Bye Bye Baby, Hello Toddler: Weaning, Postpartum Bodies, Oh My!
Some define the beginning of toddlerhood as when babies turn 1 year old. Others define it as when babies start to “toddle,” or walk. Since Audrey wasn’t walking at her 1st birthday, she definitely didn’t feel like a toddler at 12 months old. Even at 13 months, when she was walking well, she still didn’t feel quite like a toddler to me. But something this last month has changed, somewhere between 13 months and 14 months, my baby turned into a full fledged toddler.
First, the language development feels like Audrey has entered a different phase in life. Her vocabulary has easily doubled recently. It’s almost as if her brain was busy processing all the mobility milestones, and once she was walking, her brain could move onto speech. I’m amazed on a daily basis the kinds of sounds and tones she can repeat back, whether she’s aware of their meanings or not. She even put together her first multi-word phrase last week, saying “bye bye Lone-sah” while waving. And while she can’t put together entire sentences, her understanding of language has increased dramatically. All of a sudden, I can give all sorts of simple directions, such put away the shoes, put back the toys, close the dishwasher, etc, and Audrey knows exactly what to do.
Second, Audrey is definitely more independent. She still likes being held by mama but if there’s something exciting that she wants to explore, she’ll kick her legs and flail her arms to get out of mama’s hold. In mommy and me yoga and Chinese class, I notice Audrey paying attention to the instructor more, instead of focusing on me or other people in the class, as if she understands the concept of a classroom setting. She also enjoys following the instructor’s directions when she can (her favorite is marching and suddenly stopping at the instructor’s directive in yoga class). With the independence the temper tantrums have started, a hallmark trait of toddlerhood. Toddlers are passionate tiny people, when their actions don’t agree with your intentions, and they cannot verbally express themselves, they become extremely frustrated. And here comes the wailing and tears. So far, remaining calm and explaining why (followed by a distraction) seems to be a good approach to calm Audrey during a tantrum, but it certainly is getting more and more challenging to take her out in public as she’s no longer an easygoing baby.
Lastly, the final indicator (in my mind) of end of babyhood, Audrey was completely weaned one week shy of 14 months. Topics in breastfeeding always draw a lot of opinions, so I’ll say that while I intended for it to be baby led weaning, the actual process was probably simultaneously baby and mama-led. Since Audrey was always a bottle hater and I am away from her during the workday, we entered the weaning process at 3 nursing sessions a day (morning, at pickup from nannyshare, and at bedtime). She dropped the afternoon nursing session pretty quickly, losing interest in nursing as there’s just too much excitement when we get home in the afternoon between seeing Lonestar and all her toys. She dropped the bedtime session on her own a couple of weeks after that, as she increased her solids intake at dinner time, and still held onto bath and story time as her bedtime cues. The morning session went on for over a month after that, as I was always the one to greet Audrey first thing in the morning ever since she was born. That changed recently…
At Audrey’s birthday, 1 year postpartum, I felt a huge urge to get comfortable with my post-baby body. While I generally felt at ease with my postpartum exercise intensity (as expressed in this prior post), I wanted to develop a more regular exercise routine now that I was no longer by any definition a new mom. I wanted to feel like the old, pre-baby me. However, I still had mom duties and a toddler’s schedule to consider. I didn’t want to spend any of Audrey’s precious at home awake time at a gym (as she’s with a nanny 40 hours a week, oh the working mama’s guilt) so I was determined to get my workouts in while she was sleeping. I found the earliest exercise class near me (5:45am barre class) and alternated that with pre-sunrise runs with my dog.
These early morning workouts meant that while I usually got home before Audrey woke up, it was not a guarantee. All of a sudden, BaBa instead of MaMa would sometimes be the first person to greet Audrey in the morning, change her diaper, and do all sorts of other activities before a nursing session was offered. I think the inconsistency in this morning routine is what ultimately caused Audrey to lose interest in morning nursing. Once her day had started with other activities and she was fully awake, she was no longer interested in snuggling up with mama and nursing. So in this sense, the final portion of the weaning process was mutual action by mama and baby.
It’s been 8 weeks since I started my regular exercise program. While I didn’t expect to lose much weight, I didn’t expect what happened when I stepped on the scale 8 weeks later. 8 weeks of combined running, barre, and yoga (burning roughly between 1000 to 1500 calories a week from these early morning sessions as charted in my Endomondo stats below), I ended up gaining 3 lbs.
Ha! Was this some kind of cruel joke? As a working mom, I can’t imagine devoting more than the 4-6 hours per week I had devoted to working out these past 8 weeks. Of course logically I knew what had happened, I gained muscle (which weighs more than fat) thanks to barre and yoga classes, but a part of me remained in disbelief that in setting out to lose those last couple of pounds to get back to pre-pregnancy weight, I had actually done the opposite.
I debated whether or not to post this next photo as I’m in no way in bikini model shape (and excuse the mom hair and no make up look), but I wanted to show that even though the scale moved up, I am quite confident that this new, 5 lbs above pre-pregnancy weight, post-baby body, is a healthy and relatively fit version of me. The left photo is the before, the right photo is the after.
8 weeks of waking up long before sunrise and apparently, I’ve toned up my bellybutton 😉
I jest, I jest.
I write this to document an average mama’s postpartum body journey. I gained the exact amount of recommended weight for a woman my frame during pregnancy (gained 28 lbs, recommended range is 25 to 30). I didn’t lose a ton of weight by breastfeeding, as some moms claim that breastfeeding just “melts the pounds right off.” I exercised a moderate amount and ate relatively healthy and didn’t see my body go back to its pre-baby form. After a more rigorous workout program, I even gained weight. But I knew I gave it a good, honest shot, and now I can feel comfortable in my post-baby body, knowing that the scale is where it should be at, and I’ll never have to wonder when I’ll lose those last few pounds or be harsh with myself about trying a new diet or exercise fad. Because the truth is my new healthy is pre-pregnancy + 5, and I can live with that. Babies change lives, babies change bodies.