I want another baby – now!

Dear Is This Normal,

Is it normal to want another baby so soon after having my first baby? It was like as soon as she was born, I just wanted to keep re-living the whole experience—aches and pains and all. I’m ashamed to tell people this: I know it’s insane. Even with how exhausted I get with her at two months old now. But I’m also afraid. . .how can I love another baby as much as I love my sweet daughter? 

Signed,
Ready for #2

Dear Ready,

Dear Ready,

OMG, this is so incredibly sweet and pure. Is it insane? Maaaaaaaaybe a little. Is it normal? YES! It’s normal because it’s how you feel. Every emotion and feeling we have about our own motherhood experience is 100% real, valid, and totally effing normal. 

Pregnancy and childbirth and motherhood are wondrous and awesome and transformative. You’re still in the first stages and honey it gets even more beautiful. And harder! It gets harder. 

But that doesn’t mean that what you’re feeling now will diminish or lessen as your little one gets older. Some people just really, really love the experience. The process. There is nothing wrong with that and you should not feel at all ashamed for feeling the way you do! When to have another baby is a decision between you and your partner and should depend SOLELY on what’s best for your family, not what anyone else thinks based on some made-up social rules about second pregnancy planning. 

I will say, two kids is a whole different ball game and it might be a good idea to talk to some parents whose kids are close together in age. My own girls are four years apart and spaced that way semi-intentionally, but plenty of parents have kids back to back and love it! 

But the beginning can be … challenging. It can be done obviously, parents of multiples are out here running the world every damn day. But it’s always a good idea to know exactly what you’d be in for—you can never be too prepared when it comes to parenting. Think: TWO TODDLERS AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. 

As far as being scared you won’t be able to love another child as much as you love your daughter, that’s a fear all parents have. And it’s trite, but true: you don’t have to make room in your heart for another baby, your heart just grows in size to love them both (or all) the same. 

You may be surprised by how that love is different, though. A lot of parents are much more relaxed the second time around, so you may find yourself being able to appreciate the little things you missed with your first baby. And your babies will likely be very different, too! So your second will have quirks and traits and do little things that your first didn’t. You may fall in love faster with different aspects of your second baby. It’s familiar but totally new, which is completely wild and sums up this whole parenting thing pretty well. 

You’ll know when you’re READY ready for a second baby. And whenever that is, you’ll wonder how you ever lived that long without them. 

It’s Just As Great the Second Time Around,
Is This Normal

Need to put the co, back in co-parenting?

Dear Is This Normal,

My baby girl is sick. We haven’t slept in two nights, I can’t get my work done. I hate being a woman in this society it’s just not fair. It’s not fair for women to work the first year of a kids life. It’s a joke. Our country is a f***king joke. My husband goes to work all day with no guilt b/c he’s a man and nothing else is expected of him. Is it normal to feel this way?

“Co” Parenting

Dear "Co" Parenting,

First, let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way mama: you are absolutely right.  

What you’re feeling is just so totally normal and valid. It’s NOT fair how normal it is. Motherhood is a glorious, wondrous thing. But it’s also incredibly (wait, let me stress them some more, incredibly, incredibly, incredibly) hard. Mentally, physically, emotionally—it’s heavy. And one of the reasons it’s so heavy on our shoulders is because we’re carrying most of the weight. 

Even though we also have jobs and lives and interests outside of motherhood, we’re somehow just supposed to magically balance everything flawlessly and without complaint. . . because as women, motherhood is OUR job, not our husbands’. Well, I don’t know about you, but I say: eff that! 

Sure, we might have a biological advantage in some areas of parenting. We do all the heavy lifting – pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding. In fact, research shows that our actual brain changes to make us more suitable for this role, and those changes manifest in how we multitask, our ability to empathize, and how we regulate emotions and hormones.  We are, quite literally, bearers of life. And with that distinguished title comes some massive effing responsibility. If you’re breastfeeding (even if we’re not) and your babe is sick and can’t go to daycare, who do you think will draw the proverbial short straw and have to call out of work to stay home? Moms. Why? Because we’re moms, and society has decided that only we can put out fires on the homestead. BUT, and here’s the real kicker: every single time a woman is called away from her role in the workforce to handle something related to her kids, she’s judged for it. Or dinged for it. Or outright punished for it. Moms are fired for rescheduling meetings when their child is sick, and demoted for taking their federally-protected pumping breaks at work. Astonishingly, two-thirds of breastfeeding discrimination lawsuits result in job loss … for the mom. Paid parental leave in this country is, at best, a joke (25% of new moms go back to work after 2 weeks because they literally can’t afford not to). The tide seems to be shifting, and many companies are increasing or extending benefits to their employees to make that transition a lot easier. But real policy change, real mindshifts, don’t happen overnight.

It’s absolutely a societal problem. But here’s the deal mama, fixing it starts in the home. While society may not expect more from him, you as his partner can and should. I’m a real big proponent of talking ish out, especially as it applies to creating an equitable and beneficial partnership at home. Maybe your circumstances are such that it can’t be 50/50, that’s fine! At the very least him understanding that the current set-up is not working for you is the first step in finding a scenario that works for you both. Splitting midnight baby duty down the middle, scheduling time for you to focus on your work, just stepping up in general at home to lighten your load – they’re baby steps, but with forward momentum. 

Women are still handling the bulk of childcare, but the tides are changing because moms like you are stepping up. You’re saying: I may be a superhero, but I am not superhuman. We are making ourselves vulnerable. We’re saying: we need help. Trust the process mama. Open up to your partner. We’ll get through this together. 



Putting the “Co” Back in Co-Parenting,

Is This Normal

I can’t sleep in the same room as my baby

Dear Is This Normal,

I can’t sleep In the same room as my baby, she’s 5 weeks old and all the noises she makes while asleep keep me awake and on edge. I have anxiety and need sleep. My husband and I have been taking turns sleeping between lounge and bed because he can fall asleep with all her noises. I’ve tried background music and white noise but it doesn’t work. Is this normal? 

Signed, 

No Sounds Sleeper

Dear Sleeper (or should I say Sleepless?!),

It’s crazy how much noise such little humans make, isn’t it? It’s not even the crying. It’s the sighing and the gurgles and the little peeps and that sweet little noise their lips make when they pop open. These are all great sounds, but not when you’re an exhausted new mama and you just need to get some sleep. Because even though the little noises they make are normal, the signals they send to our hormonal postpartum brains can definitely put us on edge. It’s not really about your baby making noises while sleeping.  It’s about how your new mommy brain interprets those noises. Since you mentioned that you suffer from anxiety, there’s a chance that what you’re dealing with here is postpartum anxiety and we need to talk about that.

Anxiety is never fun, but it can become really hard to manage after you have a baby. We hear a lot about postpartum depression, but postpartum anxiety is another postpartum mood disorder that affects approximately 17-18% of new moms. Some worry and anxiety is normal after having a baby. We worry about if they’re eating enough or getting enough sleep. We worry about whether  they’re too warm or too cold. Mundane activities that didn’t give you a moment’s pause now take on a whole new level of worry, like driving or even taking a shower while your baby is tucked safely in their crib in the next room. Anxiety is a biological response to taking on this enormous responsibility! But when those worries start to snowball, or you reach a level of anxiety that is impacting your ability to function during the day or sleep at night, that’s more than just the usual new parent worries.

Sleep deprivation when you have a newborn is (unfortunately) par for the course. But it doesn’t sound like you’re unable to sleep because she’s loud; it sounds like you aren’t able to sleep because every sound she makes puts you on high alert about what you perceive to be a problem or danger. Your ears will pick up her noises, even over white noise and music. Because it’s not the noise that’s putting you on alert, it’s your brain. 

 I totally relate, mama. I also had postpartum anxiety and no matter what the logical side of my brain told me, I was in a near-constant state of worry about everything. It’s hard to shut your brain off when thoughts are racing, but it’s near impossible to do so when you have postpartum anxiety. 

You’re right. You need to sleep. Right now, if your current sleeping arrangement with your husband works for you and you’re able to relax and get some shut-eye when you can’t hear her little sleep noises, then keep doing that. Being sleep-deprived can only exacerbate your already fragile state. 

But I also want you to talk to someone. Your pediatrician, your doctor, a friend, your husband. Get the ball rolling on figuring out if what you’re dealing with here is more than just the usual new mom adjustment. You should have your first postpartum check-up coming soon, yes? Talk to your doc. There are lots of treatment options available, like therapy or complementary treatments. Simple and small lifestyle changes like exercise and meditation and relaxation techniques can also help you manage some of your anxiety. The first and most important step is asking for help. 

To Sleeping Soundly Once Again,

Is This Normal

How Do I Know When To Start Feeding My Child Solid Food?

Dear Is This Normal,

My baby is almost 5 months old and our pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to introduce solids. But I have no idea where to start! How do I start feeding my child solid food? And what do I do if it turns out my baby doesn’t like a lot of the foods we give them? 

Sincerely,

Ready to Dig In

Dear Ready to Dig In,

Awwwww yeah! Congrats on reaching this, my most favorite of baby milestones! Introducing solids felt, to me, like a major shift in this whole parenting gig. Suddenly the baby wasn’t just. . .a baby, if that makes sense? They did more than baby stuff! Introducing solids felt like the first big change from blobby infant to babbling babe. It was the best. It was also very messy and sometimes very gross, but hey! So goes parenting, right?

If your pediatrician is giving you the green light for solids, that means your little one has already reached some pretty cool milestones, like sitting up on their own, doing the whole tongue thrust thing, and showing a general curiosity for what’s going on outside their baby bubble. But I totally get it—being TOLD you can start solids and knowing HOW to start solids are two entirely different things. 

While there are some definite no-nos (no honey and nothing that can be a choking hazard), the rest of it is pretty much up to you! So let’s get both of you off on the right bite so feeding your baby solids is a fun and exciting stage.

First, it’s important to remember that at this age, your baby will still be getting the majority of their calories and nutrition from breast milk or formula. You’re not looking to replace any of it at this stage—you’re just going to be adding to it. When it comes to introducing solids to baby, most parents follow the baby solid food guide and start with fruit and veggie purees, like apples or pears or peas. 

You’ve probably heard the old advice of introducing one food at a time and waiting three days to introduce something new. But many experts now agree that unless your babe is high risk for food allergies (having a family history of food allergies or eczema, for example), this precaution may not be necessary! If you’re still worried about this, introducing isolated foods (like apples for breakfast and sweet potato and carrots for lunch) will still allow you to pinpoint the culprit if there’s a reaction.

One more piece of outdated advice I want to clarify: starting your baby on a sweet food or fruit does not make them prone to having a sweet tooth. Apples, pears, and bananas are perfectly acceptable first foods. When it comes to choosing which foods to start with, a service like Little Spoon, which delivers fresh food made with organic ingredients right to your door, can take a lot of the guesswork out of it (not to mention save you a ton of time!). We don’t want to toot our own horn or anything, but here at Little Spoon, we’ve sort of perfected this whole fresh baby food thing – you’ve got enough to worry about, let us make this one thing a bit easier for you!

Pick a schedule that works for you and aim for a time of day when they’re the most alert and happy. You can start with a one solid meal after their morning bottle or nursing session, and one meal after their evening bottle or boob sesh. At first, your baby will probably only eat 2-4 tablespoons in one sitting, and that is totally normal! Sometimes, they might not be interested at all (also totally normal). It’s also a good idea to intro a new food earlier in the day and on a weekday; if your baby has a reaction to the food, you want your pediatrician to be reachable right away!

Most of the food will likely end up on their chin and shirt and all over the highchair tray—they’re still learning to control that tongue thrust. Don’t be surprised if your baby shows immediate dislikes or preferences to certain foods (even babies can have favorites). But don’t stop offering the foods your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy; it can take babies as many as 15-20 tries before they take to a new food. Variety is really important, even with babies just starting out on solids! That’s why here at Little Spoon, we have a varied menu of different flavor and texture combinations, and send each BabyBlend in pairs, so there’s always plenty to keep offering. Patience, and a really good stain remover, are definitely required when you introduce solids to baby. This is a fun stage, mama. Enjoy every spoonful.

One Bite at a Time,

Is This Normal

CBD Curious?

Dear Is This Normal,

I’ve been hearing a lot about CBD lately, but I’m not sure what it’s all about! I’m currently pregnant, and am having a hard time with nausea and back pain. A friend recommended CBD oil, but I’m really unclear about whether or not I can take it during pregnancy. I’m not even sure I feel comfortable talking to my doctor about it! Can you break it down for me? What do I need to know about it? Is it safe during pregnancy?

CBD Curious 

Dear CBD Curious,

I totally understand your curiosity! CBD is everywhere right now. It’s the hot “new” thing, being used to help alleviate a range of ailments from nausea and anxiety to sore muscles and chronic pain. Personally, I’m a fan, and have found it helps with my general anxiety and stress.

CBD isn’t really new—cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years. But as more and more states hop on the legalization train, we’re seeing a huge uptick in the promotion and use of CBD as an alternative therapy or supplement. BUT, and it’s a big but: there’s a lot we don’t know about cannabis-derived CBD, especially when it comes to the effects of CBD on pregnancy and a developing fetus. 

CBD is short for cannabidiol, an oil made from extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and diluting it with a neutral oil. It is a chemical compound of the cannabis plant, but it’s not the part of plant that gets you high. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it’s not psychoactive. Which is why it’s so popular as a medicinal supplement! You can take it regularly without worrying about mood changes, decreased motor movement, or addiction. 

If you smoke or ingest weed to get high, that’s the THC at work, not the CBD. CBD has been used in clinical trials to treat everything from epilepsy to PTSD. Nowadays, you can get CBD in pretty much any form: oils, tinctures, gummies, lotions, food, and beverages. Your friend uses it, celebrities use it, it’s everywhere! 

But, you’re not just anyone. You’re pregnant! And that changes things. You can google CBD and pregnancy and you will, no doubt, find a bunch of articles telling you it’s natural and non-psychoactive so it’s totally fine to use during pregnancy. But while I am a big proponent of CBD and weed (generally speaking), I’m going to be the Debbie Downer here. The problem is, when it comes to CBD and pregnancy, we have next to no research or data on whether or not CBD is safe to use during pregnancy. 

There is no conclusive evidence in the scientific community that states it’s safe. Now, there’s no evidence that says it’s unsafe, either! But most experts almost universally agree: without research, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Avoid ingesting CBD during pregnancy. This is one of those times you want to be EXTRA careful, and if you don’t know how something may affect your pregnancy and developing fetus, don’t take the chance.

Listen, I would still advise you to talk about it with your doctor! You should feel comfortable enough with your OB to talk about anything. While ingesting CBD is not recommended during pregnancy, some experts say that topical creams can be safely used to treat sore muscles and inflammation, since the compound doesn’t enter your bloodstream. Some doulas and midwives actually use CBD-infused creams and lotions on their clients during labor. Talk to your doc about it, but my advice as it stands today? Skip ingesting the CBD oils/gummies/teas/sprays during your pregnancy until there’s more we know.

Best to CBDon’t for Now,

Is This Normal

Dichotomy of Single Motherhood

When she’s with me for a whole day with no breaks, I want to hide, when she’s not with me I’m depressed and grumpy. The dichotomy of single motherhood.

Dear Single Mom.

Mama, when I say that I get exactly what you shared with me here, I mean I GET IT. I get it in a way that a lot of parents with partners cannot possibly understand. Single mom issues are so different. We talk a lot about parenthood, and motherhood in particular, being the hardest job there is. But we don’t go far enough with that assessment. Yes, parenting and mothering is incredibly difficult. But the problems single mothers face are on a whoooooole other level.

I’m going to share a bit about my own story here, so you know where I’m coming from. I’ve mentioned my girls in other columns. I have two wonderful, amazing spitfires whom I love and cherish with my whole being. When my partner and I started our family, I didn’t think for a second that it wouldn’t play out exactly as I envisioned.  But life has a funny (and rude) way of not going according to our plans. 

My marriage ended (quite unexpectedly) and I found myself trying to figure out how to raise my girls on my own. I was IT for my girls. Twenty-four hours a day, six to seven  days a week. I did it all, all of the time. I did it without breaks. I cried myself to sleep every night and woke up in tears most mornings. All of the joy was gone. I couldn’t enjoy the time we had together even though all we had was time together. After being their end-all and be-all for six or more straight days, them being with their dad was anything but a relief. It felt like a piece of myself was missing. I was completely lost without them.

It took me a long time to find a balance. But, I bring good news: there is balance! It’s OK to “turn off” mom on the days you don’t have to be mom. The adjustment of going from having your children with you all the time to being alone is tough. You may need to get reacquainted with yourself. Spend the day in bed, reading and binge-watching your fav shows! Hook up with some girlfriends and go to brunch or get your nails done.You might find that spending that time on you will make you a better mom, like I did. And that, in turn, benefits you AND your little girl.

You were so right when you called it a dichotomy. Motherhood, single or not, is full of stark contrasts. But the two parts of your very different worlds have one thing in common: you. I cannot overstate how beneficial it can be for both of you to use the time  that she’s not with you and use it to find and nurture yourself! 

I’m holding you in my heart, mama. I see you. I feel you. I hear you. You can do this. You ARE doing this. 

From One Single Mom to Another,

Is This Normal

I’m Constantly Worrying About Milestones

Hi Is This Normal,

Is it normal that I worry so much about my baby meeting all the CDC milestones? Is it me or are all the other kids super advanced? Why does my neighbor’s son walk at eight months but my daughter hasn’t crawled yet?
 
Milestone Maker
 

Dear Milestone Maker,

It’s TOTALLY normal to compare your kid’s milestone markers to other babies. It’s human nature to compare our kids to other kids to see how ours are matching up!  We compare ourselves to others in so many aspects of our lives—career, appearance, finances—and measure our babies by the same standards. So, yes, it’s 100% normal to worry that your baby isn’t doing all the same stuff on the same timeline as her baby peers. The thing is, comparing your baby to someone else’s baby is like comparing apples to sushi. No two babies are alike—not even identical twins! This was never more evident to me than when I had my second daughter. I remember thinking, “Two girls, cool! I’ve done this before, second time around is going to be caaaaaake.” And my children literally could not have been more different if they’d tried. It was like I’d gone back to Parenting 101, except I was cockier so the failures and letdowns stung way more. Every time the baby did something later than her sister, I worried about her. Every time she did something earlier, I worried about her sister! Our pediatrician had to sit me down and tell me to stop worrying, because despite being born of the same parents and nurtured in the same household, my kids were their own separate beings, independent of one another. They’re 9 and 5 now, and I’m still learning this lesson, ha ha.

Now, I’m going to level with you: not all those other kids are super advanced. I’d wager a guess that most of them are just totally normal, developing babies. Because guess what? Parents don’t brag about the normal, ordinary stuff their kids do. That’s not going to win them any accolades at Tiny Gym. They brag about the one-off stuff, the seemingly extraordinary stuff that they can use to set their kids apart from the herd. And you know what else? They exaggerate about milestones … a lot. I’m sure you’ve done this, too. An excited, first-time mom can jump the gun and hear “MAMA” when really, all her 5-month-old was trying to do was poop. You really have to take every brag and boast from parents with a grain of salt, just keep that in mind.

But you may have very valid concerns about your little one’s developments, and I don’t want to downplay that at all! There’s nothing worse than having a genuine concern dismissed. If you need some reassurance, schedule a sit down with your pediatrician. The CDC milestone guidelines are just that: guidelines. They are not requirements, and they are not set in stone. Some kids sit up before they roll over. Others walk without crawling first (seriously). Every baby is different! I know the whole development-thing is an anxiety swamp full of murky what ifs to get bogged down by, but unless your pediatrician seems worried, I want to gently encourage you to not focus so much on the guidelines or what other babies are doing before yours. She’s working on her own timeline, which is exactly right for her. And don’t worry that your eight-month-old isn’t walking. Once she starts it’s a whole new (incredibly stressful) ballgame.

Doing Things On Her Own Time, And That’s Just Fine.

Is This Normal