Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Six months have come and gone, how is that possible?

I haven't written a post in a while.

Ruth's six months, and well, I haven't had the time. Or, perhaps I haven't had the mental capacity to focus long enough to complete a well thought out, sensible post. Also, I've been desperately trying to use what down time I have to write and edit a new manuscript, while trying to prepare another one (the first of the series) for submission.

I thought I'd mark the beginning of the second half of Ruth's first year (convoluted, I know), by reflecting on a few of my experiences thus far of motherhood.

Feeding and Weight Gain: I'm so glad I stuck with breastfeeding. The first 8 weeks or so were hard, over the next 8 weeks Ruth continued to improve. Her eating time dropping little-by-little. Andrew and I continued to check her weight weekly on our kitchen scale until she outgrew its capacity (around 3 months). Now, my little girl is a speed eater, completing a feed in about 10 minutes (both sides), and has gained her way up into the 8th percentile. It was hard to start, but I feel like my rocky start goes to show that if you really want to succeed at breastfeeding, you can.

We've now added solids into the mix. I have A LOT of thoughts on eating and meals times--which I might write about at some point. At first I had absolutely no intention of giving Ruth solids before 6 months, but she looked so darned interested when we were having dinner,...and we were curious to see what she would do. We've started with well cooked, mashed vegetables. It seemed like the right thing to try, and so far she's been more than happy to take anything offered to her on a spoon. It's pretty adorable the way she tends to lean in, mouth open, as the spoon approaches. Often after dinner she will smack her lips together like an old man who lost his dentures--we think she's practicing eating.

Napping and Overnight Sleep: Unlike breastfeeding, napping, in particular, is still a work in progress. I had several incorrect notions of baby sleep before Ruth was born. One, I had an unreasonable daydream that Ruth would nap 1.5 hours in the morning, then 1.5 hours in the afternoon, then go to bed at 7:00 pm. WRONG! I also thought that Ruth would just fall asleep (for naps) when she was tired. WRONG AGAIN! I imagined I would have so much time to myself I wouldn't know what to do. SO, SO WRONG! Honestly, I often feel defeated in my failure to get Ruth to sleep consistently.

In my inexperience as a parent and child giver, I would say Ruth is a challenging napper. She gives clear tiredness indicators (pink eyebrows, chirpy vocalizations, trying to burrow into your chest, rubbing her eyes), but I find if I don't time the put down perfectly, I wind up with a battle on my hands. Sometimes Ruth wins (and doesn't sleep), and sometimes I win (and she does sleep)--but I take little pleasure in the victory. Sometimes we all wind up crying, and I certainly take no pleasure in that either. For now I'm trying to be as consistent in my attempts as possible, and I hope we'll both get things sorted at some point.

Overnight sleep...is getting better. I understand that many babies go through a series sleep regressions, and we went through a doozy of one at around 5 months. Ruth went from getting 6-7 hours of sleep from first put down, to her overnight feed, to not even making it past midnight many nights, then waking up once, if not twice more. It was as though she'd reverted to newborn sleeping skills (or lack of sleeping skills). It was tough. I think we put up with inconsistent sleeping (sometimes good, but often bad) for about 2 weeks before I insisted we create and adhere to a bedtime routine (bath, story, feed, song), and stick to a bedtime (7:10-7:20). Things are getting better.

Growth and Development: A lot changes in 6 months. We went from a having a tiny little peanut who felt as though she would break if we held her the wrong way, to still having a tiny peanut, but one who's solid, capable of holding up her head, taking her own weight on her feet (although she's incredibly unstable), can roll in both directions, and sit--albeit wobbly, and with a hand to steady her. She's trying to work out crawling by kicking her legs and trying to get up onto her knees, but she hasn't quite figured out what her arms are for in the process. Everything she can get into her mouth goes there--she's at that age. We also expect teeth to appear every day, although there's been nothing yet.

And the Rest of the Story: I'm trying to read to Ruth as much as possible. That's both picture books, and novels (that I'm really reading out loud for my own amusement, but hey!). My favourite picture book is 'Dinosaurumpous,' which one of my brother's got for her, and I'm working my way through Jane Austin's novels--I'll be lucky if I make it through Emma by the end of my mat leave (that would be the major 3, S&S, P&P, and E). I often get to the end of the day and wish I'd read more.

Then again, I often get to the end of the day and wish I'd done...more. More what? I don't know. Just more, more everything. More playing, more reading, more encouraging, more loving. I'm paranoid, and worried, which I suspect comes with the territory of being a new mother. I want to do everything right, which isn't possible, I know, so I guess I have to settle with doing my best and hoping it's enough.

Ruth's smiles are adorable, her laughs and giggles heart-warming, these things fuel my day, and help me get over, or at least cope with the moments when she's crying so hard I cry with her. I was long uninterested in having children. They weren't my thing, I didn't know how to interact with them. I wasn't sure I ever wanted a baby.

I love Ruth more than I can say. I loved her when she was still in my womb--I wanted to meet her so badly. I feel rewarded by having brought a life into the world, and I hope I can do my best. My best to raise a thoughtful, kind, intelligent daughter, who's comfortable in her own skin, and knows her parents love her NO. MATTER. WHAT.

I love you, Ruth.


Mom (Andrea)

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