Monday, June 30, 2008
Nah, you've probably all been enjoying your Canada Day weekends. At least I hope that's the case. And like us, you've probably been sweating to death.
So, the answers to the questions above can now be revealed thanks to a surprise visit from Lillian. I do very much wish she had called first, as she showed up with her scale and the results of the urine test about 20 minutes after I put Gwen down for the night. But such is life. The urine test turned up a bizarre bacteria that would not be expected to be found in urine. Neither Lillian nor the pediatrician she talked to had ever heard of it. They both suspected it was actually a contamination from Gwen's skin. They agreed that the course of action was to (wake Gwen up and) weigh her right away. If her weight was good, then fine, the bizarre bacteria could be ignored. If it wasn't, then she would have to go to the ER to get a catheter put in for a clean urine sample.
But her weigh in was good. Ten pounds, three-point-five ounces of good. (Hallelujah, we finally broke ten pounds!) That is a gain of 10.5 ounces in eleven days, well within the four-ounces-or-more-per-week rule. Yay.
Of course, the bad news is that this indicates we need to keep supplementing. I think a major part of my frustration with that is that if Gwen is getting a bottle, it should be from someone other than me, and I should be getting a break. Up till now, this has not often been the case. Of course, this weekend it has not been the case because Chris has been really busy doing a dozen other house- and baby-related jobs, like putting Gwen's crib together, installing a blackout blind in her room, stain-treating all her clothes, and so on.
The heat is making all of us a little cranky, too. I keep thinking of all those people who'd comment, upon hearing my due date of May 5th, how great it would be for me to *not* go through the summer pregnant. No one told me that the little heater-baby would still be glued to my body ten hours a day. Literally glued, nowadays, as our sweat gloms our skin together. Terribly uncomfortable. Last night I was sure Gwen was going to fry in her swaddle blanket, so we tried letting her sleep unswaddled. She didn't sleep, so neither did I. We worked hard all day at keeping her room cool enough so that she could sleep swaddled tonight - and there is a fan just outside her door keeping the air circulating. An air conditioner is looking awfully tempting, but it's such an environmentally unfriendly option that I'm just not ready to bite the bullet.
On another subject, we went out and toured a daycare today: Little Ferns. I thought it was a good place, lovely open layout and kind staff, with lots of nice wooden equipment and so on. We want to see some other places as well so we have a basis of comparison; the next one I'd like to see is Jolly Giant. I've been told that there is often no point on really "choosing" a daycare as really, only one of them will end up having a space for us, which is an awfully depressing concept and makes me think that I should be on every single waitlist in town. So, I'm working on that.
At long, long last, Gwen's thrush is nearly gone. I can still see spots on her behind, but really, only because I already know they are there. I'm going to keep using the cream I have until it's gone - which will probably be another week or so at the most - and then call it good. I will be immensely grateful to see that particular chapter of our lives end.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
While we were waiting for our shots, Norma, the nurse who helped us at the breastfeeding clinic last month, saw us and came to ask how we were doing. I told her I'd been wanting to come see her again to do a pre- and post-feed weigh-in, because we were now supplementing Gwen with a bit of formula, but she'd only gained 7 ounces in 4 weeks. She was stunned, and started asking questions. Here are the facts:
- Gwen feeds all day long, except when she is sleeping or having her diaper changed. She is rarely content to be on her own or entertain herself for more than a minute or two at a time.
- Gwen's latch is good and I can often hear her swallowing (actively feeding).
- I can pump 2-3 ounces of milk in a 15-minute session of double pumping, so I don't think supply is the issue.
- I am on the full dosage of Domperidone *and* Blessed Thistle supplements, and have been since the beginning of May.
- Gwen often repeatedly pulls off the breast after she's been feeding for a while, acting frustrated as if she is not getting any milk, at which point I switch her to the other side.
The nurse who was to give us our shots, Twyla, came in and joined the conversation. She too was stunned by the low weight gain. We weighed Gwen right then and there: she was 4266 grams.
There was a great deal more talk about breastfeeding and supplementing while we went over the "milestone" sheets, during which time, naturally, I was nursing Gwen. Twyla was surprised to see how quickly Gwen demonstated the frustrated "out of milk" behaviour - apparently she should be able to feed actively for 20 minutes before running out. I've never actually timed how long that phase is, though I will be paying attention now.
After the shots, which were horrible - Gwen caught on right away, and as soon as Twyla started wiping the site for the second shot she realized she was going to get stuck again, and boy she was not happy about it - we talked more about her weight and feeding and supplementing and so on. It seems puzzling that I can get a good yield from my pump, yet Gwen is not gaining. It was heavily recommended that we see a doctor to eliminate the possibility of a urinary tract infection or any other reason why Gwen's nutritional intake is being used for purposes other than gaining weight.
The ultimate recommendation from both Norma and Twyla was that we give Gwen a bottle of formula after every feed. That is, I should let her feed for 20 minutes on each side, then if she is still hungry, give her at least 2 ounces of formula, watching her cues to see if she still wants more. I question whether she should instead be put back to the breast at that point, but I guess if the breast is empty that will do her no good. It does seem like she is frustrated or impatient with a slow letdown, whereas the bottle can feed her quickly and leave both of us time to do other things. In the back of my mind I'm thinking of offering breastmilk in the bottle as well, because that's better for her anyway, and if it's an issue of impatience the bottle will eliminate that.
We took the crying Gwen back to the scale, stripped her down again, and weighed her. She was 4278 grams. I'd been feeding her nonstop for almost an hour, and she'd gained only 12 grams (less than half an ounce). Now admittedly, she did dirty a diaper in the meantime, but one would surely hope the gain would be more than that ... right?
So as of today we plunge headlong into the world of supplementing with formula, not to mention seeking medical attention to lay out these facts and see if there are any underlying issues.
I just feel thrown by all of this. I think the problem is that this would normally be the time, in any case, where we switch from midwifery care to The Medical Establishment, and so I knew I would feel a little bit disoriented during that switch. But this issue has me feeling like my barometer is completely askew.
I'm really grateful that Chris was able to be there with me today, not only for the fun of Gwen-wrangling, but to help me take in all this information. Sometimes I just get really emotional and can't process things very well, so it's super helpful to have someone else there to keep hearing what the nurse is saying.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
For extra added irony, the first night that Gwen decided to wake up only once was the first night that Chris was scheduled to take the 'first' feeding. Since the first feeding ended up being the only feeding, I slept for nearly ten hours that night. Good times.
Now that we're all clear that I'm not complaining about sleep, I want to confess my weakest link as Mom. I am not good at putting Gwen back to sleep after her night feeding. To be honest, I'm not that good at putting her to sleep at bedtime either. And if we're going to come clean, well, I'm not so hot at getting her down for a nap.
For her naps, I usually rely on either the swing, the sling, or the stroller to help lull her to sleep. She has *never* napped in her cradle. Bedtime usually comes when she starts yawning, at which point I stuff her full of food then put on the dreamsurf CD and cross my fingers. But after her night feed - I'm completely at a loss.
It's already dark, and quiet, and the soothing sounds of ocean waves fill her room. I don't talk to her or stimulate her in any way, and in fact I try not to make eye contact, even half-closing my eyes when I look at her so she has nothing interesting to look at and hopefully gets the idea that her eyes should be closed too. She is swaddled comfortably, and once she's finished eating she seems content if not always sleepy. I rock her gently in the chair for a while, then put her down in the cradle and exit the room.
Twenty minutes later, guaranteed, she is crying again and I have to start all over. I am often up for an hour or more, sometimes getting so frustrated that I tag Chris and make him get up to walk the floor with her at 5am.
I know she's not hungry anymore, having just fed her for a good 20-30 minutes, so why is she crying? Boredom or loneliness is my best guess, or perhaps frustration at not knowing how to put herself back to sleep. I confess I've had no luck at distinguishing a tired cry, a hungry cry, a pain cry, and so on - feeding her *always* shuts her up, so every cry seems like a hunger cry, though this is likely not the case. I also think she has convinced herself that she needs my boob in her mouth in order to fall asleep. One night before bed she drank a 3-oz serving of formula, then rooted on my chest until I nursed her, at which point she fell asleep on my breast after about 5 sucks. So that's not hunger, she just believes that my breast is the place to fall asleep.
I'd much prefer, obviously, if she started to learn that she can fall asleep without something in her mouth, and so I try to put her down when she's 'sleepy, not asleep'. But after the night feed, even if she is asleep when I put her down, she wakes back up. The fact that she doesn't cry right away fools me every time - I think, "maybe she'll fall asleep on her own" (it has happened, rarely). But no, 20 minutes later I'm up again.
I guess what I need to do is just hang in there for the next few weeks and see what the 12-week/3-month mark brings. Hopefully it will get easier at that point, and in the meantime I'll just keep trying not to instill any bad habits.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Right now, you're a girl of extremes. I've seen you go from happy and smiling, bright-eyed and interacting, to hysterical with rage or frustration or pain or God-knows-what in only a matter of seconds. (Going the other direction often takes a little longer.) However, what I am really proud of is that the times of bright-eyed interaction, of eagerly watching the people around you, are becoming longer and more frequent. You are also content to be on your own for a longer time these days - you can sometimes hang out in your cradle or playard for up to three minutes before getting bored or lonely. Last month, you would have screamed after only a few seconds.
Tuesday May 27th - Diagnosed with thrush (not all firsts are positive)
Saturday June 7th: Mama discovered you can hold your head steady while
Tuesday June 10th: Mama discovered she could nurse you while sitting at the computer
Wednesday June 11th: First time alone with a sitter - Grandma!
Friday June 13th - First time to Vancouver!
Monday, June 23, 2008
Naturally, because this is me we're talking about, things have to be more complicated than they would be for the average bear. Because when I go back to work next April, I have no idea what kind of job I'll be going back to. For the past 2.5 years I have been working as a Data Entry Clerk. This summer, while I'm on leave, the department I work for is implementing a new software program that will allow clinicians to enter their own data, thus eliminating my position. Now, because I work for the Health Authority and am in a union, when I return they have to provide me with a job, and I believe it has to be at the same pay level as my previous work. But I have no idea what that job will be, where it will take place, and so on.
Further complicating this is the part-time issue. When I go back, I want to only work part-time, and were I to be returning to the same job, this would be no problem. But with Mystery Position, no such guarantee. Of course, I am welcome to apply for any position that comes up within the Health Authority, with no loss of seniority, but that just adds more questions to the mix.
So here I go, looking for daycare. Do I want a full-time space or a part-time space? If I reserve a part-time space, that limits my availability for work, so that when I am returning and potentially interviewing for upcoming positions, I have to tell them I am only available for certain days and hours. I'm sure I don't need to mention that this reduces my ability to land a new position. On the other hand, if I reserve a full-time space and then end up working part-time, I will have to pay the full-time rate unless the daycare centre can find someone else to take the other half of the part-time space. See what I mean about being complicated?
This doesn't even take into account the usual stuff a parent has to deal with, such as actually liking the daycare staff and their care philosophy. Oh, and affording the costs.
Argh. This is why I wanted to wait until next March to deal with this stuff, but unfortunately if I do so then we won't be able to get a space anywhere. So like I said, I'm being responsible and trying my best to ensure that my childcare needs will be met, despite the fact that I have absoutely no idea what those needs will be. Gah.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Things sort of came to a head yesterday afternoon when I got home from a very nice lunch engagement to find Chris not at work, and not in his office, but in bed, either having a bad reaction to an allergy pill or sick with some kind of nasty bug. I was exhausted from walking to and from the lunch, Gwen was screaming because she hadn't had a nap yet, and to top things off I was supposed to be heading out to see a friend. I called the friend to cancel, got Gwen down for a nap, and then lay down myself with my invalid husband.
To talk about - what else? - baby poop.
Seriously, I never understood what a constant topic this would be. But ultimately, when you are in charge of a creature whose only methods of feedback on health are weight and poop, you spend a lot of time thinking and talking about these two things.
I won't bore you with the actual conversation, but it led to the revelation that when I decided to have a child, I somehow hadn't thought about being the guardian of someone's physical health. I thought a lot about the socialization aspects, about how to teach a child the things I thought were important in life. I daydreamed about sharing special times together, about enjoying each other and building common interests. I never thought about the fact that I would have to take my own habits and beliefs about health care, add in a person who can't talk to tell me how they feel, and somehow produce not only a wonderful person but a healthy one. How'd I miss that?
The other thing about having a kid is - there's no way out. I know you're all nodding along like, Well, duh, but hear me out. I'm a quitter. I have a lot of things that I'm really good at, all of which I have a natural aptitude for. Never in my life have I worked and practiced to acquire a skill. The things I have to work for, I just don't do, because I hate spending time on something I'm bad at when I could just stick to the things I'm good at. And sometimes, I question whether I'm any good at this parenting thing - when she's had a case of thrush that's been going on for nearly a month, and her poops look weird, and she's not gaining weight*, and I'm just not totally sure what is the right thing to do. I don't like that feeling - I like being confident.
A couple of weeks ago when my mom was here she got sick with what looked like the Norovirus, and Chris and I got pretty worried that we were going to get it again too. Breastfeeding at that time was just starting to not hurt, and at one point I threw my hands in the air and said, "If I get the Norovirus again, that's it, I just quit." But short of abandoning my baby in a subway station, I kind of can't quit. I have to keep doing this, every day, making these decisions blindly, hoping for the best and trying to learn bit by bit. The kind of shit I usually despise.
The weird thing is, I somehow find it kind of liberating.
PS: While I may be growing as a person, I am also shrinking. My wedding ring fits again today, for the first time since November. Hooray, I'm married!
*I called the Nurse Line on a whim to see if they had any brilliant advice. I really shouldn't have bothered. All they do is type your statements into a computer and bring up some matches on their database - the guy didn't tell me anything I couldn't get from Google. With one exception.
He told me I should feed Gwen more often. When asked how many times a day I fed her, I kind of balked as this is a fairly meaningless question. She sleeps for about 15 hours a day, and I maybe spend 1 hour a day changing her diaper and making googly faces at her. Other than that, I'm feeding her. That's about 8 hours a day. Let's see - morning feed, post-morning-nap feed, post-afternoon-nap feed, pre-bedtime feed, and two middle-of-the-night feeds ... that's five times a day. He suggested I bump that up. "You're only feeding her every four hours," he told me. "Well, yes, but I feed her for three hours out of those four hours," I replied. He responded that I really ought to try and feed her ten or twelve times a day, or every two hours. Unless I start pulling her off the boob to walk around for five minutes while she screams, then come back, start again, and call that "two" feedings, I don't really see how such a thing is possible.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
So yeah, it seems she's definitely inherited her dad's metabolism.
We are not panicking, because Gwen is showing all other signs of health: she is reaching her milestones (smiling, reaching for objects, interacting with us) and not screaming for food. Nor does she look gaunt or wasted. She is just a skinny girl. I joked with Chris that maybe she would grow up to be a supermodel, a thin and willowy creature that I utterly cannot relate to.
We are going to try giving her a feeding of formula once a day to see how she responds. It's interesting to see how my reaction to this has changed. In the beginning when formula was recommended, I wept and wailed and felt inadequate. Now I'm like, "hey, whatever she needs, and did you know that someone else could give her formula while I go take a nap?" Heh.
Also, since thrush updates are boring, a haiku:
Gwen's poor little bum.
Three weeks and no improvement.
Yes, I've quit sugar.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
At 6:30 we gave Gwen a bath. This was the usual gong show of screaming and arcing her body and so on. After about three minutes of soaping and rinsing, we took her out of the infant tub and towelled her off. Then I got her diapered and in PJs, her dad swaddled her, and I nursed her.
Twenty minutes later she was fast asleep. She slept until 1am. (That's a full plix glowers.)
It gets better.
See, Chris and I had agreed that since the seminar is now over and I am pumping enough for 1-2 feedings a day, he would start giving her the first night feed, then I would take care of the rest of the night. I went to bed at 9pm, anticipating being up in a few hours. But instead, she only got up the once. At 1am, when Chris fed her a bottle, as agreed.
So I slept from 9pm to 6:30am.
I feel so ridiculously human today!
It's very complicated, trying to incorporate our new roles as parents into our relationship as husband and wife. I think every couple goes through this, and probably every couple needs to find their own solutions. We are just starting to get there. The first obstacle was my own cautiousness, not wanting to let anyone else have the baby for more than a few minutes, because that's how often she was needing to eat. The next obstacle was being able to get the milk supply established and pumping workingwell so that she could be fed by someone other than me. The next obstacle was Chris's martial arts commitments - because he wanted to grade this year, it was important that he go to class every week, twice a week, and that amounted to a huge chunk of time that he wasn't available to help.
The grading is over now. Things are going to change, and they are already changing, as evidenced by last night's sleep-a-thon (for me. Chris is exhausted. After one feed!). I think the next step will be for Chris to take Gwen for a stretch of time on Saturday mornings - whatever he's comfortable with, to start, but hopefully we will work our way up to four hours as that's how long a bottle should buy me if I feed her beforehand and immediately after. I don't even mind if we all stay in the house together, it will just be nice not to be so irrevocably "in charge".
That's what wears me down, ultimately. Chris will do pretty much anything that I ask him to, when it comes to Gwen. But really, I'd rather not have to ask. It's the asking that makes me feel like Gwen is "my" job, and that he's just helping. It would be great to feel like we were somehow equals, if not in time spent then at least in authority and decision-making (i.e., she's fussing and someone needs to decide how best to deal with it).
And like I say, we are getting there. Chris now calls me if he's going to be late from work. He lets me know if he's going to a grocery store on the way home, in case there's something I need. He is becoming more aware that little things like a trip to the grocery store are just not a little thing for me anymore, and that it's immensely helpful for him to (PROACTIVELY) pitch in on stuff like that.
PLUS I finally got my Mother's Day present yesterday. Sure, I had to tell him exactly what to get me, and then wait a month for it to appear, but I got it. It's a start.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Three things can we learn from this picture:
1. Gwen really doesn't care what you do to her when she's nursing.
2. We use Energizer batteries.
3. Sleep deprivation makes you do weird, weird things.
Gwen woke slightly when we put her in the carseat for the drive back to Nicole's, then got a diaper change and feeding and tucked into bed, where she slept for a good 5-6 hours. Ah, bliss!
On Saturday, after a nerve-wracking introduction between my tiny baby and Nicole's gigantic dog, I drove out to Richmond (on my own! no navigator!) to visit an old friend, Amanda, with whom I've recently reconnected (yay Facebook!). She has a three-year-old son and, at the time of my visit, a three-day-old son. We sat and nursed together and caught up a bit. It was entirely lovely.
In the afternoon, I drove back to downtown to attend Rachael's Blessingway, which was a real treat. I think Vanessa did a great job, and I really enjoyed hanging out with the other mommies. For example, this weekend I learned that there are such things as reusable baby wipes! I'd just been using baby facecloths, but since I can't wet those when I'm out, I have disposable wipes in my diaper bag. THEN I overheard Mouse talking about premoistening actual reusable wipes and putting them in a flat pack in the diaper bag. How brilliant! Now I just have to track down a local source - I'm hoping Dream With Me will have them, since they stock Bummis cloth diapers.
On Saturday evening, Sheila and Kat came over to Nicole's for a visit, and Nicole made a delicious spagetti dinner and fruit cobbler. Not that I usually blog about what I eat, but having something that wasn't reheated from the freezer was a rare thrill, and Nicole is a terrific cook! She is hoping to come over later this month and put even more meals in my freezer, which is much appreciated, since I feel approximately the same about cooking after baby as I do about sex after baby: I know I used to enjoy it, and I imagine in a theoretical way that someday I will again, but at this point I can't begin to wrap my head around how it could possibly fit into my life.
On Sunday morning I managed to get over to my aunt's house for a short visit and to drop off some items for the rest of my family, who are all going to be there next weekend: a birthday present for my nephew Scott, a Father's Day present for my dad. After a quick nurse we were back on the road again, out to UBC to meet up with Chris and watch his grading (he passed - he is now a fourth degree black belt in Iaido).
Because the Duke Point - Tssawassen route was HALF PRICE, we drove out there to take the next boat, although this resulted in us not getting home until 11pm. Lesson learned: take a bottle of breastmilk on the ferry, because when you are nursing the baby in the car and the announcement comes on to tell you the boat is about to dock, and you interrupt the baby's feed to strap her into the carseat and then wait for another FIFTEEN MINUTES for the docking, you don't want to listen to the hungry baby crying. No, you want to feed her a damn bottle.
So, that was the weekend. In addition to the 'take a bottle on the ferry' lesson, I also learned that while getting out of the house with the baby requires a lot more planning than just sitting around at home, it's really worth the hassle, because the 12 hours of daily nursing is just a whole lot more interesting when you have people to chat with and new walls to stare at.
On that note, holy moly have Gwen and I got a busy week ahead. Today was/is mostly recovering from the weekend; unpacking, doing laundry, getting a few groceries, and getting organized, all packed in around the usual nursing-and-changing-and-burping episodes. Then:
Tuesday: the usual Healthy Beginnings drop-in at the Health Unit.
Wednesday: Grandma time, then a session with my yoga instructor (with Gwen) to learn how to do yoga stretches with a babe in arms.
Thursday: the usual weekly appointment with Lillian (yes, we're still under the care of a midwife, because she wants to be 100% sure that Gwen's weight gain is sufficient before setting us loose). Then a lunch in our honour with my co-workers and a trip to the beach with Amber and her kids.
Friday: I'm getting a massage while Chris takes care of Gwen. Woot!*
Ooh, and the other cool thing that happened this weekend: I don't know if it's because of being in new places and seeing so many new people, or just her developmental timing, but Gwen is really recognizing me now, in very visible (though not always positive!) ways. I have been marked as 'hers', which is pretty exciting.
I will say that today has been a bit of a rude awakening as I am now back on my couch, staring at my four walls, with no company to distract or amuse me save the very cute but crappy conversationalist Gwen. We did get out for a brief walk this morning to the grocery store, for which I am grateful, but other than that it's just me and her and the long list of chores. After such a fun and diversionary weekend, it's a bit of a letdown.
*After a lot of soul-searching and a fair bit of perspective offered by various friends, I realized I need to give Gwen to her dad a bit more often - not only for my own sanity, but for the sake of him bonding with her and getting more confident, and for Gwen to realize that I am not the be-all and end-all of her world. It feels bad to ask for that sometimes, because it feels like I'm saying I don't love her or don't want to be with her. But after I realized that even if Chris took her for four solid hours every day, he would still be spending less than a quarter of what I spend with her.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wait, did I say "next time"? Why yes! Karen and I have made a standing date for Wednesday mornings. How glorious to be me. Karen also told me that if I want her to do any chores around the house while I'm out, I should just let her know.
As amazingly awesome as that offer is, I don't think I could stand to ask my mother in law to do housework.
Anyway, back to more current events. Gwen's thrush is still going strong. A list of things we have tried so far:
- Monistat Cream x2 weeks
- Vinegar Rinse x4 days (there was a vast improvement at first, then it stopped having any effect)
- Stopped using wipes since last Saturday since the antibacterial stuff feeds the yeast
- Have been using disposable diapers (not cloth) since the onset since disposable diapers wick moisture more effectively
- Canesten cream x3 days after I heard that thrush is becoming resistant to Monistat
I spoke to both my midwife and my naturopath today and have a few ideas on deck. The naturopath recommended breaking open some acidopholus tablets, mixing the powder with water, and putting the paste on my nipple before feeding her, to help strengthen her digestive tract. So I've started that. She also suggested yet another cream, which I decided I would try after the weekend if the Canesten is still not effective. Lillian suggested the All-Purpose Nipple Ointment. (I'm a little annoyed at that because last week when I called Lillian in a tizzy, begging for something, anything else I could try to help Gwen get rid of the thrush, she told me there was nothing else I could do. And now she's recommending Jack's APNO? Sigh.)
The final step - and believe me, it's not the one I want to take - is to cut sugar out of my diet.
(A moment of silence, please, in respect for all the taste buds currently screaming in agony in my mouth.)
I guess this is payback for my pregnancy, when I was so gratified that I didn't have to quit alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine - since I don't have any of those habits. The one habit I have, and have bad, is sugar. Can I give it up for the sake of my baby girl? Yes, I can, but it might not be pretty. I might have to take a picture of her poor rashy bum and put it on the fridge or something.
On a totally different subject, I had a lovely visit with Amber and her two beautiful kids today. She brought me a Hooter Hider!! I was stoked. How extremely thoughtful, especially since my attempt at making her postpartum period slightly easier, by bringing her a meal for her freezer, failed so utterly.
Aside from the loot, it was so nice to visit and catch up with her. Her little girl is about two weeks older than Gwen, so it gives me a glimpse of the near future, and her son is 20 months old, so it gives me a glimpse of the farther future. We also decided that Amber is no longer allowed to be jealous of me for my plix-glower-sleeping baby (which, incidentally, Gwen has never repeated), because I have now heard her baby crying, or should I say "crying", because that sound is nowhere near the hurricane of horror that comes out of Gwen's mouth when she is angry or upset or hungry or lonely or just plain messing with our heads. No, Amber, that is not crying. That is whimpering. Maybe.
Our final news item before I leave you for a few days (we're going to Vancouver for the weekend) is the latest episode in our ongoing saga of How To Convince Gwen Not to Hate the Bath.
Things we've tried so far:
- Bath in the big tub in Daddy's firm arms (FAIL)
- Bath in the infant tub (FAIL)
- Bath in the infant tub with expert Granny helping out (FAIL)
- Bath in the infant tub with warm facecloth over her body (FAIL)
- Bath in the big tub while nursing (closest yet to success - she didn't scream, but we could only clean half her body)
So tonight we tried another suggestion we've gotten, which was to submerge everything except her face. It made sense, as the water would go in her ears and give her a nice "white noise" effect. But of course as soon as she was in the bath she was screaming and writhing and making her body go rigid, and as we lowered her enough to submerge her ears, she wrestled her head loose enough to turn it the wrong way and get a mouth full of water. Then her body went limp, her screams choked off, and my heart stopped. I immediately brought her up to my shoulder and started chanting, "You're okay, you're okay," mostly to persuade myself. It was a horrible moment. She was, of course, okay, as evidenced by her continuing to scream throughout the rest of the bathing experience.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
My mother-in-law, Karen, has just been itching to spend some time babysitting Gwen, so I finally figured out what I wanted to do and got up the nerve to make it happen. She showed up at 9am today at which time I handed her a freshly changed, fully-fed baby and ... wait for it ...
...went and had a shower!!
Upon exiting the shower, I heard Gwen crying, so I dressed quickly and went downstairs. I knew she just needed a nap, so I showed Karen how to use the swing, and two minutes later she was fast asleep. I packed for the upcoming weekend in Vancouver, Karen kept me company while I ate breakfast, then I did my hair and then ...
... I left the house!!
I went and did a couple of errands and now I am at the Serious Coffee down the street from my house, using their wireless access for some uninterrupted Me Time. I figure I don't have to be back home until 1pm (I left Karen with a bottle of pumped milk, so that buys me another 2 hours).
It feels weird to know that I won't be needed for the next little while. I think it'll take a bit of getting used to!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
turned into this
I feel a little obsessive about recording every detail - like the fact that on Saturday, after Dad's disastrous trip to the mall, I discovered that Gwen can hold her head steady when being pulled to a sitting position. (I can't say for sure, because I packed the baby books away, but I think that milestone was mentioned in What to Expect the First Year as something "most" babies can do by 8 weeks. And she's doing it at 6, because she is BRILLIANT.)
But that kind of blather doesn't really make for interesting blog fodder. It's the kind of thing I want to note, and I want Gwen someday to know that I noticed, but does anyone else really care? Maybe not.
Hmm, too bad for them, I suppose :-)
Monday, June 9, 2008
I'm not going to tell you how long she slept for after waking up for her (one!) night feeding, either, but it rhymes with GROAR TOWERS.
And then, I certainly could not be begged or entreated to tell you how she fell asleep, both times, but it rhymes with CRAWL PLY MERGELF IN SIR LADLE.
I'm feeling oddly human today.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
It started on Friday, when Chris said, "I'd like to take Gwen to Woodgrove Mall on Saturday." I chose to interpret this exactly as he'd said it - that he (singular) wanted to take Gwen to the mall. (This may seem strange, until you consider that he used to work at the mall, and wants to show her off to his former co-workers.)
I immediately agreed, in such a way that made my interpretation obvious: "That sounds great! You do that, and I'll have a shower and a bit of time to myself."
(ASIDE: I've never been one of those shower-every-day type of people, but since having Gwen, the frequency of my showers has fallen to once a week. It's not the showers that are impossible so much as the 60-minute ritual of doing my hair that follows - letting it dry for 40 minutes, then styling for 20. If this ritual is not followed, or if it is compromised in any way, my hair is a disaster until the next time I get to shower. Since that's such a big commitment, I only manage to do it once a week. And suddenly that time is the freakin' highlight of my entire week.)
So, at about 11am Chris and Gwen headed out to the mall with a diaper bag and a bottle of pumped milk. I had a shower, surfed the web for 40 minutes, did my hair, chatted online with my best friend, tidied up around the house, had a long leisurely lunch with a novel, and so on. Shortly after 1:30pm, right around the time I was really starting to wonder where they were, they returned.
"So, how was it?" I asked, all well-fed and showered and relaxed and happy.
"Awful," Chris grunted through clenched teeth. "I am covered in pee and milk."
Gwen had cried and screamed. The bottle had leaked when he tried to feed her, and on top of that, she hadn't been all that interested in eating it. She had had all kinds of diaper catastrophes, ruining both her clothes and his. And had he mentioned that she cried and screamed?
I took Gwen over to the couch and fed her, waiting for the appreciative "I don't know how you do this every day, you are truly amazing!".
(Needless to say, I'm still waiting...)
I suppose it would be too much to hope that he means to make this a regular Saturday morning ritual?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
If we just stay on top of it for the next two days, and keep up with what we've been doing, we should be out of the woods.
To say I am much relieved is a huge understatement.
Friday, June 6, 2008
All day we have been watching her closely and cleaning her up after a poo or pee so we don't have to put her back in a diaper. She is obviously miserable; seems to sense when a poo is coming and will try not to let it happen because she knows it's going to irritate her poor skin. But of course it happens anyway and then she cries and screams and is nearly inconsolable. I finally got her to nap at about 1:30 this afternoon for an hour or so.
I finally understand what parents mean when they say they wish they could just take the pain away. If I could take this pain away from her I would. It is obviously horrible and of course she doesn't understand why it is happening which just makes it worse. I got so frustrated that I called Lillian to ask if there was anything else we could do to improve the rash, as it's been 10 days of treatment with the antifungal cream and it's not gone yet. She said keeping it clean and dry as much as possible (which we were already doing) was all that could be done. I hate watching my baby suffer through this! How long is this damn rash going to hang on? I Googled just that and found greatly varying answers, everything from a few days to a few months. GAH we cannot survive months!!
Okay, deep breath...
Just found these two sites which offer a whole variety of more things we can do to help rid ourselves of the thrush. So we'll give them a try and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
As a side note, getting cut off in traffic is even more annoying when you have a screaming baby in the car
"Now that your baby's awake for longer periods during the day, you can use these times to support his sensory development. Try singing your favorite lullabies or playing music.
"You don't have limit yourself to children's songs. Fill the house with the sounds of music — from the Black Eyed Peas to Mozart — and watch as your baby expresses his pleasure through coos, lip smacks, and jerking arm and leg movements.
"Inevitably, you'll notice that your baby responds to and favors some selections more than others as he begins to develop preferences."
I am happy to report that Gwen's musical tastes are developing nicely. Today we were out in the car doing errands and Gwen was fussy (she is, sadly, not one of those babies who just drifts off to sleep anytime she's in a moving vehicle). Fuss, fuss, cry, cry. Then my big giant CD of random music started playing "Your Own Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode. She stopped crying. "Hmm," I thought. "It appears the girl has good taste."
The next few tracks, all Depeche Mode songs, were uninterrupted by Gwen's fussing/crying/screaming. But it could just be a coincidence. Then the Depeche Mode selections ended and a Feist song came on. I don't know how she did this, but before the song even got past the instrumental intro, she started fussing again. I quickly skipped back a few tracks to "Policy of Truth" and she was immediately quiet.
I couldn't be more delighted!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
"I am going to put all our baby books away in a box and not look at them again until Gwen is three months old. They all contradict each other anyway and I am making myself crazy and after all we still have the internet if we have specific questions."
Chris said: "I support your decision!"
The Baby Whisperer in particular was the straw that broke my back. It makes such a strong point of starting its concepts from Day One, that all it did was make me feel guilty and miserable for letting over a month go by. And yet, millions of people have not read this book, and all of their babies sleep through the night eventually, so really? How ridiculous. I am starting to think that parenting books and women's magazines have a common goal, namely the perpetuation of fear and self-doubt. Thus? Into the box they go!
(Plus, I've noticed that a few weeks ago - before I did a sleep log, before I researched how much sleep Gwen 'should' be getting and how I should be facilitating that, before I had any expectations about how she 'should' respond when I followed the instructions from whatever book I was reading - I was wayyyyy more accepting and wayyyyy less frazzled. In other words, I still wasn't getting any sleep, but I didn't expect anything different, so it worked. It was hard, but I was functioning.)
New subject: Healthy Beginnings drop-in. I went to this group yesterday with my friend Tricia. Tricia deserves introduction as she will likely be mentioned here often. She was a friend of Chris's from his college days, someone I'd met a few times but didn't have much in common with. UNTIL the day we found out that she was pregnant and due a week after me. Then we had tons to talk about! We went to pre-natal yoga together, swapped maternity clothes back and forth, compared notes on whatever bizarre symptoms we were having. Thanks to Gwen being born 10 days early and Tricia's son Reilley being born a week late, they are actually almost 4 weeks apart, but we still have SO much to talk about.
Yesterday was my first time meeting Reilley, at 2 weeks old, and the four of us went to the Healthy Beginnings drop-in at the Health Unit. What a trip! We walked into the room to find it packed with strollers, and a large group of moms (no dads, sadly) and babies of various ages sitting in a circle and doing all the things that moms and babies do. It was so weird to see the same five activities I do all damn day... feeding/changing/soothing/burping/walking the baby ... being done by all these other moms. At any given time, five or six of them were doing each of these activities.
There were some familiar faces from our pre-natal classes and our pre-natal yoga, including Chai from this post. In contrast to last time I'd seen her, when by her own admission she was having quite a rough time, she was now completely comfortable and casual, having a breeze of a time and really enjoying her beautiful son Coen. Who is now four months old. It really gives me hope that the Three Month Legend is true (ie, that everything magically gets easier at that point!). Only six weeks to go until that mystical milestone is reached.
In the meantime, I really enjoyed getting out and meeting other women who are all experiencing the same things, sharing what was working and what wasn't, having a comfortable place to just hang out and do the same things I do every day but with a different set of four walls to stare at and also a lot of great company to chat with. Tricia and I agreed we'd be doing that on a regular basis.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Yesterday's massage was fan-freaking-tastic. Actually, the bliss started as soon as I walked out of the house and got into my car. After a few blocks I realized I could turn up the music as loud as I wanted. When I got to the massage place and got undressed and lay down on the table, I realized that this was the first time in over five weeks that I knew with 100% certainty that I could lie down for a full hour with no one interrupting me. At that point, I didn't even care if the RMT came in and rubbed my sore muscles - just lying there would have been enough! (She did, though, and it was complete heaven - she gave me such a deep massage that my back and shoulders almost feel bruised today.)
On the way home I realized with some jealousy that Chris gets to do that every day - not get massaged, but leave the house and have interruption-free time. He disagrees, saying that his cell phone is his tool of interruption, but I don't think it's quite the same. His cell phone doesn't chew on his nipples, I'll bet. Nor does it start having a total meltdown if he doesn't pay attention to it within 10 seconds.
Anyway, back to the worry and the guilt. I feel a little guilty that I don't feel too guilty about leaving Gwen yesterday. I feel a little worried that I'm not a good Mom because I didn't worry about her while I was gone. I thought walking out the door would be really hard, but it was the easiest thing in the world. There's totally something wrong with me!
And that's not all. I'm worried that the sleep problems are never going to work themselves out, and that if I don't take charge and fix them we'll still be waking up three times a night when she's 5 years old. I'm worried that if I don't take the exact right approach with fixing them, I'll ruin her life (and ours). I'm worried that it's already too late, as at least one baby book tells me that I should start as I mean to go on and set up a predictable routine (not schedule, but routine) from Day One and since I'm already 40 days overdue, everything is RUINED. (Mind you this same book has a little "what kind of baby do you have" quiz, and I don't know how you could complete that quiz if you were, as instructed, reading that book before baby's birth.)
I feel guilty that I don't enjoy Gwen enough or stimulate her in the right ways because I'm too exhausted to do anything more than count down to her next naptime. I feel guilty because no one at the hospital offered to take her hand or foot prints, and now she's nearly six weeks old and it feels like it's too late to do it and somehow failing to record the size of her feet and hands makes me a bad and unappreciative mother. I feel guilty that I don't force her to do tummy time because she so clearly hates it (but shouldn't she do it more, then, so she gets used to it?) I feel guilty when she screams hysterically in the bath, because it makes me feel like she doesn't trust us to take care of her and keep her safe. I feel guilty that I don't even *know* if she's reaching her milestones because she spends all her time either nursing or sleeping or swaddled. I feel guilty because if she is swaddled so much she might never learn to control her limbs, but it's the only thing that makes her happy during her awake times and makes her fall asleep at bedtime.
The Worry. The Guilt. The Guilt. The Worry. They chase their tails in my brain all day long. Why didn't anyone tell me it would be like this?
Monday, June 2, 2008
(I'm currently skimming (too sleep-deprived for real reading) The Baby Whisperer, who advises that if a baby pops off the breast, it means she's done eating. The Baby Whisperer has clearly never seen my little girl get hysterical with the rooting after she pops off.)
Anyway, if you think I talk too damn much about the nursing, please go read this post by my friend Amber which had me laughing out loud. It perfectly sums up a day in a new mom's life, and drives home the point that it doesn't really matter what you plan to do with your day or what kind of exotic location you plan to do it in, what you will really be doing with 90% of your waking time is nursing the baby. Maybe this is why new moms don't tend to leave the house all that much, because the scenery may change but the song remains the same!!
This afternoon shall be an exciting first: I am finally, finally, FINALLY, after talking about it for about 5 weeks, going to go get a well-deserved massage, leaving Chris with the baby and a 3-oz serving of pumped breastmilk. I am both excited and a little anxious, though I don't really know *why* I'm anxious, it just somehow seems like I should be. Hopefully the massage will counteract that nicely :-)
Sunday, June 1, 2008
1. You have just changed your baby's diaper using a folding changetable in a public washroom. On the table in front of you are the baby, the dirty diaper, the diaper bag, and the changepad, which needs to go back in the diaper bag. You cannot leave the baby unattended and you cannot fold the changepad with one hand. How do you proceed? Use diagrams if necessary.
2. The experts say your baby needs 3 naps a day totalling 6-7 hours of sleep, and a total of 15-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. How much nighttime sleep is your baby meant to get? Bonus question: Once you've determined the nap schedule, how do you teach your baby to stick to it? What naptime/sleep schedule would you propose for the baby? Show your work.
3. In order for both your baby and your breasts to be healthy and comfortable, it's important to spend equal time nursing on each side. At baby's last feeding, you nursed on the right side. This has the added bonus of ending with her in the correct position to slip easily into her cradle with her head at the end that is shown on the video monitor. At her next feeding, which side do you feed her on? Feeding her on the left means you either have to put her down at the non-video-monitored side, or perform a complex swoop-and-turn maneuver before putting her down, which might wake her up. If you feed on the right, her face will be in view of the video monitor, but your left breast will swell to twice the size of the right. What do you do? Explain your reasoning.
(Yesterday was a hellish day, but last night was pure awesome. We went through a whole bedtime routine, lulled Gwen into sleep, crept quietly out of the room, and five minutes later she woke up - but didn't fuss, and in fact put herself back to sleep a few minutes later. She spent the entire night in her cradle in her very own room, which is a first. I still had to get up for three nightly feeds, but they all lasted less than 20 minutes and ended with her going back to sleep easily. Please may all nights be like this?)