Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Six Months Old - HAPPY HALF BIRTHDAY, BABY!

Hey Monster,

SIX MONTHS. I know I say this every month, but seriously – where has the time GONE? You are already half a year old. That blows my mind. You’ve been growing and changing so much these last few weeks that I feel like I’ll surely be packing you off to college tomorrow! Two weeks ago, in the span of five days, you learned to sit all by yourself, started eating solid foods, and went swimming in G & G’s hot tub. It was quite an exciting week for you!

The weather has been warm and beautiful here, so we heated up the hot tub, slapped on the sunscreen, and went for a short dip. You tolerated the float boat, but preferred for Mommy or Daddy to hold you while you kicked at the water. We had to cut our dip a little short when a cool wind picked up, but you bundled up in your towel and snuggled with Gaunie in the sunshine.
 

 

As far as solids, your hands down favorite is sweet potatoes. Whenever I serve them, you gobble them down and even make a dent in seconds. You rated bananas as acceptable, and took a pass on peas. That’s okay; we’ll try them again later. You have marvelous table manners – except when sweet potatoes are on the menu. When that yummy goodness is in front of you, all bets are off. You grab for the spoon, lunge for the next bite, and grunt and shriek if it takes “too long” for Mommy to scoop up the next spoonful. 

More please!
 Another milestone is that we officially left behind the pacifier. You were never really crazy about it, although it would help chill you out occasionally. Now, you act like we are attempting to poison you if we get the pacifier anywhere near you. You’ve been exploring the wonders of thumb and finger sucking, but haven’t really figured out how to use them for pacifying. Mommy would really appreciate it if you’d get that worked out soon, because until then, you’re pretty much using me as a human pacifier. So let’s work on that!

While working out the finger finding mission, we have also abandoned swaddling. We tossed out the Woombie, stocked up on footie pajamas, and got to sleeping like a big boy. You still wake yourself up sometimes without that snug swaddle you loved so much, but I finally realized I couldn’t hold on to swaddling anymore since you were rolling so well.


We have officially abandoned the bottle effort. You were never a bottle baby anyway (as the poor ladies in the church nursery learned when you screamed bloody murder when they tried to feed you), so we bought you a sippy cup. You mostly like it as a teether right now, but will drink out of it occasionally.  


Tomorrow is your six month checkup. I can’t wait to find out how much you weigh and how long you’ve gotten. None of us are looking forward to your next round of shots, but since your four month shots went easier than your two month, I’m hoping this round will be even easier (although I’m pretty sure they’re harder on Mommy and Daddy than on you). **Update - You are now 17.5 lbs and 26.5 inches long. Big boy! You also took your shots very bravely, and were mostly just mad at Mommy and Daddy for holding you down.**

It’s so funny. When you were born, I swore I could never love you more. But as you grow, so apparently does my heart. Every day you change a little, grow a lot, and I just love you more and more. You get cuter and more charming (which I also didn’t think was possible). You give the sweetest smiles and kisses. You demand everyone’s undivided attention (and have even learned how to fake cough to get it!).  You are master of all of our hearts.

Making a grab for the camera
I love the way you dissipate all my stress with a smile. I love the way you wake up from every nap completely discombobulated and annoyed, but happy and cheerful when you wake up in the morning. I love the way you try so hard to talk. 

Seriously, this is your 'trying to talk' face. SO CUTE!
I love the way you perk up while Daddy watches Wheel of Fortune, because you think the audience is clapping for you. I love when you smile so big that your eyes turn into upside down crescent moons like a cartoon character. 


I love when you cry and tiny, earnest tears streak down your sweet chubby cheeks. I love when you see your reflection and get so excited to “kiss the baby”. I love how you do everything full tilt - Including falling asleep mid-play!


                                                      
I love how you light up as soon as I walk into your line of sight. I love the so funny expressions you make.


 

I love everything about you, little boy. I love you wider than the world, and I love you -

- to the moon… and back,

Mommy

Thursday, March 17, 2011

First Foods!

Larkin greeted solids as if he'd been eating his whole life. As you can tell from the photos, I was fully prepared for a mess. I stripped the kid down to his diaper, and put on a full body plastic bib. But he surprised all of us by having near-perfect table manners.
Seriously, this was as messy as it got. Not much of a photo opportunity, but it makes his OCD mama proud!
 
"Hey, this is kind of cool!"

"Mmmm... banana..."



I've had a few people ask me why we started solids early, especially considering my emotional reaction to the milestone. For those of you without kiddos, doctors typically recommend starting solid foods (which is a total misnomer, by the way. There is nothing solid about baby's first purees!) at six months. Larkin is a couple of weeks short of the mark, but we felt comfortable that he was ready.

We have been practicing what they call baby led solids, and letting Larkin show us when he was ready. At four months, he started getting very interested in our food and the practice of eating. Starting at about five months, I would occasionally give him a tiny sample of a baby safe food I was eating (example: I would rub some banana on my finger, or a tiny bit of avocado). I only did one food at a time (with several days in between) and no one was allowed to feed him except me, all precautions in case of an allergic reaction.

At first he made cute faces and spit everything back out. But recently, he began diving for my finger and pouting for more. At the same time, his nursing demands were skyrocketing (we were back to feeding non-stop) as my body was fighting to keep up with his caloric needs. He's a seriously big kid, people! Finally, my "Mommy Yoda" (a new friend who has been full of awesome child rearing advice) helped me see that I was putting off starting solids because of my own hang ups, and that my little man was *ready*. And, as you can see (in a very short clip of the very long original - we ARE first time parents!) he did awesome.

video

Our success in starting solids has just been another reminder that every kid is different, and no child needs to be scheduled on a random doctor's pamphlet or Internet message board advice. Many people have told me in the past 5 1/2 months that I should rush solids, to get Larkin to sleep through the night. Others have insisted it's better to wait until he is well over that 6 month mark. I have to say that it's a good thing we didn't start solids with the intention of increasing sleep, because (at least so far) his sleeping schedule hasn't changed at all!

Larkin's dinner went even better tonight, although it was quite a bit messier. This time, he managed to wolf down almost a half a banana, and still wanted to nurse for awhile after. And now, it's time to play!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Beginning of the End

Tonight, we served Larkin his first bit of solids. He was very excited (bananas were a huge hit!) and did beautifully (not even any mess!). I will post photos and a very cute video tomorrow. But tonight, I need to work out my own mixed feelings about this milestone.

At his four month check up, his pediatrician told us to wait until Larkin was as close to six months as possible before introducing solids. At about the same time as that check up, Larkin started getting very interested in the food on our plate. As he got closer to five months, he began trying to mooch off our plates at dinnertime and mimicking us as we opened our mouths and chewed. Then, last Saturday morning, he was sitting on my lap while I was eating a kolache. After each bite, Larkin would lean in and give me a big kiss. At first I thought he was just being a sweetheart, but then I realized he was trying to taste that delicious breakfast treat!

So, in other words, he has been more than ready to start solids. Turns out, it was me that wasn’t ready. Until tonight, my little boy has been exclusively breastfed. Before Larkin was born, I decided I wanted to try breastfeeding. I knew it was the healthiest choice for nourishing a newborn, and I wanted to attempt it. However, I was by no means adamant about nursing. If it worked out, great. If not, I wasn’t going to beat myself up.

I knew nothing about breastfeeding. My mom didn’t nurse her babies, my grandmother didn’t. None of my friends or extended family had nursed (at least not in my life). I had never seen anyone breastfeed, had never talked to anyone about their breastfeeding experience. I considered taking a breastfeeding class before Larkin was born, but being put on bed rest put a halt to that.

When Larkin was born, we had a rough start. Nursing may be a natural process, but it was by no means easy. I was weak and in pain after my c-section, and the little monster was HUNGRY. All the time, he wanted to eat. My colostrum had come in fine, but it wasn’t satisfying him. Every hour (at least), he would wake up crying, demanding to be fed. I’d put him in the bassinet and Jonathan would help me origami the bed pillows into the best position. Larkin would latch on, and my eyes would pop open and my toes would curl. OUCH. And then, the marathon. He ate endlessly. He would nurse me dry – literally. I could feel myself dehydrating as he chowed down. By the time he would fall asleep and unlatch, my lips would be chapped and my skin dry.

The nurses would come in to check on his feedings, and I would look up with tears in my eyes. “He’s still nursing.” “STILL? Since I was here an hour ago?” “Yeeeeeeeees!!!” They sent me a lactation consultant. She arrived just as Larkin was being wheeled to the nursery for testing. She gave me some tips, hooked me up to a pump, and left. Things didn’t improve. The next day, I begged to see the LC again. Again, she arrived while he was away being checked by the pediatrician. A few more tips, and she left. I didn’t know enough to know how useless breastfeeding advice is WITHOUT THE BABY IN THE ROOM.

When we got home from the hospital, I was getting desperate. Finally when Larkin was a week old, a family friend came by to help. Joan was my miracle worker. She had been a lactation consultant for years, and she sat down with me and Larkin and helped us work out the kinks. She adjusted our hold, our latch, and gave some priceless advice. After that night, breastfeeding began to click for us.

Since then, we’ve never looked back. Larkin lost some weight initially due to our struggles. But he quickly began putting on the pounds. Soon, it was second nature for us. It no longer hurt when he latched on. His feeding sessions were a reasonable length. And in the long run, nursing Larkin has been the single most rewarding experience in my life.

Did I do it on my own? NO. Without Joan’s intervention, I never would have gotten breastfeeding off the ground and she’s been an awesome source of information and support since then. Jonathan’s support has been invaluable. The poor man has run himself ragged accommodating me while I’m nursing. He’s fetched countless glasses of water, juggled baby and pillows and my My Breast Friend, and (my favorite) covered pretty much all of the cooking, thereby keeping me fed while I keep the baby fed. My family has supported and applauded me. The LC at the hospital across the street has helped me, free of charge, numerous times and the local La Leche leader has answered a few frantic calls. These people have my undying gratitude.

Would I have been a failure if I had been unable to breastfeed? No. Would I have let my son down if I had been unable or unwilling to nurse him? No. Would he have grown fat and happy on formula? Yes. Would we have bonded and would he love me even if he ate out of a bottle? Duh. Of course. Does breastfeeding give him magical powers and make him poop rainbows? Nope (although that would be awesome!). But am I so very glad it DID work out? YES. So very.

For the first time in my life, my body did exactly what it was supposed to, in the exact way it was supposed to do it. And that is the crux of the matter. I am finally PROUD of my body. This body has let me down in so many ways. Its suppressed immune system that allows me to get every germ that floats by. Its crooked spine and damaged nerves and muscle linings. Its emotional struggles and chemical imbalances. Its faulty thyroid and stomach and reproductive system.

But finally, when I put my baby to my breast, my body came through. I’ve been proud to watch my son’s legs go from tiny and skinny to pudgy and dimpled. His cheeks have filled out to marshmallow puffs and his belly has grown big and round, all on the power of my milk.

When he is hungry, his head swivels around and searches me out. I am the only one who can satisfy him. When he first latches on, his hands hold me and his eyes stare straight ahead in a determined stare. I can hear his frantic gasps and gulps. Then his eyes slant sideways at me, and I know he’s starting to get his happy fill. His hands reach up to my face and strokes my cheek and tangles up in my hair. He gets indignant when I make him switch sides and he frantically starts the process all over again. This time, his hand will seek out my hand. Then he will either unlatch with a milky grin or his eyes will start growing heavy in that sweet milk coma. Often, he falls asleep there, resting his head on my chest. And I will watch him sleep, working his mouth in a dream-nurse. I duck my head closer, and feel his tiny breath on my cheek.

I know he was ready to start solids. I’m happy that his daddy will be able to share in those moments of bonding that comes during feedings. And we are by no means done with nursing. But it still makes me sad. The beginning of something awesome is still the beginning of the end of something amazing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Look What I Can Do!

Larkin has been trying his best to sit up unsupported for a few weeks now. We'd practice sitting on the bed or the carpet, somewhere soft to support his many falls. And then, all the sudden:



He got it! He was a bit wobbly (hence a bit of blurriness to the photos) but has finally figured out how to engage his core and use his hands and feet for balance. It's like watching baby Pilates! Of course, sitting has it's dangers:

Oopsie

Now what?!?

And sometimes it seems easier to just give up and do something you know you're good at:

Look cute? I know I'm good at that!

Play with my toes? I'm an expert!

Smile big? Check!

And a pause to lick my toes... mmmm... tasty baby.

But you have to get back up and keep trying!

Spring Time!

Spring has sprung here in Houston, and we've been enjoying the beautiful weather by spending as much time outside as possible!





"I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is."


We spent the afternoon blowing bubbles and playing in the grass. Larkin discovered his shadow, and got a little upset when 'that baby on the ground' wouldn't play with him.





It's so nice to be able to play outside again!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Meeting Miss Maddie

I’ve known Jennifer most of my life, and I was thrilled when she called to tell me she was pregnant a few months after I found out I was expecting Larkin. It was so nice to have a close friend to share my pregnancy with, even though many miles separate us since Jennifer currently lives up in the snowy north.  We both had difficult pregnancies and complicated labors, but you’d never know it to see these beautiful babies of ours!

 

I’ve been waiting impatiently for Jenn to bring sweet Miss Maddie home to Texas since she was born two months ago. I couldn’t wait to see her sweet face in person. She is a beautiful little girl, and looks so much like her mama! She has the cutest habit of sticking her tongue out that I just can’t get enough of.




Apparently Larkin was entranced by her adorableness as well. We laid the babies out on a blanket and let them check each other out. Maddie did her part by playing hard to get, but Larkin made his move anyway. We looked down, and the two of them were holding hands just as sweet as can be! 






Jenn is a beautiful mommy, and it was amazing seeing her with that little girl who is the answer to so many prayers. It was also just wonderful catching up with my old friend, and letting our little ones get to know each other. I’m hoping Jenn and her husband can make their way back to Texas soon so that Larkin and Maddie can grow up together just like we did.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Reality of Motherhood


And here is my first blog that certain people may wish to avoid - for example: male family members and anyone else who would rather not hear some of the entrapments of nursing and motherhood in general. Also, anyone that I would like to have some semblance of respect for me now or in the future. Actually, it probably shouldn't be read by anyone. You should probably leave now and check in again tomorrow.

Larkin has ordained that naps will only be held for a maximum of twenty minutes at a time, and shall only be taken while in my arms. I’m vaguely aware (in the back of my sleep deprived mind) that this is a habit that needs to change. But if it’s between sitting very still for awhile (and maybe even getting a little sleep myself) or having a fussy, over-tired baby for the rest of the day – I’ll accept faking like a statue for awhile.

The true downside to this arrangement is that I get zero time during the day that I’m not actively holding a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I adore snuggling my little prince. But it does get draining to not have a minute to yourself – plus, it makes peeing very difficult. Actually, it makes doing ANYTHING pretty difficult. So basically, my day as a functioning adult starts at 10:30ish when Larkin typically gives in for the night. That’s when I’m able to edit photos, update my blog, send any e-mails which require more than one hand for writing, and just generally *relax*.

(It’s times like this that my new mantra “This too shall pass” is very effective. I’m well aware that sooner rather than later, my sweet son will want nothing to do with cuddles.)

I had just finally started to relax for the first time all day. The baby was tucked in his crib fast asleep, and I was debating between catching up on the DVR, finishing up the book I’ve been trying to read, or just following the little one into dreamland. Before I could make my decision, Larkin started to cry. HARD.

I ran into our room and picked him up. I carried him to the recliner in the living room and proceeded to nurse him back to sleep (yes, yes, also a ‘bad’ habit and blah blah blah). After awhile, his breathing became deep and regular. I went to unlatch him… and he immediately snapped awake. Sigh. Back to square one.

We repeated the dance a few time, until I was finally able to separate him (I AM THE HUMAN PACIFIER). I reached between us to pull my bra and tank back in place.  Then – WHAAAAAAAA! Sigh. We repeat the above steps, with no success. FINE, MAN. I get him back to sleep, and just leave the tank down on that side.

I stood up as slowly and carefully as possible, and headed for the crib. Blue eyes, wide open. Siiiiiigh. Sit back down, go back to nursing. Repeat the above steps three more times. Finally, he was fully asleep. I stand up with the utmost care annnnnnd: SUCCESS. *insert shallow sigh of relief, not deep enough to disturb the baby*

I take the first step towards the bedroom and disaster strikes. I feel my pants start to slide down my hips. Yes, these pants have been way too big for awhile now (they were purchased in the first trimester of my pregnancy and are the perfect transition pants: super soft, lightweight, and with no discernible waist… aka: ‘mom’ pants) but they are handy for those spur of the moment naps that I am currently surviving off of so they have stayed.

I stop and try to figure out how to salvage the situation (and any semblance of dignity). I quickly realize I am waaaay less attached to my dignity than to the concept of a sleeping child. Plus, Jonathan is outside, and there is no one around to witness my situation (until now – hello, world!) so I waddle on, pants rapidly pooling around my ankles.

I gently place my sleeping infant in his crib, then yank my pants up with one hand and tuck myself back into my top with the other. I lean over the crib, my head in my hands, and wonder where in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” they cover things like this. I shake it off, and go outside to tell my husband goodnight.

I open the garage door and he takes one look at me.

“You’ve leaked all over your top.”

Sigh.

And THAT is how glamorous motherhood REALLY is.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stay Puft Baby


I am absolutely convinced my son is made of marshmallow fluff. NOTHING else could make a baby as sweet as this. Plus, just look at those cheeks and tell me he doesn't look full of sugary goodness?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Five Months Old

Little man,

Mommy is very behind posting this – you’ve been five months for a week now! I don’t have much of an excuse, except to say that this is a very busy and challenging stage for all of us right now. Nothing is wrong – you are just a very inquisitive, curious, and playful little boy. Unfortunately, you aren’t mobile yet, so it falls to us to make sure you have unrestricted access to your whole world!



It was a somewhat tough month. You managed to hit another growth spurt right on the tails of your four month growth spurt, and took me completely by surprise. All the sudden, you were demanding to eat every two hours through the night. I felt like I had a newborn again. I was tempted to start solids a little early, but I’m very proud to say that we rode it out, and you’re still nursing beautifully and exclusively. I look at you now, and can’t help but be proud at how big you’ve grown all on the nourishment I’ve been able to give you.

You still insist on looking just like your Daddy though
 



You have grown up so much in the last few weeks, both physically and emotionally. You’re already wearing some 6-9 month clothes, and just getting so TALL. The extra height has let you get more enjoyment out of your jumperoo, and you have a grand time jumping away in it (which Mommy greatly appreciates, as she can now use both hands to have lunch while you jump!). Of course, you also want to jump in everyone’s lap, so we’re all getting good arm muscles these days.

video
As you can tell, you've also discovered your voice. You LOVE hearing yourself scream!

Although you are requiring more entertainment, you’ve also started developing some independence. Just recently, you’ve taken to enjoying laying in your crib for short periods of time – usually just long enough for me to run to the bathroom or throw something in the laundry. You lay there and talk to your aquarium mobile and chew on your toes. It’s awful cute, and I frequently find myself spending those precious moments sneaking peeks at you instead of savoring the free time.

My favorite expression - you look just like a little old man who has taken his teeth out!
You and Gaunie showing how you practice using a cup. 
Speaking of toes, you are now fully enthralled with yours. If you are laying flat, they are in your mouth. I frequently catch you pulling your socks off by biting on them. Although it’s cheating to bring it up (since you just learned this in the last few days), I have to mention your newest trick – you’ve started giving kisses! You were jumping in my lap on Nana’s bed the other day, and you grabbed both my cheeks, and leaned in for the sweetest sugars I’ve ever gotten. I couldn’t believe it, but you quickly leaned in for more. Now you want to give everyone kisses all the time! It’s pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and no one can believe such a young baby is doing it. You sure are a little charmer.

Kisses for Mommy!

I’m also excited to report that you’ve finally started growing some hair on the top of your head. You’re still rocking your skullet, but you have the sweetest dusting of fuzz up top that I just can’t stop rubbing my cheeks over. When you were first born, you basically had no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes. Although you were absolutely beautiful, you had a bit of a plucked chicken look. Now, although they are still fair, you have the longest, most curly eyelashes ever. Your eyebrows have even started growing in. Everywhere we go, total strangers stop to tell me how gorgeous you are.

Trying on the bonnet and booties one of Nana's friends made for you

You are just the biggest bundle of sweetness ever. You are all boy. You are all mama’s boy. I love you so much, sometimes it feels like my heart will explode with it all. Thank you, little one. Thank you for being mine.

To the moon… and back,

Mommy