hospital had sent us home with when she was being supplemented at the very beginning, too. Cameron, of course, didn’t think twice. Add the formula to the milk, he said. What’s the big deal?

And what was the big deal? Well, I had to deal with the feeling that my body was failing me and Caroline. Wasn’t I supposed to continue making enough milk for her? Why was it failing at only 11 weeks? And then there was the fact that feeding her formula was never in my “plan.” Of course I knew that there was nothing wrong with formula. It’s just that it’s expensive, and I figured if I was going to be home with her, breast milk is free. But still, when I added the liquid formula to my pitiful 2 ounces of milk and fed it to her before she went to bed, I heard this voice in the back of my head and it said you are failing. I felt so miserable and like such a horrible mother–and why? I knew that formula is no big deal. And let’s face it, I didn’t have much other choice. My milk was failing, Caroline was hungry, and there was formula in the cupboard. Easy solution.

As the next week went on and I supplemented more and more and eventually finally decided to just start formula feeding her, I thought a lot about what it was that made me feel so bad about giving her formula when I knew there was nothing wrong with it. And I realized that it all went back to the medical professionals I had interacted with since the time I was pregnant. During our childbirth classes, the teacher gave us a gloss-over of the benefits of breastfeeding versus formula, and I didn’t even really think about it at the time because I was planning to breastfeed. But I realized after the fact that her little “Breast is Best” speech was actually a diatribe about the evil horrors of formula and the havoc that it will wreak on the baby’s incomplete tummy. Our first morning in the hospital when she had lost so much weight, I had two nurses arguing over me–literally–about what to do with her. The older nurse was saying, we’ll supplement her with formula, no problem. The younger nurse, a lactaction consultant, was saying no, let her pump colostrum and we’ll syringe feed it to her. And again, I didn’t even think about it at the time, but some part of me was like, why is this even a question? The baby is hungry and tiny and losing weight, just give her the formula. When we left the hospital the nurse had to go to the pediatric unit to find some formula to send home with us so we could supplement like the doctor wanted, because the labor and delivery unit can’t even keep formula in the unit or they will lose their “breast friendly” status. When I went to her doctor about her colic for the umpteenth time and mentioned that she had been refusing to nurse, the nurse told me “usually when that happens you have to force them to nurse because otherwise they will prefer a bottle.” (And that was when I was still giving her breastmilk in a bottle.) Force her to nurse? Really? Is the act of breastfeeding really more important than the overall health of the baby and the mother? Who cares HOW she is getting the breastmilk as long as she is getting it?

So it finally occurred to me: no wonder I felt bad about giving her formula. Every medical professional I had bumped into since getting pregnant had been pounding anti-formula vitriol into my brain. Aren’t we supposed to trust medical professionals? It came to me that I actually had no idea what to do with the formula and I had to look it all up on my own on Similac’s website. There were no resources given to me when I was pregnant about what to do in the event that breastfeeding didn’t work out, for whatever reason(s). I felt oddly comforted by Similac’s website. It sounded inviting, comfortable, and had lots of disclaimers like “We believe breastfeeding is best, but if you decide to supplement with formula, we have what you’ll need.” It didn’t sound judgy. I didn’t find myself at a website saying “You shouldn’t even be looking at this website. Shame on you. Get back to putting that baby to the breast.”

It’s been several weeks now since we made the switch to formula and while I have to admit my stress is way less, I do miss the nursing sometimes. But, I have to look at my sweet Bean and admit that she is so. much. better. She is growing and learning and is happy and I have to remind myself that nobody should give a shit about how I am feeding her and what I am feeding her except me and Cameron. Still, it hurts sometimes when I come across blogs written by mothers who are lamenting the fact that their baby self-weaned at 2 years and how much they miss it. I have to curb my cynicism and my desire to say “You got 2 years out of the deal. Quit yer bitchin’.” I didn’t choose to stop nursing and I didn’t want to, it was a response to necessity, but sometimes I feel like some women look at formula feeders and think we must be lazy or have taken the easy route out. It hasn’t been easy to take this road, at least for me.

So, in those moments when I get nostalgic for the nursing or feel angry with the culture of anti-formula/mommy shaming, I remind myself of my new year’s resolutions and remember to be present and positive, and I think of the positives to formula feeding. I still get my quiet time with her before bed. She still can reach out and hold my thumb while she drifts off to sleep. She SLEEPS! No more getting up every 2 hours at night–this week she slept 10 hours in a row. I can wear whatever kinds of clothes I want. (My favorite hoodie was missing me!) I can go wherever I want with her and not worry about having enough milk pumped for her or having to get home in time to make more. She can stay overnight with Meme and Papi and I don’t have to spend days pumping a freezer supply first. I can drink as much coffee and wine as I want and I can indulge in my clove cigarette vice every so often. You know, all those bad things you’re not supposed to do anyway. (Hey, I’m a writer. When I get stuck, I drink more coffee and have a cigarette. What can I say.)

Most of all…she is happy. She has been so happy since we stopped nursing and as much as it hurts me, I have to remember that her happiness and health is the most important thing. It would have been incredibly selfish of me to try to continue nursing when it obviously wasn’t the best for her, no matter what the anti-formula doctors and lactivists say. Life is a moving target and nothing is ever black and white.