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Month: October 2019

Week 7

Last week my baby quietly wept as she ate. Having a person latched to your breast and weeping can be pretty devastating, I realized. Gentle sobs are much worse than the loud, angry cries. There is no way to know what is wrong: is it my milk, is it the way I’m holding her, is it that I’m not wearing deodorant? I stopped wearing deodorant after labor because I didn’t know if it was toxic for her to inhale all day. She has been taking in my natural musk, which admittedly is unpleasant.
I don’t think David has noticed the scent change, but he’s not tethered to me. He remains free.

She is tracking objects now, which is super neat. She also seems to pay attention when I hold books in front of her and turn the page. She doesn’t hold things for long yet. She does have long nails and scratches. That’s on me: I’m scared to file her nails. I have scratch marks all over, and I’m fine with that. I do need to file her nails though.

I have no idea if she’s eating enough. She has generous bowel movements, so I assume she is eating well. She also casually spits up milk, which I have read is normal. I do suspect she has acid reflux. I can smell it on her breath sometimes! Other times the smell of her breath is perfect. Any kind of discomfort she experiences or might experience (is she cold? warm? damp? is this shirt material going to bother her? she just farted – but maybe it was a shart and she needs to be changed?) is deeply upsetting to me. Now I know why my parents were/are so empathetic every time I had/have a cold, immediately giving me soothing remedies and checking in nonstop.

I’m super paranoid about her getting a UTI or bladder infection. She poops all the time and sometimes just hangs out in a deeply soiled diaper. She won’t tolerate a wet diaper, but she seems content to sit in her poop so it’s harder to figure out when it has occurred.

Also the Nationals won the World Series! We watched every post season game together, and I can’t wait to tell her when she is older that I only started learning about baseball when she was born, but now I care deeply about it. Three Nationals players also had newborns around her age and delivered at the same hospital! More on that later.

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Week 6 Part 2

To be fair, we are both sick.

Here’s what happened: we went to a wedding on Sunday. That is the only time I was really out in public. We also went to a restaurant Saturday, but I feel we were pretty isolated there. Anyway we went to a wedding on Sunday. Then I stayed home with our beloved while David continued living his best life, playing D&D, working out, playing tennis, going to a baseball game, etc. Tuesday night, I was exhausted and thought, “When David gets home, I will ask David to give her a bottle of expressed milk for her middle of the night feeding.” I was really excited about this plan. David got home after baby and I fell asleep, and when I woke to give him the good news, before I could even say it, he told me his throat hurt and he had bought cover guards to help prevent him from giving the baby a cold. I was really glad he bought guards, but I was not ready for the baby to have a cold. I also got sick soon after David broke the news of his impending cold, so I don’t know if I caught the cold from David or if we caught the cold from the wedding. Our immune systems are compromised, so it was only a matter of time. David keeps repeating how rare it is that we have coughs and runny noses at the same time.

Also yesterday she was really fussy after an excursion to the park. Nothing I did would calm her down. While David napped, I tried feeding her, rocking her, skin to skin, changed her diaper twice, fed again. I was worried this meant she had caught a cold, but I think she might be in a growth spurt.  Anyway, when David woke up from almost a TWO HOUR NAP, I said, “David I don’t know what’s wrong,” and he said something to try to be soothing, but I think I heard “Calm down, she’s totally fine,” and I can’t remember how I replied, but it was with extreme displeasure.

Anyway now I have a different dilemma! If she is in a growth spurt, I should wake her up to feed her, but I’m not supposed to wake her up at night. WHAT AM I TO DO!

Also I have to write Thank You notes for all the gifts we have received. Yesterday I tried posing her with one of the toys she received to include with the note, but I can’t decide whether to send the picture. She is propped up (you can see our hand in the photo), with one hand on the toy and her face looking away from the toy in disdain. I feel like the toy is a bit of a nuisance, and her expression seems to reflect that sentiment. We are so on the same page. She is literally the best.


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Week 6

Something that’s important to know* about David and me is that David sleeps on the left side of the bed and I sleep on the right side of the bed.

Here’s a diagram.
David sleeping

When David goes to sleep, he faces away from me, sleeping on his right side. Hurts my feelings every time. Anyway, that’s just how he sleeps, EXCEPT WHEN HE IS SICK. When David is sick, he sleeps on his left side, FACING ME, coughing into my face all night long.

Contagious David sleeping

It is infuriating. And our baby sleeps on my side of the bed. So now I have to kill David.

*Not important at all

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Week 5

We started using the pacifier. I think we started using it Thursday of last week. David used it when he couldn’t calm her down one night. To my delight she spit it out, but then he put it back in, she accepted, and now we use it liberally.

She’s in a new stage where she is deeply unhappy if she is not being held. I can get behind this stage and love every minute of it, but it’s also quite limiting if you want to go to the bathroom, eat, or look at pictures of her on your phone. I was also worried (general state of affairs) because I read somewhere that babies sleep 16 hours a day, and that is NOT what she was doing. Also sleeping on people can’t be comfortable, can it? Anyway, I know why she prefers it. She hates sleeping (and farting and pooping) on her back, and they tell you to exclusively have kids sleep on their backs, and it has created general chaos and probably a whole generation of deeply traumatized kids. People cite vaccines for the rise in autism, but what if it’s actually this whole nightmare of putting kids on their backs and waking them up every few hours, which is behavior similar to how we torture terror suspects? Hmmm?

We also went to a farm on Saturday! It was such fun! She slept through the whole thing, but we felt pretty accomplished. Going to a farm entails:
1) Changing her diaper
2) Picking out an outfit appropriate for the weather
3) Feeding her at a time that would optimize the trip
4) Changing her diaper
5) Putting her in the car seat, putting on a hat* and grabbing a blanket
6) Getting the stroller and the baby carrier
7) Driving for 30 minutes
8) Deciding whether to use the stroller or carrier (we chose carrier)
9) Feeling deep shame that we did not have a hat to protect her face from the sun and because of this also noting we cannot send any farm photos to the grandparents
9) Walking around a farm and taking a hay ride (20 minutes total) while avoiding any toddlers, tall grass that could have ticks, or anyone who might have a cold
10) Taking lots of pictures
11) Eating and feeding her if she’s hungry
12) Driving home for 30 minutes

Our friends recommended a course called Taking Cara Babies which provides tips for helping babies sleep. This course so far has resulted in 2/3 nights of better sleep! I have watched 4 of the 7 videos. It’s hard to find 30 minute chunks to watch them. One thing she recommends is swaddling, which is essentially putting your kid in a straight jacket. Another thing she recommends is definitely waking up your baby during the day to feed. I need to do that soon. Ugh, I do not care to wake her. Also hate the jacket, but it appears to work.

Also David has a cold. This is inconvenient. I love him, and I am also mad at him for getting this cold. I hope she does not get this cold. I hope I do not get this cold. I think every week we have something new to figure out:

Week 1: Breastfeeding and clothing
Week 2: Breastfeeding still
Week 3: Burping
Week 4: Feeding myself
Week 5: Sleeping and career decisions such as how much of my sense of self-worth is tied up in my career income (all of it) and what can we do for affordable and good insurance. And now, possibly, a cold.

Oop she’s awake!

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Week 4

My beautiful girl is having trouble passing gas. She turns bright red and breathes heavily every time she does it. She also screams. We try cycling her legs, lifting up her legs, and I give her a breast, but nothing seems to work well. And yesterday it felt like she had gas all day.

On Sunday I read somewhere that it could be my diet, but my diet is pretty limited. I don’t drink cow’s milk – only almond milk. I don’t know why. I started doing that for the gestational diabetes. I do eat lactation cookies, because they’re essentially oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which are delicious. I also have kale smoothies, Greek yogurt, eggs, salad and fruit. That’s pretty much it!

On Monday we went to her one month check-up. We asked about the gas, and the doctor advised we try probiotics. When we asked when and how to administer the probiotic, the doctor asked, “What time do you give the Vitamin D supplement? That’s when you can give her the probiotic.” And we were like, “WHAT VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENT?!” She was very taken aback that we weren’t giving her a Vitamin D supplement, but we did not know we were supposed to be doing this. If you breastfeed, you are supposed to give the baby a Vitamin D supplement. Breast milk is magical, they say, but apparently it’s lacking one thing. My knees and wrists feel awful and standing is difficult – I am now wondering if I also need Vitamin D?

On Tuesday our baby was super alert. We gave her the probiotic around 5pm, and she was very alert all night, not pausing for a nap, and around 11pm she lost her mind, screaming inconsolably until around 2am. David fed her, burped her, changed her diaper, changed her clothes, but she would not be appeased. Tears streamed down her face, and it was devastating because we did not know what was wrong. Finally she fell asleep on me, with both of us terrified that in our fatigue she would fall off. They advise you not to sleep with your child, but these past couple nights she hasn’t been able to fall asleep in her bassinet. They say kids at this age sleep 16 hours a day, but that is not what we are experiencing, unless she’s napping with her eyes wide open like some kind of productivity master.

Now it’s early Wednesday.

Something else that has also happened in Week 4 is that David and I have been I-don’t-want-use-the-word-arguing-but-maybe-that’s-the-right-word. We have been debating pacifier usage, bottle feeding, and I have asked David to make breakfast in the mornings. He thinks I’m holding her too much, and I should put her down, which might be fair, but given how quickly these four weeks have gone, it has dawned upon me that these moments are fleeting, and should something happen to me, I want her to know or vaguely recall she was loved. He also asked why I was so committed to breastfeeding, and I shared that I read that when you breastfeed, the baby’s saliva communicates back to my body if she is fighting disease or needs additional antibodies, and my body creates them for her.

During the one month check-up they also administered a worksheet for me to fill out asking about whether I was “extra anxious for no particular reason.” The response options were: All of the time, Some of the time, Once in a while, and Never, and I was like, “I am anxious all of the time for VERY GOOD REASONS.” David agreed that my disposition had not changed from pre-pregnancy, and we filled in “Once in a while.”

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Week 3

People always tell you you are going to be so tired, but they never explain why. Well we are in week 3, and I’m going to try to document what happened in weeks 1 and 2 in case we decide to have another.

Week 1: We left the hospital (I’ll write about labor in another post) and we drove home. Our baby pooped in the hospital, so she was sitting in poop the entire ride home. We changed her, and then she was crying, so I fed her with my breast milk. OR SO I THOUGHT.
The next day (Tuesday) we had our first pediatrician appointment where they weighed our baby. She had lost 10% of her birth weight, which meant I was not adequately providing enough breast milk. Upon hearing this, I started crying, because all through Monday night and early Tuesday morning, I thought I was feeding her. It turns out she was sucking very hard but not getting any milk. Poor thing! She must have thought I was playing a cruel trick every time I presented a teet! And we were both exhausted!

Anyway, upon seeing my tears well up, the pediatrician handed me a tissue box and started writing down the steps we needed to take to get her weight up: I needed to feed for 10 minutes on each breast and then David was to give her formula. “You’ll schedule an appointment for tomorrow, and then probably another one right after that to weigh her and make sure she is being fed,” the doctor said. While the pediatrician is writing this down, and I’m blowing my nose, David whispers to me, “Have you been drinking that broccoli smoothie? Your breath smells terrible!” This is exactly how it happened. He hates the smell of my broccoli smoothies, and it was consuming his thoughts in this moment. “I told you to step drinking that stuff!” he mouthed. Then we went home.

Earlier I had invited her grandparents over on Tuesday and asked them to help us clean-up our home and get the baby room set up. We needed and appreciated their help, but for me this turned out to be a terrible day for it. They arrived right after we got home from the pediatrician. We shared our breast milk problem, and each time I went for my 10 minute feeding for her, they looked at me as though I was a sad, insane person and recommended we just feed her formula rather than carry on this charade.

Wednesday we returned to the pediatrician for another weighing. The pediatrician appeared taken aback by my foul broccoli breath when I asked her my list of questions, but that did not stop me from going through the list. The doctor also said our baby had put on quite a bit of weight, my milk had probably come in, start feeding her less formula, and that they wouldn’t see us for another two weeks. I was excited but not ready to cut the umbilical cord tying us to medical professionals, so I was also nervous. We went home, and for the next couple days any time she drank a lot of formula I was happy she was eating and also very competitive with the bottles of formula that could accomplish in two minutes what it took me +30 minutes to do. I beamed in my heart when she rejected formula.

I don’t remember the rest of the week, only that we fed, changed diapers, and repeated this every two hours. My mom also came over almost every day, and when she had originally told me she had taken a month off of work to help, I was worried this would be too much time together, but it turned out to be amazing. She cleaned our bedroom – a task that I hadn’t been able to accomplish in over 8 years – brought me healthy food and made sure I ate it, and did all the laundry. I’ve been extra emotional and thinking about how much love my parents have for me was always touching, but now it’s extra touching. I’m also extra worried about everyone’s mortality, but I’ll leave those feelings bottled up for now.

Week 2: On Sunday our friends brought over lactation cookies, and I feel like these were a bit of a game changer. First, they’re delicious, so nom nom nom. I feasted on cookies for days. Second, I feel like my milk started really coming in. We also had some questions for the pediatrician, so we scheduled a Monday appointment to cover our list of questions. Week 2 was also exhausting, but less so than week 1. By week 2, our place had come together and was in a state we felt really good about. Before we birthed the light in our lives, I was reluctant to throw anything away. Afterwards, I was open to throwing all the things away, lest the clutter distress her gentle sensibilities.

The pediatrician’s office we go to has a rotation of doctors. We saw the same doctor on Monday that we saw on the previous Wednesday. She has an interesting bedside manner and gave us the impression she does not really care for children. She also said we should avoid going out with the baby for 6 weeks, because if they get sick in the first 6 weeks, it’s bad. David continued to chastise me for my use of broccoli in my smoothies.

David also went out on Monday night to play D&D. This was difficult and I wanted to call him back, but my sister, who was over with my mom at the time to help, discouraged me from doing so. We made it through Monday night, but just barely. On Saturday we had our two week check-in, and a different doctor told us what we wanted to hear: we could go out, just not let anyone sneeze on the baby, and that I didn’t have to wake our baby up to feed her every two hours, but also not to go more than three to four hours without feeding her. This was not a problem, because she does not allow me to go for more than 1.5 to 2 hours without feeding her. We slept little in week 2 as well, but I distinctly recall it being better than week 1.

Week 3: We’re on week 3. I’m glad I’m writing down notes that I remember, because I’m already forgetting a lot of distress from weeks 1 and 2. This week our baby is interested in falling asleep on us. I love this. I can physically feel when my milk has come in – it stings. I’m trying to figure out when to pump to make sure there’s still enough for her when she’s hungry.

Our baby has trouble pooping and farting. It’s a whole thing. She lifts her legs, squirms, cries. We comfort her and try to help, but there’s little that can be done. Also I read that if I’m gassy, she’s gassy. So I don’t know what I ate yesterday, but I was gassy, and I just thought, “Uh oh,” and sure enough she had a rough night. I tried to eat differently today, and I’ve been less gassy. You’re welcome, baby.

Things that have stressed me out this week:
1) She spits up more now. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m overfeeding or because I’m bad at burping her.
2) Burping her.
3) Sids. Sids always stresses me out. I don’t know how it happens, and it sounds like medical professionals don’t either, but I’m always worried about it.

Also I go back and forth between deciding she’s a genius and uh, decidedly not a genius. For example, one day she was amazing at tummy time, and then two hours later she grabbed a tuft of her own hair, pulled her head back and started screaming in pain.

And I think she knows when I’m panicked that David is out. When he goes out for prolonged periods, she gets extra fussy. Then he gets home and she’s a saint.

Okay that’s it for now. Sorry for grammar mistakes – I’m writing this with blurry eyes and it actually took me days to write. I tried to write the post this morning at 5:30am after she fell asleep, but then David asked for a massage for his shoulder injury. So I’ve been writing bits and pieces of this post throughout the day.

Also, I owe you three specific posts: a labor recap, some thoughts on nursing clothing, and how the dulcet tones of Adam Schiff demanding a congressional inquiry into presidential misconduct are music to a baby’s ears.

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