Raising a fussy eater

The one day she eats like a champion, eats everything I give her and even lets me feed her. The next day, she hates everything on earth (even though I spent hours in the kitchen making something special for her), spits everything out and throws the rest on the floor and its all met with a very mischievous smile.

The Reality

I read so many articles about “the ideal 15 month old” and these usually include some fantasy universe that I have never heard of – “three balanced meals a day, no more milk and 2 snacks” ; what !? I have days where she eats 3 cubes of cheese and has 4 bottles 🙈 and trust me, its not from a lack of trying or for me not caring, its after I have tried to get her to have 4 different meals with pasta cooked 3 ways and every little trick you can think of. It’s exhausting to the point where once she does eat those three cheese cubes it feels like I just won the lottery haha.

I have tried everything under the sun to get her to eat, one week everything goes great, the next she spits out everything I give to her, but make no mistake, she demands a piece of whatever I am eating, just to spit it out on the carpet and step on it, some days it takes real stenght to take a deep breath and try again. But in the end I do, and we just try again, its a learning curve to be honest, and every littel thing that does not go according to plan makes you very anxious as a new mother, hopefully I will be much more relaxed with the second one.

It gets worse

So I have been ranting on about how she does not want to eat anything, but what I did not tell you is that she is also going through “nap regression”; she is tryiing to drop one nap a day, which means she is transitioning to only one nap a day (keeping a toddler busy for most of the day is an adjustment for both of us haha). The problem with this is that she still falls asleep with her bottle, so at about 10 in the morning she is tired, cranky and yawning, so she is tired right? WRONG! haha, she lies in her bed with her bottle, has it, then throws it out the cot and yells till I go fetch her (this continues for about 2 hours before she actually goes to bed in the end), after which she has had about 3 bottles already (granted, only 90 ml each, but still). This leads to her skipping lunch because she is full, and we are nowhere closer to getting her off the formula.

Success

I have however found a follow up milk for after formula, we have been on it for a day and it is going great, her appetite seems to be a bit better as it does not make her as full as her formula does and then she is more willing to try new foods and to let me feed her what she cant eat herself, its early days so fingers crossed.

One thing I have realized since becoming a parent is that the whole thing is a learning curve, you learn as you go haha, each child is so different and they all have their own ideas about how they want things to go , and as much as we would like to say that our kids do not rule our worlds, lets face it , they just do.

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Dad Instincts

The other day my husband and I were having a tiff over whether our baby girl is in fact teething or just being fussy for no reason; I believed that she is teething, and my husband believed that she is just having an off day and that I don’t need to always assume the worst. Needless to say; this turned into a huge argument, I explained to him that I have “motherly instinct” and that he needs to learn to trust that, he replied by telling me; he also has instincts as a dad – which brings us here.

I have since come to realize that I have this ugly side to me, one that feels I need to be the superior parent, that I somehow need to be the one my baby needs, and that only I can console her when she is upset or not feeling well. The fact of the matter is; that although this is mostly true, it is not true every time.

There has countless times where my baby is upset and I can’t console her, her dad takes her, and she calms down, there could be a million reasons for this; she feeds of off me , so that day I might be a bit more emotional, upset or stressed out, and she feels this too, it affects her world just as much as it does mine, if not more. Her dad on the other hand; takes things in stride, he is generally more laid back, relaxed and rarely gets stressed out (we balance each other out quite well).

At first, this made me feel quite irrelevant, it hurt my feelings that my baby girl was not comforted by me, and that she needed her father instead.

As a new mom, I constantly put pressure on myself to do things “right”, I was adamant that I will be the best mother and I would research anything before making a decision about my baby girl’s development and wellbeing, whether it be her feeding, her sleeping, her play time, her stimulation – EVERYTHING.

This was starting to drive me insane, I was always tired, no matter how much sleep I got at night, I was constantly stressing about her at night for no real reason, constantly doubting my own abilities as a mom. It was taking all the enjoyment out of being a mom in the first place, it made me miss the little moments that I was supposed to be enjoying with my family.

Overcoming my insecurities

Studies have found that a woman only matures at the age of 25 – mostly emotionally, according to this; you only really know what you want to do in life and can face the challenges life throws at you with maturity and a clear head. Well, I don’t know about you, but I am 27 and still don’t feel sure about myself and my future most of the time, and some days I really don’t feel all that mature either.

Overcoming this silly little insecurity took quite some time, I had to really work hard at it, and change my perception of the situation, my husband being so involved is a GOOD thing, him wanting to help and give opinions when she cried or was being cranky; was him being a good father and a good husband, it did not mean that he thought he knew better than me or that he is questioning my abilities as a mother. He simply wants to play a big role in her upbringing, and although he respects my opinion and realizes that I am the one that looks after her the whole day, sometimes, a fresh new opinion or suggestion from the outside is just what a situation calls for.

Looking after your child during the day, every day, can become intense (especially those days that they refuse to sleep and just basically refuse to do anything you want them to), you tend to get into your head too much and it becomes very difficult to take a break and gather your thoughts, or just to even have a cup of tea and plan your day.

Your frustrated, tired, and then dad walks in and says – “maybe you should try and put her in her pram instead” – Immediately you are enraged at the thought, because you have been trying to get her to sleep the whole day, and yet you did not think of that (you can’t tell him that though because you feel stupid for not doing it in the first place)

The Change

I realized that my husband (just like me) also finds joy in parenting, and the fact that our baby girl is comforted by him, yes, he might not have the same bond with her as I do, and yes, he is not always right about what is wrong with her, but neither am I for that matter. Making him feel like he is wrong all the time, also hurts his feelings, so now; even if I know she does not have a fever; if he suggests it, I take her temperature just to be sure, and this level of respect has changed our marriage for the better, he also now feels like I value his opinion and I don’t just brush it off.

This had a ripple effect, he is now more confident in looking after her if I am not there, because he is more confident in his fathering skills and his “fatherly instincts” so to speak, he does not feel the need to call me every ten minutes when she cries, he now knows what to do with her.

We as mothers are quick to dismiss things like “fatherly instincts” because we don’t believe that it could really be a thing, although I don’t think it is more important than “motherly instincts”; fathers all over the world are moving away from the historic “mother does all” way of life and becoming more and more involved in parenting.

I have even seen my husband googling “sleep regression” and “teething symptoms” a few times.

Now that I look at things a little differently; these things warm my heart, and I am so lucky to have a husband that is such a good father to our precious baby girl, and he deserves all the credit in the world for his “fatherly instincts”.

The little things you do for your children matter!

That little kiss on the forehead before bed, those little cuddles on the couch; it might seem like little things, but they make all the difference to your baby.

We hear it a lot – You can make mistakes with them now because thank goodness they don’t remember their infant days, although this might be true regarding mistakes you have made, they most certainly do remember how they were treated by their parents and people around them.

Love & Attention

They may not be able to recall a specific incident, but their first days on earth lay the foundation for the future, how they will react to certain situations, how they will treat other people, their relationships, confidence etc. When you bring a new baby home, you don’t focus on these things, all you focus on is getting through the next day, and the next milestone, but we forget the in-between is just as important for the big picture.

Taking a few moments each day just to appreciate your baby and to spend time with him/her makes the biggest difference; giving little neck kisses or little tickles and hearing your baby giggle; is the most rewarding thing about being a mother, it brings you so much joy!

Childhood

I for one did not have the best childhood, I know my parents did their best with what life threw at them, and I am grateful, but being a mother now I look at things a little differently, I realize little issues I have and why (true I have a psychology background so I can pinpoint these easier than most, but every person can look back on their childhood and realize where what went wrong).

I am adamant that we go through all these experiences to make it right, or at the very least gain some perspective as to what our parents went through, and have more sympathy towards the issues they had to face when we were children, at the time, we did not realize how big these situations were, but now as parents, we can relate to them more, and sympathize more. I might get some blow back on this one, but to me; being a parent entails protecting your child (for as long as possible) from the ugliness of the world, the sad the bad and the traumatic (as best we can).

Feelings Come Second

When you are pregnant, you are excited, you think of the little toes and fingers and you can’t wait to meet your new little human, and all will be right in the world. The fact of the matter is, although this is very true, you will need to make countless sacrifices for your child (or ought to make for them), whatever you are going through in life, these emotions and feelings need to be buried deep inside so that your children are not affected by this; this is extremely hard in some cases, locking your feelings away for later takes so much strength and I don’t think we get enough credit for doing this, people just expect it of a mothers, it’s a given, therefore you are not allowed to say that it is hard to put yourself second sometimes.

Well it is, but at the same time, it is a privilege to be able to protect your child from all the hardships in life while they are little, making sacrifices for your child is what makes them into amazing adults, it ensure that your child stays a child while they should and do not get burdened with “adult problems” before they have to, life is short, their time will come way too soon to be an adult and they will have plenty of their own dilemmas to deal with. Don’t make this start earlier than it needs to for them.

Life Changes

Making a decision to move somewhere for a better school district or a bigger house, a safer neighborhood, we all do it for our children, it is a huge change, change is scary and uncertain, yet we do it for our children because you want them to have the best possible chance to do anything they want with their lives.

These decisions are not made lightly and cause so many disagreements between husband and wife, the reality of it is that we make daily decisions to ensure that our children are happy and safe and some of them are despite of ourselves and our goals in life but will make all the difference to your child in the future.

The Future

Although your children will not always know about the sacrifices you made as parents for them, they will most certainly reap the rewards, time spent with them, and as a family will forever be apart of who they are, and how they will treat their own families, sacrifices made for a better future for them will show in how they take on life, and what they choose to do with challenges and how they handle change. Setting an example for your children in all these areas may seem like little things, but they are the things that will make them into amazing adults you can be proud of.

Well done for putting your child first, for creating a better future for them and giving them your best selves.

It is hard someday, but you are rocking it!

Here’s to raising amazing little humans.

The Bond Between Mother and Baby After C-Section

Everywhere these days you see people favouring natural birth, the benefits for both you and baby are endless; recovery, your babies’ strength and the thing we hear mostly is that the bond between you and your child is so much stronger because you both went through this process together.

The problem with this is that life does not always work out the way you expect it to, life happens!

And it is statements like above that make women feel like less of a mother because they had to have an emergency c-section or opted to have one instead of natural birth, women are bullied and shamed for making this choice instead of going the natural way (it is the same with the whole debate about breastfeeding vs formula feeding).

The fact of the matter is that having a c section does not lessen the special bond between you and your baby, I had a c-section, and from the moment she was born there was nothing but love, I still had my skin to skin, I still breastfed for about 8 weeks, she still cried for her mommy and she was still comforted by me. In no way did I ever feel as if my bond between my child and I was not as strong as I hoped it would be, in fact; it surpassed everything I thought it would be, the love I have for her is indescribable and in no way did the way she was brought into this world, affect that love.

I admire women who gave natural birth, to me, having had a c-section; I can’t imagine how incredible that whole process must be, and how amazing and proud you must feel afterwards for having done it and bringing a healthy baby into the world.

But for me, in that moment they cut me open, nothing else in the universe mattered but my baby being healthy and okay, how it happened did not matter to me, how far along I was at the time didn’t matter, how many toes she had did not matter, if I was going to breastfeed did not matter, how much she weighed did not matter, all that mattered was hearing that  first little scream and knowing she is okay, in that moment; I couldn’t care less about myself, when I heard that first cry, the biggest sense of relief washed over me – my baby was okay and now I can breathe.

I have read so many stories about women who are distraught and so disappointed because they ended up having an emergency c-section, and they really wanted to give natural birth, and this breaks my heart, it happens so often where society places so much pressure on moms to do things a certain way, what they think is best for you and your baby, and then when a woman can’t do it that way, due to whatever reason, we immediately feel like we failed as mothers.

I am here to tell you that it is okay, you did your best, and your baby is here, that is all that matters, what they eat or how they came into this world will not matter to them when they grow up, what type of parent you are will! Whether you were there for their first heartbreak, and how you treat them when they make a mistake, whether you spent time with them growing up; these are the things that will matter to them as adults and what they will pass on one day to their own families and relationships.

We must stop focusing so much on these small things and focus on raising humble and kind little humans that we can be proud of, and be parents they can be proud of, in the end these are the only things your children will remember about you when you are gone, not whether you gave natural birth, or had a c-section or breastfed or formula fed.

Be proud to be a mom, embrace it, and be the best you can be every day, and I promise you, it will be enough.

Angelique

Days where everything just seems to go wrong

I should rewrite this headline to “weeks where everything seems to go wrong”!

My week in a nutshell

I know I am not alone on this, this week has been the most intense in so many ways and its only Wednesday; we started of with having to make a unplanned trip to Johannesburg (which is 5 hours way by the way) in order to do bio-metrics for our trip to Australia soon, get there, only to hear that they only have an appointment for my husband and not our baby girl, long story short, we sorted it out after much effort!

We then had to stay over because the trip is just to far for our baby, and did another 500 km’s the next morning, got home to find out our water cooler had leaked in Paige’s room and the carpet was damaged, settled and then we heard that my horse’s foal had sadly passed away – this the day before her new owner was supposed to come and fetch the two of them.

All this in a matter of three very long days, and a baby in-between who is out of routine and teething!

One thing I have noticed is that when I am upset, she is upset, how crazy is that? Today I busted into tears while changing her nappy, and she immediately started crying too, I felt so bad that I stopped and so did she, we forget sometimes that our babies’ sense what we are feeling, or if we are stressed or having a bad day, they feed of us when they are this small.

I am exhausted to say the least, you know when one night’s good sleep does not even make you feel better? That is where I am at that point, so I thought I would write about it as this always help to work through issues and just to feel better, you know, put it all out there. Life just sometimes throws these weeks at us just to make sure we still got it – ha ha

Bouncing Back

Apparently, I do, it is amazing how resilient we all are, somehow the sun always manages to come up the next morning and you look at life with a little more positivism.

I always say that it is fine to have a breakdown or to feel down, own it, you are human, and you can’t always be strong, keeping emotions bottled up is so unhealthy for the mind and the soul. The most important thing is to always get up afterwards, brush yourself off and stare life dead in the eye, and smile!

I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many family and friends that are always willing to lend a hand (or an ear) in difficult situations.

My baby girl must know that her mama needs a break today because she is sleeping so well, and giving her mom a well-deserved break to write 😊

Angelique

 

What NOT To Do With Your Baby

So, although I cannot give you advice on exactly what to do, because I am still figuring things out myself, I can however tell you what NOT to do!

Your Home Life

Nothing in this world can prepare you for being a parent, I don’t care what anyone says, helping a sibling or a family member with their baby will maybe make you used to the idea of a baby and give you some helpful tips even, but in no way will it give you a taste of what it feels like when that little bundle is yours.

No book in the world will explain to you how YOUR baby is feeling and why, yes, it has been put together by experts, but it is the general rule, and not always specific to your baby, I have read so many things and then I think “what? Why is my baby not doing this?” – This is the biggest downfall for new parents, books tell you when what milestone should be reached and how much your baby should be eating, and most of the times this is right, but sometimes it just is not, and this immediately sends us into a state of panic.
Listening to how other people raise their children is also a “no no” , how people raise their children reflects their personalities, their home life and their values, therefore, doing what you see from other people will most probably not work for you, because, well, you are different, you are an individual and your personality and values might not be the same.

And Finally, the most important one; do not, I repeat, do not compare yourself to other moms, this will most certainly drive you insane, and it most certainly has for me, the problem when looking at other moms is you see what they call the “highlight real”, you come over for dinner, and the whole family is on their best behavior, because let’s face it, that’s what we all do. What you don’t see, is that they also fight over who must do the dishes, the mom also locks herself in a closet to cry (a bit extreme but it happens) and the dad is not always the perfect husband you see at dinner.

Some people are just more open about their struggles, to me, these are the best kind of people, they make you feel like you are not alone, like you are not as crazy as you though, and not always overreacting as per your husband’s opinion.
Find these people and stick to them like glue, they are the mom friends that you want by your side on days that you feel you cannot cope, or you just had enough.

Google is the Enemy

Wow, where do we even start on this one?

If you haven’t yet googled “How to get my baby to sleep” stop reading because this post is not for you; the results on this is so confusing and contradicting that it would leave even the most confident mom second guessing herself.

Sleep deprivation is torture, it affects every aspect of your life, it’s just intense!
Google is helpful in the sense that you can find information online at any time of the day or night, there are thousands of “how to” videos, and I myself have watched a few videos on swaddling and latching that were quite helpful.

But overall, you see information and tips that just do not work for your baby, and then you are left overwhelmed once again, with no way out.

Motherly instinct is the best go to you can get, become confident mom! And trust your gut, 9 out of 10 times it is right, the other time your baby was most likely just not feeling well or just having an off day – which happens, if you think about it, your baby is also an individual, and just like we have off days, they do too, they just can tell you how they are feeling.

Most days you end up just winging it!

Fed is Best

This is such a sensitive topic, and I am almost scared to write about it, but here goes!
I personally tried to breastfeed, and did for 7 weeks, unfortunately due to circumstances, my supply dried up after trying everything under the sun, there could be a million reasons for why what when and where, but that’s just what happened, and I ended up giving my little girl formula.

This was so intense for me, as it felt like I failed her and that I am not doing what is best for my baby, but at the end of the day, do what is best for you, there are so many moms out there that will tell you that you are a bad mother for choosing to formula feed.
Don’t you dare listen to them, we place enough pressure on ourselves to be perfect mothers, we do not need added stress to any situation, it is your life, and you do what is best and what suits you guys better. You are still a good mother!

We need to stop mom shaming each other, what I don’t understand is that these women are also moms, they were even once first-time moms, and know how hard is to adjust and to get into a routine that suits your family and your lifestyle, adding to this is not only mean, but unnecessary.

To the moms out there that are struggling with all these things, hang in there, keep doing what you are doing, and it will all get easier soon.

This too shall pass.

Angelique

Why having a baby is such hard work

I know we hear it a lot from moms out there – “babies are hard work” !

Well they were right ! 🙈 Being a first time mom you don’t really realize how much of your time a child would take , and its not just the attention (which to me is the best part) but your other chores.

My whole day revolves around getting my baby to nap and eat at the right time ! Routine in this matter sucks ha ha it leaves no room for spontaneity or unplanned events .

In between these naps (which are sometimes only half an hour) I need to get to work (luckily we live on the same property as our lodge) and wash and make myself presentable and cook breakfast and dinner and make food for my baby and wash and sterilize bottles and and and and … there just never seem to be enough hours in the day to get to Everything!

That whole thing about “sleep when the baby sleeps” only works when you have a newborn, this type of sympathy disappears very quickly as your baby gets older and you become less emotional (admit it, we were all a wreck those first few days at home).

At the end of the day , you just got to keep on keeping on, there is no down time, nor do you get to quit because you do not feel well or you are having a bad day, motherhood builds character like no other situation in life, you learn selflessness in its purest form, and a type of love that no words can describe.

What an honor to be called mama !

Angelique