I am combining the past two months, because time just got away from me. When Shep hit the 1/2 year mark, we were in Saint Simons Island for spring break. I took that week to decompress and really reflect on where I am at in life. At that point I still had about a month left in my internship. It was a lot to take in all that was going on. I was a full time mom, wife, and unpaid speech therapist in graduate school. I was leading a mom's small group on Monday nights and a youth group on Wednesday nights. Then I was playing twice a week ultimate frisbee intramurals and once a week volleyball intramurals. Plus I was trying to work out every morning. All of that was a set schedule. That doesn't include all the meetings, errands, chores, and what-nots that varied from day to day. My plate was full, but, hey, I was surviving right?
I looked at the past six months of Shep's life and saw some huge milestones he had hit that made me an extremely proud mama. He went six months on only breast milk, which was mainly mine, but we supplemented with some friends' breast milk as well. He was able to sit up independently, reach across his body and grab a toy, and even started eating pureed foods about a week before he turned 6 months.
Then quickly after reflecting those fun milestones, I let the negative thoughts seep in about my perception of myself as a mom. My thoughts looked a bit like, "Shep is still in the 1st percentile and 4 ounces per feeding isn't enough, so I need to start supplementing with formula. I am such a failure. I don't try hard enough to produce more milk. I should be more assertive at asking for donor breast milk. Now I am just a lazy passive mom. Making baby food is hard and Shepherd doesn't like the food I make him as much as store-bought food. I always knew I was a terrible cook. He still doesn't sleep through the night still. What am I doing wrong? I am losing my mind from still having to get up EVERY 3 HOURS, etc..." This kind of self-talk was starting to consume my mind every night before I fell asleep.
Mid April I decided to do something about this. I looked up the healthiest and affordable formula I could find. I used this link that compared all the organic formulas to guide my decision. We ended up buying the dairy Baby's Only organic formula, and Shep has LOVED it. This immediately lowered my stress level and I stopped crying after every other pumping session when I wouldn't get a full feeding's worth. Then we decided to see what Shep does at night when I don't immediately answer his jibber jabber letting me know he is awake and hungry. Surprisingly, we didn't have to do the "cry it out" method, which I was strongly against. We put him down at 9 and around midnight, he talked and cooed for about 10 minutes and fell asleep again and slept all the way through the night until 7 am! He has followed the same pattern for about a month now, and my sanity is slowing coming back (although it may never completely return). As for the food, I busted out the Baby Bullet with my mom this past weekend and mixed various vegetables with apples or sweet potatoes to sweeten it up a bit.
His favorites have been zuccini & apples, green beans & apples, just plain sweet potatoes, or beets and apples. His dislikes have been plain beets or beets with sweet potatoes. He likes just about anything of the Plum Organics baby food.
He has started feeding himself with the bottle and rolling from his back to his belly (FINALLY)! He has really nailed the "dadada" down, and now we are working on "mamamama."
The biggest lesson I have learned these past two months is to get over my pride. I love that granola-esque thing I had going with the cloth diapers, baby wearing, and exclusive breast feeding. However, the label of being a "crunchy mom" isn't worth it if that lifestyle doesn't work for Shep and my family. If Shep isn't getting enough food from me alone, it just does not make sense to cry daily over milk - spilt or not, which is what I was doing. It also didn't make sense for my little guy to not get as much nutrition as he needs, because I was too prideful to give him formula. I had to get over this, and it was not easy, let me tell you. I will say I cried mixing it in his bottle the first few times, but now I am glad I've let go. And no, it is not because I am lazy that I had to switch to 1/2 formula 1/2 breast milk. I pumped every 3 hours, took the supplements, drank the excessive amount of water, ate the lactation cookies, etc... I was the first person to scoff in the direction of moms who quit breast feeding early and gave formula to their beautiful babies, but now I completely understand. I definitely want to ask for forgiveness from all of you wonderful moms. It isn't easy to make all of these decisions, especially when it isn't the way you envision parenting your little one.
Shep was 13 pounds 6 ounces at 6 months and now he is 14 pounds 5 ounces at 7 months. I actually took pictures a few days after he turned 6 months, which are the first set of pictures. The second set are his 7 month pictures.