The end of an era.

This post was originally started in August 2014, but I never got around to finishing it. In an effort to restart this blog, I’m resurrecting some old/half-finished content.

Yesterday, Theo turned 16 months old. And this morning I nursed him for the last time. I’m sure most of our friends and family are thinking, “it’s about time!” but I’m sad about it.

It’s funny, I never saw myself as an “extended breastfeeder” – a term used to describe those who go past a year. I knew before I was even pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed, and I had hoped to make it to a year, but I never thought I’d go past that. A year always felt like an ambitious goal – and God knows we had our share of hurdles to overcome in the beginning – but once we got into a routine, nursing became something that just felt natural and even easy. I loved the bonding aspect and the fact that I never had to remember to take bottles with us when we were out and about. We never once gave him formula, which I’m sure saved us tons of money. And the emotional benefits were really great too. Anyone who knows Theo knows he is a kid who does not sit still. Like ever. But the nightly nurse and snuggle before bed became our special time, and it was something I cherished and would look forward to after a long day at work.

I happily gave up pumping at a year. Good lord, I hated pumping at work. But he still seemed like such a baby to me, so I figured there was no reason to give up nursing him while we were together, as long as my supply would hold up. It did, so we just kept going. Along the way we’ve dropped nursing during the day, and for about a month now we’ve just been nursing first thing in the morning and at bedtime. And even the morning session was sporadic. That basically came down to when he woke up. If he woke up before I was ready to get up, I would pull him into bed to sleep-nurse and he’d usually let me get another hour or two of sleep (which was amazing on the weekends!). During the week, if I woke up for work before he was up, I’d let him sleep and we didn’t nurse before dropping him off at daycare.

***June 2015 addendum***

Those last 4 months – between a year and 16 months – were the best part of nursing. Unlike in the beginning when I was uncomfortable and worried about things like supply and whether he was eating enough, this period was just… easy. It was like extra credit at this point. I had already reached my goal of a year. I was nursing because we both still enjoyed it; not because he had to eat. And if my supply dropped and I had to give it up, it was no big deal. No pressure. To be honest, the only reason I stopped when I did was because I had a five-day work trip and there was no way I was bringing the pump. I knew five days without nursing or pumping would be the end of my supply — and I was (mostly) fine with that.

Okay, I’ll be honest, I cried, hard, through that last session the night before my flight — watching him peacefully drift off to sleep, snuggled up against me, knowing it was the last time. But at the end of the day I can only be happy that we had that time, as I know a lot of women aren’t able to breastfeed as long as they’d like to, and at one point I wasn’t sure if I would be able to either. But babies have to grow up sometime, don’t they?

Theo es Uno!

I’m way late on the last monthly post, considering Theo is 14 months old tomorrow.

Things have been crazy busy lately — the usual work and daily life hectic-ness, along with an unexpected death in the family, and the monthly recap just sort of got put on the back burner. I knew I didn’t want to rush this post – it’s such a huge milestone! – but it’s just been really hard to find the time to write.

Theo is one. My baby is one. My baby is no longer a baby; he is a toddler. It’s exciting and scary and sad all at once.

I love the little man he has become. He is so funny, and he is all boy. He climbs on everything, gets into everything, loves to take apart/knock down/destroy everything, thinks farts are funny, the whole nine yards. And he loves his mama. Everyone said having boys is amazing because of how much they love their moms, and while I don’t have anything to compare it to, it’s pretty awesome.

We ended up having two birthday parties for him, to keep the crowd a little more manageable. We had one party for just immediate family (Theo’s grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles), and then a party the following weekend for our friends. We did a Cinco de Mayo theme since he was originally due on May 5 (but was 4 days late). Both parties were nearly identical for easy planning purposes, and I had a lot of fun with the details (more on that below, in photos).

IMG_3348

Stats: 20 lbs., 6 oz. (13th percentile); 30 inches (50th percentile). Definitely not a big kid, but the doctor wasn’t concerned

Milestones: Walking everywhere now – running, in fact. Four teeth (two on top and two on bottom). Not really talking yet, which the doctor noted, but isn’t “officially” concerned yet. She said most kids usually say “mama,” “dada,” and one to three other words by now. If he still isn’t talking by 15 months, she may have us see a speech therapist. In the meantime, she wants us to narrate everything we do. He’s quite the chatterbox, but doesn’t really say anything understandable yet.

Sleeping: He’s down to one nap a day usually, around noon(ish), which lasts for an hour or two. Sometimes he’ll do two naps on the weekends. Night sleep is pretty consistently 7:30 or 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. During the week, the early wakeup isn’t a big deal since we’re usually up around that time anyway, but on the weekends, I so wish he’d sleep in a little! But it’s such an improvement from just a few months ago that I can’t complain much. Some kids are great sleepers and some aren’t. It’s really the luck of the draw and we got the latter. Maybe our next one will be a good sleeper!

Eating: We have officially packed up all the bottles and he’s drinking whole cow’s milk from a sippy cup, but he doesn’t drink as much as he should, and the doctor wants us to keep working on that. I do notice that he drinks better from his sippy when I’m not around. I’m still nursing him first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, and occasionally to get him down for a nap. Maybe he isn’t drinking as much from his sippy because he’s holding out for the good stuff? Thankfully he’s a great eater when it comes to solid foods. He loves carbs, fruit and dairy (yogurt and cheese, especially), and does okay with meats and vegetables. They’re hit or miss. Lately I’ve been steaming frozen mixed vegetables — corn, peas, carrots and green beans — and he loves those. Not a big fan of broccoli. We’re working on getting more green in his diet!

Likes/Dislikes: Now that the weather is nicer we’ve been taking him outside to play more and he loves swinging on our play set. I’ve taken him for walks around the neighborhood too and he seems to like that okay, though sometimes I think he gets bored and wants to get out. He’s been better about riding in the car lately. He still fusses a bit when we put him in his car seat, but he doesn’t usually outright scream anymore unless he’s tired, in which case he’ll pass out after a couple minutes anyway. I think he’ll enjoy the car a lot more once we can face him forward, but the latest safety guidelines say kids should be rear-facing until they’re two years old.

Other likes include empty water bottles, remote controls, our cell phones, toilet paper rolls, lotion bottles, dad’s shoe… basically anything that’s not actually a toy is his favorite toy. I’ve mostly quit buying him toys since they’re a waste of money.

Mama: I am officially done pumping! I pumped for the last time the day before his first birthday. As mentioned above, we’re still nursing occasionally, but we’re at the point where we don’t really NEED to. There have been a few nights where I’ve had to miss putting him to bed because of a work event and D put him to bed, so he didn’t get nursed to sleep. I’m a little full and uncomfortable in the morning when I don’t nurse the night before, but it’s nice to know I can make it 24 hours between nursing sessions if needed, and that he didn’t need to nurse in order to fall asleep. I will admit, though, nursing him to sleep is one of my favorite times of the day. It’s just so peaceful and relaxing, and it’s the only time he’ll let me snuggle him. I think that will be the last session to go. Next step in the weaning process will be cutting out the nap fix, followed by the morning nursing session. I never saw myself nursing past a year, but a lot of women are doing extended breastfeeding these days, and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to age two, and beyond. I don’t think we’ll go that long – in fact, I have a work trip coming up in September and I’ll be gone for five days. Since I am not pumping, we’ll need to wean before then so I don’t explode. I am noticing my weight is starting to creep up again now that I’m not burning as many calories, so I need to keep an eye on that. I’m still below my pre-pregnancy weight, but not as skinny as I was a few months ago when I was nursing constantly. Baby bonding and nutrition aside, I can totally see how some women get addicted to nursing for the calorie burning! 😉

Okay, I’ll wrap this up with the usual photo dump. This will be my last monthly update, and I’m hoping to start blogging more frequently with short one-off posts to capture milestones and memorable stuff. Maybe I’ll procrastinate less if it’s not such a long daunting post I have to write!

 

Swinging in the park.

Swinging in the park.

Bathtime hair salon.

Bathtime hair salon.

Birthday cake.

Birthday cake.

All set up for Theo's first birthday fiesta!

Family party – all set up for Theo’s birthday fiesta!

Slide show playing on the TV.

Slide show playing on the TV.

First taste of birthday cake!

First taste of birthday cake!

Playing with his new bike from Grandma and Grandpa.

Playing with his new bike from Grandma and Grandpa.

Party guests at the friends birthday party one week later.

Party guests at the friends birthday party one week later.

IMG_3352

Alison was about to pop!

Alison was about to pop!

Party guests on the newly built deck.

Party guests on the newly built deck.

Brooke and her boys swinging on the swingset.

Brooke and her boys swinging on the swingset.

Me and my baby.

Me and my baby.

Dad got to close to Mr. Stickyfingers.

Dad got to close to Mr. Stickyfingers.

Kiddos and the pullstring pinata.

Kiddos and the pullstring pinata.

Cousin Ryder and buddy Declan. These two are the same age, if you can believe it!

Cousin Ryder and buddy Declan. These two are the same age, if you can believe it!

DIY photo booth.

DIY photo booth.

Cousins Ryder and Theo.

Cousins Ryder and Theo.

Family photo booth fun.

Family photo booth fun.

Mustache straws.

Mustache straws.

Mexican flag strawberries.

Mexican flag strawberries.

Waiting for brunch on Mother's Day.

Waiting for brunch on Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day at the Mariner's game.

Mother’s Day at the Mariner’s game.

Watching the ballgame.

Watching the ballgame.

With daddy.

With daddy.

Well, we made it 8 and a half innings.

Well, we made it 8 and a half innings.

With buddies Cody, Declan and Ella.

With buddies Cody, Declan and Ella.

Wheeeeeee!

Wheeeeeee!

Spaghetti monster.

Spaghetti monster.

My angel.

My angel.

Doggie jailbreak.

Doggie jailbreak.

Hanging with the older ladies at Kara's birthday party.

Hanging with the older ladies at Kara’s birthday party.

Baby gate fail. (climbed under the railing)

Baby gate fail. (climbed under the railing)

My little bed head.

My little bed head.

Helping dad in the yard.

Helping dad in the yard.

Hiking with dada.

Hiking with dada.

Helping in the kitchen with Boppa and Grandma Hoffman.

Helping in the kitchen with Boppa and Grandma Hoffman.

Obsessed with hats. Wants to be like dad, I guess!

Obsessed with hats. Wants to be like dad, I guess!

Kisses from Stewie.

Kisses from Stewie.

 

 

Eleven Months Old.

The countdown is on to a year. Where has time gone and what happened to my little baby? Hard to believe in just a couple weeks we’ll officially have a toddler (sniffle). It’s really bittersweet; while it’s so much fun to see what a little big personality he’s developing, and watching him learn and grow every day, it’s sad to look back at how tiny he once was and know we’ll never get that time back. Even if we have another child, those precious first days, weeks, months will just never be the same as they were the first time around.

IMG_0003

Stats: 21 lbs! He’s put on almost two pounds in the last month, which is good, since he’s always been such a little guy.

Milestones: We officially have a walker! He took his first unassisted steps a couple weeks ago… while his aunt and uncle were babysitting him, so I missed it. Sad face. Thankfully they got a video and he’s done it several times since then. He still prefers crawling as his mode of transportation since he’s so fast, but he’s been gradually walking more and more. Knowing this kid, he’ll be running in about a week. We now have three teeth – two on the bottom and one on the top – and the second top tooth is about to poke through any day now. He’s clapping his hands, waving bye-bye and his latest achievement is giving hugs. Melts my heart when he does that. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s never been much of a snuggler since he never sits still, but now at least he’ll pause for a sec and give me a hug before he’s off and running again (and by “running” I mean crawling at warp speed).

Sleeping: Sleeping is going great. He’s very consistently sleeping from about 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. He’s down to one nap per day at daycare, which is required for him to transition to the toddler room, but at home I notice he still does better with two naps most days.

Eating: Kid loves to eat. He’s able to take bites of things now that he has two teeth on the bottom and one chomper on the top. Last night I gave him a pickle, which was hilarious. He’d recoil and shiver with each bite, but then go back for more. He loves fruits, carbs (bread, pasta, rice, cereal), yogurt, cheese and meat. Vegetables are hit or miss. He loves zucchini and carrots, but when it comes to most green veggies I can only get him to take a few bites before he starts turning his head. We’ve started introducing whole cow’s milk, which he’ll sometimes drink a little of, but isn’t crazy about. We’re also working on getting him better at using a sippy cup. This is another milestone he’ll have to reach before he can make the transition to the one year-old room at daycare — drinking cow’s milk from a sippy. I can’t remember if I mentioned this already, but D has a new job which makes our old daycare location really inconvenient for dropoff/pickup, so we’re going to transfer T to a different daycare. In order to minimize the number of transitions, we’ve decided to make the move at a year of age, when he’d be moving classrooms anyway. But since he can’t move until he hits certain milestones, we’ll have to keep him in the infant room (which, in addition to being out of the way for D is about $75 more per WEEK!). Needless to say, we’re eager for him to “graduate!”

Likes/Dislikes: Still loves bath time. Thankfully his little phase of pooping in the tub seems to have passed (knock on wood!). He has developed a fascination with putting his mouth in the water and blowing bubbles — and occasionally sucks in, causing him to cough and sputter! Hopefully he learns his lesson soon that he can’t breathe water! I REALLY want to get him into swimming lessons, but they always fill up before I can sign up. He really loves the water and I want to take advantage of this and continue to build his comfort in the water before he decides he doesn’t like it. That’s one thing I’m learning quickly about this age – nothing is a given. He may love something one day and hate it the next, or vice versa. He’s been going through a phase now where he HATES the car, for example, but I think we’re finally turning a corner there, as he hasn’t been as bad in the car the last week or so. Last weekend was Easter and we took him to the in-laws’ farm for an egg hunt. That was his first time in the grass (ours has been so wet lately), and it was really funny to watch him. He didn’t like the poky feeling on the palms of his hands and refused to crawl anywhere. The terrain was a little too uneven for him to walk, so he just scooted around on his knees a lot.

Mama: I’m coming to the end of my breastfeeding journey and I have mixed feelings. I’m definitely looking forward to not pumping anymore, but I’m starting to realize just how dependent I am on nursing him. For better or for worse, nursing has been a pit of a panacea. Hungry? Instant meal that’s just the right temperature and no bottle parts to clean. Fussy? Here, this will calm you down. Need to go to sleep? It’s like these things are filled with Nyquil and he’s out in 5 minutes. And I’ll admit, a small (vain) part of me is going to miss burning an extra 500 calories per day while eating whatever I want and continuing to lose weight! 🙂 Then again, my appetite has been enormous while breastfeeding (even moreso than when I was pregnant), so maybe that will subside once I wean. I just hope he’s able to make the transition to a sippy with cow’s milk in the next few weeks. My plan all along has been to be done pumping by his first birthday. I’m already reducing my pumping sessions at work, so I’m supplementing an average of 4 oz per day from my freezer stash. At the rate I’m going through my stash, I should have about 85 oz left by his first birthday, so even if he isn’t fully on board with cow’s milk by then, maybe I can do some mixing of breastmilk and cow’s milk to ease the transition. I may still nurse morning and night for a while if my body will keep producing, just because I enjoy that time we have together, but I’m otherwise planning on retiring the boobs in just a few weeks! I really am thankful to have made my goal of breastfeeding for a year. It certainly hasn’t always been easy.

With that, I’ll leave you with some pictures from the last month…

Shopping with Mom at Costco.

Shopping with Mom at Costco.

Swinging in the sunshine.

Swinging in the sunshine.

Loves the dishwasher!

Loves the dishwasher!

Playing with his favorite new toy on Easter.

Playing with his favorite new toy on Easter.

Easter egg hunting with cousin Molly.

Easter egg hunting with cousin Molly.

Easter eggs.

Not sure what to think about the poky grass.

Not sure what to think about the poky grass.

Egg hunting with dada.

Egg hunting with Dada.

Theo and his Boppa on the farm.

Theo and his Boppa on the farm.

Baby selfie.

Baby selfie.

All worn out from egg hunting.

All worn out from egg hunting.

Playing with his new Easter toys at Grandma and Boppa's.

Playing with his new Easter toys at Grandma and Boppa’s.

 

Flying with a baby…

As I mentioned in my last post, we took Theo to Hawaii last month. It was our first time flying with him and we pretty much just dove right into the deep end with a 5 1/2 hour flight. I did quite a bit of research ahead of time on tips for traveling with a baby, but the truth is, you really never know how your baby will act until you just do it. With that said, in case any friends or family need advice, or any strangers stumble upon this blog while searching for tips, here are my two cents based on my limited experience flying with a nine month-old:

Booking the tickets:

Since children under two can ride on your lap without their own ticket, we went this route to save money; however, we purposefully booked an aisle and a window seat for D and me, hoping the middle would stay vacant. Different airlines have different policies, but many will allow you to bring your car seat on and use it in the empty seat if it’s is still vacant at boarding time (here’s Alaska Airlines‘ policy). I figured, best case scenario we get to bring the car seat on for free; worst case scenario, we offer the person in the middle the window seat. It’s not like they’d refuse. Our plan worked on the way there. On the way home our flight was full and we had to gate check the car seat.

Having done it both ways now, I’ll say this: if you can swing it financially to spring for that extra seat, it may be worth it, particularly on a long flight. On the way there when we had the car seat, we were actually able to get him to fall asleep for a little while (he sleeps great in the car, so I imagine it felt similar). On the way home, he squirmed the ENTIRE flight, and I had to stand most of the time. But if you’re on a budget or can’t justify the price of an extra seat, you may just get lucky and have an empty middle seat – especially for a touristy destination like Hawaii where people are less likely to be flying solo. Either way, you definitely want that aisle seat, so you can get up easily. Because chances are you’ll be up a LOT.

In-flight entertainment:

I had read one article that suggested buying a couple new toys to introduce while in flight, hoping the novelty would hold the baby’s attention more than toys they already know. This might work better with an older child. Or maybe my kid is just super ADD. But he was interested in the new toys for all of five minutes before he was squirming again. A napkin, a plastic cup and the in-flight magazine held his attention just as well, so my advice would be to save your money and not go gangbusters buying a bunch of new toys like I did, especially since you aren’t going to want to buy noisy electronic toys, so your selections will be rather limited.

Food actually held his attention much better than toys did. What can I say? My kid loves to eat. I brought some squeezy pouches and a spoon, and fed him small bites of food at a time, and that bought us about an hour. Puffs are always a hit, and as a bonus, you can let them hold and shake the container, which doubles as a rattle.

The best form of in-flight entertainment, I discovered? Other people. For a social baby like mine, having old ladies coo at him was pretty much the greatest thing in the world. Oh, and other babies can be great distraction too. Go on a walk and visit with the other babies on the plane. Chances are, their parents are also trying earnestly to keep them happy and will be grateful for your company for the sake of their own kids’ entertainment.

Mile-high diapers:

Nothing makes you realize just how tiny those airplane bathrooms are like trying to wrestle a squirmy, poopy baby on a changing table the size of a place mat. During turbulence, I might add. (Imagine my horror when the fasten seatbelt sign came on while I was doing damage control on a blowout.) The last thing you want to do is add a giant diaper bag to the mix, especially since there’s nowhere to set it except on the nasty floor. I’d suggest getting something like this; something you can stow in your big diaper bag under your seat, and quickly grab before heading to the lavatory. It folds out into a changing pad, which you’ll want anyway (in case the person before you lost the battle with poopy turbulence!).

Despite the fact that I normally prefer cloth diapers, we went with disposables for the flight (and the entire vacation, actually), which I would highly recommend. They pack more compactly and you don’t have to worry about wet bags or carrying smelly diapers back to your seat. There’s enough going on already when you’re flying with a baby, and there’s something to be said for the convenience of just being able to toss them in the trash and forget about them. I’d say that’s a pretty good overarching theme for flying with a baby: do whatever is most convenient and makes your life easiest. You can save the planet or worry about instilling good habits another day.

One more tip: on many airplanes, only one of the bathrooms has a changing table. It took me forever to figure this out the first time I went into one of the non-changing table lavatories.

What (and how) to pack:

The rules will be different if you’re traveling solo with a baby (and in that case, you have my condolences), but here’s what we did, and it worked well for us:

The diaper bag was my one and only carry-on. I had my wallet, phone, chapstick, gum, and the rest was stuff for Theo. Don’t even bother with magazines or books for you – chances are you won’t have much time for yourself and if you do, count yourself lucky and get some sleep! If you’re feeling really optimistic, maybe consider installing the Kindle app on your phone and downloading a book ahead of time. But you’re better off saving your bag space for baby stuff. Back to the diaper bag: in addition to minimal items for myself, I had my nursing cover, the diaper changer thing I linked to earlier (stocked with diapers, wipes and hand sanitizer), an extra change of clothes for Theo, several small toys and books, and some baby food in a small bottle cooler bag with an ice pack. I put the toys and food in the outside pockets where I could quickly grab them if he started to fuss. I also packed my manual breastpump in case he decided not to nurse and I needed some relief. I ended up not needing it, but if you have a finicky or distracted nurser and a long flight, it may be worth it.

I had D carry our rollaway carry-on bag, which had extra changes of clothes for both of us, extra diapers and anything we couldn’t live without for a couple days in the event our checked luggage got lost. We checked one very large bag with everything else for the three of us. Normally I hate paying to check a bag, but when you’re traveling with a baby you need a lot of crap that’s hard to fit into a carry-on. Plus it was nice to not have to worry about dealing with yet another bag through the airport and onto the plane. So walking through the airport, D carried our rollaway and empty carseat, and I carried the diaper bag with Theo strapped to me in a carrier (I have the Beco Gemini and it’s awesome – it was also a lifesaver for the flight home when I had to stand/walk the aisle the entire time). For a really tiny baby I would have considered bringing our snap and go stroller for the carseat and wheeling him through the airport since you can gate check strollers for free. But since we knew we wouldn’t use the stroller at our destination, we opted not to bring it.

What to wear:

I would recommend wearing pants or a skirt you can get on and off with one hand instead of jeans or anything you need to button, so you can hold the baby with one hand and get your pants up and down with the other (on a related note: if you go to the bathroom to change the baby, don’t forget to go yourself while you’re there – the last thing you want is to have to go later when the baby finally falls asleep on you). If you’re nursing, you’ll obviously want to wear a top with easy access. I would recommend stretchy low necklines as opposed to anything with buttons or clasps. Less to fumble with in already tight quarters.

Footed jammies are convenient for baby. He’ll be comfortable (and hopefully sleep?) and you don’t have to worry about losing shoes or socks. Plus, then you don’t need to take pants completely off to change him and risk dropping them in the nasty lavatory or something. Bring a couple extra changes of clothes – for you and baby. We had a blowout about 20 minutes into our flight, thanks to some antibiotics Theo was on for an ear infection that caused massive explosive poops several times per day. Speaking of ear infections…

Ears

I was really worried about his ears in flight. I had heard babies can sometimes have trouble equalizing the pressure in their ears on takeoff and landing, but surprisingly we didn’t have much of an issue, even though we were dealing with the tail end of an ear infection. He got pretty fussy on takeoff on the way there, but I had him in his car seat and was trying to feed him a cold bottle of pumped milk, which he wasn’t having. About halfway through our ascent with him screaming, I took him out of his car seat and nursed him instead and he instantly calmed down. We nursed most of the way through descent until he lost interest and got distracted by the turbulence (which he thought was fun – laughed and squealed with every bump and drop, even though my stomach was in my throat). Thankfully he didn’t seem bothered by his ears at all.

Security

Security was a lot easier than I expected it would be. On the way there we got waved through a special line and didn’t even have to take off our shoes or remove liquids from our bags. On the way home, we had to go through the whole song and dance, but they still let me wear Theo through the scanner, and even though we had to declare the breastmilk and baby food (they made us take it out, briefly looked at it and then waved us on through), you don’t have to adhere to the 3-1-1 rule when it comes to breastmilk, formula or baby food (or ice packs to keep the aforementioned cold).

Other passengers:

This was perhaps what I was most nervous about – getting dirty looks (or worse) from other passengers. I read somewhere that you should hand out candy or Starbucks gift cards to the people around you, but that just seemed overly apologetic to me. Yes, he’s a baby and he’s rude and noisy sometimes, but he has just as much right to take a vacation with his family as anyone else does. If he were particularly fussy I could see offering to buy your seatmate a drink, but it felt like overkill to me to preemptively apologize for your baby just for being on the flight.

Actually, most people were really nice. A few people even commented about what a good baby Theo was being, or gave me a knowing look and told me I was doing a good job; that they’ve been there before. We only had one rude encounter when the woman across the aisle from me made a loud passive aggressive comment to the person next to her about me standing in the aisle for the whole flight (believe me, lady, I’d much rather be sitting).

I’ve always tried not to show my annoyance toward fussy babies when I know the parents are doing the best they can, but I also can’t say I’ve ever paid any parents a compliment for having a good baby either. But I’ll admit, it really meant a lot to be reassured that I was doing a good job, or even just to hear people tell me how cute Theo was. I’ll remember that next time I fly and will go out of my way to tell a flustered looking parent that they’re doing great.

This turned into a long post and I haven’t even gotten to the actual vacation part yet! I’ll stop here and will save that for a separate post. With that, here are a few pictures of my little flyer.

IMG_0007IMG_0075IMG_0078IMG_0298

Nine Ten months old.

IMG_2605IMG_2788Welp, I procrastinated long enough that I’m just going to combine the 9 and 10 month updates. Thankfully, I’ve been pretty good about at least taking the photos on time. Theo turned 9 months old while we were in Hawaii last month, hence the beach towel photos. I’ll probably put together a separate post about our vacation, and things I learned traveling and flying with a baby for the first time, but in general, it was a really fun trip and we got some great photos.

Stats: 19 lbs. (16th percentile), 28.35 inches long (39th percentile). He eats great, but he is so active that he just burns everything off. I also have a feeling our short genes are starting to manifest themselves. Sorry, bud.

Milestones: We finally have teeth! Two bottom teeth popped up within about a week and a half of one another last month, and I think the top ones are starting to come in now, as he has been extra fussy and his gums have been swollen the last few days. Teething sucks! He had his first major fever last month, which was pretty scary. It got at high as 104.8 at one point. I called the doctor, who told me not to worry until it got over 105 (uhh… isn’t that close enough?!). She also said that how he was acting was a better indicator of how serious it was than the actual number. Aside from being a bit crankier than usual, he was still cruising around the house and getting into things like his usual mischievous self. Thankfully he got better after a couple days. He’s babbling a lot now but doesn’t seem to be assigning words to anything. He also blows raspberries and makes this funny popping sound with his mouth. Sort of a cross between a “p” sound, but nearly silent. It’s hard to explain, but funny. He climbs stairs like a champ and walks with a walker! I’m sure actual walking is just around the corner…

Sleeping: Sleep continues to improve. Every once in a while I have to get up once with him, but he’ll usually put himself back to sleep if he wakes, and most nights he sleeps from about 7:30 or 8 p.m. until 5 or 6 a.m. On weekdays we just get up at that time, and on weekends, we pull him into bed with us and he’ll usually let us get a few more hours. His favorite way to sleep? With his butt in the air. So cute.

Eating: He’s doing awesome with solid food and eats pretty much everything now, as long as it’s relatively soft. Sometimes he’s randomly picky about what he eats, but if you feed him something he knows he likes, he’ll eat and eat and eat forever. I swear the kid has a hollow leg. He’s showing less interest in nursing, which is both freeing and a bit sad. During the workweek I only nurse him briefly in the morning and at night before bed, and on the weekends, he’ll nurse maybe two other times. One thing he’s started doing lately is biting me when he isn’t interested in nursing. Especially now that he has teeth, that HUUUURTS. Not cool, buddy. I really wouldn’t be surprised if he self-weaned from nursing before a year, even though I am hoping to nurse for a year. I would even consider extended nursing beyond a year, just in the evenings maybe. But I have a feeling his lack of interest will dry up my supply here pretty soon. Our doctor doesn’t really want us to switch to cow’s milk before a year, but it also seems odd to introduce formula for just a month or so. I’ve got a nice freezer stash, so even if my supply tanks completely, we’ll at least have a couple weeks to talk to the doctor and decide what to do.

Likes/Dislikes: My little babyzilla loves knocking things down. He has these little stackable toys, and he will haul himself across the room to knock them over if he sees you stacking them. He’s also obsessed with opening drawers and cabinets, so we’ve had to install cabinet latches on everything. He’s developed some MAJOR separation anxiety lately and doesn’t like to be held by anyone he doesn’t know well. Heck, even if I leave the room and D is with him, he starts screaming. I’m flattered, but it’s exhausting to feel like I have to be joined to him at all times when I’m home. Despite his attachment to me, he isn’t much of a snuggler, except for the time he was really sick. He really does not like to sit still. Lately he’s developed a fascination with taking off his shoes, socks and pants. The first thing he does when we put him in his car seat is take off his shoes and socks. He’s even resorted to taking off other kids’ socks at daycare! He has also taken his pants off at daycare a few times. Thankfully he hasn’t started taking off other kids’ pants! Still loves bathtime – probably his favorite time of day, and mine too! He’s just so cute splashing around, babbling and playing with his toys. Although, just in the past week he’s pooped in the tub almost every night! Hopefully this doesn’t become a habit…

Mama: I got my first postpartum period last month. I’m grateful breastfeeding was able to keep it away for as long as it did, but all good things must come to an end, right? The return of my cycle has made me realize we could try another baby if we wanted to, but neither of us is ready for that quite yet! Maybe we’ll revisit the idea in 6 months to a year…

Okay, I’ll wrap this up with a few pictures from the last two months.

Who needs toys when you've got a beer box?

Who needs toys when you’ve got a beer box?

A little fever can't slow down Batman!

A little fever can’t slow down Batman!

Watching the Superbowl with Cody.

Watching the Superbowl with Cody.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Theo loves cousin Ryder.

Theo loves cousin Ryder.

Out for Sushi.

Out for Sushi.

Eight months old.

Little man likes to move it, move it. Crawls at an alarming speed (can’t take your eye off him for a second), pulls himself up to standing, climbs on EVERYTHING and cruises along furniture now. He even briefly stood unassisted once. I know walking is right around the corner, which is both exciting and terrifying. A side effect of all this moving? The inevitable wipeouts. He managed to give himself two black eyes in the week leading up to his eight-month photos, and yet another one just the other day. Poor guy.

IMG_0010Stats: 18 or 19ish lbs., according to my super scientific method of weighing myself on our bathroom scale holding him and not holding him. We’ll get an exact measurement at his 9 month checkup next month.

Milestones: As I mentioned above, he is very mobile. He’s also been teething, though he still has yet to have anything break through. It’s strange – he was so uncomfortable for about a week and a half. His gums were inflamed, he was gnawing on everything, and we had to give him Tylenol multiple times per day. I could see his bottom two AND his top two teeth through his gums… and then everything seems to have stopped. There is still a translucent layer of gums over his teeth, but they haven’t broken through and don’t seem to be bothering him anymore. From what I’ve read, this isn’t uncommon – to slow and stop like this before finally breaking through. Still, I’m anxious for them to just cut through already. Oh, and he claps his hands now, which is so cute! Still not doing a ton of babbling (with consonants, that is – still mostly “aaah” sounds).

Sleeping: I’m excited to say, sleeping is going GREAT! We had a bit of a regression during the worst of the teething (and he has also battled frequent ear infections, which sucks!), but once he got over the teething discomfort, he settled into just waking up once per night, and the last three nights, I haven’t had to get up with him at all! I’m almost afraid to type that – I’m sure I just jinxed it. It’s been great, though. A couple of times I’ve heard him wake through the baby monitor, and he’s either fussed for a bit or just babbled and played in his crib, but in both scenarios he’s put himself back to sleep on his own without me having to go get him! I hope this keeps up. But a wise woman once told me to never trust a baby. So we’ll see…

Eating: Eating is going so much better now that we’re in a new daycare (that in itself deserves its own post). He is mostly finishing his bottles, and has even explored some new solid foods. Just yesterday at daycare he ate turkey, cheese and crackers. Seriously! At home we’re still mostly feeding purees (still making my own baby food which is super easy), but he does like to eat rice crackers (Mum Mums), and also really likes yogurt melts. He’s still getting the hang of perfecting the pincer grasp. Most of the time he just fists the yogurt melts and then tries to shove his whole hand in his mouth to make the transfer. This results in a lot of drool and melty yogurt dripping all over his chin and clothes. We usually time dinner to coincide right before bathtime just for this reason! 🙂

Likes/Dislikes: Speaking of bathtime, he still loves it. We’ve made the transition from the infant tub to just putting him in the actual bathtub. He kept trying to climb out of the infant tub and since he’s good at crawling and sitting up on his own now, we figured the real tub was pretty safe. There was one incident where he flung himself backward and hit his head on a toy, and another time where he slipped and dove headfirst into the water (which scared both me and him!), but overall he’s doing great. Not many dislikes, though he is starting to show just a little bit of separation anxiety when I leave the room or drop him off at daycare. And when I come home from work and he’s crawling on the floor, he gets really sad if I try to put my things away before picking him up. He’ll chase me down the hall, crying after me. It’s both sad and cute.

Mama: I’ve been bathing suit shopping lately, which is NOT fun postpartum. We’re supposed to go to Hawaii in a couple weeks (though there’s a chance the trip could get postponed due to the health of D’s grandma – more on that another time). I’ve lost all the baby weight – in fact I’m actually down below my pre-pregnancy weight, but my body is just different. I always assumed my midsection would be the part I’d be the most self-conscious about postpartum, but while I’ve got a tiny bit of a pooch, it’s really not that bad. Interestingly, for the first time in my life I’m totally self-conscous about my boobs! It seems like no bathing suit top will contain these puppies, and they just seem kind of big and floppy now. I miss my perky C cups.

Speaking of boobs (it’s amazing how much of my brain space is occupied by boobs these days… that and poop), breastfeeding is still going well, and I’m still pumping at work. I got new insurance this year, so I was able to take advantage of the fact that breast pumps are 100% covered, and I got myself a second pump to keep at work. It’s nice to not have to lug the pump back and forth every day now, and my new one (a Medela) is a lot more efficient than my old one (an Ameda). I can get just as much, if not more output in about half the amount of time. So it’s nice to keep the new one at the office and then I just use my Ameda on days I work from home, as well as the occasional morning pump. With T sleeping longer stretches, I find myself pretty engorged in the mornings now, and he isn’t always interested in eating much when he first wakes up, which means I have to work pumping into my already busy morning routine those days.

So that’s about it. I’ll save the stuff with D’s grandma for another post, and I also have a long post I’ve been working on to talk more about our daycare situation. It’s been quite the roller coaster, but the short story is that we’re really happy with the new daycare, which makes the incompetency of the old place even more glaring. With that, I’ll leave you with some photos from the past month…

Bathtime buns.

Bathtime buns.

Watching the Cougs play in the New Mexico Bowl with cousin Ryder.

Watching the Cougs play in the New Mexico Bowl with cousin Ryder.

Napping with Grandpa.

Napping with Grandpa.

Uh oh... time to lower the crib mattress!

Well, hello there… guess it’s time to lower the crib mattress!

Christmas morning.

Christmas morning.

Climbing on cousin Molly.

Climbing on cousin Molly.

Christmas nap at Grandma and Boppa's.

Christmas nap at Grandma and Boppa’s.

Teething baby who wouldn't go down for a nap until I wore him around the house.

Teething baby who wouldn’t go down for a nap until I wore him around the house.

Hanging out with Mr. Penguin.

Hanging out with Mr. Penguin.

Climbing and pulling himself up on everything.

Climbing and pulling himself up on everything.

...and I do mean everything.

…and I do mean everything.

Eff naps!

Eff naps!

With his friend Cody.

With his friend Cody.

First time in the big boy bath.

First time in the big boy bath.

Bathtime babe with a black eye. :(

Bathtime babe with a black eye. 😦

Loves to clap!

Loves to clap!

Watching the Seahawks beat the Saints!

Watching the Seahawks beat the Saints!

Santa! I know him!

(line from Elf, in case you aren’t familiar).

Last weekend, we took Theo and his cousin Molly to see Santa at Molbak’s in Woodinville. We knew we wanted to do Santa pictures, but had been debating where to take him. Some Santas we’d seen were downright creepy, and the Nordstrom Santa, while decidedly less creepy, came with long lines and more expensive photo package prices. We’d heard that the Molbak’s Santa was authentic looking, less crowded, and had a take-your-own-photo setup. Perfect. Cheap. Low-key. And this way we could make sure we were happy with the photo.

So D’s sister, her husband and their 7 year-old daughter Molly came over to watch the Seahawks game last Sunday, and then we headed over to Molbak’s to meet Santa afterward. Molly was cute and brought an illustrated wish list to share with him, and Theo didn’t even cry. He was so fascinated with the embroidery and fur on Santa’s sleeve, though, that it was hard to get him to look at the camera!

I’m happy with the result – but is it terrible to admit I sort of wanted one of those epic Santa meldowns? I suppose next year is really when the stranger danger is in full effect.

photo 5(1)

 

Seven months old.

Where is time going? Our little dude is 7 months old now, and so much fun. I love him more and more every day, and every age is “the most fun age.” I’m sure that’ll stop at some point (not the loving him part – the “this is the most fun age part”) – maybe at the terrible twos? I can’t wait until he can start talking to us. He is so funny and full of personality and I can’t wait to understand a little more about what’s rattling around in that little brain of his.

IMG_0003Stats: 17.5 lbs and 28 inches. Even though that seems huge to me, he’s dropped quite a bit, percentile-wise, which has me concerned. I know some ebb and flow is normal, but I can’t help but worry whether he’s eating enough. He doesn’t seem to eat as much as other babies I know, and he doesn’t always finish his bottles at daycare, which bothers me (more on that in another post). But the pediatrician didn’t seem concerned, so I’m trying not to be either. Easier said than done…

Sleeping: Hallelujah, we have finally turned a corner on sleep. He’s waking up once or twice per night these days, and only needs to nurse back to sleep about half the time. The other times, if we let him fuss a bit, he’ll usually put himself back to sleep, and often without even full-on crying. He mostly just whimpers and whines and rolls around, and then it just stops and he’s out cold almost as soon as it started. To be honest, though, I don’t really mind getting up with him once per night. I feel like I see him so little during the workday, so the middle of the night nursings are sort of our special time. I sit in the rocking chair in his room and we snuggle while he eats. On the weekends he usually wakes up around 5 or 6, which is when we get up during the week, so I just bring him into bed with us and he’s happy to roll around in between us for a while (usually slapping our faces and trying to get us to play!), before he’ll conk out again. Most weekends we sleep in until around 8, and we’ve slept as late as 10 on occasion! I feel sort of spoiled and know it won’t be long before he’s an active toddler, raring to go at the crack of dawn!

Eating: With the exception of Thanksgiving, we’ve just been introducing one new food per week. This last month he’s had bananas and squash, and we meant to introduce pears last weekend, but the pears we got at the store still don’t feel very ripe. As soon as they ripen more, I’ll mush them up for him. So far the only thing he’s not crazy about is avocado, but I find if I mix it with something else like sweet potatoes he’ll eat it up. He didn’t like squash at first either, but after a couple days he started eating it. Our next green veggie we’re trying is green beans next week. We’ll see how that goes! I’m tempted to start giving him finger foods since he’s developing the motor skills for picking up small objects, but I’m terrified of choking. I know I’ll have to get over that fear eventually. He can’t eat mush forever. Still doesn’t have any teeth.

Likes/Dislikes: Kid likes to MOVE! He is crawling like a champ now and looooves to be on the floor. We’ve had to watch the dogs a little more closely because of it. We had an incident a couple weeks ago where Stewie growled and snapped at him when Theo got too close while Stewie was chewing on a bone. I, of course, FREAKED out. I would never get rid of my dogs, but I also could never live with myself if something happened. After talking with the president of the rescue group I volunteer with, though, she assured me it was completely normal. That dogs will correct babies/kids, and that if Stewie had wanted to bite, he would have. It was a warning, and we shouldn’t punish him for warning, because if you extinguish a dog’s ability to warn, that’s when you get dogs who seem to snap out of nowhere. When that happens, it usually isn’t out of nowhere, but the dog had been taught not to warn and so the dog doesn’t act until he just can’t take it anymore. So we make sure all bones and dog toys are picked up when Theo is on the floor, and we make sure Theo doesn’t disturb the dogs in their beds. Our rule of thumb these days is that we allow the dogs to approach Theo (as long as they don’t totally molest his face off), but we don’t allow Theo to approach the dogs. We’re just playing things safe until they get more accustomed to each other. Apparently this is very normal once crawling starts, and things may get a little off again once he starts walking. It’s our job as parents to ensure everyone is safe. Wow – that got long and detailed. It really isn’t as big of a deal as I felt it was at the time. Just a good reminder that dogs will be dogs and we need to respect them and not put them in a position where they feel the need to defend themselves.

Other likes continue to be mostly the same – bathtime, meeting new people, going grocery shopping, etc. There isn’t a ton that he doesn’t like these days. Still not crazy about getting strapped into the car seat, but he doesn’t fuss as much as he used to.

Mama: Breastfeeding is still going well for me. Pumping is still annoying. I went out of town on a business trip last week, and pumping and scalding my milk was quite the hassle since I didn’t have access to a stove. I had to scald my milk in a bottle warmer from the hotel room (using this method). I found the bottle warmer method to be quite a bit slower than just dumping everything into a pan on the stove and heating it – and trying to pack my pump, cooler bag, bottle warmer and two days’ worth of clothes into a carry-on bag was like playing a really frustrating game of Tetris – but it’s nice to know I have an alternative way to scald my milk when I’m out of town, and I was able to bring back more milk than he drank while I was gone, so I didn’t fall behind on maintaining my freezer stash. In exciting news, I’m getting a new pump! Since I have new insurance, I figured I’d take advantage of the fact that breast pumps are 100% covered now. I’m not crazy about my current pump (Ameda Purely Yours), so I ordered a Medela, which I had heard good things about. I’m really hoping I like this pump better than my old one, but at the very least, it’ll be nice to have a backup in case one breaks, and also this way I can keep one at the office and one at home instead of lugging it back and forth every day.

Okay, I’ll wrap up this already long post with some photos from the past month…

IMG_0022

Watching the Apple Cup.

Watching the Apple Cup.

Apple Cup. Cougs were losing, hence the scowly face on dad.

Apple Cup. Cougs were losing, hence the scowly face on dad.

Christmas tree shopping in the pouring rain.

Christmas tree shopping in the pouring rain.

Christmas tree shopping is exhausting.

Christmas tree shopping is exhausting.

...or a laundry basket. Seriously. No need for fancy toys this Christmas!

A kid and his laundry basket. Seriously. No need for fancy toys this Christmas!

Snuggling and sleeping in on the weekend.

Snuggling and sleeping in on the weekend.

Hanging out with his buddy Travis at our friend's holiday party.

Hanging out with his buddy Travis at our friend’s holiday party.

First Thanksgiving.

Theo’s first Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. We went to my in-laws’ house where Theo enjoyed playing with his cousin and even got to sample some Thanksgiving dinner! We brought along some pureed peas and sweet potatoes for him to eat, and then I fed him a few tidbits off my plate. He loved mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and I even let him gum a hunk of turkey (with me holding onto it so he wouldn’t choke on it). I’ve been pretty careful about only feeding him one new food per week so we could easily identify any allergies or food sensitivities, but it was fun to “let loose” for one day (woo… look at me, going crazy). I figured since we’re doing things by the book every other day, it would be pretty easy to identify that it was something he ate that day if something affected him negatively. Thankfully, he did great.

Playing Legos with cousin Molly.

Playing Legos with cousin Molly.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

photo 3(2)

Molly reads Theo a story.

Six months old.

What a fun age. Everyone says that about six months, but it’s so true. Theo has become less cranky and whiny almost overnight, smiles and laughs all the time, and is almost CRAWLING. Dear God, help us. I am so not ready for a mobile baby.

photo 1(1)

Stats: I’d guess around 17 lbs. I dropped the ball on making his six-month appointment and wasn’t able to get him in until next week and he’ll be almost seven months old by then. But when we took him in for an ear infection a few weeks ago and they weighed him, he was around 16 lbs.

Sleeping: Sleeping is finally getting better. I finally broke down and we started sleep training a little over a week ago (“Ferberizing”). I read two sleep books with opposing views: one – the Ferber method – is more traditional on letting them cry it out a bit, and the other one bills itself the “no cry sleep solution,” which is more in-line with attachment parenting style. I consider my parenting style to be somewhere in the middle. Since I was morally conflicted about how I felt about letting him cry (I didn’t want him to feel abandoned), I tried the no sleep version first. As I mentioned last month, I picked up some good pointers, but in the end, I wasn’t seeing the results we needed. So as painful as it was to listen to him cry, we embarked on a stricter sleep plan. At the end of the day, it’s important for his health to get more sleep.

We had two primary issues to deal with: teaching him to self-soothe, and getting him to eat less during the night. He’s old enough now that he shouldn’t have a physical need to eat during the night, but he had gotten used to it and so it was hard to break that. To teach self-soothing, Ferber recommends responding to his cries at increasing intervals of time, without picking him up. The idea is to let him know you’re there (shush him, pat his back, talk to him, etc.), but he should ultimately soothe himself without you and fall asleep on his own. So the first night you go in after 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, then every 10 minutes until he falls asleep. The second night starts at 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 12 minutes… and so on. Simultaneously, to reduce night nursing, we made him wait at least 2 hours before nursing the first night, 2 1/2 the second night, 3 hours the third night, and so on. So according to our sleep plan, if he woke and it had been enough time to nurse, I would. If not, we’d do the waiting intervals. Most nights he falls asleep again after only crying for 10-20 minutes, so we usually only have to go in once before he puts himself back to sleep. By the time he wakes the second time, it’s usually been enough time that I can nurse him. So we’ve been averaging two wakeups per night — one where we let him cry and put himself back to sleep, and one where I feed him. Oh, and did I mention we decided to put him in his own room/crib when we started this process? We figured it would be easiest to make the transition all at once.

We still have a ways to go before he’s sleeping through the night, but at just two wakeups per night, we’re in a much better place than we were just a couple weeks ago, and it really is nice to have our room back to ourselves.

Eating: Theo is really enjoying “solid” food (read: mush). We’ve been introducing one new food per week in order to keep an eye out for allergies or sensitivities. So far he’s had baby oatmeal cereal, avocado, carrots, sweet potato and peas. We may break our “one food per week” rule this Thursday on Thanksgiving and let him sample a few of the softer things from our plates. We’ve also introduced a sippy cup of water, just for practice. He still gets the hydration he needs from breastmilk, but the sippy cup is fun for him to learn on now, even if he’s not getting a lot out of it. He really loves it though! Nursing is still going well, though now that we’re trying to shift some of his caloric intake from the night to the daytime and sending him with more in his daycare bottles, I’m finding I’m having a harder time keeping up with demand when I’m pumping. I’m working to try to increase my supply, but in the meantime, I’m thankful I’ve been able to rebuild my freezer stash so we can dip into that as needed.

Likes/Dislikes: He is quite the social butterfly and loves anything where people are paying attention to him. Trips to the grocery store are essentially giant flirt-fests for him. He’ll stare at people until they look at him, and then crack a huge smile, which usually gets people cooing at him. He just eats it up. What a ham. Not crazy about his car seat or going on car rides these days. I don’t think he likes not being able to see us. Unfortunately, he’ll be rear-facing for quite a while longer, due to car safety guidelines. He fusses a lot when we first get in the car, but then he usually calms down after a while.

Mama: Not a lot is new with me. Doing well with my weight, but still soft around the middle. I have a crazy appetite these days. I’m way hungrier breastfeeding than I was pregnant. Thankfully breastfeeding burns so many calories. I’ll really miss being able to eat whatever I want once we wean! Still hoping to make it to a year breastfeeding, though if I can keep up my freezer supply, I’d love to give up pumping if my stash could carry me to the year mark and just nurse in the evenings and on weekends. I really do enjoy nursing for the most part, but would like to take my pump out into a field somewhere and beat it, Office Space style.

Here are some photos from the past month, including some professional family photos we had taken last weekend.

Avocado face

Avocado face

Feeding himself with his mesh feeder.

Feeding himself with his mesh feeder.

Watching the Seahawks win.

Watching the Seahawks win.

Sippy cup.

Sippy cup.

Trying to feed himself with a spoon. Needs practice...

Trying to feed himself with a spoon. Needs practice…

Mmmm... peas!

Mmmm… peas!

SFH_6696 SFH_6706 SFH_6718 SFH_6777 SFH_6790 SFH_6875 SFH_6893 SFH_6899