05.27.2016

Motherhood Update: 4 + 5 Month

itsy bitsy indulgences

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?

itsy bitsy indulgences

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.

Harper’s Favorite Items: She loves this giraffe, these pacifiers, and loves this bathtub (I think it’s her favorite part of the day… just splashing and splashing in the tub).

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).

Comments

  1. Mallory says:

    Shannon, As you stated, you had a baby a few months ago, so give yourself a break with wanting the best body now. You look fabulous, so try not to be so hard on yourself. I hope your family and you have a great time in Hawaii. And, for the hair loss? Try Vitiman B12 daily 1000 mg. It worked for me. Talk with your pediatrician to make sure it is okay to use when breast feeding if you decide to try it.
    Again, best wishes.

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Hi Mallory- Thank you so much for your kin words! I really appreciate it. I am for sure going to have to pick up some B12 though. Thank you thank you!

  2. Stevie says:

    Oh my goodness, I experienced just about all those things beginning months 4-5! We dedicated a week to “bottle bootcamp” without success. It became almost a battle of the wills for my husband and sitter. Finally, I felt that I couldn’t cry or worry or be upset for another day. I told myself I would nurse her as often as she needed and we would take a break from the bottles. All of the sudden, as soon as she started on her cereal and veggies, she began taking the bottle regularly for the sitter. It’s not a perfect situation, and our approach may not be right for others, but just letting go of all the bottle stress for awhile somehow got us back on track. Beginning cereal and purees has given me the freedom to be away from home longer, helping me to feel a little more like my pre-baby self and ultimately a more confident (and relaxed) mama. Best wishes to you! The bottle battle is hard, but just know fruits and veggies are around the corner!

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Oh my gosh! Thank you so much! This is so encouraging, as we will be starting the cereal and veggies very soon. It is so great to receive this feedback and lets me have hope!! Best of luck to you too in this parenting journey!!

  3. Thanks for your honest post! There are such conflicting feelings during these first few months… I can relate to much of this- my little one is almost 3 months & there are so many highs, but also plenty of lows. But thanks for keeping it real. 🙂

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Always. Thank you for your feedback! I always try to know that the good outweighs the difficult times!

  4. Gosh I appreciate your candidness about motherhood, every moment isn’t easy and after becoming a mother myself have learned these past ten weeks just how refreshing it is to speak openly about the joys and trials of motherhood. For me, the trial is not producing enough milk to breastfeed exclusively — learning to give myself grace on things outside my control and savoring the moments at each feeding I do breastfeed (before supplementing the rest). With regards to fitness, I’ve just started getting back to it, but darn it — it has been uphill, to say the least. But(!) we will get there 🙂

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Thank you so much for your message Marcia! It truly is such a journey, one I never knew could have so many highs and lows! I truly believe that there is a challenge that faces us all. I love your perspective of learning to give yourself grace for things outside of your control. It’s something I struggle with daily, and hope to become better at! And yes… fitness is certainly uphill. We will for sure get there with time (if it wants to move a little faster though I’m okay with that :))!

  5. Hi Shannon, thanks for this post and keeping it real! My little one was born one week behind Harper so a lot of your feelings resonate with me. It’s such a bittersweet moment to see them change so much in such a short amount of time isn’t it? Although my lil one didn’t have an issue with bottles, I am glad you were able to get some success with the Como bottles. At this stage each achievement however big or small should be a cause for celebration! You are doing a great job so keep positive. My bub does not nap for more than 30-40mins during the day. Although I am grateful enough I have such an active and curious baby I wish I could go back to when she napped for 2-3hrs just so I can get some time for myself. She does sleep through the night though so thank god for that! Haha. I am curious to know whether you will be investing in a jumperoo/walker for Harper, if so any recommendations? Have a great rest of your trip! 🙂

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I completely understand what you mean about celebrating each stage! It’s a constant battle between loving where they are and looking forward in anticipation to what they will become! And, yes! Thank goodness your little one is sleeping through the night. I feel you about the naps. When Harper doesn’t nap during the day I can tell a difference in the flow of everything. I am hoping to invest in a jumperoo/walker in a week or to. I will keep you posted when I do, and will share my experience with it! Best of luck in everything!!

  6. Tina Flippo says:

    Hi Shannon! I’ve just discovered your site and am in LOVE with all the fashion tips, healthy eating, exercise and especially anything that has to do with nursing or your little one. I have a 5.5 month old son myself and this post basically is an entry in my diary if I were to have written one. I’m also feeling so trapped and frustrated with the whole nursing thing. Benjamin won’t take a bottle either and I’m a stay at home mom so my husband doesn’t really understand my frustrations since I’m with him all day. But you understand completely how taxing and exhausting it all really is. I don’t want to stop breastfeeding yet because I’ve overcome so many obstacles along the way and we’re doing so well, but at the same time, I need time for myself and to be able to get away for even half a day but that’s not possible right now.
    And the whole weight thing is driving me nuts too. I exercise (Pure Barre) almost everyday but my body is not toning up like it was pre pregnancy. And I’m trying to eat healthier again but it’s not so easy when your baby is not a sleeper and you can’t fix yourself anything decent. I want to “diet” a little and start to eat a whole lot cleaner but I’m scared it’ll affect my milk supply due to the decrease in calories. I’m sure it’ll adjust but I had so much trouble in the beginning with getting my milk in and also making enough that it’s mentally messed me up with the whole milk supply issues.
    Anyway, thank you for posting about your experience and frustrations and making me feel like I’m not the only breastfeeding mom going through the same frustrations. Thank you for your cute fashion tips. Take care of yourself and your little miss??

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Hi Tina! Thank you so much for your kind words, I appreciate it so much! And thank you for sharing your story as well. Nursing is definitely my biggest struggle as a mother, and it is filled with so many different emotions. I can see where you are coming from with your concerns as well…. and couldn’t agree more with the need for time to yourself. I hope that your journey with nursing and getting back to eating clean will be successful! I hope you have a great beginning of the week!!