Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Okay, enough with this "Oh woe is me, my baby has a cold" crap

Instead, let's move on to "Oh woe is me, my baby won't sleep," shall we?

Actually, right now she is sleeping, so I probably shouldn't complain. Except I will complain, because yesterday? When I was exhausted? Because even if the baby slept better than I'd hoped the night before, the quality of sleep you get when you have a feverish, snotty baby on top of you? Is not so great. So I had planned to nap with the baby. And the baby Would. Not. Nap. Okay, she napped a little bit. She was a tease. Her longest nap was less than 30 minutes long. And the nap where I laid down beside her and started to doze off myself was under 20 minutes. And that? That was the extent of her napping. Two more times she acted like she was going to nap, but the instant I moved away from her, her eyes flew open and she was ready to play and nothing I did could lull her back to sleep. At six o'clock, after one such incident, I plopped her down in her bed, while I laid down on mine and cried. And because Adriana couldn't tell the difference between crying and laughing, she sat there and giggled at me, until I was laughing too, which was kind of nice.

Adriana's sleep has been strange lately. Brian and I have both been frustrated by it, enough so that I now have The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The Baby Sleep Book lying around the house. They've actually been somewhat effective: whenever I bring a new sleep book into the house, the baby sleeps AWESOME that night. Seriously. These books must have some sort of magic to them.

Anyhow, I actually made it half way through the first book, and I've tried to take some lessons from it, but I haven't gone through her whole routine with keeping a sleep journal and all that. I just brought the second book home from the library yesterday and haven't gotten any further than thinking about the picture of the sleeping baby on the front cover and why the baby has a blanket over him. Babies shouldn't have blankets! Because that's how my mind works right now.

Adriana was a good sleeper for the first couple of months of her life. At first we were a little traumatized by it, actually, as we thought she ought to be waking every two or three hours to nurse. Terrified that she wasn't going to grow properly, we tried waking her ourselves to feed her--undressing her down to her t-shirt and diaper, changing her diaper, touching a cool cloth to her face. She proved to be very stubborn and slept through it all. A friend who is a nurse-midwife and has three children of her own assured me that a full-term baby will wake when she's hungry, and I should just get some rest. It was hard advice to take, but we did it. When she was three months old, I was complaining about how she started waking up twice in the night instead of only once. (Dear Self-in-April: Bitch. Love, Self-in-August) Now two wake-ups counts as a highly successful night. I'm fine with that. I just want more highly successful nights.

I honestly think I'm glad that Adriana slept better at first than she did now. Now I have more energy and more confidence. Back at the beginning when I was battling baby blues brought on by my crazy hormones and painful breastfeeding and a disappointing birth experience, I needed my sleep more than I do now. But still. A couple of long naps and a four-hour stretch at night would be nice to have.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sleepy expectations

Before Adriana was born, one of our midwives told us that when the baby arrived we'd be better off if we adjusted our expectations for sleep and just focused in the first few weeks on "daytime naps and nighttime naps." Basically, if we didn't expect that we were going down at night for eight hours of sleep, but just for a couple of hours until the next feeding, it would be easier to handle the night wakings. A few times Brian had to remind me of this advice, and I found that it helped us. It helped me not feel guilty about taking a two hour nap during the day while Adriana slept (I still felt guilty if I slept while Brian cared for her). It helped to keep me from dreading the middle-of-the-night feedings. Well, I still dreaded them a little, but instead of crying in the night because I was awake yet again, I cried because it was such a struggle to get Adriana to latch properly, and I was worried she wasn't eating enough.

So with Cindy's advice in mind, I decided that last night was going to suck. I had a feverish, congested little baby who didn't want to be put down, so just as I'd given up any hope of getting things done around the house yesterday and let Adriana take four of her six naps on my lap in the rocking chair, I was going to have to give up hope of anything resembling a good night's sleep. I settled in for the night propped up on pillows with Adriana on my chest, planning to wake every hour to comfort her or nurse her or wipe her nose or whatever it was she happened to need. That was at 11 (Brian had done the cuddling and snuggling since I'd nursed her down at 8:30). We woke at midnight, two, five, six, and seven. It was a lot more waking up then I'd like to do in the night, but I got a two-hour stretch, and a three-hour stretch, which was better than I'd planned.

Not that I'm not tired today. I poured some cereal into a bowl, sliced a banana onto it, and then stood with the refrigerator door open for several minutes, wondering what on earth I'd been doing, before I remembered that I had been about to get out the milk for my cereal. A few times Adriana seemed ready to nurse down for her morning nap, but then changed her mind and wanted to play. I would put her down and go start the diapers in the wash, or put away the things I bought her for this winter at the Carter's sale yesterday. Finally, after one last attempt at getting her down for a nap, she started to fuss and struggle, and I nearly put her down on the floor and said, "Fine, if you don't want to nap, don't nap." And then I remembered that the baby was sick and that I needed to adjust my expectations. I headed for the rocker and sat down with Adriana's legs wrapped around my waist and her head on my chest, just like yesterday. Ten minutes later, she was asleep and I could put her down.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Poor little baby

It's 4:30 in the afternoon, and Adriana is currently taking her sixth nap of the day. The poor little girl is battling her second illness in two weeks. Last time it was a stomach virus (I had wondered how I would tell the difference between spitting up and throwing up; turns out that when it's the latter, it becomes abundantly clear). This time it's a cold, which has stuffed up her nose and given her a fever. Both times she got sick about two days after I took her to something with other babies and let her crawl around with them. I guess part of "learning to be human," as I keep calling her development, is building up some immunity. This cold, in my opinion, is preferable to the stomach virus, as it requires a lot less laundry on my part, and she is nursing every hour, so I'm not worried about dehydration. Still, it's sad to have a sick baby. We've spent a lot of time today in the rocking chair, with her legs wrapped around my waist as she rests her head on my chest. I won't deny that I like the snuggles. I just wish the little monkey didn't feel so bad.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Full disclosure

The past couple nights the baby's diaper has leaked overnight. And I've been the one to put it on her. Oops.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

At least this time I didn't have to clean up any cat puke

Early this morning, I shifted Adriana around and realized that her diaper had leaked. The moment I turned on the light to change her, her eyes popped open and she smiled at me. I changed her diaper (wondering whether the velcro tab on the left side had moved out that far on its own, or whether Brian had really put the diaper on in such a way that there was a huge gap between the elastic and her leg, and if so WHAT THE HELL WAS HE THINKING?) (Hi, sweetie!) and put her into clean, dry pajamas, brought her back to bed. We nursed for awhile, but I could see that her eyes were still wide open. Finally I heard her filling her diaper. I wondered if she would fall asleep anyhow and if it would be awful for me to let her go the next couple hours until Brian got up with her in that diaper. I wondered if I could wake Brian to change this one and still reasonably hope that he would get up with her in the morning and let me sleep in. My decision went the way it usually does: I was awake anyhow, so I might as well do it myself and then sleep in guilt-free in the morning. The real morning. The one where there is actual sunlight. Because at this point it was morning, five in the morning, but I don't think that "in the morning" should really count. (Perhaps I'm not what you would call a morning person anymore?)

I laid there, wondering what I'd been smoking when I wrote this, and thinking Mary's suggestion about a lamp didn't sound half bad, especially because I wasn't the one that put on the bedtime diaper in such a way that it had no choice but to leak. (All the kind thoughts I'd been thinking about Brian yesterday? They had been pushed off into a corner of my brain that I don't have access to in the pre-dawn hours, I guess.) The baby giggled and grabbed my nose, then rolled over and got up to crawl after the cat who had just jumped up onto the bed. I wrestled her back down to see if she would nurse. She did for a moment and then reached over to pat Brian. Back and forth we went, until finally I pulled her up on top of me. She raised her head and looked me in the face, and then laid back down and grew still. I breathed deeply, slowly, consciously, and waited. At last I rolled to the side, so that we were still snuggled tummy-to-tummy, and buried my face in her hair, and I knew exactly what had come over me to make me write that previous post.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Best husband I ever had

Yesterday kind of sucked. I'm not sure exactly why. Adriana had slept fairly well the night before,* so I can't say I wasn't well rested. I went to La Leche League in the morning, so I can't say I was starved for adult company. But somehow, in spite of all we got done over the weekend, the house seemed like a wreck, and the baby wasn't napping well, and I just hand no energy. I was discouraged and wondering if maybe I wasn't cut out to be a mom, or at least not a stay-at-home-mom. And then I realized that the alternative to being a stay-at-home-mom was getting an actual job, and I thought that going to work all day and then having to take care of a baby in the evenings and get up early the next day probably wouldn't make my life any easier. So the house got messier and messier, and I got crankier and crankier.

Then Brian came home. He asked me how my day was. He played with Adriana and put away the clothes that I washed last week. Then he offered to take me out to dinner, and we went to a pizza place downtown that I'd been wanting to check out, since I miss the wonderful brick oven pizzerias we frequented on the east coast. I had a glass of wine with dinner and a piece of cheesecake for dessert.

This morning Adriana woke up earlier than usual. Brian got up with her as he always does, so that I could get some extra rest after doing all the nighttime parenting. I slept soundly while he emptied the dishwasher, took out all the trash, and played with the baby.

All these things made today not be so bad. I cleaned out the fridge, planned meals, did the grocery shopping, took care of some laundry, and had fun playing with the baby--boring, lovely little things. Brian had done chores that wouldn't have taken me long if I had to do them myself, but somehow they made the prospect of being home with the baby and the housework much less intimidating.

*Funny how having her wake up hourly for a couple of nights in a row makes a night with four wake-ups seem awesome.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Selective memory: nature's method of convincing women to have more than one child

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I thought, It's funny, isn't it, how I can remember exactly the sensation of the baby moving while I was pregnant, from the first maybe-it's-just-gas taps near my bellybutton to the uncomfortable-yet-reassuring kicks to my liver, and yet my memory of the pain of labor is very vague, just an intellectual fact.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scientific fact: babies actually grow

We never really bothered strapping Adriana in to her gliding chair. I did strap her in the first few times, but since we were letting her nap in it all swaddled up when she was a newborn, it just didn't seem practical to strap her in. We rarely bothered turning it on, and just used it as a safe place to lie her down when we were downstairs, so even once she was out of the swaddle we just ignored the buckle. When she started sitting unsupported a couple of months ago, we began to use the chair much less, for fear that she would tip herself out, because now that we were willing to bother with the straps, they weren't long enough to reach around her. So when her chair arrived at our new apartment after the move, I decided it was time to put it away to save for future babies (shhhhh....don't tell Brian). I was about to take it apart so it would fit better into a box, when I remembered that for months it seemed like most the pictures I took of her included that chair, and I decided that one last picture was required.

Wee squooshy monkey:
Adriana in her chair, 3 weeks old
Three weeks old. I believe this picture also documents the first time I put her in clothing that required something be pulled over her head. She outgrew the shirt before I got brave enough to put it on her a second time.

Less wee, less squooshy, still a monkey:
Adriana in her chair, 7 months old
Seven months old.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Seven months

I thought about not writing a seven month post. I looked back at the others and thought they were all sappy, sounding like motherhood was all sunshines and rainbows and unicorns, and I was idealizing and romanticizing the whole thing. And then I realized that I shouldn't not write it, because I do like having some sort of record marking each month, even if it seems that the record is more about my experiences than about actual changes in the baby. I should just write honestly. So:

Some mornings Adriana wakes me up with little pats on my cheek with her tiny hand. I want to keep my eyes closed, so she'll keep doing it--it's just so sweet. But I know that when she sees me open my eyes she'll give me a big grin, and I think that's even better. Some days she naps when I expect her too and I get things done around the house and Brian plays with her in the evenings while I cook dinner, and everything is great. When she gets fussy around eight or nine o'clock, I put her in a double-thick diaper and footy pajamas, and then I read her Good Night Moon and nurse her down to sleep. And those days are perfect and wonderful and I think, I should have 10 more babies! Or maybe no more babies because now I have the exact life I want and why mess with that?

Some mornings the baby wakes up fussy, and I can't go back to sleep after Brian gets up with her. And I spend the day tired, and it seems as though the baby never naps (although she usually does), and the house gets messier and messier, and I don't feel like singing "Mail Myself to You" 789347894 times or changing another diaper, and dammit, I forgot to put the diapers in the dryer. Why on earth did I think I could handle having a baby? Is it too early in the day to call Brian and suggest that this would not be a good day for him to lose track of time at work and not get home until seven?

I am lucky, I know, that there are more days like the former than like the latter, and that most days are a mix. And I think overall I do pretty well. And so does Adriana. So that's about my experience. As for changes in the baby:

The baby, she crawls. Not really. Not a lot. But she sees something in front of her and leans forward onto her hands and knees and makes her way towards it. She moves a knee forward, then the other, then her hands. And she gets what she wants. Is amazing and fantastic and terrifying. I am totally doomed. Somehow I had come up with the idea that babies crawled around nine months, so I thought I was safe for awhile. And while she's not getting anywhere fast, I think this may count as crawling. When she first did it on Friday I was reluctant to call it crawling, but Brian and his parents saw it happen today and said it counted. So hey, the baby crawls! Yay! And also: dammit. And the cat, who was just awakened by a baby who crawled over to her and poked her says only "dammit."

Adriana began sitting unsupported not long after reaching five months, but it took her until this past week to begin pushing herself up to sitting. Last night, just before I dropped off to sleep, I opened my eyes to check that the baby was still breathing, just in time to see her push up to her hands and knees and then to sitting. She reached toward the side of the cosleeper and I grabbed her, because I already know that she can pull up onto her knees when she's like that, and I was envisioning her pulling herself over the side and landing on the floor with a thud. Because earlier this week she managed to roll or scoot off of our bed when I thought she was napping, and now I know exactly the sound an eighteen-pound baby makes when she hits the floor: thud, pause, scream. And I can do without ever hearing that again. So later on today, before she goes to bed for the evening, the cosleeper will be converted to a play yard. Which means I will have to wake up when the baby wakes and needs to eat, rather than just pulling her in with me and not remembering it (I know this for a fact because she was sleeping in a play yard while we were staying at my dad's in July), and I won't be able to just open my eyes to watch her back rise and fall to confirm that she is still alive. And really, this is all about me. Didn't you know?

Oh, and it's all about baby pictures:

Adriana in her high chair

Adriana in the morning sun

Adriana in her Giants gear

Adriana trying to crawl

Adriana's profile

Saturday, August 11, 2007

'Bout damn time

From the Washington Post: Metro Sets Passengers 'Right"

Why couldn't they have done this five years ago? Although, honestly, who really thinks this is going to solve the problem? The message isn't going to play that often, and are the tourists really going to listen to the message, even when the messages are actually audible? I think Metro needs to do what London does in the tube and put signs up and down the escalators reminding people to stand on the right.

Oh, and I don't live in DC anymore. So I shouldn't care, should I? Well, maybe this will be my last post bitching about Metro.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

World Breastfeeding Week

Today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week. I've been wanting to write about it, but sort of stumped as to what to say. My birth story gets a fair number of hits with people Googling for answers to their questions about labor and c-section recovery and the like (I really hope the person who Googled "nine months pregnant back pain contractions five minutes apart" stepped away from her computer and just called her midwife), so I thought that by writing about my experience with breastfeeding, I could help someone who is searching the internet for anecdotal information about nursing.

When I was pregnant and stressed out and worried about becoming a parent, and crying because I was sure it would be too hard and I was hormonal and everything seemed like too much, Brian would try to help me focus, try to help me overcome my fears and worries by talking to me about the baby, but also by trying to get me to focus on the positive and talk about it. One time he asked me what I was looking forward to most when it came to taking care of the baby. "Nursing," I told him. "I just want to nurse the baby." I had images of a blissful breastfeeding relationship, where after the baby was born on the big bed at the birth center, she was placed against me and we were wrapped in blankets and we would nurse and she we look into my eyes and we would bond and everything would be perfect. Focusing on that image helped me get through so many of the fears I experienced during pregnancy.

And now I just have to say that nursing sucked at first. It was hard. The blissful bonding didn't happen immediately. We got there eventually, but it took work.

Adriana didn't nurse immediately after birth. At first we were separated because she needed to go to the nursery while I was stitched up after the c-section. (I'm told some women may get to attempt nursing while still in the OR, but I was bleeding a bit more than they expected, and that wasn't an option for us.) We attempted nursing in the recovery room, but she was sleepy and I couldn't yet sit up or turn on my side, so it was awkward, and I'm not sure she got much. Then I was sent to x-ray for tests and told by the radiologist that they contrast dye they were giving me would mean that I couldn't nurse for 48 hours. I panicked. I knew that my odds of successfully nursing the baby were already reduced because we weren't together nursing right at that moment. I worried about immunity and nipple confusion, but I consented to the test. That afternoon and evening, Brian syringe-fed Adriana her first food, formula. She wasn't getting immunity from my colostrum, but at least once our 48 hours were up, she wouldn't have become accustomed to a bottle nipple. I pumped colostrum, trying to get my milk to come in that night. I meant to wake up every few hours to pump while Brian fed the baby, but I was sleeping deeply, and he decided I needed the rest to help myself recover. So I slept, and dreamed dreams about nursing the baby that were realistic enough that I awoke confused about whether maybe I really had.

The next afternoon the hospital lactation consultant breezed into the room, told me that the radiologist had been wrong, and it was time to get the baby to nurse. We struggled then and we struggled for the next few days, as we tried to find a position that worked for us, tried to help the baby latch on (and stay on--if her arms weren't tightly swaddled she tended to push herself away after a few sucks, and then scream because she was hungry and not nursing), tried to feed her every two hours even when she wasn't hungry. We didn't know what we were doing, and we were making ourselves crazy, but Brian and I were both desperate to make breastfeeding work. Our desperation made us determined, and our determination made it work. We would get the baby latched on and my milk would let down and for a few minutes I would be lost in a haze of "happy nursing hormones."

But even though it was working, it was hard. I had read that before, but I didn't realize how true it was. It's natural, I thought; it shouldn't be hard. I mean, cats don't have lactation consultants or breastfeeding videos or La Leche League meetings or lanolin, and they somehow manage. Why can't humans? With each feeding it became less of a struggle, and with each day I worried less about whether Adriana was getting enough to eat. It helped that I stopped panicking when she didn't want to nurse every two hours, and that when we saw her pediatrician when she was six days old, she had stopped losing weight, and had even gained a couple of ounces since we'd left the hospital. By the time she was a week old, we were doing okay. And then the pain set in.

It was different from the pain I'd felt the first few times I'd fed Adriana--more of a burning that was strongest right after a feed. I was reading The Nursing Mother's Companion (my favorite breastfeeding book--easiest to use when you are in the new baby haze and with the most detail on some of the problems that occur early on) while feeding the baby, and diagnosed myself with thrush. The pediatrician confirmed this at the two-week checkup, and got us started on treatment. The treatment was slow, and although our case of thrush never got as bad as some people's, I was upset that feeding the baby was causing me pain. I felt guilty when the baby would want to "cluster feed" in the evenings and I would get annoyed because I was in pain. A couple times when she started to fuss for food, after nursing only 30 minutes before, I would leave Brian to try to comfort her while I took a hot shower, just to get a little break. I was worried because my baby was hungry and I wasn't feeding her; what kind of mother was I? But I needed those few minutes away. The thrush finally cleared up about five weeks after we first started treatment, after talks with a midwife and a La Leche League leader to figure out what could be done in addition to what the pediatrician had prescribed (answer: rinsing with a vinegar solution after every feed, applying the ointment after every feed, and taking acidophilus each day).

It took awhile before I was nursing without pain. It took some time before the baby and I could get her latched on with ease. It was awhile before I could nurse without a boppy, or using a coat rolled up like a boppy. It took awhile to be able to nurse lying down. But everything is fine now. My fears in the hospital when I wasn't allowed to nurse right away were unfounded: not being able to nurse for the first 24 hours sucked, but in the long run it didn't hurt us at all. Now, every couple of hours, every single day, Adriana and I curl up together so that she can eat, and the wish that I tearfully expressed to Brian last fall has come true.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Little Giant

happy baby in a san francisco giants shirt

Adriana finally had her six-month well baby visit, where she weighed in at 18 pounds, 4 ounces (79th percentile) and measured 27 inches long (85th percentile). She screamed for her shots, but was easier to soothe than she has been in the past, and was in pretty good spirits before much time had passed--so long as the nurse who administered them stayed away from us. Any time the baby caught sight of the nurse after the shots, the screaming started again. If it weren't so difficult to hear my girl cry, I probably would have found it funny.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


At first, Adriana wasn't sure what to do with the mushy green things I put in front of her.
baby playing with avocado

When I mashed them up and started feeding them to her with a spoon she wasn't sure she liked the way they tasted.
unhappy baby with avocado on her face

But the spoon itself, that was fun.
baby playing with a spoon

And avocado is great for the complexion, so at least some good came of today's experiment.
baby wearing a lot of avocado on her face

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


On Sunday, Adriana got her first...well, "solids" doesn't seem like the right word, as it wasn't very solid. And "food other than breastmilk" isn't quite right, either, as I mixed the cereal with milk so that it would taste familiar. But anyhow, she got her first cereal over the weekend, and it was a ton of fun watching her experiment with the spoon and react to the taste and feeling of the cereal.

baby eating cereal

I'd been reluctant to start Adriana on solids. I was determined to wait until six months to make sure she was really ready, although some of my friends, I think, didn't quite get why I was waiting. Honestly, it took me awhile to figure out while I was waiting too. I mean, part of it was logistical: I knew that it would take time and make a mess, and I wanted to wait until we were settled into our new place before getting involved. But I realized that I was also nervous about what it meant for nursing. I love nursing her, and I was afraid of losing that relationship. It turns out that a couple of tablespoons of rice cereal doesn't much interfere with nursing, and I think that's just the way it should be. Eventually she'll eat more solid foods and slowly wean, but it's going to be a long process that will give us both a chance to adjust. And I think trying her out on some avocado tomorrow is going to be all kinds of fun. By which I mean a big, slimy, green mess.