Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving was the best I’ve ever had, all because of my little guy. There’s something infinitely special about roast turkey and gravy when it’s the first time in your life you’ve tried it! I fed my 8-month-old Thanksgiving Dinner with the rest of the family, and am changing the way I look at baby-feeding. I’ve chucked all the books and advice (for the most part), and taken a cue from Thanksgiving to start enjoying meals with baby.

On Thanksgiving, Grandma spared the added salt and we ground up turkey with gravy for baby, and fed along with mashed green beans, yams, and potatoes. We even cheated a little by offering a few bites of pumpkin pie filling. Hey, it’s a holiday! He absolutely loved all of it.

With so many foods now part of his diet, and after the success of the Thanksgiving meal, I am starting to feed him more of what we are eating. When I make him his own food, I tend to end up feeding him separately and he always wants a few more bites of what we have when we’re eating. It only makes sense to start combining meal preparations. Plus, when I can get my husband to eat at a normal meal time, it feels so nice for us all to sit around the table for a family meal.

Also, I’ve decided to return to following his cues for what and when to feed more than the books and doctors. I fed on demand when he was breastfeeding exclusively, but since adding solids it has become more confusing as I try to follow feeding guidelines. Other than remembering foods to avoid, I’m chucking all the rules. The biggest reason being that so many are conflicting – The What to Expect book, his doctor, and the nutritionalist all say we should always give him solid food before milk now that he’s 8 months, whereas the lactation consultant and the Le Leche League website all say always give milk first. I’ve been really stressed about it. But no more!

I know my baby best and he and I both know what he needs. I know he needs milk and that he won’t drink much if I always feed solids first. I also know that breakfast has to be really late after the morning milk feeding to get him to drink more milk. So, I’m giving him breakfast of solids earlier and with a little milk after, but we’re sticking to milk first for both other solid meals. And perhaps the hardest thing for me to realize – we don’t have to do it the same every day! Saturday we were going out to breakfast and I wanted him to eat with us, but he was hungry before we left. So I deviated from my new plan to feed solids first at breakfast, and breastfed him to hold him over till we got there. Amazingly enough, the world did not come to a screeching halt. If there’s one thing being a mother has taught me it’s to be flexible.

Last thanksgiving I was 5 months pregnant. We traveled down the coast and celebrated with my sisters and my mother, then with my aunt, my cousin, and my father. At the start of the month, I told my dad on the phone I wasn’t showing that much. Then, the week before the holiday, my belly suddenly ballooned. I thought I was really looking pregnant, though looking back at the picture perhaps I could have just passed for chubby. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t getting stranger comments yet.
As a perpetual dieter prior to conception, I was very excited to be pregnant for the holidays because I had permission to eat more! Maybe that’s why my belly kept ballooning into December. The first week of December I was in considerable pain from the new weight. It felt like cramps and I thought something was wrong. I went to the doctor and she said it was just muscle and ligament pain from my new, forward-heavy body balance. She recommended a maternity girdle.

I had never heard of such a thing, but the girls at Motherhood knew exactly what I was talking about. It was like an elastic belt to be worn under my clothes. It fit on the under side of my belly protrusion and wrapped around my lower back. What a relief! It supported my stomach, alleviating the cramps. As a bonus, it took some strain off my lower back too. I would wear it all day at work and during workouts, then take it off for relaxing (relaxing? Am I spelling that right? It’s hard to remember now what that means!) in the evening and sleeping.

The maternity girdle goes on the list right after sparkling mineral water for pregnancy must-haves that weren’t in the book.

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