Friday, May 29, 2009

adventures in solid land

one thing i love about being somewhat anonymous supermomish, is that when i say what i'm about to say i know i can bask in the joy of it - and not fear the judgement that will surely come along with it. so, confession time first.

supermomish confession #529
my son is 4 months and 2 weeks old....about 2 days shy of 4.5 months. and he eats solids.

i have a fellow mommy friend who got lashings about giving her 5 month old 1 tablespoon of rice cereal at night. even though, she was exhibiting all the signs of being ready. i thought that was ridiculous, because my son has a monster appetite (see breastfeeding FAIL), and his doctor mentioned starting solids right at 4 months if he seemed physically ready for it. she thought he'd thoroughly enjoy it, and it would probably help him with his ravenous hunger. just before he rounded the 4 month corner i did some reading about the subject. he was supposed to have his 4 month check up right on his 4 month birthday, but due to some issues at the office we had to push it back. i was kinda bummed...i was all reved up about starting this new phase of parenting and had fully intended to start cereal that weekend. my husband suggested that we do it anyway - even though it seems like we should wait for the doctor's permission....we're his parents, right? so we did. we tried it in complete slop form and he LOVED it! we started giving him 1 extremely watery tablespoon a night and he was so excited about this moment every day, it was hard to wonder if we were doing the right thing - it seemed so obvious we were.

his appointment was a few days later, and the doctor gave us her usual "how to introduce solids" spiel. my son impressed her SO much with his muscle strength and ability (he falls into the "active" temperament category....if he stood up and walked tomorrow i don't think i would be shocked). she kept saying how strong he was, and that everything about him screamed that he was ready for solids. i told her that by the second night of cereal the tongue trust reflex was completely MIA. it was as if he enjoyed the experience so much, he adjusted to it instantly. she encouraged us to keep going, gradually increasing both the amount and thickness until he was eating 4 tablespoons at night, and it was the consistency of loose oatmeal. this process took him about 2 weeks, which is what she suggested. when he was up to that, she told us to start a second meal, preferably at breakfast, giving him only a small serving of cereal - but a larger serving of orange veggie. (and i'm sure, if you're a mom, you know how the process goes from there so i refuse to bore you with it)

that very day, extremely excited by this new adventure, i researched as much as i could - about the best veggie to start with, which ones should be pushed back further because of nitrates, the best way to prepare them (because i've had every intention of making it myself, so far so good), which ones should be purchased organic, and i even made a spreadsheet to help me keep track of my supplies so i know when to make more - as well as my son's reaction to each food. yes, completely obsessive compulsive and nerdly of me, i know.

i decided to go with sweet potatoes. i made them wednesday, froze them over night, stored them on thursday, and this morning was the big taste test. in short, he LOVED them! when i put the first bite in his mouth, he completely stopped moving (believe me when i say, not many things cause this reaction in him). he had a look on his face as though he was thinking about this new taste and texture - he was completely enthralled. when he finally mashed it around his mouth a bit and swallowed, his eyes lit up in delight. he scarfed the entire thing down (i made the cubes in 2 tablespoon quantities, and had paired it with only 1 tablespoon of cereal), and was demanding more when he finished. success!

so okay, there's multiple supermom vs supermomish debates lurking in this situation. A) when the right time to start solids is, B) homemade vs jar, C) order of presented food & means of preparation. i've touched on them all slightly but let me break it down.

Issue A. I'm not going to beat this one down because I've covered it pretty well already. But, I just want to say that regardless of what other people think, this feels right for my baby. He loves it. He hasn't had any negative reactions to anything so far. We know a couple with a son who was born 10 days before our son, and his doctor won't let his parents (which is a laugh in itself) even attempt solids yet. Their doctor says it's pointless. Every doctor is entitled to their own opinion, I just feel lucky that our ped had a son sooo similar in preferences and temperament to ours, that she "gets it", and lets it known that we can experiment however we want until we find what works for him. And even if you still think he's too young, I promise you....if you knew my son in person, you would think he's older than he is. He's generally on par developmentally, but physically speaking he's quite advanced. And I'm not saying that to brag, at all - believe me, being pregnant with a Michael Phelps wanna be is no picnic! - I'm just letting you know how ready he is.

Issue B. For once, I'm choosing the more difficult method. (That's not to say I've always chosen things based on level of ease alone!!) I see nothing wrong with jar feeding if that's what you chose to do - in fact, I will probably do it on trips home to see the family (we live far from our hometown right now, boo). It's just too difficult to try and get cubes of food home with us, frozen & eaten within the safe window of time, not to mention having to make some when we get there and blah blah blah. While we're home, however....I'm making all of my son's food. It's really pretty simple. I'm doing it for a few reasons - yes, to avoid unnecessary sugars, salt, pesticides - and who knooows what food comes in contact with in factories (mouse poo??). I know this is all kinds of paranoid but I've seen one too many a jar of peanut butter laced with something nasty to trust mass-made food for my baby. I feel like I should add - I am not "crunchy" (that's probably fairly obvious by this point...), nor am I an all organic health nut (though I am going organic for some things), but I just....want to know exactly what's going in my baby's body, at least to the best of my ability. So, as long as I'm a SAHM, why not make his food, ya know?

Issue C. The least controversial, but still worth looking into. I was kind of obsessive about this - charting out the order I want to present the foods to him, and making sure they matched up with his age at the time. I wanted higher-nitrate foods to be presented last - closest to 6 months when they are virtually zero danger. I also looked into steaming vs microwaving vs baking in order to cook the food before pureeing it. If you're interested, I chose steaming. The case was made that microwaving keeps the most liquid in the food, resulting in the least loss of nutrients. But, if you microwave in plastic with plastic wrap (as suggested) you're also keeping all the chemicals and synthetic crap in those things with the food. So I passed. Baking requires no use of water, but I usually enhances the flavors of things, and that may concentrate flavors too much for a baby's first attempt at veggies. Maybe later in life, but not now. So I went with steaming...using a steamer basket, little water, and adding the water back to the food while pureeing. I feel the most confident about this method.

if you can't tell, i'm pretty excited about embarking on the solid food adventure. it's just so tiring when people try to rain on your parade. when will people realize that every mom knows her own baby better than you do - even if research shows your method is "best"?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yay, achievement!

Thanks to Nori @ This Casual Life, my blog got it's first award :)

I wish I knew enough bloggers to pass this onto that she didn't already award!
So, I will pay it forward as soon as I do! Thanks again!!!


Before becoming supermomish, I thought I would be supermom. How naive of me. I didn't think I would do everything that's considered "best" at the current time - but at least most of them. Not only is that not true, I didn't even stick to the ONE thing I thought was a sure bet. Breastfeeding. Admittedly, I was a little high and mighty about this one. I branded moms who didn't do it "selfish" and "uneducated", because there's so much information out there about the benefits to your baby. I feel bad for this now. REALLY bad.

I tried. I totally tried. My son was exclusively breastfed for 6 weeks, then occasionally supplemented with formula for a few weeks, then round-the-clock supplemented for a few weeks (by the doctor's orders, he wasn't gaining enough weight), and at around 3 months old he decided he'd had enough. I had issues with supply - sometime around 6 or 7 weeks I couldn't keep up with his appetite anymore. I tried it all - pumping, drinking more water, fenugreek seed tablets, mother's milk tea, nursing for hours at a time, drinking a beer every few days - nothing worked!! I don't know what was causing the problem, exactly...but at his 2 month appointment my son was an entire pound lighter than he should have been. I was fighting SO hard to keep it going, but not only was he underweight, he was miserable. He was crying all the time, he was never satisfied after a feeding. And stress? Wow. The wondering how many ounces he got, how much supply I actually had (when it felt like a few drops), trying to build it back up, how hungry he was, am I causing him harm, what is wrong with meeee?! Towards the end I would pump for an hour to an hour & 1/2 and only come up with 1/2 oz from each side. And the pumping wouldn't even encourage my supply - I never got more than 1/2 oz each side. I quickly learned why some moms choose formula!

When I realized I had to give it up (and really, I did HAVE to - my son was miserable and he was telling me what he wanted - as soon as I listened and stopped forcing the boob on him, he was a new baby!), I was depressed. I had major breakdowns to my husband about feeling like a failure and what people would think of me for not even making it to the minimum recommendation of 6 months. He was so encouraging - and let me see that most of the guilt I felt was because of the way society places judgement on moms. And usually, it's from other moms. It took a couple weeks, but I eventually got over it. Aside from having to wash bottles (well, nipples...we use drop-ins, but still boo!), our lives are much easier now. My baby is always happy, always full, and growing exactly as he should. Do I wish I could have done it longer? Yes. But I've come to terms with it, and I've also learned a lesson in humility about putting expectations on people when their situation could call for the choice they make. It may not be the one they WANTED to make. Perhaps that's why I only made it to 3 months? There's a reason for everything.

And ya know....breastfeeding was no walk in the park, even when it was good. Your boobs take about 6 weeks to get used to it - until then my nipples ALWAYS hurt. I only got to sleep 2 hours at a time at night because that's the longest the breastmilk would last for my baby. And while visitors were here I'd have to cover up with a blanket, which made both my son & I miserably uncomfortable (we live in the south [for now], its HOT). Not to mention, I felt tethered to the house because I wasn't comfortable nursing in public. Using bottles & formula has truly saved our sanity!

I know that it's not best for my baby, "technically". But it is what was best for HIM - he showed me. And I hope that next time, I have better luck. The difference is that next time, I'm not holding myself to any unrealistic time lines that may not fit with my baby. And I will not feel guilty turning to formula if my baby is not happy with my breastmilk supply. Nor will I try to make anyone else feel guilty. This little 15 pound man has taught me more in 4 months than I ever thought possible.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

debbie downer for a day.

one of the biggest adjustments to motherhood, i think, is the flood of emotions. that's not to say round-the-clock feedings and sleeping in 2 hour intervals through the night is a walk in the park, BUT. the surge of emotions that just sort of hit you, instantly, is hard to sort out and balance.

there's of course, the good side of things. love, happiness, excitement, thrill, pride, optimism, etc etc - these are thing things that make motherhood a daily awe-inspiring thing. but there's also an ugly side. exhaustion, stress, jealousy (of your husband at times, of family and friends who seem to be "more together" at parenting than you, of your mother in law holding your baby), panic, worry, guilt, and on and on it goes. but the worst of all? constant, amplified, irrational fear.

maybe this makes me pessimistic, or dispositionally malcontent, or just straight up f'ed up, but on a daily basis - i consider the idea that my baby could die. before you go thinking i'm some sort of crazy person (though, honestly....if you're a mother i have a feeling you already know you can relate), let me elaborate. while my child's age lands within the first 6 months of his life, he is a prime contender for SIDS. no, he wasn't a preemie, no i didn't smoke when i was pregnant, so the odds are lower for him...but ya know, i've heard horror stories of seemingly healthy kids succumbing to SIDS unexpectedly. this makes me compulsively check on him when he's napping, or when i wake up in the middle of the night i use it as an opportunity to feel his chest rise and fall to make sure he is still breathing. and at times, when i'm climbing the stairs to see if he's comfortably snoozing in his crib, a split-second picture of stumbling on the most terrible situation flashes through my mind. why? hmm, i tend to blame it on pre-coping. i suppose my mind thinks it's best to walk through the scenario ahead of time so on the off chance this happened to my sweet baby i won't walk out of the nursery post-disaster discovery and into my closet to find suitable material to fashion a noose for myself.

(i know this post is terribly depressing, but i'm going somewhere. promise.)

but lately? my fears go beyond the slight possibility of SIDS. i blame it on the reading of My Sister's Keeper, and then randomly stumbling on people's stories of similar situations. i have this crazy, all-consuming, irrational fear of my child getting cancer. i can't even imagine the horror of this. when i read someone else's experience i cry, uncontrollably, about it. the disease itself, while terrible, requires some harsh treatments that a poor little person should never have to endure. so his childhood would consist of traumatizing procedures, and the possibility of him ever having a future would be iffy at best. my heart goes out to every mother who has ever or will ever have to go through this. and while my mind imagines the unthinkable, i cap it off with a silent prayer that my little man will NEVER have to go through it. i just can't even fathom seeing your little baby for the first time, falling so instantly in love, completely oblivious to the fact that years down the road he will be fighting hard for his life. i suppose that's how all of life is. but it just doesn't seem fair that something so cruel can happen to a little innocent person, and the parents who love him more than life.

truly....i now know that loosing your child, no matter which way, is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to a mother.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

cry it out, baby.

i have a love/hate relationship with "cry it out".

i am a stay at home mom, and for the first 4 months of my son's life (which really, was just a week ago) i sat in my recliner and took care of my baby from there. i fed him there, i played with him there, i rocked him to sleep there - and i even let him take his naps there. i'd sit with the boppy around me and he'd sleep peacefully in my lap while i read a book. but as you can imagine - i was spending my life in the recliner while my house went to hell. and part of my SAHM aspirations involved having the time to do things like....the dishes, and laundry. my son is extremely demanding and high-maintenance, but i let him get away with it because, why not? he's a baby. a little baby, who needs to learn attachment. and i'm a stay at home mom, i have no where to be. the dishes will still be there when i'm done. someone said to me recently, "cleaning the house while the kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it's done snowing". i like that.

but, then comes the whole thing where...we want to sell our house. and i doubt potential buyers will be wooed by stacks of poopy diapers and colossal mountains of laundry covered in spit-up. something had to change. i asked our pediatrician how to handle the nap dilemma at his 4 month check up (the boy sleeps 9 hours at night. wonderfully. alone. but hates on his naps for some reason). she said that he is officially old enough to handle "cry-it-out" and that even though it is hard and it sucks, we have to remember that we're teaching him a skill. he needs to learn how to fall asleep on his own, or he will become a 9,10,12 month old (and beyond) with no independence. some people may still debate this....and i love my son with all of my heart, and then some...but i want my child to have independence.

so we started the very next day. it was 2 days of pure hell. he refused to sleep in his crib, and on the off chance he fell asleep for 5 minutes - he'd wake up crying louder than before, seemingly ticked that we "tricked" him into falling asleep. i considered giving up many times, but i kept repeating the doctor's reminder in my head, telling myself that i can surely outlast a baby. by yesterday afternoon he was unrested, cranky, and irritable. and me? not much better. i knew this was all a side effect of his learning, and that when he finally figured it out he would be in much better shape than before. i had to just wade through it. finally at 3pm, he'd had a full day of fighting it....and could no longer stay up. mid cry, he passed out in his crib...and slept for 3 hours. it was SUCH an accomplishment! you couldn't smack the smile off my face. it was the first sign of progress, and i knew that even if the coming days would suck - he was slowly figuring it out and he could learn this. it was my sign to keep at it.

we have visitors here for the long weekend, and i couldn't decide if i should push through this while people were here, subjecting them to his angry wails. i considered hanging up the towel until they left - partly to save their vacation, and partly to keep him in high enough spirits to be able to leave the house and do something with them. but after yesterday afternoon, i decided to just keep going - no matter what came our way.

he slept his 9 hours last night, got up at 6:30 this morning, and was ready for a nap at 8:30. he slept for an hour and a half in his crib. so i truly think - he's getting it!

i've had friends tell me that they "don't believe in cry it out", and ya know....i didn't either, before. i would have never done this in the first 4 months of his life, and for the first 6 weeks (when attachment is the most crucial) i barely put him down for more than a few minutes during the day. and i would never let my baby go without any of his needs met. but now, at 4 months & 1 week old, after he's been fed, burped, changed, played with, held and rocked to sleep - there's no reason he can't spend some time alone, crying if he chooses to, while he figures out how to sleep. how else will he learn? and the longer i keep up his habit of only sleeping with me, the worse the damage is half a year from now. it would be more traumatizing to him then, when he's more aware of his environment.

so at this point i say, whatever. hate on me if you want to. but my baby is going to be sleeping well, on his own, by the time he is 6 months old. probably long before. and not only will it be better for him (because motionless sleep is the most beneficial, he won't get overheated sleeping on another human in the heat of summer, and he will develop sleeping skills as well as independence), but mommy can spend a few hours keeping the house clean and escaping to the internet to revive her sanity. and i highly doubt my child will be scared for life in the process.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Poo Envy

Supermomish Confession # 521:
I resent my husband for taking a dump.
Is that ridiculous or what?

But see, it takes him 30, 40 minutes - sometimes even more! And no, he's not actually pooping that entire time. If he was that would be some kinda record! He takes the laptop (oh yes) with him. Laptops are the new newspaper, don't ya know. So he does his thing in the first few minutes, and then spends most of his time surfing the web. Most men do this to some extent, right? So why does it drive me so crazy? Well, he does it every day - and has since the day I met him. While it seems unnecessary to say he should poo differently post-baby....he should poo differently post-baby, damn it! It bothers me that it hasn't changed. Because for me? Everything has changed. I pee in 10 seconds flat so I can jet back to my wailing baby. I take my showers while my infant sits, strapped in his papasan, just outside the tub. And between washing body parts I have to stick my head around the curtain so he stops whimpering in fear that I've disappeared. Even if my husband gives me a baby-free shower on one of the weekend days, I still rush through it rather than enjoy it because I know the baby is probably screaming for his daddy and I don't want either of them to get frustrated with me. Sometimes I will be "selfish" and take a few extra minutes, only to feel like I'm getting the death stare from 4 eyeballs when I finally come down the stairs. So why should he get his time uninterrupted, unrestricted, every single day? It doesn't seem fair.

I still get to read, and surf the web, yes - but not without holding my baby at the same time, or doing it 6 inches away from him - keeping one eye on him the whole time, or without feeling immense guilt from both myself & my husband if I selfishly say, no - I'm doing this right now, and give it my full attention. I never get no strings attached time! Yes, I know this is my job, and yes, my husband is juggling a lot - including working overtime. But....he still gets lunch breaks. Not me - I'm lucky if I eat at all. He still gets evenings, weekends, vacation days and sick days. I get none of theses. And once a day, without fail - without guilt or restraint, he gets the refuge of pooing in peace. I have a chubby baby with curious eyes staring at me while I rush through it.

Side note: If you, like me, have to stick your baby in some sort of restraint while you shower, I highly recommend an interesting shower curtain. I chose mine for it's design long before my little man came to exist, but conveniently - it is black & white (which you know, infants love!), and he spends most of my shower staring at it like an art enthusiast analysing a painting. Here's mine: Nicole Miller Rosewood Damask Shower Curtain, $49.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Disclaimer: My husband is wonderful - both at being a husband and a father. He helps me out more than the average man and I love him for it. He just likes to poo a little too much. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

the great birth debate.

My own personal definition of being supermomish has to do with the day-to-day operations of motherhood. However, every little part of the mommy process (pregnancy, birth, and subsequent parenting decisions) sets the tone for supermomish motherhood. And I'm going into this blog with bare-naked-honesty, so I should give you all the details. Starting with the very moment I became a mom. I'm fully expecting gawking from natural birth enthusiasts here, but whatev!

I'll be blunt. I had a c-section. Hmm, let me be more accurate. I chose to have a c-section. There of course, had to be a reason why because unlike Britney Spears I can't just say "yeah I'm gonna do it that way" and fork over the 15 grand when insurance turns down my unnecessary procedure. I had a tumor on my ovary. But did I NEED the c-section? No, I could have given birth as naturally as I wanted and then gone back 6 weeks later when I was whole & healed again and had a much smaller procedure to remove it. But you know what i was thinking? Who wants to have surgery, full-out, knock-you-out surgery, when you have a breastfed 6 week old infant? Certainly not me. I wanted it all done and over with. And there was of course, the perk of not doing the whole labor bit. The case can be made that the final decision was for me, because it was easier. So...did I do it because it was easier? Absolutely. And I have no shame in that.

It would be a lie if I said I didn't have a little guilt about not doing it the old fashioned way (I'm a mom, guilt is my middle name). But I'm totally over it. My baby came out "extremely full term" as they called him - weighing over 9lbs. He was healthy as an ox, and still at 4 months he gets A+ report cards at his doctor visits. And yeah...recovery sucked. Not gonna lie. But how awesome was it that I never felt a painful contraction? Pretty freaking awesome.

Here's the point. If I thought my baby would have been in danger for a second, I wouldn't have gone that route. I was assured that he was as healthy as a baby could be and we were both in good enough shape to endure the procedure. It was the most convenient route for our family, and since it posed no obvious risk to either of us, why not? This type of decision making can cover everything - from birth, to feeding, to diapering, bathing, sleeping, etc etc. But that's part of the guilt and unrealistic expectations we try to put on ourselves as mothers. We think that we should always be 100% (and yeah, we should try), but when something finally has to give and we choose to do one thing over another because the main reason is to make our lives simpler, it makes you a bad mom. But lets face it, sisters. Using disposable diapers instead of cloth so that we can spend more time cooing back at our babies is worth the trade off, don't you think?

Anyway. I just want to say, if you pushed your baby out the ol' baby cannon without a lick of pain killers, good for you. If you did it with an epidural, good for you. If you had a c-section, good for you. You gave life to another human being, and that's all that counts. It might make you a little more courageous for doing it naturally, but that doesn't mean the mom sitting next to you loves her baby any less.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

supermomISH moms unite!

i have dreamed about being a mom all my life. okay, maybe not the first 3 years. but from age 4 and on? oh yeah. in more recent years i had all these ideas about what kind of mom i was going to be. i even wrote letters to my "future self" about what i hoped to do - imposing expectations before i even knew what motherhood was like. i have only been a mom for 4 months now - but i have already seen the light, hallelujah! my visions of supermom are now a thing of the past.

so i'm sitting here thinking, i need a name that exposes my flaws, but still says "supermomish". twenty attempts later i think, "hey, why not supermomish!". ta daaa!

so what exactly IS being supermomISH? it's...well, what i'm doing right now, writing this blog. it's the fine art of being a fantastic mom, while still making time for who you are. even if that means making my baby take a nap in his swing instead of my arms while i do a little something for me. does that make me a bad mom? i think the opposite, actually. but that's the thing. point 20 moms my way and i'd bet 10-15 of them would be wagging their fingers at me. so here's the point of this whole thing. I'M NOT PERFECT! i admit it, and embrace it. and i will not judge, because motherhood should be a united part of sisterhood, not a fierce competition.

supermom is fantastic, but i want to keep my sanity. i will not feel guilty for being "good enough". being supermomISH is plenty for me.