June 7th marked Paavo’s 6 month mark and I’ve been thinking back to my first realizations of motherhood during the first few weeks of his life, and reflecting on what I now think about this whole motherhood thing. In short, it’s still really hard, I still haven’t slept much, and I likely worry more than I should. But most of all, I love Paavo more and more each day and love seeing him grow and change right before my eyes. The longer version of my thoughts is below in my 6 thoughts at 6 months.
I can’t imagine (a better) life without Paavo – When Paavo was a few months old, someone asked me, “Isn’t it crazy how you just can’t imagine life without him?” I hesitated before answering, “Yes!” I knew what they were getting at, but I didn’t entirely agree that I thought the same way. The thing is, I can imagine life without Paavo because I had a life without him for 34 years. It’s not hard for me to look back at the life Matt and I lived before this little man arrived and shook up our world. But when I gave it more thought, I realized that it’s not that I can’t imagine life without him, but that I can’t imagine a better life without him. He brings me so much joy when I see him smiling up at me from his crib after each nap, or when he does his wiggle dance as I change his diaper (soon to become a wrestling match once he can really move), or when he buries his face in my chest and snuggles after a 3am feeding. My heart swells and my eyes tear up when I think about him and think to myself, “Life really is better with him in my life.”
- I have officially given up on sleep – Speaking of those 3am feedings, I’m finally going to wave the white flag and say that I have given up on sleep indefinitely. Paavo still gets up about 3-5 times a night, oftentimes to eat or just because he woke up and needs help getting back to sleep (which is a little odd since he can now put himself to sleep for naps and bedtime). I used to think that once he reached certain milestones, such as age and/or weight, that I’d get a baby that slept more than a few hours at a time. Nope. Not yet. I still carry hope that someday he’ll sleep through the night, but I’ve given up on it being soon. There are still so many factors going on in that adorable little baby body, like teething, starting solids, adjusting to traveling, and all the other random things that can happen, that I’ve stopped hoping for that magical 10-12 hour slumber and functioned just fine on a few 3 hour patches of sleep.
- Breastfeeding is all-encompassing – Speaking of those 3am feedings, I’m still breastfeeding, and damn, this is a lot of work. We’ve never done a bottle, so every.single.feeding has been on me. I’m exhausted and yet I’m lucky it was so easy to breastfeed Paavo. I hope to breastfeed through Paavo’s first year of life and now that I’m halfway through, I’m also waving the white flag to show that I surrender to admitting just how hard breastfeeding is. It’s all encompassing in that it affects nearly every facet of my life. It dictates my schedule, which is still feeding Paavo about every 3-4 hours, it dictates my running, as I can’t run without having fed him first so I can run with empty boobs and I can’t be in a sports bra much more than a couple hours, if that, because the compression increases my milk supply and I end up leaking all the time (too much information?). Breastfeeding also deems all my clothing options. I wear a type of bra or tank top every day that allows better boob access and I pine for the day to just wear a regular bra (or a dress, squeal!) and not think about how I’ll be able to easily feed Paavo throughout the day and in public. Thankfully we recently introduced solids, and that has been a small blessing now that Matt can feed Paavo if I’m not home (aka I’m out running). I also feel like I’m always worrying about something with breastfeeding, from nipple chaffage, to milk supply, to leakage…the list keeps on going. Heck, now that we’ve introduced solids I’m afraid my normally overactive milk supply will now diminish. I’m sure once I stop breastfeeding some other worry or preoccupation with take its place, but for now, I’m admitting that it is hard, full-time work.
I want my body back…but not that badly – I’ve read that pregnancy weight is 9 months up, 9 months down. While I’m close to being back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and am looking forward to being there, I still have several pounds to go, and I’m just fine with that. I’m not doing anything crazy like dieting or lots of exercise to get back to that weight, knowing it will happen over time. I’m just happy to be back to running and walking again, as that will certainly help with weight loss. When it comes to breastfeeding, I’m also ready to be done with it because I want my body back to myself. My body hasn’t felt like my own since pregnancy. I was a host to Paavo’s growing body and have been his sole source of nutrition the last 6 months, so I’m happy (and really quite amazed from a human development aspect) that I can provide so much for Paavo. But I also want my own personal space back at some point, I want to stop leaking milk through my tops, I want to be able to run more than a couple hours without my boobs being so full of milk that they hurt, and I want to lose the rest of this baby weight. Having said all that, I still enjoy dessert every night and that won’t stop unless the scale starts going the other way.
I’m not aiming for 100% – A few months into this motherhood life I read another woman’s blog post about what she learned after her baby’s first year, and the one thing that stuck with me was that she wasn’t aiming to score a 100% on the mom score. I know, I know, no woman is aiming to be the perfect mom, but I imagine a lot of us try to do everything we can for our kids. After reading that woman’s post, I reassessed what was important to focus my time and energy on, what battles I was going to fight. Then I decided we weren’t going to do cloth diapers on our travels, and I felt a huge weight lifted after we made that decision. Cloth diapers are a lot of work no matter what (at least they were from my perspective), and I didn’t want that work to be even more compounded with travel. I’m certainly aiming for a high passing rate at parenthood but I don’t need straight A’s to feel like I’m doing a good job.
Pros and Cons, phase after phase…this too shall pass – It feels like we enter one phase and leave another and with each phase comes pros and cons. Congrats, we started solids! Here’s an uncomfortable baby and a disgusting diaper! Solids mean that I’m no longer the only source of food, that Matt can feed Paavo, and I have a little more freedom. Yet the diapers are nasty and Paavo has been a little extra fussy, likely due to tummy discomfort because of the new things we are introducing to his system. Teething has also been an issue lately, though I have a feeling that is a loooong phase to get through. With each new milestone in Paavo’s age and abilities, I’m trying to remind myself that there will always be pros and cons, and that I should savor the pros, as there’s no telling how long those will last, and that there’s always the next stage to look forward to.
Anyone else have the same thoughts? Different thoughts? Any good lessons learned (or tips on sleeping through the night? I’ll always have hope). Thanks for sharing in our adventures with Paavo.