Monday, April 30, 2012

The word is wings. Let's spread the word.

Today was my first time apart from the baby since the NICU. It was only about 1 1/2 hours for me to go get a teeth cleaning (originally scheduled for the day I had to go to L&D). My Doula friend came over to watch him. And of course everything worked out just fine. I can honestly say I expected no different. Had I been gone longer I might have felt differently; but I felt no anxiety about leaving him with someone I trust. It's all about the odds. I mean, what are the odds that the one time I have to be apart from him he'll suddenly get sick/choke/fall? Not very good. So I enjoyed my brief trip solo, which didn't feel great or horrible or anything; although I was reminded how much quicker you can do things without a baby in tow!

When I got home I called the drop in babysitting place in Pasadena - I'll go for a tour in two weeks and if I like it I will then have a quick and easy remedy for nights out. Woo hoo! I'm excited to try it out. By then he'll be seven weeks and old enough to be left at a group place like that.

Not surprisingly last night I read the chapter about "crèches" in French society in Bringing Up Bebe, which I think spurred my optimism about starting to leave the baby in someone else's care. French women don't seem to have the same guilt we Americans have about this topic. They view group child care as an important growing tool for the child. The problem is of course finding GOOD child care.

The only unpleasant thing about someone else watching the baby is figuring out the food situation. This morning after a somewhat crappy night with the baby I stumbled around trying to set up my borrowed pump for the first time, washing the parts in cold water hoping this would be ok, then frantically pumping on the floor as the baby slept and the dog barked. I have one small glass bottle a friend gave me which I used; apparently the baby drank about half, was so-so in his approach to the bottle. But at least he could get some nourishment. I figure I'm going to need to pump every day now to build up a supply for baby sitters. I have no idea how much he's going to need. Can't wait until I have this whole thing down and a system going. Right now I'm pretty clueless.

Tonight I am going to attempt to take him to a restaurant for a birthday dinner. If he cries I'll just have to go home. But real soon I can have someone watch him for adult dinners out. Awesome.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bed fail - first of many

So last night's attempt at getting the baby to sleep in the co sleeper was a bit of a failure, but I'm not convinced it had anything to do with the bed; it was already one of those relentless cluster feed/fussy nights. So I'll just keep trying it. I have to say the five minutes I got to spread out in the bed without worrying about him falling out/being smothered/being eaten by the dog was awesome.

So as I fed him for the bajillionth time last night I finished Le Conflit and bought the French parenting book Bringing Up Bebe and read about half of that. I was especially interested in - and puzzled by - the chapter about French babies "doing their nights" (aka sleeping through the night) by just a couple of months, apparently because the parents simply expect them to. She talks about The Pause - the French habit to not immediately rush to pick up a baby the minute they make a noise, and rather let them work it out themselves. So it's not Cry It Out exactly; more it's let the baby resolve their own sleep cycles. Which made me wonder if I'd already spoiled my son by picking him up all the time (well, unless I'm putting on mascara or eating a taco as noted). I mean, I do wonder, if it's ok to indulge a newborn's every whim, when does it become not ok? When do you have to "lay down the law", and when you do, how are the babies supposed to adjust to this?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Freedom or something like it

Today I started thinking about future plans, obligations, and setting myself up for being away from the baby for short stretches.

First, I have a dentist appointment Monday which was originally the day I went to L&D; my doula friend agreed to come over and watch him for the two hours I'll be gone. I have a club meeting Thursday that I don't know how to handle; we'd already skipped last month for me, but I don't feel ok leaving him for the whole evening yet. I may see if I can attend the second half with the baby. Then next Sunday the band has a gig. Either my sister will be here or another friend will watch him. So I can put it off for now, but eventually I'm going to have to hire professionals.

There is a place in Pasadena that has evening drop in babysitting at $10 an hour; I may try to do a tour next week. That would free me up for some, although not all, of my activities. This is going to cost a pretty penny, but I knew this going in. This is the next hurdle for me - trusting other people to look after my baby. I cringe at the thought, but it's something I'm going to have to face, and soon.

Our bedtime routine is changing, too. The first night home I had the lights on, TV blaring, and stayed awake all night just to keep the scary thoughts away. About a week ago I started turning off the light; a few nights ago I was able to turn off the TV. Today I set up the co-sleeper. I don't know when I'll use it, but I am starting to get paranoid about having him in the bed with me. We're sleeping for longer stretches, and I wake up with all sorts of tweaked muscles from sleeping in odd positions to protect him. I might just try to put him in it tonight once he's asleep. Then I'll know he's safe and I can spread out in the bed. Might be the first comfortable stretch of sleep since before I was pregnant, even! It's all about baby steps right now (literally).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One month development or a fluke?

So lately Bumpus has been a lot more personable. He has a lot more awake/alert time, cries less, and sleeps more at night. It's kind of a fog but I believe I actually slept a five hour stretch last night. Could my little son be awakening in there...?

It could all just be a fluke, or could be a result of my reading his cues better - or learning certain techniques (such as keeping him swaddled at night, white noise, etc). Anyway I'm digging it! I've been able to turn off the light and TV when we sleep now, and am considering setting up the cosleeper soon.

Yesterday on Bumpus' one month birthday, the book I'd pre-ordered for my Kindle arrived, "Le Conflit" (book about how the trend towards naturalism in mothering oppresses women, by bitchy French feminist). I've read almost all of it, ironically entirely while breast feeding my baby.

As suspected I'm finding it excellent and full of uncomfortable truths. The positions she takes are pretty accurate - the fact is, the mother who insists on breast feeding on demand for 3+ years, cloth diapering, making organic baby food, attending her child's every need day and night, will never be able to have a demanding career, period. However, one who is ok with day care and bottled conveniences, probably can. Now as mentioned before, I'm in a very unique situation wherein I can actually do all of those things without compromising my career. But this situation applies to almost no one (and certainly almost no single women).

The part about people's motivation to have children was shockingly truthful. It appears that various polls show people most often have children because of a feeling that it's something you should do, especially when time is running out, rather than an actual desire to be a parent or an actual love of children. Most people look at parenthood as something to be crossed off a list. And I hate to admit this, but I'm kind of one of those people. I had zero desire to endure a pregnancy or birth; I looked at both of those things as a means to an end. And I generally don't much care for kids. Had anyone given me a real snapshot of what all of this would really be like, a year ago before I started - had I known I'd lie on my bathroom floor for three months so sick to my stomach that I'd wish I was dead, had I known how awful my birth experience was going to be, had I known how relentless and unrewarding taking care of a newborn would be, I honestly never would have done it. And that's the truth.

However, I endured all this because I was sick of being single and childless. I was sick of feeling like I was missing out. I was terrified of dying one day with no one to carry on for me. I was sick of being jealous of my friends. I was bored and needed to change my life. And so I knocked myself up.

Do I regret it? No, I really don't. I have solved the problem of not having a kid. And he's amazing and worth it and I'm excited for our future as a family. But let's just say my feelings about motherhood are a lot more complex than "I just want to be a mommy." And I think it's ok to admit there are lots of reasons to take on parenthood, some not as altruistic as we'd like, but as long as you get here and your child is loved and cherished, does it really matter?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adjust your mask first

...then assist your child. Anyone who's ever been on an airplane knows what this is in reference to. And lately this has become a part of my burgeoning parenting philosophy. Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes mommy's needs have to be met first.

Meals have been a bit of a challenge, because by the time I've prepared something the baby's good will has evaporated and he wants something, so I would find I'd let the food go cold or be ruined while I held or fed the baby. The other day it dawned on me - he can bloody well wait two and a half minutes for me to eat a taco. If he's not in pain or danger, he can wait. So I've been putting this into action lately, and it's been great. His needs are met, and my needs are met. Win/win.

Yesterday I even found myself saying to him, "I'll be right with you when I finish putting on my mascara." Is this selfish? I'm sure some people would be horrified by this. But I have to say teaching children that sometimes you have to be patient is extremely important, and is kind of becoming a lost art. I think it's easy for new mothers to think of their babies as miniature adults - "if I were crying like that, I'd be really really upset". I know I felt this way initially, until I saw how quickly my son would go from beet purple screaming to pink and content - he's just communicating. He's bored, lonely, cranky. A change of position and he's fine. Sometimes in the car he'll scream his head off for twenty minutes, then fall asleep. I can't pull over every five minutes to nurse him or comfort him, so I just have to let him scream. Is he psychologically scarred by this? I think not.

Still, I do love comforting him when I can. Just now he was cranky as heck and I had fed, burped, and changed him, but he was still kicking angrily and red faced and crying. So I swaddled and shushed and rocked him and he fell right to sleep. There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction in that.

So I think this will be something I'll experiment with as he grows - when to tend to him right away, and when to make him wait. But I do find mommy does a lot better when she's well fed and rested.

Mall outing

Today I attempted my first mall outing with baby. My goal was cute wedges and cute dresses. I scored neither, but it was not the baby's fault; I had one of my "I don't want to buy anything unless I'm in love with it" moments, which meant I bought nothing. Which in the long run is a good thing. I think the things I want can probably be gotten cheaper at a Target or Old Navy anyway.

My idea today was to try out the stroller that the car seat snaps into. And I did. And this is going to sound stupid but the first time I pushed that stroller with my baby in it is the first time I really felt like an actual mother. Not the first time I held him, not the first time I breast fed him - the first time I pushed a stroller in a mall on a nice sunny day with all the other mothers, just out looking for a pair of sensible shoes.

Unfortunately, he did not so much care for the stroller; the minute we entered the store he started screaming. Luckily I'd planned ahead and brought the carrier, so the rest of the day I carried him while pushing an empty stroller. A friend later pointed out that he's probably too young for it still but will love it later. So for now it's in the car. I hope someone doesn't break the back window and steal it.

So today at least my purse enjoyed riding around in the stroller.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Four weeks

Bumpus is officially a month old today, but I will hold off on the 1 month photo until the 24th which is to me really a month as opposed to four weeks.

I took him to a dance tonight with mixed results. Rather than having him in the carrier, I kept him in the car seat, which he soon tired of. I nursed him a bit and did squeeze one dance in, and got to socialize, so I'm glad I went. However I'll have to figure out hearing protection for him - I got baby headphones for him, but on trying them out they are HUGE and tight as hell, definitely not suitable for a little newborn head. I will have to look into earplugs for babies, because he's going to be in a lot of loud environments.

Tomorrow I'm going to try another first, which is using a stroller. I want to do a little cheap clothes shopping (I'm particularly interested in cheap jersey breast feeding-friendly dresses for summer) and it's not practical to have him in the Beco for that. So I assembled the Graco stroller last night and will try it out tomorrow.

I also MUST start the cloth diapering. I don't have to stick with it, but much like the breast feeding, I feel I owe it to myself to at least try. It's just the fear of the unknown; the same reason I'm still using the nipple shield when I know I really need to wean him off of it. I just need to get the hang of the cloth; I know in the long run it'll be better (I love the idea of never running out!). Maybe I can make that my goal going into month #2.

I do feel more of a rapport with the baby these days - even though I don't get much back from him yet in the way of acknowledgement, I've decided to "act as if" - rub his belly, kiss his head and cheeks even though he doesn't seem to like it. I remember when things first started to click with the dog, and this feels a bit like that - I'm slowly learning his language and learning how to communicate with him. There is a code there; I'm just on the brink of cracking it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Bumpus Among Us

So after much deliberation and trial and error, I have decided my son's nickname is Bumpus. Mainly because it can be said in a silly voice with a lateral lisp, and matches his newborn habit of bumping his head around (until the neck control kicks in).

Today I went on a walk around the Silverlake reservoir with a friend I hadn't seen in 10+ years who I reconnected with on Facebook. She has a seven-year-old and a new baby. We chatted about French vs American parenting, judgment by other mothers, preschools, our bitchy anti-kid former selves. It seems like an ongoing theme that women formerly super judgmental of other women and their kids then live to regret their attitude when they have kids themselves. I know I have thought about this a lot lately - how I now get the impulse to bring your baby everywhere because you just don't want to/can't afford to shell out for a sitter, how you can't talk about anything but baby stuff, how you can't stay on the phone for more than a few minutes. In some ways I hate that I've become *that* parent; but since I am I now understand and have empathy for *those* parents. Life with a newborn is all about fluids - your leaking breast milk, his or her spit up/vomit/poop/pee, and your whole day centers around managing and controlling said fluids. This is something you can't possibly understand unless you're experiencing it. But now that I'm there I do feel a bit sheepish about my former intolerant self.

I may have a solution to my health insurance woes. Since I will *likely* either qualify for Healthy Families or Medicare, as much as I'd rather the baby be on HF because then he can be at Kaiser with me, if I only show enough income for Medicare, I think I'm going to take it. I'll use it for emergency/catastrophic, and instead find a kick ass pediatrician and pay out of pocket for basic visits. It will certainly be way less than $330 a month. A friend had suggested this some months ago and I kind of filed it away in the back of my brain. If anyone has any experience/opinions on this, let me know. Just trying to figure out the best thing to do here, preferably one that won't break the bank. Then I can also downgrade my own policy to save a little $$. Every little bit helps.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Outing attempt #2

Today went slightly better, only because the baby was well fed and sleepy. I went to my beloved farmer's market for the first time in nearly a year - I had stopped going during my morning sickness marathon, and just never took it back up again.

I had always fantasized about being there with a baby - practically everyone is; it's the aging hipster with kids meeting ground - and so it was quite a moment to finally actually do that. The weather was fabulous and I bought nice things to eat - goat cheese, rye bread, blueberries - and took the time to sit and enjoy the day with a lemonade before heading home. Next time I may even *gasp* attempt to take the train up there for fun. How weird is it that I suffered through New York's horrendous graffiti-covered subways in the 80s as a kid and my kid will ride a clean, safe train "for fun"? Still can't get over the fact that my son is a native Californian. That's still totally bizarre to me.

On the bad news front, discovered that despite the fact that I was told that his health insurance would run about $130 a month once I added him to my policy, a quick phone call to double check this today revealed that in fact it's going to cost me a whopping $330 a month for the next two years for his coverage, bringing the grand total of both of our policies to nearly $700. And after spending all day on the phone trying to get a better deal and discovering there is no better deal, decided to apply for Healthy Families, although I was already rejected by them because I was pregnant at the time (I was told to re-apply once he was born, although there's a problem with my being self-employed also which may make it impossible). I'm beyond pissed that once again I was given wrong information, and that it has to be so frickin' expensive. Yet another reason to not attempt to have two children! Will national health care just hurry up and get here please?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hot mess

So today I made my first attempt at public breastfeeding. It was not pretty. But I guess it kind of never is, really.

My Mom Guru friend invited me to the Descanso Gardens. For the first time I packed up my diaper bag (until now I've just been shoving things in a ziplock bag into my purse) with everything I thought I could possibly need for a short jaunt, and set off for a pleasant outing.

First thing was he had a huge poop blow out in the car seat. I didn't bring anywhere near enough wipes or towels or blankets to clean the baby, the car seat, his clothes, my clothes, my hands, and everything else the wet, sticky poop got all over. Then I realized he was probably hungry, and since I had about 20 minutes before anyone was set to show up, I figured I'd try a quick feed. This involved putting on my Hooter Hiders, taking down my dress, tank top, and bra, attaching the nipple shield (all while he squirmed and fussed on the car seat and I tried to keep him from falling off and landing head first on the car floor). Finally attached, it was so unbelievably hot in the car in the direct sunlight that we were both dripping with sweat. A half hour later he wasn't anywhere near done and I was so hot I couldn't stand it one more minute, and the others were waiting at the entrance, so I stuffed him, naked and screaming, into the carrier, piled all the poop-soaked items into my bag, put up my bra, tank top, and dress, put away the nipple shield, and headed into the park.

We all said maybe five words to each other before it was time for us all to sit down and feed our hour later, still feeding, and an announcement sounded that the park was closing and everyone had to get out. So, I put away the nipple shield, put up my bra, tank top, and dress, put away the Hooter Hiders, shoved my still screaming baby into the carrier, and drove home. And what am I doing now? Nursing. Have been for the last hour. Nipples feel like they're going to fall off.

Mommy = 0
Baby = 1

We'll just have to try this whole park outing thing another day. Sigh.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Signs of life

I have been looking at my son every day to see signs of development or change - is he starting to recognize me? Does he crave my attention? Is he smiling, or is it gas? Does anything I do comfort him other than sticking a boob in his mouth?

I guess at three weeks the answer to these questions would be "kind of". He doesn't like being left alone for sure, and does calm eventually when I put him over my shoulder and bounce around. I notice if he's having a meltdown and he hears my voice he does seem to pay attention and relax a little. He likes when I play with his legs in a bicycle motion (could help with the gas).

He still isn't a fan of the bouncy chair or swing, which is a bummer. Last night I was all proud of myself for discovering the battery slot on the chair that allowed it to vibrate finally - but this morning apparently it made no difference. Sigh. I hope one or more of these devices become appealing to him soon, since putting him in the Beco carrier to get stuff done around the house is getting hard on my back.

I look at pictures of people's older babies and I can't wait until he's there - full of laughs and smiles and enjoying toys and books. I guess I should be glad though that his needs are so simple right now; I don't have to worry about teaching him anything or keeping him entertained. He just needs food, warmth, sleep, clean diapers. He's easily contained. I often wonder how the heck I'm going to take a shower or pop out to feed the chickens with a toddler running around. I guess that's when toddler gates and play pens come in handy (or doing everything when they sleep).

My sister and I realized yesterday that trying to Skype right now is pretty pointless since there is almost never a time when he's awake and content; so we've put Skype aside for now. Someday soon, though.

I should be sleeping...

These days it's all about taking advantage of every second he sleeps to try to also get to sleep. Right now he's safely ensconced in the Breast Friend sleeping away...but unfortunately I'm wired so I figured now would be as good a time as any to blog.

First off thanks, everyone, for the encouraging comments on my last post. It's so helpful to hear that all babies are the same at this age, and that Bobby is totally normal. I have the usual worries - is he eating enough, is he eating too much, is he healthy, is he easy or difficult, is he normal? But it sounds like he's totally normal. As long as it's ok for there not to be much of a routine around here, I'm good. Normally I'm very much a routine-type person, but that's kind of out the window right now - every night and every day is different. Today I woke up with very sore and painful boobs because he hadn't eaten enough during the night; he slept a lot today so now I'm worried I'm in for another epic fussy night. And so it goes.

I am finally seeing one advantage to having a partner - I have to say I would very much enjoy some adult company around here. As much as I've packed my schedule with visitors, it's still not quite enough. I do feel pretty alienated and cut off. I can't just pop out and go to a dance if I get lonely like I used to. But I may start going to some kid-friendly dances this week - there's stuff on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday I could potentially take him to as long as I keep it short. I think for my own sanity I need to consider at least trying.

I find myself oddly efficient these days since I am so motivated to use the time he sleeps to get tons of stuff done - and I have nothing else to do, really, except mess around on my phone answering emails and checking Facebook.

Well, the boy is starting to wake up so it's time to go. Time for breassesses!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hard core parenting

Today I unintentionally set myself up for some hard core parenting of a newborn. It was set to pour rain all day, and I had gotten all my work and errands done, so I figured I'd give myself a break and just stay in bed with the baby all day and be lazy. Umm...not so much!

I don't think an hour has gone by without one boob or another in his mouth, he hasn't slept at all, but has peed all over me and the bed twice (and has also spit up on everything). This has been our life today - sitting in this bed like a life raft, trying to keep the baby happy and healthy. It's been relentless.

I see now how putting him down to take a shower, do work, etc, is so important. Now I'm worried I've done the wrong thing by feeding him so much - there's been no schedule at all today. I know you technically can't spoil a newborn, but did I just screw something up here...?

A friend called and invited me to brunch tomorrow but I declined because I just don't feel comfortable going to a restaurant with him yet - last night I went out and DJ'd for an hour and then tried to go out and have a late dinner with some people, but had to leave right away because he was screaming his head off. I feel like a bit of a time bomb is about to go off for me - in just a couple of weeks I've got some obligations (gigs, meetings, etc) and I'm going to have to get prepared to leave him with a sitter, and I don't have the slightest idea how to do that (pumping? Storing the milk? How much?). Right now I just want to not show up for anything and keep it simple, caring for him here myself. But for my own mental health I know I can't do that, either. Today definitely was evidence of that - I do need to keep some normal routines around here for both of our sakes.

I was supposed to start cloth diapering this week but just couldn't deal. He poops ALL day long, and the idea of having to hose off all that glue-like poop and then have wet, half-clean diapers lying around, all this while of course not taking a hand off him, is just too much for me right now. So I broke down and ordered a month's supply of Seventh Generation diapers. I figure I'll need them for outings/sitters anyway even if I do delve into the cloth. I hope I can do the cloth - it would be great to save the money and never worry about running out.

Many women on my chat boards are having similar thoughts as me, wondering if the constant feeding and lack of response from the baby are going to go on forever. As I've mentioned here, as much as I enjoy him at this phase, it is hard when it seems like nothing I do pleases him except feeding him - everything else, even kissing his cheek or rubbing his belly, makes him scream (if he's hungry, which he seems to be all of the time). I would take it personally if I didn't know better. So it seems all new mothers have that thought - when does it get better? When will I actually be able to interact with my child? Some say it starts to get better at six weeks, some three months. Either way I know the time will fly by. As it is he's nearly three weeks old right now, and is thriving, so I must be doing something right. I feel like I'm stumbling around in the dark, but apparently the dark is full of clueless first time moms, so I'm not alone!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tea for Two

It comes as a big surprise to me that since my son was born I've spent a lot of time thinking about baby #2 - and basically thinking about giving up the dream of baby #2. I think I am starting to make peace with this decision. I think.

Mainly as you know I just can't go through with another labor experience like that. Not for a million, trillion dollars. And nobody can guarantee I won't have a similar (or far worse) experience next time. If I were a younger woman I might feel differently - but somehow I can't believe I'd develop pre-e at a healthy 39 and not at 41 or 42. I feel SO lucky that my baby was full term and perfectly healthy despite everything; I feel like I dodged a major bullet, actually, as he side stepped all potential issues from the very beginning. I never had to worry about him. I can't even imagine what moms go through with babies with major health issues. There but for the grace of God, you know?

Then there's practical stuff - money, being single. I think for me to have two children I would need one of two things - either a partner of some kind, or enough money to hire lots of help. There's no way I could handle two children in my current condition, no way. It's hard enough handling a newborn and a high maintenance dog!

But with this decision comes the death of a dream, and I am working through that. So, I'll never have a little girl to play with my dolls. Robert will never have a full sibling. I won't get that perfect two kid family like all my friends. I'll never be pregnant again, which believe it or not, is sad to me. I do kind of miss it (the middle part, anyway). But there is a certain freedom in knowing I only have to go through all of this once - no more fertility stuff, no fear of miscarriage or birth defects, no morning sickness, no labor. And no trying to come up with the money for all this - from now on it's just spending money on Robert's needs, not a new pregnancy. I may even get a new health insurance policy for myself without maternity coverage to save some money. Then I'll have to release those four vials of sperm I reserved. They have not charged me storage yet - they said they would send a bill in March, but as of right now I've gotten nothing. I hope they just made a clerical error so I don't have to make that decision right this second...but as soon as that bill shows up I'm going to have to commit to this No #2 thing because there's no way I can shell out more thousands for storage. It's bad enough I can't get my nearly $3000 for sperm back.

Still, I look at my boy and definitely feel like he's enough, and quite enjoy that he gets to be my sole focus. It does feel right to me, and that's what I had hoped - that once he was here I'd feel like he was all I needed to feel like a family. But I guess it's ok to mourn the dream of a bigger family. I think for me time just really ran out. If I were even a couple of years younger I'd feel more confident that I could turn everything around and have a totally different birth experience next time - but not moving into my forties, no. I see very bad things if I choose to pursue a second pregnancy after how things went this time.

In the meantime, I get to have this, and if that isn't a miracle I don't know what is:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Had a decent night last night, whew! The one thing I did different was really commit to his feeds - instead of doing this sort of half assed side lying feed thing for hours on end, instead sat up and used the Breast Friend and made sure he really fed well for at least fifteen minutes each side. He was still a little fussy when putting him down to sleep, but he did at least sleep. Did my change in attitude make it a better night? Maybe not. But I can pretend it did.

A milestone today - the belly button stump fell off! It's still a little messy but the nasty hard bit came off when I changed him in the morning. They grow up so fast!

My Mom Guru friend and I were talking about how funny babies are, especially around breast feeding. Mine gets so excited at the sight of an advancing nipple that he almost hyper ventilates; or he cries and turns bright red until I shove it in his mouth and then he immediately switches into contented mode and makes little happy sounds. I often wake up with his finger up my nose or with his unruly arms smacking me in the face. As much as part of me can't wait to watch him develop and grow, part of me wishes he could just stay like this forever - tiny and squishy and innocent and just wanting to be held. It's that old push/pull of parenthood - it's my job to prepare him for the world and make him independent, yet I don't want to let go (for the record I still sleep with my hand around his head. Just can't help it right now). My Doula Friend told me when they cut her daughter's cord, the midwife said, "she's on her own now." I thought about that when the stump fell off today - that last thing connecting him to me, to the birth experience, is gone. I'm so glad I get eighteen more years with him. It's going to fly by.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rough Night

Agh. Had a rough night last night. It might not have mattered except today was a rare day I actually had to be somewhere at an exact time, which is something I try to avoid usually.

The kid just did not want to sleep. I tried everything. Shushing, swaddling (even dug out this fancy sleep swaddle thing), rocking, finally just nursed him literally the entire night, but he still fussed and fussed. Until about 11 AM when we had to leave for his first pediatric appointment.

Did this happen because I let him sleep all day? Was it because he's been using the swing? Because he slept so much during the day he didn't eat as much so he was just really hungry? Or was it just a random crappy night? I don't know, but my patience wore thin. On the way to Kaiser I ran into this insane Dodger Stadium traffic which meant sitting still for ten to twenty minutes at a time - while Robert screamed bloody murder in the back seat. It was horrible. I nearly burst into tears. Mama said there'd be days like this, right?

Then the pediatric appointment. Thankfully everything looked great - he's right at average for growth and weight and is perfectly healthy (I am continually amazed by this)...but he screamed all through his appointment, and I was ready to blow a gasket as they asked me all the same stupid questions and had me fill out the same stupid questionnaires I've done a thousand times already (questionnaires that ask if you've ever been tempted to hurt your baby - like anyone would cop to that! And for the record, the answer is still no despite our crappy night)...I kept saying we had a rough night and I just really needed to get home, but they kept me waiting and waiting. I know I should just be grateful he's getting good care and is in such great shape - but it all seemed kind of like a waste of time to me. Luckily he doesn't have another appointment until end of May, hooray!

So I fed him and we had a nice nap upon return home at the expense of the dog's walk. Sorry, dog, for everything. Robert put his little face on my face and made his little cooing sounds and slept that way. I hope he's coming to know me as his mother. It's still so hard to tell sometimes. Because he's so little I rarely see him alert and happy - he's usually asleep, nursing, or screaming. I look forward to spending more quality time with him when he can be awake and not hungry. The moments of watching him make cute faces are few and far between because his face is usually buried in one of my boobs (or breassesses as we call them around here).

In the meantime here he is at this moment:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Two weeks down

So, I have successfully kept my baby alive for two weeks. Considering how delicate these two weeks are - adjusting to life outside the womb, coming home from the hospital, learning to breast feed, not knowing what you're doing - I figure I've gotten over the first hump of his life (well, not counting the pregnancy or birth of course!).

I just joined Baby Center via my phone app now that I have a birth date. I got an email from them today about "overcoming your traumatic birth experience". Again, so glad people are talking about this topic. I hope it helps women out there who feel mad/bad/sad/guilty that their experience wasn't what they hoped. For me, the farther I get from it the better I feel about it - as in, the bad feelings are dissipating although I haven't forgotten how awful it was, believe me. But I no longer feel like I could burst into tears at the drop of a hat, which is good. One funny thing is certain TV commercials that I saw over and over during labor are still running and kind of take me back to that hospital room - one being the "Alouette" Target ad, the other being a song with a line "my heart skips a beat" for granola bars or something. I am looking forward to these campaigns being retired. Nothing brings back the feeling of an experience like a song.

So my friends brought over the swing - and I hate it. It is a monstrosity that takes up my entire dining room, can't be moved, and the seat is a little bit at a slant to the side and can't be fixed without a special tool. Doesn't mean it can't be used...but I haven't used it and instead spent $50 to buy a nice little portable one on Amazon instead. I think I've had it with borrowing baby things or accepting hand me downs - I always end up with these gargantuan plastic nightmares that I have no space for, and now I have the awkward situation of having to ask these busy parents of a toddler to come back over and take it away. They also brought me this tummy time play mat thing that is also gigantic and literally takes up the entire floor of the nursery. Why does everything have to be so huge and ugly...? I may ask them to take this back, too. I feel terrible but I just can't have these things blocking walkways and taking up all the space in here. Sigh.

So for now I survive sans swing. Some days he's super fussy, some days he's not. I chalk it up to growth spurts. I am still nursing using a nipple shield which I know is a bad thing, but any attempt to not use it has only resulted in a screaming, frustrated baby. Not sure what to do about this situation. My lactation consultant would kill me if she knew I was still using it. I'm afraid at this point he may never be able to nurse without it. But hey, at least he's nursing at all.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Another Saturday night

I hate weekends with no plans. Especially holiday weekends in which everyone else has plans, and holiday weekends with beautiful weather (especially when the beautiful weather is set to end abruptly on Monday). I think I'm just being fussy, however. Today I had several people and a toddler over for several hours and was exhausted and couldn't wait for everyone to leave so I could have some quiet time...and then immediately felt lonely and wished someone else would come over. So, don't listen to me. Obviously I don't know what I want.

It will be fun when the boy is a walking, talking presence. When we can go out and do things that he can enjoy. He's just going to be a squishy newborn for a while, so although I can start getting together with other moms for my own socialization, he won't get much out of it for a while. I can see how mothers of small babies get lonely even though they're never been so attached to another human being in their lives - the little ones can't give much back at this stage. Technically for the first time ever I'm sharing this house with another human being, a real live boy, but it kind of doesn't feel like it, not yet.

Whenever I get in this mood, I ask myself, "ok, what else would you be doing right now?" had I never had the notion of having a child. It does help me get some perspective, because I know myself and I know I'd be very down right now if not for the baby. I read some of my blog posts from this time last year, and boy do I remember that feeling, that ugly, scary feeling all single childless women go through in their late thirties - the "is that all there is?" feeling. Wondering if you'll ever meet someone, if you'll ever be able to have children, if you'll ever be happy. The boredom, the lack of challenge, the same things over and over. The long bitter conversations with other single women that I was so sick of. All if those reasons that I made this leap and did this crazy thing, and here we are, a year later, mission accomplished. Is he keeping me from being out having fun on a night like this? No. If not for him I'd just be sitting here alone. And that's the truth.

So hopefully tomorrow I can get out and enjoy the day, maybe try something new like do a quick supermarket run or delve into cloth diapers. And try to remember in the blink of an eye he can take part in Easter egg hunts and play with the other dance babies - right now he just has to grow and thrive and figure out who he wants to be.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One of those nights of those crazy old're gonna find out, pretty mama:

That the minute you take off a poopy diaper and replace it with a nice clean one...your child will poop

That the minute you congratulate yourself on a nice long feed, your child will projectile vomit all of it over everything in your bedroom...and then be inconsolable until you realize he just wants to be fed again

Fortunately, nights like last night are invariably followed by days like this, in which my son slept in his carrier on my chest for hours while I did laundry, dishes, work, took out garbage, sorted baby paperwork, etc.

A friend who will now be known as The Angel of Mercy is bringing by a swing and Thai food tomorrow. I hope having a swing frees me up a bit around here - I can't wait to try it out! Considering how much he enjoys rocking I think he'll like it.

I got a congratulatory letter from my clinic today (I'd called to report the birth like a good citizen when I got back from the hospital); that for sure goes in the scrap book! One of these days I'll get a proper birth announcement card out as well. It's just they're pretty expensive and I'm trying to reserve funds at the moment.

Let's hope tonight involves slightly less poop and/or vomit. Only time will tell.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Crossing Over

Today I went on a brief hike (a walk, really) with a friend. I never know if I should be resting my poor battered perineum or not - every time I put the baby in the carrier I feel a lot of pressure in that area and I worry I'm stalling my healing - but then again every time I sneeze or blow my nose it doesn't feel so great, either. I've accepted it's just going to be a while before all the pain in that area is resolved.

It's hard to believe two weeks ago today I was a couple of hours into chemically-induced labor, having no idea how bad it was going to get. I still get pretty weepy and weirded out when I picture myself just a short time ago, happy and pregnant - the word I keep thinking is "innocent".

Which brings me to a new sort of feeling - a feeling like I've "crossed over". I really do feel like I walked over a lake of fire to get here - and there's no going back. I've crossed over from the land of girl to mother. I kind of feel like that scene in Thelma and Louise where Thelma says she feels awake - really awake. I've experienced a major life event, and I'm a richer person for it.

In the meantime, the boy blissfully sleeps away, as he should. That's all he needs to worry about right now.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Today I attempted multiple errands. I decided to park on the street between the three places I had to go, put the baby in the Beco carrier, and walk between the stores rather than pull the baby in and out of the car three times. This is a huge part of my new life - these basic choreography moments. How to hold him while making lunch, where to put him when I'm working on the computer, how long I can safely leave him in another room while I do something else, etc.

I desperately need a swing and wish I'd arranged to borrow one before he was born (several people have offered theirs, but now I need to make arrangements to pick one up which is a pain). He doesn't do well sitting in the bouncy chair unless I shake it with my foot, which kind of defeats the purpose of using it for a little freedom. I think he'd love the swing and it could free me up a little around here. So I hope I can make that happen soon.

Tomorrow I meet a friend for a hike. I don't know how physically capable I'll be - my lady parts still hurt quite a bit, especially when I carry him. I'm SO looking forward to no more pain in that area!!!

I may also make a quick jaunt to a dance venue Thurs night just to say hi. I'll carry him so no one can touch him or breathe in his face, so hopefully it'll be ok. I feel it's important to start making short trips into the real world now and see how we do.

Well I smell a poopy diaper (anyone who says breast milk fed poo doesn't smell doesn't know my kid), so here's a rare waking photo:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Wack to bork

Today I finally entered and filed all my event registrants for the last two months. People had begun asking questions about their registration forms and it was impossible to answer with them not in the system, also I wanted to see where I stand compared to last year. So as the kid napped I spent a couple of hours on that. It was hard because he fussed a bit and I picked him up to rock him and then had to type with one hand while making sure he didn't slide off my lap onto the floor - I had a quick look into my future at that moment!

The numbers for the event are the same as last year. Which is neither here nor there; in years past with better attendance, I've had less people as of April 1st, so who the heck knows? At least I have a lot of internationals right now which is a very good sign.

My bandleader friend and his wife came over last night and brought me a veritable vat of Indian food. I hope this doesn't make my breast milk unappetizing! I guess only time will tell; every day and night is different than the one before. Today he seems to be just grazing and never doing full feeds...but he's producing tons of diapers today and seems content, so who the f knows? Wish I had a scale at home so I could keep track of his weight better; I guess I'll have to wait until his first pediatric appointment on the 10th.

I feel like the baby and I are still getting to know each other. I feel like he doesn't really see me as his mother yet; I suppose it's easy to assume that when he's just a newborn who can't smile or focus on you yet.

By far my favorite moment is as we settle in for a nap and I put my face in his face and feel his baby breath on my nose and his little hands patting at my cheeks as if to say, "it's that lady again!" He really is pretty much the cutest thing ever.

Thanks for the advice on pointing his little willy down in the diaper, ladies - funny the things you don't think of! Toilet training should be interesting!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Weighing In

Today I went over to The Pump Station in Hollywood again to have the baby weighed and have my loaner pump checked out. It was slightly akin to the old ultrasound days although with obviously far less at stake - the worst results today (not gaining enough, losing weight) would only mean having to work harder at bf-ing and/or change strategies. Still I held my breath as the numbers came up - and hooray, he's back at birth weight, even up a little, a week out. So the LC seems to think whatever I've been doing is working, and I'm glad, because I kind of cheated for my own convenience. She wanted me to feed every two-three hours, supplement with syringe feeding, and pump after every feeding. If I did this I would literally do nothing else but feed and pump, so for the sake of sleep, meals, and showers, I've just been feeding every 3-4 hours and nothing else, and even then rarely for the required 40 minutes. There's a certain point at which you just can't force a baby to eat anymore. He gets those little pursed lips and I know it's over.

Once again I can't wait to be out of this era of constant worry about weight and regimented feedings. It'll be great to just feed him when he's hungry and not always feel like I'm forcing him when he just wants to sleep (I hear ya, buddy).

I did think with some melancholy the other day how long it's going to be before I get an uninterrupted night's sleep again. Not that I slept that great in the pregnancy either, but I at least got more than two or three hour stretches. It's brutal forcing both of us up for feedings all night. Still, I'm extremely grateful he's such a good sleeper and that I manage to get plenty of sleep even though it's broken up throughout the day and night. It could be so much worse, I know.

I may start the cloth diapers soon. I hope they'll help with this little problem I've been having - mainly, my son pees all over me. I soaked several outfits of both mine and his today, because somehow the pee doesn't absorb into the diaper at all but instead rolls over his belly (when he lies down, which is most of the time) and wets everything in a four foot radius. It drives me nuts - what's the point of even wearing a diaper...? I'm hoping the cloth will be bulky enough to absorb something. So I may be ready for that step now.

Next week it's time to "get back to work" - I have tons of clerical stuff to do, bills to pay, checks to deposit, packages to mail. I also need to call Kaiser to double check that $3000 charge to my credit card; it's supposed to be for the hospital stay, which first of all I thought was covered, but that's $500 more than it should be even if it's not. I also got a $400 bill today for the blood work and NSTs which it turns out were $30 each. Argh. At this point I don't even blink - everything is so outrageously expensive right now, every time I get a bill I just throw it on the pile. It'll all get paid...eventually!