Toddler

I’m not sure what happened over the past week or so, but my dumpling suddenly looks more like a little boy than a baby. I can’t even pinpoint the change really because his little chubby cheeks are still there. As are his miles-long lashes. And his arm roll (yes singular, for my child is a string bean) and belly. His ham-bones are still nommable. And yet, when I look at him, I see a little toddler. He’s growing so much. Luffy took a picture of me holding a sleeping dumpling at the airport (on our flight there). I was shocked to see it and to see how big he looked laying on me.

He’s standing now, unassisted. He hasn’t quite figured out the walking (unassisted) thing yet, but he’ll merrily zoom around using a push toy. He cruises along the furniture, begging for food with his irresistible outreached hand. He points and gestures and emphasizes that he wants to go there and there and over there! He gives the best hugs now – have I told you? I’ve been saying for ages that he’s not a cuddler and all of a sudden he wants hugs. A few of nights ago, I sat down with him to listen to Luffy read to us and rather than bounce around, like he normally does, he turned into me and climbed up to rest his head on my shoulder. My heart swelled and I held him tightly, figuring it was a one time occurrence but he’s done it every night since.

He chuckles now, too. We’ve only ever known his laughs when we tickle him (which are hilarious because they’re silent until he can’t hold it in any longer and he just squeals), but now he’ll chuckle at things he finds amusing. A toy, Jas, his dada, whatever tickles his fancy.

We’re getting a glimpse (or should I say foreshadowing?) of the quintessential toddler tantrum – belly down, feet and fists pounding the floor. Except we’re also seeing his personality shine through. He’s far too cautious and careful to traditionally tantrum by throwing himself to the floor and beating it with his fists and feet. Rather, he delicately lowers himself down, and sort of flutters his feet and hands above the floor. While I assume that at some point he’ll hurtle himself down with all the potent fury a three-year-old can muster and I’ll groan because gah, right now it’s pretty darn cute.

He eats like a champ, when he’s hungry, chowing down on everything from cut-up grapes to whole crackers. His favorites are meat (chicken and pork in particular, though he loved Thanksgiving turkey) and clementines. He doesn’t seem to be a big fan of bread or bread-like things (muffins, pancakes, etc) or vegetables (to be fair here, he only has four teeth, it’s a little hard to enjoy most veggies with just four teeth), but he’ll happily put away some pizza. We make sure he gets his veggies via pouch and I was inordinately proud when he disliked a fruit-only pouch I tried to distract him with on the plane. I tried it myself, found it far too sweet and figured he did too. (Side tangent, it drives me crazy how difficult it is to find pouches (or baby food, for that matter) made of predominantly vegetables. Like, I don’t need help getting him to eat strawberries or bananas, I need help with green beans and broccoli! Whyyyyyy is this so challenging?) He’s a pro with pouches now and will come crawling for his Apple-Raspberry-Spinach-GreekYogurt-Oat or Banana-Kiwi-Kale-Barley-GreekYogurt. He likes to mix it up.

I didn’t really sit down to memorialize everything he’s doing now, but it’s so challenging when he’s so active and adorable. I realized the other day, scrolling through my photos, that we actually don’t have many photos of him now. Not stills anyways. We have videos. Mini clips of him doing something – eating with a spoon, standing, giving a hug, begging for food*, cruising with a push toy. In fact, most of the still shots I’ve captured of him recently are blurry as he was busy heading off to the next thing. It really put into perspective (a) how boring babies are initially and (b) how much he’s grown in just a year. I really can’t wait to see what he’ll learn next.

*We are firmly in the stage of what-are-you-eating-there-mom???? As soon as either Luffy or I sit down with a snack or meal, he must know and sample what we’re having. He’s also very good about asking for food. Apparently, he knows exactly where his puffs are kept at daycare and will routinely gesture up to the cabinet throughout the day, just to see if one of his teachers will succumb to the adorableness and give him some puffs.

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Turkey Day 2017

We’re back! I hope your Thanksgiving was gluttonous. Ours was…. good? Bad? Clingy? Scream-y? No-sleep-y?

Sigh

Our mistake was staying too long. We were visiting my parents out in West Texas and flew in Tuesday morning with a return flight on Saturday at noon. Honestly, if we had left Friday morning instead, we probably would have avoided 80% of the crying and woe that we endured. (Yeah, Friday night was that bad.)

It all started pretty well. The dumpling was clingier and more tired than usual, but I expected that for the most part. His waketimes drastically shorten until he’s more familiar with his location, but that’s perfectly understandable. We worked around it for the most part, holding him for most of the early days or talking to relatives from the floor as we encouraged the dumpling to play. Extra patience at bedtime and holding him to lengthen a nap (which wuh?? did we bring along a newborn??). Luffy’s patience ran out about 2:30 on Thanksgiving day when we were both struggling to get a clearly tired dumpling to go the F to sleep and he tried to change our return flight. No dice, though I did manage to get the dumpling down just in time to go snuggle my cousin’s newborn!

The true trouble started on Friday night though. The dumpling was extra cranky and resistant at bedtime and fear shot into my heart when we heard him wake up just two short hours later. I managed to get him back down fairly quickly but he only stayed down for forty minutes or so. And here is where we made the biggest mistake, I think. I envisioned a very long night for us and, in an effort to make soothing easier for myself, tried to bring the dumpling into our bed for the night. Now, the dumpling hates co-sleeping, and I know this, but I thought that since he already had been asleep that his sleep drive would be enough for him to just conk out again. In reality though, we actually just ensured that he’d be wide awake by the time we re-arranged things. Then he treated the first couple hours of the night as a nap and wanted to party while we tried to get him back to sleep. By the time he was truly ready for sleep again (somewhere around midnight), he was far too touched out, I suppose, at all the patting and shushing and rubbing and holding.

Around 12:30 in the morning I decided to give him some space, which is when he decided to howl like a banshee. My poor mom woke up (though she assured me that she woke up to check on us) and convinced me to let her take him for a bit. The dumpling started crying even harder when I passed him over to her. I gave them ten minutes and poked my head out to hear my son still screaming. That’s when I threw in the towel and resigned myself for a very long night. I gave him a dose of Tylenol, just in case, and then held him as I talked with my mom. I then moved to the living room and sat down on the floor, where the dumpling finally passed out in my arms sometime around 1:30am. My sweet mom gathered blankets and a pillow for me and I scooched my way down into a reclined position and tried to ignore my protesting back and hips. Around 3:30 in the morning the dumpling rolled off me and face-planted into the floor where he slept soundly for another hour or so. After that he wanted back on my chest and slept there until 6am, when he was AWAKE! and ALERT! BRIGHT EYED AND BUSHY TAILED! Gah mom, what is your PROBLEM?? I walked him around the dark house until I reasoned that he might as well eat some breakfast if he wasn’t going back to sleep.

So, I got about an hour’s worth of sleep that night? I’m not really sure. Thankfully, Luffy took over mid-morning while I laid back down and got a nap in. The dumpling also got a good nap in before our flight (also thankfully – praise baby Jesus!). And then….. the flight.

The. Flight.

We managed to distract the dumpling with food for most of the flight. But, when we started our descent, all hell broke loose. He quite literally melted down. My best guess is that his ears needed to pop and that sort of just set off his whole DONENESS with the travelling situation. He was over it. He wanted to be out and off and was done. With me and his dad and everyone. I have never felt more embarrassed and ashamed on a flight and this is coming from a girl who once threw up on a flight because she was hungover (which, I would not recommend to anyone, was not a fun experience). He screamed and screamed and screamed, barely pausing for breath. He worked himself up so much I seriously thought he might vomit or pass out from lack of oxygen. He screamed right up until we walked off the plane. By this point, Luffy was boiling mad and I can’t really blame him. The whole experience was just miserable and didn’t really lessen up any on our Uber ride home, though we did at least get to joke with the person we inflicted our hollering child upon (and tip generously, I might add).

Then, ladies and gentlemen, I witnessed a damn near miracle. As I walked through our front door with the dumpling, he lit up. I kid you not. He was SO happy to be home. I had not put that child down since practically Tuesday and in an instant he wanted down and was off to say hi to Jas and find his Sharpies* and visit his toys. It was incredible to feel the tension and stress just melt away from him.

Sunday was wonderful as we spent quality time together again, laughing and playing and not holding him for 90% of his day. I had almost forgotten what our little boy was like normally while we had been away.

So whew. I am glad things are back to normal around here. We did have some fun. We ate lots of good food. Drank lots of champagne. My mom and I baked and made candy. We saw the house my brother and his wife are moving to (that’s right! they’ll no longer be in DFW which I am very sad about). The dumpling played with my parent’s cats, including their four-month-old kitten, and my parents were delighted by just how well he treated them (gentle hands! I say for the millionth time). We watched movies and saw extended family. We took walks and enjoyed tickling the dumpling. If I separate out Friday night and the flight back, we had a fantastic time! So I think I’ll do just that for my own sanity.

*I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but the dumpling loves Sharpies. I have a colorful set of the fine-tipped ones in my office that he discovered one day. Now, he’ll just go play with them and cart them around the house. I keep finding Sharpies everywhere though my set seems to have dwindled. Oh well, it’s awfully cute.

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.