When your baby doesn’t want mama’s boobs anymore

Since our night nurse stopped working with us at around the three-month mark, I’ve been putting Kaia to bed every night after Chris feeds her. Our usual routine is he will feed and burp her, then hand her off to me in the bedroom so I can cuddle and sing to her, nurse her (for comfort), and then she’ll pass out, and I’ll put her into the bassinet asleep. I’ve always looked forward to this quiet time every night together. Even though I’d made peace with the fact that she wasn’t getting nourished directly from my breasts, I still found comfort and love in the fact that she still wanted my boobs for comfort and security. So in the last week, when I’ve attempted to give her a breast before bed and she’s gotten fussy, I’ve been a bit taken aback and wondering if our nursing time together would be coming to an abrupt end.

It initially started with her rejecting my breast and yelping. Then I’d sing to her to calm her down, and then as she’d get more tired, she’d grab my breast to suckle and then pass out. That’s been going on in the last week. But in the last few days, she just wants nothing to do with my breasts. As soon as I whip out the boob and stick it in her face, she either turns away or starts to yell, indicating she doesn’t want it. It honestly hurt my heart. She was essentially rejecting me, and it didn’t make me feel good. I felt a sinking sensation in my stomach when she rejected my breast tonight, and I wondered if this was really the end. I always imagined comfort nursing her until at least one year, even if I couldn’t nurse her for actual food. But that may have been too idealistic of a fantasy on my part.

My baby’s getting bigger, I keep telling myself. She’s growing up. Soon, she won’t be a baby anymore. She’s not going to want her mama’s boobs once she’s a toddler anymore. And those are all normal things with normal child development. But it doesn’t mean that I feel nothing when all these changes happen. I still get emotional thinking how quickly she is growing and how she needs me a tiny bit less each and every day. Today, she won’t want my boobs anymore. Tomorrow, she may not want cuddles. And the next day, she’ll be running off with her friends and not wanting to spend time with me. Life moves forward.

Eating solids, continued

Pediatricians and baby eating experts often say that regardless of when a baby starts eating solids, whether it’s at 4 months or 6 months, the majority of their diet should continue to be breast milk or formula up until the age of 1. Part of the reason for this is that the introduction of solids is simply that — an introduction. The baby will not be having a majority diet of solids for a long time after getting initially introduced. They have to get used to eating non-breast milk/formula. They are adapting to new tastes, textures, self-feeding, being feed from a spoon or from a plate and not through a bottle nipple or mom’s nipple. So in the beginning, the baby will likely play with and throw the food, taste and spit it out. Not much actual eating and swallowing will happen. That comes as a real shock to a lot of new parents who haven’t read much about introducing solids, and so they get really disappointed when the baby doesn’t actually eat and swallow (including Chris). But babies, like the rest of us, need time to get used to new foods. Just the exposure is a good thing in the beginning. Playing with the food, even if it’s just pushing it around the tray or throwing it, is still exposure. They are still interacting with the food, which is good. It’s considered a win or a “mini meal” if they have just the equivalent of one teaspoon of something, and then eventually, one tablespoon of something. So as you can imagine, introducing solids, whether it’s in whole food form or via pureed food, is going to take a crap ton of patience. The more I have thought about this, the more I have realized that introducing a large array of foods in different shapes, colors, and sizes, takes a LOT of time, energy, and patience; thus, it’s no wonder that kids end up becoming picky eaters. Their parents just didn’t have the time or energy to introduce them to eating the rainbow. In some cases, the parents are just being lazy (or imposing their own picky eating on their kids). In most cases as I’d assume, though, it’s because the parents were just too exhausted.

Babies have nothing to compare solids to in terms of taste, other than breast milk or formula. So they don’t have any pre judgments about whether mango should be tastier than broccoli or brussel sprouts. So far, we’ve introduced Kaia to avocado, Alphonso mango, broccoli (steamed, roasted, pureed), and asparagus (roasted, and lime (a wedge). She has no reason to prefer any of these things to the other, and my hope is that she will eventually embrace them all. But we just need to be patient and not impose our own judgments of these foods onto her.

Transitioning from bassinet to crib

It’s been a bittersweet week, with not only our baby and I getting sick, but also attempting to transition her out of her bassinet and into her crib. We attempted to get her to sleep in the crib before she got sick and failed, as she kept associating the big crib bed with play time and would roll constantly as soon as you laid her down on it. Once she got a fever, I wasn’t comfortable with her in the crib, so we monitored her more closely overnight by having her sleep in the bassinet in our bedroom. On Friday, we got her to successfully sleep in the crib for the first time overnight, and it’s continued through the weekend. I got a little nervous since she was constantly rolling over onto her tummy to sleep, but apparently baby sleep experts say it’s okay for them to roll to sleep on their tummy, as that’s a sign they are strong enough to roll and move their heads enough to ensure they can breathe now.

I’m really happy to see her peacefully sleeping in her crib, enjoying all her newfound space, especially after being so cooped up and cramped in the bassinet in the last month or so. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me a little sad. I loved having her sleep in our room with us, and now she’s in her big girl room in the second bedroom. I enjoyed nursing her to sleep while side lying on the bed before putting her down in her bassinet. I can’t do that anymore. Now, when I nurse her before bed, I have to sit on the chair by the crib and see if she will take my boob. My baby is only getting bigger. Each day, she’s becoming less like my little baby and more and more like a constantly curious and slightly cheeky little woman. I just can’t believe it. I don’t know how I got this lucky. Every time I look at her little face, I still can’t believe we have her here, happy and healthy and safe and unbelievably cute and pretty. She’s like my little dream come true.

Fevers gone, but cuddles needed

Kaia and I both have temperatures that have come down now. We are still monitoring her temperature every two hours to be safe. My temperature is within normal range now, but I still feel hot all the time and sweat like crazy during my first morning pump. This morning, I nearly soaked through my shirt with my own sweat after taking off my pumping bra.

Though Kaia is babbling lots again and happily playing with her toes, she does seem to be a bit more needy. She’s wanted more cuddles from her nanny and from me. She wants more attention even at times when it seems like she’d be fine to roll around on her own. I can tell that she is still unwell, even if her temperature is normal. She’s on the mend, but she hasn’t 100 percent recovered just yet. So we decided to not have her go to the play gym today and to take it easy. The nanny still took her outside to the park for some fresh air, but no crazy baby gymnastics just yet.

We were planning to use this week to transition her from her bassinet into her crib, but it’s on hold now because we needed to monitor her overnight more carefully with her fever, plus I just wasn’t really feeling up to a change given I was feeling ill. No one wants to introduce change into their lives when they’re feeling unwell; that applies to both adults and babies. We struggled to get her to sleep in the crib on her own on Monday night before either of us felt really awful, so we’ll need to wait until we’re both fully healthy again to try again.

A pumping mama’s job never ends, in sickness or in health

Both Kaia and I have had fevers the last two days. I took yesterday and today off from work. I could barely focus, especially with my entire head and face hurting. Even listening to my daily Up First NPR news podcast was challenging. My entire body was aching and feeling heavy. I constantly felt hot, and pumping this morning was causing me to sweat what felt like buckets. When I took the flanges off my breasts after this morning’s pump, the edges were dripping with my own sweat. I was hoping that my sweat didn’t drip into the bottles to taint and dilute my baby’s milk.

When you get sick, everyone tells you to stop what you are doing and to just rest. That becomes harder when you have a baby to take care of. But it’s even harder when you have a baby to take care of, AND you exclusively pump. Granted, our nanny has been here during the day to care for the baby, but no matter what, my pumping job has to continue. If I do pump, I feel exhausted and sweaty, plus it takes away time for me to lie down and actually rest. If I were to stop pumping, not only would that be detrimental to my supply, but I would likely get engorged and experience clogged milk ducts once again. So I can’t stop pumping.

And what I feared would happen has happened. I had read about when pumping moms get sick that their supply starts to drop. On Monday and yesterday, my supply was pretty normal, but today, I lost almost 90ml of breast milk supply when comparing to my last 7-day average. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but to me, that was a LOT. I was still pumping as many times as I normally do, and for the same duration of time. I was probably drinking more fluids than usual since my throat hurt so badly and I was super dry. I think I was eating similarly, but wasn’t 100 percent sure. I’m hoping this drop is temporary, as it seems to be temporary from what I’ve read of most sick pumping moms’ experiences, but you never know until it happens to you. I’m trying not to get too anxious about it since stress also has negative effects on milk supply, but how can I not be concerned when breast milk is how I primarily nourish my baby? Kaia’s been eating less since she also has been under the weather, so it hasn’t impacted her percentages of breast milk vs. formula yet, but I’m still worried.

When your baby gets sick for the first time

Last night was unusual. The baby woke up in the middle of the night moaning and eventually crying. We gave her a frozen teether and some infant Tylenol, and she seemed better. We used a forehead thermometer to check her temperature, and it looked normal. But apparently, that wasn’t very accurate in the end.

The nanny took her to story time at the library and said she was really fussy the whole time. She didn’t want to roll around and do tummy time on the mat as she normally does, so the nanny held her the whole time. She did a couple cat naps in the park, which the nanny said was unusual, and her head felt very warm. When she came back and told me this, I took out the rectal/oral thermometer, which is supposed to have a higher level of accuracy, cleaned it, and stuck it in her rectum for a read. When I pulled it out after it beeped, it was there in plain black and white: 103.6 F.

Oh, crap. My baby has a fever, and it’s high! And damnit, that stupid forehead thermometer is inaccurate and terrible!!

I immediately gave her some infant Tylenol and then called the doctor’s office. The doctor emailed back and suggested a dosage every four hours of infant Tylenol, and if her temperature increased, to switch to infant Motrin. We also kept giving her cold compresses and cold teethers. She seemed much better after just an hour of the Tylenol; she started playing with her toes and babbling again.

I was actually feeling miserable and achy all over since late last night. But once I found out Kaia had a fever, I stopped caring about my own sickness and was laser focused on her getting better. I guess what they say is true: once you become a parent, you stop prioritizing your own health and needs and completely focus on your child’s health and well being. She’s only six months old, and she can’t fend for herself or even communicate. She’s basically helpless.

The nanny told me not to worry, that babies get fevers all the time. I just hope hers continues to subside.

Kaia’s first mango: Alphonso from India

The pediatrician suggested we introduce one solid food for three days, then introduce another solid on top of the first one for the next three days, etc. While all that makes sense when you are trying to get your baby familiar with solids and also ensuring that you are identifying any potential food allergies early, there’s really no hard rule on how many and when to do all these introductions. Some parents mix different solids into the same purees. Those who begin with baby led weaning can add 304 different things on the table in front of baby to see how she explores. So I got a little excited… and also worried about the state of our Alphonso mangoes and how long they would stay good for, so I decided.. what the hell. Let’s just let her try some Alphonso today. We gave her some avocado and then some Alphonso mango.

“You know, you’re supposed to introduce one thing at a time for three days…” the nanny said to me, with a half stern, half mocking look on her face.

“We don’t know how long the Alphonsos will be good for, and so we have a small window!” I said defensively. “Plus, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Have you ever heard of a mango allergy?”

She took to the mango pretty well. She loves grabbing the spoon to feed herself and shove into her mouth. I don’t know who said that baby led weaning was cleaner than pureed baby food because this is definitely messy; she got mango and avocado all over her face, hands, bib, shirt, and pants, plus on the nanny’s hands!

Seeing that she enjoyed the mango, now I can confidently say she is really my daughter. 🙂 We can now always say that her first experience with mango was a legitimate Indian Alphonso mango. This makes me very happy — no offense, Mexican ataulfo mangoes.

First solid food: avocado

Today, we introduced the baby to her first solid food. I took a ripe avocado and mashed about a tablespoon-sized serving into a small cup, loaded it onto one of her silicone baby feeding spoons, and stuck it in front of her face. She looked at it and immediately grasped the spoon handle with her hands, taking it away from me. Then, she stuck the spoon into her mouth. Avocado bits got into her mouth, and she grimaced and made a funny face. She looked like she was chewing for a bit, generating a lot of saliva, and then spat it out. Well, that was a decent first attempt.

When babies get introduced to solids, they will oftentimes play with the food, grab it, throw it, spit it out, put it in their mouth, move it around, and spit it out. Everything she did was normal behavior. This is how babies explore the world around them and “experiment” and learn. We just have to keep trying to introduce her to the same foods a few times, then rotate in new foods to get her exposed to more and more things. I want to do do both purees and baby-led weaning (as scary as that sounds) so that she can learn some independence and also how to handle food and utensils on her own. Each day will be a mini adventure for all of us.

“World facing” and the bittersweetness of milestones

Now that our baby is over 14 pounds and has excellent neck strength, we placed her into the Ergobaby carrier front-facing for the very first time today. “Front facing” in a baby carrier or stroller is also called “world facing.” While world facing, she gets to observe everything around her and make some sense of the world. As expected, she was extremely curious, constantly moving her head back and forth to take everything in.

Reaching six months is a big milestone. She’s strong on her tummy and with her neck. She’s pushing up on her hands and arms, constantly pivoting and getting stronger. She’s rolling over endlessly in the last few days. She’s world facing in her carrier, and we’ve already stopped using the bassinet attachment on her stroller. This weekend, we’re planning to build her crib so she can stop sleeping in the bassinet that she’s quickly growing out of. With rolling, it’s no longer safe to swaddle her, as well, so swaddling, even if just her legs as we’ve been doing since March, is now coming to an end. And tomorrow, I’m planning to feed her the first solid food she’ll ever have. It’s a lot of big changes all at once, which makes me a little emotional to think she’s growing so quickly, perhaps too quickly, but it makes me feel even more strongly about wanting to be there with her for all these amazing moments to watch her grow and develop into an independent human. Her crib is too big to have in our bedroom even temporarily, so she’ll soon be sleeping in a separate room from us. That makes me sad and a little nervous, but gradually, we just have to let these things go to allow our babies to grow and flourish on their own.

And on top of all that, I promised myself that I’d wean off my fifth pump and go down to four pumps per day once she hit six months of age, so I’ve been gradually pushing my 3pm pump back this week so that I’d officially be down to four pumps by this Monday. Weaning from pumping, even though it’s gradual, also makes me a little sad, as crazy as that sounds given how all consuming and emotionally, mentally draining my pumping schedule was. One day in the near future, I’ll be completely weaned from breastfeeding, and that will have its own set of emotional ups and downs in itself. My body has been able to nourish her so well for this long. And soon, she won’t need my body to nourish her anymore. It is a very bittersweet thought. I feel proud of what I have been able to provide for her, but sad that it’s gradually ending. This is all part of life, I keep telling myself. I have to let her be free to grow and gradually become more and more independent. Chris makes fun of me and says I’d want her sleeping in my bed when she’s 21, but well, that’s just not the case. I genuinely don’t think dads can quite understand this journey because their bodies don’t create or carry or give birth to babies. Their bodies also aren’t capable of feeding babies. This is a uniquely female thing. And in my case, given all I went through with fertility treatments and the insanity and intensity of IVF, it makes all these milestones felt even more deeply; this easily could never have happened for me. And because of that, I am even more grateful for all these moments, all these milestones, knowing my baby is happy and healthy and developing well. These are the emotional attachments that mothers can have to their children. They were once a part of our body. Then, they weren’t. Then, they needed us for sustenance and food. And then, they suddenly don’t. It’s a very emotional journey, one that I would think most mothers hold close to their hearts.

Six month birthday

It is a very happy 6-month birthday for baby Kaia today. The nanny and I took her to the doctor’s for her 6-month routine check up to discover that she is now 14 lb, 13 oz. (6.72 kg). Her weight is in the 25th percentile, which is a huge jump up since at her 4-month appointment, she was only in the 5th percentile; her length/height is in the 55th percentile, and her head circumference is in the 91st percentile! I felt so proud. She’s growing healthily and beautifully, and the doctor was very, very impressed. Unfortunately, she had to have more vaccines today, so she was screaming and having a lot of tears at the doctor’s appointment. After some tears and some time in the stroller, she passed out and eventually started babbling again.

We got the okay to start solids. Her sit-up stance could be stronger, but the doctor said with a harness in her high chair that she should be okay. I’m still unsure if this is just a blanket recommendation just based on her age rather than where she is developmentally, as she isn’t sitting well on her own yet. While I’m excited for the baby to have food outside of breast milk and formula, I am a little nervous about the potential for choking. I want to do a combination of purees and baby led weaning, but maybe for my own peace of mind, we should probably begin with a few purees. I want to do green vegetables first before fruit, since babies naturally have a preference for sweet. So it would be good to introduce her to savory, bitter or green veggies first. The doctor’s suggestion was to start with veggies, fruit, and porridges (like oats) first, then around the 7-8 month mark, begin proteins like chicken, fish, etc. This is all going to change the smell (ugh) and consistency of her bowel movements, but this is the beginning of her becoming a tiny adult in the world. I already took out her teether pop so that I can start filling it with frozen purees and breast milk. It’s going to be an exciting adventure just watching her eat to see what she likes and doesn’t like.