Friday, January 11, 2013

Six Months

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Bennett turned six months Saturday. Six months! This means he started solid foods. I don’t love this part of child rearing. It’s just… so… messy. More to clean, more to pack, more to buy, more to keep fresh, more to think about, more to prepare, more to do three times a day. Anyone else daydream of the time we would have and the things we could do if we didn’t have to worry about food or eating ever? Or sleep? No, just me? Harley and I put off solids as long as we can because we dread the work. And this time around, it was about more than just work. It was about Bennett being fed by another person.

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A person who may or may not wear a headlight while feeding him.

My baby is growing up, and this baby has been different.

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Bennett refuses to take a bottle. This has been a problem. I’ve had to cancel commitments, turn down invitations and excuse myself to find a private space. He’s had to accompany me places he wasn’t supposed to, like Breaking Dawn: Part 2, Anderson’s school field trip, a Girls’ Getaway Weekend in Williamsburg, VA and most problematic, our anniversary date. Actually, we narrowly got away with that last one thanks to one patron saint, Rachel, who was nothing short of amazing when she took on a completely high maintenance and somewhat ridiculous babysitting/chauffer gig.

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Rachel took Bennett on her double date…

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So we could be alone on our anniversary date. Jekyll & Hyde at the Kennedy Center, November 2012.  It was all Rachel’s idea. She’s amazing!

We’ve tried to get Bennett on the bottle. We tried, he tried. He cried, we cried. This mama’s heart is all about sleeping training and cry it out at 4 AM but mid-evening, when he’s just so hungry and frustrated, and I’ve got two other kids to deal with and two boobs right there… well, I could only take so much of the bottle battle. So I gave in and met his needs easily, quickly and wholly and he was so sweet and so grateful every time. We probably should have tried harder. I know he’d figure it out eventually if he had to. But the thing is, he doesn’t have to. I’m here, I’m mostly very available and it’s just so much easier to nurse him than watch, or listen to, that bottle battle. So we’ve been exclusively dependent on breastfeeding for six months.  Six whole, long months.

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Anderson’s Field Trip to Homestead Farm with Bennett attached. October 2012.

To be fair to Bennett, I have to say: he is the easiest, best-natured baby ever. The bottle is Bennett’s one baby flaw. (Aaaand that he won’t take a pacifier either – which stunned this paci-addict family.)  As long as he’s fed his way, he is happy, low maintenance and quiet. He sleeps on the go, is easily entertained, happily puts up with a load of brother smother and rarely fusses. Most of the times I schlepped him places, he was fantastically cooperative and good. Not much skin off anyone’s back. Angel, dream baby. I’ve got it good.

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Family pictures. November 2012.

But that didn’t stop me from complaining. Bottles were never a problem with Anderson and Max. I breastfed them for 12 months and 11 months respectively, so they were dependent on me and were mostly with me for their first years. However, I pumped and they took bottles like champs, so leaving them for extended periods of time, like say for entire days for a wedding or even two and a half days straight for a freelancing trip, was doable. With Bennett, not so much. He has been 100% dependent on me for food. Totally reliant on me to live. Completely counted on me to grow. And my, has my tiny baby grown.

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My smallest newborn (8 lb) has grown into my fattest 6 month old (19 lb).

I grew this. All of this. All heavy 19 pounds. All solidly packed 27.5 inches.

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He weighs the same as his brothers at six months, but a 1/2 inch (Anderson) to an inch (Max) shorter.  75th percentile for both height and weight. I’m cleansin’.

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January 2013. A kiss for good luck just before weigh in at the pediatrician’s office. After we got the numbers, Max and I praised him, “Way to grow Bennett! Way to GROW!”

A moment please, as we collage honor The Grand Master Chubb.

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This is Bennett’s theme song. We sing it to him while we nibble on his thunder thighs, Michelin man arms, tire tummy, rolly ankles and wrists…

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…and his big bum. Oh his delicious, big bum!

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My baby’s bum on my blog. Oh my.

I’ve taken my Chunky Monkey everywhere for six months. He is always right by my side, in my arms or in that crazy heavy carrier. There he is, taking up 90% of the shopping cart, claiming an entire captain’s chair in the back seat of the car or awaiting my push in the stroller. There he is, on my lap in the movie theater and restaurant. There he is, being rocked to sleep with the old foot-push-on-the-car-seat trick at my meetings and doctor appointments.  Friends and family have supportively put up with him during three trips and countless girls’ nights. My people were nice about it, but of course it would have been easier to not have him there.

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Me and my sidekick on a Girls’ Getaway Weekend in Williamburg, VA. November 2012.

This has been a taxing sacrifice and even led to a Mommy Meltdown earlier last month. It’s important to have alone time when you are only focused on yourself or your errand and not a little person. It is good to feel freedom to escape without a 3-hour clock ticking down the minutes until you must return. Three hours. That’s the longest stretch I’ve had all to myself in six months. The times I chanced stepping away I was either on a short leash with a small time frame or I got a phone call from Harley – who is awesomely hands on and tried more than anyone to break this kid and let me get away -- when my cart was half full or my meeting just beginning. “He’s crying. I got this, you don’t have to rush home… but he’s pretty upset and the bottle isn’t working.” Six months! Nine months before that I was growing him on the inside. As Gloria Pritchett says on Modern Family, I was “turning food into human.” Me and my body haven’t been alone in 15 months. 15 months! Did I mention there was a Mommy Meltdown?

So when The Saturday of Solids came, I was excited. No more complete dependence. No more lack of freedom. No more “it’s all me or he dies.” Bennett starting solids meant someone else, anyone else, could contribute to his sustainment of life. Harley will shoulder some of this great responsibility. A sitter can do it. I get a break. Hooray, hooray! Now I can leave him. Rejoice!

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Of course he took immediately to rice cereal.

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“Spoons? Sure! Bottle or pacifier? Don’t insult me.”

Wait. Did I say I was excited? Let me try this again.

I’ve taken my Chunky Monkey everywhere for six months. He is always right by my side, in my arms, or in that familiar, well-used carrier looking ever so soft, sweet, smiley and scrumptious. There he is, keeping me company on all shopping executions, peacefully sleep sighing behind me in the car, cooing at me as I push the stroller. There he is, on my lap as I watched the conclusion of Twilight and there again, as I tasted the best gnocchi of my life on my 33rd birthday. There he is, snoozing in his car seat (thanks to my foot trick) as my oncologist told me 4 1/2 years after my diagnosis with melanoma, I’m finally graduating from quarterly to annual skin checks. Bennett has shared it all with me. Friends and family have gotten extra opportunities to snuggle, kiss and love my baby. And when friends, family, colleagues, hair stylists and doctors alike gushed “That’s the best baby I’ve ever seen! He’s so well behaved! He doesn’t make a peep!” I beam, because he was there. 

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Bennett on the Girls’ Getaway Weekend in Williamsburg, VA. November 2012. He pretty much slept or flashed these happy faces the whole time.

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I have the best friends and family and there is nothing that touches a mama’s heart like seeing your people love on your baby.

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North Carolina. October 2012.

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Girls’ Getaway Weekend. November 2012.

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Anniversary dinner date. November 2012.

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North Carolina. Christmas 2012.

So when The Saturday of Solids came, I was sad. No more complete dependence. No more “it’s all me or he dies.”  Bennett starting solids means Harley, a sitter, anyone, can feed him. I get a break. Sniff, sniff. Now I can leave him. Sob!

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I don’t have to take this face of joy with me all the time.

Last week, he needed me. He had to have ME to meet his most important need and he needed ME to live. And I could do it so simply. Swoop in, feed him and he immediately settles into rhythmic satisfaction. When we finish, he smiles at me. It’s clear I’m his favorite. Is this all a pride thing? Maybe a little, but I think it’s more that I needed his dependency too.

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Bennett was totally there when I went dark. Watched the whole transition. Yet he didn’t even notice.

Bennett is my third boy. I wanted a girl. I am bananas crazy in love with him. I would not change a thing. I’ve even come to pretty healthy terms with the fact that I have all boys (and could always have all boys), but initially… Initially, I totally wanted a girl. (I still do.) I embraced his gender long before he was born, but part of me, even after he was born, felt a little “been there, done that” about him, my third boy. Maybe his bottle refusal was a blessing in disguise. Maybe I needed him to need me to necessitate all this extra, special, dependent, beautiful time we’ve shared.

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Thanksgiving 2012. We stepped away to feed mid-dinner. I was thankful.

Maybe that’s why I nursed him Friday night at 1:00AM. We finally 100% sleep trained him at five months (way later than we should have), and since then I bust out the tough love and ignore his rare cries in the night. But last Friday? The night before The Saturday of Solids, I just wanted to nurse him. That one was for me. (Maybe I even caused him to cry out, so I could have the excuse to feed him.) Maybe that’s why I fall under captivating love spells where I can’t. stop. kissing. his. face. We’re talking full on baby make-out sessions for 40 minutes with this man.

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Addiction, friends, in the very best way.

I’m grateful Bennett and I have bonded like this. I’m happy he’s been my 24/7 buddy for six months. And who am I kidding? He still is. Solids, at the beginning, are a very small part of his diet. I plan to breastfeed him for a year, and as of our attempt last night, he still doesn’t take a bottle. We’re going to work on it. It’s his New Year’s resolution. But I’m still going to be there, nursing him several times a day, growing him, sustaining him, loving him… and taking immense joy in it. I’m happy that privilege is mine. I appreciate my ability to do it. It is a gift. I have the rest of my life to have breaks, me time and solo errands. There are far more years with movies and meals and meetings alone than ones with a Lump of Love planted on my lap, grabbing at my fork, my pen… my heart.

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The Saturday of Solids, January 2013. Cafe Rio pork salad is the best introduction to solid foods, no?

They are only so little so long.

All of six whole months.

Only six short months.
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13 comments:

Michael said...

Oh I like Bennett. And I don't think it is a bad thing at all that he doesn't want a pacifier.

Love Dad

Crystal said...

Adorable! FAT BABY! Kate was my no bottle no pacifer kid, and there were lots of mommy melt downs. Also I only could wait until 4 months to start rice cereal- of course she didn't nurse well either and my time clock was about two hours long. Way to hang in there so long. I guess it has paid off in a sweet relationship and all those baby rolls.

Rachel said...

I love this post. I love Bennett. I love that I MADE IT ON YOUR BLOG! Glorious day! I need to come visit you so so so so soon. Let's plan something. I mean it.

Ming said...

I feel like a broken record on your blog when I say, "you've done it again...beautiful post!" But seriously, you've done it again...beautiful post. Tears may have been shed. I feel your love for B oozing through my screen. It's a beautiful boy. I love that we are in the same stage and I can relate so completely to this post (minus the entire point of won't take a bottle...but you know what I mean). Love these fat adorable baby boys!!!!

Mom said...

Love this blog (except the totally naked photo, TMI!) I think it's wonderful that you can embrace and see that this time is fleeting and you are enjoying the now. Love you and my Bennito!

Lisa LaBanc said...

Hahah to mom's comment about the naked picture. That was my favorite one, the angle was just too perfect right at his booty. I'm glad you are back on the blog again I've missed it.

Kara said...

Wait. 5 months is "way later than you should have" sleep trained him? Sister, you are my idol. Truly.
If that Chunky Monkey were in my house 24/7 I would nibble on his legs as well- who wouldn't? Too cute!

Tess said...

SOB. You have totally captured exactly how I feel about solids. Thanks for putting all those emotions into words.

Julie Broadbent said...

Oh Wendy, I feel your pain! Hazel is 9 1/2 months old and she STILL won't take a bottle. I had to arrange to work half of everyday from home... I've tried tried and tried to get her to take that bottle. No go. I have recently come to terms with it. I have embraced it. I only have a few months left to enjoy this special time with her. Good luck with solids, enjoy nursing while you can.

Julie Broadbent said...

Nate says:
I understand the need for special gear when starting baby on solids. Tarp, face shield, rubber gloves, towels, etc. But headlamp?

Ryan and Cheryl Harris said...

Oh these comments make me laugh (mom's, Lisa's, and Nates) I agree with Lisa and love the bum pic. Oh the ROLLS!!!! What is in that mamma's milk!? Chunky monkey is right. So how are Hazel and Bennet ever going to transition? Do you just skip straight to a sippy cup in a year? I'm a little scared for you guys. What if you end up nursing until they're 3? I for one am dreading nursing. I wish it was so comfortable, natural and ample for me as it is for you.

Glad you've seen the blessing in what you thought was a bummer.

Ali Snow said...

Wow - that bum picture is CRAZY full of rolls. That is so funny. I laughed really hard at that picture. I can't believe he's SO big. And so fast. I feel like I've missed his whole babyhood. That makes me sad. He looks so much like Anderson. And of course he took solids great. All your kids ate baby food like champs. We introduced Jacks at 6 months...and now at 8 1/2 months I feel like he opens his mouth and eats, happily, for 3 meals a day. Man we're behind on this kid. Be grateful you get to nurse him the whole time. I wish I could. Bottles are convenient, but I'd rather have him at my side always and be able to nurse the whole time. But at least he's angel, sleepy baby who is easy to take everywhere.

anna banana said...

Such a fabulous baby! Three boys are so fabulous, thank you for doing an amazing job to raise three more amazing men in the world.