So in about a week, Stella will be ONE. She walks and "talks," even if most of it is gibberish and her main goal in life seems to be trying to get to the kitchen as fast as she can to stick her hand in the cat's food bowl.
It's disgusting. And hilarious.
Twelve months seems to be the milestone when babies transition to toddlers and a lot of those baby rules loosen or go out the window entirely. We haven't followed everything to a T (gasp! - there is a blanket in the crib) and I realize all babies develop at their own pace. But for the most part, I've paid attention to average milestones and listened to the doctors about where she should be, developmentally, each month.
I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around when and how to start implementing certain things.
For example, at her 10-month visit, the doctor said I should be preparing her to be done with bottles and formula by 12 months, replacing them with whole milk in a sippy cup.
I'm fine with the whole milk part. In one of the many topics I had really wanted to post about but never did, I stopped breastfeeding at 8 months (at that point, I was supplementing anyway). So, transitioning her to organic cow's milk or goat's milk was something we were anxious to do. The doctor said we could start putting half in her formula bottle at 11 months, so I started mixing in goat's milk a few weeks ago after reading about how it was generally easier to digest than cow's milk. Stella had a sensitive stomach the first few months of her life, so I figured I'd go the easier route. If I tried to give her goat milk by itself, however, she'd totally refuse it.
When I tried cow's milk, she was all over it. As long as I warmed it up a bit in a cup of hot water, she greedily sucked it down, so when the last container of formula was empty, we didn't look back.
The problem is, she refuses to drink it in a cup. She loves her sippy cup, but only for water. So now, she has an 8 ounce bottle of whole milk in the morning and at night. I give her a few ounces in a sippy cup in the afternoon, but after one sip, she slaps it away dramatically. I've tried giving her the same kind of cup she drinks for water, and I've also tried giving her a different one with a straw that I only offer to her with milk. She won't drink it either way.
I'm not too concerned about this, because I know a lot of babies that still keep their morning bottle at age 2, but I'm just wondering if she'll EVER drink it out of a cup. Plus, I don't want her to develop any dental problems at a young age. Any advice on what to do?
Also, this baby cookbook I've used often over the last six months shows photos of 12-month-olds eating little finger sandwiches and big apple slices. She eats pasta and mozzarella chopped up into little pieces, but for the most part, she's still eating a lot of purees. Should I stop worrying about her choking and let her sink her teeth (she's got 8 of them) into a sandwich?
Any advice from you wise mamas out there is appreciated, as always.
*Vintage milk truck photo via Jalopy Journal
Posted by Giovanna at 11:59 AM
There's snow everywhere in our hood, as a result of that blizzard, which I refuse to call by that lame, fake name the Weather Channel created so they could "catastrophize with greater ease," according to my wise friend, Paula.
I got home late tonight and couldn't find parking, because most people here take public transportation into the city and just have a car for fun weekend trips and are not planning to move said cars ever, or at least until spring. I finally pulled into a space that half blocked a driveway and I get a text from C, responding to my earlier question, "Are you home?"
C: Yeah. AND STELLA WALKS.
And then tears started streaming down my face, in the darkness of my car, which I had just parked on a dirty snow mound, partially blocking a driveway.
Let me explain.
I've been working my ASS off lately and I find myself constantly guilt-ridden about missing little and big things with Stella.
I'm lucky in that my job is pretty flexible and that I can technically work from home. But, the news business is stressful...there's always a daily crisis and there are a million and one meetings/assignments that take me away from home during the day.
The truth is, I couldn't wait to go back after maternity leave. Most people whose kids had colic know what I'm talking about. E calls it PTCS - Post Traumatic Colic Syndrome.
But then there are those moms who will say over and over again, "Don't you wish you never had to leave?" and if you don't 100 percent agree, it makes you feel like a bad mother. That's the worst feeling ever, particularly if you love this tiny little person so much, you're genuinely concerned that your heart might explode.
After some unwarranted self-bashing, I decided to give myself a break. (Truthful posts like this one certainly helped.) I'm doing the best I can over here, so shut up people who feel like everyone in the universe is the same and should thereby have the same exact feelings after giving birth to a child!
But now, it's different. Now, every time I have to leave, I'm sad, because she's giggly and smiling and pointing to her belly and feet and saying C-C-CAT and B-B-BUD (bird) with such effort and enthusiasm.
And today, she took her first steps —with the babysitter. The babysitter, who is super loving and affectionate and whom I have come to love like a member of my own family.
But still, couldn't she have waited until I got home?
Note: She's only taking little independent steps here and there, not full-fledged walking. Literally, baby steps.
Posted by Giovanna at 1:51 AM
I never thought I'd say this, but I may need someone to block Baby Gap from my work laptop, or else I'll spend all my money on the entire Peter Rabbit collection. And then I'll continue to complain about how I never manage to save any cash and it'll be my fault we don't get a house, and Stella will grow out of it in like, three days.
I usually don't go for the super girly stuff, and luckily, there are a bunch of great options out there that don't involve tulle and don't make your kid look like she vomited Pepto all over herself.
Maybe because I love Beatrix Potter and I'm quite fond of bunnies in general, I'm in love with these sweet, whimsical pieces. They're feminine, but subtle. I think I have no choice but to buy this dress for Easter, but how can I live without this shirt or these pants? And that adorable plaid sundress and the little Peter Rabbit onesies for every day of the week? Ok, I'll stop.
So, one of my New Year's resolutions was to start blogging again, even if it's every few weeks.
Mainly because I'm pretty sure I have early onset Alzheimer's and the only way I'll remember all the little, ordinary, amazing things happening from day to day is if I have some sort of written (typed, published, whatever) account of it.
So here goes.
Stella turned 10 months old on Sunday. We say the same thing every time another month passes. "I can't believe we survived xx months."
When she turns a year, it will blow my mind.
Our sleep issues are largely gone. I'm not generally superstitious, but being that I've come to the conclusion that I'm a full-on HOT MESS when I don't get enough sleep, I'm hesitant to say that Stella sleeps 12 hours a night and takes two 45 minute to an hour naps. I've been told these naps are short, but I DON'T CARE as long as she is sleeping through the night.
After I posted here in desperation and got the best feedback (thanks, guys), we embarked on a really mild, flexible sleep training regimen that started with putting her in the crib awake. At first, we tried getting her used to hanging out in her room, so we'd play a little and read books. Then, we did the same thing every night: turned off the lights, turned on the nightlight and the white noise machine, and gave her a pacifier. I waited until she was pretty sleepy, rubbed her back a little and left the room.
She usually cried a little, but ended up falling asleep. Sometimes, she'd panic and let out that high-pitched wail and then I'd go back in and rub her back a little. This didn't happen overnight. It took several weeks.
Eventually, something clicked and she just started to get it. Now, I usually just put her down and leave the room. And it's THE BEST.
I think that if I've learned anything this year, it's that every kid is different. Every time I try to put her down before 8 p.m., she wakes up at 6 a.m., but if I put her down by 8 or 8:30, she tends to sleep a full 12 to 13 hours, and that works better for all of us.
That said, not putting her on any kind of routine because I was scared to see her cry was causing her to get extra cranky because she was sleep deprived, so I had to do what was best for her.
Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, she's got eight teeth, you guys. She smiles and she's the abominable snowman. She also has been crawling for two months now and climbs everything in sight, even flat walls like Spiderman. I can't wait for her to let go and take off, but everyone is warning me to be careful what you wish for.
C and I are obsessed with her. It's all we talk about. And the one thing we marvel at is how much fun she is. As thoroughly exhausting as she can be (and balancing a crazy job and motherhood is no picnic), we just didn't imagine that it would ever be this much fun.
PS. Thanks, Celia, for taking the time to lay out Cheech's sleep habits - what worked, what didn't. It made us feel less insane and kept us going when we thought we might either pass out and die or murder each other after months of sleep deprivation.
Posted by Giovanna at 11:11 AM
Last night, while Stella was fast asleep (more on sleep later - it's so much better, you guys), C walked up to the river to take a quick photo of the Empire State Building shining bright blue. Better pics here.
Halloween was mostly canceled in these parts, due to the storm. We were lucky enough to not lose power, but we were the only people we know who didn't. My parents are STILL without power.
We put Stella in her costume (handmade by my Mom) anyway and had a photo shoot...until she threw down her hat and started pulling at her feathers, and then we knew the little owl had had enough.
*More on Instagram. Follow me if you wish @Giovanna1215.
Posted by Giovanna at 2:44 PM
You guys, I know I haven't checked in in a long time, but we're having some sleep issues around here and I need some advice.
Stella has never been a big fan of sleep.
The first few months, naps were few and far between and nighttime sleep was a crapshoot. The swing quickly became our best friend. At first, all naps were taken in the swing and bedtime sleep was in a co-sleeper attached to our bed. She would sleep in the swing from 9 to 11 or 12, I'd nurse her and then one of us would bounce her down to sleep, (the yoga ball was our second best friend) and slowly, carefully carry her to the bassinet. If the transfer was successful, she'd sleep until 4 or 5, nurse, and then go back to sleep for another three or four hours.
We were sleep-deprived and frustrated by the lack of naps during the day, but we had fallen into a routine. That lasted about six weeks.
Then, she decided she wouldn't sleep in the bassinet. Ever.
So, one of us would sleep on the couch in the living room next to the swing. After a month or so, we realized that was insane, so we grudgingly brought the swing into the bedroom.
I probably shouldn't have referred to the swing as our best friend. It was more like we were crack addicts and we needed the swing to function, or rather, survive. We hated that thing. We hated that she needed constant movement to sleep and we hated that we couldn't break her of the habit.
At around 13 weeks, just when I was set to go back to work, the swing conked out. So we took the opportunity to try the co-sleeper again. It took a few nights, but it worked.
Right around that time, she started sleeping through the night most of the week. You guys, bliss is an understatement. I can't describe how different a person I am when I get seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. And when it's ten hours, I just want to run down the street skipping and singing like I'm in a Gene Kelly movie.
By the end of the summer, we moved her into her crib in the second bedroom and never looked back. She seemed much more comfortable with the extra space to toss and turn and stretch out. We didn't have to tiptoe around our bedroom anymore and life was good.
Until - she started waking up every few hours screaming at the top of her lungs.
Night waking: What is it and how do I make it stop?? Sorry. That probably should've been the first sentence of this post. I'm usually not one to bury the lede, but I felt I had to share what we went through up until this point in order to give you an accurate picture of her sleep situation.
Most likely due to the colic, she found comfort in movement, so we'd rock, bounce, or swing her to sleep. Also, let's be real: she'd FREAK the F out if we dared to put her down awake.
But now, I fear we've created a situation where she can't self-soothe and I want to try to rectify it.
These days, she takes three 30-minute naps a day. I'd love, love, love if she would stretch those out, but she's got this inner alarm clock that wakes her up at the half hour mark, almost down to the second, and at this point, I'm just happy she naps.
At night, we usually start the bedtime routine around 7ish. She has some oatmeal and sweet potatoes, we give her a bath, read her some books and then she drinks a bottle while I'm bouncing her on the yoga ball. She usually falls asleep within ten minutes, somewhere between 8 and 9 p.m. Once I know she's fully asleep, I take her to her bedroom, gently put her down and close the door. We've been doing the same thing for the last few months, and have tried about a dozen times to start putting her to bed awake. It didn't work, but we consoled ourselves by the fact that she was sleeping through the night, even if we had to keep bouncing on that damn ball.
But at a certain point, she started waking up in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder, as if she was having a nightmare. Most times, she is not fully awake, so I just need to go in, pick her up and rock her a little and she goes right back to sleep. But, she may do that three or four more times during the night. If I let her cry for a few minutes, she seems to work herself up and then we risk her being much more difficult to put back to sleep.
Lately, she's been doing this a few times per night, and then waking up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. as if it's playtime. That is the worst. Last night it took me an hour to put her back to sleep. Saturday night, it took us two hours.
I'm not opposed to letting her cry it out a little, but this is not a whiny, "come pick me up, I'm lonely" kind of cry. It's a scream that sounds like she's being tortured. She doesn't cry often anymore, so when she does, it's usually that kind of scream. Maybe that's just the way she cries?
I should add that she's been teething on and off since four months, when her two bottom teeth came in, and the night waking has been consistent since about three months. It just seems to have gotten worse. But she's going to be teething for another year. Do we just resign ourselves to not getting any sleep until her molars come in? That seems ridiculous.
So to recap this novel, I've got two problems: night waking and an inability to fall asleep on her own.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
*Photo of Stella looking wide awake as usual, by Gianpaolo Fabiano
Posted by Giovanna at 3:25 PM
And just like that, the daily screaming fits are gone.
You guys, the last month has been so much better.
It was as if Stella knew I was going back to work and decided to cut it out and fix herself just in time.
It took 14 weeks, but Angry Baby has left the building.
*My dad watches her on Thursdays and they've become best buds.
Posted by Giovanna at 1:36 AM