All us new moms look alike

You’re out with a stroller?  You must be that one person I don’t really know who just had a baby!  When I’m out for a walk with Jack and I meet someone else out and about in whatever neighborhood I’m in, there’s a 75% chance they’re going to ask me if I’m so-and-so from down the street who just had a baby.  Not ONCE have I been their so-and-so from down the street who just had a baby.  I’ve had that conversation with a LOT of people in at least three different neighborhoods.

Today’s version:

I’m walking down the sidewalk minding my own business.

“He might bark, but I promise he’s friendly.”

Um, what?  Oh, that poodle who looks like he has a mohawk is in the front yard.  “Thanks!”

The man heads to the dog, and I stop at the end of his sidewalk and ask if I can say hello to the dog.  Because dogs.  He says of course, and I start petting the very friendly, very nice dog.

“Is your husband Matt?”

Um, what?  “No….”

“Because his wife walks around here a lot and they have a two-month-old.”

“No, I’m Susannah, my husband is John, and he,” pointing at the stroller, “is nearly 6 months old.”

What I don’t get is how he only remembers the husband’s name when it seems it’s the wife he’s met on her walks, but whatever.  His name is Tom, the dog’s name is Bogey (as in Humphrey), they’re both nice, and if I don’t write his name down, I’m not going to remember.  Yesterday, I ran into a woman I’d met on a walk months ago and messed up her name.  I remembered her kids’ names, but I guessed Grace for her.  Nope.  She’s Nancy.  But she didn’t remember mine, so we’re even.

Inner workings

Example of how my brain is working right now:

One of the milestones for baby development for a couple of months ago is the ability to track an object as small as a raisin across the baby’s field of vision.

How do you know the baby is tracking the raisin?  If you’re holding it, the baby could just be tracking your hand, which is (probably) much larger than the raisin.

Maybe if you hung the raisin on some string and dangled it in front of the baby…

[Picturing using a needle and thread and piercing the raisin so you can dangle it] Who would go to that trouble?

Why not just use a necklace with some kind of pendant?

Oh.  Maybe that’s what they mean, but they can’t say use a pendant because they come in all sizes and they’re using raisin as a point of comparison. Duh.

No, because how hard would it be to say “baby should be able to track an object, like a pendant on a chain, as small as a raisin”?  

Be clearer, baby books!

Do I have any intention of dangling a pendant (or a raisin) in front of Jack?  No.  Does that matter to my brain?  No.  Is this really any different from how my brain worked pre-Jack?  No.

Just call me Dharma

I’m a science person, right?  Not a holistic medicine person.  I don’t believe that apple cider vinegar can cure everything from blisters to cancer, and of COURSE we’re vaccinating Jack.  I don’t plan to change my mind about any of that, but I AM willing to try just about anything to make sure I can continue to feed Jack.

A couple of weeks ago, maybe three now, Jack started to behave strangely while nursing, and without going into all the details (because I’m tired and that takes too long), I’ve asked for help, and two other moms, his doctor, and two lactation nurses (one of whom witnessed him nurse) all think I have low milk supply.  Jack is still gaining weight, so no one is seriously concerned about him, but I’m not ready to give up on being his sole source of food.

Solution #1: pump constantly.  Sharon (the visiting lactation nurse who looks and sounds like John’s Aunt Toni – it’s eerie) suggested pumping after every feeding for 24-48 hours.  I haven’t managed EVERY feeding (sometimes I let him nap if he falls asleep eating), but I’ve been pumping a lot and not seeing a lot of improvement.  We’re coming up on 96 hours, and MAYBE making some progress.  We’ve replaced the bedtime feeding with a bottle because that late in the day I’m producing practically nothing and both Jack and I are very not happy about it.  Anyway, the pumping is supposed to be telling my body that the baby needs more so, damn it, produce more.  We’ll see.

Solution #2 is the one I want to talk about.  After suggesting pumping all the time, Sharon asked, “Have you tried any herbs?”  Part one of the answer: I haven’t tried ANYthing because I didn’t know what the problem was.  Part two of the answer: um, what?  What kind of herbs?  Like, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme?  Or, like, herbs?  What is happening here?

Apparently, some herbs are galactagogues, meaning they’ll help produce milk, like fenugreek, alfalfa, and, I kid you not, something called blessed thistle.  I feel hippy-dippier just typing that.  So Sharon suggested I try those herbs, in addition to the constant pumping, either in pill form or in Mother’s Milk Tea.  (I can’t believe this is a real thing.)  I like tea, so I ordered some of that, and it arrived today.  I was worried about the fenugreek (I really don’t like licorice), but the tea tastes pretty much like a basic chamomile (I don’t drink much herbal tea, so give me a break here if I’m totally off base), and I can deal with that.  Of course, I have to deal with it 3-5 cups a day for it to be effective.

The tea has been in the house for 90 minutes, and I’ve had two cups already.  I’ll get at least three in tonight.

THIS HAD BETTER WORK.

Everything is blurry

There must be a trick to transferring a sleeping baby from your arms to the crib, but the internet won’t tell me what it is.  I get a lot of “put the baby down sleepy but not asleep so he can learn to put himself to sleep”, but 1) he still falls asleep nursing, so that’s harder than it seems, and 2) he screams when he hits the mattress whether he’s sleepy or sleeping, so drowsy disappears fast.

He does sleep at night, so it’s not like we can’t get him to sleep in the crib at all, but bedtime is the most stressful time of day for me.  The last two nights (three? too tired to remember), it was John who was able to put him down quietly, so we’re going to keep going with that and hope it works.  Of course, that limits bedtime and will eventually get us into trouble.  Eventually being in two weekends, when John is out of town.

Fun times ahead.

This will be…interesting

Tomorrow morning we head for PA for Christmas.  This will the first time we’ve driven more than half an hour with Jack, the first time we’ve spent a night somewhere other than home with Jack (not counting the hospital), and the first time he’ll be around more than five people at once.

I’m not terribly worried about the drive.  He’ll probably sleep much of it (although I most likely just jinxed it).  And the people – he’ll be fine.  It’s the nights away from home that have me a little worried.  No, I’m not worried.  I’m resigned to the likelihood that we won’t get any sleep.  He’ll be in a new place, in an unfamiliar crib (or something), new noises (including another baby), so he’s likely to have trouble settling down, and since he’ll be in our room, I think I’m likely to have trouble settling down.

Maybe he and I can tire each other out during the days enough to sleep like logs at night.  That’s actually pretty likely.  🙂    And maybe, just maybe, the experience of sleeping somewhere other than home will make sleeping at home that much more attractive to him and he’ll go down for naps easier.

I can dream.

No one warned me that could happen

I anticipated smelly poopy diapers  (and the smellier ones still to come) and diaper blowouts and getting peed on.  I anticipated (to a certain extent) having days where I can’t make it into the shower and everything I’m wearing is something I wore the day before and then slept in AND has spit-up on it.  I did NOT anticipate the baby spitting up on me WHILE NURSING and then getting squirmy-yelly-mad when I insist on a 20-second break to mop us both up.  Ew, baby.  I know you ate that once, but it’s not better the second time around.

(See what I did there, Mom and Dad?  His first word isn’t destined to be “gross”.)

Blue skies, empty head

I did it again.  While walking with Jack this morning, I started drafting a post in my head, and when I got back, I remembered that I’d thought of something, but that’s as far as I can get.  I had hoped it would come back to me when I went out for my “run”*, but no luck.  Gone forever.

*That’s right!  I’ve started exercising (other than walks with the baby in the stroller) again!  It’s a “run” because I can’t call it running yet, or even jogging, not really.  I’m starting from basically nothing, so I’m back to the walk/jog pattern.  Walk for 5 minutes, jog for 1 minute, repeat for at least half an hour (longer when I can get the time).  Do that three times a week (at least), for at least two weeks, then walk for 4 minutes, jog for 2.  It’ll take a long time, but it’s a safe (injury-free) way to get back to running.  And MAN do I want to avoid hurting myself.  I miss running.  The hard part now is figuring out when I can do it.  Jack still has, like, NO pattern.  Not for eating, not for sleeping, and that makes it hard to work out with John when I can leave him with Jack during the work day.  It’s best (for all three of us) if I go out immediately after feeding the baby, but will that be when John can look away from work for a bit?  Hard to say, hard to predict.  But we’ll figure it out.

I did see someone using the same brand jogger that I have and actually jogging with it.  We exchanged brief hellos, but she went by too quickly for me to ask how hold her baby was when she started jogging with her.  The recommended age is 8 months, so it’s likely to be a while before Jack and I jog together.

Nothing much

My brain is mush.  It’s worse than pregnancy brain, I think – it’s exhausted brain.  I’ll think of something to write about, start writing it in my head, and then it’s completely lost by the time I get in front of my laptop (usually days later).  I used to send myself emails with notes in them.  Why don’t I do that now?  Because mushbrain.  So John has the baby right now, I have two hands free, and I’ve got nothing.  Nothing interesting, nothing amusing, nothing more than an account of the day.

I also probably won’t have my hands free for much longer.  John has the baby, yes, but he’s starting to cry (Jack, not John), and it sounds like it’ll turn into the hungry cry any minute now.

I might not have my hands free, but I’ll have a cuddly baby in my arms (when he’s not wailing, he’s SUPER cuddly), John made us a cozy fire in the wood stove, and he’s going to grill us salmon (once HIS hands are free).

This is our exciting Saturday night.

A miracle occurred

Last night, Jack wasn’t tired.  Usually, he falls asleep a little before 8pm, or sometime between 8 and 9, and then he sleeps around 5 hours.  Last night, he wouldn’t sleep.  He was alert, he was looking around (even while nursing), and he just wouldn’t quit.  He was pretty happy, too, not particularly fussy.  He didn’t go to sleep until after 11, and WE were exhausted.  We don’t usually stay up that late.  So he was asleep around 11:20, and we were asleep before midnight, and you know when we woke up?  Around 6:50.  You know what we woke up to?  I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t a crying baby.  No, we woke up to adorable baby sounds.  When we checked the monitor, we could see him rolling his legs back and forth, waving his feet in the air, cooing to himself, eyes open.  IT WAS SO CUTE.  And SO much nicer to wake up to then wailing.  He stayed happy through his diaper change, all smiles and cute noises, even though he MUST have been hungry after over 7 hours of sleep.

I hope I hope I hope this is a magical new phase now that he’s two months old and not just a fluke.

Kanga and Roo

Success!  I am wearing the baby and he is SLEEPING.  I had to get a baby k’tan in the next size up (they say it’s sized for you, but I don’t think they’re taking giant mutant babies into account), and the first time we tried it even in that size, he started screaming.  This morning I gave it a try after he’d been sleeping on my shoulder for about 15 minutes, and after a little fussing, he settled back down.  The only thing I can’t get him to do, though, is turn his head to the side.  He’s in the hug position, so he’s centered in front of me, facing me, with his head in the middle of my chest.  And since he won’t turn his head, he basically has his nose smashed into my sternum.  Not the greatest for sleeping, but he’s managing it.  Hopefully one successful nap will get him used to the feeling and we’ll be able to use it more often, sleeping and awake.  So far, I’ve been able to pour myself coffee, get the creamer out of and back into the fridge, and sit down at the table with my laptop.  I did have to get help from John to get a mug – the shoulders of this thing are pinning my arms to my sides a bit, and I can’t reach above my head.  Still, having both hands available is pretty great.

On the other hand, it’s kind of like being pregnant again, except the baby weighs twice as much and he has a tendency to cry.

Because he’s cute

I should add a gallery feature or something, but that would require more time than I have available to figure out which one and set it up.  Later.  I also have plans to redesign this whole site.  Time for a fresh look.  Also later.  Now?  Baby pictures!

And the first picture of the three of us since the moment he was born:

I’ve forgotten the sound of pages turning

I have a book problem (aside from the addiction).  I love my Kindle, and I have a TON of books to read on it, but I also have a ton of physical books I want to read AND I CAN’T READ THEM RIGHT NOW.  Because of Jack.  The only time I have to read is when I’m nursing him, and I can’t juggle a real book and him at the same time.  Hardcover books are out, of course, and so are trade paperbacks.  I thought I could manage a mass market paperback because I know I can hold it one hand, but I can’t turn the page and hold it at the same time, so there goes that option.  I can hold my Kindle in one hand and still manage to tap or swipe with the same hand to turn the page.  (Thankfully, I can do that with either hand.)  And I really don’t want to read a book on my Kindle if I already have the physical copy.  I’m certainly not going to buy it twice, but even getting it from the library feels wrong.  It feels like cheating to have a book on my shelf that I’ll never touch because I read it in another format.

I could read when he’s sleeping during the day, but so far, either I’m sleeping too or I’m using that time to blog (like right now), sort through the mail and pay bills, make pies (every spare moment yesterday), inventory the baby gifts and make a list of thank you notes to send, do laundry (I should have put that first), shower (should have been second), eat a meal (should have been third)…  You get the picture.

So I keep giving my bookshelf wistful looks when I walk by, but all those books are going to have to wait until I’m not sure when.  When Jack has a more structured nap schedule?  No, I’ll probably have to work during those hours.  When Jack is old enough to read to himself?  Oh, no, I can read those books when Jack is eating solid food and sleeping 12 hours every night.  ‘Cause that’ll happen someday.  Right?

Halloween came and went

Jack was five weeks old on Halloween, and we were still exhausted (we are still exhausted) so we dropped the ball on dressing him up in a costume.  He’ll probably forgive us, but to make it up to you fine folks, here’s Jack doing his impression of a Dr. Seuss character.

Stealing time

My giant mutant child is gaining about a pound a week, which pretty much means he’s eating all the time.  When he’s not eating, he’s usually sleeping, and we’re (I’m) still having trouble putting him down to sleep during the day (he’ll usually wake up crying if he’s sleeping or just start crying if he was quiet and happy), meaning I don’t have my hands free to type.  Or do anything, really, but typing is my goal right now.  Actually, that’s not where I was going with this.  He’s eating all the time, right?  And he has been from the start, but since…Wednesday, I think (which was only yesterday somehow?), he started cluster feeding again, and except for overnight, I fed him nearly every half hour for most of the day because APPARENTLY he’s going through a growth spurt.  Yeah, you read that right.  My giant mutant baby, who already weighs as much as a 6-month-old, is going through a growth spurt.

He got his first round of vaccinations last Friday, so he slept a TON over the weekend (this would be the perfect spot to insert an anti-vaxxer conspiracy theory about the human growth hormones that were probably included in the vaccinations – thanks, Greg, for the idea) and got really clingy.  It’s adorable, but clingy = in my arms = I can’t do anything useful around the house.  And he looks so SAD.  It’s hard to see.  Speaking of crying because the baby is upset, he’s a little bit congested, so last night John was trying to get some snot out of his nose and Jack HATED it.  I’m pretty sure we weren’t hurting him, but the tone of Jack’s crying set me off.  We stopped (and John was more successful this morning).

This morning, Jack and I drove to CVS to get a package of diapers (he has outgrown size 1, and the packages of size 2s we ordered won’t arrive until tomorrow – we’re running dangerously low) and to DD to get coffee.  He fell asleep in the car seat, and he STAYED asleep when I brought the car seat inside (usually he wakes up when we stop moving), so I left him in it and I have stolen this time to transfer pictures from phone to laptop and to write THIS.

Hello.

He’s been asleep for almost an hour and a half.  I don’t know when he’ll wake up, but I expect him to wake up screaming and hungry (he’s done that a couple of times over the past day or two) because he hasn’t eaten in more than three hours.  We shall see.  In the meantime, I was able to eat my bagel and drink my coffee and write this in peace WITH BOTH HANDS.  If he stays asleep a while longer, maybe I’ll conquer the world.  Or finish making our thank you note list.  Same thing, really.

A decade is a long time

Today is the 10th anniversary of my blog.  My very first post (which isn’t very good) was written and published on Nov 7, 2008, just a few days after Obama won the presidential election and the world was bright and beautiful and full of hope.  Oh, how things have changed.

I’ve already mentioned that my 10th year online here has been…lackluster as far as posting goes, but I wanted to at least acknowledge this anniversary.  And here’s visual proof of why my posts have been so sparse.

The day we got home from the hospital:

One week old:

Two weeks old:

Three weeks old:

Four weeks old:

One month!

Five weeks old:

Six weeks old:

This doesn’t excuse the scarcity of posts for the whole of 2018, since he only arrived six weeks ago…except yeah, he kind of is the reason I went missing all year.

I miss cheese

We think Jack may have a sensitivity to milk, so I eliminated dairy from my diet 11 days ago.  (I meant to start 13 days ago, but I kept forgetting and doing stupid things like eating ice cream that first day and chicken corn chowder (heavy on cream and cheese) the second day.)  I THINK we’re seeing an improvement in Jack, but it’s hard to tell – is it really better?  Did I screw up again mid-week?  (Yes.)  Is it possible that it’s just his immature digestive system acting up and it seems better now because he’s growing?  I have no idea.  Also, I’ve done my googling (naturally), and if he is sensitive to milk, it’s pretty mild and thank goodness for that.  A serious sensitivity would be much more unpleasant for him.

Anyway, being dairy-free SUCKS and that’s with me only eliminating the obvious stuff – no milk, no butter, no cheese, no sour cream.  Ugh, no cream cheese.  I’m not going full vegan and avoiding baked goods or fully cooked things that might have had dairy in them.  I did miss having tea and cereal, so I’m trying almond milk.  It’s….okay.  I do NOT recommend drinking it straight.  I tried it with chocolate cake – that’s a big no.  (The cake is a big yes.)  But in cereal, it’s great.  I pretty much couldn’t tell it wasn’t regular milk with either Frosted Flakes or Honey Nut Cheerios.  In tea, the jury is still out.  This is my second try with Yorkshire tea, and I’m not wild about it, but I used it in French Vanilla tea yesterday, and it was great.

What I really want is to go back to my normal diet, but I’m not sure how to approach that.  If Jack were to show no improvement, then yay I can eat what I want, but the poor baby is still in distress.  If Jack shows improvement, then either he’s sensitive to dairy and I should stay off it for at least a few months or dairy has nothing to do with it and he’s just maturing.  I have no way to tell without testing by introducing dairy again, which might make Jack very uncomfortable again.

Yeah, yeah, the responsible thing to do is continue to avoid dairy.  Boo responsibility.

Now, to thank you all for your patience, here is a picture of Jack from when he was one week old.

I have many many many more pictures, and now that I have solved (John has solved) my picture problem, I will be uploading more.  I just don’t have them on my computer yet.  Jack is sleeping and my phone is providing white noise, so I don’t want to take it away to get the pictures.

Milestones

Jack is two weeks old as of yesterday.  In the week and a half we’ve had him home, we have reached the following milestones:

  • John and I have both been peed on
  • Jack peed on his own face
  • I was able to put Jack to sleep by swaying and humming, not nursing (one time only, so far)
  • I made banana bread while John held him
  • I nursed Jack with one arm and fed myself with the other at the same time
  • Jack spit up in my hair
  • Jack spent several hours (divided into 1 and 2-hour chunks) sleeping in the bassinet Tuesday night and I SLEPT

The next milestone is probably unraveling the sleep progress.  It feels too early for optimism.

Sleep is a distant memory

For anyone wondering, the complete absence of posts for two weeks was due to Jack being born and me losing the ability to use my hands for anything other than holding the baby.  He won’t sleep in anything safe, like the crib or the bassinet.  He’ll only sleep occasionally in the napper (unsafe: too cushy, inclined) or in our arms, and in our arms means WE don’t sleep.

We’ve gotten lots of advice, and we’re trying lots of different things, but we’re basically resigned to being completely exhausted for the first couple of months.  And hello, we KNEW that – we’ve watched plenty of movies and TV and we have lots of friends and family who have gone through this – but there’s a difference between knowing about it and experiencing it.  It’s a combination of “I would give anything for a decent few hours’ sleep” and “no, I can’t put this baby down, I HAVE to hold him so he knows I love him, and if that means I don’t sleep, then I don’t sleep.”

“How am I able to type this now?”, you ask, reasonably curious after what I just said.  Well, I’ll tell you.  Half an hour ago, he fell asleep in my arms while nursing.  I swaddled him first, using the first blanket we got that was actually large enough for him, and I managed to get him from my arms into the pack and play bassinet without fuss.  We’ve done that before, but he never lasts more than five minutes or so.  As of right now, we’re going on 40 minutes napping in the bassinet, and even if he wakes up right now (he’s stirring, so he might), I’m going to count this as a win.  We just need him to do it at night.

Also, it might have been smart of me to take that 40 minutes and nap myself, but…who said I was smart?

Just the stats

Baby John, henceforth to be known as Jack, was born on 9/26/18 at 8:36pm (Wednesday night, after we arrived at the hospital with labor in full swing about 2:15 Wednesday morning).  He weighed 9 lbs even (John says it was actually 9 lbs and .2 oz) and was 21.5 inches long.  (Apparently, I was also 21.5 inches long at birth, but I only weighed 6 lbs, 13oz.)  He’s a giant.  Also, babies typically lose a little weight after birth and it usually takes 10 days to 2 weeks to gain it back.  When we left the hospital, he weighed just under 9 lbs (I don’t remember the exact weight).  We left on Sunday.  On Monday, at his first doctor’s appointment, he weighed 9 lbs, 1 oz.  So….already gained it back.  And then on Thursday, he weighed 9 lbs, 10.5 oz.  Today, at 13 days old, he weights 10 lbs, 9.5 oz, gained an inch in length and half an inch around his head.  This is a large baby.

He’s wonderful.  Even if he does still look like a grumpy old man.

PICTURE MALFUNCTION

Damn it, I have to solve a picture size issue before I can upload anything.  I PROMISE I will do that real soon.