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Four months!

Four months old!

I am actually feeling a lot better these days. I know the hormones are starting to subside because I don’t break into a sweat every time I get stressed out. I still get kind of hot at night, but nothing like it was. And oh yeah, I don’t have a mental breakdown every day or so. That part is key. I still get grouchy, and defensive, and worried, and exhausted, (just ask David!) but I don’t hit the red zone nearly as easily.

So now I can reflect on some of the madness that has been the last 4 months and think about writing more about it. Here’s a tale of self-inflicted crazy from the crazy archives.

When Lillian was about 4 weeks old, I had the really bad idea to weigh her on the bathroom scale. And the scale said she was only 7 lbs, way too low for where she should be. To rewind – she had come in at the 10th percentile for weight and her doctor had warned us it couldn’t go below that, so I was paranoid. She had also lost too much weight when she came home from the hospital, and that was really scary. Also, breast feeding is hard in that respect because you really have no idea how much food your kid is getting. And a friend of mine had had supply problems and her baby was having a hard time gaining weight. Another friend’s newborn had ended up in NICU because she had issues relating to low birth weight. How does all this apply to this situation? Er, it doesn’t really, I was just paranoid.

Anyhoo, I freaked the hell out. Freaked. Out. I was convinced that Lillian was dangerously underweight, dehydrated, sickly, and on the brink of being taken from me and stuck in NICU. (At this point I was seriously sleep-deprived as well.) David didn’t want me taking her to the doctor or calling the lactation consultant and further indulging my panic – he was sure she was just fine. But I got so wigged I did end up calling the lactation consultant. She came later in the week, weighed Lillian, and determined that she was in fact 7lbs 12oz, a very respectable weight gain since her previous appointment. Doh.

The freaky thing was I managed to convince myself so completely that something was seriously wrong when it wasn’t. A freakier thing was how my fear of Lillian not gaining weight and somehow getting “in trouble” for it was really an inversion of my own feelings about my body. I’ve always hated the scale, and while my self-esteem is usually pretty good these days, as is my fitness, I’ve still avoided the doctor because I don’t want a supposed authority figure to tell me I’m wrong or defective in some way. But since I had the baby I haven’t really given a crap about that so much. So here we have a perfect example of how my own issues can be passed on to my kid unconsciously if I’m not careful. Do I want Lillian to worry about weighing too much or too little as she gets older? Nooooooo. I just want her to feel as comfortable and happy in her body as possible. Is it her job to take on my feelings about my body? Oh Jesus no.

Sometimes I still worry. Lillian is smaller than most of the babies in our play group and I have a tendency to compare a bit too much. But I just look at my anxiety and say, “Well, that’s just my old friend Anxiety in another costume, and it doesn’t have any more to do with reality (or with Lillian) than last time when I was fixated on something else.”  It eventually works when paired with some fresh air, or meditation, or a good nights’ sleep. And Lillian is awesome; she’s active and happy and I love her chubby thighs and cheeks. I may be a worrier, but I make good, well-thought out decisions for myself and her.  I have no intention of letting my own crap influence those decisions or how Lillian perceives herself as she becomes more self-aware.

I’ve also talked to a lot more parents since the early days and realized that the milestone/percentage tracking thing is a bunch of bullshit. My kid is not a demographic. She’s an individual and she may be smaller or bigger at any given time depending on her activity level, growth spurts, sleep, eating schedule, and basic genetic makeup. I understand that tracking her growth over time can show trends and give us an idea if there are problems, but it seems just ludicrous how much attention is paid to this stuff in the first few months. Her doctor warned us that she had to stay in the same percentile (or go up) at her first appointment. What the hell? She’s going to be smaller sometimes and bigger sometimes. What about when she starts solids and her calorie intake drops for a while? What if her growth slows down for a little while? Should we really have to look at all this stuff with a magnifying glass before it can ever indicate anything? It turns out I know a lot of people whose kids were in low percentiles (myself included) and turned out just fine. And anyone who sees Lillian can tell she’s thriving, so the growth charts (and our pediatrician who I’m about to fire anyway – story coming soon) can just suck it.

How I started getting more sleep

Things change so freaking quickly when you have a baby. The baby changes weekly or daily, and you have no time to look back and think about everything you’ve learned and adjusted to and integrated because you’re scrambling to figure out what the hell you’re doing with the baby you have today. The Lillian of this week has little in common with the Lillian of last week. What upsets her, how she sleeps, how much she eats, and a bunch of other stuff  changes all the time.

We had no idea we were doing with sleep when we got home from the hospital. I read a bunch of things (babycenter.com, books, the stupid pamphlet that came with our stupid baby care class) that said newborns naturally fall asleep for the night around 10 or 11pm. So I didn’t put her down for final sleep until then, at which point I was losing my mind, she was screaming her head off, and David would have to step in and rescue us. Sometimes that meant he was up all night with a screaming baby, while I felt like I was drowning in guilt and remorse for burdening him. This went on for about six weeks. It was not fun.

My friend Tiffany said in her blog (which is awesome, by the way) that the biggest piece of advice she would give pregnant women is burn all your baby books. And while we’ve gotten some good info from a few books, I agree with her. If I had paid closer attention to my own observations, I would have noticed that Lillian seemed a wee bit overstimulated if she was up past 9pm. Agitated, hiccuping, kind of crazed. We observed this, but we kept trying other things because those goddamned books and internet and whatever said that we shouldn’t put our kid down early. Even worse, some people, including the triage nurse at our pediatrician’s office said to keep the baby awake all day. (He also said to give her Pedialite before bed instead of nursing. WTF?!)

But David had read case studies in a book on sleep a friend got us and one couple had succeeded by putting their newborn down at 6pm. We tried it. It worked. It turns out the more sleep Lillian gets, the more she sleeps. This may not be true for all kids. Maybe a laid back baby needs a little more awake time during the day to sleep well at night, but I can tell you without reservation that my kid is not laid back. She is all up in everything and that means that after a while she gets frazzled and overstimulated and without our help she gets very, very unhappy.

So now we have a bedtime routine that starts around 7pm, and almost always ends with her happily asleep by 8 or 9. She sleeps a minimum of 5 hours, usually 6-8. This is because we stopped listening to other people and started listening to ourselves. Since we started our self-designed routine, we all get a reasonable amount of sleep most nights. Yay!

Of course we’re still struggling with all the directives from our pediatrician (who told us to stop swaddling her at 8 weeks – again WTF!), people who say use a pacifier, don’t use a pacifier, don’t nurse her to sleep, don’t rock her to sleep, let her cry it out, let her sleep in your bed, put her in her own room, AAAAAAGGGGHHH!

Basically, any time you screw with what’s working before it stops working, you’re asking for trouble. Sometimes my kid needs to nurse to go to sleep. Sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she needs the swaddle to calm down and sleep, sometimes she doesn’t. She likes sucking her thumb and hand, she doesn’t like the pacifier. Why on earth would I ignore all these things she’s communicated to me very clearly because someone who doesn’t spend 24 hours a day with her 7 days a week told me to?

Good. Freaking. Question.

Twelve Weeks!

Twelve weeks!

I'm going to miss the crazy hair when it calms down.

Lillian is twelve weeks old today! Can you believe it? Everything seems to be picking up speed. It now makes a little more sense when people say the first year flies by. We’re looking at some big changes, like getting her to sleep without the swaddle, starting to work on getting her in her own room and crib (she sleeps in a co-sleeper next to our bed right now) and teething. And in a couple months solid food! WTH!

Progress this week: soooo much talking! All sorts of funky sounds, coos, squeaks, raspberries, and squawking. She has whole conversations with herself and us. Toxic levels of cuteness. She’s also getting really strong in the upper body. Big mini-pushups and leg strength. She’s rolled over a couple times but hasn’t figured out it can be a mode of transportation. Please don’t tell her. She’s getting more eye hand coordination and much drooly fist and thumb sucking has commenced. She turns to look at the source of sounds and tracks objects with her eyes. All of this is very cool.

Twelve weeks!

She cracks herself up.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but my whole theory of child care boils down to this: Babies are weird. They’re always changing for no discernible reason, and no way to communicate with you why. Last week Lillian started having meltdowns where she would get too pissed off to nurse. If you’ve ever nursed, this is your nightmare. 1) it can mean she’s sick (but she’s not) and 2) it’s your trump card. If Daddy is pulling his hair out and the kid is screaming her head off, just stick her on the boob and all is well. Except all of a sudden not.

The first time it happened we both panicked and tried to figure out what I’d eaten – assuming the milk tasted bad to her. Then we swaddled her and put her down, and wham! Out like a light, woke up six hours later and ate just fine. It started recurring more this week. I get neurotic about it because I’m afraid she hasn’t eaten enough. I usually nurse her after her bath and then we put her to bed. But stressing just makes it worse, and if we just put her down to sleep she usually conks out for 6-7 hours. But not having that automatic shutoff button for the tantrums just sucks. Except babies are weird, and she may change her mind about the whole thing tomorrow. Or not.

Twelve weeks!

Special thanks to my friends who have reached out with support since my last post. It means a lot. It’s really hard sometimes, but every day gets a little easier, and I get a little more flexible and better at dealing with things as they come. Still untold challenges lie ahead, and I gratefully accept and appreciate the support and empathy of people who care about me. Y’all rock!

Surprise!

Lillian on Mother's Day

Don't play innocent with me, kid.

My first Mother’s Day started off with a bang! At 4 am cleaning poopsplosion off the nursery walls. Yes, motherhood is full of serene, peaceful fulfillment and joy. Well, it is, in between screaming, pooping, nursing till you fall over, and hormone surges that turn you into a psycho.

So I’m helping David change the baby during her 4am feeding (that’s bottle time) and he lifts her legs up to get a wipe under her butt and kaplow! Green poop everywhere. We laughed our asses off. David claims I shrieked loudly but I have no such recollection. I think he’s making it up.

We’re still dealing with the gastric issues. Our baby is cute, funny, happy, and sleeps like a champ. But she definitely can’t process either dairy, soy or both. Last weekend we went to dinner at Odd Duck Trailer – it’s gourmet locally sourced tapas place – and ate some great food. Unfortunately, something either contained dairy, soy or both and we started the whole poop thing over on Monday, and we still don’t know what the mystery ingredient(s) is/are.

On Sunday we went to the in-laws’ for Mother’s Day bbq from Rudy’s. Which I could eat none of since they marinate it in milk and rub it with soy oil. Joy. So I got to nurse in the other room while everyone was eating, and then eat some pork loin I brought and overcooked the crap out of. It wasn’t my best day ever. But David got me a nice card and we’re getting the Bob stroller next week. It’s the ultimate running/walking stroller and it makes mama very happy.

In other news, Lillian sleeps like a champ now. We started a ritual a few weeks ago – eat-bath-eat-sleep by 8:00, and we do as much sensory deprivation as possible in the bedroom so she doesn’t get overstimulated. This kid likes to look at stuff, wiggle, pump her legs, coo, and generally spazz out. But after the cuteness comes the babypocalypse. Harbingers include:

  1. Pumping of the legs and giggling
  2. Hiccups
  3. Wide adorable eyes

One minute it’s all cuteness fun and the next it’s screaming and misery. The trick is to get her on the boob or into the bath or bed or something soothing before she gets so wound up she can’t calm down. We’re doing a lot better at it. David is also really good about letting her self-soothe when she can, I tend to overdo the rocking and shushing. Between the two of us she’s getting better naps and better sleep at night (and so are we praise be the Jesus).

Lillian was eleven weeks old this past Thursday. It’s hard to believe she’s coming up on three months. Her personality gets more developed every day, and she’s much more vocal than she was. She’s got a whole new vocabulary of coos and squeaks, and has great head control and legs. She’s going to be unstoppable when she figures out how to roll, which looks to be very soon.

I'm hungry.

Lillian and DaddyYes, I’ve been a slacker. Being a new mom is not conducive to well, anything except nursing, changing diapers, and trying to sleep. In addition, we’ve been dealing with some digestive issues with Lillian that have necessitated me cutting out dairy and soy. Do you know how hard it is to avoid all dairy and soy? Really freaking hard. Pretty much eating out and any prepared food at all – anything that comes frozen or bottled – is out. I now have to read ingredient lists obsessively, call restaurants in advance and ask about what they cook with, and mostly just cook all my own food. And while this is probably way healthier than the plethora of junk food we enjoyed during Lillian’s first six weeks, it is very time consuming. I’m kind of over it. It’s been three weeks so far and there’s no end in sight. Some of Lillian’s more distressing symptoms are gone (specs of blood in the diaper, discomfort) but some remain (lots and lots of green poop. you asked).

Have you ever heard of soy lethicin? Neither had I until this happened. It’s in EVERYTHING. And so is soy oil. Crisco, margarine, and vegetable oil are all made from soy. It turns out soy is way harder to avoid than dairy.

On the plus side, we’ve re-upped our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture – weekly organic vegetables) subscription and have started shopping at the farmer’s market on the weekend. I’ve also become a huge fan of Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation. He’s right – there are way too many ingredients in most of the food we get at the store. Everything at the farmer’s market is made locally and doesn’t have ingredients you don’t recognize. It’s nice. We’re subsisting mainly on rice, vegetables, and meat. And that’s not a bad thing really. Because bacon is meat. Bacon is my new cheese.

Meanwhile, the baby is doing great. Her skin looks great, she’s sleeping great. She’s cute as a button. Well, cuter because who ever said buttons were cute? But she’s dang cute. She’s 10 weeks old, is hopefully approaching 10 lbs, and is 10x more fun than she was a few weeks ago. Lots of smiling, happy shrieking, scooting, and general trouble-making. And mama is having a hard time not buying her cute new clothes every day.

Lillian and Daddy

Hanging out with Daddy

Playgroup

Rocking the Bjorn

Two months!

Modeling the latest in Carter's Coture

Post Partum Part the First: The Hospital

DSC_0508

Hospital beds: not as comfy as they look

The 48 hours ish we spent in post-partum at the hospital were not great fun. People come in and wake you up all the freaking time. Nurses, doctors, other random people. They just knock and walk in. Even if I had wanted to sleep I was so wired up from the birth that I only slept about an hour at a time, even with drugs. I had a couple of nice nurses, and several annoying, incompetent, or belittling nurses. Sometimes all in one!

I’m not sure where some of these ladies got their make-you-feel-like-a-stupid-asshole skillz, but they must have learned from the best. I had one night nurse both nights who did everything she could to show me how little I knew about anything baby. She’d spout of statistics or numbers after a checkup with exactly no explanation of what they meant, and smile at me ingratiatingly. Her nursing technique sucked and involved squeezing my breast painfully without authorization. That was a recurring theme. Nothing in there yet ladies, thanks. Our final nurse who checked us out was totally lame. Lackadaisical doesn’t begin to cover it. She forgot to stop at the pharmacy for my meds, didn’t feel like answering questions, and would disappear for long periods when we were trying to get out of the room and get home.

I still had a port in my hand for the first 24 hours, and I had to get 4 more doses of antibiotic through it. This was supposed to take about 20 minutes, but sometimes it stretched out to 1.5 hours, because apparently nobody had taught the nurses how to administer a fucking IV. They’d flush out the port with saline, which hurt like hell, and then start the drug. And invariably fuck it up – it wouldn’t pump, or the line would be jammed. The bitch nurse fucked the last one up really badly at like 1am and acted as if I was just being whiny. It took like 2 hours to finish it. Did I mention how much that shit hurt? I did however talk to the charge nurse about it. Go me. I also called the charge nurse to ask for feedback forms on all my nurses and guess what? She never showed. The OD consultant in me was not impressed.

Trying to learn to breast feed, which is wicked hard anyway, was impossible with the awful hospital pillows. Plus I didn’t seem to be producing anything which was stressful. I had one day nurse who was great and I at least got an idea of what a good latch felt like. Lillian was all about the boob, but she chewed with her surprisingly strong gums and it hurt like hell. I guess I lucked out with the latch, but OW.

David was in a world of pain from the horrible bed in L&D, and the one in the recovery room was far worse. Fortunately, that nice nurse got him a cot which was a bit better. It royally sucks that you can’t sleep with your husband when you need snuggles incredibly badly.

The food was really pretty good. Who knew? They had a killer veggie burger, and decent breakfast tacos. Of course, I would have eaten a tire happily at that point, but it really wasn’t bad.

Yeah, so I couldn’t wind down. This did not bode well for when we got home. There was serious boding. We wanted to get home so badly, but at the same time, how were we going to take care of this tiny being without anyone qualified around to help? How are we allowed to take her home without a medical degree? Does not compute.

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Biological Imperative Win

The other thing that happened while we were there was we both fell madly in love. People don’t always bond with babies right away. For us, it was like one of those cartoon 10 ton weights dropped on our heads. It helps that she’s so dang cute.

Not much of a narrative, I know, but hold on to your hats. Next up, postpartum depression/anxiety/craziness and extra extra sleep deprivation!