Monday, September 26, 2011

Let's Do Lunch

Eliana's half birthday is fast approaching. In a couple of weeks she will be 6 months old and it will be time for my Snow Pea to begin actually eating peas! That's right it's almost solid food time! I had debated when to start solid foods for a while and after consulting my pediatrician and a few wise mommies, I chose to continue exclusive breastfeeding as long as I could. I have really just gotten the hang of the routine we're in now, so it made sense to keep it going as long as possible before adding a new element. But now that routine is about to change and really I know she's ready. She has been sitting in her high chair with us during dinner and everyday she sits up a bit better and gets a little more interested in watching us eat. Her eyes get so big as she stares at the forks and spoons in our hands and I just know she is going to love experiencing the new tastes and feelings of her first foods.

So with this big event coming up so quickly I have more decisions to make. What should her first food be? The conventional choice seems to be rice cereal, especially for babies that begin foods at 4 months since it is easy on little tummies and virtually no one is allergic to it, but since we are starting a little later we do have the option to start with almost any stage one food.
If you have little eaters in your house, what food did you start with? I have some brown rice cereal ready to go and am leaning toward staying with the status quo and starting there, but I am so excited to see how she reacts to carrots and bananas and I get tempted to skip straight ahead to a fruit or veggie.

What food to give her is not the only decision I have been mulling over lately. I have also been contemplating it's preparation, specifically whether to buy or make my own baby food. Having worked with other people's children as a nanny for many years while I was in college, I have plenty of experience with those little jars of strained beans and pureed peaches and I have always just kind of assumed they would line my pantry when it came time for me to feed a child of my own. But now that she is here the idea of smashing her food myself has become really appealing to me. Not only will I know exactly what she is eating and that it is free from any crazy additives, the more I learn about it the more making baby food myself seems easy and fun!

Since I am not really much of a chef and I don't already own one, I ran out and bought a small, cheap food processor so that I'm ready to cream and puree. I don't know how good of a job my clearance appliance will do, but I figure it will give me taste of what it's like and I can always buy a better one later. Even better than buying one though would be winning one! And even better than winning a food processor would be winning an entire baby food system complete with food storage. Lee Ann at "The Life Of Rylie and Bryce Too!" is giving away a Baby Bullet system. I have watched the infomercial a few dozen times as well as some real life youtube demonstrations, and I gotta say, it is a really cool system not to adorable with that baby friendly smiley face on everything. I know I don't need to have an appliance with "baby" in the name, but I would still love to have this one! If you want to learn more about it and the giveaway you can find Lee Ann's post here. Does anyone out there have any experience with the Baby Bullet? What do you think?

So now the countdown is on. I have spoons, bowls & bibs ready to go, baby food recipe websites bookmarked and am on the hunt for freezer trays to store my creations. If you have any advice or words of wisdom for me before we get started, please feel free to share! Any recommendations on processors or storage systems are also very appreciated. And if you know anything about those hand held netting feeders please share that as well. When is a good time to introduce those and what is a good food to use with them? I have always assumed bananas were the best start with those but again, any advice is welcome! I am a little sad that my tiny little baby has grown up so much and will be eating real food soon, it is a big milestone and a big reminder that she won't be a baby forever. But I am also very excited to witness and take part in this exciting new stage. I can't wait to see her face covered in smiles and applesauce.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cause You've Got Personality

(Am I the only one singing the song from this post's title?)

It's hard to believe but yet another month since beloved Snow Pea was born has passed and she is now 5 months old! In just a few short weeks she will be half a year old! I can't believe how time has flown!

So much has happened in Eliana's 5th month of life. She traveled on a plane and a boat for the first time, learned to blow raspberries, began babbling in consonant noises, discovered her feet and met lots of new baby friends. She even had her first "date" with fellow miracle baby, Jackson, son of fellow blogger, Amy at Miracle Made. But perhaps the most exciting thing of all of these milestones is simply seeing her personality emerge. With each new event and discovery a little more of who she is comes out and I can't even begin to tell you what an amazing joy that is.

She loves to entertain herself on her play mat- first laying on her tummy and manipulating a toy until she decides she would rather be on her back, which is when she pushes herself over with one arm and continues about what she was doing as if nothing exciting took place. I often try to quietly spy on her while she babbles all of those cute "buh, buh, buh's" to her toy rings and sings little squeals to the giraffe dangling above her head. She will play alone like this for a while, but once she realizes Chad or I are there watching her, she smiles and squeals with delight at our presence. And then once she knows we're there she demands our attention, yelling more directly "hey! come play with me" and rewarding us with tons of giggles when we send a smile or goofy face her way.

And the raspberries! Oh those adorable spitty noises that she loves to make! Se has been fascinated by the motion and sound of them since birth and finally one day she puckered her lips and did it herself! It was so exciting. At first, she just did them while playing. I could actually see the learning process as she attempted them over an over, learning just what she needed to do to make that silly noise. Then she did it for attention and entertainment. She knew we'd oooh and ah so she played with us and we all shared smiles. Now it has become a noise that demands attention and she will often fuss and yell between pttbbbllltthhh's
. Which I can't help but smile at even though I know she's frustrated, because not only is it cute it's also really funny.

My favorite thing about watching her personality bloom this past month has been watching her interact with other people. She got to see her Aunt Pammy and Grammy for the first time since was a newborn and meet her Pop-Pop for the first time and it was amazing to watch her smile and giggle and delight at their faces and the new songs, stories and rhymes they shared with her. She also loves to interact with other babies. I know that technically at this age, babies just play "next" to each other, but she really is fascinated with them and anytime one is near she reaches out to touch her new friend and begins babbling to them.

Faces are probably her favorite thing in the world right now. Ever since she could focus on them, she loved to watch faces of people she knew and people she didn't. She stared fascinated at strangers in the store and smiled with her whole body when they made eye contact back. Now that she is gaining motor skills, she has decided that looking isn't enough and she wants to touch the face of every person she interacts with. It's like she wants to figure out how that particular noise or facial expression works as she reaches out to feel her daddy's cheek or another baby's nose, always with a thoughtful smile on her face. She hasn't taken to reaching out to strangers though, she still gives them huge happy smiles, but the touching so far has been reserved for family she has had a chance to warm up to. People that she watches me and Chad interact with before deciding she can trust them as much as we do. Unless of course the strangers are other babies, then all bets are off as she dives right in, determined to see and feel every other little person in her reach.

After 5 months of getting to know this precious little girl, I really feel like this past month has given me such a big glimpse into what her personality will be like in the months and years to come. Watching her learn to hold her head up and roll over in the early months was exciting but now seeing this sweet, happy personality of hers come alive I can imagine even more clearly how incredibly amazing the rest of my life is going to be now that she is in it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Am I Doing This Right?

Why is it that I can never stop thinking there is a right and wrong way to do everything? Really when I stop and think about it, there really are very few things in this world that have only one "correct" method but somehow I always find myself worrying that my methods and choices are somehow incorrect. . Two plus two equals four is correct and two plus two equals five is obviously incorrect, math is like that. But just about everything dealing with how to live our lives really doesn't have a right or a wrong, just a my way and your way.

Back when I was TTC naturally the fear I was doing it "wrong" was huge. You start out thinking there is no way you could do this wrong. I mean, you just do, you know "it", and nine months later you become a parent. When that didn't happen I worried about what I was doing wrong. Maybe the days weren't right, or the times of day or the amount or what I was eating. As I fell further down the TTC rabbit hole, I worried that I was charting incorrectly or not interpreting my CM the right way, Then during IVF and FET I obsessed over the "correct" amount of time to be on bed rest and whether to eat pineapple or not.

Pregnancy wasn't too much better when it came to the "Am I doing this wrong?" game. OB or midwife? Birthing Center or hospital? Which one was the "correct" choice. And if that was bad, it is nothing compared to the everyday decisions of parenting and feeling like somehow there is a "right" way and a "wrong" way. I know I shouldn't, but I continually worry I am not doing it right. I love my daughter and I shower with her love every single day and I know that's the most important thing, but when should I be introducing solids? She's 5 months old tomorrow and I have moms insisting to me I should have started a month ago and that she'll be behind and yet others who swear that you have to wait until 6 months. And naps! She naps multiple times a day, sometimes 2, usually 3 and sometimes for 45 mintutes, sometimes 2 hours. She sleeps through the night but sometimes wakes up in the middle to eat and sometimes doesn't. And I keep hearing about what a baby my age should be doing as far as sleep and routine. We have a routine but it's a very flexible one, and sometimes I feel like that in itself is somehow viewed as wrong.

Intellectually, I know that none of that is true. Yes, there are some very basic guidelines about providing for my daughter's needs but so much of what people tout as the "correct" way to do things are really just their opinions. I know this but I still have to stop and remind myself constantly that what we do in our household works for our family and that's what really matters. Yes, Eliana might be taking a 30 minute nap today at 9am and then a hour long nap the next at 9:30. Some nights she wakes me up at 1am to eat, others she sleeps right through. No two days are alike, but that that works for us. If I am happy, Chad is happy and our daughter is healthy and happy, we aren't doing it wrong no matter what the moms on the playground or the parenting magazines say.

It is easy however to fall prey to doubt and fear of getting it wrong when so much is on the line. During TTC and IVF the obvious fear was that if I missed a crucial day of BDing or took myself off of bed rest too soon, I would never become a mom. Now that I finally am one, the fear is that if I go in to comfort my Snow Pea too often when she is going to sleep or start her on rice cereal too early, I will be starting a chain reaction of problems and issues for her as an adult. And of course you can find a scientific study or firsthand experience to back up the claims of every side of an issue. For every mom who swears her baby slept through the night as soon as she started solids, there's another that insists her child became so constipated that he was awake all night crying in discomfort. Just further proving that in so many situations there is no right or wrong, just what works for you and what doesn't.

It isn't even the world around me that tells me I am doing it wrong so much as it is me. I have crazy standards and expectations for myself sometimes, and if you know me, you know I can be insanely hard on myself. I sometimes try so hard to get everything right and beat myself up when I don't, that I can miss seeing how great everything is, in spite of or even because of, its "wrongness". So I plan to keep doing what's working, what makes me and my family happy. Because that in itself means I'm doing something right.