Half a year old

This truly is a beautiful age, 6 months old and learning, changing, growing so quickly; it’s amazing to watch Aviana become a mini person and not so much a baby. We are getting insights into her personality – it’s fun to nurture and shape her. Well, I like to think we have some impact on her at least!

At half a year old, or 26 weeks, Aviana weighs 13lbs 6oz (she remains in the 5th percentile but following her own growth curve nicely) and is 26″ tall (we think she is actually longer than that because she was all hunched up lying down on the chart). 

She has practically outgrown her 3-6mth clothes length wise before she hit 6 months. Her 6-9mth clothes fit her perfectly in length, not so much width wise! So it’s a bit odd. she still fits some 0-3 items of clothing because of her skinny-ness. I bought her swim stuff in size 3-6mths because I figured she would be in it for a mo th or two longer like she was in newborn and 0-3mths. I was so wrong…she has caught up from her Small IUGR size in length to be ‘normal’ size. Typical!

Aviana has had eczema, it comes and goes, we think she is allergic to some type of perfume, detergent, something people wear because it gets worse if her skin is exposed and is being picked up by other people. We’ve changed our laundry detergent to be zero anything (we are not sure how it actually cleans our clothes!) But it seems to help. The doc thinks it might be something she’s eating but we really can’t see any patterns. Yesterday the doc gave us a very specific routine to help with the Eczema. When we bath her and lather her in Cetaphil baby wash. When we take her out of bath, pat her down gently, rub 1% hydrocortisone (with no additives such as aloe, just plain cream) onto her patchy areas, then lather and rub in baby eucerin eczema cream all over her body. Also put hydrocortisone on in morning too. We did this last night and the difference was amazing this morning. Let’s hope this works because the poor girl is learning how to itch and she has been scratching her head hard and causing little wounds. 

Despite her eczema she is an adorable little girl. Chris thinks she’s starting to look more like me. I’m not so sure. We are wondering if her eyes will change to brown like Chris’s or be like mine a grey/green with brown specks. So far they are a grey/blue still. 

She is sitting up on her own, she can stand up on her own leaning against something but can’t yet pull herself up. She’s rolled front to back but not back to front, although we believe she can – it’s just not her favourite place to be so she has no incentive to! She would much rather be upright than lying down.

She likes being carried in the meh dai wraps we bought and can happily fall asleep in it. The afternoon after her 6mth vaccinations she fell asleep in the wrap for 1.5hrs! 

We bought her an A-Frame interactive walker toy (second hand from OfferUp! for $10). She loves sitting in front of that and playing with it. She loves being in her Einstein jumper bouncer thingy. I’ve picked her up from daycare and she has been happily bouncing away in it but I haven’t seen her do it at home so much. She loves sitting down to read with us. I’ve put away the play gym mat because she really has no interest in it anymore. It made me a bit sad because it’s the first toy I’m putting away that she is growing out of.

Food wise Aviana has tried so far…apples, oat cereal, baby porridge, blueberries (whole and puréed), banana (whole and squashed), squash, sweet potato, carrots, spinach, broccoli, peas (whole), white bread and butter, yum yum teething wafers and plain Greek yoghurt. She can feed herself Whole Foods by hand, she is getting better at eating purées from a spoon but likes to help put the spoon in her mouth! She takes water from a sippy cup and likes to help herself but hasnt quite figured how to do it on her own.  She is sitting down and eating breakfast and dinner with us at the table, we try to eat food that she can also have and will keep doing that. She also has lunch at daycare. She drinks about 24oz of breast milk a day, 6oz four times a day, plus a bit of a top up before bed if I nurse her (she falls asleep almost instantly so she doesn’t take much!). So far she hasn’t really disliked any particular food, she just has her favourites – Apple, squash and bread!

Aviana had her first boat trip last weekend when we went to Annapolis and loved watching the wake from the boat!

 We headed up to Washington DC to get her enrolled in Global Entry (if you are ever wondering, babies are exempt from finger print scanning but still have to have their picture taken for facial recognition!!!) we took a quick trip to Annapolis on the way, it was lovely. We proved we can do a family road trip and get out and see some sights for a weekend. Next time we might try camping 🤗

This weekend we are going to the pool on Saturday and Sunday, then to the beach in Tuesday! This will be her first experience, hopefully it will be fun and not too miserable.

I know I will blink and she will be a 1 year old toddling around (maybe!). Got to savour these wonderful moments ☺️

6 months breastfeeding

I managed 6 months of breastfeeding and this was always my initial goal. Woohooo!! My stretch goal is 1 year, the recommended time by the AAP.

Aviana hasn’t been ‘exclusively’ breastfed in the truest sense as we supplemented for a couple of weeks in her first weeks of her life as her weight dropped and was born with IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). We have also used supplemented when I had problems, unknowingly, with high lipase and Aviana was rejecting my frozen milk. We also supplemented when I was away with work travels to Europe because I had to start my Freezer stash all over again due to the high lipase issue. We have also supplemented here and there on occasion due to convenience when traveling. We have no worries with supplementing, I try to avoid it so I can keep my supply up and avoid needing to pump. But I’d say 95% of the time Aviana is exclusively breastfed.

I have had a relatively easy breastfeeding journey compared to some mothers I have met along the way, listening to stories family & friends have told me. Aviana latched almost straight away, I worried I wouldn’t be able to experience breastfeeding. To me it was an experience I felt like I wanted in my life. After all the infertility treatment, I wanted to experience my body doing something it should ordinarily be able to do without medical help! I also wanted to save some $$, which breastfeeding can enable! Formula is expensive! 

I almost gave up breastfeeding when she became almost impossible to feed when she was in her ‘distracted nursing’ phase. It was frustrating and painful as she bobbed on and off the boob. This phase lasted for a couple of months and I found it impossible to feed her when we were out and about. Even when I did find a quiet place she would only stay on the boob for a few minutes. I was consumed with worry she wasn’t getting enough food. 

We got over that hurdle, and now there is the hurdle of working and traveling. Pumping/expressing is not a walk in the park, especially when on the go. It requires organisation, time and patience. Plus some extra $$ to buy items that help make pumping life easier! Pumping means I also miss out on the nursing bond with Aviana which is one thing that keeps me breastfeeding that I enjoy and love about it. There are days when I’m dreading hooking up to the pump because my boobs are feeling tender. There is also the stress of whether I’ve pumped enough for Aviana’s requirements. I literally am a ‘just enough’ producer, if I get 5oz to freeze at the end of the week it’s been a great week! So the pressure is always there and that’s mentally exhausting. During the week I only nurse her once in the morning and occasionally in the evening (my favourite time with her).

I have now got to a point in our breastfeeding journey where I feel like I shouldn’t talk to other mothers about it because many of my friends stopped breastfeeding for various reasons before 6 months. Some of them stopped against their wishes. I don’t talk about it because I sense when I do that they are upset they didn’t get to breastfeed for as long as they’d have liked, or that I am judging them for not breastfeeding (which by the way, is simply not the case, how anyone chooses to feed their baby is their right and I respect it greatly). I choose my words carefully, conscious that I can easily offend.

I will say that I am proud I have been able to breastfeed for 6 months because I feel like it hasn’t always been easy. There will be new challenges ahead for sure, more work travel, teeth! Aviana’s growing independence or dependence on me!! I’m not sure what the future holds for our breastfeeding journey. I’d like to aim for 12 months. I do cherish the times I get to nurse Aviana and I can’t imagine giving that up. A friend said to me that breastfeeding is like a drug, it gets tough to give up. And I’m not ready for that drug withdrawal just yet! So for now, I’ll keep pump pump pump pumping it up!!!

We will never be equal

Last night after Chris read my blog post Chris told me the truth of the matter….we won’t ever be equal because of my work travels. And he is right. If I travel 8-10 times a year, some of these trips being 8 days long then I will struggle to make that up to be equal. Admittedly he will travel occasionally for work but it would be in the US and not transatlantic and for a few days at a time. Also, if he travels I have the leave to be able to travel with him (if he gets to go somewhere fun!!).

We have talked about this quite a bit recently and it’s going to be tough. It’s not exactly a holiday for me, but I will get a ‘break’ from parenting (except the huge guilt I will feel) and he won’t. We have a nanny once a week and maybe we can use her to help out Chris a bit more when I am away. Only time will tell how tough it really will be. Almost everyone else in my team has children and they survive. Just got to figure out how they do it well!

The dream? All working parents created equal

I was inspired to write this post after I read a ‘Working Mother’ article “14 things my parents never had to do because my mom didn’t work“.  It was going good up until points 10: Manage the household from the office; 11: Manage the household at home; and 12: Worrying about traveling for work.  The author says that she has to “…make doctor’s appointments, go grocery shopping, plan birthday parties in between meetings.  This is true, it’s got to get done at some point during the working week.  But your working husband also probably can do that stuff too? Right?  She then says she is “…still primarily responsible for cooking dinner, cleaning the house and organizing their social life“. Hmmmm, your husband can also do that too, no? Finally, when she goes on work travels she has to “…prepare everything in her absence from my daughter’s wardrobe to preparing frozen meals for my husband“.  OK, so yes, sure, when a partner goes away on work travel you need to be supportive and help make it easier on the person left behind.  But the choice of ‘chores’ that need to be done are soooooooo stereotypical.  Really?  Your husband can’t make wardrobe choices on his own?  Is he able to dress himself?  I presume so because it sounds like he still makes it to work everyday without getting fired. So why can’t he dress a child?  He really can’t cook his own food? My goodness, how did he ever survive before he met you?????  After reading this and getting me mad and upset, it got me thinking more about the ideal working parents situation and equality.  Are all parents ‘created’ equal?  Is it actually possible??

Chris and I are pretty equal in most things.  Before Aviana arrived into our world we shared chores.  There are some things that Chris is better at doing than I am and vice versa.  There are also some things that Chris prefers doing than I do and vice versa.  So we always tried to make things equal: one night Chris would cook and I would wash up, then we would swap the next day.  I would put the washing on, Chris would hang it up, the next time we may swap.  And then we negotiated on other chores.  I did X if Chris did Y.  We also hired a cleaner (Something I would happily give up anything else for….clothes, tea, haribo, driving to work….if we ever needed to financially cut back somewhere, it’s a marriage saver in my mind). Grocery shopping, decorating, tidying, gardening, organising, bill paying….etc.  we are pretty equal.  Yes, there are odd times when we have to assess the balance, but we often do it on conditions at the time: our health and work.

We are also pretty equal on the work front too.  We take home similar amounts of pay.  Although Chris gets a bonus whereas I do not!  We are also the same age, and therefore have similar amounts of work experience.  We are progressing similarly in terms of accountability and responsibility, although we do very different jobs, and therefore different types of stresses, but our workloads ebb and flow for both of us.

Now we have new jobs to add to our life resumes/CVs.  Parenthood!  We are equally experienced in this new role…as in, we both have very little experience!  The question I have is, is it possible to be equal parents in life too?  Does it matter if Chris is mummy and I am daddy?  Do these labels mean anything in terms of the roles we play as parents and how we raise our daughter?

Currently there is an imbalance.  First of all, physically I grew Aviana inside me and I am also the milk provider.  Chris does feed her bottles, so it’s not like he has zero responsibility for this.  Secondly, I have just spent almost 7 months off work on maternity leave.  I have been Aviana’s caregiver during working hours and weeks and past couple of weeks I have been on ‘vacation’, getting things in order around the house, enjoying two weeks of holiday with my family and relaxing a little bit.  Although I have been back to work for a couple of odd weeks during my maternity leave and a few days here and there, this week I am back to work officially, properly, full speed ahead.  Eeeek.

The balance will shift.  But to what? Will it be equal? How will we adjust to our ‘ideals’? How will we negotiate chores?  How will we decide whose meeting is more important when we have to pick up a sick Aviana from daycare?  How will we decide who does each parenting task like feeding, bathing and dressing our baby?  Because we are both equally capable of these tasks.  And pretty much any other future task.  Party planning, birthday gift buying, holidays, doctors, caregivers, blah blah blah.

How will we adjust when we have different ways of doing these parenting tasks?  What will we do when one of us thinks we are doing it wrong, do we let it go?  Do we debate?  Do we continue to negotiate?  Do we have time to be equal?

How much do we want to pay for convenience like we do with our cleaners, gardeners and other services such as online shopping, food preparation, holiday planning etc?  How much is our time worth in ‘outsourcing’ so we can spend more time with Aviana?

I’m nervous.  I have expectations to be an equal working parent, but in reality it will probably be different.  I’m just not sure how it’s going to be.  Will my annoyance with that article I read be proven to be naivety on my part?  I hope not.

How equal is your parenting with your partner?  Is it what you thought it would be?  What would you do differently if you could go back in time? Does any of this ‘equality’ ideals even matter?


Let’s just be honest here

Life is like a box of chocolates….you never know what you are going to get (well, if you have the picture guide then it’s not much of a surprise, but hey just sayin’!). It is true that you can’t choose whether or not your child is going to be an angel newborn or satan in disguise.  We all want the angels, but we don’t always get what we want.  I hear you say, “Yes, Dani, we know that”.

Chris and I have differing views looking back at our time with Aviana as a newborn baby.  We also have differing views on looking forwards on the subject of growing our family again.  But that’s OK because we often have differing views on some of our important life aspects and we still survive today to tell the tale.

Looking back, for me, Aviana was not an easy newborn baby, but she also wasn’t hellish either.  There was that time when we were figuring out her silent reflux when I thought what did I do to deserve this nightmare?!  There was the worry of whether or not I was feeding her enough because she was an IUGR baby (I still worry BTW!) There were times when I was creeping around quietly, anticipating Aviana to wake up because she didn’t nap well and I am not a good napper during the day so I struggled with the 2 hourly feeds.  The times when I counted down the minutes to Chris coming home from work because Aviana had been fussy and I couldn’t help her no matter what I did, wondering if I would always suck at being a mother.  The times when I wished our family and friends back in the UK could be there with us to see Aviana achieve her milestones.  But I also put a lot of pressure on myself.  I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months.  I wanted to keep up with my work’s executive development program. I wanted to shower every day – haha!

So being honest, looking back at the newborn months, it was tough.  And now it isn’t so tough – it is actually fun!  I wanted the newborn phase to pass quickly, in the moment it seemed to drag.  Now here I am looking at my daughter wondering how she grew up suddenly as an almost 6 month old, eating solids, giggling, interacting, playing, standing and sitting up.  I can already sense she will want to be an independent kinda lady.  And I’m cool with that.  And now I want to spend MORE time with her, not less which was how I felt at times during the newborn phase.  May be it’s because I know her better, I know myself better and I am catching on to the parenting thing that it seems easier.  But raising a newborn baby is hard, and it does get easier (Although I am not naive to think that there won’t be tough times in the future, so I’ve been told teenagers are the worst!!!)

Would I do it all again?  Yes.  Would I do it all again with a toddler?  Yes.  Would it be harder?  I think yes and no.  Many of our friends are on their second child and I get a sense that I’m on the right track with this answer.  It’s only until the next child comes along that they  ever realised that they had an angel or a devil newborn baby.  And their second one usually ends up being the opposite of their first.  Because that is the whole life is like a box of chocolates thing  (and it sucks if you were lucky to get two angels in a row then get a devil for the third!!)  So this leads Chris and I to have the conversation about what Aviana could be considered as (angel or devil), what would our second baby would be like (with a toddler in tow don’t forget!) and do we want to make life harder for ourselves?

Why does this all matter?  Because it begs the question what is next for our family (Oh and of course everyone always asks us if we will have another baby!).  For those of you who may remember from the great pudding club hunt, we still have one frozen embryo stored away (that we pay $60 a month to keep there).  It’s not an easy question to answer because we don’t have the luxury of planning when we can procreate another child.  We are infertile and unexplained infertility means our future remains hazy.  Plus there is the added risk of an IUGR baby again, we were lucky the first time that Aviana has not been affected too much, we may not be so lucky with a second.    All of this confounds the basic question of do we want to grow our family for the second time?  And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Chris and I have different views on siblings and age gaps….. :-p

Weaning decisions: in the beginning 

When I say weaning decisions I mean weaning onto solid foods! I bought a couple of books and followed many conversations about weaning solids with breastfed babies. Is it any different? No, not really. What does seem to be different in opinions is WHEN to start solids. Our pediatrician said at Aviana’s 4 month wellness visit that she could start solids from then. She should first try with oatmeal cereal, then puréed orange veggies, then green veggies. But then there is also guidance from various professional bodies that say to wait til 6 months. Plus they should have all the physical signs they are ready to start solids. Kellymom.com says this:

So we made an informed decision and decided to wait until after 5 months and see her development. We thought she definitely wasn’t ready before that. When I got back from my work trip she was just over 5 months and met all the key milestones, so we tried oatmeal baby cereal. And she really enjoyed it. 3 days later we tried carrot, then we flew to the UK so we did a bit more cereal mostly for convenience and to keep her in a routine, then she tried broccoli, which she wasn’t keen on, unsurprisingly, but when we mixed in with cereal she liked it. And that’s as far as we have got. 

We have had to change our routine a bit to make sure we eat with her. She wakes up, gets breast milk at 6am, we sit down for breakfast together after that and she gets the solids and a sippy cup of water (working on that still!) then I feed her breast milk again and pump because I always have a bit left over from the night. She then has regular breast milk at 4 hourly interval feeds til dinner. We are trying to sit down and eat at the same time – around 6pm. She then has bath and last feed of the day (usually just a top off), then she is away with the fairies for the night at 7pm. It’s a good routine That’s working well for all of us.

I spent a few hours making up purée cubes of various types…carrots, apples, squash, sweet potato, broccoli, spinach (home grown!!!) and blueberries. They all got frozen so are ready to whack on the microwave. Probably a couple of weeks worth of food.

Let me tell you – it’s messy and time consuming steaming and puréeing all of that! Having said that, it’s cheap and convenient. We anticipate trying baby led weaning when she hits 6 months so that’s probably a bit too much purée there (although we can add the purée to other foods such as the fruit we can mix in with yoghurt.)

I’m happy to listen to anyone’s views about when to start weaning. But the way we came to a decision about it was well informed. Having said that, it is tough to make that decision because of all the competing advice out there. All I know is that for now Aviana is enjoying the experience. ‘Food before one, just for fun’ is the mantra we are going to follow, then really we can’t go wrong!!! This is just the beginning…..