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Keeping my head above water.

Keeping my head above water.

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Co-sleeping, cloth diapers, organic baby food and breastfeeding. All topics up for discussion for most people with babies. Or even people without babies. When I was pregnant, I had this idea in my head that I would never co-sleep (because it was so crazy-sounding, I mean, what if you roll over onto your baby?!), that I would cook and grind up my own baby food, with all organic fruits and vegetables and grass fed natural meats, that I would only use cloth diapers (because it was worth the extra few minutes each day to wash and help the environment), and that I would breastfeed for at least one year.

I only followed one of those.

Breastfeeding got easier after a few months and is now second nature. I don’t even use the pump, bottles or have formula in the house for ‘just in case’ emergencies. I guess I got lucky. No heating up bottles, no mixing formula, no spending money. Most of the time, I don’t enjoy it nor dislike it, I just don’t think about it. The baby’s hungry, I feed her. I will miss the bonding when she weans though. But there will be other ways to bond.

Of course, some are asking when I’m going to stop. My mother told me to continue breastfeeding up to a year then to switch her to cow’s milk, and to do so, I’d have to feed her less solids. My husband told me once the baby starts walking that I should stop, because it’d be ‘too weird’ if she walked up to me to get milk. After going to the pediatrician last week for a check-up, I noticed that my baby went from the 95th percentile in weight, down to the 65th, down to the 31st, and now down to the 18th percentile. Why? Because I was trying to feed her more milk than solid food. That was wrong. Breastfeeding does not mean feeding the baby more milk than solids. It meant I would continue breastfeeding as she eats more solids as she grows. And eventually they wean themselves. Eventually, I would nurse her from 6 times a day, to 4 times, to 2 times, 1 time, every other day, etc. It still means I’m breastfeeding when I will do this, no matter how much milk she gets. I really, really wish I had known that. For the past week I felt such guilt for being, well, stupid. I felt like I starved her for months. At least the pediatrician didn’t judge me. She told me the baby’s weight was fine and is probably going down because she’s crawling now. Still….

Also, I’m not going to abruptly stop nursing after one year because it’s ‘weird’ to nurse when they’re that old. Like I care what everyone thinks of me. But I would like to stop after she’s able to digest cow’s milk. So when she’s good and ready to wean herself, she will. And the more food and cow’s milk she gets, the less she’ll want to nurse. And that’s how it will end.

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Cloth diapers. The solution to all our garbage problems. Unfortunately I’m not trying to save the planet anymore. I use cloth every now and then. But they are too bulky. My baby girl can barely sit down in them. They cut into her tummy and she doesn’t want to eat when she’s wearing one. Maybe when she’s older we’ll try to save the planet again. Or she can sit on the toilet like the rest of us.

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Organic baby food. I tried making baby food early on. She hated it. Mashed bananas, carrots, alphabet noodles in meat sauce, hummus, etc. You’d think someone with a food blog could make decent baby food. Well, I can’t. So we tried organic jarred baby food. She hated that less. Reluctantly, I bought a few Gerber jarred foods. She ate those no problem. I didn’t know why I was so adamantly against Gerber before (in my mind they were the antithesis of organic) but my baby needed to eat. And if she preferred Gerber then that’s what I gave her. Now that’ she’s older, I’m learning how to make the kinds of foods she likes. I made rice porridge (jook) with chicken and bits of veggies and she ate 5 bowls of it yesterday. Success.

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Co-sleeping. So many say it’s wrong. I used to think it was wrong. Before we moved to Georgia, I had sleep trained my baby. She’d sleep for 10-12 hours straight in her crib, in her own room, without waking up to feed. When she did wake up in the middle of the night, she coo’ed to herself and fall back asleep. When she woke in the morning, she’d coo and I’d hear her on the monitor and get her. It was perfect.

Then, we travelled. For over a month. Sleeping in our relatives’ houses, apartments, then two different hotels for a couple weeks. Sleeping soundly in a crib turned into co-sleeping pretty fast. We desperately needed sleep. We didn’t want her screaming and crying and waking everyone up who graciously put up with us as house guests. On top of that, it’s hard on a little baby, being taken from her home, moved from place to place, not used to her surroundings. I mean, if it’s hard for me to sleep in a hotel room, imagine a baby. The only comforting thing for her is her mommy. Or daddy.

So, we eventually moved into our new home. We set up the nursery. We put her in the crib again. Crying, screaming, puking. Night after night. It got to the point that she made herself gag and puke after a couple minutes. In the crib, in the car, in the playard, on the floor, her high chair. I know some people do the ‘cry it out’ method, and maybe it works for them. But it doesn’t work for us. Maybe it’s the wrong time to try it, maybe it’s separation anxiety making her so upset, maybe it’s because we’ve moved so many times. What killed me was, I got it to work before we moved. I knew I could do it. So why is it so impossible now? Who knows. We’ll try again later.

And there was also something else I wondered – was one of my reasons to get the baby to sleep in the crib because everyone on the planet told us it wasn’t right to co-sleep? And I wanted to shut everyone up? Yes. And after I realized that, I felt some weight being lifted off my shoulders. Sure, I want my baby to sleep in her crib, but I won’t do it because everyone says it’s wrong to co-sleep. First of all, it’s nobody’s business. You do what you have to do for your baby. Every baby and every parent and every situation  is different. What was the benefit of her sleeping in the bed with us? Well, nursing is a hell of a lot easier. I don’t have to walk across the house to do it. Which means the baby and I fall back asleep easier. Easier. That’s my motto nowadays.

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Sometimes, parenting feels like you’re barely keeping your head above the water. You wait for the moment you can stop treading water and feel the bottom with your feet. But there is no bottom. Any minute you can drown. And there’s all these flotation devices around you but you feel too proud to grasp onto one to keep from drowning. You want to show everyone you can tread longer and harder than every other person without any help. They tell you that you can, and some of them aren’t even in the water with you, let alone ever treaded water before. Some treaded water in the past but forgot what it felt like. Eventually, you realize only you know your own limits. You grab onto a lifesaver every now and then. You let go and tread again, but only if you have the energy to.



5 thoughts on “Keeping my head above water.”

  • Who cares what other people think – just keep remembering that. You have enough sense to know what will/won’t work and you are doing the best you can, which from what it sounds like is pretty damn good! 🙂

    Btw, these are the cutest pictures!! I love the one with her arms behind her head! 😀

    P.S. How are you liking Georgia? I’ve only been there once, but I remember how green and beautiful it was! 🙂

  • Hi Sunny – Georgia is nice. Nice weather, friendly people, great food, CHEAP cost of living. But I still miss San Diego. When I was in SD, I’d wake up and think the leaf blowers in the morning were snow plows from Rochester NY. When I wake up in GA, I think the lawn mowers are leaf blowers in SD. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are too many things that wake me up in the mornings 😛

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that every situation is different. If we never moved, my baby would probably be sleeping soundly in her crib each night. Who knows, who cares. We’re all still getting 8+ hours of sleep now. We’ll figure it out as we go along, right? Unless someone came up with a manual…

    I hope you’re doing alright too. At least you get perfect weather in SD, right? 🙂

  • Funny you should write this post because I went thru the exact same scenario with my baby girl who turned 1 on June 2.

    Cloth Diapers- so adamant about using them for various reasons, received/bought 15 cloth dipes, used them for 3 months, went back to work, disposables diapers galore and a closet full of cloth diapers gathering dust. Oh well…maybe when she a wee bit older? Or how about ebay?

    Making baby food-I got my ice cube trays, blended up veggies galore, she ate them but I ended up buying Earth’s Best jarred food as I was just so tired from lack of sleep and working full time-oh well, at least she was on organic partially 🙂

    Formula-I actually never bf-so after researching the best formula, went thru at least 6 brands due to her stomach issues-settled on Walmart Parent’s Choice-can you believe it? Oh well, baby’s got to eat and that is what she picked.

    Sleeping-we’ll I actually won here as she is still sleeping in her crib-hooray and not in our bed.

    Pink-Didn’t want her to wear too much pink. Now-it looks so cute on her that 85% of her wardrobe is pink-lol.

    Needless to say, any notion of these ideas go out the window when you get NO sleep and tired as heck! So don’t worry about what you are supposed to do-let your baby cue you in. And it is REALLY hard to be a first time Mom so everyone that says their babies are angels and their lives are perfectly wonderful-they are lying-lol!

    You are doing a great job as she is just beautiful!

  • Very nice post. Trying your best while knowing your limits is the best you can do for your child and the best you can teach her. I learned that in the past months too. Have it a great week!

  • Great post. You are finding your way. It is always so hard to figure things out with your first. There is always a lot of expectation but really, there are so many things that are not in your control. I think that whole stigma and judging about co-sleeping with your baby is mostly a western philosophy. I tried the Ferber method for maybe 2 days and couldn’t understand how this could be right. It was so traumatic for me and my daughter. I coslept with my daughter probably for the first 2 to 3 years. It felt right for me and nursing was so easy. When we finally got her a toddler bed and she understood that she was a big girl and could sleep in her own bed (and she was ready), she transitioned very easily to her own bed. She will still come into bed with me if she has a bad dream or something but that is rare (she’s now 6 years old). Every child is different and every parent is different and it makes me so angry when people judge you about what they think is right or what they feel is the correct way to rear a child. I loved your analogy about treading water. It is perfect. Your daughter is beautiful and keep up with your posts!

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