My son turns 6 months old today. SIX MONTHS OLD. First of all, wow! Babies undergo so much transformation in just six short (and very long) months. Know who else has undergone a bunch of transformation in those six months? Me!
Life with a newborn feels like forever ago. Sleepless nights. Pumping every three hours. Anxiety and sadness through the roof.
Six months ago: I was bleary eyed and writing down how many ounces I pumped, how many ounces the baby drank and when, how many wet diapers he had, how many poopy diapers he had. Six months ago, I was scared my son would fall out of his swing or bouncer, scared to take him out of the house, scared to hurt him when I changed his diaper, scared to hurt him when I gave him a bath. I would wake up multiple times a night and place my hand on his chest to make sure he was still breathing. I would reach my arm over his bassinet to hold him and sometimes pull him into bed with me in the morning to cuddle and sleep.
Six months later: I am fairly well rested, some days better than others. I no longer nurse so pumping is old news. I sometimes change him and wonder when his last poop was. I put him in his swing while I take a shower. We go on walks and to museums and even Disneyland! I change his diaper in public places like a pro. I give him a bath every night and he kicks his legs and splashes the water all over the mirrors. I have lost 31 pounds of pregnancy weight with only 10 very stubborn pounds to go. We did the Happy Sleeper sleep training and after two nights, he was sleeping the whole night through in his own room. It's taken me a month and a half but I no longer stare at the baby monitor and I sleep through the night now too. I tried to bring him into bed with me once recently for a nap and he was not having it. I guess he really is an independent guy now!
He has gone from a little baby who moved like a very slow marionette to a chubby one who jumps up and down in his bouncer and rolls around like a madman when he's on the ground. We laugh together every day now. He happily enjoys eating food and expresses discontent if we are at the table eating without sharing. He gives me kisses on the cheek and reaches out to my husband and I to hold him. He communicates in babbles, blowing raspberries, happy shrieks, laughing, and grunts. He understand jokes. He pets the dogs. He is just already a super cool kid.
I didn't know I would love being a mom as much as I do. Experiencing his (and my own) transformation makes every day new and interesting. I have been scared to let him grow up but six months feels really monumental to me. I feel excited to see where he goes and who we both become. Time is not going to stop for me and pregnancy and motherhood have taught me that flexibility is key. I'm beyond happy to have this chubby little baby as my guide.
The end of an era: I am no longer pumping and my baby has transitioned full time to formula. I am not sure what happened. At about 4 months postpartum, I began what feels like another rollercoaster ride of hormonal changes. I am losing SO MUCH HAIR and I have read enough and talked to enough new moms to know this is normal but it still sucks. It doesn't look so bad when my hair is down. Except my son has discovered pulling my hair is SUPER FUN so I have to wear it up all the time which means everyone gets to check out the bald patches on either side of my scalp. Rejoice! In the end, it is just temporary and my hair will grow back and none of that matters when I have a baby demanding my attention!
In addition to hair loss and smelling like vomit all day, all that postpartum anxiety has seemed to come rushing back with a vengeance. And then it happened. My milk supply took a severe nosedive. I used to be so confident. I was pumping about 36 ounces a day and John was drinking about 30 ounces so I always had milk to put in the freezer. Then he hit a growth spurt at the same time that my milk started to decrease and wouldn't you know, the freezer stash was depleting rapidly before my eyes. I couldn't keep up. It was frustrating and, while it seems like a dramatic word to use, it felt scary because this was his food!
My goal was to feed John breast milk for the first six months of his life. I pride myself on usually achieving exactly what I set out to do. My pregnancy was emotionally way off base from how I anticipated it to be. My labor and delivery was WAY off the mark. Breastfeeding was a variation. I felt so desperate to make something go the way I planned. So I got down to business. I baked lactation cookies. I took a supplement that made both my son and I have horrible gas (that was short lived). I ate expensive lactation treats like Boobie Bars and Emergency Brownies. I drank teas. I ate so much oatmeal that I felt like puking from how full I was. I rented a hospital grade pump. I power pumped (20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on- an hour of pumping). I added a middle of the night pumping session back in (UGGGGGH zombie mode). I had one amazing day where my spirits soared as I pumped the full 32 ounces John needed. Then it became 30. 27. 24. 20. you get the picture. I would pump and eat oats and drink tea and pump and cry and pump and thaw another freezer bag and pump. At John's pediatrician checkup, she asked me "does the word formula hurt your soul?" I laughed because she just seemed to get me. She very rationally explained how formula was not as evil as I thought it to be and that supplementing would help me relieve my stress (as she stated, "I LOVE RELIEVING STRESS.") And it clicked for me then. I loved relieving stress too. I remembered this meme I saw once that said something to the effect of doing your best does not mean driving yourself crazy. DING DING DING. The lightbulb went off.
So I started supplementing and my milk continued to drop. And can I just tell you, my baby was all about the formula! He responded really well to it. It made it easier for us to get out of the house the more my pumping sessions dwindled. I was able to spend more time with him because I wasn't chained to the pump. I felt sad about it but I realized that sadness was really more about me. He liked the formula. He wasn't hungry like when he was getting milk that wasn't full of fat. And bonus: the formula had iron in it for him. All his vitamins were there. He didn't care about anything as long as he was well fed and I decided I shouldn't either. After all, a well fed baby is a happy baby and a happy and healthy baby is all that matters. Shortly after he turned 5 months old, the milk stash was gone and he was transitioned fully to formula. I stopped pumping because I was only getting an ounce a day. I had fallen one month short of my goal in the end but we now can spend more time together and go more places without me being stressed about it. When one door closes, another door opens. His face still lights up when he sees his bottle and I still get to cuddle him and feed him. It continues to only go up from here. I am really looking forward to our next chapter together.