I swear time is speeding up. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that Fenn has been a part of our family for six months now! It seems impossible (and bittersweet) that we are half way through our first year together. It’s been such a surreal time for Peter and I and our families to watch him grow and change. I think so far we are doing a pretty dang good job at being his parents. I wake up every morning feeling encouraged that I was made to be a mom. I feel as if I found my calling and it fits, Fenn and I, so I can’t ask for much more. Here’s an update on our little baby boy and myself– the good, the bad, and the adorable.
Fenn Gilbert Whitworth
Age: 6 months
Height: 27.5 inches (80th percentile)
Weight: 16 lb 15.6 oz (32nd percentile)
Fenn is a special baby. Of course we all know how special he is given our circumstances; but truly he is an excellent sleeper, a laid back, cuddly and smiley baby. (I say this with a bias only a mother can have). Don’t get me wrong, he has a shriek that can shatter glass, pulls your neck skin at a strength that provokes tears, and has a short fuse when he is hungry, tired, or wants to be held. But he is stinking adorable, so in my eyes he’s beyond perfect.
As a newborn, we swear Fenny didn’t do anything but sleep for the first 2 months. In fact, I had to undress him and rub him down in order for him to nurse because he was so sleepy. He also was diagnosed with a tongue-tie before we left the hospital which made it hard to latch the first couple months of breastfeeding (more so, it was very, very painful for me to nurse). We persevered and now, I can proudly say he has been exclusively breastfed for six months and counting! I AM REALLY PROUD OF HIM AND MYSELF! 🙂 He still nurses every 2 hours during the day, which is a lot for a 6-month-old boy, but I don’t mind as long as he sleeps through the night. He just really enjoys the milks (like a lot). Because I am always on some sort of antibiotic, Fenn takes a daily probiotic to help keep his gut healthy and he tolerates my milk well. We haven’t started solids yet but plan to try a more baby led weaning approach in the near future when he and I are both ready. That will be an adventure!
From the beginning, Fenn has been a good sleeper. He was the typical newborn that woke up 3-4 times a night to eat but then would go back to bed. At about 2 months, he started sleeping through the night. We also transitioned him to his crib in his own room around that time because he was beginning to stir in his sleep when I would cough at night. He moved to his room much sooner than I planned, but I am happy the transition was smooth. Currently, he takes two 2-hour naps and a 30-minute catnap during the day and sleeps from 7pm- 6:30am at night. Our nap and bedtime routine usually goes like this: nurse, change his diaper and sing a little song, turn on the sound machine, put him in his sleep sack with his paci, and then he falls asleep on his own. Sometimes he will fuss or babble for a couple minutes, but usually he drifts off peacefully. It’s some sort of witchcraft. He is the best self-soother and that has made my job a whole lot easier. Fenn is like Peter in the fact that they both fall asleep in about three seconds while you are in the middle of telling them what you had for lunch.
Fenn has hit all his milestones ahead or on time. Although, he is a pretty laidback baby in the sense that he doesn’t care to roll over that much even though he knows how. He much prefers to sit up on his own and or be on his belly to play. He loves to bounce in the jumperoo, mimic sounds, smile, and chew on anything within reach. He recently got his first tooth after two months of teething. I thought it would never come! He is always sucking on his hands, toys, thumbs, or paci. His favorite pastime is to pull off both socks and suck on his big toe. He is a serious sucker. Fenn loves to be out and about surrounded by people. I can tell he will probably be an extrovert like his mama. He will flash anyone a smile and really enjoys flirting with all the grandmas at Aldi. Fenn also loves his daddy! I swear dads get all the glory. When Peter comes home from work, Fenn smiles so big you can barely see his eyes under those squishy cheeks. He is a lovable dude, that Fenny boy. We love him so much!
Janeil Emma Jaggers Whitworth
Age: 27 years
Weight: 105 lb
Lung Function: 55%
Motherhood is not for the weak. Add cystic fibrosis into the mix and some days, *phew*, it’s exhausting. I will be honest in saying although I have stayed compliant to my treatments and medications; my body is feeling the effects of caring for our baby boy. Physically it can be difficult to be his primary caregiver, but it has been the most joyful and fulfilling gift. I was made to be his mommy; I just know it.
After delivery, my body healed really quickly. Even with the many, many stiches, painful nursing, and interrupted sleep, I felt really healthy despite the normal postpartum woes. The first few months we did fairly well adjusting to our new routine and sleep adventures. It is common with CF to see a decline within the first year post-baby, so I wasn’t surprised in December that we decided to treat my drop in lung function with three IV antibiotics. I went from a high of 71% lung function while pregnant (pregnancy was so very kind to me) to a 55% around the holidays. Of course a couple weeks into treatment, I developed some crazy delayed allergic reaction to Bactrim leaving me with rashes, shakes, high fevers and a 2am call to my doctor. We stopped antibiotics and let my body recover until the New Year. In February at my appointment, my weight was down a little more and my lung showed no improvement, but I felt great. As long as I feel ok, we are treating the decline as a temporary state of health. My job is to focus on eating, doing my treatments, and resting when I can, and of course loving my baby boy.
Weight plays a big role in overall well-being with cystic fibrosis. I lost the majority of my baby weight (26 lb) even before we left the hospital and had a really poor appetite for the following months. But determined as I was to breastfeed, I knew I had to fuel my body even if I wasn’t hungry. Having prepared meals in the house from friends and family for the first few months really helped keep my weight stable. Since then, I have slowly lost more weight (not ideal) but still am able to breastfeed as long as I continue to be cognizant of my calorie intake. After switching my medications around, my appetite has come back finally, and I am enjoying food once again. Amen!
Not all moms with CF are able to breastfeed, heck not all healthy moms can breastfeed, so I feel really blessed and hopeful that if I made it this far, I can make it to one year and beyond. At my recent doctor appointment, I asked my physician if she thought it was time to stop because I was declining. Her response almost brought me to tears. She said that this would be my only time to give him everything he needs—the immunity and the benefits. She knows how special it is to provide for your baby and that she would never want to take that privilege away from me. She didn’t think six more months would be so detrimental to my health that it was necessary to stop. I really appreciated the way she looked at the whole picture of my experience. As a doctor, she could have advised me that it was time to stop because of my low weight and declining lung function, but she knew as a mother herself, I would have been devastated. A lot of what it means to be a mother is sacrificing yourself because you love your children and hope to give them the best of you. You also can’t pour from an empty cup, and so I know my job is to be responsible with my sacrifices right now. Oh, how much you learn when you are suddenly in charge of keeping a human alive. 🙂
Although only half my lungs are in working shape and I’m a skinny little thing right now, my motivation to stay healthy and push through those tough moments is completely different. Caring for Fenny isn’t physically easy a lot of the time, but I enjoy it so much that it seems simple to me. You really do become a superhero version of yourself once you become a mom. I am exhausted, my body is depleted, I am multitasking always, and yet I live for the moments when he wakes up and flashes his gummy grin. I hold him throughout the day and think how lucky I am that he gets to sit on my hip and I have one less arm to accomplish anything. That’s my idea of a happy life.
Love and Light,