Monday, January 30, 2012

Bringing New Babies into a Blended Family

I am not ashamed, nor am I embarrassed; after 5 1/2 years, I have come to terms with the situation. Do not misunderstand, I love them, like them and have learned throughout the years that they did not ask to be here, more importantly, they really like me. I have grown to love them because I have known them since they were three and four years old. As I have mentioned, it is only now that I am no longer upset that my soon to be fiance has two other kids from a previous relationship.

It is not a topic I share quite often with others and although it is more common for a significant other to have children, many, still judge and immediately say "I could NEVER date anyone with kids!" I use to say that too; I had a check list of the perfect man and already have kids was definetely not on it, however, I fell for a man who did, so sue me.

At first, I could not get over that the man that I love made two creations with someone else? How could this man be near perfect but has this one imperfection? It took me awhile to realize that having children is not an imperfection, it is a blessing. I use to confuse the love he had for his children with feelings he still had for his
"baby mama," again, a realization that I learned years later that the love that one has for a child(ren) is separate from any feelings that one could have for someone else.

I share this part of my relationship for several reasons; being with a man who has children has it perks, I am able to see what kind of father he would be to our children as well as he could teach me or give me advice on some aspects of parenting. Needless to say, his children are pretty awesome.

How will "Everyone" else react to the news?

The most obvious reaction when finding out that you are pregnant is excitement. I would be lying if I didn't mentioned that in the back of my mind I was nervous on how "she" (we do not need to know the baby mama by name) and the kids would react to the new edition (at the time I thought there was just one). Some ask, why does their opinion matter? My response is that it is not necessarly "her" opinion that I care about, it is the children's feelings that give me pause. If you have not figured it out, the children do not live with us and we see them maybe twice a year. The relationship with my father is extremely rocky to the point of non-existent and I would hate for the kids to feel that they are not wanted, neglected or that we did not care about them because their father and I were having children together.

As I reached my sixth month of being pregnant, my fiance spilled the beans to the baby mama and the children. Naturally, she was upset and I didn't ask how the children felt.

The Kids are More Mature than I am

I do not want my readers to misinterpret this blog as if I am bashing blended families because I am not. My brother is a mere product of a blended family (from my father) and I love him dearly. I am pretty sure that I am not alone as to wonder how to bring new editions into a family that is somewhat established. For starters, explain the situation with the other children. Luckly, my fiance and "her" have not been together for a long time and the children know that so it was not hard to say that we were having babies. Second, send pictures to get them ready to meet in person. Third, just do it! Have them involved in some parts of the daily routine of taken care of their new brother or sister or both or one or the other. The kids met my daughters on Christmas and to my surprise they were extremely excited. They wanted to help, hold them, take pictures with them and my fiance's daughter even brought them a gift. I do not remember if I was even that mature when my father told me that his girlfriend was having a baby and I was in college. Eased my mind that they did not feel neglected but involved. There wasn't any awkward feelings at all.

Blended Families 

I will admit that I use to be jealous of my fiance and "her" because they shared something so special that I yurned for. I also did not understand the love that he had for them until I had my own. The anxiety I felt before was gone because now my fiance and I had children of our own together. I always wanted a brother and unfortunately my mother and father did not stay together long enough for that to happen; however, I got one in a different way and I would not change it for anything. There were times when blended families were look down upon or was taboo, but now, it is the modern American family. I am lucky that have future step children who embrace such change and love their sisters so much.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

6 Months and Eating Solid Foods

This is an update blog and I PROMISE to write more often; I did not realize how many fans I had.

*UPDATE* Mya and Milani are now 6 months and a week old. Times has flown! I remember visiting the NICU once I was released from the hospital to bring the girls breast milk and visit. Then, I thought I wasn't getting any sleep, but I soon realize, that was an understatement. The real work doesn't begin until they come home.

I discussed in a previous blog that I do not look at my girls any differently because they were born premature. I am aware that there are certain milestones they might get to later but for the most part, they are on schedule. I say this because now that my girls are 6 months, the doctor approved them for starting solid foods.

One Has it, the Other...Not So Much

Nuby Hot Safe Spoons Walmart $3.00
Since they were 5 months, I began giving the girls cereal in their bottle. They were on 8 oz of formula and still wanted more. I gave cereal during breakfast time ( one tablespoon) and one at night. Sometimes, the cereal helped them go to sleep faster and other days it did not. To introduce the girls to solid food, I started putting the cereal in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of formula. When starting a baby on solid food, make sure the spoon is rubber and has a small scoop. I recommend Nuby hot safe spoons; they are small and there is a color indicator that changes when the food is too hot.
Boon Inc. Spoon Target $7.00
I also recommend the Boon Inc. squirt baby spoon. Feed a baby can get messy and the Boon Inc. spoon makes the mess manageable by having a compartment to store food in the spoon that squirts out when parents squeeze. I was extremely nervous to start the girls on solid food and in the beginning it was a challenge. Mya and Milani both cried as well as started spitting out the cereal. I felt myself getting frustrated because I really wanted them to eat by spoon. I had to remember that babies aren't dolls, they are not robots and have their own mind. I also remembered that my girls were preemies and may not be ready just yet and that is okay. The last thought quickly faded as Mya started taken the spoon and gumming the cereal, swallowing every bit and opening her mouth for more. Milani, to this day, I am still  working on but she has gotten much better. She would not gum the food, nor swallow. As time went on, she has figured out what to do but she still spits some of it. Mothers with twins, REMEMBER just because they are twins does not mean they are going to do the same thing or develop the same. A lesson that I will forever learn. 

Baby Will Not Take Food, Now What? 

At 6 months, most babies are ready to begin eating solid foods, however, that does not mean they are ready. Here are some signs that suggest if a baby is ready or not: 
  • Can sit up right with support or with out support
  • Moves toward bottle 
  • Opens mouth wide before the bottle comes into contact 
  • Makes noise or watches you eat your own food 
  • Grabs bottle or tries to hold on their own with support 
If the baby can do some or all of these signs but will not take the food; here are some more suggestions to try that have worked for my twins:
  • If your baby is crying because they are extremely hungry and want their bottle, try using a rattle or a favorite toy that makes noise to get their attention and feed them while shaking the object. 
  • Patience. Do not try to over feed your baby just get it over with, put a little food on the TIP of the spoon at a time. If some of the food comes out of their mouth, swipe with the spoon and try again.
  • To feed; feed your baby with a scoop motion, making sure the food hits the roof of their mouth so they can swallow. 
  • Tried all the suggestions and still won't swallow? Try again in a week or so. Breast milk or formula is still the main source of nutrition, so it is okay if they do not take the cereal or any other solid food right away. 
Do Not Get Discourage

To mothers of infants who were born premature, remember the joy you felt when your baby finally got the hang of suck, breathe, swallow when eating by bottle? It was a challenge for your little one because of being born early and it was a huge milestone when they mastered it. Eating solids is the same thing and is the same way for those who were born full term. For 6 months (others maybe less) your baby received their food through the bottle, now they have to learn to swallow and chew. Some get the hang of it (like Mya) others will take a little longer. Keep working on it. As I mentioned before, try again in a week or so. 

Trying New Foods 

Research has suggested to try new foods with your baby in 5 to 8 days durations because you want to your baby to know the taste of each particular food. I do not recommend mixing foods together just yet.  Your doctor may suggest starting with cereal first. At the beginning, give cereal in a bowl after the first formula or breast milk feeding. Sometimes babies are extremely hungry and are not in the mood to gum solids. Before they go to sleep, give cereal in a bowl with the last feeding of the night. 

Doctors have stated to start babies with vegetables first and then move on to fruits. I suggest sweet potato and string beans. Gerber's foods are labeled with certain levels so parents know which food to start off with. 

What are your tips for solid foods?