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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Six Months

Monday was Lily's half birthday! Six months already. Goodness gracious.

It seems that she has had a big growth spurt this month. She hasn't changed a whole lot personality-wise in the past four weeks, but she has definitely gotten BIGGER. The other day I tried to dress her in an outfit she had worn a week or two earlier and it was way too small. I could barely snap it around her neck. Just last night her daddy tried to put her in a favorite pair of pajamas, and I swear she was an inch or two too long for them. She is growing rapidly, which I'm sure has a lot to do with the changes in her diet this month.
Here's the rundown:

Eating:
Lily started rice cereal the day she turned 5 months old. It was slow going that first week as we were practicing and she was learning a new skill. We stuck with only rice cereal once a day for the first two weeks as she got more and more confident about eating from a spoon. I mixed the cereal with breastmilk, thickening the mixture up a bit each time. By the end of the second week she was doing great! The third week I started her on oatmeal as well, and she had 2-3 tablespoons of that in the morning and about 4 tablespoons of rice cereal in the evenings. By week four, we were ready to start fruits and vegetables. Following the four-day wait rule (to watch for allergies), I slowly introduced bananas (mashed with a fork) and pureed carrots over the next couple of weeks. Because I wanted to keep her "regular" with all these changes and the additional iron in her diet, I started giving her pureed prunes as well. This has seemed to help a great deal with her digestion. This week we added barley cereal for the first time, and by the end of the week we will introduce another veggie -- I think sweet potatoes.
I'm so proud of Lily for being such a great little eater. She hasn't refused anything and seems eager to try new foods. She takes a cautious taste of the first spoonful and then eagerly opens her mouth for a bite until her bowl is empty! She especially likes the carrots and bananas at this stage.


Right now a typical day of meals looks like this:
6:30 AM: Breastmilk only
10:30 AM: Breastmilk, 4 Tbsp oatmeal, 1/3 mashed banana OR 1/2 container pureed prunes
3:00 PM: Breastmilk, "snack" of pureed carrots OR mashed banana
6:30 PM: Breastmilk, 4 Tbsp rice cereal OR barley cereal, 1/2 container pureed carrots
9:00 PM: Breastmilk only
(These are approximate times, but she follows this schedule pretty closely on a typical day.)

Lily is still getting most of her nutrition from nursing at this point. I nurse her before every solid food feeding and use expressed breastmilk for mixing up her cereals. This has been fairly easy to keep up with for the first month, but I'm finding it more and more difficult to keep a supply of pumped milk available for mixing with food. Early on I tried mixing her oatmeal with formula once but she didn't eat well for that meal. I gave up on that for a while, but I tried it again for one meal this week and she seemed to not notice a difference. Hopefully I can start doing this more often now to get her used to the taste and to give myself a bit of a break.
Overall, I'm very pleased with how well she is doing with the introduction of new foods. One of her favorite things in the world is when she finishes a meal and I say "All done!" and her daddy and I clap and cheer. She LOVES it and responds with the biggest smiles!

This week I tried my hand at making some homemade baby food. I cooked and pureed sweet potatoes and pears, and pureed some fresh papaya, storing it all in the freezer to try later. It went pretty well and I'm eager to see how she'll like them. I plan on trying to make my own applesauce, and steamed and pureed green beans and peas as well. I probably won't make everything Lily eats (I have no problem giving her store-bought baby foods), but I think it's worth giving it a try. My husband and I were able to work on some of it together, which ended up being kinda fun.

Pureed pears & papaya

Mashed sweet potatoes

Sleeping: There really are no big changes in Lily's sleeping patterns since last month. One thing that I started doing differently, though, is after her early morning feeding, instead of returning her to her bassinet, I've started bringing her into the bed with me and we both sleep until about 9:00. I absolutely love this sweet time for the two of us to snuggle and rest together for an hour or two before starting the day. I consider that her first nap, although it could be more of a continuation of her nighttime sleep. She naps again after lunch (around 12:30) and again in the evening (around 5:00). Those naps last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours.
Lily is usually ready for bed by 9 PM if not a little bit sooner. She either falls asleep while nursing or I rock her to sleep. It's not uncommon for her to wake up once during the night, but if she does, her daddy rocks her back to sleep and it usually takes only a few minutes.


Milestones: This month Lily is getting better at sitting up on her own. She can do it in the "tripod" position, supported by her hands and arms while leaning forward, for several seconds at a time. I've noticed that her fine motor skills are improving, and she is learning to reach out and grab things that are close by. I have to be careful not to hold her bowl too close when feeding her! She can also reach out and find a toy that she has dropped if it's close enough.
Just this week I can hear her forming some new sounds when she babbles. I've heard a few "ba" and "ma" sounds, and that is definitely something brand new.
Every day I look in her mouth and run my finger along her gums to check for teeth, but there aren't any there. She has been chewing and drooling a lot over the past two months but nothing has happened yet.

Lily will have her six-month checkup and shots in a couple of weeks. I'm dreading it, as always! Those shots still break my heart. I'm always eager to hear a good report, though, and see how much my girl has grown. I think she'll be tipping the scales this time, that little chunk!


Thanks for keeping up with my girl and following along with us as she grows. We had some portraits taken of her at Target last week, and I know we're biased, but we think they are pretty adorable! I'll have to share some of our favorites with you soon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Expressions

Sometimes I really am speechless. I love this girl so much!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

True or False

When you are trying to have a baby, there is no shortage of advice that people want to give you. What many think are helpful and wise suggestions become pretty routine to you when you have been facing infertility for several years. When I finally became pregnant and it looked like this baby was going to be here to stay, I realized that the advice doesn't quit! Ah, and it continues on and on well after your baby is born. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of good advice. Admitting that I need help or that I'm wrong about something has never been a weakness of mine. But I think we can all agree that sometimes unsolicited advice can be pretty annoying.

I'm going to address some of the advice we've gotten and predictions that turned out to be true and some that didn't, but the key words here are "for me." I don't mean for this post to be negative, but simply to show that not everything works out exactly the same way for every person. Something that works for me may very well not work for you, and vice versa. And I had never really understood just how true that was until I went through recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility. It's amazing how hard it is to find someone whose experience is exactly like yours. Sure, a lot are similar, but it's rare to find one exactly the same because everyone is coming from an entirely different place. We have different bodies, different problems, different doctors, and different outcomes. Then I came to understand how truly different and unique babies are. They may grow and develop over a similar timeline, but their personalities are certainly unique.

At the same time, I recognize that we can only speak from our own experiences. A lot can be said and learned from a good suggestion or word of mouth. At any rate, I'll keep this post light and try to share some of the good, the bad, and the silly when it comes to some of the advice and predictions I've heard over the past year or so.

1. You'll never read a book/watch TV/see a movie again once the baby comes. False.
Okay, I'm going to pretty much call this one "true" for me in the first month or so after the baby. It's hard to get into a schedule and figure things out in those first weeks. All you can think about is eating and sleeping (for the baby and for yourself), but after a little while you can begin to enjoy some of those things again. I used to hear this statement all the time. As far as reading goes, in my opinion if you love reading, you will find time to do it. Nursing has provided a great opportunity for me to continue to read (or to watch some TV shows on the DVR). It's at a slower pace, though, and these days I rarely choose it over sleep once I get in bed at night, but I have finished a few books in the past 6 months.
We have been to only one movie since September. Around my birthday in January, my sister-in-law came over to watch Lily for a few hours while my husband and I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. It was our first (and remains our only) outing without the baby, but we prefer to spend most of our time all together, the three of us. There are some sacrifices that I knew would come which I consider totally worth the trade-off.

2. Your breastfed baby will never sleep through the night. False.
I heard this more than once when I was expecting Lily. I was planning to nurse, and although I didn't really encounter any opposition, some people seemed convinced that my baby was going to be too hungry to sleep unless we gave her formula at night or started cereal at 4 weeks (yes, 4 weeks!). While I know it's true that breastfed babies need to eat a bit more often, I think Lily is doing a great job with sleep. She started giving us 6-7 hour stretches at night months ago and now sleeps for 9-10 hours before waking up to eat.

3. Time will pass by more quickly than ever. True.
I've said before than when you're in the middle of IF/RPL, the days seem to drag on but the years go pretty quickly -- meaning that before you know it, you feel like you've lost nearly a decade of your life. Well, ever since my daughter was born, I truly don't know where the days, weeks, and months have gone. All of the people who told me that the months after the baby came would feel much faster than the months I spent pregnant were totally right. I feel like Lily's first year will be over before we know it. She will be 6 months old in just a few short weeks and that seems impossible.

4. The assumption that our problems with fertility are over now that we've had a baby. False.
The truth is that we are enjoying life as a family of three right now and trying not to spend too much time thinking about what might come next. We aren't guaranteed another pregnancy, and we know that is our reality. Even if we should get that chance in the future, our concerns will be much the same as they were last year. Of course I hope that Lily might have a sibling someday. It does give me some reassurance that it could happen again now that a baby has survived in my body, but my record is still not impressive. Still, I hold on to the same promise that nothing is impossible with God.

5. Your life will be totally different. True.
I think that when people told us that our lives would change drastically, some meant it in a positive way and some in a negative way. And I won't lie to you and tell you that I think waking up every single day and taking care of a baby is easy, but I'm finally doing what I always wanted to do. My love for this baby makes even the hard days worth it. After wishing for her for so many years, I certainly don't take this privilege for granted! My life IS totally different now, and for that, I'm thankful.