How we weaned off bottles and made the switch to sippy cups

If there is one constant in the world of motherhood, it’s that nothing is constant. Once you’ve gotten into a groove with something, it’s time to move onto tackling the next obstacle. First, it’s tackling breast or bottle feeding, finding the right formula or adjusting your diet to your infant’s sensitivities. Then it’s sleep, well, it’s always sleep. Then, it’s introducing solids, then baby proofing, and then just as you’ve figured all that out, they turn one.

When they turn one, there’s a sense of gratification and pride, almost like you’ve finally figured it all out. You’ve survived a year, so you’re a veteran parent now. But at their one year well visit with their doctor, that’s when pediatricians recommend moving them off of bottles and formula, and on to milk and sippy cups.

Boom. More change. For some reason, this one was a doozy for me mentally. No more bottles? I have made and cleaned bottles every day for nearly 13 months, and now what, just, no more? I remember so clearly one middle of the night feeding early on. Me, in a zombie-like trance shuffling to the kitchen to make yet another bottle and thinking to myself, wow. The bottles will never end. And here we are, at the end. My baby is growing up.

There was something that told me my baby wasn’t ready to give up bottles. I called his doctor a few times after his visit (like a psychopath) and told her I don’t think he’s ready. She assured me he was, and the sooner we got him off the bottle, the easier it will be in the long run.

That’s when I realized it wasn’t my baby who wasn’t ready for the transition, it was me that wasn’t ready.

When it was time to start weaning, he was already down to only two bottles of formula per day, one in the morning and one at night before bed. (I should also note we introduced sippy cups at meals times around 7 months, although he didn’t use them very much.) We decided to start gradually, and initially replaced his morning bottle of formula with a sippy cup of formula for a few days, and then a sippy cup of milk. He didn’t mind the sippy cup of formula  (we have had the most luck with this one) but he hated the milk. And we tried offering milk all different ways. Whole milk, 2%, warmed milk, cold milk, milk in a bottle, milk in a sippy, milk mixed with formula… If there was milk in it, it was going to get thrown at my head.  It was frustrating, but we did not go back to having a morning bottle. If he didn’t drink his morning sippy cup, oh well. He ate more at breakfast.

I tried offering milk for weeks before I made another call to his doctor and asked what to do if my son just didn’t like milk. What do I offer him before bed if he wont take milk? She assured me that as long as he was getting calcium and calories in his diet in other ways, he will be fine. She told me to continue offering milk daily, because eventually, he will come around to it. But he doesn’t “need” anything before bed. The thought of him not getting a bedtime “baba” really worried me. He had a bottle before bed his entire life, how would I just take that away?

That night, I told myself, this is it. We just have to do it. It will get harder and harder the older he gets, so let’s rip the bandaid off with the one bottle a day he’s still getting. So that night I did not offer him a bottle before bed. I offered him a sippy cup of milk, mixed with some warm water. He took a few sips and then was done, and I put him to bed. And guess what happened?

Nothing. He was totally fine. He slept through the night, completely unfazed.

The next few days I was on egg shells. I didn’t speak of what had happened. I didn’t tell anyone we dropped all his bottles. I didn’t tell anyone we switched to milk. I didn’t want to jinx it. I waited a solid 72 hours before even speaking of what we had done. If you’re a mom, you get it. If something is going well, you do not speak of it. You will jinx yourself!

We have now been a bottle-free house for a month and I can say with a good deal of confidence that it was a much bigger transition for me than it was for him. I was so worried about him being okay, that it took a few weeks for me to realize he was perfectly fine. I have stopped offering milk in a sippy cup before bed at all, as most of the time he just throws it and it leaves a mess. If he has an early dinner or is acting hungry, I will offer it, but it’s VERY rare for him to finish more than a few sips. Milk is offered at mealtimes and there is a sippy cup with water available to him all day and before bed. He now drinks more milk with his meals, but other than that, I don’t offer it. Mainly because it’s a mess.

And guess what? He’s fine. He’s better than fine. He’s also eating his meals way better now that he doesn’t get bottles too (jinxing myself here).

His bottles are now packed away with the clothes he’s outgrown. They are no longer on my kitchen counter drying on their designated Boon drying rack. There is no longer a can of formula on my counter. I thought I’d be excited about this, but it breaks my heart a little. My baby isn’t such a baby anymore. But as bittersweet as it is, I’m so happy and proud to see my little guy becoming more independent and growing, just like he should.

A letter to a mama on her baby’s first birthday

Dear Mama,

You did it! You survived your first year and your baby is growing just like everyone said he would, too fast. You probably have a lot of big feelings today, and that’s okay.

You’ve probably spent some time over the last few weeks looking through the 10,000 pictures in your camera roll, dating all the way back to a year ago. It’s amazing, isn’t it? How fast they grow? How much they change? How time stands still yet flies through your fingertips at the same time? The beginning was such a blur. There was self-doubt and maybe some tears. Okay, there were a lot of tears. But as you scrolled through the photos, maybe you noticed it wasn’t just the baby growing and changing as the weeks ticked by, but you were too.

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A year ago, the 12-month sized baby clothes hanging in the nursery probably seemed outrageously big, and your pre-baby jeans seemed outrageously small. But now that tiny baby fills out those 12mo sized pajamas with little room to spare. Your jeans may still be small, but that’s okay. Really mama, it is.

Maybe you feel like you just barely survived the last 12 months. Maybe you’re finally getting your postpartum depression under control. Or maybe you’re still working through some trauma from your birth story or the early weeks. Maybe, you, Mama, are still a work in progress. We all are, aren’t we?

You look at your baby now, almost a toddler. That alone is enough to make you weep. A TODDLER? How did that happen? Maybe they’re crawling, walking or a combo of both. You wonder how they used to need you to feed them every 3 hours around the clock. There were feedings and burpings and spitup and blowouts. Round and round you went on the foggy new mom carousel, wondering if you’d ever see the day that tiny baby could hold their own bottle, or feed themselves dinner and not need you at 12, 3 and 6am. But here you are, your baby is now a lot more self-sufficient and you inhale them when they cuddle up and need you. Because truth is, they just don’t need you as much as they did a year ago. They’re always on the move, exploring, learning… Not just laying on your chest as you lay pinned on the sofa. They’re doing everything they’re supposed to do, and everything you taught them.BLUR1

The work you have done this year may seem small. It may seem like you barely got anything done at all, it may seem like a blur. But no mama, some of the most important work of your life happened this year. You learned things no book could teach and trusted instincts you didn’t know you had. Mama, you’ve never worked harder.

You may have stayed up too late planning the perfect first birthday party for your little one, scouring the internet for all the adorable party hats and decor to perfectly fit your theme. Maybe you even went a little overboard. Who cares. Your baby’s first birthday is reason to celebrate, so celebrate it how you wish.

But on your baby’s birthday, with all the balloons and big feelings, all the strolls down memory lane and birthday cake, don’t forget to celebrate you too. Mama, what you have done in this past 365 days is worthy of it’s own smash cake, and maybe even some champagne.

So, Mama, cheers to you.

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If someone tells you you’re a good mom, believe them

Motherhood is one of those jobs that you can accomplish incredible, mind-blowing things, and at the same time, question yourself every single day.

You carried that baby inside your body for 9 months and gave birth, (pretty incredible and mind blowing) and you’re caring for that baby every single day. That baby is alive and well, (but is he doing well enough? Is he getting everything he needs? Questions, questions, questions.)

Something about motherhood makes you question if you’re doing enough, if you’re making the right choices on behalf of your kids, if you are enough.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think I’m a bad mom, but sometimes I don’t think I’m an amazing mom either. But instead, an average, just trying to survive each day mom. A “good enough” mom, if you will. But, when people look at me and tell me I’m an incredible mother, I wonder what they see that I don’t?

Sure, family and friends tell me I’m a great mom all the time. I thank them, internally disagree and go about my day. They love me and my son, so of course they’re going to tell me that, they’re being supportive. But the other day, we were out to dinner (at 4pm because, mom life) and a man came up out of no where, tapped me on the shoulder and introduced himself. He said “Hi, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I just want to tell you I think you’re doing an amazing job with him,” he said pointing to my 11-month old baby sitting in a high chair throwing puffs (hey, they were organic) all over the floor. He continued to tell me he had a 2-year old daughter, and he could just tell I was an incredible mother and that my son was a lucky boy.

Huh? If a total stranger seems to see this in me, why can’t I?

For some reason, the words of that stranger have stuck with me and have honestly  made me a little sad. I can look at another mom and tell her what an amazing job she’s doing, and truly mean it, but I have a hard time looking in the mirror and saying the same words to the mama looking back at me.

I think to myself, I don’t have it all together, Not in the least. These are the things the people who think I’m so great don’t see. I’m a stay at home mom—I don’t provide any financial support to my family.  This was a choice my family made together, and it’s a gift that I’m able to stay at home with our son. But yet, I feel incredibly guilty for this gift every day. If I was “working,” maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

Some days, my baby fights me with all the tiny little fibers in his body. He refuses to nap, eat, or do anything other than being held. Instead of being nurturing and understanding during these times, sometimes, I break down. I get frustrated, I cry. And then, I fall deep into a pit of guilt. He’s just a baby, and he needs me, so get it together and be there for him. Be a good mom. Maybe if I could avoid breaking down sometimes, maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

Some days, the thought of preparing a baby-friendly meal to therefore just clean it all up off the floor gives me more anxiety than I can handle that day, so my baby gets a store-bought baby food pouch and some Cheerios for dinner. Maybe if I made my baby homemade, healthy, nutritionally balanced meals like so-and-so does (for him to throw on the floor) daily, maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

But after that man tapped me on the shoulder, I looked in the mirror and decided I needed to change my way of thinking. It would take time, but it was important to work on a mental shift on how I saw myself and my work as a mother.

Being a stay-at-home-mom is harder work than I’ve ever had in the workplace. It’s relentless. The days are long and a HUMAN BEING depends on me to show up every day. So instead of feeling guilty for not bringing home a paycheck, I will feel proud of what I’m accomplishing every day and watch my baby grow with the things I’ve taught and given him. Soon enough he will be in school, and I’ll be able to get back to bringing home some bacon. Now is time to focus on the present, not the “should be’s.”

Instead of feeling bad about having hard days when my baby is being difficult, or the fact that there’s no way I’m preparing a meal from scratch, I’m going to focus on the fact that everyone has hard days. If a good cry is needed, let it happen. If boxed mac and cheese is for dinner tonight, so be it. But know that tomorrow is a new day. I’m a human with feelings and I am more than my bad days. Because for every bad day, there are 5 more good ones, so don’t dwell on the bad.

Instead of waiting for someone to tell me I’m a good mom and rolling my eyes at the statement, I’m going to tell myself, YOU’RE A GOOD MOM. Your baby feels safe with you and needs you. He searches for you in a room and knows when you’ve left. You’re his person, the only person he needs. You would do ANYTHING for that child and you want nothing more in this life than to help that little person thrive.

Why do you do all this? Why do you care so much?

Because, you’re a good mom.IMG_0852

They say it takes a village but mine lives in my phone.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I’m here to correct that phrase. The truth is, it takes a village to raise a mom.

The phrase “It takes a village” never truly resonated with me before I had a baby.  Back then, I thought it meant you’d probably need some friendly faces to bring you a casserole during the sleep-deprived newborn stage, or a few trusting pals to help pick up your kid from daycare. I learned very shortly after giving birth that you need people in your corner for things far beyond the occasional favor. You need a village. A village of gracious, trustworthy souls that can help guide you through the foggy world that is motherhood.

A lot of lucky mamas live near family and friends that can step in and act as their village. But what happens if you don’t? You can do one of two things, navigate that shit alone or find yourself a freakin’ village.

I’d like to strongly encourage doing that later of those two options.

Realistically, not everyone lives near their friends, family or people they can count on. Military families for example, are likely going to be displaced when they and add a tiny new member to their tribe. In our case, we had just moved hundreds of miles away from “home” when I found out I was pregnant. So when the baby came and my husband went back to work, I was pretty much navigating those murky waters on my own.

A few exhausting and overwhelming weeks into new motherhood, it became very apparent to me that I needed support. I found myself wishing so badly I had a readily available “village” nearby to support me and my new little family during one of the most difficult and to be frank, lonely times of my life.

It was during those very foggy weeks that I learned they didn’t need to be physically present to be my people. They didn’t need to ring my doorbell with a lasagna in hand to be exactly what I needed. I realized that a “village” for me was just people to talk to. I’m not talking about chit chat about the weather, I mean, people to really vent to—without judgement. People to be there to listen when I was ready to share my struggles. True conversations about the hard, messy, motherhood stuff you can’t talk about with just anyone. Like true confessions to a therapist at the other end of your fingertips. But on the same token, like-minded individuals to talk about the mundane, boring stuff too. So much happens in the nothings.

Aside from the obvious group of lifetime besties and family, my “village” expanded to include old friends I hadn’t spoken to in years, friends of friends I’ve never physically met, and even strangers I “met” on Instagram. Without even realizing it I was talking to these people nearly every day, because they too were in this weird new club we all somehow knew the password to. That club was motherhood and we were all dazed and confused and in it together. We were all just searching for our tribe.IMG_0633

Before I knew it, I had grown to find my village. But there was a catch—they didn’t have an address nearby. They lived in my phone. This random assortment of humans I would likely never see in person, filled a void in a way I never expected.

As months went on, I found myself texting these new found village people before anyone else. Why? Because they too were in my shoes, and maybe they found their village in me also. They too just wanted to vent that their husband “did it wrong” or that their baby wont nap. They too just want to know they’re not the only ones that have days of anxiety and self-doubt. They too just want someone to send pictures of their babies doing baby things back and forth with without worrying that they’re being annoying. They too love to share their baby’s milestones but also share the days their little ones are pushing them closer and closer to insanity. They too want to share easy recipes because they’re exhausted but also want to feed their families. They too, just want someone to talk to. They too, speak the language of a voice text gone wrong, and actually understand it.

They say it takes a village and maybe mine doesn’t live next door, but I’ve got one and a damn good one at that. I’ve got people in my corner. Motherhood can be isolating and lonely, but it can also make you feel like you’ve never been more connected or understood.

When you connect with women in a way you never thought possible, over this one thing that you have in common, that’s when you’ve found your secret society, your support, your village.

The village of motherhood.