Wednesday, March 6, 2013

20 Things I've Learned in Xander's First 9 Months...

1.       Soothies are a gift from God.  Always keep a brand new package in the safest (easiest to get to) place and DO NOT open them until it is a dire emergency – and that day will come.  These particular pacifiers will roll to the furthest corner of the room under the crib, dresser, couch, etc………. At 2am you will eventually find yourself digging in the secret hiding place to get the emergency paci – And you will go the very next day to buy another package.

2.       Weight limits on the diaper box are a general guide.  Xander was in the size 1 way past the maximum size and we had to move up from size 3 to size 4 way before the max.  You can’t take all the guidelines and sizes as an absolute.  Do what is right for your child, always.

3.       This is worth repeating from the last list --- it remains true that sometimes the ONLY cure for a horrendous diaper rash is moving up a size on the diapers.  It doesn’t matter that the size he’s in says it should fit him til he’s 26 pounds and he’s only 21 pounds.  It doesn’t matter how much Butt Paste you put on there EVERY diaper change.  When your child cries every diaper change and when he is in the tub and when his bottom is bleeding….. You will abandon an entire case of size 3 and buy size 4.  Money is irrelevant. 

4.       Your child will hit his head on everything.  Typically they will do it themselves; however, on occasion you will bang your child’s head into a wall, door, etc… Amazingly Xander does not seem to notice most of these incidents.  He does notice when he falls over backwards and hits his head on the floor.  Their little skulls are amazingly resilient.  I think we have made it to nine months (nearly) without a true brain injury.

5.       There is a real formula to making it through the night without your child waking up in a soggy wet pair of PJs in the morning.  There’s a variety of tricks and tested methods from double diapers,  pointing his penis down, pulling the diaper way up in the front, going up a size, switching to cloth.  We finally found a combo of many of the above worked best for us.  We use a Huggies Overnight diaper in a size larger than his regular daytime diaper and we pull it way up in the front and point his penis down into the diaper.  This worked like magic until recently when his daytime diaper size caught up to the Overnight diaper size.  Three mornings in a row with soggy PJs means time to move up a size!

6.       You may think your child is ready to do something ANY minute.  They might show all the signs that they are going to crawl, for example.  Other parents will say, “He’ll be crawling by the end of the week.”  And, it could be months before this actually happens.  Kids move at their own pace.  It is amazing to watch Xander try and figure new things out.  He took a full two months from the first time we said, “He’s so close to crawling!” until he actually crawled.  And on the day he finally crawled he also started pulling himself up on things and standing.  One month later and he’s cruising along the couch and transitioning from one place to another while standing.  It all happens exactly when it is meant to.  You can’t rush it or slow it down.  Just watch it happen and be amazed.

7.       No matter what others say to you – your child is perfect.  “Oh my!  He’s so big!” “She’s so tiny!” “He doesn’t talk yet?” “She doesn’t have any teeth yet?”  Every time you hear these comments as a parent you instantly hear that voice in your head saying there is something wrong with your child – you’re not doing something right – your child is delayed, behind, slow….  As parents we want our children to do the things they “are supposed to do” right on target to prove we are doing everything correctly.  Here’s the truth – our kids are doing everything right on target and we are doing everything correctly.  All babies are different.  Xander got his first tooth at 4.5 months.  He didn’t get any others until 7 months.  In the long run, his one early tooth did him little good and certainly didn’t set him apart from other kiddos as an amazing tooth grower!  Some babies are little and grow up to be tall adults – some babies are big and grow up to be average height.  As long as they are healthy and happy – take all those comments from others as their recognition of something amazing and special about your child. 

8.       Parenting is a lifelong course with no degree at the end and no fancy letters after your name to show off what you’ve accomplished. Your proof of accomplishment is the person your child turns out to be.  Our Pediatrician told Jason and me at a very early appointment that we “couldn’t do it wrong as long as everything we did, we did with Xander’s best interest at heart.”  You always worry that you are not doing it right, giving too much of this, too little of that, spending too much time on this or not enough on that.  As long as you are doing your very best for your child (and this includes asking for help when you know you need it) and you’re doing it with love – how can you fail?

9.       As much as I want to – some things I just cannot seem to accomplish.  I want so badly to read Xander a book every day.  Some days he is not interested – some days there isn’t time – other days I forget.  I want to take him outside more.  During the week it is dark when we get home.  On the weekends we are going here, going there, it’s raining, it’s snowing…. There are a million reasons why we don’t.  “We should…” has become a very popular phrase in our house.  It isn’t helpful.  It would be more helpful for us to say, “Let’s XYZ…..” and then do it.  There’s just such limited time in the day and there’s a lot to fit in between napping, playing and eating! In the end, there’s plenty of time for books and playing outside.  Today we might just play inside and tell stories instead.  And, that’s ok.

10.   The things I miss the most about my “little baby” are the things that Jason is happy to see go.  I miss the helpless little snuggle bug who needed me for everything. Jason loves that Xander is way more interactive and does lots of things on his own now.   I miss his sleeping all the time, because I got to hold him and he let me snuggle with him.  Jason is grateful Xander naps in his crib, and we are free to do other things during this time.  He’s independent and spunky and busy, busy, busy. And, I love this phase as well.  I just wish I’d savored those time consuming, frustrating, sometimes annoying moments a little more.  It’s hard in the moment to remember that “this too shall pass” applies to the good times as well as the bad. 

11.   Sometimes you don’t need to read the books or listen to the experts – sometimes you need to listen to your child.  We pretty much let Xander create his own bedtime routine.  He started showing us when he was tired and we ran with it.  His natural bedtime was pretty consistently 7pm, so we made sure to have him in his crib by 7pm.  He eats his dinner at 6:30pm, has his nighttime bottle, has a bath and then we create “Night Night” time – fan on low, lights off, music on and Mr. Frog with his heartbeat sound in the crib.  Although he fights naptime now (as his newest and most fun phase) he has yet to fight bedtime.  And, due to the wonders of technology, we know he’s not sleeping in his crib once we leave.  We can hear him moving around, banging Mr. Frog and singing to himself, but he’s in bed and he happily falls asleep when he’s ready. 

12.   Babies show love in some very hurtful ways – Xander pulls hair, scratches your face, and sticks his fingers in your eyes, hits, bites and a multitude of other ways.  It’s hard to teach an almost 9 month old to not do these things.  I tell myself it's just his way of expressing his love....... We hope he finds new ways.  Soon.

13.   It’s really hard to let Xander do new things all by himself.  I recognize he will never learn to get back up if he doesn’t fall down.  I know he will gain important skills by trying things himself.  I know he will fall, choke, hit his head, pinch his fingers, and stub his toe no matter what I do….. But, as his Mommy I want to try and avoid all these things for him. 

14.   Feeding a baby is super hard – not the act of spooning it into his mouth (although this can get a bit hairy at times, too) but figuring out how much, when and what kinds!  Rice vs Oatmeal? Multigrain vs Single grain? Stage 1 – Stage 2 or Stage 2.5?  Holy cow! And, when can your child start eating people food? Avoid honey, nuts, popcorn, grapes….. Make sure they get enough iron.  It’s complex and yet super simple if you ask other parents.  After 9 months, here’s what we’ve learned – if it’s nutritious and small enough that he won’t choke if he swallows it without chewing well he can have it.  He’s gaining weight, eats what we give him and has begun feeding himself a little with his fingers.  He's doing just fine.

15.   Breastfeeding.  You can’t please everyone.  If you don’t breastfeed long enough you aren’t doing it right for one side of the fence, if you breastfeed too long you aren’t doing it right for the other side.   You know what?  I breastfed my child for 12 weeks – through a six day hospitalization where I lived on IV fluids only.  I have done what I felt I could for my child.  It was not as long as I could have – it was longer than I thought I would when I was admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery.  I don’t care what Joe Schmo thinks of my parenting and what the neighbors think I should have done.  Breastfeeding is hard – super hard when you go back to work full time!  Some Mommies work in corporations where they are provided breaks and a nice room to pump – some Mommies have their own office with a locking door – some Mommies have none of the above and make it work.  I commend all of those Mommies.  I could not find a way to make it work and keep my sanity all at the same time.  And, in the end, Xander is better for the 12 weeks of breast milk he received and no worse for the last six months of formula.  Sometimes you have to know your limitations.

16.   Your Dr is a critical part of your parenting learning process.  We love our Dr.  He is willing to be up front and honest and doesn’t feel the need to “Dr Speak” us to death.  He’s real and candid and tells us like it is.  I would trust him with my life and I would trust him with Xander’s life.  I, also, however, have gone outside the box and trusted my own instincts.  He has always respected this and has never tried to “pull rank” so to speak.  I think it is so important to have someone in your corner that knows the critical information but respects that this is YOUR child.

17.   No matter how many times you sweep or vacuum your child will find the gravel, cat hair, wood chips, etc….. Our kid is always covered in pet hair.  We have a dog and three cats.  Could we be better housekeepers – you bet.  Could we possibly keep him clean and not covered in hair – Never.  It is a fact of life.  Pulling gravel out of his mouth is not a sign that we are bad parents because our house is a mess – it is a sign that we are great parents because we noticed that he had gravel in his mouth!  Choose your battles.  Xander is infatuated with the door mat – the dirtiest place in the house (next to the cat box).  Why keep him off it now if we plan to let him play outside later? 

18.   I will make any face/noise/action in a crowded, public place, as quickly as I would in my own home, if my child is going to laugh.  I am not embarrassed or humiliated.  If Xander laughs at it, I will do it 100 times over and over.  (If he does not find me funny or if he cries… then I feel foolish.)  There is nothing I would not do to make this child giggle.  His laughter is medicine for my soul.

19.   There is nothing more important than teamwork in raising a child.  I am so fortunate and blessed to have an amazing partner in this task.  Everyone needs someone – a spouse, a partner, a parent, a friend, a sibling, a neighbor.  Whoever is willing to help you parent your child and is willing to agree on the most basic parenting principles.  Jason and I have a system, a routine, a rhythm.  I could not imagine raising my child alone without support.  Single parents have my 100% utmost respect.  There is no harder job in this world than shaping a little person to be a successful, productive, contributing citizen in this world. 

20.   If you are not amazed and awed every single day of your child’s life – multiple times – you are not paying attention.  Babies are God’s most amazing creation.  I am so blessed and humbled that I was trusted with this opportunity to have one of my own.
Thanks for hanging in with us........ We still love you all more than ever! :0)


  1. #21 Xander is so very much the luckiest little shmoops ever. To have two wonderful parents such as you and Jason, he is set for a life full of love and happiness!

    I am so happy all three of you (and extended family) are in my life. I am certainly lucky!

  2. My how you have grown up yourself MOM............I loved reading this and know that both you and Jason are blessed to have this cutie <3

  3. Hi Joelle! Great post! I was hoping you could answer my quick question regarding your blog! My name is Heather and please email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)