Our Transition To Solids

Gerber Lil Crunchies in Apple Sweet Potato Flavour, Gerber Puffs in Banana Flavour, Heinz Farley’s Teething Biscuits in Banana Flavour (favourite*), and Gerber Lil Entrées Pasta Stars in Meat Sauce with Green Beans.

Being a parent is completely unpredictable.

Around 6 months, we transitioned our little Sunshine from exclusively breastmilk, to some baby fruit and veggie purees. This happened more quickly than I would have thought, but I don’t know why I thought it would take longer than it did, she seemed to always take to things right away. Even in the delivery room, I was amazed that they had barely cleaned her off and she was already latched onto my book, staring up at me. I remember thinking ‘Really, just like that?’ The same could be said for her switch to purees.

In my mind, when I was pregnant, I told myself I was going to breastfeed as long as possible, and now at 9 months old, that is still pretty much the plan. They tell you how difficult it can be to maintain a good latch, how to get the baby to latch, they even tell you how difficult it can be to keep your milk supply up, but I feel like they don’t tell you how draining it can be on mom, emotionally and physically, to breastfeed.

During days when she is overly fussy, when she is not feeling herself, when she is going through a growth spurt or a developmental leap, she is attached to my breast almost constantly. She falls asleep on my breast and if I dare even move her, she stirs and cries. This can be so overwhelming. It means that even if your baby does take long naps, it doesn’t make a difference to your day because you are trapped beneath them, providing the comfort they need while they go through whatever is happening in their little bodies.

Some days I felt so helpless. Hair unwashed, body odour building up, teeth not even brushed yet, and I had this little baby attached to my breast. My nipple the cork in a wailing child.

The thought of introducing purees was more than exciting. In a way, it meant freedom. I had read that because the fruits and veggies would make them more full, they may way to breastfeed less.

Thank goodness!

The purees worked and did just that. She would eat a quarter pouch and have four sittings throughout the day during the first week. Then it went up to half a pouch, four times a day. After a month of that, we went up to full pouches, three times a day and introduced some handheld snacks like teething cookies or Gerber Puffs. (When introducing any handheld snacks to your baby, make sure they are always supervised. If your baby gags or chokes, use your forefinger and thumb to squeeze their cheeks together and use your forefinger from your other hand to hook into their mouths and removed the food.)

At 7 months, I remember getting a feeling of freedom and relief. The baby purees meant that I could sit her in her playpen for longer stretches of time to play on her own while I actually did things for myself or around the house. It also meant we could spend longer times outdoors without needing to breastfeed.

Around the time we introduced the purees, we also introduced whole milk. I would use this when we were out and breastfeeding was impossible, like in the car. It really was a life saver.

Then, she got sick.

On May 31st, she woke up with her face caked in dried mucus. For babies, having their nose blocked is stressful, as they solely breathe out of their nose, especially for breastfeeding or bottle feeding. We took a nice warm steam in the shower to clear her out, but we did have to stick to a regime of saline nasal spray, and constant clearing of her nose.

Her mood was atrocious, as you can imagine. All those wonderful purees that had given me freedom suddenly didn’t interest her at all! Any type of food besides my breastmilk was pushed aside, her dramatically throwing her weight back to let me know this was not going to work anymore.

This was not her first cold. She was one when she was about three months and I thought to myself then that it wasn’t that bad. She fed constantly, sure, but she also slept all day long. It passed quickly and I found myself shrugging the whole thing off.

This time, I was not so lucky. Her congestion meant she didn’t sleep at night. She spent most of the night angrily rubbing her face, rolling onto her stomach, doing whatever she could to try and get comfortable. It usually meant I would move onto the couch with her and spend most of the night there, where she could sleep, partially sitting up, skin to skin on my chest while I got as much sleep as I could, which wasn’t a lot.

Her lack of sleep at night meant she was a tyrant during the day. Tantrums and crying, her naps would be interrupted when she awoke abruptly, unable to breathe through her nose the way she wanted.

It was rough!

For over a month, while being sick and coming back from being sick (she was sick for two weeks!) she refused to eat any solids. Constant breastfeeding to both boost her immune system and make her well, and because she wasn’t eating anything else started to wear on me once again. My doctor assured me it would pass and to just keep trying offering her purees and foods I knew she liked.

For any parents out there who are feeding their babies the purees, you know the shelf life of those are 24 hours after it’s opened, which meant a lot of food was going to waste. I decided to hold off trying any more of the purees until I knew they were something she would take.

Her transition back to food happened just as quickly as anything else with her. I was sitting on the couch next to her eating some barbecue meatballs and rice and she smelled the sauce. She slowly crawled over and looked up at me with her big eyes and I thought ‘What the hell, let’s try this’.

She, of course, tried to put the whole meatball in her mouth before I could take it back and then sat there smacking her lips at me the whole time while I fed her bite-sized pieces of meatballs with white rice.

After that, I did make an attempt to go back to purees with absolutely no luck. She was ready.

I made handheld cinnamon pancakes (I would make up to a dozen and keep them in the fridge so she could snack on them throughout the day or week as she wanted) for breakfast, she liked mashed potatoes and bananas for lunch, and at dinner, she wanted whatever we were having. The transition happened so quickly, but I am so happy it did. Life is a little easier when she is just grabbing what she wants and eating it.

Banana bread, cheerios, vanilla yogurt, French fries, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes… it has made my life easier knowing I can just heat up some leftovers for lunch and sit her in her chair for an hour or so while I eat my own food.

My advice to parents with children between the age of 6 months and 1 year would be; Don’t be afraid to try! I was so nervous about things that seemed too small, but you’d be amazed what babies can eat. There weren’t always baby foods and purees, and mothers would feed their babies off their plates once they were weaned off the breast. Offer your baby things they are interested in, supervise them.

Not everything will work, but once you find some staple things that will, you’ll be so relieved!

Day 13: Wellness Challenge

I was speaking with a friend of mine who follows my blog and reads all my post (if only I had about a thousand more friends, I would be rolling in followers). In the midst of our conversation, she casually asked; “So, what did you work out today?” I told her that because of my busy schedule that day, I hadn’t worked out. I had done my stretches and then went on with my day of running around with a 6-month-old in tow. She let out a long sigh and frowned. “That sucks. Looks like it’s back to day one of your fitness challenge.”

My brows furrowed. What was she talking about? What fitness challenge? It was then that she brought up my blog post almost two weeks ago where I basically announced I was going to ‘Carpe Diem’ my life.

That blog was not about the start of a fitness challenge, but more of a wellbeing challenge.

I did not merely want to be fit. I wasn’t signing a contract with myself that stated I would work out around the clock, become extremely fit and all that goes along with it. I want to be healthy, yes, but that is more than just fitness. When I told her it was a Wellbeing Challenge, not a fitness one, she looked at me completely baffled.

What does it mean?

It means that I have stopped putting off things I can control until tomorrow.

There was a lot I was shrugging off, telling myself I would get done tomorrow. Errands, goals, even just basic hygiene. Gross, right? Well… when you are a parent, especially to one of a child under the age of three, some things, especially when they are things for yourself, get put on the back burner. Sometimes they get forgotten altogether. This was one of the biggest and most important things I wanted to change. It is absolutely okay for me to do things for myself, putting myself first in small instances before being a mom or being a wife.

I am brushing my teeth, I am showering daily, I am stretching in the mornings and getting in a workout if my schedule allows it, I am making meals for myself and actually sitting down to eat them while they are still warm. These are things I can easily control, things that work towards my overall health both mentally and physically, and they have been things I have been neglecting since becoming a mom.

Keeping a Journal.

This was something I did a lot when I was younger. I had fallen in love with my cursive writing when I was about ten and thought to myself that I was going to write down absolutely everything I could, all the time. Poems, skits, short stories, every detail of my life written down and kept.

I haven’t kept a journal in almost ten years, but I remember how refreshing it was. To write all your feelings down on a page, to list your goals and your wildest dreams, bringing them to life in some small way, even if just at that moment, they were only words on a page.

There is a lot we keep to ourselves. As we become adults, we grow and adapt. One of the things we learn is that we can’t just say whatever we want all the time. There are repercussions attached to our words, consequences that may not be worth the weight that is temporarily lifted from your shoulders.

One of the things I wanted to start with my Wellbeing Challenge, was journaling again. It is so great to just pour your heart out onto a page. No judgements, no fear. I have to say, anyone that is feeling overwhelmed or unhappy, start journaling. Sometimes when you just let your words flow, you write down things you may not even know you were thinking in the first place.

More meals, just for me.

This may almost seem silly, but when my husband goes to work there are days I forget to do more than snack. I am playing with my daughter, we are going for walks, I am constantly on for her that somehow I forget that I need to eat too. And actually, eat.

I was getting into the bad habit of ‘Man, I am hungry. Maybe I will just snack on these crackers.’ and not actually making a full meal for myself. Aside from the obvious hunger, this was really bad for my energy levels and that affected everything throughout the day. My mood, my procrastination, my whole schedule was determined by my lack of energy would all have been helped by better meals.

Water.

Water, water, and more water.

It honestly helps with so much. Have a slight headache, drink more water. Feeling overly tired, drink more water. Not hungry, drink some water.

I got into the bad habit of having a coffee as soon as I woke up (decaf :(), that coffee would often be cold before I could finish off the half pot I had brewed so I would just reheat and drink that through the day. Which means there were literally days when I would go without a glass of water. It sounds crazy, but it’s how a lot of us are living. We drink coffee, teas, juices, and all the while we are forgetting that we should still be having water on top of all this other stuff.

I start my mornings off with two tall glasses of water before my stretches, and a third when I am through.

Blog out negative people, and their negative energy.

A lot of people live their lives with a social circle that may have a few bad eggs in it. They’ve lived in their circle for so long, that they shrug off the anxiety and judgement that goes along with being a part of it because they tell themselves that is just the way it is. They don’t want to make changes, they don’t want to be honest with themselves and say that maybe this person isn’t the kind of person I want in my life.

If it isn’t your personal social circle of friends, it could be family, or it could be people that have come into your life riding on the back of your partner. When you welcome a new person into your life and dive into a new relationship, sometimes you are so wrapped up in that person and how they are changing your life that you don’t stop and ask yourself if the people that walked through the door with him are adding anything positive to your life, or whether or not they may be harming you.

A lot of the mommies in my group talk about how their In-Laws add so much stress to their lives, how they belittle their abilities as parents, and spouses and how so much anxiety is built up with each visit and conversation. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine. I was lucky enough to marry into a great family, but I know that isn’t everyone’s story.

I am going to say something completely crazy here; you are not obligated to have a relationship with your in-laws if they don’t treat you well. WHOA! Insert explosion sounds here.

Mind blown!

Your mental health and wellbeing are more important than keeping face with people who could care less about your opinion or worth. It’s up to your partner to step in and be the barrier you need from them if they treat you poorly. They should put their foot down, and lay down the law. However, that isn’t always something everyone is capable of, and if they aren’t setting strict rules for how their family treats you, then you have every right to back away and tell him that you refuse to interact with people who treat you that way.

I may not have had to do this with my In-Laws but I have done it with other people. Even those who may not necessarily be abusive, but there are other types of taxing relationships that aren’t good for you. Like people who depend on you too much but don’t offer any type or comfort to you when you are distressed, or people who cheer on procrastination and act more like speed bumps or road bumps in your life.

You can dictate who gets to be in your life, and you should.

Asking for more help.

Being a new mom and parent is hard, and for some reason, it seems like a lot of people are afraid to admit that it is hard. They don’t want to talk about the struggle, they just want to highlight the good times and hide behind the fact that it’s a blessing. Well, things can be more than one thing.

Being a mom can be hard as hell, and it can also be a blessing. You can be a dishevelled mess on the brink of a mental breakdown and still acknowledge that your baby is glorious and everything you ever wanted.

Asking for help is healthy, and everyone should do it more in every aspect of their life.

Whether it is parenting, whether it is at work, or just improving yourself.

Ask for help if you need it.

Another important thing is accepting help when you may not have asked for it. There are so many proud people out there afraid to have someone help prop them up when they are falling? Why?

We all need help, and we shouldn’t be shamed out of asking for it.

Getting more sleep. 

This has to be the hardest thing thus far.

I co-sleep with my daughter. We share a Queen sized bed which a lot of people would think is plenty of room. However, those people must not have ever slept with an infant before because let me tell you, it is not.

More often than not, I wake up with hands tangled in my hair, feet smooshed against my face, the daunting stare of a little girl who is pooping and wants eye contact while she does it. I sleep on the edge of the bed while she is sprawled out, babbling in her sleep, inching somehow closer and closer to me.

Since my daughter has betrayed me and said ‘Da-Da’ first, she calls out for him in the mornings. He comes and gets her and they spend the morning together while I get an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep.

It’s glorious.

Outside of that, I have learned to nap. I will set her in her swing or playpen, or even her crib to play at times during the day when I am extremely exhausted and could benefit for half an hour of shut-eye.

Sleep is so important and a lot of parents learn to function without it, but over time it weighs on you and can affect your mood, your energy level, your thought process, and even your emotions. Sure, we can all function on coffee with a high level of illogical rage, but should we?

Having tough conversations.

So many people hold in a lot of their thoughts. They think more about other people’s feelings than they do their own, which most of the time is okay.
Sometimes we do it way too often. We are afraid to have the difficult conversations because we know it will be awkward and we will feel naked and bare.

Have those conversations.

It’s so important to unload, to not have this fictitious relationship with people because you never say what you are thinking and never tell them when you disagree.

It’s liberating to be your true self with someone, within reason. Don’t be spiteful and mean, just be honest.

I am sure there are other little things on my list of self-care that I am forgetting, but I have drafted this blog entry a half a dozen times, constantly being interrupted by my tiny dictator, so there is a lot that is getting forgotten, I am sure.

Challenge yourself to care more about your wellbeing, and do things that are specific to you. Not everyone neglects themselves in the same way.

Day 3: New Me

Last entry, I talked about the toxic lifestyle of pushing things off until tomorrow. This is something I have been extremely guilty of lately. After months and months of living like this, Sunday was the day I looked at myself and said; “No more!”

After a bit of research, it seems like it takes 66 days for something to become a habit. That means I will need to overcome my recently weak willpower for 66 consecutive days if I am hoping to make this new lifestyle I have in mind a reality.

I am going to be honest with you, this seems like a really tall order. With a fussy baby in tow, sometimes it seems like I will not get the 30 minutes I will need a day to do my stretches and my small workout. Especially lately, when co-sleeping with my 5-month-old is threatening to be the death of me. I wake up with less energy than I had going to bed and the idea of dedicating 30, undisturbed minutes of my day to working out instead of logging off and just vegging, seems like a major task.

I am stronger than my procrastination… at least that is what I am telling myself.

A lot of women, especially after becoming a mother, forget about their strength. They fall into survival mode, forgetting to take a moment to think “Holy crap! I made an entire human being in a mere 9 months. When all of that was done with, I summoned the strength needed to push that baby out. Exhausted, worn, and feeling a little bit like I have been in a car accident. I had a meagre 24 hours to heal with help before being handed this tiny amazing thing I had just created, and being sent home to weather the rest of the storm of parenting on my own. Nervous, and still healing myself, I am suddenly in charge of this little being. I have to be their everything, 24 hours a day. That is amazing. I am amazing.’

Really, to all the parent out there, I am there with you. I appreciate your sacrifice, I see your worth, your beauty, your strength. It really is amazing.

We are amazing.

Pregnancy is hard. Childbirth is hard. Parenting is hard.

Admitting that to other people seems to be one of the most difficult things any of us have to do. Something so many of us refuses to do.

Why?

Nothing worthwhile comes easy. It only makes sense that one of the most important things you will ever do be a struggle. Boy, is it a struggle. Some days I feel like I don’t have the strength in me to roll out of bed. Exhausted and worn, emotionally broken, I find a way. For my daughter.

So, this is day 3 of 66.

I cheated a little bit yesterday and only did stretches because I wasn’t prepared for how sore my body would be after just a small workout. Sure, it has been months, but I was feeling like I had been caught in a wave, unable to get out of it and back to the surface. My body was aching, I was so weak, it was definitely not something I thought would be as difficult as it was. Yet, I would still count it as a win because before Sunday I would have used my soreness and fatigue as an excuse to do nothing that day.

66 days.

I can do this!

3 Month Postpartum Recovery

For anyone who hasn’t been following me from the very start, or perhaps missed my delivery post, on September 21st, 2018 I vaginally gave birth to a 7.9 lb baby girl. My delivery required vacuum assistance which resulted in a 3rd degree perineal tear which required more stitches than the doctor or nurse was willing to count. The perineal is the skin between the vagina and the anus (men also have this).

A third degree tear means the tear went down into the muscle and also went from vagina to anus. Yay me!

For this area to heal well and not get infected, I suggest a sitz bath three times a day, and after every bowel movement. I can’t tell you how many times I was sitting in a sitz bath with a crying baby on my lap, struggling to breastfeed those first few weeks. I kept these baths up for around two months.

This was the main thing that needed healing postpartum for me. Everything else was something I barely thought about. The area was also tender because of hemmroids which was equally unpleasant.

Three months later, I went to the doctors for a follow up to having my IUD inserted. I also wanted to know if then increased discharge was due to my continuing lochia (the longest period you will have in your life, ladies) or due to the IUD insertion.

For any other first time moms out there, the lochia discharge towards the end may confuse you. There will be no traces of blood but you will have an egg white type of discharge that may seem like glue to you in some ways, and it may be clear or it may be cloudy. One thing for sure, there will be enough if it that it makes you question whether or not it’s normal. Yes, it is, and can last up to 5 months depending on your body.

During my appointment, I asked her about how my stitches were healing. My perineal area has been tender, and at times depending on my physical activities, it feels like then area is tearing and there would be some pale pink on the tissue when I went to the bathroom. She told me that there was tearing close to my vaginal entrance because the tissue there was too thin to repair itself. This is typical when you are breastfeeding because your estrogen levels will be low.

Insert another sarcastic yay here.

Three months postpartum and I am still tender in that area and now I am using a estrogen cream there to ensure the skin thickens and I can feel a little more like myself down there.

Ladies, giving birth is a lot. It is going to wear on you and it will be a while before you feel like yourself again below then belt. My suggestion is to do everything with care and don’t rush anything. You’ll heal in your own time.