The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

The Super Whites
Stella is nine months old – an update
Stella is nine months old. Her seven month milestone passed in a frantic blur as I tried to get organised for our holiday to South Africa. She celebrated by getting herself up onto all fours from lying on her stomach. I was convinced she would crawl immediately but she waited for her eight month birthday to do that, just in time for Christmas. Stella hit milestone after milestone whilst we were away. Crawling, rolling, eating finger foods, eating sand, swimming underwater, more international flights, some domestic flights, meeting cousins, meeting her great Grandmother. It was a wonderful time full of joy and pleasure and development but also some exhaustion and frustration and doubts. There were moments during the last week of our trip when I almost lost my faith in myself as a mother and I thought my intuition was failing me. It was all due to the ongoing problems we were having with Stella’s night sleeping which I will address in another blog post.
Thanks to the love and support of my Mum and Dad at home and Ron’s continuous commitment to taking care of me and our girls we were able to get through the sleep problems and Stella is now sleeping through the night consistently. This is a huge milestone for us all and understandably everyone is much happier now that we are all getting a good nights rest. Stella still fights going to sleep on most nights and will stand up in her cot, gripping the rails and shouting for someone to come and rescue her. She still has a dummy for naps and at night and she will fling it across the room in disgust until she finally settles and goes to sleep. On some nights it takes two minutes for her to pass out, other nights can take longer, especially if Amy is contributing to the problem but overall the girls sharing a room is continuing to work out for us. So Stella is usually in bed by 7pm and she will sleep all night and wake up between 6.30 and 7am. She wakes up in a gorgeous mood, full of smiles and delight and ready for breakfast.

Breakfast is two weetbix with fruit and milk and a piece of toast cut into fingers to chew on after. Stella is eating well and enjoying her food more and more. She is mostly over the purees that I made so lovingly but this has made mealtimes easier because I feed both the girls the same thing. Spag Bol for Amy and Baby Bol (a simpler version of the bolognaise sauce made with less seasoning and tomato and shopped up spagetti) with mashed veg for Stella. Stella loves fruit of all kinds including pear, apple, banana, mango, rock melon, strawberries and she will eat any kind of yogurt. She adores mashed avo and has tried lots of veggies such as green beans, broccoli, pumpkin, butternut, potato, parsnip and cucumber. Stella’s favourite snacks are cruskits with vegemite or sandwich fingers with peanut butter or liverwurst pate and she will always stop what she is doing to snack on a milk arrowroot biscuit. She can feed herself most finger foods and is becoming proficient at drinking water from her waterbottle. I have just introduced a drink of cows milk with her meals which she is starting to enjoy after the first few goes where she just sucked it in and then sprayed it out with a surprised look on her face!

My reasons for introducing cows milk at this age are complicated. Stella is very disinterested in breastfeeding which saddens me. I was hoping that as the night feeds decreased, so her day feeds would pick up again, but just like Amy did at the same age, Stella is self-weaning. When Amy did the same thing at a slightly older age, around 10.5 months, I was very concerned and agonised over whether to introduce a formula feed or not. In the end I decided to formula feed until the recommended 12 months at which point I introduced cows milk and stopped the formula. I have done some research in the years since Amy turned one and have discovered that its quite common for babies to start refusing the breast at around nine or ten months. It is developmental and can also be related to teething. Advice is to persevere and often babies will return to enjoying a breastfeed in the coming months. This is one regret that I have from when Amy was a baby. I wish I had carried on breastfeeding her past the 11 months that I managed to get to. However a big difference between Amy and Stella is that by this age Amy had at least 6 teeth and so along with the disinterest in feeding came the high risk of being bitten. Amy was drawing blood frequently by being so distracted when feeding and I was just so tired of all the effort and restrictions I was placing on my life and decided to give up feeding. With Stella I am determined to carry on feeding her, at least for the morning and night feeds. She still only has her two bottom teeth so even the occasional nips are not that painful and rather than supplementing her diet with formula, I have made my decision to give her a drink of cows milk instead. Stella is still a big baby at nearly 10kgs and has had no allergic reactions to any other the foods I have fed her and because she has been drinking breastmilk since birth I know she is able to process raw milk. All these factors make me feel confident that giving her cows milk before that ‘magical’ first birthday is the right choice for us.
Stella’s weight gain has levelled off now because she is so active, she crawls on all fours quicker than I ever remember Amy moving and she has been pulling herself up and standing for a few weeks. She can balance by holding on with one hand whilst grabbing at things and is stable on her feet even when trying to poke her fingers into the dvd player or change the channels on the tv with the remote control. She is into everything and loves wires, plugs, remotes, phones, cameras, laptops and anything else you could think of that babies should be playing with. She laughs when I tell her “No” sharply and will happily play with me for ages by repeatedly going back to the Foxtel box to try and push the flashing lights even when I keep picking her up and removing her. Stella has learnt the value of the tactical cry and will sink to the floor and hunch her shoulders over and bellow her distress if her sister removes something from her hands or I take something away from her. She is a danger to all books and bits of paper and likes nothing better than to chew up important documents that aren’t put far enough out of reach!
Stella is such a happy baby, she smiles a lot and shows off her beautiful dimple and now she is quick to laugh, most especially at anything that her big sister does. I love tickling Stella under her chin and in her armpits and hearing that baby chuckle and even though the game kills my back, I will gladly play “drop it and pick it up” over and over to make her laugh. Stella doesn’t need her dummy during the day and its nowhere near as important to her or me as it was with Amy. I am not sure if that’s just because I am a little more relaxed second time around or whether Stella really is just a more laidback baby but its good. The dummys live in the cot and I don’t panic if I go out without one, Stella will fall asleep in the car without it if she is tired enough and she is easily distracted from crying by her sister or a snack.
At nine months Stella is a joy and now that Amy has started at preschool two days a week I have more time to spend one-on-one with my baby. The first few days on our own were strange, I noticed how quiet the house was without Amy but more than that I was conscious of how little I was speaking to Stella. I realised that although I speak to both my girls all the time, I mostly address my questions to the child that will answer me, so I will say “right girls, are you ready for morning tea, Amy, would you like apple or pear?” I have spent the next few preschool days making a point of talking to Stella and she is responding in all kinds of ways. She can wave bye-bye and say “tatata ta ta” when I offer her food. We are practicing clapping and kissing and using Mama and Dada in the right context. I have noticed a few times that Stella will bob her head to music and even wiggle around if she hears something she likes when she is standing up. I have made a note-to-self to play more music to both the girls an encourage Stella to dance and enjoy it.
Sometimes I struggle to associate the Stella we have now with the baby we brought home then. There have been so many changes and not just the obvious ones like Stella’s thick blonde hair and her chubby legs which are getting leaner and longer. She looks more and more like the little girl I can imagine her turning into. I see her big sister in her facial structure but less so in her personality and skin tone and colouring. I love that people are surprised that I have this little blonde haired, blue eyed, dark skinned baby, she is our proper little Aussie beach baby who loves the sand and the waves and the water and I am enjoying every precious second of her.
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