One of my biggest strengths, I think, is my ability to follow directions. Therefore, one of my biggest weaknesses is trying to figure out what to do when I have no directions to follow. I feel confused, lost, and overwhelmed. This is how I feel as I'm trying to introduce solids to Jolie.
Actually, to be perfectly honest, this is how I've felt ever since she was born. It's frustrating, isn't it, that there are a million books, websites, articles, and well-meaning people out there who have an answer for EVERYTHING, but it will always be followed by, "Well, in the end, every baby is different, so this might not work for your baby." Hey, THANKS! That's really helpful!
It IS true, but still... frustrating, nonetheless. An academic in every sense of the word, I have spent countless hours reading anything and everything and querying everyone from my family to perfect strangers on the internet about this whole process of introducing rice cereal while still feeding Jolie formula. And everything and everyone says something different.
And Jolie herself is different. Her preemie-ness makes her different - she doesn't drink as much formula as the "average" 6-month-old. We waited until 6 months to start solids rather than 4 or 5, like some other babies get to. She doesn't sleep on a regular schedule (we just let her nap when she's tired, and wake her if we need to). My baby has somehow managed to be the exception to everything.
So, for someone like me, who hates playing things by ear and loves to have a plan, it's very difficult. I'm not used to operating this way, but I HAVE to, because obviously, her comfort here is more important than mine. But the thing is, she's being pretty easy. We've been on solids for a week and a half now, and she's liking it and having no problems. So why am _I_ having problems?
For starters, where do I go from here? I understand the whole "Introduce one food at a time" instruction. Kaiser says wait 5-7 days; other places say 3-5; some parents I've talked to were fine with 2. And her doctor says introduce veggies first (which I also understand), but then other places/people say it doesn't matter.
Once Jolie works her way through all the veggies and fruits in the cupboard the first time through, do we just go back through the repertoire and mix/match (the way adults mix and match the stuff they eat during the day)? Fruit and cereal for breakfast, veggies for dinner?
And what about the baby food that has two or three ingredients? If they have two things that she's never tried, do I introduce them individually? But where the heck do you find a single-ingredient jar of chicken baby food?
(Can you also tell that I tend to be a worrier?)
It will all work itself out, I'm sure. The bottom line is that, despite being an exception to everything and despite having no tailored instructions to follow, Jolie is remarkably well. She is perfectly healthy, and even better than that, she's probably the happiest, easiest baby I've ever met in my life. (And yes, I've met LOTS of babies in my life... I've got 15 first cousins alone that I've watched grow up from babyhood, and often helped take care of.) And my family, who've collectively taken care of more babies than I could even imagine, all say the same thing.
So... whatever Jimmy and I are doing, it's working. And in fact, I only get flustered when I read baby advice; when it's just me and Jolie, things are perfectly clear. It's just this whole "watch her for cues!" thing makes me nervous, but I've never been the sort of person who's been comfortable with taking my cues from anyone or anything other than myself. And even when it IS just myself, I hate to "wait and see." I like knowing ahead of time what I'm supposed to do next. When I lesson plan, I plan out everything to the day, and adjust as I go, rather than just "wait and see" where we are when we get there.
I guess I have no choice but to deal with my discomfort. And as Jolie is learning how to eat solids, I am learning something new as well.