Wow. 1 year! How did that happen?!
Saturday was Riese’s 1st birthday! We had a low key little family birthday party at my parent’s house, which felt perfect. Just me, Matt, both sets of our parents, and my brother and his fiancee. It was so special to have all of us there together to celebrate the past year!
I had big plans to make a homemade banana cake (well, muffins, since I figured Riese could eat one and then we’d get to enjoy the rest), but unsurprisingly time got away from me and in the end we ended up just using Simple Mills brand banana muffin mix and calling it a day. Riese tried their pumpkin muffins recently and loved them, and she’s really into banana, so I figured it would be a hit, and I like that they aren’t total sugar bombs. The “frosting” was plain Greek yogurt, another of Riese’s favorites. 🙂
It was a big success – she loved it and took down the entire muffin!
Trying to put the past year, our first as parents, into words, is very difficult. I think the most accurate description is that it has been a year of both highs and lows. One of my best friends told me that the big difference for her after having kids was that highs were higher – but lows were lower, too, and I think that’s very true. We’ve had some truly magical and amazing moments as a family – like when Riese smiled at us for the first time, or giggled for the first time, or started crawling, or when we were cuddled in bed with her sleeping next to us, or now when we are chasing her around the room and she’s cackling madly… those are the moments that make you feel like your heart might explode and like nothing you’ve done has been as incredible as being a parent. But then there are of course some serious lows, too, because in addition to being incredibly worthwhile and special, being a parent can also be exhausting and frustrating. Sometimes it’s hard to not snap or be rude to your partner because you’re tired or your patience has worn out, or because you have a need that you wish they would notice but they haven’t because obviously they can’t read your mind, and because they are tired too. Sometimes you are bored and feel isolated and miss being able to be selfish and just go and do whatever you want, whenever you want.
Before I was a parent it was honestly kind of hard to understand why everyone said it was worth it to have kids when there were clearly a lot of drawbacks, at least to me as an outside observer. Well, of course now I understand. When Riese smiles and laughs it’s like the whole world lights up. And sometimes still when she falls asleep in my arms and I’m tired or have stuff to do and know I could easily transfer her to her crib, I still just sit there and hold her for a little longer and think about how special these moments are, and how lucky we are to have her. I’ve done my best to soak up this year and be present, even though obviously not every moment is sunshine and rainbows, because I know just how quickly the time does go by.
I asked on Instagram stories what questions you all wanted me to address in this post, and one of the common themes was whether being a parent was how I thought it would be or not. The main thing that has surprised me is probably how much I enjoy being a mom. I mean I thought I would enjoy it and want to spend a lot of time with Riese, but I didn’t anticipate that I would end up compressing my work schedule so that I could be home two full days a week with her. (I know, I’m so fortunate to have the ability to do this.) I knew I’d want to spend time with her and that having a flexible schedule and working for myself would be an incredible blessing, but I think I envisioned that I’d call it quits early on work a few days a week vs. taking two full days off. I do enjoy still working (and it’s very helpful for us financially of course, too), but my priorities have definitely changed. I find it hard mentally to switch back and forth between mom-ing and working, though, and I struggle a bit with motivation and being excited about work, and with guilt when I am working, although hopefully that will continue to improve now that we are moving out of her first year. It’s also kind of weird identity-wise because I’m not a full time stay at home mom, but I’m also not a full time work outside the home mom either. So I’m in this kind of a weird in between in that I can’t fully relate to either situation. I think I’m rambling now… does any of this make sense?
Anyway. Here are answers to the other questions I received:
“What was one thing you thought you knew but ended up having to research more?”
Hmmm. I’d say probably related to breastfeeding! I mean I didn’t think I knew everything obviously, but I don’t think I realized just how hard and complicated it would feel. I did soooo much research and talked to so many people for advice in the early days, especially when I ended up struggling with low milk supply and when we ended up doing a procedure to release Riese’s lip tie. I also spent a lot of time researching pumping and the logistics of traveling while breastfeeding! (For my tips on that, check out this post: pumping on a plane.)
“What would you tell your pre/early pregnant self that you know now?”
Great question! Probably: trust me, it will be worth it. 🙂 Also: research lactation consultants just in case and take your pump out of the box and try to figure it out before you are totally overwhelmed with a brand new baby at home.
“Do you want another baby?”
You guys aren’t shy, huh? 😉 We would love to have another child if we are able to, but not quite yet. I feel like my body needs a minute still… I don’t feel fully recovered from the C section, and I’d also love at least a bit of time when I’m no longer nursing/my body is fully my own before starting all over again. I’d also love to have a VBAC, and my doctor said there should be at least 24 months between deliveries if I want to attempt one. That said, we are both 36 years old, so we don’t want to wait TOO long! I do feel really overwhelmed thinking about going through pregnancy and the immediate postpartum period again though – physically, mentally, AND logistically. But I know it will be worth it. 🙂
“How does your body feel postpartum now at 1 year out?”
In a lot of ways, I feel normal/like myself, but I do still have a bit of tenderness and numbness at my C section incision area, and I definitely don’t have my normal energy in terms of workouts (I think related to still breastfeeding – more on the plan with that in a minute). I’m not as strong (especially my core/lower back) or as limber as I was pre-baby, either, but I’m working on that. Recently I’ve been having some carpal tunnel-esque pain in my hands and wrists, though, which isn’t super fun. Google seems to tell me this is normal because I’m carrying a heavy baby around all the time and using my hands/wrists a lot more than I used to… hoping as they get stronger it will go away, but we’ll see. Did anyone else experience this?
“What do you wish you had known in the early days?”
I think just reminding myself that everything is a phase! Sometimes in the really early days it feels so overwhelming and like that stage will last forever (especially when they aren’t sleeping). It gets so much easier! You will also get a lot more confident as a parent, and your baby will become much more predictable, so it becomes a lot easier to go out and do stuff with them. So… hang in there and enjoy the cuddles, and things will get easier every day (in some ways, anyway – I know they get harder in some ways, too, because once they are mobile you can’t just set them down for a minute and turn away… and I’m sure the defiant phase is going to be a doozy)!
“What are your plans for weaning from breastfeeding/transitioning to milk or something else?”
Lots of people asked variations of this question! As you guys know, we’ve been doing a combination of breastfeeding and a bit of formula before bed (we started this at 6 months because I never had enough milk for Riese at that time of day and wasn’t always able to pump enough to make up a whole bottle).
A few weeks ago, I dropped the one pump I was doing – usually around 9/10 p.m. – and we just did 100% formula in her evening bottle because I was totally over pumping and decided to give myself permission to not pump before bed anymore. We were almost out of our recent box of formula last week a few days before her birthday, so we decided to go ahead and do the switch to whole milk. We usually offer her a 6 ounce bottle before bed, so we started by doing 1 ounce of organic whole milk mixed with 5 ounces of formula. The next day we did 2 ounces of whole milk + 4 ounces formula, and so forth until on her birthday she was at 6 ounces of regular milk. The formula we were using was dairy-based, so I didn’t think we’d have any problems making the switch, and thankfully we haven’t. She also never minded cold milk (we gave her cold breastmilk from the fridge a lot and she was fine with it), so that hasn’t been a big change either. It’s pretty nice to be able to just open the fridge and pour some milk into a bottle vs. dealing with powder, hot water, etc.
Our next switch is going to be going from a bottle to more of a sippy cup/open cup. We have our 1 year appointment with the pediatrician on Friday so I’m going to ask him more about that, but if you have any tips on how/when to transition away from bottles, I’m open to hearing them! We give her a straw cup with water during meals, and have had her practice with an open cup (usually a shot glass, ha) filled with water a bit, but we are still doing bottles for her milk and haven’t tried a sippy cup yet.
In terms of breastfeeding, I’m still nursing her throughout the rest of the day (usually 4 times a day now – first thing in the morning, then late morning before lunch, mid-afternoon, and before her bottle at bedtime). I’m not sure when/how to wean from nursing (although recently we shifted to 4 feeds vs. 5 as they are spreading out naturally), but she doesn’t seem quite ready to fully wean yet and I’m not sure I am either – it would be nice logistically but I think I will really miss that special time, even though she’s pretty squirmy when she nurses now. So, we’ll continue to keep it going for now, but I’m going to consider dropping one of the daytime nursing sessions soon and replacing that with milk instead. She does seem to naturally be eating more and more real food and drinking less milk/needing to nurse less often, so we are definitely headed towards weaning at some point. I could see us keeping up just the first thing in the morning and right before bed (along with the bottle) nursing sessions and dropping the daytime ones (and replacing them with milk at mealtime), but we’ll see – I’ll keep you guys updated on this! Especially with cold and flu season in the mix, I figure it’s not a bad thing to keep the nursing going for a bit longer since I’m able to.
In terms of how our little lady is doing developmentally, she has 6 teeth still (4 on top, 2 on bottom – they basically all came in at once a few months ago), and is a FAST crawler. She’s very curious and loves to explore, and has a lot of energy/loves to be on the go. She is not walking yet, but loves practicing walking with us holding her hands, pulls up and stands and walks sideways while holding onto furniture, and she loves climbing and going down stairs with our help, too. She is really adventurous and loves our baby gymnastics classes and when daddy tosses her around in the air. She loves playing chase with us, and has started chasing us now too vs. us just chasing her. She also recently started putting toys and books INTO things (boxes, bookshelves, etc.) vs. just taking them out. She’s a pretty happy and social little one, and it has been fun getting out and going to playgroups and little baby gym classes and such now that she can more fully “play” with other kids (aka swap toys with other kids while basically playing independently/climbing on each other).
Happy first birthday, little Riese! We love you so much and are so lucky you are ours. <3