My last Clara update around 6 months left off right after trying to settle into our new residence location in Western North Carolina, just outside the Asheville area. She was just settling into a routine after a few months of on-the-go lifestyle. In retrospect, she probably had a bit of sleep regression happening but I just chalked it up to us putting her tiny little self through the ringer.
The last 2 months have been so amazing with her. She’s absolutely in love with Landon and they have the most precious bond. He’s quick to help (unless it’s changing a diaper), entertain, and feed her. He loves making her laugh and giggle and she just flaps her little arms like a tiny excited bird.
She started sitting in highchairs when we go out to eat, and sitting in the cart at the grocery store or Target. This makes life so much easier as the carseat just doesn’t travel well in those respects. She’s been practicing eating real food but really didn’t start to “get it” until the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure if she’s just a late-to-food bloomer or if she’s just content with bottles and boobs.
Speaking of boobs, the battle of breastfeeding is slowing down. I have been struggling with supply issues since starting work full-time…nursing and pumping just aren’t the same and my body responded to pumping so much in a “negative” way. We made it to the 7-month mark with exclusively breastmilk and I’m so proud of that. I fought so hard to make that and wanted to badly to exclusively breastfeed to a year, but it just wasn’t going to happen.
Shortly after her 7-month “birthday” I caved and introduced formula. I wanted to be the one to do it, and be there when she tried it. I don’t know why. It sounds silly, but I think because I had been nursing her for so long and I was so attached to it, I wanted to feel like I was still feeding her – proverbially and literally. She took it like a champ, without any issues. I’m sure my husband is ecstatic about having the ease of formula to make a bottle and feed her throughout the day, since he’s home with her all day. He never complained, but I know it’s not easy to wait to heat up a bottle of pumped milk when she gets hangry and wants food NOW. He always supported me, and still does, but I’m sure there’s a bit of relief in the ease he has now.
I still pump and nurse when I can. It’s usually 2-3 times a day and I’ll continue as much as I can for the next few months until I’m ready to let that go. In retrospect, it’s just such a short period of time and I truly love nursing. I don’t love pumping, but I can make due for now and the accommodations at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co for our lactation room is really pleasant, so it’s a nice break to the day.
As for real foods, she’s all about the sweet potato and butternut squash. She really enjoys peas as well. She hasn’t been super thrilled with bananas, but seems to tolerate green beans and carrots as well. I’ve been able to make a few batches of her baby food with a Baby Bullet we received as a shower present. I love having access to some really great farmer’s markets out here to blend up farm fresh veggies and fruits to feed her. She does this adorable little dance when we feed her and it makes my whole heart happy!
She doesn’t crawl, but she stays really active throughout the day! I think she may walk or run before she ever figures out how to crawl. She just despises tummy time! When I’m at work, Chad keeps her busy moving her around little stations in the nursery. He currently has that set up as a nursery/office combo to help his productivity. We’re looking at and have interviewed a handful of people who responded to a CARE.COM ad we put up looking for part-time help. Chad’s doing an incredible job managing, but it’s hard to be committed to work and productivity, or committed to your child – so perhaps it feels like “managing” is just about as good as it gets for now. Having some help will be a great thing for both Clara and him.
Since Chad gets every other Friday off, he’s designated those days for daddy-daughter nature time. He takes time to plan a destination, researches routes, packs her up and takes her on a mini-adventure. I love it because they usually stop by the brewery on their way home from the adventure and I get to take my lunch with them. She’s definitely getting good at hiking in the Kelty carrier and it means a lot to me to see that getting such good use, as I bought that for Landon when he was a baby and took him on my own little adventures!
Our amazing friends, Lindsay and Kellie came up from Florida again, this time trying to beat a hurricane. Of course we had a nice outing and benefitted from their incredible talent and love of taking photos. This time, we planned a small hike out to High Falls in DuPont Forest. We left early enough that we basically had the falls to ourselves! It was a beautiful day and it’s so special to me that our friends are not only able to come visit and spend time with our fmailies, but that they are kind enough to “document” the adventures and share that with us.
We also tried to take her kayaking! Oh boy… well, it worked – we kayaked with her. Unfortunately it was like 90 degrees and no shade or cloud cover so you can imagine it was probably pretty warm being all bundled up in her life jacket on the lake. Needless to say, she wasn’t really having it and we cut it short. But Lake Lure was gorgeous and we hit up a little produce stand on the way back for some fresh apples for the family!
Finally, I bit the bullet and we started sleep training her. I think it’s one of those things you have to be mentally prepared for and can only do if and when you’re ready to. We just had a couple of nights of really bad sleep, fighting us to go to bed, waking up all night long, and in the middle of one of these bouts, I told Chad (out of curiosity) “google 8-month sleep regression.” Sure enough, there it is… most babies go through a growth and stimulation spurt around 8-months that just equates to a regression. How do you make it through? Avoid falling into old comfort habits such as rocking or nursing her (he reads me this literally as I’m rocking and nursing her – *face palm*).
The next night I pulled the trigger. I established her sleep routine, said I love you about a million times, told her it’s time for bed, laid her down, kissed her goodnight, and walked away. She cried from 9:37pm until 10:22pm. I initally told myself that I wouldn’t let it go past 10pm, but when 10 came around I could tell she was just making noise, she really wasn’t crying. So I stayed in the fetal position outside her bedroom door until she was out and SHE. SLEPT. ALL. FREAKING. NIGHT. #allthepraisehandemojis
The following night, I went through the sleep routine I was establishing, said I love you, cuddled and rocked her, told her it’s time for bed and set her down. She “cried” for 3 minutes. I hesitate to call it a cry, because she just made noise and then played with her nuk for 10 minutes before just passing out on her own. *MIND BLOWN*
We’ve kept this pattern up and it’s going really well! Most nights she sleeps all the way through, sometimes she wakes and makes noises, but figures out how to put herself back to sleep. It’s been such a dream I really can’t believe it. I know sleep training isn’t for every family, and I definitely had to wait until it was the right time for us, but I’m so glad we committed to it! The next step is having Chad do the routine so it’s not me putting her down. This will be important since I’ll be traveling away from her in a few weeks for the Chicago Marathon.
All in all, Clara continues to be just such a light in our lives. She’s a funny, vocal, excited baby. She has a fun chatter, sings and dances, and loves joining me for runs with the stroller (most of the time). She’s clocking in at about 16.2 pounds, still fits into her 6m clothes (although she’s getting pretty long for them!), and rocking the size 2 diaper. I’m extremely nervous to be “done” nursing, and so terrified to leave her for my marathon trip coming up, but it’s just another step and box we’ll have to check eventually. I remember the same anxieties with Landon when he was little; moreso the traveling away from my baby, I don’t remember being disappointed to stop nursing… that might have just happened naturally when the time felt right. As much as I love my job every single day, there’s always a piece of me that yearns to be able to be with my family during the day. I don’t think most moms ever figure out that “work-life-mom” balance, we just keep making it happen.
So here I am, just making it happen… and trying to stay as grateful for each moment as possible.