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Happy Birthday to Me August 26, 2008

Filed under: Schmooper — booksunread @ 6:05 pm

We are heading in to week six, and true to the predictions of all the “experts” in the books the evening witching hour is hitting its peak.  Saturday and Sunday night, it extended into bedtime hour, with inconsolable screaming after the last feeding.  Miguel normally rocks the baby to sleep after I’m done feeding, but both nights after 10 straight minutes of screaming, he put him in his crib, declaring he was going to scream whether or not he was held and he’d have to cry it out.  Both nights, I went in and rescued him and got him to sleep, which required maybe an extra 20 minutes of rocking.

Monday was my birthday, and I was not really looking forward to it, knowing that there would be no celebrating, likely only screaming and endless thankless comforting, only to be rewarded with more screaming.  Still, when Miguel offered to pick up some good take-out for dinner, I was optimistic.  I let the schmoop sleep a little longer than his normal 6:00 feeding, hoping to forestall screamy-fest long enough to actually gulp down my dinner while Miguel ran interference.  And then, an accident shut down the highway, causing Miguel to be over an hour late getting home.  At that point, I lost all hope of enjoying my dinner.

Though he’d already given me the gift of not one, but two, mid-change projectile poops yesterday, the schmoop surprised me.  He sat quietly in his papasan chair all through dinner while we both ate, together.  The rest of the night, he was off and on, but not terrible, and went to bed promptly after his feeding.  Just when I think I know what to expect, he changes it up on me.  I’m not foolish enough to think that this is the end of the nighttime fussiness, but I’m happy for the break he gave us.

In other news, we are now faced with the cruel irony of trying to reintroduce the bottle to the boy who had to be battled to take the boob.  My doctor advised me to go slow; every other day, lest he become accustomed to the ease of the bottle and start rejecting my breast again.  All the books say to get someone else to give the baby the bottles, but that is just not practical.  It’s his daytime feedings he needs to get the bottles for, and Miguel is not around for those.  Even if he were, I can not deal with Miguel’s frustration and inevitable anger that we worked so hard to get him to breastfeed and now can’t get him to take the bottle.

So I am going it alone.  I’m starting with his 9:00 feeding.  Sunday went fairly well, and he took down about 3 ounces of pumped milk.  It was just slow and a little fussy as he tried to figure out how to suck on the bottle again.  I gave myself a break on my birthday and tried again this morning.  It went way worse.  Over the course of an hour of crying and switching positions, the bottle was down 2 ounces, but I think most of that just ran out of the bottle and out of his month.  I think we got all of about 1 minute of coordinated sucking.  And I felt terrible, like I was starving him.  His sad little pouty face and eyes seemed to say “why are you doing this to me? Where is my warm boob?”  But I did not give in and give him my breast.  He fell asleep until the next feeding, which I gave him my breast for. 

Given that it’s looking unlikely he’s going to start up a love affair again with the bottle, I’m going to skip the doctor’s advice and keep at it with the 9:00 feeding every day, until he gets it.  Like everything else, trying to do this is full of judgments and stress-I’m not trying to deny him my breast milk; I’m fully willing to pump for him when I have to miss a feeding.  I just want to be able to not be the 24-7 food trough, you know?  I want to be able to go somewhere and leave him with his dad or another caregiver and know he won’t starve.  Right now, it’s a matter of want mostly.  I want the freedom to be gone during a feeding time.  And we have a family trip coming up where my parents will be available to watch him and we can be free to get out and do some things without the baby.  But in just over 4 weeks, it will become a necessity as I return to work. 

I know intellectually that wanting him to take a bottle when needed is not a crime, but I’ve been on the internets a long time, and can just see some random attachment parent stumbling across this post and giving me shit.  Like why did I even bother having a baby if I’m so selfish that I can’t wait to get away from him for a bit?  (And don’t get me started on the having someone else “raise” him part, by being a working mom-Gah.)

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River of Poop August 23, 2008

Filed under: Schmooper — booksunread @ 11:19 pm

So that’s what I had to deal with yesterday.  As I was changing him, he just started going, and all I could do was just pull the back of his onsie up, up, up, trying to keep it out of the way of the rising tide of poo (um, FAIL, another load of laundry!).

In other fun bodily fluids mess…Sunday, we gave him a bath so he’d be all nice and squidgy clean for company.  Then, as I was feeding him, he pooped and blew out his diaper and the back of his cute outfit.  I got him on the changer and naked, where he promptly peed all over his own face.  Mmmm, want to kiss my cute baby?  (We normally keep a washcloth handy to cover the plumbing, but it had gone into the bath tub with him to contain any spray on the way there.  It never fails that the times we neglect to fully cover his junk is the time that he pees mid-change.)

As gross as all this sounds, it’s really not so bad.  Things are going along pretty good for the most part.  He’s having more cute alert awake time (he just loves staring at those plain white ceilings!) but also has started to have that fussy witching hour between 5 and 8 or so.  Hopefully he will outgrow that quickly. 

Now I’m starting to stress about establishing good sleep habits where he self-soothes and puts himself to sleep and sleeps through the night and naps good during the day and is awake and mentally alert and not a hyperactive reprobate.  Seriously, I’ve just started reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and I’m 10 times more stressed out than I was before about getting all of this right and establishing good habits.  They make it sound like if you don’t make sure your kid gets enough sleep he will be a serial killer.

That’s what’s most frustrating about all this-the uncertainty.  The invisible line between soothing and taking care of your infant who’s not capable of self-soothing and establishing habits that are going to be hard to break later on and just lead to a lot of misery.  Also, there’s the tradeoff between what’s most expedient now vs. in the long run.  Do I rock him all the way to sleep for 20 minutes, plus an extra 10 minutes just to make sure he’s fully asleep?  Or do I rock him for 10 minutes, then put him down in his crib to finish the job himself, coming back in and patting and shushing him multiple times (without picking him up) until he’s asleep? Sometimes when we try this, he goes right out without any return trips, sometimes, the process that takes half an hour longer than if I’d just given in and rocked him all the way to sleep in the first place.  The first way is shorter now, but the second will be shorter when he no longer requires the additional trips in to reassure him and consistently goes right to sleep. 

In either case, the Healthy Habits book says that it’s useless to start trying to establish sleep habits until 3 months, so I should really just give in and go with the flow for now and stop stressing myself out.  (Of course, the Babywise book says the complete opposite and encourages you to start establishing patterns now.  See? Stressful. So hard to know what the right thing is.)

 

Uncanny August 15, 2008

Filed under: Schmooper — booksunread @ 9:14 pm

Somehow, it doesn’t matter what route I take, how long or how short I make the walk, the schmoop somehow knows when we are at the very furthest point from the house possible, and picks that time to start up with the wailing.  It’s like he’s got some kind of radar.  He’s still hit or miss on liking the stroller, but I’m trying to get him out every day regardless. 

Some days I use the bjorn; it’s a little easier to wrangle the dog that way, but I can’t really set a good pace with it on or we both get all sweaty.  Still, we have been really lucky lately with a stretch of 80ish days that have enabled us to get out at all.  If it was in the 90’s and sticky, I’d either have to get up at the crack of ass to get out there before it got hot (unlikely) or we’d be trapped in the house for the most part. 

We’re settling in to a bit of routine here.  Schmoop gets up b/t 5:30 and 6:00, I put him back down until 9, and go back to bed myself for an hour.  Then I get up and have my coffee and breakfast and get dressed for our walk in peace before he’s up again.  I’m going to have to start altering that at some point in the near future, though, and give up that extra hour of sleep.  He’ll have to get used to starting his day at 6:00 once I go back to work.  It’s still 6 weeks off, but I’m already thinking ahead to setting a good schedule that works for all of us.  Which…the schedule setting is a whole ‘nother post.  Is it too early to start trying to get him on one?  If I wait, will I be setting him up for bad habits that are going to make it harder down the road?  It’s so hard to tell…every book espouses a different philosophy and I’m sure no one method/plan is right for every baby or family.  Gah.  He’s not even a month old and I’m already worried about screwing him up.

 

Um, Oops. August 12, 2008

Filed under: Schmooper,Uncategorized — booksunread @ 1:03 pm

Anyone who has even attempted breastfeeding is familiar with the lilac colored packaging containing Lansinoh products, all designed to make breastfeeding easier, and more painless.  (Side note, a trip to their website tells me it’s Ntl. Breastfeeding Awareness Month-who knew!)  I am currently using their disposable nursing pads and pure lanolin ointment, and used their latch assist to get the baby going at the breast. 

In the box of pads, there was also a small sample packet, in the same lilac color, of clean and condition cloths.  Which, great, more soothing lanolin for those abused nipples, I thought.  So I started using them after I got out of the shower, to make sure I hadn’t left any soap residue and to, well, condition them, as the package promised.

When the sample packet ran out, I took myself off to the store and purchased a full size package.  It was on the side of the grocery store aisle with the other feeding and nursing products, not the side with the baby wipes (you’ll see why this is important in a moment).  And as I was looking at that big package on my bathroom sink the other day, I realized that they were not in fact clean and conditioning cloths for my boobs, but for the baby’s ass.  Yes, Lansinoh has branched out to both T&A and also makes diaper wipes now.  But can they just call them diaper wipes? NoooooO, they have to make them sound all fancy and call them “conditioning cloths,” the better to confuse bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived, nursing new mothers. 

On the bright side, I have an extra package of wipes handy now…

 

Parenting Milestone August 8, 2008

Filed under: Schmooper — booksunread @ 12:43 am

Today, I successfully used that little bulb thingie to suck a booger out of my baby’s nose, probably saving him from suffocating in the process. Am parenting hero.

 

Getting the Hang of Things August 7, 2008

Filed under: Schmooper — booksunread @ 2:03 pm

So we’re coming to the end of our first full week at home; just me and baby all day, every day.  Right now, each day is still a little different, but I’m trying to establish some sort of order or pattern.  We necessarily have to be flexible while we’re still establishing breastfeeding and making sure that he is gaining weight as needed.  Schmooper has to eat at least every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night.  However, during the day, he is often awake and cluster feeds within an hour and half to two hours of his last feeding, which means that next scheduled three hour feeding gets pushed back.  If he’s sleeping and it’s been three hours since his last feeding, I have to wake him up to make sure he eats.  I hate waking him at night to eat, because if his natural inclination is to sleep for 4 or 5 hour stretches, I don’t want to break him of that habit and establish a new one of waking up during the night.  Still, getting 3 hours or so at a stretch of sleep at night is not too shabby at this stage of the game. 

With the cluster feeds pushing back feeding times, bedtime can be anywhere from 9 to 11.  Which means wake time can be anywhere from 4 to 6 am.  If it’s on the early side, I’ had been putting him back to bed and catching another hour or so of sleep.  I think from now on though, I’m going to try to stretch him to 6 and get up for the day then.  I’m starting to get him out in the stroller for walks and it’s a lot to wrangle the dog and try to keep the glaring sun off of him when I got out later when it’s warmer.  I had him out by 7:30 this morning and it was still pretty cool and the sun was much less bothersome.

He usually sits relatively quietly in his bouncy once we get back so I can grab a quick shower and sometimes even blow dry my hair.  Then he’s ready to eat again and usually conks out for the morning until his next scheduled feeding.  This is when I can grab breakfast, check e-mails, pay bills, read blogs, make phone calls, finish and order birth announcements, etc.  I’ve also gotten smart and started to make my sandwich for lunch during this time so I can eat quickly if he’s awake and won’t settle down during lunchtime.

Then he usually has a good amount of awake time.  If he goes down for a stretch in the afternoon, I try to grab a nap then as well.  He’s a little fussy once he wakes up from that nap and cluster feeds/fusses until Miguel gets home.  By that time, I usually pretty fried and happy to hand him off. 

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks when we can start 1. pumping and giving him bottles so I’m not the sole feeding trough, and 2. putting him on more of a set/predictable schedule. 

Other than that, I’m recovering surprisingly well.  I felt pretty good right off the bat, but maybe that was the adrenaline talking.  The soreness has been minimal, the bleeding has eased up considerably, and I can finally see the veins and ligaments in my feet.  I’ve been sweating out excess fluid by the bucketful every night. 

My blood pressure continues to be a problem, and I’m on meds until my 6 week postpartum check up.  The other thing that hasn’t improved is my hands; the numbness is still constant in both.  I think it’s probably actually getting worse; all the positing and holding the baby for nursing is very hard on the wrists.  My OB’s office told me to give it until I’m 6 weeks post partum to get rid of all the excess fluid that may be putting pressure on my carpal tunnel nerves.  If it hasn’t improved by then, I will have to see my primary care doc and potentially get cortisone shots in my wrists.  In the meantime, I’m trying to wear my braces as much as possible and trying to limit my computer time.  Which means I should probably wrap up this post and go make my sandwich!

 

In Praise of Nipple Shields August 1, 2008

Filed under: Schmooper — booksunread @ 5:03 pm

Breastfeeding of the Schmooper (seriously, needs better alias) did not get off to an auspicious start.  I think it was just a combination of bad timing and a reluctant nurser; by the time we got down to our room and settled it was late Saturday night.  I didn’t have a very good nurse that night, and didn’t get a lot of help with getting him going on the breast.  Sunday morning, I had a much more helpful nurse.  Then it was time for his circumcision, which put him out for several hours; just in time for the lactation consultant to arrive.  So we didn’t make much head way that afternoon.

By 9 Sunday night, 24 hours after his birth, he still wasn’t reliably latching and sucking on the breast, so they put him on the “sleepy baby plan” and had me start pumping and supplementing him with bottles of formula.  Monday, we had two pretty good sessions with the lactation consultant, but it was definitely a two person job to keep him working on sucking.  I needed both hands to position my boob and his head, and the consultant would rub his head, feet, and back, or jiggle his arms to keep him awake and sucking. 

We left the hospital with a rented pump and the encouragement to keep going.  I had good breasts, good latching technique, just keep trying at every feeding and he would eventually get it; especially as my milk came in.  However, of course, as time went on and he got more and more quick and easy flow bottles (despite frantic trips to Target for the slowest flow nipples available), the less attractive my slow-ass nipples were to him. So every feeding was a cycle of me trying to force his screaming cry hole onto my boob, with Miguel halfheartedly trying to stimulate him and asking, “Can we give him the bottle now?”  Then one of us would give him a bottle and I’d pump for 20 minutes, then take another 10 minutes to clean the pump gear, put away what I’d pumped and then try to get back to sleep. 

Once I started pumping out some milk, we were warming and cleaning two bottles a feeding, since it wasn’t enough by itself and he still needed formula.  Meanwhile Miguel was advocating ditching the boob altogether, cutting out some steps and feeding him formula.  We were all raised on formula, millions of babies get formula, there is nothing wrong with formula; etc.  Every feeding was a tension filled argument of him accusing me of being stubborn and just wanting to breastfeed for the sake of my womanly imperative, and me telling him to STFU since he hadn’t read any books, been to any classes, and in short, didn’t know anything about feeding a baby.

Wednesday the visiting nurse came, and the verdict was the same-great breasts, good technique, he’ll get it.  By the time we made it to the pediatrician on Thursday to meet with the lactation consultant there, Miguel and I were about ready to come to blows.  We had a huge come to jesus meltdown in front of this poor lady about how our tolerance to keep trying was different.  She suggested seeing the lactation specialists at the local children’s hospital, and taking away the bottle completely and syringe feeding.  Both of which Miguel flatly vetoed as being way too much effort compared to feeding him formula.  Breastfeeding just wasn’t that important to him.

And then my boy completely confounded the lactation consultant by latching on, yet full out refusing to suck.  She said she’d never seen it before.  Looking at the bottled milk we’d brought, she said that my milk was still in transition, and to keep trying until it fully came in.  After we left, she called the hospital specialists for us and they were reassuring that this kind of thing was pretty common; once my milk was squirting down his throat at the end of week 2, we’d be much more likely to be successful.  In the meantime, back it off, give everyone a break; try the breast a couple feedings a day and don’t push it.

In the meantime, my SIL, who had a bottle fed preemie she had trouble getting on the breast once she was out of the NICU, recommended nipple shields.  I mentioned it to the lactation consultant and she counseled against them, saying it would actually create another barrier, slowing down the milk transfer and frustrating him further.  I’d heard that lactation consultants typically frown on the shields so I wasn’t surprised.  However, I was willing to try anything at that point.  I ended up buying both a latch assist thingy to kind of draw the nipple out and get the milk flowing for him a bit, then the silicone nipple shield. 

I tried the combo for a few feedings off and on over the weekend, and actually got him to latch on and suck, since the smooth plastic of the shield was so much like the bottle he’d gotten used to.  He was getting some milk out with each try.

Sunday afternoon, Miguel’s parents and sister arrived.  The next feeding, my SIL sat with me and encouraged me to keep him going on the breast with the shield, and we actually got in a full feeding on each side.  We call her the boob whisperer now.  His last bottle was on Sunday, and he’s been on the boob ever since.  I was gradually able to phase out the nipple shield and then the latch assist.  He latches on and gets it going all on his own now.

However, all has not been smooth sailing.  At his follow up visit on Tuesday, he was exactly the same weight as last week, which was not great.  Still, the doctor was optimistic that he’d only been on the breast for just over 24 hours, his number of wet and dirty diapers was good, and he didn’t seem to be in any distress.  He told us to keep going, and we’d check again on Friday. 

Of course, the second he left, Miguel said “I’m concerned about his weight,” despite the doctor telling us it was no cause for alarm.  And since he’s been on the boob, any time he is fussy or won’t settle down after a feeding (because he is a baby and they cry sometimes), Miguel badgers me that he’s hungry, we should give him a bottle.  I know that all this comes from a place of love, and over-protectiveness for his helpless little son, but it is truly making things 10 times harder than they need to be. 

He finally went back to work yesterday and I breathed a huge sigh of relief; now the baby and I can be alone to work out the kinks.