Tips from a bottle feeder

We all know that breast is best but some of us have our choices and need to go the bottle feeding route, which was our case.  I remember looking around for some help and tips on bottle feeding but the information is lacking out there.  If you are looking to bottle feed or have stood in a bottle aisle lately and pulled your hair out, here is my advice for you.

Anyone can feed your child or you exclusively can.  For bonding purposes, my Husband and I chose to be the only two people to give Cora a bottle for the first two months.  After that, it has been game on for whomever wants to feed her.  It gives us a break and others a chance to have that time with her.  Like Grandma!

Surround yourself with people who support your decision.  Choosing to NOT breastfeed is a tough decision these days.  Breastfeeding is pushed at you from every direction and some act like bottles aren’t even an option.  While we were interviewing pediatricians, I made sure to ask if her office supported our choice in a bottle only household.  Same went for our daycare provider.

We even made sure to ask how the nurses and other staff would be during our stay at the hospital.  I had heard horror stories about being pressured to breastfeed after birth.  We came prepared with premade nursettes and our bottle nipples only to learn that our nipples didn’t work on those nursettes.  The nurses happily provided us with a million disposable nipples, extra formula and educated us on how much she should be drinking.  No pressure.

The bottle options are endless.  Have you stood in a bottle aisle lately? Woah.  Best advice I can give you is to not go over the top on purchasing a ton of bottles up front. We received a lot of free bottles and kept them all.  At the end of the day, you can research them all to death but your baby is going to inform you which one they like and which one they don’t.  Those extra freebies will come in handy if baby decides that the $100 you spent on Dr. Brown bottles are not what she wants.  Personally, Cora is good with the Dr. Brown brand but our next one may not be.

Then there are the nipples, warmers, drying rack and brush options.  It is all endless.  You can get caught up in a lot of it and we didn’t buy most of it until after she arrived.  That is when I decided that yes, we needed the warmer, you really do need the Dr. Browns matching bottle brush and I hate the grass drying rack.

Don’t stock up on formula. While we stock piled diapers before baby arrived, we did not stock pile formula.  We researched what we wanted to use, bought a few containers and left it at that.  When she was three weeks old we ended up having to switch to something that was easier on her tummy.  You just never know what your kiddo is going to want.  And if you do think that your formula is not working with your little one, make sure to talk to your pediatrician first.  They will help you navigate the best options.

Formula isn’t cheap.  We know that is where breast-feeding really has us bottle feeders beat!  Once you do know what brand works, take advantage of those sales to stock up! And hit up your pediatricians office for samples.  I have no shame in my game and ask to be loaded up.  They are always happy to give me at least 6 containers every time I walk in the door! Also, sign up on the company’s website for coupons. When we signed up with Enfamil they sent us a big welcome pack of free formula and monthly we get a stack of $5 off coupons.  The good news, you are only paying for formula for a year, not the rest of their lives.

Formula requires thinking ahead.  Before we walk out the door, I’m always double checking we have bottles, full of water and our to-go container of formula with back-up packets for emergencies.  You forget one thing and you will have one pissed off, hungry baby.

You will waste a lot of formula.  There is no way around it, you will dump a lot of formula down the drain.  Sometimes Cora wants an entire bottle and other times she wants an ounce.  Unfortunately she doesn’t let me know upfront, if only she could talk.  I will only save it for the day in the fridge and it hurts knowing how much $$$ is going down the drain. She runs her own show though.

Don’t let people make you feel guilty for bottle feeding. I’ve been lectured, I’ve been given the stink eye, and I’ve heard it all but I’m comfortable with how I feed my child, that is all that matters.  Trust me, they won’t ask on their college applications how they were fed.

If you are curious, here is where we stand now. (And no, I’m not being paid to mention these items.)  For the first two weeks, we used the premade Enfamil nursettes just to make life easier.  We then went from Enfamil Newborn to Enfamil Gentlease.  We also have to use Gerber Soothe drops to help with her tummy issues.  (Doesn’t poop much if we don’t use them.) We use Dr. Brown bottles, bottle brush cleaner and size 2, matching nipples. We do have the Dr. Brown bottle warmer that we use more to sterilize things than anything else.  Every morning we fill all her bottles, for the next 24 hours, with distilled water.  We do not warm those bottles, she prefers whatever room temp is.

Do you have bottle feeding questions or advice?

 

Parenting Styles Today

My Husband and I grew up in a world where I’m sure most of you did.  A world called the 80’s where bike helmets didn’t exist, we ran the streets without a parent, road our bikes to the end of the earth and back and drank from the hose.  I actually grew up with a Mom who ran an in home daycare and the only time the TV was on during the day was when she was watching All My Children at noon.  We weren’t even allowed video games and yet I didn’t feel deprived.  We had every outdoor toy known to man, why would we want to be stuck inside?!

The world has vastly changed since then and we know all the reasons why.  More cars on the road leads to stricter car seat laws for kiddos.  More parents speak up about accidents that happen on playgrounds and metal slides and swings are taken away.  Social media warns you of every scary stranger around the corner and kiddos can’t walk home from school.  Nosy neighbors thinking they have a say on your parenting call the cops every time a child is outside playing alone.  The world has changed indeed my friends.

We bubble wrap our kids, we try to delete every danger, ward off anything undesirable, hold their hands longer than what they need, chase them with Clorox to avoid all germs and in general become helicopters.  We worry about the judgment if another parent sees us doing something different.  But is it all worth it?  What will it do in the long run for our kids?  And seriously, we lived through licking some windows in our time, can’t our own kids?

I can tell you that my Husband and I may not be raising our child that way.  We may be going against the norm.   Where we live in the country, houses are spread out, heavily treed areas separating most of us. We still live in a neighborhood where kids ride their bikes around without shoes, helmets, kneepads or any other thing protecting them.  They run rampant through the subdivision, playing on the mud roads, climbing trees, all unsupervised by an adult but maybe supervised by their dog with no leash and quite honestly nowhere near their own home.  Kids we have never met knock on our door and ask to play with our dog or jump on our trampoline. We find discarded bikes along the road and know that no one was abducted but instead they found a turtle they wanted to drag home and had no way to get it there on their bike.  We just deliver their bike to their front yard on the way by.  Rebecca is no exception to any of this.

All these are things that would make some parents furious, nervous and the such.  I do even understand that things have changed for a reason.  Some would argue that we don’t live in the city but if we did we would be different.  Sure, all of these things can make me nervous but am I doing anything good for my girls by standing over them?  I want them to be able to handle themselves.  I want them to explore the world, use their imagination, and not be stuck inside because sometimes the world is scary.

And that is the thing, only sometimes the world is scary.  Social media wants you to think it is always scary.  But I don’t want my girls to live in fear of the worst case scenarios,  I want them to live for all the great possibilities that there are.  I don’t want them to live in a box, safely inside, watching the world through a TV, right next to me.  I want them to get scraped up and learn to get up, I want them to wander through the poison ivy to learn not to do it again, I want them to get stuck in a tree so they can problem solve their way down on their own.  I also don’t want them living in my basement when they are 30.

Recently the baby sat on a blanket, in our front yard and rolled her way off.  She started running her hands through the grass, digging her nails into the cool dirt and then lifted her hand to her mouth to figure out if any of it might be food I have been depriving her of.  Sure, I wanted to plop her back on the blanket but I just let her go.  She looked at me with a huge smile as she went back to digging in the dirt, loving the new discovery.  It required a bath at the end of the night but no harm was done.

For as long as I can I will let my girls take one step ahead without me holding them back, no matter how much I want to warn them not too.  Because one day I won’t be there to watch over them every minute, or hold their hand and I want to give them the tools necessary to think for themselves and discover.  I want them to have a childhood where their imagination leads them to a tree house that is actually a space ship.  Where the wooded area across the street from us is where Peter Pan and the lost boys may live.  And maybe I’ll find a metal slide somewhere to push them down just to say “You have no idea how good you have it!”

 

 

Emotional Announcements

When I got to work this morning there was a baby announcement in my inbox from another co-worker.  A husband and wife, proudly standing with their twin boys, and a sign that told the world they were expecting.

Why the hell is my initial reaction every emotion in the book?  I am seriously happy for them but I sat there with tears in my eyes and was that a hint of jealousy deep down?

After I sat back, I realized a few things.  Recently people have started asking us if it is time to have another baby.  First of all, what the fuck? Seriously.  My kid is 6 months old and I can’t even fathom that idea right now.  Secondly, every time someone asks, my stomach clenches, I break into a sweat, I get nervous and I want to run.

If I’m quite honest, I have no idea yet if I want another one.  Neither of us do.  I just want to enjoy where I am at right now.  The thought of trying again makes me nervous.  The thought of timing our sex, watching the calendar, making sure I make it for timed appointments with my doctor, and on and on makes me sick to my stomach.  None of that sounds fun right now and it sounds like an awful lot of time taken away from Cora.  Even worse, the thought of failed pregnancies tests and potential miscarriages makes me absolutely shut down.

It is like I have PTSD from the first time around.  So why the emotion of watching other people make announcements? Perhaps it is just knowing that I may want the road to lead back to that eventually and I know what that road entails.  Not with ease but with a mountain to climb once again.  It is like it is never far away and with every happy announcement it pokes at me.

Controlling the Chaos

I remember reading an article somewhere when I first had Cora.  It stated that having a newborn does not mean your home needs to turn into a world of chaos.  I have watched friends have babies and their world did just that, turned to chaos.  Laundry piled in the corners, dishes stacked high, the look of dishevelment on their face.  People told me I would barely shower, chores would fall to the wayside…life would be chaos.

I just knew our life could not become chaos.  I remember reading that statement and thinking, yes, someone agrees with me that I don’t have to lose my shit to continue surviving. The Husband and I are not people who can handle settling for chaos and no control.  We are Type A, we don’t have it in us for loss of control.

Six months in and I want to say this, it is true, your world does not have to be chaos.  If you are reading this as the new or expecting parent, I will tell you it is okay.  A newborn does not need it to be chaos and neither does an infant.  I have managed a shower everyday.  The laundry gets put away, the dog hair vacuumed, the dishes washed and put away each night, the counters wiped down and half the time the bed gets made.

When Cora came we just had to learn to adjust.  We take advantage of nap times and you know what, sometimes she has to just sit and entertain herself while the dishwasher gets unloaded or supper made.  My Husband pitches in more and we have learned to work together a bit more efficiently.

Sure, there are weeks where it is harder than others and days where I collapse into bed, knowing I didn’t get it all done but 95% of the time, we are good.  This week the dog has an inflamed pancreas and the Husband has influenza B.  I’m on my own and I’m exhausted.  Puking dog, vet visits, quarantined husband and all the Clorox in the world.  This week, it has been chaos.  Next week, we will get back to normal.

Sure, my sister lives with us to help but she has her own full-time job and has started dating (Oh my God the world of online dating!) She has a thing called life but is good help to wrangle Cora in jammies and read her a few stories while I change clothes.

Just like with anything else, it is what you make of it. There can be down days.  Monday, I napped when she napped because sometimes Mommy needs a nap too.  We have our days where she sits outside in the swing for an hour, watching the trees move in the wind, so I do too.   And in all honesty, I don’t think babies prefer chaos anymore than adults do.

 

Dating in Today’s World

My sister has recently taken up online dating.  On Match, to be exact.  She has been divorced for a while now, not caring to date but taking the time to piece herself and her life back together.  The dating profile has been a rolling joke on wine night.  Hey, let’s set one up for you!  Then one night she didn’t roll her eyes and instead said Let’s do it!   So we did.  We poured the wine, we looked for the perfect pictures, we had a sober person check our grammar, and  we charged her card $131 for 6 months and we laughed our asses off.  We even called in the Husband to help as he was the only one around who had prior experience in online dating.  Well, I’m not going to lie, the man used it to get laid back in the day.

So this online dating thing is very new to me and I’m fascinated.  It is a full-time job, like looking for a job.  Within days, my sister was getting messages, winks and I’m not sure what the rest of it is called, but things were happening.

One message caught her attention and it was on from there.  And the world is small my friends because long story, short.  He is a friend of several of my friends and works with my ex-husband.  Messages led to texting, led to a first date, more dates and one night she crashed at his place and then last night the man crashed at our place after we sat up late last night, altogether, chatting and getting to know him.

It is interesting watching this path my sister is traveling.  It is fun for my Husband and I to sit on the couch and hear how things are going or look at profiles online with her. It makes us reminisce about our early days dating.  We mention those little moments that changed us, changed our path in life, made our hearts melt.  Everyone knows what I’m talking about.  The early stuff where everything is roses, holding hands gives you butterflies and every text is from a fairytale.

It is nice to be reminded of those precious little moments that built our relationship foundation.  Not that my Husband doesn’t give me butterflies still but it isn’t like it was in the beginning.  Not every text is flirting because sometimes we have to discuss the baby and her recent poop schedule.

My sister’s date came up from the basement this morning, as I was getting ready for work and the baby glared at him, wondering who this stranger was.  He mentioned how he has done the walk of shame many times before but never with such judgment and from a baby no less!  My sister walked him out and all I could think was how lucky boys are because they can go to work the next day in the same clothes and their friends won’t notice.

I’ve watched a lot of my friend’s have amazing online stories that ended with the fairytale.  My sister is well on the path to the same and you can bet I will never let him live down the fact that my sister basically purchased him for the drunk payment of $131.

This is 6 Months.

Cora-

Most mommy bloggers do this magical thing every month or so.  They write a letter to their little one explaining every precious thing they learned in the past month while exclaiming how they can’t believe how cute they are and how much they are growing while changing their parents lives for the better.  I have sat several times to write these magical posts, so that one day you can look back on them.  Yet, I can’t form all the repetitive and obvious words.

I tried again today but here I am at work, my head nodding as I google “why the hell my baby went from a perfect sleeper to a crazy waker overnight.”  Because you my dear, in the past three nights, have kept me awake every hour.  My Fitbit has said my sleep is shorter than 2 hours every night.

I cuddle you every time you wake, thank God for you, kiss your cheeks, breathe you in and then pray like hell he will let you sleep for just 3 hours tonight.  2 solid hours?  I’ll take anything.  Maybe next week you’ll give sleep a whirl again.

You are forever perfecting your tantrum.  The arched back, the immediate scream, the arms flailing.  You are pissed, I get it. Preview to toddlerhood.   Mental note-more wine.

I’m going to chalk a lot of this new behavior up to possible incoming teeth.  You don’t have anything yet but all signs point to that.  Perhaps they could hurry up and we could get back to a normal state of happy.

Apparently 6 months is the magical number to start trying some food.  Side note, when I was pregnant with you I swore I would make your baby food from scratch.  I pinned recipes and thought it couldn’t be that hard.  Cut to me loading you up on some nice organic, jar food.  I promise you’ll be fine either way.

We have been working on cereal for two months now and you have hated every minute of it.  We thought you would like the food that has some taste to it then! So wrong.  Green beans, carrots, pears and bananas have all been a no go.  As in, I know you still had carrots up your nose one morning last week when I dropped you to daycare.  That orange color will stain everything in a 20 foot radius of your high chair.  Trying to feed you should be an Olympic sport.

But then two nights ago you opened your mouth and ate sweet potatoes.  There was no fit throwing, no look of horror on your face.  You just ate it.  Then demanded I shove the entire jar in your mouth as quick as possible.  And when that was gone, you demanded why you didn’t have more jars to eat so I gave you bananas and you made the horrible face.  I figured it was over but you asked for more until you decided that you were full to the top, thank you.  You followed that all up with a 6 oz bottle.  Girl, we can barely get 4 oz in you at a time.  6oz.  I was waiting for the biggest poop ever last night but that didn’t happen.  Please let it happen at daycare today.

For as much as you fight food, you love your sippy cup.  You’ll stick that in your mouth, kick your feet up on the table and chug that water like mommy chugs her wine some nights.  Whatever lets the rest of us adults eat in peace.

For as much as you have done everything else early, crawling isn’t happening.  Perhaps it is your temper that gets in your way.  You lay on that tummy and kick your legs, flap your arms and wonder why you have no forward momentum.  We pop you up on your hands and knees where you rock back and forth.  Just when we think you may take off you collapse to your tummy.  Honestly, I’m not ready for you to be on the move yet.  I like that you kinda just stay where you are aside from the scooting and rolling.  Once the moving starts, it is all over.  So take your time kiddo.

We took you to your 6 month appointment where they determined at 15lbs 1oz, you are at the 25th percentile for weight and 75th for height.  You once again fought the nurse like hell on your shots and they had to call for backup.

One more thing.  You are amazing.  I love rocking you to sleep at night, once you give in.  I love how you curl into me when I pick you up in the middle of the night.  I love how hard you laugh at your puppy when she follows right behind us.  I love how much you like to be outside, watching the tops of the trees sway back and forth.  I love putting you in the front pack and walking you and your puppy.  You sing at the top of your lungs and laugh as she runs around in front of us.  I love how excited you get for your Sophia the giraffe toy and your Easter bunny rattle.  I love how you like to jump in your activity center and hoot like an owl.  I love how you talk in your crib to your teddy bear but it looks like you are talking into the camera at us.  Actually, that part can be a bit creepy sometimes.

And okay, it is true, I can’t believe how much you have grown and changed in the past month.  I’m just trying to soak up every minute of where we are right now, not where we will be at tomorrow, even in the midst of your classic meltdowns.  You are pretty damn amazing kiddo.  You know, all the obvious words.

We love you.

Mamma