Okay, so I’ve had two different but connected experiences lately. Some women I know are pregnant for the first time, or just had babies, and I desperately want to give them unsolicited advice. I know, everyone gives unsolicited advice to pregnant and new moms. But mine is so good! Mine isn’t all intrusive and fucked up like all that other advice, really! Except I think I just weird people out. Just like I was weirded out when people told me seriously random shit about their horrific childbirth experience, or post-partum healing, or whatever. When it’s your first time, all you want to do is stick your fingers in your ears and go, “LALALALALALALA!” And honestly, that might be the smartest thing. Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and new parenthood is totally different. And the advice-givers are more interested in validating their decisions or sharing their trauma than helping. Hmm. That might apply to me as well.
The other thing is I keep daydreaming about getting pregnant again. It would have to be an immaculate conception because David will move to Mexico to be a dive instructor before he gets me pregnant and signs on for another 1.5 years of Crazy Alternate Wife. I think some of it has to do with wanting to get another shot at doing it right. Which is nuts for more reasons than I can count. Also, my hormones (a.k.a. Continuation of the Species Chemicals) tell me there is nothing more beautiful and desirable than getting pregnant right before a fucker of a hot summer. Because they lie and they hate me.
So I give you, “Stuff I wish I’d know/done/ignored before and after birth” in the hopes that I will no longer feel the need to brain dump on unsuspecting pregnant women or beg my husband to knock me up again. I’ll let you know how that works out.
Pregnancy stuff I think you need/should know/do
- Don’t listen to advice unless you ask for it. Change the subject or ask them to stop.
- Don’t listen to birth stories unless you have asked to hear them. They just make you crazy and paranoid and have no relevance to your birth. At all.
- Don’t freak out about/over prepare for/ spend a whole lot of extra money on the birth. I wish I had taken all the money I’d spent on my doula and used it for a post-partum helper. That $750 would have gotten me a lot of naps.
- Prenatal Yoga is The Bomb. It helped me physically and emotionally. I got support from the other ladies, respectful advice, and made some good friends who have become my primary mama support group. Physically, it made a huge difference. Start when you get pregnant and keep going until you can’t move your toes any more. That being said, try different classes until you find one you like. There are some great tirades way back in this blog written after going to classes I didn’t like.
- Get The Snoogle. Dear God, I hate that name. But you can wrap it around you multiple ways and you’ll need that as the baby grows and your body doesn’t work the way it used to. It will allow you to sleep without setting up a mountain of pillows you have to dismantle every time you have to get up to pee, which may be many, many times per night.
- If you’re going to take a babymoon, don’t be an idiot like me and take it in the first or third trimester unless you’re one of those freaks who never gets nauseous or swollen or uncomfortable. Aim for the golden second trimester when you’ve got energy but you’re all cute and pregnant looking.
- This is really for after, but get the My Brest Friend Deluxe (oh dear God what an awful name) nursing pillow and put it in your overnight bag for the hospital. Just do it. Nothing sucks more than trying to learn to nurse on those awful hospital pillows. This thing will make your life infinitely better. I promise. And if you want more nursing boob advice, I’ve got it. Nursing is no joke, the adjustment period can be formidable.
- Don’t stress out about it. It will happen however it happens. Learn about the process, but don’t try to predict the outcome or craft your ultimate birth experience. You will probably remember very little of it. To me anyway, it was a tiny blip on the massive radar screen that is new parenthood. And my blip lasted 36 freaking hours long. But do you know what’s worse than 36 hours of labor? The tandem stomach flu the three of us got last fall. Way worse. In spite of the hairiness of my labor, I still felt super powerful at the end, and glad I hadn’t tried to script it in any way. Kid healthy+ me healthy = Good. Basta.
- Get as much help as you can for the first few (and I mean six) weeks. Call in all your favors, save your pennies. Grandparents, friends, night nurses, post-partum doulas, whatev. It was super overwhelming at first for us, and we had a lot of help.
- If you’re feeling freaked out, talk to someone who you know will be supportive and non-judgmental. I don’t know how I got the idea that I would be a perfect, balanced, competent parent but I was WROOOOOONG. It was exhilarating, terrifying, blissful, and painful, sometimes all at once. I went back to therapy two weeks after having Lillian. I have other friends who joined new parent support groups that really helped. You feel like everyone has done this, why is it so hard? Because it’s hard for everyone. If it’s not they’re catatonic or lying.
- Stuff. Most stuff you need for the baby can be borrowed. Other than a crib, nothing you use in the first six months to a year will be in the rotation for very long. Bassinet – incredibly useful for the first three months. Dust catcher after that. Swing – dude, you need a swing. But only for about six months. Bouncy chair things – the only way I could take a shower for six months was to strap Lillian into one of these things. Then she started crawling and it was done. So either buy them at a resale store and sell them back, or borrow them from a friend who is between kids. The only things in our house that are semi-permanent and worth the investment are our IKEA crib (very cheap) and our BOB Stroller (very not).
- Books – just throw them the hell out. Once you get on the milestone train, it’s a long way down. Comparing your kid to the “average” kid in America (regardless of your actual lineage) may make your child seem like a giant/midget/freak of some kind and he or she is not. He or she is just your kid. It’s hard enough to tune into the blaring radio station of mother instinct without eating yourself alive with self-doubt. Bringing a bunch of “experts” into the mix who want to sell books does not help.
- Find a pediatrician you like and trust. My therapist pointed out at one point that I was avoiding taking Lillian in to have something checked out because I was afraid of her doctor. Doh. I switched doctors. Much better.
- Stay away from the interwebs. I’m not saying that a little research can’t be useful when you want to check something out, but stay away from Dr. Internets in the middle of the night when you’re feeling sure that your kid’s 101 fever is actually spinal meningitis, mkay?
- Advice. Random strangers, well-meaning relatives, innocent bloggers (ahem) will tell you all sorts of crazy shit about the validity of your parenting, the health and well-being of your kid, and other stuff it would never cross your mind to say to another human being. Ignore them. “But they mean well…” No, they don’t. If it makes you feel bad, it’s not useful. It is so hard to feel confident about this terrifying, epic, massive job of creating and raising a little human being. Just don’t let people fuck with you.
- Be flexible. Your kid is totally unique and so are you. We made mistakes in the beginning by expecting Lillian to follow “typical” patterns that blinded us to her actual needs. I think everyone does this at first. But your kid will communicate what she needs, and you have to be listening to figure out how to respond. And then her needs will change, and you’ll have to respond differently. Forever. Don’t get so attached to a school of thought that you stop observing and responding to your kid.
Wow, that was fun!
What is the difference between a seven month and an eight month old baby, you ask? Three more teeth, for one thing. And that’s just the last time I checked. They keep popping out.
Lillian has always wanted to be freely mobile, and now she’s gotten her wish. She crawls everywhere, and pulls herself up to standing on anything, no matter how unstable. Then she climbs on top of whatever she pulled herself up on and tries to pull up on whatever is above it.
She stuffs everything in her mouth. We’ve had some fun incidents with paper, leaves, and some unidentifiable substances. She’s also expanding her actual food eating repetoire. She enjoys broccoli, potatoes, bits of chicken, and she really loves coconut milk ice cream.
The weather has turned bearable but not cool here in Texas. I’m really looking forward to some cooler weather so we can break out her unbelievably cute fall wardrobe. She’s got an adorable sweater from Grandpa and Grandma Oster, and a bunch of super cute outfits from Auntie Michelann. I would change her clothes three times a day, but she’s not so fond of it and protests loudly.
She has the cutest Halloween costume ever! Pictures soon.
So you know how before you have a kid you say, “oh, I’ll NEVER do that” and then after it’s all shot to shit? Well that happens after you have the baby too. Daily, sometimes. I swore up and down I wouldn’t cut bangs on Lillian because it would be so cute if she had long hair that was one length. Except then her hair was all in her face and any barrettes or clips I use run the risk of ending up lodged in her throat since everything ends up in her mouth sooner or later. So guess what?
I called in the professionals (Auntie Tracy) to trim her bangs so I didn’t botch it like I did her neck trim a couple of months ago. And it really is adorable and now she doesn’t have hair in her face all the time.
And then remember that whole sleep thing where I wasn’t going to let my kid cry? Er, well, what happens when they cry for three hours while you bounce, nurse, sing, cajole, and bargain with them, but only for about ten minutes if you leave them alone? We happened on option B kind of by accident. David was alone with her at bedtime a couple of weeks ago and NOTHING was working. So he took a breather and a few minutes later she was out. For nine hours. We had to keep checking that she was still breathing. So we kept at it for the next week or so and things improved incrementally. She hit a growth spurt right after that so she was up a lot during the night to nurse for a few days, but she was getting to sleep faster and easier.
Then we both got sick and that’s been all screwed for the last week. But she’s become an avid climber and scooter in the meantime and so we can’t leave her alone and awake in her co-sleeper which butts up against our bed, because she’ll crawl out of it and roll or lunge off the bed. So probably in the next few nights we’re going to make the big move – out of our bedroom and into the crib. There were a few days where I temporarily lost my mind and started to think that I wanted to co-sleep with her instead of moving her out of our room, but I got over it.
It basically came down to this: do I want a tired, cranky baby who doesn’t have to cry in her crib (even though she cries in the car and other times so who am I kidding?) or a well-rested baby who has a bit of a tantrum at night for a little while? Do I feel guilty? Well, yeah, but that’s pretty much a given. Like I said before this little reversal, there’s always someone to tell you you’re screwing your child up. But we tried all the Dr. Sears stuff and it just didn’t work. She needed to start learning how to put herself to sleep at night and nobody was going to get any sleep until we let her. Believe me, if what we were doing before was still working we would still be doing it. I’m a great believer in not fixing what isn’t broke, but this shit was broke.
Napping has been pretty much screwed since Lillian started her rapid approach on crawling. She’s just too busy and fired up to relax for very long. We get 2-3 half hour naps in if we’re luck now.
Enough about sleep. We’re also big on food right now. I’m still making most of Lillian’s food because I’m a big snob and I like to cook. Lillian likes butternut squash, peas, and avocado. She really hates apples so far, and is iffy on sweet potatoes and pears. I’ve got an acorn squash to cook this week, some carrots, and we might try chicken.
Today I was at a birthday party for my niece and I overheard a mom complaining to another that someone she’d seen feeding a baby at a McDonald’s should have given it french fries. Yeah, I kid you not. MCDONALD’S FRENCH FRIES. More salt than anyone should be exposed to, let alone a baby, and God knows what else. Oh wait, I do:
Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid
pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to
preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK *(Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).
Bleargh. And note they don’t list soy as an allergen even though it has soybean oil in it.
I’ve been a food snob for a long time, but since I’ve had to be really careful not to eat any dairy or soy it’s been impossible not to recognize how much crap is in most of our food. And I love junk food, I’m just finding I like local junk food with less actual junk in it a lot more. I like purity in my artery-clogging deep-fried food, thanks very much!
So that’s the latest. Lillian is crazy busy and active these days and keeps me on my toes. I’ll post video soon! Yay iPhone4!
I’ve realized lately that when it comes to babies and kids there is a theory – endorsed or espoused by an expert with many letters after his/her name – for EVERYTHING. Remember how I bragged on Lillian’s excellent sleep? Well that lasted until just after she turned five months old and then fell apart. This was not unexpected, it often happens around then, but we certainly hoped we had dodged that bullet. Not so much.
So now her sleep is totally erratic. Some nights we get the old school 7-9 hours straight. Some nights there’s one extra wake up for nursing. Some nights she goes down fairly easily and some she wakes up every 20 minutes until midnight. Some nights she wants to nurse every hour or two. Did I mention I hate unpredictability? It makes me crazy. But here we are, trying to adapt .
Some of my mama friends have had to contend with this all along, for others it’s more recent. But most of us are now having to take another look at the dreaded “sleep training” and making decisions about how to help our kids sleep. Some experts say that the only way to make sure your kid will have good sleep for the rest of his life (and do well in school, make money, and marry doctor) is if you let them cry it out. There’s a bunch of different names for this but they all amount to letting you kid scream alone in their room until they eventually put themselves to sleep. There are gentler and not so gentle versions of this. The first book David and I read on sleep espoused a not so gentle version, and claimed the payoff would be a gloriously easy to sleep and nap child. David pretty much bought into it, I was on the fence. I spend a lot of time on the fence these days. I should check for splinters.
Anyway, there are also books out there that claim that letting your kid scream her head off in a dark room with no idea if you will ever show up might be a wee bit damaging psychologically, and some studies have shown it dumps a lot of chemicals into their bodies that can have bad effects on their emotional development. So basically you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
That pretty much sums up the parenting experience. There are so many experts out there who tell us what we should or shouldn’t do, and mostly contradict each other and expect us to ignore our own intuitions and judgment. It’s maddening. It makes me mad. It reminds me a lot of when I was an opera singer. My teacher would say one thing, my coach another, and if I pointed out that it was contradictory they would claim it wasn’t and try to blame me for not understanding. There’s a reason I’m not an opera singer any more…
Recently I’ve come to realize that we all cherry pick the research/experts that resonate with our own beliefs and values the most. At least I know I’m doing it. What I wish is that I wasn’t so insecure about my parenting abilities that I need an endorsement to take care of my kid the way I think is best.
David and I tried a bit of crying it out and concluded it was not what we wanted for Lillian. The “you’re ruining your child’s life” arguments on both sides are less concerning to us than what are we doing to her now? Is there a compelling reason to put her through that kind of emotional pain, other than it speeding up the amount of time it will take for her to learn to put herself to sleep? Not that we could find. She’s a happy kid and we don’t really want to fuck with that. Now talk to us in a month and if she’s still waking up at all hours we may change our tune entirely. But seriously, why do I need an endorsement to figure out what is best for my kid? I know her better than anyone else in the world. I’m the goddamned expert.
And on to round 2 of poo. We took Lillian to see an expert on gastric issues. We think. This guy has a waiting list a mile long and works a lot with kids with food intolerance issues. But I didn’t do a lot of advanced research on him because I was going on a friend’s recommendation. Whoops.
He talked a lot of smack about “our society” and “basic science” to justify the test he’s having us do to find what Lillian is sensitive to. He gives this blood test called an IGGe4 thingy to David, because supposedly his food sensitivities dictate Lillian’s for the first part of her life. But then I did some research on this test, and it turns out that while one study showed some improvement for IBS patients who cut foods out according to the results, a more in-depth study showed no correlation between the test results and real food sensitivity. The doctor also used some phraseology I tend to get a little suspicious of, claiming that food sensitivity can cause brain fog and inflammation. Er, what? Very not sold. Possibly not even on the fence.
I made this appointment for Lillian after she had a week-long reaction to what I thought was one dose of dairy, but turned out to be a week of exposure to soy. We know for damn sure that she has a problem with soy. Which is what we had trouble convincing our original pediatrician of in the beginning.
Anyway, we’ve decided that if the test results come back and are intuitive – if they at least confirm some of what we already know – then we’ll take them into consideration. But if they’re all over the map and the doc is really dogmatic about his interpretation I think we’re going to move the hell on. We have an appointment with Lillian’s new pediatrician next week, so I’ll be curious what she has to say.
I guess the point of all this is that as an insecure and at least mildly terrified new parent, you have to sort through all this fucking information when it really makes the most sense to get to know and trust your intuition. I have far more information on my child than anyone else possibly could. Sorting through that information and looking for patterns and correlations is my job. Unless something an expert is espousing really jives with what I already know, it’s probably bunk, or at least inapplicable.
It’s been really hard to get to the point where I can see myself as the expert instead of anyone and everyone else, but I think it’s the only way I can take the best care of Lillian. I have a big brain, a lot of strong instincts, and I love my child profoundly. Pair that with David’s intelligence, love, and protectiveness of Lillian and we make a pretty good team. I wish I trusted that more and wasted a lot less time on feeling insecure and fearful.
A whole entry about my poop? Seriously?
Here, as promised, is an entire entry dedicated to poop. There will be no pictures of poop, however, just graphic descriptions.
When Lillian was around seven weeks I noticed some little specs of blood in her diaper. Of course, I freaked out and called the pediatrician who said it could be a reaction to cow’s milk and to maybe scale back on it a bit. Being the freakazoid I am, I decided to cut dairy out completely and I got every soy product I could get my hands on and ate them all weekend. Then it got really weird and icky. Mucusy, sort of seaweedy dark brown and stinky as hell. There were also occasional specs of blood, and other poop was really green. I called the pediatrician and asked what I should do. I mentioned that the week before I cut out dairy I had actually started subbing in soy milk for my cereal because I was worried I’d been overdoing it. So follow along – I actually upped my soy intake right before this whole mess started. Then I upped it a lot more, and the poop got way worse. I asked the pediatrician if she thought it was possible that Lillian had issues with soy, but not dairy. She said it was possible, but told me to keep drinking soy milk and cut out all dairy.
Lillian was really fussy during this time so I decided that was crap advice and I was going to cut out both diary and soy – Lillian started feeling better pretty quickly. When we saw the pediatrician about a week later for her two month appointment, she recommended I take a probiotic called Florastor that was safe for people who were dairy intolerant, and she gave us 5 vials for collecting poop to have it tested. She claimed that mucusy, green poop was actually a sign of intestinal bleeding (rilly?) and I shouldn’t try to reintroduce dairy or soy until she had yellow poop again.
I’m generally not squeamish about changing the poopy diaper, but collecting it was no fun at all. The vials had liquid in them and the tops had these tiny spoons attached that you were supposed to use to scoop the poop. The vast amounts I had to get into each vial was totally incompatible with these teeny tiny spoons, so I just ended up trying to scrape it into the vial from the diaper. Much ickiness ensued. Bleah.
The tests came back negative, and the doctor told me to stay off everything with any soy or dairy additives and take the Florastor until things were normal again. I became a poopologist. I looked at every diaper, scanning it for blood, consistency, color, and smell. The state of Lillian’s poop became the barometer for my state of mind. Good poop – good day. Bad poop – bad, bad day. Depression. Anxiety. Fear.
The poop stayed green but stopped showing any blood (and mind you, the blood was always in such small amounts that David couldn’t even see it) until Mother’s Day when we went out for dinner. The pediatrician had said goat and sheep cheese should be safe, so I had me a goat’s cheese fest and a great dinner. 36 hours later Lillian’s poop got nasty again. I felt like a horrible mother. It took about 5 days to cycle back, and in the meantime I’d run out of Florastor so I was off it for a few days. Magically, we had yellow poop again for the first time in about six weeks! Hallelujah!
Then I went back on Florastor and it got weird again. So I went off. Florastor, it turns out, has lactose in it. The theory was that Lillian has an intolerance to either soy protein, dairy protein, or both. So lactose from cows shouldn’t have an effect. But then again, the doctor told me to avoid all dairy and soy additives, many of which don’t contain protein. Huh?
I called our local blended holistic-conventional pharmacy and asked a pharmacist about Florastor. She said as a probiotic it’s virtually useless because it only contains one bug. She suggested a broad spectrum, dairy and soy free probiotic and an enzyme to help with digestion.
Several things have happened since then. Lillian’s poop is much better overall. When something seems to disturb her digestion, she bounces back quickly. I think the supplements help, and I also think her system is getting better at processing stuff.
I’ve talked to other mothers about the situation, and come to the conclusion that we blew the whole thing way out of proportion, partly thanks to our pediatrician. She even had me worrying every time I could hear Lillian’s stomach grumbling. Yes, blood in the poop means something is bugging her intestines, but monitoring every single quality of her poop is crazy and crazy-making. It turns out lots of my friends have babies with green, mucusy, dark, light, yellow, brown, whatever poop. They’re all fine. Baby poop is not standard, and it’s no big deal when it changes. Even blood is not a big deal if you can isolate the cause and cut it out until they outgrow the intolerance.
It should be mentioned that Lillian has never seemed to have any discomfort since that first week. She’s perfectly happy, active, healthy, and has a good appetite. We rarely notice any discomfort that could be attributed to her digestion.
So after making myself nuts for two months, I decided that was enough. No more obsessing about every change in Lillian’s poop. We would start reintroducing soy and dairy separately and determine if either or both was the culprit, and any poop that didn’t have significant blood was good poop as far as we were concerned.
The pediatrician quizzed us about it at Lillian’s four-month appointment last week and we gave her the basic story. I asked her about the Florastor and she claimed it was perfectly safe. Again, her party line without any real consideration for my observations, or my individual kid. So. Fired.
It’s way more fun to not be obsessive. And now we know she is actually quite sensitive to soy. I tried some stuff that had soy additives and lo and behold, she had a clear, but short-lived reaction. Hopefully she’ll outgrow it, but I’m not going to try again until she’s six months old. I’ll try a small amount of dairy in a week or so and see what happens. I suspect with dairy it may be a threshold thing and if I enjoy it in moderation she’ll be just fine. Either way we’ll know before we start solids, so we’ll know what to avoid. In the meantime, I’m turning in my poopologist badge and just going back to being Mama.
And that’s the poopstory. I’m going to get in so much trouble for this when she’s a teenager.
Cutest. Kid. Ever.
I’m taking a break from the ranting to update you on the actual kid. Holy crap, she is changing so fast. She turned four months old on Friday, cut her first tooth on Saturday, and her second one on Monday. Can you believe it? I thought the first six months were going so slooooow, and now it’s all happening far too fast.
Other milestones in the last couple weeks:
- First haircut – mama did not do a very good job
- First ponytails – extra cuteness
- Rolling over – both directions
- Lots of crazy sounds – gargling, whining, weird vowels and consonants
- Swimming – okay, not swimming but we went to the pool for the first time and she dug it. She wanted to take over the world through kicking. Read a description on Tiffany’s blog.
- First solids – we tried some rice cereal but decided to put it off for a month.
- Grabbing feet, stuffing them in mouth – we have reached the grabbing things and stuffing them in the mouth phase. We really, really need to baby proof now.
- Sitting and standing – she’s been doing this for a while now, but she needs less and less support. Did I mention baby proofing?
Showing off her mad foot-grabbing skillz
Smiling for Daddy on Father's Day
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
- Pumping of the legs and giggling
- 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.
Yes, 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.
Hanging out with Daddy
Rocking the Bjorn
Modeling the latest in Carter's Coture