Monday, March 3, 2008

Six Months Down

It's warm today. I have the door open and can hear the birds making a racket. I know it's only the beginning of March, but the subtle change in weather makes my blood surge with a feeling of possibility. My heart races a little in anticipation. I have a hunger for summer. I want to be outside, healthy and vibrant. I want to be sweaty. I want to not have to wear a coat and bundle Maya in eight layers. I long for watermelon. No more butternut squash soup.

I'm also a little nervous. I think it's because there is this shift happening within me along with the weather change. I am weaning myself off the pumping, and it is affecting me far more than I could have ever imagined. I thought that people were attached to the feeling of nursing, the closeness with their baby. But it's so much more.

First of all, there is this dramatic drop in hormones and prolactin (the chemical that makes your body produce milk). Turns out the prolactin gives you this calm feeling of serenity. Damn. And I thought I had just turned this corner in my own growth and development. So I'm sadder and dragging a little more than usual.

Secondly, there is this overwhelming sense of loss that I wasn't expecting. I am going to stop being the sole sustenance provider for my daughter. Sigh. I am going to stop a routine I've kept up for six months - one I hate but still the same routine. Sigh. I am going to stop burning 500 calories a day. Double Sigh. I will no longer feel the fullness of my breasts and the satisfaction of seeing all that milk come out. It's really going to be over. How odd that I am upset about that considering how much I've been complaining and how much pain it has caused me.

Finally, the hormone decrease has unleashed my emotional, sexual and physical sense of desire. I want to have sex. I want to eat. I want to move. It's like I've been absent from my body for over a year - or that my body was being occupied - and now I have it back. And I forgot what it felt like. And a sudden surge in sexual desire is bizarre after not really having it at all for months. Suddenly everything seems sexual and turns me on. And I realize that I have these guilt feelings that accompany my sexual desire. It's almost automatic. I desire, and I feel guilty. Why?? Can't I just have desire and that's it - go have sex and enjoy it?! Why does it have to be complicated? Why do I have to start questioning everything and worrying that I'm some sexual monster? I'm not - I am just a regular woman coming out of postpartum who feels like having sex. Geez!!! And, of course, the feeling of guilt makes me hate my body and want to eat junk food. It's absurd. But - at least I'm seeing very clearly where a lot of this craziness comes from.

I think all of these feelings are also tied in with what I have been discovering is a fundamental part of motherhood - a feeling of loss. We reached six months this past weekend, and I love that we're giving her solids now. But I also grieve the loss of that tiny newborn - all snugly and warm. I miss her. I love the new moving around, messy eating, anger expressing baby I have, but I miss who she was. And I think that's going to be the way things are from here on out. She's going to get bigger and be walking and stop sitting with me to have her bottles. She's going to move farther and farther away from being part of me. It's sad. It's beautiful and wonderful and amazing, but it's also sad.
Maya, however, loves getting bigger and developing. I have the weirdest baby. She does sit ups every day all day. If you lay her down she automatically tries to sit up. She has done this since the beginning. And now her abs are actually starting to get hard. Can you believe that? She has also been trying to stand since ten weeks. I mean, she would rather be standing than sitting. She is not lazy like her mom. She always wants to be doing stuff. And she's always so proud of her own progress. She looks at you like, "Can you believe I'm this cool?" It's hilarious.
It seems that each pediatrician has a different view on solids - when to start, what to start with and how to stagger the foods. Our Ped suggested veggies at six months, fruit at seven months and meat at eight months. That seems like a plan. I'm not going to be strict with it, but at least it gives us a jumping off point. He also recommended orange and yellow veggies to start and then green. So Maya's first food was Sweet Potatoes. Then she had yellow squash mixed in. And yesterday she had carrots. Next I'm going to give her corn, but I think corn is about as sweet as fruit. She also gets frozen apples and pears that she munches on through this mesh feeder. She loves it. It soothes her a great deal when she's fussing about her gums. But she gets exceedingly angry when it's over. Yesterday we went right into carrots after her fruit appetizer. She gobbled up those carrots. I guess we have to watch how much orange veg we give her though because she can start to turn orange. I think that is so funny. My neighbor's kid had his nose turn orange.

Solids brings in new challenges - plastic bibs, spoons, sitting in a chair to eat, making the food and stinky poops. Her poop was already starting to increase in stench once we started supplementing with formula, but it is now officially awful. I miss the smell of the breast milk only poop. It was just sort of sickly sweet. Now my kid is toxic. I think she thinks it's funny when I practically swoon upon opening her diaper. Sheesh, Lady.

Maya has a very strong personality. She is the toy taker with other babies. I watch the neighbor's son on occasion, and he is 10 months old. Maya sits there and takes every toy he tries to play with and piles them up out of reach. She always wants what she doesn't have. She can be perfectly happy playing with something, but she always wants what's in someone else's hand.

Check it out. Here she is with Nick - you can see all the toys are piled in front of her.

And she's started getting very angry if you take anything away from her. I just didn't think the anger would start this early. I mean anger. My mom took away a piece of paper Maya was trying to eat and she slammed her hands down and yelled. We both just looked at each other and at her. I'm worried about the future. I have a feeling we're in for some knockdown drag-out fights. I wish I knew if there was anything we can do now to prepare or to get her steered away from acting out like that. I think we'll just not give in to the anger - try to show her that we don't react to anger. But she's a stinking baby and has only one way to communicate - and I don't know if she really understands.
So, now we head into the second six months of her first year. This whole experience has been so different than I could have imagined. I wonder what is in store for us. Hopefully more sleep!!

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