what the heck am i doing?!

In the past 4 months, I really feel like I’ve got this whole “mommy” thing down.  I know what MacKenna needs, when she needs it, and how to keep her as happy as she is.  I’ve given advice to other new moms and feel like I have become somewhat of a resource of possibly useful information to other moms out there.

MacKenna Week 17

However, that doesn’t make me exempt from feeling like I have no idea what the heck I’m doing still.  As any new mom knows, those first few weeks with an infant are incredibly trying.  You second guess every move you make, you google just about everything under the sun just to reassure that you are doing the right thing, you twitter-bomb all the other new mommy’s for their opinions on what you should do.  It. Is. HARD.  And I think that’s an understatement!  I told my BFF recently that as long as my baby is alive + well, I must be doing an OK job.

But, after awhile, you start to get the hang of things.  You’re not googling nearly as much, though your Twitter friends still hear all about every little move your baby makes.

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While I feel parenting is starting to feel natural and like something I’ve been doing for much longer than 4 months, I’ve come to a point where I feel completely lost again.  Recently, MacKenna has decided to go through a little bit of a sleep regression.  It was too good to be true those few weeks she was sleeping through the night.  As soon as the words came out of my mouth, she started waking up once a night again – sometimes twice a night and a really early wake up time.

I have to admit, I was completely lost on what to do.  My problem:  she wasn’t hungry when she woke up in those wee hours of the morning.  She simply just wanted to squeal and play with her hands – her 2 new developmental discoveries.  While I was OK letting her babble (loudly), those shrieks would soon turn to tears.  I didn’t want to pick her up since I wanted her to go back to sleep on her own.  The pacifier just wasn’t enough, but she definitely wasn’t hungry either. 

Matt + I were completely and utterly confused on what to do.  I was already feeding her before bed so her belly was full.  Was breastmilk just not enough?  The pediatrician suggested starting solids (she’s just not quite ready yet) and supplementing with formula, but I just wasn’t convinced it was due to hunger.  I’m still not positive what the issue is/was, but Sunday night, she at least slept from 8:30 PM to about 4:30 AM.  Not quite as great as she had been doing, but we’re at least getting closer to where we were.

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I’m also totally lost on feeding her things other than breastmilk.  We’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer keep up with what she is consuming, so we are starting to supplement one bottle a day with formula.  I am still pumping and can get enough for all but 1 feeding a day, which I think is still great.  But, I’m still trying to figure out this whole formula thing.  Which formula and how to prepare it.  Do I use regular tap water or do I need to use something else?  Can I just use bottled water or do I need to boil everything before giving it to her?  I’m just so confused… (If you haven’t figured out, I’m a little crazy at times.)

And don’t even get me started with starting her on solids.  When to start?  Is she ready yet?  (I’m still with a no on that one.)  Rice cereal or not?  How to prepare it?  Can I microwave cereal or do I have to warm it another way, like with milk?  I’m constantly researching but that doesn’t make me feel any less lost.

I guess what I’m trying to convey here is that even 4 months in and feeling comfortable in my motherhood role, there are still time where I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing.  I’m pretty sure I will do this her entire life.  I don’t know if I’ll ever truly feel like I’ve got the hang of this and stop second guessing myself.  I think it just comes with the territory.

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Have you ever felt like a pro at something, only to have something happen that leaves you completely lost and thinking, “What the heck am I doing”?

  • Wait, so how do you know you’ve gotten to the point where you can no longer keep up with what she is consuming? I am confused. Your breast milk is all she should need. There are so many articles about the dangers of starting solids early. I am a testament of it. I had many allergies as a child because I was given formula and solids early. Have you been to any La Leche league meetings? You should have woman to help you and support you in feeding issues.
    Noelle (@singerinkitchen) recently posted..Tangy Grapefruit Dressing (oil-free)

    • Kristen

      Since I’m a working mom, I miss 3 feedings with her. She takes about 5 ounces with each feeding, so about 15 ounces while I’m at work most days (there are days when I can pick her up early enough that I can feed her instead of her getting a bottle). Unfortunately, I can’t seem to pump enough to keep up with what she’s taking while at the babysitter. I only pump about 10 ounces while I’m at work, and since I’m a teacher, I have limited time to spend pumping. I can pump once at work and then I pump to and from work in my car. We had a supply built up, but she’s quickly made her way through that. I made it 2 months working before we’ve had to supplement. It’s not ideal for me whatsoever and it breaks my heart that I have to do it, but I also can’t let my baby starve.

      I’m still waiting to start solids with her because I can just tell she’s not interested. I’m waiting until I see some obvious signs that she’s truly interested in what we’re doing.

  • I don’t know much but I do know this – use bottled spring water, not tap 🙂

    She is so cute!!!!

    • Kristen

      (Not gonna lie, I totally just squealed that you commented on my blog!) I’ve definitely been reading up on it and actually boiled our tap water to give to mix with our formula. I’ve read that you still have to boil any bottled water too, so boiling tap water was our cheapest option! And thank you! 🙂

  • I wish I had more than just a big fat Internet hug for you, but that’s about all I can as my daughter is a mere 5 weeks and I’m definitely still figuring out this new world. Perhaps this funny anecdote will help: I was recently out to lunch with my grandmother and her several sisters (she comes from a family of 15). All of these elderly “experienced moms” laughed over the times when they, as new moms, fed their children cereal and “table food in a blender” at TWO weeks old so that they would “sleep through the night.” They also all had about bazillion kids apiece, so I wonder just how much individual attention and playtime every kid received.

    My point in this is that people have been raising kids forever. Sure, some of the tactics used 50 years ago wouldn’t fly by any pediatrician today, but all of those kids surely survived and prospered. As you said in the post, MacKenna is happy & healthy & alive, and that’s great. I don’t think I’ll ever understand or do everything correct for my daughter either, but I also know/hope that I get it right as much as I possibly can.

    Sorry for writing a novel! Good luck & hang in there 🙂
    Megan recently posted..The Internet Diet: Have You Tried It?

    • Kristen

      Thanks Megan! I hope you’re surviving! 😉 I keep telling myself that I’m doing just fine and that I’m a great mom, but I’m so guilty of second guessing myself!

  • Kaley

    My daughter is 13 months, and I still have moments where I have no idea what to do- guessing that will never change to an extent. I am pretty sure our pediatrician thinks I’m a nut. Also, I think it’s awesome you have managed to keep pumping at work! We had to start with formula really early on due to various issues, and while she has been just fine, it still makes me sad I couldn’t keep at it longer. With all of your formula questions, I would call your ped. I know when it comes to what kind of water to use and whether to boil, it depends on the water system in your area. We are in southern Indiana (not to far from you actually), and our ped said we can use straight tap water. But after a few boil advisories that sent me into freakout mode, I just decided to boil all of her water. And we used Enfamil, my MIL works at the company that makes it, and luckily, it worked out just fine. I am going to send you an email now, or else this is going to turn into a book in your comment section!

    • Kristen

      My hubs thinks I’m crazy since I want to take “the extra step” to boil the water. It just makes me feel more comfortable, especially with all those babies supposedly getting sick from formula. I’d rather be safe than sorry!

  • I wish twitter and more moms had been around with my first ones. Would have definitely been tweeting. I’ve still learned a few things this time around too. You are doing great and haVe fun starting solids!
    Andrea recently posted..Running With Baby: Is Baby Ready for the Front of the Stroller?

  • Audrey just turned five months old and I feel this way all the time. I love being a mom. However, it is HARD work! Rewarding, but hard. Just when I think I have it figured out, she switches things up on me 🙂

    Trust your gut with starting solids. Our pedi said to start rice cereal at four months but we haven’t yet. I want to wait until six months, but we will likely start with avocado in a week or two. I need to finish reading up on what to do first!
    Katie @ Legally Fit recently posted..A Day in the Life with a Three Month Old

    • Kristen

      That’s what our ped said too, but we’re going to wait it out. I’m still considering skipping cereal all together.

  • Sarah

    Don’t feel bad for supplementing with formula! You have to do what’s best for you and M as a team. For me, we had to supplement within a week of E being born. For solid foods, if you’re not ready to commit to that, then wait. Yes, do what’s best for M, but also consider what is best for your whole family as you hit these mile markers. Good luck!

    • Kristen

      I’m excited to start her on solids, but I just don’t want to push it on her when I don’t feel she’s ready. We have her whole life for her to eat solids, so I know we can wait a bit longer.

  • Hilary

    I highly recommend the book Baby Led Weaning. We were so happy with it and it means no cereals and no baby food. My son is 20 months old and a teriffic eater. We started him on sweet potato, avocado, banana, a little bit of regular oats, etc. Each kid is different, but I really believe that starting with whole, nutritious foods – not bland, white flour (which is pretty much what baby cereal is) really helps shape them and their eating habits. Plus the real textures are so much better for them developementally than purees!

    I also think it’s important to wait to introduce solids. We waited 6+ months with my son, and I will likely wait longer with #2. I was ready to start at 6 mo because it’s something new and an exciting milestone, but now that I’ve been there, done that one time, I’m more than willing to let my next baby wait until it’s very obvious they are ready.

    • Kristen

      I’m totally going to read that book next!

  • Hi Kristen! This is my first time commenting, but I love reading your blog. I have a 6 month old daughter who went from sleeping great through the night, up until about the 4 month mark. I also have a 2 1/2 year old and he never did that, so I was very confused and frusterated with what was going on. After I did some resarch I found that it is very common for babies to go through a 4 month sleep regression. I knew she wasn’t waking out of hunger as well, so we used more of a cry it out approach and she would either eventually fall back to sleep or cry on and off. I didn’t want her to make a habit out of waking up in the middle of the night, so I would try to wait until at least 6 am to go get her and then I would feed her. This lasted for about a month, but now she is back to her great sleeping habits. Hope this helps a little!

    Also, don’t feel bad about having to supplement! I don’t work out of the home and I still have to supplement in addition to breastfeeding for 2 of her feedings.
    Lacie recently posted..A day of peanut butter

    • Kristen

      Thanks for the comment! I have read that a 4 months sleep regression is normal. No one believed me that I thought it was just a phase, but now she’s getting back to sleeping through the night again (almost, she’s waking up at 4:30 instead of 6) so definitely just a phase. I’m nervous to let her cry it out – we usually try to stick a pacifier in her mouth to make her happy. We might have to try letting her cry it out though…

  • Hi Kristen! I just found your blog and realized that you’re also from St. Louis (I knew it as soon as I saw the frozen custard!) so I had to say hi!! All of the photos of MacKenna are so adorable 🙂 You sound like you’re a great new mom!

    So glad I found your blog!
    Michelle (Better with Berries) recently posted..A New Mommy

  • Sara

    You are such a wonderful mommy! We love you all so much!

    • Kristen

      Thanks Sara! Love you too!

  • Jen

    I wish I could give you a huge hug! I never feel like I know what I’m doing and feel like I’m already creating bad habits with Wyatt. You really are an excellent mommy <3 Thinking about starting solids hurts my head! I can't wait to hear about your experience with it!
    Jen recently posted..The comparison trap

    • Kristen

      I understand feeling like you’re starting bad habits. I always tell myself that she doesn’t remember any of this right now, so it’s OK. Bad excuse, but I figure we can change things later. Ha! You’re an excellent mommy too! <3

  • Just followed you over from Megan’s blog and I want to give you a big hug! Parenting, even good parenting, is a complete guessing game. What works for one family, doesn’t necessarily work for another. You have to focus on what works for you! My kids are a little older and I STILL have no idea what I’m doing.

    The decisions you make when you have an infant are so fleeting — and in even just a year you will look back and think “What was I so worried about?” This too shall pass is my motto with my kids — and it always does! You are a great mom because you care – don’t let anyone take that away from you!
    Michelle recently posted..Saturday Morning Motivation

    • Kristen

      Thanks Michelle! I hate thinking I’m not doing the right thing and I tend to compare myself to others a lot. I’m just trying to figure out what is working well and what isn’t.