The Game

Before I had a child, I remember wondering what the allure of all of those baby games was. You know: peekaboo, nursery rhymes, so big – all of those. I mean, sure babies laughed and smiled, I suppose that’s cute. But what’s the fun in them? How could parents repeat them over and over and over and seemingly be just as delighted as their babies?

And then I had a child. And now I know.

To be fair, I’ve always just assumed it would be different with your own child and that’s exactly right. The dumpling looooooooves for us to sing to him. His favorites are Itsy-bitsy Spider and Open, Shut Them, but he’ll also take Disney songs or any other song you happen to be singing. If he’s in a good mood, he positively lights up when you start singing. If he’s in a bad mood, he’ll give you a teary little smile and put a pause on his cries (until the moment you stop singing, of course). He also loves to play peekaboo and he’s recently leveled up his abilities: he can now pull the cloth we’re playing with off of his own head. Score one for the dumpling! His little laughs and big smiles are infectious and Luffy and I will endlessly repeat whatever currently has him giggling in pursuit of MOAR giggles.

However, he’s got a new game now that he’s positively thrilled over and Luffy and I…. well we can’t get enough of it either:

So the dumpling has figured out that when either of us are holding him, he can throw his arms out to the other parent and be passed off. I’m not really sure why he’s so enchanted with this – perhaps it’s his first realization that he can communicate what he wants and get it*. Luffy and I love the little game though because the dumpling gives the best hugs and when he’s passed, he’ll sometimes turn around to you and give this little look like omg mom YOU’RE here too, that’s just amazing! i am so excited to see you!! and then throw his little arms towards you. Sigh. It’s the sweetest.

Last night, something threw the dumpling for a loop in the bath (we’re thinking maybe the water was too warm for his liking???) and he started crying. Big tears, long sobs. He did it the night before too and we were at a loss as to what to do. Nursing didn’t help. His zippy didn’t help. Pats and hugs and bedtime stories didn’t help. Eventually, he settled down, but it took him a while. Last night though, we brought him back to his room and played our little game again. Soon, he was giggling and smiling and all was right with the world.

Luffy and I would happily play that game with him for hours, especially with the knowledge that it won’t be long before he’ll have no patience for being held – he’ll want to GO and DO and RUN and SEE! So yes, right now we’ll pass him back and forth and back and forth and be delighted each time he throws his arms out to us.

*We’re working on some simple signs right now, mainly for milk and more. He hasn’t yet signed anything yet, but he definitely knows the one for milk. All I have to do is ask him if he wants milk (with the sign), and he goes ballistic with the hammy grins and the arm flapping. Yes! Milk! I love milk! I am so excited for the milk!!

Baby needs your blood

Or, at least, your iron enriched supplement.

I got a call last Thursday afternoon from our pediatrician’s office. The finger-prick blood test they had done at his nine-month check up came back positive for anemia. They prescribed an iron supplement, to be given at double the dosage, and told me to bring him back in the following week for a re-check.

Sounds easy enough right? Just give him 1mL of supplement, twice a day, no biggie. The thing is, have you ever tasted one of those supplements? The original one I had straight up tastes like blood. Back when the dumpling was six months old, I bought a multi-vitamin supplement for him because I knew infants’ iron reserves start dropping around then. I shopped around and bought one of those all-natural, no artificial-blah-blah-blah ones – in grape! – and figured it would be a simple matter of getting the dumpling to take it. After all, it was grape flavored. HAHAHA. Yeah no. I tried for a week and then gave up on the whole business. It tasted like blood, it smelled like blood, it stained his clothes, it took two of us to wrangle him. So yeah, I put it in the medicine cabinet and never looked back.*

*Cue mom guilt of epic proportions when I realized that MAH BABY IS ANEMIC and I NEGLECTED to give him an iron supplement from the start because it was icky and hard to do and, I dunno, I had other things to do.

So the good news is that the prescribed supplement, which is actually still apparently OTC although harder to find as evidenced by the fact that our pharmacy didn’t have it in stock, is slightly better tasting. It’s clear at least and doesn’t really taste like blood (or smell like blood for that matter). It does still have a metallic twang to it, which makes hiding it in food a little bit of a challenge. Luffy thinks I’m being ridiculous, but let me outline my issues for you, if I may:

  • Issue #1: Calcium hinders the absorption of iron. Therefore, the supplement shouldn’t be given alongside dairy. They do recognize that this is more of a challenge for infants and still suggest to put it in bottles of formula (although not cow’s milk), but it means his morning yogurt is out as a vehicle for iron.
  • Issue #2: We’re in the midst of our transition from breastmilk to formula. Today, in fact, is his first day with bottles that are more formula than breastmilk – woot woot! But, I don’t want to jeopardize this transition by throwing the supplement in there, especially as my supply has seriously tanked in the past couple of days (is it my period? night weaning? am I pregnant? WHO KNOWS!). So bottles are out.
  • Issue #3: We’re supposed to give this supplement for at least 30 days. So twice a day for 30 days – I want this to be as painless as possible. Therefore, straight up squirting it into his mouth via a syringe is out as the dumpling LOATHES this method. LOATHES IT GOOD SIR. I SAID GOOD-DAY TO YOU.
  • Issue #4: I had really hoped that he would drink it mixed with a little orange juice (I know! juice is terrible for them! it’s just water and sugar! if it means the dumpling happily drinks his own supplement you can bite me). Alas, he is onto me and wants nothing to do with that either, thankyouverymuch.
  • Issue #5: I thought about putting the OJ/iron mixture into a cup because the dumpling loves cups. The only problem is that he’s still not that great with them and he’d probably only get 1/4 of it down. I’m keeping this as a last resort on the days that we have problems giving his other doses to him.
  • Issue #6: Recall that we’re giving this for 30 days, twice a day. I really hate to put it into all of his food because then everything he eats would have a metallic taste and that just makes me sad. He’s supposed to be discovering flavors right now and it bums me out that everything would have that icky aftertaste.
  • Issue #7: Re: Issue #6 – and further, even if I did mix it in with all of his food, I’d have to ensure that he eats most of that food each time. It’s required baby. Prescribed food, now open up.
  • Issue #8: (And this is where Luffy thinks I am being the most ridiculous) We have successfully hidden it in his oatmeal on several occasions, but I just can’t bring myself to do it all of the time because ….  it turns his oatmeal gray. Gray oatmeal you guys. On the one hand, it looks completely unappetizing. The dumpling doesn’t care, but I do. Small confession though – he does look hilarious when he eats the gray oatmeal. It gets on and around his lips and he looks like he’s got black lipstick on like some tiny goth baby. Emo infants around the world will likely request gray oatmeal now to fulfill their tiny emo-baby dreams.
  • Issue #9: So again with the 30 days, twice a day thing. I’d really like to find something that’s a one-and-done sort of thing, like the OJ/iron thing would have been. Something that I can just have prepared and grab, mix with the supplement and feed to the dumpling. I really don’t want to have to be doing mental math each day to think ok, so he’s having yogurt this morning, which means that I can’t mix it into that, which means that I need to add it somewhere else, but I want to give him sandwiches today, so scratch that, maybe a veggie puree in the afternoon and then we’ll just see when he gets home  and then tomorrow will be totally different. I’m sorry, but I already have a million and one things to do/remember/attend to, I would like to have one set way to administer this thing for the next month.
  • Issue #10: [There isn’t another issue, but I can’t leave this list here without rounding it out to a nice even ten. So let’s just chat about other things real quick – how’s the weather there? We’ve got rainy and a high of 85 degrees in freaking August! Someone pinch me! Also, I could have used this last year, but whatever.]
  • Issue #11: Wait! I thought of another issue! The supplement is best absorbed on an empty stomach, but could cause stomach upset. Adults are supposed to take it with food, but only if it causes upset. Obviously an infant can’t tell you if his stomach is upset by what you just gave him, so they suggest administering it immediately following a meal. BUT. Infants don’t eat unless they’re hungry. So you see the catch-22 right? He needs to eat it after a meal to avoid upset stomach but infants don’t eat unless they’re hungry which means he’s not gonna eat it after a meal. Wah wah.
  • Issue #12: Re: Issue #10 – well crap, now what I have done? Let’s just leave it here and pretend this is like #15 or something.

So, that’s a lot of issues. You see my dilemma, yes? Today, we’re trying a new method. Another mom suggested a smoothie of sorts. I blended mango, banana, carrots, orange juice, and apple juice together to make a sweet puree. We never give the dumpling fruit purees, so I’m hoping he’ll be excited by this enough to eat it each day. I’m also hoping the sweet combats the metallic and that the small size (I’m keeping each serving at an ounce) means that he finishes it all. I was able to prepare about 24 portions, which means we’d have at least 12 days covered already. Plus, they’re already prepared and in the fridge which means it’s just grab, mix, and go. Basically, all of my hopes and dreams are resting on this! Don’t fail me smoothie! You’re my last hope!

Whew.

So yeah, wish us luck! Between that and the formula (iron-fortified) and the oatmeal (iron-fortified), I really hope to pull his numbers up soon.

TEEEEEEETH

Wut the wut?!

The dumpling has teeth!! (scrunches up face, fans eyeballs, valiantly tries… not… to….)

MAAAAAAH BAAAAAABBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

I really thought we’d make it to a year without teeth. I didn’t have teeth until well after my first birthday. My brother apparently got like four in one week when he was five months old and then didn’t get another until around 16 months. And we’ve seen not a single sign of teeth in the dumpling. NOT A SINGLE WARNING that teeth were making their way through his little gums.

I was dropping the dumpling off at daycare this morning (which is usually an extended affair for me because his teachers and I just chat about him). Then they just casually mentioned that they had felt his teeth yesterday and were so excited for him and it also sort of explained his clingy behavior earlier this week and – HOLD UP – WUT NOW??? TEETH??? And they were like yes! Teeth!  And I was like, OMG, this explains so much, but also TEETH?!

So let’s back up to this weekend. Our darling boy was being a touch clingy. And we all know that I’m being a bit facetious when I say *touch* because, yeah. He basically refused to be put down the entire weekend. Don’t you dare walk away from me and leave me here. And no, it doesn’t make it better if you sit on the floor while I’m over here, pick me up woman! The only way I could get him to eat any of his solids was if I held him while feeding him. (Although we did try some baby pancakes I made him which he loved and then had an allergic reaction to, so yeah, not so proud of that one in hindsight.) He also seemed more tired than usual, barely making it a couple of hours before needing a nap. But! We still managed to get lots of smiles and laughs and “da-da-da-da”s out of him.

We mentioned it to daycare Monday morning as a sort of warning. Every other time we’ve warned them about fussiness and clinginess over the weekend, they’ve just laughed at us as, OF COURSE, he’s a perfect angel for them. This time though, even they had to admit he was just not himself. I picked him up Tuesday to find him on the hip of his primary teacher. She joked with me that he’d been there all day, lol, jk, but for realz please take this baby so that I can have my arm back. He, of course, was all smiles after being catered to.

Then yesterday, he kept biting me while nursing. He’s bitten me before, with just his little gums, hard enough to draw blood actually. Those times, it was more about the pressure or tugging. This time though, there was a sharp pain that accompanied each nip. I brushed it off though and tried to get through nursing without yelping. It didn’t help that he kept side-eyeing me while biting me, so I really thought he was just testing a boundary. What will mom do if I do this? CHOMP.

So yeah – teeth – it totally makes sense now. His teachers laughed that I hadn’t even checked for teeth, that they discovered them first, but, to be fair, teeth never even crossed my mind. I mean, aren’t they supposed to turn into little hellions? If my birth board is to be believed, the biggest sign of teething would be the extended night wakings with non-stop screaming, drooling, crankiness, and possibly some devil’s horns to top it all off – much like a bow atop a present. I just chalked the dumpling’s clinginess up to some sort of growth spurt or leap.

It’s true though, I felt them myself before I left the room. Two tiny teeth, poking through. I’m sad, in a way (ok, in lots of ways). Babies look so weird with teeth. Right? I can’t be the only person who thinks so. You’ve got this little cherubic baby, all cute and drooly, who opens his mouth and – BAM – teeth. Like a real person! I’m going to miss his little gummy smile so much… He’s going to look so different with teeth… He’s just getting so big… (scrunches up face, fans eyeballs, valiantly tries… not… to….)

MAAAAAAH BAAAAAABBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

Nine Months!

The dumpling! He is nine months old today. Holy cats!

It’s so odd to think that he’s been here, with us, for just as long as he was in me. Every day that passes tips the scales further and further towards making my time with him inconsequential.

We had his nine month check-up this morning. He’s doing great! Still a peanut – poor baby. Fourth percentile for weight and the twentieth for height. He’s got long legs and arms and a short torso (he gets the short torso from me). I laugh because he still wears 6mo onesies without issue. I bought him 9mo onesies the other day and they swallow him. Yet, his 12mo pants are a touch short, almost passing for shorts rather than pants.

His gross motor skills need some monitoring. He’s a big fan of sitting, that one. Put a toy he wants in front of him (which is probably the most recommended piece of advice for encouraging crawling) and he’ll streeeeeeeetch out to get it. Sometimes, he’s successful and will pull himself back upright to sitting, toy in hand. Other times, he does a controlled face plant, gets his legs out from under him, then wails at the horror of being on his tummy. TUMMY TIME… WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS??? Reminding him that he got himself into this situation does nothing to curb the wails. Good times.

He’s already come so far though, since those early newborn days. When he’s in a good mood, he’ll sit and play by himself, banging cups on the floor and depositing rings into a cleaned out tissue box (probably the best toy I’ve ever given him, because of course it is). Luffy and I always chuckle because many mornings, while we’re letting him chill in his crib for a bit (he needs a few minutes to really wake up), we’ll hear him all the way across the house – just talking to himself, greeting the day.

Bedtime is his absolute favorite time. He could be a fussy monster for the better portion of the day, but as soon as he realizes it’s bathtime, out come the smiles! He thinks it’s hilarious to be naked, probably because I always pinch his butt. He loves to play in the tub and will dump toys over the side until I make him get out. He adores being read to. Luffy reads to us (Harry Potter right now, we’re on the third one) while he nurses one last time. Sometimes, if he’s not ready for bed yet, I’ll sit him up to listen to dada read to us and – whoo – he loves that too. So many smiles – big smiles. Then into his crib he goes and, if he’s not quite ready for sleep yet, he chats to himself for a while. So adorable.

Sometimes I look back and miss being pregnant. It was so much easier, in a way. Harder physically, true. Plus you have the worry of the unknown (baby’s health, my health, delivery, what are the newborn days going to bring you, etc), but overall easier for me. No holding an infant all the time when he refuses to be put down. No making bottles or pumping or prepping daycare bags. No car seats or endless laundry or diaper changes. Plus, my needs still reigned supreme.

But then, I look down at my smiling boy and I’m ever so happy that he’s here. Happy nine months, my dumpling.

Clutter

So. What do you do with all of the baby stuff when the baby outgrows said stuff?

Because seriously, my house feels like it’s overflowing with newborn/young infant stuff that the dumpling isn’t using anymore.

I’ve already put away his cosleeper (which he never used), his rock ‘n’ play (which we used as a laundry hamper for a while after he transitioned out), his swing, and the car seat base from my car (Luffy is still using his for a while, but we have the convertible seat installed in my car already). I’m eyeing the bouncer and bassinet that are in our room right now. Oh and the frame stroller. Oh and the nursing pillows. And then the infant bucket seat and Luffy’s base. All things I have to find a place for.

It’s fun, in a way, to see all of the things that the dumpling has no use for now. So many of them were a lifesaver when he was a newborn. The rock ‘n’ play was the only way he’d sleep for more than 50 minutes at 3 weeks old. Once he came around to the swing (around 8 weeks old maybe?), it was the best place to ensure a nice long nap. Even as he got older, the swing helped him through his overtired energy at the end of daycare days to get a final nap in. We only stopped using it when he became too distracted by the movement to snooze.

Of course, with plans for a second child at some point, I’ve merely packed all of this stuff away. In closets, under beds, you name it and it likely has a baby-related item stored in it. I’m running out of room. As a person who dislikes clutter, I’m already looking forward to the moment when I can donate it all.

It’s probably just begun, hasn’t it? All you parents of older children are probably out there shaking your heads at me. Bouncers give way to exersaucers which are taken over by walkers and then activity tables and then toys and legos. When does it end?!

Milks lady

Luffy, ever the analytical thinker, did the math.

Daily consumed ounces – current daily pump output = required supplement from freezer (RSfF).

Current freezer stash divided by the daily RSfF equals twenty-five days. Give or take.

Twenty-five days and the milk runs out.

I knew it was coming. My pumped output has basically been declining since I started pumping back in January. Slowly but surely, I’ve gotten less and less over the weeks. Fifteen ounces a day, then thirteen, then twelve, then ten, and now seven. In my head, my fuzzy non-math figured we could make it to twelve months when we could switch over to cow’s milk. Luffy’s 25 days fall short of my twelve month non-math.

In a way, I’m happy about this. I’m not sure if I mentioned this (a quick perusal through the archives tells me I did not): I had made up my mind to transition to formula during the days about two months ago. I was ready. I had researched formulas. Bought new bottles. Bought formula. Told daycare. And then, the day came, and I changed my mind. I just couldn’t. I thought about the freedom not having to pump would bring me and the relief I would likely feel at not being the dumpling’s sole source of food. I thought about the added benefit of iron in the formula (no iron supplements for the breastfed baby!). I thought about not having to drag my pump and all of its accouterments to work with me. I thought about how I’d never have to feel that unique brand of discouragement after pumping for almost a half hour and getting such a small amount. All of these thoughts – all of the decisive pros – and I couldn’t. I put away the bottles (which I had already sanitized) and tucked the formula into our pantry and kept lugging my breast pump to work.

So in a way, I’m pleased that the decision has been taken out of my hands. No more waffling about my supply is definitely decreasing and but I’ll miss the weekend nursing sessions. It just makes sense to get the dumpling acclimated to formula before the stash runs dry. I want to make sure that he does well with the formula I’ve chosen. Plus it gives me time to wean off the pump. I think it’s a good decision for both of us.

True, I’m sad about the timing. We’re so close to making it all the way. I never set goals for myself regarding breastfeeding (as was such a popular topic on my birth board) because I figured it took two to tango, so to speak. Both the dumpling and I had a say in how long we nursed. But since we’re so close to a year (the fabled year! when we make the switch!) I started thinking we could go all the way.

But then again, not being the dumpling’s sole source of nutrition means that I can really get aggressive with my diet now, which will do wonders for my self-esteem. It means that I can stop timing my meals and when I have caffeine. It means I can stop fretting over my output. It means I don’t necessarily have to be around when the dumpling needs his next meal.

But also, my baby! It’s irrational, but I’ll miss being his sole source of nutrition. His rolls, his length, his baby chub – all of it thanks to me. Literally his entire body thanks to me. Plus, I’ll miss the ultimate excuse when I want some baby snuggles – oh, I’m sorry, it’s time for him to nurse. Handy for whenever I want to regain control or when I just flat out miss that little cutie pie.


So, this is it. The countdown is on. His first bottle of formula is prepped and in the fridge for tomorrow. We’ll still nurse for breakfast, right before bed, and during the night, which, saying that, makes this whole post seem superfluous. Still though – don’t argue with my irrational momma brain! Mah baby!! Don’t forget me – don’t forget when it was just you and me and the milks.

Love, the milks lady.

Casual Slight

A casual conversation can sometimes reveal so much.

On Monday, I was chatting with the instructor who teaches after me. Having a fairly new baby means that most people start conversations out by asking how he is. So we chatted about how he’s doing and what all he’s learning. She asked me how motherhood was and I truthfully answered that it was great but a lot more than I was prepared for. It’s one thing to know about all of the care that goes into a baby and quite another to actually care for a baby, I told her.

She chuckled at that point and said that her husband was pushing for a baby and she kept trying to put him off, she wasn’t ready yet. Then she made the assumption that I stay at home and I corrected her, saying that I still work full time.

“Oh, where’s he at during the day then? Babysitter?” she asked, setting her music up.

“No, he’s at daycare -” and she interrupted me with, “yeah, I could never do that. That’s why I keep telling my husband no babies!”

And she returned to setting her music and mic up for class. I don’t want to say I walked away stunned or anything, I have more backbone than that, but the conversation stuck with me. What exactly did she mean? Did she think that daycare isn’t adequate? She assumed that I stayed home; did she think less of working mothers? Was this a casual slight against those of us who choose (or are forced by circumstances) to continue working after having babies? Perhaps it came from a dislike of daycare rather than a judgement against working mothers. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. I’d like to think it was simply a tone-deaf statement on her part. She likely just didn’t realize what she was implying with her casual dismissal of my parenting choice.

The real takeaway from this is the lesson to ignore what others have to say and to just do what’s best for you and your family. Daycare literally saves my sanity. While I’d love to hang out with my little dumpling all day – in theory – I really don’t think I’d be as happy as I am now. I’m good at my job, really good. I appreciate being able to use my skills again, to find solutions to problems and to receive acknowledgement of a job well done. Parenting is such a guessing game; Luffy and I are just trying to do our best. I know, with certainty, that if I stayed home with the dumpling I would take each missed nap or all-afternoon meltdown as a personal failure on my part. I can see myself feeling inadequate as a mother and caretaker if my only job was to care for the dumpling and he spent most of the day in tears. Which is completely unfair to myself, considering that he’s a tiny human who is allowed to have bad days and what not. Worse, I can absolutely see myself lashing out at Luffy if he offered a solution to a problem, like he always does because he’s a fixer, because WHAT? DO YOU THINK I’M NOT CAPABLE AT MY JOB? MUST YOU MICROMANAGE ME? Shudder. Definitely not a place I want to go.

So yes, daycare saves my sanity. The time I spend with my little boy is time for us to snuggle and play and help him figure out this whole crawling business. The time I spend at work is time for me to both hone my skills and also focus on myself first (it’s always nice when I can have my lunch whenever I please!). Daycare gives me a break from the monotony and sheer drudgery of caring for an infant. And I really appreciate that.

So cheers to doing what’s best for you! Now if we could only work on keeping our noses out of other people’s decisions, we could tackle world peace next and everyone knows that would solve ALL the problems.