The Venable Family

Our Adventures in Parenthood and Beyond

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why I Love Attachment Parenting & Why It's Okay That You Don't

I'm learning that we parent a little differently than a lot of people we know. We didn't purposely make the choice to do things a little differently but when we sat down and talked about how we wanted to raise Thatcher it just happened that we felt strongly about doing things a certain way. 

After a couple months someone commented that we were "attachment parenting." At first I thought this was crazy but the more I looked into attachment parenting and Dr. Sears the more I realized that we were indeed focused on forming an attachment with Thatcher and I liked that. And because it's something that I just feel so good about.. i'm okay with putting a label on it! So here is why I love attachment parenting. 

I won't lie. I'm a clingy person. So a parenting style that lets me be a little more involved with Thatcher more often is already appealing. But more than that I like that attachment parenting focuses on fostering an independent children and forming bonds that help them to respond to stress better, more easily establish lasting relationships, and so many more benefits that transcend into their later years. 

Even more than that though, I like that it's instinctual parenting. When I was pregnant I absolutely did not trust my body. At all. I didn't trust that I could carry a baby (and worried almost every day that I would lose him), I didn't trust that my body could handle the pain of childbirth (which is why I got an epidural, though I don't regret it. That thing was heaven), and that carried over into my parenting. I googled every single possible thing when I was pregnant and before I even left the hospital I found myself googling every single movement that baby made. And I think that cut into the joy that I allowed myself to feel with this amazing little thing I'd been given. Instead of basking in the absolute joy of having a newborn I worried about my milk coming in, about his latch, about his circumcision.. literally everything. 

I worried for the first month or two even. SIDS, blankets or not in the crib, everything made me worry. 

But even though I knew how I wanted to do things I am still learning to trust my instincts and to parent him based on my feelings and not my insecurities or whatever is popular or people say I should do. I learned to trust my body. To trust that i'll make the milk that he needs and that I'll know how to respond to him. And not just trusting myself--but Jeff too. His instincts are better than mine a lot of times. People joke that it should really be called attachment mothering, but even though Jeff can't feed him and works most of the day he does things that help strengthen their bond. Seeing how Jeff wakes up and cuddles him in the morning and how he's so quick to respond to his needs I know that he's bonding, too. 

And I can see how for us, it's working. Thatcher is becoming more independent and more secure in his role, but he's still so lovey with me. I love that he feels secure and doesn't need to ask for that.

That being said I agree that it doesn't work for some people. That's the beautiful thing about babies is that they're all different. So you don't have to compare them or worry about them developing the same because they won't. For some, attachment parenting is gold,.. for others it just doesn't hack it and that's fine! 

I still struggle. I still feel anxious about every choice I make for Thatcher and how it'll effect him and his relationship with me but learning to trust my instincts has been much more stress free. It's a journey and I don't think I'll ever be done learning how to trust myself and how to take care of that sweet boy. 

My favorite thing, though is babywearing. I've had this boy in a moby since he was just a few weeks old and he still loves cuddling mama! 



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Little Thatch is SIX MONTHS OLD!

Warning: Completely cliche mommy sobbing ahead!

Guys, my baby is six months old. My little six pound fourteen ounce floppy can't even hold his head up for a half of a second is already a half of a year old. It's stunning to think that he's grown so much. For example.. 

Wee little day old Thatcher.. 
To little six month old Thatcher! 
It just amazes me that he's the same little baby. Isn't is so cool how much they grow and learn in such a short time? Thatcher just amazes me. I was just telling Jeff the other day how he can make me feel so incredibly frustrated and so sublimely happy in the span of one day. It's astounding how he can be so stubborn and refuse to nurse because he's a half in off of his "groove" and then wake me up by playing with my hair as he smiles at me. The days are certainly long and the nights can be pretty short but I am just so grateful that our Heavenly Father trusted us with this handsome little babe. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that we can be with him forever and I'm grateful for how he makes our hearts grow and how he teaches us things every single day. So here's a look at Thatcher at six months! 
(Forgive the pictures he was being quite squirmy today.. I think he's over the whole picture taken business!)

At six months Thatcher is:

  • Weighing in at around 17 pounds and is 29 inches long! He's going to be tall and skinny like mommy and daddy but we're enjoying those juicy thighs while they're here! 
  • SO active! He's starting to try to crawl, though it takes a pretty cool toy to make it come close to happening.. like a massager. 
  • LOVES standing and taking steps. Every time we hold him up by his hands for him to take steps he spends a good minute or two just looking up with THE BIGGEST smile. I think he'll be much more of a walker than a crawler when the time comes, he loves being upright! 
  • Can hold himself up on his crib, ottoman, whatever he can get a good grasp of. 
  • Is going to try puree's this week, whenever mama gets time to make them. We'll do food about once a day for now. 
  • Loves his great grandma and great grandpa. Every time we visit them he's so happy. 
  • Loves playing with sippy cups. Even though he won't get liquids for a few months yet, he loves biting on the nipple. He also loves to play with bottles. You can tell he's never actually used one though because he looks like a drunk old man stumbling around with it. 
  • Sits up with no tumbles..unless he lunges for something cool. 
  • Boucing. Bouncing is where it's at, guys.
I've really become so confident in my intuition in the last six months, too. I was so scared at first. Was he eating enough, was he healthy? And I was constantly weighing him and measuring his diapers. . it was insane. We've always been lovers of Dr. Sears, but in the last three months I've just come to accept that he's healthy, happy, and meeting milestones. He's a great baby and there's no need to worry so much about how he measures up. It's so nice to just trust myself and Jeff and to trust my body is doing everything it needs to in order to feed him and care for him. 

And now, some more pictures from his impromptu six month photo shoot. 

This is actually Thatcher helping me write this blog. Jeff thought it was funny that we both had our laptops. (I don't think it's funny that he took a picture of me fresh out of a nap with wet-ish hair but oh well!)

Okay, so this isn't his six month shoot, either. But I came across it and just cried a little. Six months, really?!

Hahaha, that squinty smile gets me every time! 

He gets super proud when he can go from sitting up to on his belly with no bonks. 

We just love you, Thatcher Ryan! I can't wait to see how fun the next six months are! 



Saturday, November 8, 2014

"Mommy Shaming" And Why It Has To Stop

I'm not a feeble person by any means. All too often my husband is clamping his hands over my mouth before a not so well thought out string of bluntness spews out to the wrong person at the wrong time--it's one of my biggest flaws. Well, kind of. I like being blunt, but my timing and thought process could use a little help.

That being said, the first few months of "mommy-hood" were hard. Not in the sense of the lack of successive sleep or the fact that all of my clothes were suddenly being accessorized with baby puke and poop (yellow and white are in this season--right?) but more so in the sense of how I began to see myself as a mother. 

I love being Little Thatch's mom more than anything I've ever done in my life, period. He's completed Jeffrey and I more than I can say and we feel just a constant sense of contentment in our home because of him, even when we're all having a hard day and just watch the clock for bedtime. But there's an aspect of being a mom in today's society that thankfully is getting more attention, but it still seems to be a problem. "Mommy Shaming." 

I'd read articles about judging other moms and having parenting preferences while I was pregnant and I was sure that I wouldn't be that mom. I'm a very "what works me may not work for you" type of girl. And because I'm not usually that person sent into massive anxiety about something I've said or something that's been said to me I didn't even spend two seconds thinking about how others shaming may affect me. It just didn't seem like a possibility. 

But most nights I would go to bed feeling incredibly inadequate. Feeling as though every choice I was making was being scrutinized by loved ones and strangers alike, and I began to feel that tight-chested panic each day as I made choices concerning my son. It was awful. 

And this is why we, as moms and parents and grandparents and random people you meet at the park, have got to put a stop to the judgmental part of parenthood that's becoming so popular. It's beginning to affect how some moms measure their self worth. Instead of spending time laughing and playing with this amazing growing thing that I get to be a part of I was spending my days on autopilot while I felt sorry for myself because I wasn't making the "popular" or "right" choices for him. And the thought that those choices could affect him for his entire life only worsened my guilt. 

This isn't to say that we aren't going to look at the choices another mom makes and think they're ludicrous. But I think that there is a fine line between looking at another mom and thinking "Wow I just couldn't do that" and thinking " I can't believe she's doing that." What it comes down to is that we're all going to parent differently from one another. We're all going to make choices that will re-affirm people in their own parenting style--and that's okay. When it becomes harmful to that person is when we make them feel inadequate for making that choice simply because it isn't something we would do. We need to learn the difference between disagreeing in terms of parenting styles and forcing our style on someone else in a toxic way. 

Finally after many nights debating the comments I had gotten (sometimes from total strangers, mind you!) about not doing a natural birth, how baby wearing thatcher for three or more hours a day would stunt his ability to walk, and how the fact that I don't foresee myself cutting off Thatcher's milk supply the day he turns a year old will make him into some weird boob obsessed child, I stopped. I reminded myself that Heavenly Father trusted me with this baby. That my husband thinks I'm a wonderful and caring mom and that I'm not that person to care so much about other's opinions...and I felt better. But it was a hard couple months of major panic feeling completely inadequate because I didn't measure up to other people and how they thought I should be raising my child. 

We need to celebrate being moms. It's hard! It's amazing, and messy and it makes your heart just swoon, but it's the hardest thing that many of us will do, We need to love that mom that's formula feeding because that's her preference. She's feeding her child wonderful nourishment and that baby is growing and learning because of it. We need to hug that mom who's had such a hard day and gives in to letting their babe watch a little tv to get a break--she's doing a great job. We need to just love each other (as cheesy as it sounds) and be proud of our choices as parents. 

And in an attempt to be proud of the way that I'm choosing to parent, here are a few things that I love about how we raise Thatcher: 

Babywearing: Sure, maybe Thatcher will just NEVER ever learn to walk and I'll have to moby him  to walk him to college (ha!) but those moments that I get to spend right now with him snuggled up against my chest and still manage to write a paper for a class are some of the sweetest moments that I'll have to look back on. I love having him "attached to my hip." I'd rather look back on those fun moments with him when he's older and has his own family to raise than sit thinking about how I could have spent more time with him like that when he was a baby. Given the right carrier (crotch danglers make me so sad!) babywearing can be comfortable and enjoyable for both of us! 

Breastfeeding: I'm not sure when we'll stop. I do know that my milk won't go sour the day he turns one so we'll probably start thinking about it then. It's selfish but I'm always sad when his feedings get shorter and fewer in between. I absolutely adore the time where we have to just sit down, the two of us, and eat. I love playing with his little hands and how he pets my hair while he eats. And I think about my friends who bottle feed and can offer their toddlers bottles for naps or comfort without the stigma of "you're turning them into boob crazed perverts" and I don't see why Thatcher shouldn't get that same comfort because of where it comes from. That being said it wasn't always so. Breastfeeding is hands down the hardest most painful thing I've ever done and every single day in the first month I wanted (and begged my husband repeatedly) to use formula. I don't breastfeed because I think I'm better than you or because I think you're awful for not doing it. I do it because it's good for him (and with the science we have these days, formula is also extremely good!), because it's free (let's hear it for the poor college parents!), and mostly because my husband was there every single day to make sure I stuck to it. A lot of people don't have that. Luckily after a month or so the pain stopped and now it's one of my favorite things in the world. However we choose to feed our children the most important thing is that we're feeding them. And it just astounds me how many people are so interested in how long I'll feed Thatcher breastmilk. Let's just clear that up--I have NO idea. :) 

No-Cry: Okay, so obviously babies cry. It's one of their few functions they have when you get them. But in my mind if there's a way that I can make whatever he's crying about better...why wouldn't I do that?  He never cries just to annoy me (though sometimes it seriously does). He cries because he's hungry, or bored or lonely. There are so many reasons why he cries and I feel as though all of them are valid. That works for us. For some people it may not and that's okay. For us we try to be quick to his needs and if he's still crying we know we've done our best and just comfort him. So yes, sometimes he will cry. Has this quickness to his side made him a little more "attached" or "clingy".. sure. He's a solid mamas boy. He won't just open arms and go to you. I'm sorry. I don't totally see why he should be trained to do that, but he doesn't. I'm his mom and that's his dad., Of course he likes us more than you. Sometimes I think that hurts people's feelings.. and I get it. You just want to hold the cute baby and have him not scream at you. But he's not totally anti-social. If you let him get used to his surroundings and play a little bit then come over and play with him or talk to him he'll feel more comfortable and probably let you hold him. But I think that's pretty normal. If some stranger came up to me in the store and just started hugging me and telling me how cute I am I think I'd be a little uncomfortable too..so I'm okay with my clingy baby! 

Basically I think it boils down to thinking about how our actions affect others. Before we criticize that mom who does things her own way (and the many many like her) we need to think beyond what we're telling her and how that's going to make her feel about herself. We just need to love each other for our differences and for our cute kids sake stop being so judgmental!  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thatcher's 5 Month Update and First Halloween!

What a busy month we've had! This month Thatcher turned FIVE MONTHS! How is that possible? We were just visiting our friend and her soon to be one month old and Jeff and I just couldn't believe that our "little" Thatch was so little not that long ago. Time sure flies.

At five months Thatcher is a busy happy little guy! His feedings are a lot more infrequent now--about 6-8 times a day. I'm glad because it's so convenient to have more time between his five to ten minute feeds but man do I miss the days of when he would lay peacefully (as opposed to biting and playing with his new favorite toy.. the nursing cover!) as he nursed for forty minutes. We're also starting solids toward the middle of this month, so that'll be fun to see him playing with new textures!

He's been rolling pretty well for a while now, though I think only because he still loathes tummy time and knows that's the only way he can get off his tum, haha. Now he's trying hard to scoot on his belly and he can scoot around on his back (mostly in circles, it's pretty comical). He's sitting up like a pro now, too. He can sit unassisted for a few minutes. I think in a couple weeks time he will be sitting all the time by himself. He's getting so strong!

He's also started teething in the last couple of weeks. Luckily he hasn't been the crying freak out monster everyone warned us about, but it has messed with his night sleep a little. I'm pretty sure it's his two bottom coming in. He mostly just grabs at them with his finger and chews while he moans a little. I can't wait for them to come through though because I've become his favorite chew toy for the time being!

We just adore this little boy. He's starting to get taller and taller so his belly is getting longer but his thighs and the rest of him is still pretty chunk. His laughter is just the best sound in the world and we do the most ridiculous things to keep it coming! He's a very very observant boy. He loves watching everyone and everything and loves to laugh and giggle with people.. as long as they don't try to hold him. He's very much a mama and daddy's boy! He's also turning into being quite sensitive.. he's a sympathy crier (even if you're laughing but he thinks you're crying). He loves peek a boo, his toys, his toes, being "eaten" by daddy, playing with our computers (like helping mommy type this blog!), and turning all around in his exersaucer.

We couldn't be more blessed with this one, Every day he puts something in perspective for us or teaches us something. We have our moments of worn out exhaustion but for the most part he's pretty fun!

This month was also Thatcher's very first Halloween! Jeff and I LOVE Halloween so we were pretty excited. We'd planned since before he was born to make him an Ewok for Halloween, but the costume didn't look as great as we'd wanted but luckily my best friend had an elephant costume she didn't use last year so we just threw that on him, which was just adorable. He didn't seem to mind the head part, either. He actually liked reaching up for the trunk.

Every year for Halloween Jeff's Aunt and Uncle's family makes homemade spudnuts and everyone comes and hangs out. It's my favorite family tradition because I just adore my husband's family! We went up a little early this year to help out and Thatcher was having a fun time playing with his cousin..until he woke up from his nap. I can't blame him. He went to sleep with a few people he knows okay and woke up with like a million people he didn't know, and had a little freak out. We dragged him out trick or treating with his cousin who is one, and after that he was happy again. It was a great first Halloween!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hello, Texas

Last week we decided that we missed my sister too much, so we flew to Texas to see her! I think one of the most exciting things about having a baby is that they remind you how exciting everything is. Everything that is boring and every day for us is something so exciting and first time for him. It's great!

I have to admit that I was pretty scared at the idea of two flights with a five month old. One flight being three hours with a teething vocal five month old. Luckily our first flight to Vegas was super early in the morning so by the time we were taking off Thatcher nursed happily and fell right to sleep. Then when he woke up he was giggly and happy and playing with everyone around us. I was so relieved! 

Until we got off of the plane. I guess he had a delayed ear popping from the descent because as we got off the plane and walked to our gate and poor little Thatch started SCREAMING bloody murder for like twenty minutes (although it felt more like two hours). Finally after calling daddy and begging him to pick us up in Vegas (haha! But seriously...) he calmed down and was a perfect little happy dream on the flight from Vegas to San Antonio. Thank heavens! That's when I learned that it's actually the descent that's bad on their ears...not the take off. So for the next couple flights on the way home I begged him to suck on anything as we landed and he did just fine. I'm glad he's not into his binky anymore but man it would have been handy for the plane rides! But with the poor kid's teeth coming in he just wanted to chew on everything. Overall he was fantastic though and everyone loved him (especially the people who sat by us and didn't have to hear a baby screaming!). And we were so blessed because we sat next to wonderful ladies on every flight that were grandma's and totally put up with his grabbing and loud laughing!

It was so so nice to get to see my sister, though. It was fun to get to hang out and spend time with her and her friends. And she had her friend cut and dye my hair which was fantastic, Thatcher was pretty exhausted from traveling and being off his schedule so he was extra clingy so he wasn't too happy to go to Aunt Heather and Uncle Ben at first, but by the night before we left he was warming up for sure. I guess that's the hard part about weekend trips with a baby.. by the time they get adjusted you're heading home. 

Anyway, here are a couple pictures from our trip! While it was sad being without Jeffy for that long, I'm so grateful he understood the importance of how much me and my sister needed to see each other! 

Thatcher cuddling with his Uncle Ben

Thatcher didn't understand how much room you DON'T have to kick on planes.



You can't tell but Thatcher took basically the whole weekend to warm up to Sarge and Miles


Riverwalk in San Antonio 



Sister Selfie!

Thatcher and Auntie Heather playing outside

Thatch agrees with vacations. Unless someone holds him.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Regret

This is going to be a little heavier than usual, but I just have to get this out there.

For a long time I've had people ask me about regrets--specifically in terms of giving things up in my life. I joined the LDS church when I was barely 16. Which meant that I didn't get the "typical" high school partying experience. Because of the strict covenants I made to my religion I've always had people ask me if I was sad that I couldn't "have fun" like you're apparently supposed to in High School. In the same respect when I joined the church I left a very...adult (as adult as a teenage girl can pretend to be, anyway) life behind. I had my "party" phase a lot earlier than some and so my friends from my old crowds would often pity what I "had" to give up.

But it never felt like I was giving anything up. Sure, it was hard to adjust sometimes to the day to night life that I'd chosen but I never felt like I was missing out on anything worth missing out on. Having experienced both worlds, I was sure that this one was for me.

Then I got married at nineteen. A baby! But, I was in love and I just couldn't for the life of me figure out why I would want to wait for an "appropriate" age. So a month or two after college finals were over and most of my friends were going home to see their parents and catching up I was getting married. Again, it was an adjustment. It felt like it almost separated me from a lot of my old friends because I was in this new phase of life that they hadn't gotten to yet because where I'm from it's more normal to...not get married at nineteen. And a lot of people acted (and still act) like i'm missing out on this grand college experience. I'm not out dating and going to parties and drinking. I'm hanging out with my husband at home and going to bed at 10 (okay, mostly joking about the bedtime.. mostly). Again, I never felt like I was missing out. I did a couple semesters of college unattached...and it was never as happy as my time in college being married to Jeff. I mean I get a slumber party with my best friend every night!

Right after I turned twenty-two I got pregnant. This of course made a lot of people automatically assume we'd messed up and now we were going to be stuck with a baby. We tried for five months to get pregnant. Yes, we're young but we were ready.. well as ready as you can be.

And again I'm met with people who act as though I'm suffering and missing out on my youth because it hasn't been the norm (again, where I'm from. It's very norm in Utah). And I'm touched that so many people feel for my situation, but I have no regrets. Not a single one.

I'm proud of my life before I joined the church because it made me who I am today. I couldn't be any happier with my life than now with Jeff and Thatcher. Sure I may be covered in baby puke most of the day while I rush to make my husband breakfast or do homework while the baby naps, but I feel more fulfilled than I could ever imagine feeling having the "typical" college experience. I love my weird combination of mom/wife/student. It's stressful and it's hectic but I wouldn't have it any other way. If we'd waited to get married we wouldn't have gotten to grow up together. We wouldn't have gotten Thatcher. How different my life would be if I'd given into the looks of pity and held off so I could finish school first or stayed in Oklahoma instead of moving to Utah.

Things work differently for different people. For me, this works. For me getting married young and having a baby young was the perfect move--for others it may not work.

But there's definitely nothing I regret, not a single thing. I wouldn't trade a late night movie marathon in my very unattractive pajamas or a sleepless night rocking my sweet babe for hours for a keg party or dorm rooms ever. These are the moments that I'll get to look back on and be happy about and happy that I got to spend them with Thatcher and Jeff. My victories are our victories and my failures are ours and I couldn't picture it any other way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Four Month Update

I can't believe that our little Thatch is already four months old! Where did the time go?! He's getting his own little personality and it's so fun to watch him grow into it. So here's Thatchers stats at four months:


Weight: Almost 16 pounds
Height: About 26-27 inches
Loves: Playing with his tongue, Eating, Rolling around, Talking (even in his sleep), Grabbing faces and hair, Peek-a-boo, Sneeze sounds and his exersaucer. 

We've just gotten too lucky with this little man. He's happy and laughing most of the time, and we haven't had any issues with feeding (thank goodness!). It's just amazing to watch him learning and growing. Even the simplest things like him discovering the water faucet during bath time or how he's learned to lift his legs to his chest during bum changes just amaze me. I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that he was the same little thing kicking and hiccuping inside of me! 

This month he's starting to roll over a bit more. He still only does it on his terms though. Stubborn boy. He's working his hands a lot more, he grabs literally anything we're holding, along with our faces and hair. He thinks that's pretty hilarious. Other than the usual developmental milestones at four months not much happening. I think he's just right where he should be. We decided not to start him on rice cereal or anything this month. Since he still needs all of his calories from milk and food would just be for fun at this age, we're holding off until he's 6 months or so. I'm so grateful to have doctors in my family who help us make those choices! Plus, it's a little selfish, but I don't want him to have "real" food until it's more of a need because I don't want anything to come between our feeds. I love that time and I'm just not going to be ready to give it up anytime soon! 

He had a patch of like a week where he had SERIOUS stranger danger. Luckily, that seems to be fading out. I think it was a growth spurt but he was super freaked out by anyone. He's gotten to meet so much family in the last few days with our Oklahoma family coming in and for the most part he's done awesome getting passed around. Minus a giant freak-out due to sleeplessness and constipation.. who wouldn't cry about those?! 

His 4 month sleep regression seems to be over, too, knock on wood! He's slept more normally the last few nights only waking up twice at the most so that's fantastic. Mama needs her sleep! 

I'm so beyond thankful that Jeff sees the importance of me getting to stay home with him and raise him and works so hard to make that possible. And I just love the adoration that man has for our Little Thatch. It's so nice to be a team and to get to play and love on this boy all the time together. We still haven't left him with anyone, and we probably won't for a long time. We just feel like he's a total part of us and really don't want to do anything he can't do with us. He's the best third wheel! I'm so excited to bendone with school next summer I can just focus on Thatcher and Jeff. I'm a little sad it's taken me so long to realize I don't need my degree; I really just want to be a mom. I can't wait to see how much more Thatch grows and learns!