Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bait and Switch

I tricked my baby. Fooled. Swindled. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled. I'm not proud of it but desperate times call for desperate measures. When it comes to feeding time, I'll do whatever it takes to get some nutrients into her. Even if it means being sneaky and underhanded. Parenting rule #1 -- you do what you gotta do.

I knew that she was going to love fruit, it is after all Nature's candy, so I was trying to save it for last. I finally gave her apple sauce, which as expected she ate well. Her favourite food so far though is baby pears. She absolutely LOVES them. She gobbled them up. She even ate a whole jar. Who could blame her? I tasted them myself (just by licking the tablespoon before throwing it in the sink) and it was DELICIOUS! I may have to start getting it as a dessert for myself.

Thankfully there are some vegetables that she likes (not LOVES but at least tolerates) -- sweet potatoes, green beans and peas. Unfortunately, she hates meat. The chicken and broth was a flop. The beef and broth made her gag and cry. I tried getting those mixed chicken with rice dinner things and she wasn't having it. I tried mixing meats in with other vegetables that she likes and she screws up her face. No matter how small an amount of meat I mix in, she can taste it and is not impressed. When a child is older you can try to reason with them "It's good for you. If you eat your veggies then you can have dessert!" At this age, you're S.O.L. If she doesn't like it, it is not going in her mouth. Her lips are locked shut unless of course she starts wailing (which happens as well) but you can't really shovel food into a screaming mouth (well you can, but it's cruel and I don't want mealtime to feel like a punishment.)

You would not believe the lengths I go to to get her to eat. Some days it's really a challenge. For a while she seemed to be enjoying eggs which was a relief because at least I was getting some protein into her. But then I guess she got sick of them because the last time I tried giving her an egg yolk for lunch she barely touched it. Sometimes she just doesn't seem interested in eating anything. I sing (anything from nursery rhymes and lullabies to showtunes. Bohemian Rhapsody. Whatever it takes. One day I did about a 10 minute rendition of "menamena doo doo ba doo doo.") When I feed her sweet potatoes I say "One potato two potato three potato four..." When I TRY to feed her chicken I do the chicken dance. Anyone who saw me would assume I'd lost my mind.

Getting her to eat meat without gagging or crying has been the hardest thing so far but I found a sneaky way to get her to eat it. I alternate spoonfuls of the things she loves with the things she hates. The old "Bait and Switch." I give her a tiny taste of fruit (apple or pear) on one spoon so that she opens her mouth wide for the next spoon only to find, to her horror, that it's a heaping spoonful of chicken. Dang. She screws up her face and looks at me as though I'm Judas and have clearly betrayed her. To make it up to her and take the taste away I follow it with a spoon of her delicious pears. I do feel kind of bad for fooling her but I got her to eat two tablespoons of chicken that way so I figure the end justifies the means. Besides it might be a good lesson for her to learn early in life -- you have to take the good with the bad and you never know what the next day (or the next spoon) will bring. If only everything in life were as sweet as baby pears.

Michelle seemed to have a sugar rush after all her baby pears. I even got a video of her eating them:

Feeding is a challenge most days. I just try to entertain and distract her long enough to get through the meats and veggies. My sister warned me it probably won't get easier as she gets older. Kids can be very fussy. My sister said that a lot of the foods she loves she doesn't even get to make anymore because the kids won't eat them so there's no point. You have to accommodate them. Sometimes you're just happy if they'll eat anything. I hope Michelle won't be a terribly picky eater. I just never know from one day to the next how she'll be. She surprised me at my Mom's place and ate an entire tube of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes were one vegetable she didn't mind but she'd never had more than a tablespoon of it without starting to complain. Then all of a sudden she was devouring them. Maybe she has hit a growth spurt and needs the extra calories. Or maybe she was just happy to be with her Grandma. Grandma's lap was the high chair while I fed her there.
So far she's had rice and oatmeal cereal which she usually eats pretty well. She even wanted an extra tablespoon last time. She liked the rice at first but then seemed to get sick of it so I started her on oatmeal. Now I mix them together, a tablespoon of each, which she seems to enjoy. I give it to her at night (and I even have a bowl of my own oatmeal so she feels like we're eating the same thing. That makes her happy. She's always curious about my food and seems jealous when I have pasta or pizza.) She doesn't mind sweet potatoes, green beans and peas. She detests carrots (can't say that I blame her) and abhors chicken and beef (they are gross in pureed form I must say.) She loves applesauce and ADORES the baby pears. There are still several foods to try her on. I have to wait three days each time to test for allergies. I'm anxious to try the rest of the fruits because I'm pretty sure they'll go well. I managed to find baby turkey mixed with vegetables but I'm nervous about trying it because the chicken mixed dish was an epic fail. At least I can always resort to the "bait and switch" approach but I'd rather she actually enjoyed the foods and ate them willingly rather than tricking her into swallowing them.
Like eating, sleeping is kind of hit and miss. I never know from one day to the next how it's going to go. Some days she has a bit of a nap in the day. Other days she doesn't and is super cranky. Some nights she'll fall asleep at a decent hour, other nights she's up until the wee hours. The worst is when she really seems zonked and falls asleep early and I think "Yes! She's down for the night! Woo hoo!" I run around and get things done and then try to head to bed at midnight or 1 a.m. only to find that she's WIDE AWAKE as though it's morning and won't settle down so I get no sleep at all. Sleep deprivation can be unbearable. A couple of times I was so tired I could barely move, felt weak and lightheaded and so overwhelmed that I burst into tears. The problem is that when she sleeps you never know how long it's going to be so it's really hard to do anything. Sometimes you think you've got an hour and you only get five minutes. I used to take daily showers (I miss those!) but now I'm lucky if it's once or twice a week. When I do take one I rush through it in about 2 minutes or less because I keep thinking I hear her crying, even if she isn't. I remember having a couple of bubble baths when she was younger. It's been a while since I've risked that. I LOVE baths though. I keep waiting for the magical night that she sleeps through the night. There were a couple of nights that she did sleep well but she still woke up every two hours to nurse and then go back to sleep. I don't mind breastfeeding her through the night. I just wonder if/when she'll ever reach a point where she won't need that.

I am grateful that at least there are things that she will eat, that she's adapting to me breastfeeding her a little less, that she's a healthy weight now and doing well overall. She's almost seven months old now. Pretty soon she'll be able to have Cheerios, bits of fruit, bread and cheese. In just a couple of months so much will change. It still blows my mind how much and how fast they grow at this stage. So when I'm having a rough time feeding her or a tough night where she won't sleep, I try not to let it get to me too much. I know that the day will come when I'll look back at this time and think how wonderful it was and how much I miss her being so small. So I'm enjoying it while it lasts. It goes by so fast. I'm taking lots of pictures and videos to hold on to these moments forever. The past six months have flown by. I know that the next six will too.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I tore Mommy a new one

Apparently you can get onesies that say "I tore Mommy a new one." I thought it was cute -- well, cute in the "I can laugh about it now because my episiotomy stitches have healed" kind of way. Her father tore me apart emotionally. Michelle did physically. At 9 lbs 4 ounces she definitely made a grand entrance and they had to widen the door for her...Trying to pass a camel through the eye of a needle almost seems like it would have been easier. I was afraid to look at the stitches afterward. It was pretty terrifying the first time I had a bowel movement after labour. Being constipated just added insult to injury. It was almost like having a baby again. I was afraid to push. It really felt like I was going to tear the stitches. (Sorry, this is probably WAY too much info but these are some of the things that you don't think about before you have a baby! It's a lot to go through.) As difficult as delivery was, a very wise person warned me "Labour is the easy part. Wait til you have a new baby to take care of!"

Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. When I first brought her home (actually my sister was kind enough to let us stay at her place so I wasn't completely alone for the first week or so) she barely slept and was feeding about every hour or so. I was beyond exhausted, depleted, sore, spent. Breastfeeding was far more difficult than I could have imagined. My sister said that most of the women she knew who gave their babies formula had given up on breastfeeding because they couldn't stand the pain. Someone told me that your nipples toughen up eventually, I guess the same way that fingers become tough and callused after playing guitar for a while. My poor nipples went through Hell in the first few days. I was bruised, bleeding, scarred. They were so sore that nursing was excruciating but I stubbornly kept going. I didn't even know if she was getting any milk but I refused to give up. I went to a breastfeeding clinic where they told me that Michelle wasn't getting enough milk and I'd have to supplement with formula. I was devestated. It was like calling me a failure. They tried to talk me into buying a hospital-grade $400 breast pump. I looked at the woman like she had smoked a little too much crack. "Um...I'm a single Mom on a tight budget so that is NOT happening." Instead I went to Walmart and got a cheap single breast electric pump for $40. It's not fancy and is kind of slow but it does the trick. I was able to pump milk and see that yes I actually was producing milk. It was bright yellow at first, a mix of colostrum (pre-milk) and milk. As discouraged as I was on my first visit to the clinic, I was thrilled at my next visit. Michelle had gained weight and was feeding well. I supplemented her with a bottle of my own breast milk for a couple of days until my milk was in full force.

The best thing about the breastfeeding clinic was that they introduced me to a nipple shield which was the greatest invention ever and saved my poor nipples from being chewed to bits. They also told me that far from being a failure I had actually done the best thing -- by feeding Michelle so often when I first brought her home (as painful and difficult as it was) I had stimulated my milk production and now that my regular milk had come in (it takes about 3-5 days for the actual milk to come in) I had plenty. I was glad I hadn't just given up. Colostrum is supposed to provide enough nutrition for a newborn baby for the first couple of days. Some women panic that the baby is starving and turn to formula out of desperation. Then their milk never comes in. I was determined to breastfeed. I had many very good reasons to do so. First of all it's the healthiest thing for the baby, it's also a bonding experience and hey, it's FREE! When you're on a tight budget, you just can't beat free.

For five months or so, breastfeeding was going well. The nipple shield was a godsend. I even bought an extra one just in case and it's a good thing because I lost it a couple of times and had to break open the spare. Michelle was feeding often (usually every two hours or less) but at least my nipples were protected. Then at around 5 months it started to get uncomfortable. Michelle was getting a little rougher on me. It almost felt like she had teeth. It was hurting, even through the nipple shield. She was chewing on me like I was a teething toy. My nipples were becoming red and raw. By six months it was even worse. Before I knew it, my nipples looked like they had been through a war -- scarred, bleeding, much as they had been before the nipple guard. The shield wasn't protecting me anymore. Michelle was chewing me to bits. My Mom said she must think it's a bottle because she's sucking on a rubber thing. I know she doesn't mean to hurt me but she knows I'm not a bottle. She looks up at me mid-feeding and smiles sometimes.

My nipples were becoming so sore and so itchy that I finally asked my doctor about it. All my appointments had been for Michelle but I finally scheduled a brief one for myself just to show her my poor breasts. I was worried it might be a rash or something. I had heard about "thrush" but that's something that the baby gets in her mouth as well. It wasn't a rash. The doctor said they were just sore from the friction. Michelle was just sucking too hard. (My baby vampire!) The doctor prescribed a recipe that Dr. Jack Newman created -- apparently he's "the" breastfeeding guru. How a MAN knows so much about breastfeeding, I'm not sure but he is a GENIUS! My doctor said that some pharmacists may not "like" making the cream but most would do it. She also said that according to Dr. Newman you don't wipe the cream off, "even if the pharmacist tells you to." When I went to the pharmacy to get it I was perturbed that the cream took an hour to make (the pharmacist had told me it would be half an hour) and that I had to pay a hefty dispensing fee. I didn't even know if it was going to work. It turned out that it was well worth the investment. After just one day using the cream I was so much better! I wasn't in pain or tortured by itching. My red, raw, peeling, scarred nipples were suddenly soft and pink again! It was a miracle. I don't know what Miconazole and Mupirocin are (ingredients on the label) but they are AMAZING. I just put a bit on after each feeding (obviously the ingredients are safe for the baby to ingest though the rubber shield is still between us) and my nipples are almost completely back to normal. In just a day or two they went from looking like something out of a horror movie all scarred, red, raw, scabby, rough and peeling to being soft and pink and new again. Dr. Newman, I love you! I don't know how this guy knows so much about breasts when he doesn't have any, but thank you!

The doctor and my mother also suggested that I cut down on the frequency of breastfeedings. Every two hours is common for a newborn but she's over 6 months old now and even having solid food. While I was worried about Michelle's weight I certainly wasn't going to cut back on breastfeeding but now that she's a healthy weight and doing pretty well on solids I figured it couldn't hurt to try it. So I have been trying to stretch her out to 3 hours between feedings, giving her food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the two hour points and then nursing her another hour after that. She resisted at first. She became cranky and complained and didn't want to eat her food but I managed to distract her enough that I could postpone her nursing by an hour or at least half an hour. It's easier on me because it means fewer feedings. Aside from Michelle complaining about the change, my breasts noticed too. They knew it was time for a feeding and became engorged and sore. Little by little though it's getting easier. I figure it's better to wean her gradually so I'll keep feeding her every three hours for a while then go to every four or so. The more food she eats, the less milk she'll need. Eventually it will be cut down to two feedings a day and then when she's safe to have cow's milk I can stop. I may still try to pump some breastmilk to give her even after she's weaned because I know it's so good for them. I've seen some attachment parents carried to the extreme that are still breastfeeding their children at 7 years old. I'm not going there! I am an attachment parent but I have my limits. I do believe in feeding on demand though. I want my baby to be happy. I think it builds a strong bond and a healthier, happier child in the long run. Michelle still wakes up every couple of hours to nurse during the night but I don't mind. I'm certainly not going to deny her then. It's easier to just nurse her back to sleep. That way I actually get some sleep too! I figure that eventually when she's eating a lot more food she won't need the milk. Part of it is probably habit and a comfort thing too when she wakes up in the night.

Aside from the pain of labour and breastfeeding, Michelle seems to find new ways to inflict injury on me day by day! I know she doesn't do it on purpose (well, I'm pretty sure anyway) but sometimes it is hard to take. She loves swinging her hands and arms around so sometimes I get a smack in the face. Occasionally she even knocks my glasses off. Then I say "Oopsie poopsie!" and she laughs her head off. She also kicks me in the stomach. Her legs never stop going so if I'm carrying her or nursing her, I get the brunt of it. I try to wear her out in her Jumperoo and Jolly Jumper. If only there were a way to harness her energy. I could power my house for about two years without using hydro. Then there is the pain in my left arm from carrying her around. Sometimes she will play nicely while I try to get dinner, do dishes etc. Other times she whines and I have to pick her up and try to do everything with one hand. It's hard enough on my sore wrist now that she's heavier than ever but to make matters worse she does this new thing where she twists around in my arms and leans over putting that much more pressure on my already sore arm. Sometimes my shoulder feels like it's being torn from its socket. I have neck and back problems as well. Then there are the claws...Sometimes it's like trying to take care of a baby tiger. It's very difficult to cut her nails and unfortunately she likes to dig them into me. She's so intense she'll grab my arm full force and dig her nails in or she scratches my chest. While I'm nursing her I have to guard the other breast with my hand or sometimes she reaches up and grabs almost ripping off my nipple! I can't believe how strong she is. She's got a death grip like you wouldn't believe. She even winds up hurting herself sometimes -- accidentally scratching herself, hitting herself in the face when she's flailing her arms. She even gave herself a hickey on the arm when she started sucking her wrist one day. She's started sucking her thumb occasionally now too. I can't imagine the damage she can do once she has teeth.

Having a baby can be dangerous! It almost reminds me of MadTV's "When Babies Attack" skit...Here's the video from Youtube:

Like many things in parenting, keeping your sense of humour is a must. Love hurts. It's just part of it. The joy is worth the pain. Your baby will cause you more pain than you ever felt in your life but you will still love her more than anything on earth. It's weird. I guess it's a maternal instinct thing. We can take an unbelievable amount of abuse and still love and protect them. Luckily the sweet moments more than make up for the rough ones. The times when she smiles or laughs at me. The times when she reaches up to touch my face gently. The times when she looks at me lovingly. The moments when she plays nicely, sleeps peacefully, acts like a little angel. Lately she's even started hugging me really tight. She squeezes me with all her might and shakes, the way she clenches her fists and shakes when she's really excited. I love it. That's one time I'm glad she's so intense. I love those bear hugs. I can't wait for the day she can say "I love you Mommy" -- that will be more than worth all the pain I've been through. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Family Resemblance

Michelle's last doctor appointment went really well. The doctor was pleased with her weight gain (she's up to 15 lbs 8 ounces now) and said she's the picture of health. (If you missed my previous blog on the subject, my doctor was concerned that Michelle hadn't gained enough weight since her last appointment and wanted to see her again in a few weeks. I was worried because I was already breastfeeding her every 2 hours and also giving her solid food. She eats constantly but she burns it all off because she's so active.) I was so relieved to hear that she has gained now so I can relax. The doctor said I don't need to bring Michelle back for another checkup now until she's 9 months old! Wow. That seems a lifetime away. I wonder what she'll be doing at 9 months. She already seems so different than she was a couple of months ago. So much happens in a month, even day by day. I'm glad that I get to watch each babystep in her journey.

We had a nice visit with my Mom and my sister after the appointment. Michelle showed Auntie May how she can put one foot in front of the other, as long as you're holding on to her. It was cute watching her take little wobbly steps. It will be so exciting to see her take steps on her own someday soon. My Mom keeps telling me not to be too anxious for those milestones because she will be even more of a challenge once she's mobile. I know that I will have to change several things before she can walk. I'll have to install the baby gates and child safety plugs, move breakable things. She's so curious already and tries to grab at everything. When she can get around on her own it's scary to think how many things she could get into. I'll just have to watch her like a hawk. I used to be able to put her in her Bumbo chair for a few moments but now she scooches along the floor in it and leans out of it so far she almost falls. She's got this new leaning habit going on. It's very difficult when I'm trying to carry her with one arm and she starts twisting and leaning. I know she's only 15 lbs but it feels like 20 or more when you're trying to balance her on one sore wrist!

My nephew James
Most people who see Michelle say that she looks like me. Though I hate to admit it I can't help but see a lot of her father in her but she definitely looks like a Pincivero. Several of us in fact. When I was at my Mom's she showed me a baby picture of my nephew (my brother Mike's son) James. I couldn't believe the resemblance. He's almost Michelle's twin! I never realized how alike they were, especially the eyes.

Baby James
I looked around my Mom's place for another photo of James and found this one of him sitting up. I can't believe the similarities in their face structure, eye shape and colour, complexion, hair, just about everything. It's almost uncanny. It's been several years since I saw James as a baby. I didn't really remember what he looked like. I never could have imagined at the time that one day I'd be having my own child that would look so much like him. It's still so surreal to me that I'm a Mom. I watched my siblings having children over the years and just assumed I would always be the proud Auntie. I never expected to have a little girl of my own. It was the furthest thing from my mind. I remember sometimes when I would hold my nieces and nephews as babies and they'd look up at me I'd feel a small twinge in my heart but I denied it. When people asked if I wanted my own I always said no. I just couldn't imagine being a Mom. Now I can't imagine life without her.

My sister May with my nephew Dan

The first time I became an Aunt I was 13 years old. I was so proud of my little nephew Danny (my sister May's first son). Everyone remarked about how much he was like me with his red hair. When my sister first saw Michelle she said how much my baby looked like Dan. To some degree I guess all babies look alike, especially when they're newborns. They come out all wrinkled up, almost bald. Many of them start off with blue eyes but that can change later. I'm pretty sure Michelle is keeping her baby blues.

Of course my Mom says that Michelle is a mini me. She is as fair as I was as a baby, with red hair and blue eyes. I was a tall, slim baby too and very active but my Mom didn't worry about me being underweight because her doctor told her I was healthy even without the proverbial "baby fat." When I see baby pictures of me I definitely see the similarities. She even has the same expressions, the same smile. Of course Michelle is a better, updated version of me! From what my mother has told me about my moodiness and lack of sleep as an infant, it sounds like Michelle takes after me in many ways.

I love this photo of my Dad and me. We both look so happy. The portrait that James Harvey did of Michelle and I seems to echo it. Michelle has almost the same smile and she's even wearing white. My Mom and Dad make such a fuss of Michelle whenever we visit and Michelle just adores her Grandma and Grandpa. My Mom said seeing Michelle is like having me as a baby again.

I feel so blessed to have my family. Though Michelle and I are a little family of two, she also gets to be part of a bigger clan, a fun, loving bunch including Grandparents, Aunt and Uncles and six cousins.

Monday, February 18, 2013

How do you like them apples?

I was thrilled to find some solid foods that Michelle actually liked. Surprisingly she enjoyed green beans. The meats hadn't gone over so well and I was anxious to get some protein into her so I boiled some eggs and tried her on egg yolk mixed with milk. It was a hit! She ate almost the entire yolk. Sweet potates seem to be her favourite. She gobbles them up. She also lapped up apple sauce. I was saving fruits for last because I knew they'd be an easier sell. I had a jar of apple sauce that my sister gave me leftover from when my nephew was little. They were expiring in March so I thought I'd better use it up before then. She continues to eat the rice cereal most of the time as well. And she tolerated peas. So at least there are a variety of staples that I can get into her. I even managed to sneak a little meat into her sweet potatoes.

For a few days, it seemed like my dream had come true -- she was eating the solid food really well and was sleeping better at night. She would fall asleep around 11 p.m. and though she would still wake up to nurse every couple of hours she (and I) settled right back to sleep after each nursing session and she didn't actually get up until 9 o'clock in the morning. It was like the Heavens had parted and I could hear harps and choirs singing "Hallelujah!" Of course, it didn't last. All of a sudden she was staying up til 1 or 2 a.m. again and wouldn't settle down and fussed for hours. Michelle likes to keep you guessing. Whether good or bad as soon as you think you have her figured out, it changes. You have to just take it day by day. You can never count on anything with her.

If she doesn't have a nap during the day, she can get very cranky. Then again, if she has a nap for too long in the day she may not fall asleep at night. She seems to enjoy the public playtime in the afternoon. We've gone a couple of times and it's been great. She loves seeing new faces and especially baby faces. She was flirting with a three month old boy, even reaching out to give him a hug. In her defense, he did look older than three months! I memorized one of the songs they do "It's a smooth road to London town" and sing it to her at home, including the actions -- up and down, a bumpy road and a rough road -- and she loves it. She seems to sleep really well on the days we go out for playtime (though now that I've said that it probably won't happen again. Michelle refuses to be predictable!)

She loves visiting her Grandma and Grandpa and was even reaching out to them to give them a hug. I was surprised she even attempted her first kiss ever, on my Mom (I was a little hurt that it wasn't me but she did kiss me on Valentine's Day which was very nice. She even said "I love you" well, it was more like "I dub woo" but I'll take it. I know it was just a fluke but it was so adorable and I was over the moon. Of course she wouldn't do it again, especially not on camera and no one would believe me but I will never forget it.) She doesn't know how to kiss of course so she just opened her mouth like a fish on my Mom's cheek. It was so cute. She gets so excited just hearing my Mom's voice on the phone (which she does every day on speakerphone.) It may have something to do with the fact that my Mom has a high pitched squeaky voice like a Disney character.

My Dad was sweet enough to shave off his moustache, which he hadn't in years, so he wouldn't be too scratchy to kiss Michelle. She was reaching up to touch his face. Maybe she noticed the difference since the last time she saw him. He was lifting her up in the air, which she loves. He noticed that she's a little bit heavier. I'm anxious to see what she weighs now since her last trip to the doctor. The doctor was concerned she wasn't gaining weight consistently. Now that she's having just as much breastmilk and solid foods on top of it I think she must have gained weight. She certainly feels heavier to me!

Since turning 6 months it seems that Michelle is growing faster than ever. She does something new every day. Lately she's started gesturing with her hands. She'll wave her hands in the air, circling her wrists, waving and flapping. It's so cute. She says "Hey" and "Hi" perfectly and even waves hello. She scooches along on her tummy and once in a while gets up on her knees. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before she's crawling. She's learning to put one foot in front of the other as I guide her along and she can stand for a long time on her own, hanging onto the ottoman in the family room (I have my hands close by ready to catch her). Other Moms at the playtime commented on how well she sits on her own without any support. Even when she starts to topple she corrects herself. She's recognizing more words and phrases. She understands when I say "hungry" and "milkies." She even recognizes the names of toys "fishy" and "stacking rings." She loves when I read to her. We used to have one storytime a day. Now it's at least three -- one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one at night. She gets excited when she sees the books she knows so well.
She leans in at the pages she really likes and listens intently. I'm hoping she'll love to read herself. I can't wait until she can talk. I know that although she says many words now that it's just by fluke. It will be a treat to hear her say "Mama" for the first time. She does say "Dada" a lot, which of course is proof that D is just an easier sound to make than M because she's saying it even though she never hears it and there's no Daddy in the picture. Sometimes when she babbles it almost sounds like a sentence such as "Dada died in Iowa" (likely just a fluke made from random sounds but then again he might have, which would explain why he has never written to apologize for abandoning us! Maybe she's clairvoyant...)

Michelle always puts her hand on the page when I read the nursery rhyme "There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid." Michelle may not have a curl on her forehead (at least not yet, maybe she will have curly locks like Little Orphan Annie) but she certainly suits the poem otherwise. When she's good, she's an absolute angel, a delight, the sweetest baby that ever lived. When she's bad, she's a demon, a nightmare, terrifying. You should see her scream. I thought about making a
video of one of her full blown tantrums but I worried that people would think I was killing her with the way she carries on. Over nothing. She's just a drama queen. She SCREAMS bloody murder on the change table now. Especially if she's tired and cranky. I know she's a big phony and nothing is really wrong because as soon as I break out her fishy puppet (I have a clown fish puppet that she adores) she stops crying instantly and gets all excited and reaches out to hug him. He's my secret weapon for the grumpies now! She just wants her own way and if she doesn't get it, LOOK OUT! Especially when she's sleepy. The silly thing is, she'll fight sleep. She'll be drowsy, rubbing her eyes, looks like she's about to doze off. Then I nurse her thinking, this is great, she'll be out like a light. Next thing I know she's kicking me and rolling around and WIDE AWAKE. It's like my breastmilk is made of Red Bull! (And no, I don't drink copious amounts of caffeine, so my milk shouldn't have that effect!) Then a while later she's rubbing her eyes and crying because she's overtired but it was her own choice to stay up. Sometimes it just drives you nuts.
One night I tried to play a song for her on my guitar. She had been making strange with things and acting scared for no reason and now it happened with my guitar. All of a sudden she was afraid of it. OMG. I'm a songwriter. Please tell me my baby is not afraid of the guitar! I convinced her that she'd seen me play before and it was fine. I showed her a video of me on Youtube, playing my guitar. She looked at the video, then at me, then back at the video, then at my guitar. I picked up the guitar and started to play along with the video. Thankfully it worked and she was cured of that fear. I also managed to cure her of a fear of balloons, a fish shower curtain, a monkey made out of a coconut and other random objects. I didn't however try to warm her up to Tyson Beckford (I mentioned in a previous post that she was suddenly terrified of the portrait I did of him at the top of the stairs). I realized that the style of a lot of my artwork is expressionistic and dark and may be frightening to her so I have nothing but safe portraits of ladies on the walls. She still looks at that spot everytime we go up the stairs and is excited to see Nicole Kidman there. She even reaches out to touch the picture.

While Michelle was standing and holding the ottoman, I let go and sat back for a few seconds just to show her that she could do it. I was close enough to grab her if she started to teeter. I think it's a good metaphor for parenting in general -- you have to give them a little freedom and independence, a little room to explore and grow but still stay close enough to catch them if they fall. It's a tough balance knowing when to hold on and when to let go. I'm an attachment parent so I hold on a lot more than most. I like the way she looked back at me, making sure I'm there but there was a little pride in her face as well, as if to say "Look what I can do!" I can't wait to see all the things that she will do in the coming days and months. She'll be walking before I know it. I'm going to have to really childproof the house before that happens. That basement door will have to stay closed at all times. I'm not sure how Ali will get to her litter box...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Funny Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's been a year since I had a boyfriend (my last one was obviously Michelle's father who abandoned me when I was four months pregnant). That's a record for me. For more than two decades I never went more than a few weeks without a boyfriend. I was always dating someone. I'd go from one to the next often with no break. I always felt like I needed a man in my life. Michelle cured me of that. I couldn't very well date while pregnant (that would just be messed up!) and since she's been born I haven't had the time, energy or inclination to meet anyone. This winter I've been in hibernation mode a lot anyway. So the only way I could meet a man these days would be if it literally started raining men and one of them fell through my skylight. We did get some freezing rain the other night. Just hail. No males.

Born a hopeless romantic, I always celebrated Valentine's Day when I had a boyfriend. Some treated me to dinner and a movie or a show. Some boyfriends would take me away somewhere to celebrate (from Niagara Falls to the Dominican Republic.) At the very least they'd give me chocolates, flowers, a card, a stuffed animal. Once in a blue moon, jewellery. Or my favourite -- a love letter or poem. I remember speaking to married women who rolled their eyes at me and scoffed that they didn't bother celebrating Valentine's Day and had never even gotten so much as A CARD from their husbands! This could be why I never married! Most of the married people I spoke to (aside from the divorced ones) were not romantic. I said I couldn't be in a relationship with someone who had no sense of romance. Now although I don't have a boyfriend this year I am spending Valentine's Day with the love of my life: My little girl.

Strangely enough she's as intense and unpredictable as some of the men I loved. I never know what she's going to do from one day (or even one minute) to the next. Baby girls in general are more demanding than boys. A redhaired girl, a little moody headstrong spitfire of a girl is even more so. Sometimes she is my Hallmark card baby -- Life is beautiful, she's my perfect little angel, smiling, giggling, a sweet, precious delight. Other times life is like a horror movie and she's a little demon (in retrospect her father may have been the Prince of Darkness so maybe there's a bit of him in her) -- screaming, impossible, a nightmare. Lately she's on this kick where she falls asleep at a decent hour, say 11 p.m. or so, but then awakens at 3 a.m. screaming and almost inconsolable. The way she screams it's like she's had a nightmare or night terror and I can't calm her down. It's unnerving to me because I always heard that 3 a.m. is the witching hour. I didn't think babies had nightmares yet. Her mind is so active though. She's so hyper while she's awake and usually fights sleep so maybe her mind is racing in her sleep as well and she's freaking herself out. I finally found a trick to calm her down -- lifting her up and making a loud shushing noise like I did when she was a newborn. The constant shushing seems to help. She's so intense when she screams it's like she's auditioning for a thriller. She clenches her fists and stiffens herself out. I worried if she was teething or something but it doesn't appear to be anything physical. She has also started screaming every time she's on the change table now. She just doesn't like lying on her back. I explained to her that I can't change her on her tummy. She's so defiant that the second I turn to throw the diaper away she flips onto her tummy, stops crying instantly, looks back and me and grins mischievously. This is a girl that wants her own way. The scary thing is she usually gets it. I don't want to spoil her but I can't bear for her to cry. She has me wrapped around her finger and she knows it. Some of my boyfriends were like that too...

Sometimes it's not easy, especially on my own, to take care of such a demanding child. Of all the relationships I've had in my life, she is by far the most challenging but also the most rewarding. She really has taught me what love is. In other relationships when the going got rough, I got going, or they did. Though some of my relationships lasted several years, somehow I was never completely committed. I always had an escape hatch, one foot out the door. I had no patience. No tolerance. They would do something wrong and I'd be gone. I was always just an excuse away from leaving. Or I'd push them away. I guess I was afraid of commitment. Now with Michelle, there is no escape hatch. No matter how hard it gets, I'm in this for the rest of our lives. I will never stop being her Mom. It's so new to me. I've never loved someone this much and this deeply, especially someone who can make my life so difficult sometimes. I can be on no sleep, exhausted, depleted, in pain and carrying her in my arms for hours and I still love her. I get frustrated at times. But I get through it. Because I have to. Sometimes I break down and cry. I do it quietly so she won't hear and I hide my face so she won't see my tears. I try to be strong for her but sometimes I crack. I don't want her to see me upset. But then the next day she'll be so good, she'll play nicely, nap peacefully, chatter adorably and make me think how lucky I am. I know that I just have to take the good with the bad. For better or for worse. That's what commitment, what love really is. It's easy to love someone when they're perfect. The real test is if you can love them even when they are DRIVING YOU CRAZY!

As my Mom pointed out, it's just as well that there isn't a man in my life because there wouldn't be room for him. Michelle takes all my time and energy. I'm also co-sleeping with her. I always wanted love in my life, a lasting love, a partner. I have it in Michelle. It's a different kind of love of course. I used to think Romantic Love was what I needed. I was a Romance junkie from birth. As a child I dreamed of a fairytale Prince Charming that I'd meet someday. As a teen I loved "Wuthering Heights" and had "Romeo and Juliet" committed to memory (somehow impossible, tragic, ill-fated love was the most romantic of all to me. Probably why I spent years in love with an alcoholic.) I wanted to meet my soulmate, "the one," but my Mr. Right didn't seem to be out there. I wanted to find a good man but I kept attracting and falling for broken boys instead. You'd think that I would have given up on dating at all after such a horrendous track record but old habits are hard to break. If it hadn't been for Michelle I might have kept that pattern (jumping from one bad relationship to another) going indefinitely. The closest I get to romance these days is watching The Bachelor on Monday nights. Incidentally Sean Lowe is probably my favourite Bachelor ever. I liked him when he came in third on Emily Maynard's season of The Bachelorette and was thrilled that he was the new Bachelor. He's the total package. Beautiful inside and out. Sweet, sincere, sexy, with a sense of humour. There aren't too many like him out there. But if he exists there may be others. Of course the odds of such a man being single are probably about the same as the odds of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning. I'm not completely ruling out the possibility that I could find one someday but I'm certainly not looking right now. If and when the time is right, he'll find me. If he doesn't, Michelle and I will still be just fine on our own.

I love my little ginger girl. She's the only Valentine I need. I couldn't ask for a sweeter, funnier, more amazing partner to share today and every day for the rest of my life. No matter what she puts me through (stress, exhaustion, sleepless nights, back aches, sore wrists) she is worth it. I went four decades without understanding what love is. She taught me from the moment I found out I was pregnant. She continues to teach me every day. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. I would do anything for her. She means more to me than anyone or anything, even my own life. She makes me smile and laugh every day. She brings out the best in me. She tests me to strengthen me. She challenges me like no one ever has. She helps me to be who I'm meant to be. The Bible says "Love is patient. Love is kind. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never dies." I never had a love like that until now. Michelle, I love you! xo

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Snowed In!

I'm glad we were able to get out on several outings before the big snow storm hit. It was the biggest one we had had in a long time. It snowed all day, all night. Luckily Michelle and I didn't have to go anywhere because we wouldn't have made it. Cars were getting stuck in the street because the plow hadn't come yet (they didn't bother to plow the road until late that night. I guess they figured everyone was staying home from work anyway.) Schools and businesses were closed. People were out all day with their shovels and snowblowers. Someone was kind enough to shovel my driveway but I wasn't going out anyway. Michelle and I stayed snuggled inside. Unfortunately she slept so much during the day that she was then wide awake at night and wouldn't settle down.

Michelle is going through a phase where she's suddenly afraid of things that didn't used to bother her. She used to love the vacuum, now it terrifies her. She didn't used to pay much attention to my artwork, now she loves some of my paintings (she particularly likes my watercolour portrait of Leelee Sobieski. A lot of people have said it looks like me. Maybe that's why) and is afraid of others. Suddenly she was nervous of my watercolour of Tyson Beckford. I had to take it down because she was afraid to go up the stairs and pass him. It was one of my favourites but I admit he did look somewhat menacing. He was the only male portrait I had on display (I mostly do portraits of women.) Maybe Michelle figured there are no men in my life so there shouldn't be any on my walls! Anyway I replaced him with Nicole Kidman and Michelle was relieved. She still does a double take everytime we pass that spot, as if afraid Tyson will resurface. It is mostly at night when she's overtired that she starts making strange with things.

For a while she was scared of my shower curtain (it is a photograph of an ocean scene with tropical fish.) "Fine thing if she's afraid of fish when it's the theme of her nursery!" I thought. She likes her fish toys, books, nothing else seemed to bother her but the curtain. I was finally able to show her that it was OK. It's just a curtain. It's not actually the ocean in the bathroom! She touched it and realized it was just a picture on plastic. She's so aware of everything now. So fascinated by things. Maybe it's sensory overload in my house because I have so many things. I tried to Google it and see if other Moms had gone through any similar experiences with their babies exhibiting anxiety and fear over things suddenly. Any examples that I found were in toddlers, no one as young as Michelle. Apparently it's a stage in their development where they are discovering themselves as separate from the rest of the world and it can be scary for them. Could Michelle be going through that already? She certainly is very aware and very curious about everything. She likes looking at herself in the mirror but sometimes seems frightened, especially of shadows at night cast by night lights. A night owl who is afraid of the dark? Perfect.

Sometimes I worry that Michelle is too isolated spending most of her time with just me. I try to visit my Mom and sister often. I thought it would be good for her to interact with other babies so I went to our first public playtime. It went really well. She seemed to enjoy it. She played with another little 6 month old baby. I was relieved to talk to another Mom and find that her daughter was suddenly "making strange" with formerly innocuous objects like the vacuum as well. So I guess it's normal. Michelle certainly doesn't make strange with people at least. She was fascinated by all the new faces of Moms and infants and was smiling and squealing with delight. She enjoyed the song and rhyme time. She's used to me singing songs and reciting rhymes but these were new ones I hadn't heard before. One of them was "From Weebleton to Wobbleton is 15 miles." The lady hosting it took Michelle and had her bouncing from one knee to the other during the rhyme. I had pumped some breast milk to give her a bottle while we were there she Michelle didn't get hungry. I even managed to pop over to the bank and a store afterward. She slept well that night because she hadn't had much of a nap. I can never be sure how it will go though because sometimes when Michelle doesn't get an afternoon nap she becomes extremely cranky.

We made a trip to Wally World one day which was a success other than her starting to fuss at the check-out. I stocked up on everything I figured I would need. Unfortunately I didn't realize I was out of dishwasher detergent so I'll be washing by hand for a while (though honestly I usually washed everything by hand before loading the dishwasher because otherwise the food gets caked on and doesn't come off.)

We had a nice visit with my Mom and sister. I try to see them once a week or so except when the weather is bad and it stretches to a couple of weeks. Michelle was just fascinated by her cousin Shannon and kept staring at her. It was hard to get her to look at the camera. Michelle loves her Grandma so much. Even when she doesn't see her she hears her on the phone every day. I always have it on speaker phone so she can hear Grandma and Grandma can hear her. I told them how Michelle gets so excited at Mom's voice over the phone that she clenches her fists and shakes. May said that Reggie does the same thing when he's excited. Maybe it's a family trait. We are an excitable bunch. I managed to get a picture of the two of them demonstrating their excitement. Michelle also squeals with delight and bounces. I love seeing her happy. The challenge of course is when she's NOT happy. When she's tired and fussy, crying and screaming. Sometimes she's overtired because she doesn't sleep. She'll be rubbing her eyes like she's exhausted but then when I try to get her to sleep she's kicking her legs and wide awake. It can be so frustrating trying to settle her down. Sometimes it feels like she's just being difficult because she can! There are nights I'm so exhausted and my arms are breaking but I'll carry her around singing lullabies to get her to sleep. Finally she'll doze off and I'll go to lay her down only to have her wake up crying moments later. Sometimes it would really help to have an extra pair of arms...

Feeding is giving sleeping a run for its money as the most difficult challenge with Michelle. You just never know from one day to the next how it will go. She's tried beef now. Of course she detests it. I can't blame her. It looks and smells like dog food. I figure if I get at least a speck into her it's protein at least. I have all these jars of baby food and I don't want to pitch them without her at least trying them. I'll continue to work my way through the veggies and save fruit for last. I'm still getting so many conflicting opinions from every direction. I'm just trying to make an informed decision based on all the information I have. Every baby is different as is every Mom so what works for one may not for another. I'm just going with what I believe is right and what makes sense for me. I'm hoping that fruit will be a treat at the end of all this. Though some people say it really doesn't matter if you give the fruit first I think it's only logical that because it's sweet it would spoil her for anything else. I'm just going through each food, trying her for 3 days on it and moving on to the next. Once she's done all her veggies, she'll have fruit. Like a dessert almost. I ate baby apricots as a dessert myself before I even had a baby! At least she has her cereal, morning and night, and is breastfeeding just as often so I know she's getting enough nutrients into her. That's the most important thing.

I really do feel blessed to have this time to spend with Michelle. Even when it's not easy. I certainly felt happy to be safe and warm inside with her on the worst snow day we've had in years. While other people were out in the cold, pushing shovels and snowblowers and some of them trying to push their cars down the street, Michelle and I were playing inside and didn't have to go anywhere. As I've mentioned in previous posts like "Hibernation" and "Homebody" I really don't mind staying home these days which is strange because it's the opposite of how I used to be before having a baby. It's nice to get out once in a while but sometimes there's just no place like home. Not having to worry about my hair or makeup, not having to stress about trying to get anywhere, just hanging out in my pjs with a sweet little girl who doesn't care how messy my hair is or what I'm wearing.

Michelle has certainly changed everything in my life and in my world. Yes there are moments when it's tough but there are so many more moments where it is a sheer delight to watch her learn and grow and become more and more the amazing little girl that she is, with her own expressions, personality and quirks. There is certainly never a dull moment. She's anything but predictable. I just never know what she'll do. Each day is a new experience. A new adventure.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tastes like chicken...

I thought trying to get Michelle to SLEEP was a challenge. Then I embarked on the uphill battle of trying to get her to EAT. The rice cereal was a hit. I am grateful for that at least. I even videotaped her very first spoonful and posted it to Youtube (I posted a link in my previous post, "Solid food!") She did make a bit of a face. It was a shock to her after all, having something other than my milk for the first time but she ate it. Subsequent feedings haven't always gone so smoothly however. Though she likes the rice cereal, I sometimes even have a hard time getting her to eat it. If I feed her when she's not very hungry, she's not interested. If I wait until she is hungry (she breastfeeds every two hours so I try to wait until her next expected feeding session to give her the cereal in the morning and the evening and then follow it with milk) then she is cranky and goes ballistic. She still manages to get through the bowl one teeny spoonful at a time but sometimes it's a slow excruciating experience filled with tears and screams. Other times thankfully she gobbles it up with no fuss at all. You just never know from one day to the next what she'll do. I thought she'd get a kick out of holding the bowl and spoon herself and she did. She is a budding control freak already. She would love to do everything herself if she could.

It's tough when you try to do all the right things and you can't be sure what the right thing is. When it comes to starting solids it seems everyone has an opinion and they're all different. Some people said they started feeding their babies as early as 2-3 months! Others at 4-5. The What to Expect the First Year book says to start between 4 and 6 months. My doctor, the early years centre and Ontario's Nutrition Resource Centre all said not to start solids until 6 months. They said that the baby's body is not able to properly digest solids before then and that you can cause lifelong problems for them by starting too early. So that's what I went by. As far as what foods to start them on first, there is also a great deal of debate. Some say vegetables and fruit first and meat last. The Early Years Centre and literature from Nutrition Canada said that because a baby's iron level drops significantly at 6 months that they need a lot of iron and protein so you have to feed rice cereal fortified with iron and start the baby on meats like chicken and beef. So that's what I did. Also, to rule out allergies you have to introduce foods one at a time. So plain chicken with nothing else added. I stocked up on chicken with broth and plain beef so I'd be ready.

What the nutrition experts fail to warn you is that pureed chicken on its own is completely disgusting and there's about a snowball's chance in Hell of your baby eating it! I know how bad it is because I tasted it myself on my knuckle when I tested the temperature. It tasted like chicken but such a bland, awful version of chicken and with such a gross texture that I couldn't blame Michelle for complaining. She screwed up her face, gagged, turned away and cried. I was told that you can't keep the jars more than a few days once they're opened and she'd barely touched it. I didn't want to waste it so I tried to give it to the cat. Even Ali wouldn't eat it! You know a food is bad when your PET turns up her nose at it. I now see why the jars are so small. They actually need to be even smaller. No baby would eat that much chicken on its own in three days. I also understand why most of the baby chicken jars had chicken mixed with other things. Maybe they are a little more palatable. You can't give those as first foods though because you have to experiment with each food on its own separately. Once she's cleared on vegetables I can try those mixed baby dishes.

After I'd ruled out the possibility of allergy for chicken, I thought I'd try carrots. It was my Mom's suggestion. Maybe the carrots would be more appealing because they're a bit sweeter. My Mom thought if I mixed the carrots with the chicken, she might like it better. Not so much. She hated carrots about as much as she loathed chicken. The mixture seemed to make it even worse. She screamed. She would not eat it. Two negatives may make a positive but not when it comes to food. Stirring up two gross foods doesn't make them magically yummy. I decided to try a new tactic the next time I fed her. I'd give her a tiny spoon of chicken. She'd screw up her face but at least ingest a bit of it. Then I'd alternate with a spoon of carrot. She'd make another face but seemed relieved it wasn't chicken at least. I kept alternating so that she got a little of both. It kept her guessing what each spoon would be. It seemed to work. She grudgingly had the carrot thinking at least it's not chicken and took in a little chicken figuring at least it's a break from the carrot. Though a lot ended up on her chin, bib, sleeve and the tray, I know she swallowed some of it because her poo changed. It was a little orange and had some more texture to it (I never thought in a million years I'd be describing feces in a blog but life changes when you're a Mom!) Her poop definitely smells a lot worse now that she's having solid foods. It barely had a smell when she was only having breastmilk. I was using a lidless waste basket by the change table. With her new poo I could no longer leave the garbage uncovered so my Mom gave me a big tall aluminum can with a flip lid to use (one good thing about my Mom having so much stuff is that when you need something chances are she's got one! These days the less things I have to buy the better!)

Gradually I will try her on all different types of vegetables and finally fruits. Some say not to give fruit first or it spoils them for everything else because it's so much sweeter. I know that I love baby apricots. I even eat it myself sometimes. Others say it doesn't matter if you give fruit first. I'm not taking any chances. I want to make sure I get some vegetables and protein into her as soon as possible. Fruit is almost like a dessert. I'm hoping there will be foods she'll love so that I can hide other foods she doesn't like in them. I stocked up on jars of baby chicken. Maybe I can return/exchange them...

I went to pick up some more baby foods and a woman in the aisle suggested sweet potatoes as they were her daughter's favourite. Her little girl loved to eat though. I couldn't believe it when the woman said her girl was only 7 months. She looked like a toddler sitting in the basket portion of the shopping cart. She was big, wearing shoes, had a full head of hair. Michelle at 6 months in her carseat looked like a newborn next to the girl. I suppose it's all relative. Michelle is wearing 9 and 12 month old clothes but at the same time is very petite. My doctor was concerned she hadn't gained enough weight and wants to see her again in a few weeks to check her progress. I'm determined to get her weight up somehow. It's certainly not easy when she barely eats the foods. At least she's still breastfeeding just as much. She's so active she burns off everything she's taking in. I can't believe how much energy she has. It's exhausting! At least she has her cereal morning and evening but even that doesn't seem to slow down her nursing. I'm still nursing her every 2 hours. I told the doctor how active Michelle is but the doctor didn't seem to take that into account. It has to make a difference. I mean if I was doing jumping jacks 24-7 it stands to reason that I'd weigh a lot less than someone who sat around doing nothing and consumed the same or less calories.

People have suggested making my own baby food. I thought about it but there are two major obstacles in that department. One is that I don't even have a blender (I did but someone broke it and I never got a replacement.) The other is that I don't have a lot of time for cooking as it is. Trying to make baby food for her would be one more thing to stress about. She doesn't give me enough time to do anything as it is. Besides it sounds like after a couple of months they're supposed to start having bits of our food and finger foods mashed up as it is so I'm not going to go to the trouble and expense of buying equipment to make baby food that will only be consumed for one or two months. I'll make do mashing things by hand.

I was so relieved when I spoke to a woman at the Early Years Centre and she said that most of the nutrients Michelle needs at this stage, she's getting from my milk. Feeding solids at six months is more about introducing the baby to tastes and textures than it is about nutrition. It isn't until the 10 month point that most of her nutrition will come from food instead of my milk. So I've got some time to get her used to foods before then. I told her that Michelle is at least eating the rice cereal twice a day so she's getting her iron from that. The woman also suggested I try other sources of protein like eggs. I thought you could only give egg yolks at this point in case they're allergic to egg whites. She shook her head and said no that the latest findings show that you can give whole eggs. She said unless the parents have food allergies, baby should be OK with anything I'm eating. She gave me the number for Eat Right Ontario so I can talk to a Registered Dietitian for free anytime I have questions. She told me to try each new food for three days and then once they're cleared I can keep adding more to her repertoire. Someone else told me that a baby needs to eat a food about 15 times before they really get used to it or develop a taste for it. One Mom is a vegetarian so she's been giving her baby alternate sources of protein. It's good to know that's an option too if Michelle wouldn't eat meat. I'm going to keep trying though. I felt a lot less stressed after getting some feedback on the subject.

Since the carrots were a flop I figured I'd try other veggies and then take the plunge into beef. Now Michelle has been having peas for the past couple of days. Though she doesn't exactly love them, she doesn't hate them as much as chicken and carrots. At least she opens her mouth for the next spoonful. I figure if I find things she likes I can try to sneak a little meat into it. I hope to find many healthy foods that Michelle will love on this culinary adventure. She looks longingly at what I'm having and seems fascinated when she hears me crunching something. She doesn't understand that she needs teeth first. Teething. Sigh. That will be a whole new adventure...