Happy 6 months, Charlie (A baby update)
Charlie turned six months over the weekend. If you aren’t into the baby posts (understandably) come back later today for a second post or maybe click on some of my favorite blogs posts that aren’t kid related. In this post I may or may not talk about post-baby body, my milk saga, childcare, parenting philosophy and sleeping – certainly not subjects that all of you are interested in, but thanks in advance for coming and come back later!! I’m working at balancing the posts, and since its been over a month since a Charlie post, I figured we were all due for some pics of this dough-y little pale skinned boy.
These six months FLEW in all the normal clichéd ways. Its been the most magical six months ever (as only it can be with your first newborn) and also extremely challenging and BIZZZZZZZYYYYYY.
Lets get into it: First … just generally: He is the Milo to my Otis, the Cheech to my Chong, the North to my Kimye. I don’t need to regale you with my emotional details outlining how much I love him because it might undoubtedly make you nauseous, but I’ll just say that I had no idea that this level of peace and uneasiness could exist inside the same body at the same time. I stress so much less about everything else in the world and yet wake up with nightmares that something has happened to Charlie at least once a week. Thank god my general state of worry has diminished as many of you told me it would – life feels less fragile than it did four months ago.
On a day-to-day basis I don’t worry about him – there are no red flags and he just seems really healthy. But then I’ll hear a story in the news (or blogs) and fixate on it and go down the spiral of ‘what if that happened to Charlie??’ which I know is normal but man it sucks. So if you are a soon to be mom, just NEVER read/watch/listen to the news, in fact shut off completely from all media and society or visitors/friends lest you hear a bad story about a baby. Because you will, and then you’ll picture it happening to yours. It’s insane how sad a hypothetical can make you.
We’ve got our problems, but worrying about whether I love that baby enough certainly isn’t one of them. Like if Kristen Bell, Keri Russell and Jeff Lewis (my three favorite ‘we should be friends’ celebrities) were hanging out and invited me to have a drink but Charlie was looking at me like ‘hey mom you wanna hang out?’ I would stay with Charlie.
HA!!!! YEAH RIGHT!!!! I’d have left his birth to hang out with them ( … just kidding, again). Maybe my obsession with him is more like Kristen Bell’s obsession with Sloths – watch this video if you don’t know what i’m talking about. Point being, i’m 100% in love with this little man.
So thats good. Lets talk milk … (Click through to read more)Lets talk milk – quite possibly most boring and yet fraught subject in all of motherhood … well … all subjects are kind fraught, right? Motherhood is just fraught.The milk situation for me has been challenging, for sure. Long story short-ish, I started traveling on very short trips when Charlie was 3 months (1 night at three months and then, 2 nights at four months plus working on location a couple of weeks during the day) and I had pumped enough milk and could support him. But jr loved the milk from the bottle, and so it began. He started a nursing strike, refusing to nurse from me and only drink from the bottle. I kept pumping but couldn’t keep up. I started supplementing, he kept drinking it. I did EVERYTHING possible to produce enough except torture myself. I was even setting my alarms clock, waking up in the middle of the night to pump. After 5 months of trying to compete with his love of the bottle and the ease of formula I asked myself, “how miserable should motherhood make you?” and my answer was “as little as possible”. So I can say that as of this weekend I’m basically done pumping. I’m down to only producing 6 ounces a day (supplementing with formula obviously) and I think that within the next 10 days I’ll probably be done. I’m not proud of this – but it’s just the reality of a working mom whose baby has been on nursing strike for 2 1/2 months. I loved breastfeeding while he was nursing (well, I loved 2-3 feedings a day) but man, I HATE PUMPING. I know I’m not alone and I wish that I had been more selfless and would have prioritized it more into my day but I kept putting it off while working, then producing less and less and he was just loving formula so it was really hard to pump when the kid was so happy.
So that’s the milk situ. I’m pretty much dunzo and while it kinda sucks, I firmly believe the reason I felt so guilty (notice the past tense) is not because of Charlie’s health but instead because of the pressure that we women put on ourselves and each other. The whole “if you don’t breastfeed your kid will be sickly and may grow up to never hold a job or find love ” thing has gotten out of control. While OF COURSE its VERY good for your baby and I truly wish I could have lasted a year, but your mental health is also important and I found pumping all the time (in cabs, in bathrooms in stores, in bathrooms in planes) to try to keep up with him (and work) totally maddening. Not just ‘frustrating’ not just ‘annoying’. Actually MADDENING. Besides, look at this kid: He is HAPPY.
He has so many muscles. He has his elbow muscles, bicep muscles, armpit muscles, wrist muscles – just a lot of muscles. Am I worried that formula is making him chunky? Kinda. But he’s drinking the right amount of ounces and he’s in the 75th percentile for height and weight so as long as the Doctor isn’t worried I’m trying not to be. Whats next:
Ah yes .. the childcare situation. Brian and I both work from home so it was super hard to admit that we needed actual help (and if we even wanted another person here). By now (6 months) we have worked our way up to 3 days a week with a sitter – and we have two different ones that we love. One of our prerequisites for said sitter is that they help tidy up because we can’t manage the house very well, and it just becomes a disaster on a daily basis with so many people here working. Some days everything feels like its working and some days it doesn’t. It’s just hard to navigate. If we could have full-time help/personal assisting/24-hour masseuse that would be awesome but it’s just terrifying financially. So for now, having help three days a week will do.
The sleeping situation hasn’t been horrific. He’s slept in his crib in his room starting at 10 weeks – which was hard to do but most of my friends/mom recommended it and I think it worked for us. He’s good at sleeping through the night but he falls asleep while feeding which I know isn’t ideal so we are considering doing some mild sleep training so that he falls asleep on his own – but we keep putting it off because sleep training just sounds so annoying. He takes 3 short naps a day (fairly unpredictable, but roughly three hours apart except for the first one that is usually 2 hours after he wakes) and its all pretty manageable. Boring update on that one … thank God. Any tips on getting him down to sleep without screwing up his night-time would be great. We are so afraid to mess with it since he’s sleeping at night, but it would be great if he were able to just go to sleep without us going through this insane routine of feeding and rocking and then gently laying down as if we were trying to disable a bomb – every. single. time.
Parenting philosophy: We are subscribing to the ‘love the hell out of your child’, ‘the family’s happiness is more important than the happiness of one baby’, and ‘don’t be an idiot’, philosophy. I stopped reading books a while ago. They always got in my head and I found myself constantly second guessing myself – am I hugging him too much or not hugging him enough? Saying ‘good job’ too much or not showing enough support??? It’s all total bull sh*t and these “experts” are making millions of dollars (with good intentions, I’m sure) off our insecurities. We don’t need a book to tell us how to love our babies, we don’t need a ‘method’ to tell us how to comfort them when they cry, and we don’t need a philosopher to show me how to make him giggle. Obviously I’m filled with questions constantly and I certainly don’t pretend to know everything or really anything, but I mainly just ask all my best friends, sisters and moms (and you guys in the comments). I don’t know what these writers/doctors/psychologists are like; they might have children that are total a-holes, you don’t know! But our moms and our best friends? Their kids are awesome.
Ok, on the work front: I think I’m out of my post-partum creative rut. I’ve been working, A TON, since Charlie was 6 weeks but I’ve been totally consumed emotionally and mentally with him so its been hard to be really creative and really push myself. Part of it is that when you have a newborn you rarely leave the house and as much as the internet can give you exposure to a lot that is happening out there, it’s not really very inspiring. What is inspiring is the first time that your baby laughs or the first time that he rolls over. So it becomes even harder to leave the house.
Thank god I’ve had challenging projects to keep my brain alive. So 6 months into motherhood the creative part of my brain is finally feeling stimulated on its own and things are starting to move a bit on its own. It’s like a muscle that atrophies and I’m just out of shape so I have to focus a bit more than I used to; I have to really think about my intentions and the end-goal more than I used to. Anyway, I’m BACK!!! Thank god for Ginny, Brady and our clients helping me and pushing me.
And yeah, the whole balancing the kid and working mom thing is extremely challenging. I wish I had something new to say about it – some really profound words of wisdom, a clever metaphor, or something fresh and poetic that would inspire other people in the same position. But really I just wake up and know that I’ll get through the day – some days are easy (when I’m working from home, and can be done by 4pm) and some days are a lot harder (when I’m shooting all day and have to do all the blogging at night). I’m insanely grateful for all the help we have (both with work – I’m talking to you Ginny and Brady) and with Charlie, but that doesn’t mean that I fly through the day without feeling like I’m neglecting everything. Most of the time I know that i’m doing the best I can and that Charlie will have a happier life because of it, but once a week I either break down from the guilt or I question my intentions – with a ‘why are you working so hard?? And then I know that its our responsibility as parents to constantly question what is best and that moms just feel guilty – it’s really sexy and fun. So really, again, this is nothing new and I try to just put it all in perspective on a day-to-day basis. I’m not neglecting him. I’m not neglecting work. Am I neglecting my marriage? Eh, probably. Need to work on that one.
I will say that at six months I am so happy to be working. I think that going back to work at 6 weeks was not ideal (but I worked from home so I got to see him at least) and I remember thinking that in a perfect world I would have waited at least a few more weeks, but Charlie is a robust kid now and I know that I’m a way better mom because I’m working. I check in with him every hour or two, just to say hi and give him a 10 minute squeeze. I eat his cheeks, I devour his belly, I can’t stop kissing him. He’s the most kissable baby in the entire world.
Another challenge: My post-baby body is just not exactly awesome. Lets just say that THINGS HAVE CHANGED. The first five months I wasn’t exactly exercising too often and while I eat pretty healthy during the week, I would blow it all weekend. I think I relied too heavily on breastfeeding to lose the weight. So the last 10 pounds are just hanging on. Nothing really fits and while part of me wants to cave and just go shopping and buy bigger clothes, I know that I should probably just try harder. So the last two weeks I’ve been back at it, working out 3-4 times a week and watching my diet, with no results, mind you, but I know it takes time. The whole thing is stupid to talk about and so superficial – I mean who cares??? Except me, and probably Brian although he’d never admit it. Anyway, I actually care about it way less than I ever thought I would because .. yeah, I had A BABY, but I still care a lot. So if you are sitting there thinking ‘how do people lose it all so fast?’ just know that I didn’t/haven’t and it’s a total struggle. We can all wear our most flattering clothes (which is why you see me in the same 3-4 shirts on social media) but underneath those clothes things have changed. 🙂 Whatever, I’m super motivated right now to get back in shape, especially before baby #2. It’ll happen .. I promise …
Besides, I have this guy!!!
And he makes me want to have another one like right now. Well, not actually right now, but you know, soon.
So six months down and all feels pretty good. I wish I could spend more time with this kid, but I think that it’s a good thing to wish. My weekends are filled with really long walks with him, shopping trips with him and just generally trying to convince him that despite working so much during the week, that I’m his mama and that he’ll always be my baby.
Well hopefully you made it through without choking on my sentimentality, although I feel like It’s a little more under control these days. My hormones have subsided a bit and I’m less overwhelmed with emotion, so I cry way less, which is always a good thing … that is until I think of him growing up and moving out and then the Norma Bates in me kicks in.
So I guess the conversation is:
1. Have you guys had severe milk vs formula issues (and guilt?)
2. Any books/methods/suggestions for the sleep training where you just need to get them to sleep on their own?
3. Tips on how you find time to work out (and the desire to stop eating carbs and drinking wine?)
Go for it.