Time to figure everything out all over again! Because every month it's a whole new baby-game.
I know much of my recent palaver just invites kibbitzing. No doubt, you all have to sit on your hands to resist swooping in and rescuing me from my rabid crazed self. And I want to say, I appreciate that you silent internet forummers resist the temptation. Because, I understand the urge. Just browsing friends' baby registries provokes all kinds of detailed opinions I wish nothing other than to unleash upon the world in long form. My attendance at the Bellingham Center for Health Motherhood's Nursing Cafe is rife with newer moms just sitting on all kinds of unlearned lessons I know too well. I've learned so much. I have so much valuable whatnot to impart. Enlightenment here I come. I desperately, if nothing else, have a huge talking-to I'd love to give to my slightly younger self for navigating the earlier stages of parenthood. And I'm already rolling my eyes at my "helpful" future self's pointed opinions.
A shame we can't learn from good little nuggets of hard-won reason. But really, it's just impossible most of the time.
Reasons I am unlikely to take your very well-meaning and helpful parenting suggestions (and why you probably shouldn't take mine either):
1. Your baby is not my baby and has never had my baby's set of challenges and talents. If your baby slept through the night by two months, then I don't care how well essentials oils helped the one time she didn't. If your baby woke up one morning with five teeth after briefly fussing an hour before bedtime the night before, then I am skeptical that the amber teething necklace is what's helping. If your biggest breastfeeding concern is that you leak whenever you drink a light beer, please do not start telling me about fenugreek and plenty of water.
2. Your baby is just as bad as mine and/or differently as bad and/or worse! Your baby only sleeps between midnight and five a.m., naps midday in a carseat for an hour while you drive around, and you aren't giving me tips on how to brew stronger coffee.
3. You don't have a baby or your baby has not been my baby's age in several years. Trust me, I barely remember two months ago. You may think you have a crystal clear memory of what it was like having a little munchkin, but do you really? Really? Are you that confident about your memory? If so, I suspect you haven't read enough psychological studies on the fallibility of memory.
4. Just like parents always learn (if they heed any advice ever at all or remember from their own childhood), many lessons need to be learned firsthand. Sure, my mom could have told me to go to law school when I was fifteen. Sure, my dad was right that maybe I looked good in long flowy clothing and artsy jewelry. Either could have instructed me on the helpfulness of outlining, keeping a schedule, knowing when to follow through on my intentions, and prioritizing a balance between life and work. And I'm sure both of them could have told me several of my prior paramours were flat out horrible ideas. But I had to do some serious living before I could realize these things for myself. And the more pressure to do the right thing, then more inclined I was to do the wrong. They demonstrated admirable restraint all told.
5. If you told me to "chill out," my brain iced over so very much that you are now on mute. I'm sure, as above, that's really helpful advice... to nobody ever, because nobody who needs that advice is ever going to do anything but escalate in the face of that kind of pat pablum. If you literally pat me on the head, your hand is comin' off. And as for "cherish the moment..." I do, truly, I do. But that's not helpful. Sometimes the moment also sucks. And I didn't have PPD or PPA, but some moms do. The first year (decade/lifetime) is magical, but also a massive struggle. Let's skip the pleasant minimization of that ok?
6. I've read the same website as you, and can recognize a direct quote. If it's on kellymom, I've probably memorized it. Possibly every baby sleep site. And probably Dr. Sears as well. I've also probably read twenty other "expert" opinions casting shade on or questioning the research and information sited in that first source. And then seen the fine print about every baby being different. I'm also familiar with the concept of confirmation bias. Some weird internet advice "worked" for you? You sure you actually needed it? Sure it wasn't something else?
7. You prefaced your advice with a condescending smirk and something adorable about "first time moms." If you haven't learned humility after having a litter of children, then you obviously haven't really learned much from having children. As such, your advice is likely to be fairly useless. Also, I'm using all my energy not smashing you in your smirky, self-satisfied face, so I can't actually hear your "helpful" counsel.
8. Your comment ended with "and we/they're/I'm ok!" Usually prefaced by having done something that I don't want to do to/with my child. So here's what I think your greater point is: (1) we all start out parenting with a list of unrealistic goals for our children, go through a few periods attempting to pretzel ourselves and our children into these little ideals, and eventually make compromises. Yes that vegan baby I was never going to feed juice to and who would sleep on the go in the ergo until she was four...? Now she only eats hotdogs and cheezits and I'm willingly forcing juice ("liquid crack") on her because it's the only way to make her poop, and did I mention we did the dreaded crib-training years ago? (2) parents these days are privy to a staggering amount of information, pressure, proclamations and official edicts that can just make it all too much to handle sometimes. We know too much. We have google at our fingertips. And doctors are probably a little paranoid ... except when they're dismissing every little concern. So yes, again, this is kind of the relieving little sister revelation to "chill out." I concede your point.
But: How does it sound to you when somebody says, say, "I had unprotected sex with multiple partners all through my twenties and never got pregnant or had an std." Or "my father smoked five packs a day while we were roadtripping in a closed car with him... and I'm ok." There's certain deafness to basic statistics regarding risks and results. It's the opposite of those confirmation-biased correlations we sometimes draw. Essentially "I did something risky and turned out to be in the 30/10/1% who suffers no adverse effects from having done that." Not a ringing endorsement. And we do have a lot more information now. Some of it is well-researched and worth heeding. Will my child die if I take a few risks? We can consult the statistics. Probably not, but weighing likelihood of risk together with severity if risk manifests against burden is a prettyrational approach to these things. Let no-one say I learned nothing in law school.
9. Our entire life philosophies clash and everything you stand for is abominable to me... Just saying, if none of the others quite apply, you might want to consider this option.
So that really encapsulates a number of reasons that I may have ignored any well-meaning unsolicited nuggets in my ongoing struggles. And again, I thank you for your restraint even as I test it once again.
That said, if you know of the holy grail of sippie cups, please let me know. Preferably one that will easily transition of breastfed baby into a champion cup-o-milk drinker in seconds flat.
The quest to drink, baby, drink persists with modest progress. Chaya, it appears, rocks the straw. As least as much as she's interested in just about anything. And we still have yet to find the perfect straw cup. I purchased yet another strawption. This one was a Haggen's impulse buy, but it turns out to be one of the most successful so far. By sacrificing some nifty gadgetry, the Oxo Tot Straw Cup comes with a straw from which it is actually possible to suck liquid. Novel idea! The downside is that it's somewhat broad and lacks handles. Chaya can drink from it if she pulls it towards her on her food tray and pushes over it. Or if - heaven forbid - somebody helps her. But she's deadset against using both hands to use a cup. Lord knows why.
I also made another go with the Take and Toss cups. They are pretty incredible. Easy to suck from and quite tidy. At least until they are thrown from a high chair at just the right velocity and the lid comes undone. It is easier to grip than the Oxo, but still not ideal for one hand. Chaya likes to hold it by the straw. Which doesn't always leave the straw in good position to contact the water. Occasionally, she'll drink from it though. And only mostly dribble a bunch of either water or drool down her mouth afterwards.
Another success for straw drinking has been the almighty juice box. Best feature is that Chaya can actually hold one in one hand. I also suspect that it might help a bit with her occasional constipation. At least it's either the middling amount of juice she has been drinking (watered down and mixed with virtuous veggies) or she has an idiosyncratic response to an increase in dairy. Cottage cheese and yogurt are becoming quite popular in babyland.
Downsides include the fact that when she squeezes it, juice comes squirting out. And the fact that the straw comes out when pulled on. It's messy. Very messy. As I alluded to, she doesn't drink much at a time. It takes a few days to finish off whatever of the six ounces is not squirted onto the floor.
It doesn't seem like she's apt to just take to the straw cup for a nice full serving of milk. To wit: earlier this week, she waged a semi-nursing strike. I suspect this is teething related. Chaya is a superlatively SLOOOOOOOOW teether. After many eons of false alarms, she popped the first one as June alit. The second one was quite visible and seemed to be in ardent pursuit. Alack, no. No, only last week did any of the tooth erupt. And as the swollen gums ebb and flow, so does the prominence of any tooth. I can still barely feel when I attempt such foolhardy ambitions. It "cut through" a few days ago, but she continues to behave in full drooly faucet.
And since that first tooth, Chaya has nursed ever so poorly. At least at times. It gets better and worse. But frequently uncomfortable for both of us. The last few days she's been intermittently active, moody and restless, and not particularly interested in nursing during the day. After waiting nearly five hours, I decided to pump and offer her a variety of options for her milkies - sippie cup, water bottle, and take and toss. The first sippie cup wasn't on correctly, so she dribbled a fair bit all over from just waiving it in the air. She had no interest in even trying the second sippie cup. She actually expressed some interest in the water bottle, and did take a few good gulps before attempting to turn it upside down and chew on the bottom. The straw cup was good for waiving around by the straw for a while, before taking and tossing upside down and... of course... trying to chew on the bottom.
I know, I've read Kellymom. I should nurse before meals and not let her drink too much etc. etc. And babies under one year rarely self wean and their primary nutrition source should be breastmilk.. Did we mention that the average global age of weaning is 4 years and there are still many benefits to breastfeeding past a year??
I'm taking a hormonal-scrambler in order to shove my boob in the face of a perpetually disinterested teething beast of a baby who has already winded me up with some pretty hefty medical bills after a few claw-assaults. We're close to crunch time here.
I've dropped another pill from my domperidone dosage this week (50 mgs from my acme at 120). I think I'll still hold out supply, but parts of me have panicked that Miss Chai seems obstinately anti-cup. After being a bottle junkie, she now won't take milk other than on tap. And that is less interesting. I'd gotten it into my head that unless she could take a good several ounces of milk for every feed she's dropping then I must fight to make sure she gets any and all and ever feed.
And it's truly a fight. Perma-teether that she is, Chaya has maybe been in some form of mini-nursing strike for several months now. Or maybe she genuinely is self-weaning. I decided a few weeks ago to stop fighting and go with her flow. That dropped us down from 7 feeds a day to 5. And the last couple of days, she's been shaky on one of her midday feeds. I might also mention that I'm still dream-feeding her. I don't entirely know if she'd sleep through the night without my interruptions. I actually will start waiting to see soon. But I am in tandem panicked about her getting enough milk and my breasts not exploding in cloggy abscessy mastitis again.
And of course, it would all just be so much easier if she drank liquids in any regular pattern. Sure, she may well do so if she's getting less booby juice, but what if she doesn't? We'll survive. She'll survive. On hotdogs and High-C, I'm sure.
And in the meantime we march (and/or stumble in shrieks and staggers) towards a mobile walking imp of a dervish of a personality conflicting little being. Mommy is remembering all those ambitions to practice meditation and foster her positive energies... you know, those goals that people have before they become parents that were probably good ideas but kind of well... hot dogs and juice boxes!