My motto for motherhood is to be like a sponge. I ask almost every mom I come into contact with a parenting question (or like, 80 (thanks for being a pal, Sylvia!)) because in 99% of cases, there is no wrong way to do things. I want to take it all in because I know that Winston will likely be quite different from Brennan. Even moms with baby’s younger than Brennan have something to teach me! I have gotten a few questions and comments on hot parenting topics and thought it would be fun (?), or at least useful to address them here.
So I love breastfeeding and I understand that I could have come off a bit anti-formula while talking about Brennan’s medical conditions, but that is not the case at all! I was extremely frustrated that I did not have the opportunity to see if breastfeeding worked early on and found that formula was both unnecessary and dangerous for Brennan in his early days because formula usually has higher vitamin/mineral content than breastmilk. I feel extremely fortunate that we were able to catch that mistake and that I was able to breastfeed after pumping almost exclusively for the first 5 weeks.
When I got pregnant with Winston, my supply dropped dramatically so we switched to formula when he was a little over 9 months old. There are two main reasons why I dislike formula: 1. It is SO expensive and it made our wallets sad. 2. Formula content does not need to be approved by the FDA which I found so disappointing and a little scary. That being said, it was great to be able to feed our child when I only had literal drops of breastmilk left to give him and it’s even greater that women on various medications or with medical conditions can feed their babies well!
I’m not sure why this is the case, but I absolutely HATE pacifiers in my home. I say in my home because when I see your child with one, I think he/she is adorable and there are no ill feelings. But the second Brennan puts one in his mouth I am sick to my stomach. Maybe I read one too many crunchy parenting books early on, or I was scarred by the NICU nurses really forcing them on us. Brennan can be particularly expressive and loud at times and that is okay with us! It has always bothered me to hear parents say, “oh, baby, put a cork in it!” while shoving a binky into their child’s mouth when they are only babbling, perhaps at an inconvenient time for mom or dad. It also just confuses me when I see a 3-5 year old with one; I genuinely don’t know what purpose it serves a child that age.
We conceded to pacifier use early on when Brennan had to fast for 8-12 hours before his many surgeries. I could not imagine being awake and being unable to eat or drink for that long! Then, when he began teething/not sleeping well, we left one in the crib for his comfort at night. Now, he will use the pacifier at nap and bedtime about 50% of the time, which is a huge relief because a fear of mine was pacifier dependency. We have four more plane rides coming up between now and June and plan to ditch it completely before Winston arrives in August, when Brennan’s around 17 months.
After reaching out to a few moms, I found that this was a touchier topic than I expected it to be. I always planned to sleep train around 6 months, but Brennan’s health was not as stable as we wanted it to be. There was a brief moment where I thought we wouldn’t have to sleep train because Brennan was such a great sleeper (ha!!) but that changed during the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. When we were blessed enough to be at home during months 1-4 Brennan slept in a cosleeper that attached to our bed which was super helpful for breastfeeding! Around 5 months, he became restless there, so we tried full on cosleeping. We thought it would be cool to snuggle up as a family each night but Brennan never seemed comfortable and it just didn’t work out for us. So, I reluctantly took him to his crib, in his own room. He started sleeping much better after that!
For the most part, he would wake up 1-3 times at night and go straight back to sleep which we were okay with. Of course, since I was breastfeeding and his weight was a concern, those wake ups fell solely on me. When we switched to the bottle full time he began waking up more often and not being as interesting in falling back asleep which was frustrating. Then Liam left for weeks and all went down the drain. I made a friend at Bible study who introduced me to Babywise and was really into it (Jessica, you rock!). She gave me books, articles, and tips and has been extremely encouraging and prayerful as we decided to suck it up and truly sleep train. (Hence the blog hiatus…I’ve been so tired!)
We are going into our 6th night, with last night being the first night we really saw the fruits of our labor. Those first 4 nights were essentially sleepless and had a lot of crying from all three of us because we all really relied on that damn bottle. I don’t follow the eat, play, sleep routine perfectly, but giving the bottle 20-30 minutes before naps and bed has been a true game changer for us! When Brennan wakes up, we still offer him some water because kidney babies are more likely to get dehydrated, but we make sure to place him back in his crib awake so he can fall asleep on his own.
Perhaps this is a me-problem but I really, really dislike cry rooms at church. I think it’s because they are so misused by families who want to give their teenagers a place to use their phones, or a free –pass for young children to run amuck and pay no attention to the mass. Liam and I have always sat near the front at mass in the “general population”. Brennan likes to see what’s going on and though he’s not always quiet, he certainly has a lot to say to the Lord! Of course, if he starts crying or looks like he’s about to have a meltdown, one of us will take him out and attend to his needs. When he was young, I did breastfeed him during mass if he was hungry, and now we bring a sippy cup of water. We do not bring food to mass, I am 100% certain my child(ren) can go 90 minutes without food.
A few weeks ago, we began attending Latin mass in the extraordinary form. That service is a bit longer so we sometimes offer the pacifier, but mobility (or lackthereof) is now our main issue. We have books and quiet toys, but any tips on getting the babe’s to sit kind of quietly are helpful!
While we are not against screen time in general, our research and experience have found letting young babies watch TV or play with a phone is completely unnecessary and even harmful. We are proud to say the only screen time Brennan has gotten thus far are bits and pieces of the original Star Wars trilogy. Our children do not and will not be playing with anyone’s phone, though we are open to getting a kid specific tablet in the next few years.
In a few months we plan on slowly introducing some short TV shows like Veggie Tales!
I am a product of the public school system while Liam had gone to Catholic school. Thankfully we have a few years before we need to prayerfully discern what’s best for our family. I LOVE seeing what you all choose for your kids and really applaud all you homeschooling moms. I do not feel called to homeschool but of course will continue to look at it with an open mind (it just feels like a massive chore/burden for me because I have no passion to do so). If money grew on trees, our kids would be going to Catholic school in a heartbeat because quite frankly, what public schools are turning in to scare the crap out of me.
I will throw the biggest fit if/when liberal ideals and morals are pushed on my children before my husband and I see it necessary to address those moral issues in our home, at an age-appropriate time. I know not all public schools are like that, thank God, but have heard way too many horror stories (usually in the preK-3rd grade range) to blindly send my children there. But that is an angryCatholic rant for another time.
We aren’t against it but Liam and I need to discuss more on what would warrant a hand-swat versus full on tush spank. We do know we would like to avoid it as much as possible but let me tell you that Brennan is ALL BOY (I know that can really offend people now, associating my child’s gender and biological makeup as one in the same, but I’m not sorry) and we have seen that mischievous grin after I say “no!” one to many times. The kid is like a flying squirrel, I tell ya.
So that’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure many of you won’t agree, and that’s okay! The most important thing is to prayerfully consider what is best for your child, family and sanity while not forgetting Jesus in the process!