Now that Jamie is 7 months old we are yet again on the verge of major developmental changes. Teething, sitting supported, crawling (well, sticking her entire face down into the mat and her butt up is a start right?), and of course, the introduction of “solids” into her diet.
I was thinking back with Sam and how I first started her on solids. She was 6 months old then, and I remember I took pains to mash, boil and puree her food from freshly purchased fruits and vegetables. I even remember strictly following the advice of the websites, which was to start with vegetables (so that there is less risk of them rejecting it later on), then fruits, and to introduce tastes every three days, at least 3x a day. As we progressed through the solids stage we flew home to Manila (for my husband’s internship) and thankfully the healthy and fresh ingredients continued with the help of the cooks in my mom and my mother-in-law’s homes.
Yet the introduction of solids to a fully breastfed infant is by nature frustrating. And there I was, religiously and diligently trying and pulling out every magic trick int he book. It was tiring, but nonetheless I persevered through a lot of the initial rejections, and so by the time we got back to Chapel Hill, Sam had already tried pureed versions of our local broths.
When I started Jamie on solids, I wanted to do the same thing; a small way of showing that I am still “that kind” of mom. So for the first few days, I painstakingly mashed, boiled and pureed my heart out of the vegetables and fruits that I could find. It was really only then when I realized that I was exerting so much more time and energy in all the preparations and a lot of it ended up in the trash anyway. (Side note: As a general rule, I’d only keep food for three days in the refrigerator. I didn’t want to make large quantities to freeze, because the de-thawing process involved heating it in the microwave, something I didn’t want to expose Jamie to yet. Plus, microwaves unevenly heat small amounts of food, and I wasn’t about to risk Jamie’s tongue getting scalded at such a young age.)
I also would end up really tired at the beginning of every day from trying and again getting “rejected”, and yet I would have so many other things I needed to accomplish. Plus, the “problem” if you will, was that I was making 4 different meal sets for the 4 different people in my home. My husband would occasionally request for a salad (claiming to be on a perennial diet). Sam won’t eat salad, and so I’d have to think something that she wouldn’t pick a fight about eating or trying. That was also different from my needs, as the resident cow, I also could not live on salads and toddler nutrition alone. I’d make big carbo-loaded meals for myself. For a while there because of all the different consideration sets involved in the meal planning, (most especially because I was trying to adjust everyone down to whatever it is Jamie could eat) there was more work than there was food, and a more exhausted me at the end of every day.
At that point I decided to phone-a-friend.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with Gerber prepared meals (or any other brand for that matter). It was really just me – and all in my head. I guess my first instinct was to try and give both girls “equal treatment” when it came to the solids department. No one told me I needed to do it but I just had to try. Yet, it’s very different. There are so many new factors involved. We are not in Manila where a magical hand passes a bowl of already pureed food to me, and whisks it away when we’re done. Here, I do everything myself; from finding the smallest carrot in the grocery store, to tossing the left overs and cleaning up each unfinished meal. Of course the biggest difference is that now I need to always be time efficient – with two little people in my care, I literally have my hands full.
I wasn’t guilty for long; I realized that instead of standing over a pot of boiling squash, I could spend more quality time with the girls. I could read more to Jamie or help Sam with her little projects or play with them both. That I felt was a better use of my time. I also took comfort in what KK my beloved doula said to me. For the first year, breastmilk is the baby’s primary source of sustenance and nutrition. The introduction of solids is just that; an introduction to something new. We shouldn’t expect them to get full on it just yet or derive much nutritional value from it, and it’s okay to give it time. Besides, they will learn eventually.
Now instead of stressing over the mechanics of it all (the order of the food, the number of times a day, the intake amount), I just go with the flow. On some days, Jamie will get 1 or 2 solid feedings, on other days she does not get it at all. On some other days, she will still get the fresh boiled ingredients, because I will cut out a portion from what I am making for the rest of the family.
And so far, I have not lost my mind. It’s worked out well for all of us, although I am still getting used to this new “me”. The old by-the-book me may have not let this new “me” get away with it, but then again they do say that motherhood changes you and given the situation at hand, a mother will instinctively adjust her survival skills. And again with my hands constantly full, I am forced to prioritize. Now, for as long as Jamie still gets daily amount of nutrients she needs, be it from my milk, some solids or from Gerber, then I think I can live with that. Besides, what’s the rush? She will learn to eat those things (and more!) in no time. 😉