In writing today’s post, I struggled a little. I’ve always wanted to be transparent and honest with my experiences, but also never want to come across as being too negative or a downer. In my life, I always try to be authentic and genuine, because I feel as though it’s the best place to come from. So, my hope is that as you read today’s post, you are able to find that balance… between the realistic personal challenges of being a mom and the absolute joys that it brings as well. Consider this my disclaimer.
It’s really hard to believe that little miss has been around for almost 5 months at this point. TJ and I were reflecting a week or so ago about how taxing those first few months are… when people tell you,
“Just wait until month 3. It gets so much better…” and how absolutely far away that feels when you’re only on week 2. Yet, it’s all true… and actually, the time has literally flown by. To the point that it is already Memorial Day weekend and the year is half-way over (what???).
General Thoughts + Feelings: To be quite honest, this past month was probably one of the more difficult months for me thus far. Aside from the fatigue and demands that a newborn brings in the first few months, this month was one of the more emotional ones for me. I think it was a combination of the continual demands of breastfeeding coupled with the fact that she wasn’t taking a bottle, that lead me to feel trapped. That seems like a harsh word, but I tend to be fairly independent most of the time. I love alone time, getting lost in a book, and heading out to a coffee shop to write a blog post and return e-mails. Yet, having to return to her every 2.5 hours created a fairly limited schedule. I was having to decline events and meetings, and felt continually rushed in my everyday life. I started to feel like I was on a hamster wheel… trying to get as much done as possible in a very small block of time (as in, from 11-1:30 everyday….). I don’t know if I am accurately communicating the feelings I was having, but it became exhausting and overwhelming…. and resulted in a few nights where I couldn’t help but cry to TJ. Over one lunch with my mom and sister, I kind of broke down. I felt much more hopeful after…. so I guess sometimes a little cry fest is cathartic to the soul. We put a plan together… called it “Operation Bottle.” That’s what a mom and sister are for, right?
Sleep + Feeding: In contrast to my statements above, I feel incredibly blessed that Harper sleeps through the nights. We have an evening routine that we adhere to pretty firmly which includes bath (done by TJ), nurse/feed, songs + prayers, then bed. She goes down at 7:30pm and wakes up between 7 and 7:30am. I received quite a few questions regarding how I was able to do this from the last update I posted. I read BabyWise before I had Harper, and made the decision to schedule her upon returning home from the hospital. We also allowed her to cry it out, which enabled her to be able to quickly fall asleep on her own in the evenings, and to transition fairly easily when she wakes up from her morning and afternoon naps (I realize this isn’t the type of approach a lot of people like to take and think you have to find “your” way of doing it). I also consulted with a sleep coach around the 12 week mark regarding ways to help Harper learn to self soothe…. and I found those tips to be very helpful. For naps and bedtime, we use “rain” sounds as white noise, and we place her in this swaddle and sleeper. In the coming weeks, we will be transitioning her into the crib, so we will see how that impacts sleep.
As far as eating goes, I became pretty desperate and bought every bottle under the sun to encourage her to take pumped milk from someone else. None seemed to work…. and only resulted in her crying and screaming. My mom and sister stepped in to help this past weekend and we used these Como Tomo bottles. She wasn’t necessarily chugging from them, but tolerated them, sucked out of them, and took about 3oz. Based on her last appointment with the pediatrician, we will be starting her on baby oatmeal when we return from Hawaii, so I plan on reading BabyWise II to see how that will impact sleep and her daytime routine.
I got together with a girlfriend a week or so ago, and she was listening to me vent about my frustrations with Harper not taking a bottle (bless her). She talked a little about some of her difficulties with nursing, and we concluded that it seems that there is something that every momma has to face. Some face not being able to produce enough milk, some have too quick of a let down, and some babies simply refuse to latch…. or in my case take a bottle. It’s the journey of motherhood.
Body: I think this was another culprit for my down feelings this past month. I’ve come to the realization that 1) I am my world’s worst critic and 2) I placed very unrealistic expectations on myself. I told myself that by the time we went to Hawaii (4.5 months post pregnancy) I would be in the best shape of my life… because according to all the research, I would be loosing weight quickly due to breastfeeding. Well, that hasn’t been entirely the case for me… and upon additional research, I realized that it isn’t the case for a lot of women. That some women retain weight while they are breast feeding due to metabolism and hormonal shifts. Why do I put this here? Because, I would have loved to have known that to cut myself a break. I have to continually remind myself that my body carried and birthed a baby… and continues to produce to feed Harper … that’s a miracle… and therefore, I need to be kinder to myself. I need to let my body naturally return to whatever state it plans on going back to, and I need to have acceptance. Does it mean I won’t eat clean or continue my workouts? Not at all. It just means I have to do it to feel strong, healthy, and energized, as opposed to looking good in that bathing suit. And to help me feel confident, I am opting for pretty one piece suites while I’m in Hawaii… like this floral option, black and white suit, and black cut-out…. and I also snagged this two piece which I feel pretty confident wearing.
Also, my hair is falling out. In chunks. So, I’m waiting for the day that will stop too! My solution has been to minimize ponytails and to find creative braids for those days where I simply don’t want to wash my hair, but something needs to be done (we all know those days). I love using this youtube channel for some serious braid inspiration.
The Best Moments: All of the above aside, there have been so many amazing moments with little Harper over the past 2 months. She loves playing in “happy baby” yoga pose, singing at the top of her lungs, sitting in her bumbo, and simply engaging with her environment. I love watching her grab my nose and eyes as she examines my facial features… and the smiles are simply infectious. We loved taking her up to wine country with us in the middle of April, and we are currently on a flight en route to Hawaii. I can’t wait to introduce her to a place that I love so much, and to watch her take it all in with her big brown eyes. I have loved seeing TJ as a father, and feel incredibly blessed that he loves taking an active interest in her life… bathing her, dancing with her, changing her diaper, and he just loves pushing the stroller.
She rolls over from time to time, loves pushing up when on her tummy, and her legs are so strong! She loves to stand with assistance… and I’m thinking one of these is very necessary, very soon. Her favorite books are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and The Pout Pout Fish (or maybe those are mine??…) and she loves clapping hands and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It’s so amazing to watch a little baby’s personality develop, and I feel truly blessed that I get that opportunity.
I’m looking forward to enrolling in a mommy + me class in the next few weeks… and hoping to find a musical class, or maybe even a yoga class.
I’m so torn. I can’t wait to watch her grow and see what the next few months have in store for her and our little family, but at the same time, I just want to enjoy her where she is and take in every moment… since I know I will look back at these times so fondly.
My Favorite Momma Items: I recently rediscovered my favorite cargo pants (from when I was pregnant) and love them as an alternative to leggings or ripped jeans (I love this option here too). I’m also loving tanks that can be dressed up and down and recently purchased this lace up option and this high low top, and basic stripe tank, both which pair with said cargo pants. I also love the simplicity of a denim jacket to any outfit and just purchased this cropped version. I’ve been sure to maintain my skin care routine, and love using this face mask 3xs a week to promote glowing skin (use code shannon25 for 25% off).