Now that I have survived a full year of parenting (how did this happen?!), I’ve been noticing more and more friends who are expecting or just had their newest addition ask Facebook land what are some key products that could make life easier when dealing with all things feeding related. After answering a few and hearing feedback from others, I thought I’d compile a list of some of the incredible things that made feeding time so much easier for me, and some that did not.
Let me preface this by saying, during Abby’s first year of life, she was formula fed. I started off exclusively breastfeeding but switched to formula. I’m completely for breastfeeding, formula feeding, or both. And I have no problem with a woman feeding her baby in public, as long as she doesn’t roll her eyes at me as I prepare a bottle of formula (yes, this has happened). Whatever works for you and your family is best! My choice to switch was difficult and there were important factors that led me to where I am today – but I have no regrets. And once she turned one, and we finished the last opened container, we switched to milk and haven’t looked back. We were really excited to save extra money from not buying formula, but apparently, we forgot to factor in that our daughter eats like her father. This grocery bill is out of control. Oh well, at least she’s cute. And at least he does the dishes.
On to the list because Abby is working on what sounds like a big poop so time is of the essence. (And enjoy some photos from the early days of motherhood. Look how tiny my baby girl was!)
Hands-free pumping bra (LIFESAVER):
Yes, this looks like something out of Madonna’s closet and it is somewhat intimidating when you first use it, but BELIEVE me, it’s a LIFESAVER. Aside from a stellar breast pump, this is a necessity for all pumping moms. Pumping is incredibly weird. This bra is also incredibly weird. But, it does give you the ability to have both hands free to do important things like sort bills, respond to a work email or, more realistically, drink coffee while surfing Facebook.
Madonna aint got nothing on me
Travel formula dispensers (LIFESAVER):
Measuring out formula while your baby screams for food is stressful in itself. Add in the factor that you aren’t home, so your attempting to scoop the right amount into the bottle while patrons at a crowded restaurant stare in judgement as you try to measure quickly to soothe your child. If you could do it any faster, you’re welcome to try! With these, scoop the amount you need at home, and when baby gets fussy, pour directly into the bottle. And before you say it’s a waste of money because you could just use any container to do this – that is so much harder than you think. Believe me! I tried! It usually ended up with precious powder scattered on the ground. The spout on the travel ones perfectly fits into your bottle. I’d rather spend the $7 now, to ultimately save money in the long wrong because as formula moms know, formula aint cheap! (Side note, once you’re over the formula stage, these come in handy for traveling with snacks – because sometimes you just need a car snack!)
Apparently that was a good meal
Infinity Scarf Nursing Cover (BLOWS):
I wanted so badly to love this – it had multiple functions to make my life easier. By definition, I should love it. It is a fashionable scarf that turns into a discreet nursing cover. But, wow, was it terrible. And maybe I just didn’t have the correct brand (though I did try different ones) but I hated it. Now if you are comfortable feeding without a cover, I applaud you. I honestly do! But, I just wasn’t that person. So back to the scarf. As a scarf it was cute, but somewhat thin (something I could deal with if it’s true purpose worked correctly). And it seemed that it should be easy enough, put baby on boob, cover with scarf. Due to the design, it covered Abby’s face so much that she would end up flushed and cranky, and attempting to readjust her was nearly impossible. It was a two person job to get her situated right in the first place. The scarf kept falling down, in some light you could actually see through it, and it just ended up falling to the ground in most cases. And there was my boob, just flopping around. And then there was the milk that eventually spewed all over it meaning you were then wearing a scarf that smelled like breast milk. Epic fail.
Seriously, no idea how these things work
Peanut Butter (AMAZING):
Feedings, both breast and bottle can take time. And it usually happens when you’re stomach is begging for substance. This is especially true when breastfeeding. Add in recovering from birth and lack of sleep, I was STARVING constantly. Hence the mighty peanut butter. When breastfeeding, I always made sure to have a jar and spoon in arms reach. Now, if you are allergic to peanuts or just don’t like it, I’m not encouraging you to suffer. My favorite part of it was that it was a one handed snack – VERY IMPORTANT, especially during late night feedings. Find your own one handed snack – or get your own jar. Mine is sadly empty.
Yes, my photographer got a photo of me eating PB at the hospital. Photo credit: Valerie Lazzari Photography
Alright, time to change a poop. Let me know what has been a lifesaver or opposite for you. And now that we are fully in the milk and food zone, look out for a blog post focusing on toddler eating hacks. I can’t believe she’s basically a toddler!
One year ago today I was being taken to an operating room, my face red from crying. I felt defeated and exhausted. I remember apologizing to my doctors, to the nurses, to anyone who would listen because my body couldn’t perform the basic function I was told it could. I remember hating myself. I remember not feeling confident enough to even look at John. I remember praying that this was really the best decision. And I remember her cry and her tiny nose. Out of everything, for some reason, I remember her nose. The first time I saw it, it crinkled, as if to wave to me via nose. And as soon as I saw that crinkle, the anxiety, the failure, and the exhaustion just vanished. And I just counted the minutes until my arms were no longer paralyzed so I could hold that beautiful baby and kiss that beautiful nose.
It’s strange. The first time I held Abby, once the anesthesia wore off, I don’t remember being scared, or anxious, or worried. I just felt…peace, as if this was the exact place I was supposed to be. I stared at those eyes as they fluttered and kissed the beautiful nose, and I took in that sweet smell of my newborn baby girl. It took a long time for us to finalize her name. Abigail came almost suddenly to John, but we didn’t decide on her middle name until I was breathing through contractions. But I remember looking at that beautiful face and thinking, how could you be called anything else. You are Abigail Lynn and no one else.
I can’t believe it has been a year since that terrifying and exhilarating day. Abby has been with us for 365 days and I can’t even remember life without her. We’ve been through sickness and smiles, outdoor strolls and snow days, first real food and first real spit ups. And now that a year has passed, I can honestly say, with every being of myself, this has been the hardest year of my life. Becoming a mother felt difficult, but no where has hard as actually being one. Nothing will ever be the same, not my mindset, not my marriage, and certainly not my body (especially not my body). John and I have had to redefine our relationship and continue to do so as the time passes. We’ve been together more than a decade. We know almost all of each other’s stories. I can read him like a book. But everything changed when I saw her placed in his arms for the first time. Watching John become a father. Watching him with his little sidekick has been breathtaking. While she has my eyes and my hair, she has his faces and his sense of humor.
Every day this year has been different than the last. She’s learning new things every day. Any day now, she’ll take an independent step. Followed by her first word. And before we know it, 18 years will have flown by. I’m looking forward to the adventures of every day. Abby changed my life. She showed me what it is to love a new kind of love. She showed me what it is to truly worry about someone on a new level. Abigail made a mom and I’ll never be the same.
The other day, my cousin said to me, while holding her 7 month baby and watching her almost 5 year old running around, that life happens fast – “…you go to work during the week, count down to the weekend, and then count the weekends…” and apparently, before you know it, your children are another year older. I don’t believe I ever truly understood the concept of time escaping fast until Abby entered our lives. Today, she is 6 months old. How is that even possible? How is she no longer that newborn laying on my chest as I weighed the pros and cons about taking a shower versus holding her close to my heart just hours after I gave birth to her? In a blink, she went from barely being able to keep her eyes open, to “ninja rolling,” as her teachers at daycare refer to her movement style, across my living room.
It has been half a year since Abby entered our lives and nothing has been the same since day one. Our marriage has evolved into a new adventure. Before we’d argue about how to properly load the dishwasher, discuss the future in terms of trips, and spend time each day ensuring our house was in order (for the most part). And now, we talk about the future in terms of paying for Abby’s college and what her life may be like when she enters elementary school. Will she find life long friends from day one, or test out relationships until she finds the perfect match. There are constantly toys all over the living room. We do try to clean but after a while, you just give up and spend time playing with Abby versus picking it up. And we argue – ok, we still argue about how to load the dishwasher – one of us is really good at puzzles (and that someone is me).
Anyway, here’s a look at some of the highlights in month six:
Sick for the first time:
This was a rough week (mostly on me). Abby could care less that she was sick. She just smiled will boogers hanging down her nose. Meanwhile, I sucked more and more snot out of her nose and checked her temperature everyday. And yes, sucking boogers out of a baby’s nose is gross, but, not he grossest thing you’ll do as a parent.
Made a “BFF”
According to Abby’s teachers, she and another girl at daycare are BFFs (best friends forever). While I’m pretty sure their conversations are not nearly as in-depth as you would expect with a best friend, I have seen them interact and it’s pretty adorable. If Sydney is crying, Abby comes over and smiles at her. If Abby is having trouble rolling to a toy, Sydney pushes it towards her. And, one day, Abby was chewing on Sydney’s bib (it apparently fell on the floor and Abby claimed it as a chew toy). But, see, they are already borrowing each other’s clothes. Yep, best friends forever.
Graduated to a “big kid” car seat
Being in the 99.9th percentile means Abby is a large child (both in weight and height). Her infant car seat, one that you can take in and out of the car without disturbing the baby, was intended to last her first year. After multiple times of Abby screaming and fighting as she was strapped in, we made the decision to graduate her to the convertible car seat. No more tears when she goes into the car. However, the downside, whenever we stop and have to take her out of the car, it disturbs her from the nap the car put her in. We’re learning but it’s a big step.
Sat in the front part of a shopping cart
Abby has a whole new perspective on the world when we go shopping. In the past, she spent shopping trip in her infant car seat or a baby carrier, but now, she gets to sit up front and see the world.
Went on her first swing!
Yes, that’s right, my baby got to fly in her first swing! AND she visited her first playground. She was apprehensive at first, but once we started moving, she laughed the entire time. My baby’s a dare devil, let me tell you!
So, that’s a wrap on month six. I’m anxious to see what awaits us this month. I’m pretty sure we’ll be setting up safety gates soon as she’s already getting into so much. And, I’m also pretty certain, our cat will be anti-social as a result (at least for a little while). Our cat JUST got used to the fact that Abby lives here, so moving around is an entirely different ballgame.
So last week was a week of many firsts. It started with a call from daycare and ended with me in bed with a fever.
Let’s start off by saying, when daycare calls, they are not calling to just chat, or tell you how amazing your daughter is at sucking her toes (which she is excellent at by the way) or ask you if you have finished binge watching “Defenders” yet on Netflix (Yes, Yes I have in fact. And, by the way, if you haven’t, go watch it, it’s amazing. Jessica Jones is basically Veronica Mars meets Superman mixed with a TV-MA rating. And if you haven’t watched Veronica Mars, then really, what are you doing with your life? Go, watch, now. I’ll wait.) Anyway, so if Daycare calls, it’s typically because something bad has happened – someone’s hurt, someone’s sick, there is a zombie outbreak, the children have tied up all of the teachers and are demanding a ransom of pacifiers. In our case, Abby had the magic number of diarrheas. I know what you are thinking – “there’s a magic number?” Yes, yes there is and that magic number is three. Yep, she had three diarrheas, which means, she needs to be picked up and needs to remain out of Daycare for 48 hours once the symptoms clear up. I completely understand the rules and have no problem agreeing to them, but you have to understand, I JUST started working again. John used most of his vacation time for paternity leave. If I took off more time, it would be at less pay. It’s a little heartbreaking to realize that. And, of course I was worried about my baby all at the same time. But I know her poop. She normally has “runny poop.” Luckily, her teacher knows our daughter (and her poop) too. She hadn’t noticed any changes in her mood – Abby was smiles as usual. So, we got a warning – phew. We basically spent the next two days trying anything to ensure she didn’t have three diarrheas in one day. Daycare is Monday through Wednesday, and my mom watches her Thursdays and Fridays. We just had to make it to Thursday. And then it was my mom’s problem (ha! – love you mom!)
Now that I have spent an entire paragraph discussing poop, let’s move on to Wednesday. So, we did it! We were in the clear. Wednesday, I dropped her off. She had no issues all of Tuesday and she was in bright spirits on Wednesday. Then, of course, I notice one of the other babies has a cold. And in a matter of seconds, Abby was, of course, chewing on a toy this girl had just finished chewing on. Thursday morning she wakes up with boogers down her nose and super congested. However, she was still smiling as Abby always does. I seriously wish I could smile through that much congestion. So Thursday and Friday she spent the days at my mom’s house, and spent the nights with us, sucking snot out of her nose. Seriously, how does something so small create so many boogers! This also meant she had difficulty sleeping, then, in turn, so did we.
So, Saturday comes, she’s still smiles and is reaching the end of the sickness. THANKFULLY! Then, of course, out of nowhere, it hits me. That afternoon, I’m achy, snotty, and basically every sickness related word that ends with a “y.” Thermometer reads 101.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Super! So I spent Saturday and Sunday basically lying on the couch, recovering. And in true the world hates you fashion, it was the nicest weekend I had seen in weeks. Now, I’ve had my fair share of sickness in my life. But this was probably the hardest because of Abby. I couldn’t comfort her when she needed me. She was hungry and usually one of us can soothe her while the other makes a bottle, but I could barely stand up. Plus, I didn’t want to expose her to even more illness. Then, on Sunday, John went out and we decided to have my mom watch her so I could recuperate. And I missed her ALL day. But I just had to sit there, and get better, knowing I couldn’t be with my baby. I wanted to be selfish because I wanted her to cuddle with me and soothe me and make me feel better. I didn’t even get to say good morning or goodbye to her that day. It was hard. I’m thankful that John took care of me and her while I was sick, and my mom watched her while I recuperated, but I missed her. Sometimes I just want to be selfish. I don’t get her that much during the week so the weekends I soak in as much time as possible, and I felt like I missed the entire weekend. And then of course, I feel terrible because if she had remained home, I risked infecting her more. No answer seemed correct.
But, when she came home, she smiled at me and let me hold her without squirming to roll around, as she normally does now. I think she somehow knew I needed it.
Here’s hoping this week is a little less exciting. Or, at least, involves less boogers and less poop.
Another month has flown by. Abigail has been in our lives for 5 months today. My mind keeps jumping between ideas of it already being five months since she entered our lives to not understanding how she has not been in our lives forever. I honestly do forget about life before Abby – I know it existed, there is photo proof of these events, but still, I don’t remember life without her.
Let’s talk about some exciting highlights in month five:
Finding her feet and never letting go:
Abby has officially found her feet and LOVES them. It seems to be her goal in life to keep every toe in her mouth until time ends. We continuously find her in the morning with the footy portion of her pajamas covered in spit. Hope she likes the taste of clothed toes!
Trying SO MANY KINDS OF FOODS!
Apparently, my child loves to eat – except for bananas. Seriously, how can she NOT love bananas. These are my lifeline! I guess I should be happy that she takes to almost any food – from green beans to pears to pumpkin. She really loves pumpkin. But bananas – seriously!
Trying (and loving) Peanut Butter:
Yep, we gave her PB for the first time (doctor’s recommendations) and she loved it. OK, so she might actually be my daughter. We’ll work on the banana thing but at least we can share in our love for PB. It really is a staple in life.
Welcoming her new cousin:
Henry joined us July 30 and he is too adorable for words. Abby seemed to take to him very quickly – staring in confusion and wiping her spit soaked hand on his cheek is a sign of love, right?
While our newest adventure for the month, it is our biggest change, mostly for me. Abby is now known as the “Happy Baby” at daycare – her teachers adore her and always smile when we enter. It really does help make the drop off easier. Yes, I still tear up in the car. And yes, I will stress eat some sort of chocolate when I get to work as I stare at her photo on my desk. But it does make me feel better to know her teachers genuinely care about her.
Sitting in a restaurant high chair:
Yes, that’s right my baby girl is no longer strapped in her car seat while we eat out. She is literally sitting at the table next to us, enjoying her own food while we continue to master the one-handed eating techniques. It’s incredible! The first time, she spent the entire meal in awe (while also watching her 2-year-old cousin Lucy sing about her chicken nuggets).
Being terrified for the first time:
So this one isn’t so much a highlight as a mom’s heartbreaking at the sight. While out one night for dinner, we discovered that each time a birthday was announced, eerily loud music would play over the sound system. Typically this wouldn’t bother us so much, but Abby – who was smiling in her high chair without a care in the world and beaming with pride at her accomplishment – was frightened by the sudden blasts. It was literally the first time I’ve ever seen her cry like that. The servers were incredibly sweet and apologized while I soothed her, and she was fine in just a few moments. But it was still a heartbreaking moment. My poor baby girl.
Getting around – FAST:
While she isn’t crawling yet, she won’t let this small obstacle stop her. She will roll from one side of the room to the other in no time. I put her down on the play mat at daycare, turned to put her bottles in the fridge, and when I looked back, she was on the other side of the room reaching for what looked like a chew toy. (Can we stop for a second and discuss why baby toys all look similar to my dog’s chew toys? I guess that makes sense since they both use their mouths on them, but it doesn’t make it any less disturbing. I’m actually quite impressed that my dog hasn’t just assumed all of the baby chew toys are not also dog chew toys. Does she ever stare at Abby and just think “wow, I can’t believe you’re doing that without teeth – what a brave soul”). Anyway…
So yes, that is five months down, so many more to go. But, people seem to love to remind me that she’ll be half a year next month, then soon a year, and before we know it – off to college. Let’s just freeze time for a moment so I can get a few more snuggles in. She’s already resisting the snuggling. I really do yearn for the moments when she was brand new and would just sleep in my arms all day with no objection. Now, it takes coaxing and a full bottle to get even a minute of that. She is quite distracted by the world. Though, this time is really exciting. I love watching her see the world for the first time. A leave blowing in the wind is all of the entertainment she could every wish for. Meanwhile, I’m upset that a show from the early 2000’s is no longer on Netflix so I’m stuck watching something else.
Love you baby girl – can’t wait to see what next month has in store (but stop growing up so fast – PLEASE)!
It’s official, in just four months, Abby has doubled her birth weight, has good head control, and is showing jaw stability. So what does this mean – you guessed it, she’s ready to start eating real food, which also means she’s ready to start producing real food poops. Not happy about that one.
My baby girl is officially an infant and no longer a newborn and I’m suddenly realizing how fast time is going by. It honestly feels like she was just born, in which her favorite pastimes were eating and falling asleep in my arms. Now she’s a four-month old who can’t wait to crawl and hates sitting still, and loves eating (some things never change). It really is bittersweet to watch her grow. I’m so proud of her, she’s reaching her milestones ahead of schedule. And she’s really starting to explore the world. She’s mesmerized by leaves blowing in the wind and giggles when our pup licks her face. I really am so proud of her. Everyday is a new adventure. But I also miss the first time she was placed in my arms, and how I delayed my first shower after childbirth just to snuggle her and smell her hair for a little longer. That newborn smell is the most addicting smell in the world (and I’m also referring to more addicting than freshly baked brownies). Now she usually smells like sweat, burps, and spit. And of course, there is the poop smell every so often. But despite all of that, I can’t help but kiss those cheeks (even if they are covered in drool and green beans)!
Anyway, here are a few things I’ve learned while feeding real food to Abby:
- At first, Abby will hate everything you put into her mouth, until she realizes it’s food, and then she will turn into “Zombie Abby” ready to bite whatever is in front of her. Watch those fingers!
- Abby is not a fan of bananas, which means she can’t be my daughter because that’s basically the staple in my diet. We shall keep trying.
- None of her clothes will ever stay clean, it’s easier to just feed her naked (well still wearing a diaper because I’m not crazy).
- None of my clothes will stay clean – note to self, invest in an adult size bib for myself.
- After the second spoonful, she’ll smile and beg for more.
- If you aren’t feeding her fast enough, she’ll rip that spoon out of your hand and do it yourself, resulting in green beans EVERYWHERE and yes, I mean EVERYWHERE! How she managed to get it in her ear, I will never know.
I’m excited to discover what foods she’ll love and which she’ll hate. It will be a brand new adventure for both of us! And I’m sure our pup is excited when you start dropping food because if it falls on the floor, it’s free game!