6 months and beyond

I’ve been meaning to write a blog for months. It’s almost like there’s so much on my mind that I can’t put words to it. In the last two months we’ve uprooted our family from our suburban Maryland townhome, spent nearly a month on the road traveling to Wisconsin and Minnesota, and then relocated to Western North Carolina where we’ll put down new roots. We’ve spent the last month or so in temporary housing… really, we slept in our own bed for the first time in those two months last week.

So, as I’ve been meaning to write and just get things down, I’ve also been up for several hours trying to muster up the energy and mental capacity to run. Seems like a good compromise: if my long run isn’t going to happen today (or at least, not yet), then get a blog out while the fam sleeps.

Clara’s six and a half months old. We really put her through the ringer the last two months and it showed. She’s finally settling back into a routine, but it was a rough couple of months there. Where she was such an easy, sleepy, happy, dream of a baby who traveled so well, spending two months – really a third of her life – in temporary living situations and travel, she just got out of sync and I started to pay for it. Her sleep habits are getting back to normal, though last night she threw me for a wrench and was doing aerobics until well past 10pm. She’s back to usually just waking up two-ish times a night.

Around four months, her pediatrician said we’re good to start trying foods. Clara’s been exclusively breastfed, meaning I haven’t tried formula or supplemented anything for her meals. We tried a few foods including rice cereal, avocado, and banana but she wasn’t getting the hang of the whole food/swallow thing. It was few and far between and somewhere along the line I came across an article or two that suggested babies really aren’t meant to have foods introduced until at least six months old. Something about enzymes in their bellies aren’t ready to handle it. At the time she wasn’t getting the hang of eating other than a bottle or boob so I thought what was another couple of weeks to wait until six months?

Now we’re a bit over six months and she’s still not in love with the idea. I know it just takes practice, and since I’m working full time, it’s just been hard to introduce the concept regularly. I know we need to work on it sooner rather than later and become more consistent, as my breastmilk production is definitely depleting since going back to work full time… it’s just a hard ask for Chad who’s manning the daddy-day-care while working from home. It’s probably just easier for him to warm up a bottle and give it to her instead of work with her frustrated little temper.

We’ve tried rice cereal, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas, peas, green beans, and a bite of plums. Rice cereal definitely goes down the best, as we mix it with boob juice, but we really haven’t had much success with anything. I’ve looked into baby led weaning, which is probably more her style, but I’m scared to handle the possibility of choking and I haven’t had a lot of time to sit and really figure out what to do there… I think she’ll do much better if she can feed herself instead of us shoving a spoon in her face. Ah, my darling is already showing her willful personality.

She’s still quite the peanut. Landon was such a chunk by the time he was her current age. He was in 18 mo clothes at six months old! She’s barely just moving out of her three month outfits, and mostly just because of length. At a whopping 15 pounds 1.5 ounces and 25.25 inches long, she’s a bundle of personality, giggles, and wiggles.

She loves her jumpers and her little legs kick so fast and hard! Whether she’s swimming, taking a bath, or just laying on her activity mat, her little legs kick and dance to no end! I often wonder if she’s going to run before she walks or crawls.

One of my favorite things is when I come home after being gone for a while, and she hears my voice or sees me come around the corner – she kicks her legs and flaps her arms in unrelenting excitement! I don’t think my dogs have ever been so excited to see me. I’m sure it’s just because she knows the milk factory is back, ha! But it absolutely fills my heart with more joy than I think I’ve experienced.

Also, her joy for her brother. Landon’s 12 years old and coming into puberty with an infant in the house can’t be easy. Add in there a relocation and that can certainly be a recipe for disaster. But he’s handling everything with such grace so far, I couldn’t be more proud (and yes, I tell him that as much as possible!). To see him help with her, care for her, and her reaction of pure love toward him is incredible. It’s definitely beyond words… She’ll grab his face and try to kiss him, he’ll laugh and tickle her cheeks. He’ll blow bubbles under the water while she’s swimming, and she’ll squeal like a pterodactyl when he plays with her.

In her short little life, she had visited 16 states before 5 months old. She’s been on more road trips and hiked more miles than some members of my family. Born in Maryland, spent nearly a month in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and now being raised in North Carolina, I wonder what’s in store for her. I see her love other kids and able to melt people’s hearts at restaurants, grocery stores, the pool, breweries, and even in the lobby when Landon gets his hair cut. People gravitate toward her little smile and I just laugh and ask her if she’s making friends… I’d love to get her in daycare part time, partially to help Chad and alleviate some of his stress at home while he’s working, but also partially to keep her socialized.

Asheville has different daycare problems than we had in Columbia, Maryland. Columbia, the biggest obstacle was the price. $1800-1900 a month in infant “tuition” is criminal. I know, I know, you can’t put a price on someone who’s caring for your child hours and hours a day, but give me a freaking break. That’s our mortgage payment you assholes. Asheville just doesn’t have enough infant care, period. I haven’t found a place that doesn’t have a waitlist. It’s been an expanding and growing community – probably exponentially – the last 5 years or so, but that market hasn’t kept up with the growth. The prices are much more affordable, at least comparatively to what we were expecting to pay in Maryland. Most places are closer to $190-$250 a week for an infant instead of the freaking $490 that we found in Columbia. But there just isn’t availability, so I guess we’ll keep looking and keep trying.

Overall, Clara’s a great baby. I haven’t figured out how to sleep train her, I haven’t figured out how to feed her foods regularly, I haven’t figured out daycare or alternative care options, but I’m just so grateful I have the opportunity to be a mother to her and Landon. I’m trying not to screw it up, even when that’s all it feels like most days of the week. Momming is hard, you guys. Parenting is hard. Everything in between feels so hard, too. It’s a constant battle of pure joy and debilitating stress. Like you need life support and you’re on cloud nine at the same time.

I’m writing this with a little wiggling body to my right, laying on couch cushion alternating between happy baby pose and kicking her little legs like she’s ready to run. My not so little man is on the other end of the couch watching some glass blowing show on Netflix as we all start to wake up for the day. Part of me is enjoying these fleeting moments, part of me is wallowing in the anxiety of how to fit in my long run while Chad’s gone this weekend, more anxiety of a still unpacked and mostly trashed apartment… a to do list that’s weighing me down and then some. But I’m checking one thing off my list… I wanted to write.

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