Isolde 7 months old: On the lookout for regular routines

by Veerle

As I’m about to press the save-button on my pc after writing this diary entry, I realise Isolde’s seventh month has been a crash-course in just about every aspect of life with a little baby: finding ways to get her to sleep, eat and drink and be happy, and finding ways for us, her parents, to more or less achieve these very same things…

We’re halfway August and the children are looking forward to the new school year, especially Daphne, who’s starting in primary school. Next week, we’re going to the yearly “drop-by-afternoon”: it’s the ideal way for the children to get into school-mode, and also, it’s when we find out who their teachers and fellow class friends will be. Very exciting!

Since we’ve come back from Italy, Isolde alternates one night of sleeping through with one night where she wakes up for a feed. During the day too there still isn’t much of a schedule to be found, in nursing times, or in naps. Somehow I just can’t seem to get into a steady rhythm again.

For example, I have begun nursing Isolde to settle her down right before naps and I never used to do that. I feel a bit annoyed about this because I’m well aware it’s not the best way to get her to sleep, or to teach her to self-soothe, but it seems like the only thing I can do to be sure she’ll take a decent nap, and that gets priority. Without it, she gets very cranky by late afternoon, and that in its turn messes up her evening and bedtime routine.

On the other hand, I figure it’s after all part of young motherhood and nursing, isn’t it? The whole idea of breastfeeding is that you can offer your milk at any time, not only for food, but also for comfort - especially as Isolde doesn’t have a dummy - and isn’t that just what I’m doing? I do feel good knowing she’s at ease at the breast, in her mommy’s lap. I’m a sucker for romance, didn’t I mention that before? Few things in this world are nicer than knowing you’re loved and needed - be it by a tiny baby or anyone else for that matter - and being able to happily live up to the expectations they have of you. That’s why I let my little girl nurse with me, simply because it makes us both happy.

So all in all, the absence of a schedule is not problematic, and it doesn’t bother me personally, but having one would be good for Isolde. She’d probably benefit from some more regularity, and it would probably also help her with sleeping through like she used to. I suppose time will tell, and I’m confident things will be different as soon as school starts again: then it’ll be just me and her again, and a bit of good old peace and quiet – no offence to my darling other two children ;-)

Now that Isolde has become used to vegetables, fruit is the next step, and it doesn’t take long before she eats up to 200 grams! So now she gets 5 feeds a day: morning nursing, vegetables, fruit, and then two more nursings (and sometimes also a night feed). Adjusting to solid foods has gone so smoothly, Tom and I can hardly believe it. In this spirit, I’ve re-introduced the bottle and formula. These had been put aside as long as we were on holiday, but this seems like the right time to give it another go. It takes her some time, but day after day Isolde manages to get more milk out of the rubber teat, although she hasn’t discovered a regular sucking technique.

September! Time for school. Daphne and Alexander are as ready as they ever will be. Daphne looks so grown-up with her new satchel, standing in the playground for the ‘big’ children. Alexander has already found his two best friends, so he’s running around and hardly even knows I’m still standing there, waving goodbye. And Isolde draws the attention of just about everyone with her full head of black hair - still the main topic wherever I go with her!

The house is so quiet again now. I’m determined to install a firmer routine into our days together. Step one: remove crib from living room. From now on, I’m going to make Isolde nap in our bedroom, where she also sleeps at night. Step two: keep a closer eye on Isolde and put her down for naps only when I’m almost certain she’s tired enough to sleep. That way, there might just be no more need for the extra pre-nap nursing.

Every afternoon Isolde lights up when we go to pick up big brother and sis from school, but during the day I truly think she enjoys the quietness: it takes surprisingly little time for her to adjust to my new ‘rules’. Although, come to think of it, it’s not surprising at all. We’ve always known she was the kind of baby who doesn’t like to be taken out of her usual ways (see my birthday party, to name one instance). Isolde being our third baby inevitably meant that she was born into a household which already had a set of running routines and schedules (Tom’s working times and later mine, school hours for the children etc…). Into a household with parents who don’t arrange their weekends filled to the rim with a zillion activities, especially in the evenings. On the contrary, during the past 7 months, we’ve led a quiet life, and enjoyed it too. Plenty of time later to catch up.

Having said that, as my part in Isolde’s feeds is shrinking (as are the breast containing the said feeds), I’ve reached the point where, on the one hand, I’m beginning to feel the going-out-itch, and on the other, I just want my body to be mine again. I’ve shared so much with my baby these past months - and wouldn’t have had it any other way! - but this part of sharing is reaching its end. What I would like to achieve is to nurse Isolde once in the morning, and have her drinking formula and eating solids for the rest of the day. This way, I don’t have to wave nursing goodbye just yet, and I open up the calendar to out-of-the-house evening events.

This is all wonderful in theory of course. The reality does only partly what I had in mind. Isolde drinks the bottle in the evening, but has shifted her new-found rhythm once again: from last breastfeed at 8.30 p.m. before, she now has the bottle at 7 p.m. and has started to wake up again now between 11 p.m. and midnight… I just nurse her back to sleep. Things have changed a lot for her recently, so I don’t want to overdo it and put her resilience to the test even more.

On a happy note, my going-out-itch will soon be scratched away! One of my highschool friends has invited me and 6 other friends to dinner, just the girls. Should be fun! We’ll probably talk about our children and men the whole time, but I’m looking forward to it very much! Isolde can have the bottle with her daddy after all, so it shouldn’t be a problem. That’s when Tom (who quizzes for fun once a month) casually drops into the conversation: “Oh, didn’t I tell you the quiz is this Saturday and not next week? I can’t very well call it off now, can I? The lads are counting on me.” I’m ready to explode! NO WAY am I giving up my first night out since ages. Luckily our ‘regular’ babysitter is still free…

When I come home after an evening of pure fun and laughter, reality checks in: Isolde has refused to drink, not one drop left that bottle. Oh joy… Now I’ll have to feed her in the middle of the night for sure! Or not: miraculously, she sleeps till morning. Whoever can see any logic in baby sleep patterns, please do leave a comment below, because I’m at a loss here ;-) !

At seven months our little treasure is practising her fine motor skills by sticking whatever she can get her little hands on into her mouth. We’re having to teach Daphne and Alexander to put away all their little toys (like Playmobil) when little sister is around!

Also, the doctor explained why Isolde still doesn’t turn over from belly to back: she has very strong ab muscles and hips - when lying on her tummy, which she hates, she will occasionally even try to pull her legs up to crawl - but she still refuses to put any weight on her arms and elbows, which apparently, she should do at this age. Not that I worry.

And finally, she treats us to lots of sounds: squeaking, moaning, and the classical baby babbling. We should really get her ‘talks’ on camera sometime!

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