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Archive for December, 2006

In the early days our relationship, probably before we were engaged, and back when he had long hair, Attic Man and I talked about marriage as an institution.  We liked the idea of a public committment.  We felt that the promises we would make to each other would pull us through times that we’d want to throw in the towel.  We also talked a lot about the problems and limitations of the institution of marriage especially as it pertains to gender politics.  We agreed that we’d have to make a conscious and concerted effort to avoid sublimating my career to his, for instance, or having him ‘help’ with the housework or ‘babysit’ our kids.  Indeed, as the first days of our marriage unfolded, we found ourselves constantly challenged to live out our ideals.  I found, for example, that I had a much harder time with the gendered aspects of housework.  I had to be willing for Attic Man to take ownership of the running of the house as much as I did, even though I had a hard time letting go of the prejudice that he couldn’t possibly do it as well as I could, having grown up a boy (his mother did teach him to do housework).

Nowadays, with the Snapper on the scene, we’re testing out our theories about childrearing.  Tonight is a big moment: as we speak Attic Man is giving little man a bottle of pumped milk as part of his evening parenting.  After a kiss and debriefing this afternoon, I handed the boy over to the man, did a load of dishes, moved the laundry, and walked the dogs.  It feels amazing.  It also feels like I am skirting some kind of essential responsibility, and it’s hard not to let the guilt consume me (and also the ‘helping’ urge: I’ve been in three or four time to advise.  it must be driving him crazy).  But the feeling of freedom–mainly mental freedom–is more than making up for it.  The hardest thing about trying to do school work as a new parent (for me) is creating the mental space for it.  I’m overwhelmed by feeding and changing and soothing and burping and stimulating to the extent that it’s hard to remember where exactly Ireland is on the map and why I care.  But these evening sessions give me that mental space.  Nevermind that I am not actually working on the diss this evening; knowing I would have this evening allowed me to work on it during his first nap (he actually took one!  hurray! …after a half and hour in the sling, of course, with bouncing, shushing and swinging).

I’ve heard a lot of mothers say that they’d with the time it takes to pump they’d rather just do the feeding themselves.  While I respect that, I’d rather have a block of time that I’m guaranteed some rest.  I know that fathers can bond with their babies other than feeding, but I also know how intimate the feeding time is and I want that for him (and he wants it too, which is more important).  Besides, the double pump allows me to get the same amount of milk in half the time or less.

Now!  I’m going to use the bathroom alone!

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Wow!

What a way to get people to delurk! I was sure I’d lost most of my readers when I went adoption-lite. Seriously, though, thank you for the advice and most of all for the moral support. At the end of the day (or a long, long night) it’s like a cup of cold water. You guys are the best.

Attic Man and I sat down to hammer out a battle plan. First of all, with the blessing of our ped, we’re letting him sleep in the carseat at night. We can transition him whenever he’s ready. Right now he needs to feel encased, so that’s what we’ll do for him. His doc said that the only real risk is overheating. We can take care of that by dressing him lightly. We’ll continue to try to get him to nap in the Pack n Play in the daytime so he can get used to it. And of course lots and lots of holding, since he seems to need it.

Second, the Snapper’s night is going to start a lot earlier, since the problem seems to be settling more than time of day. This doesn’t accomplish much for him but it will hopefully get me some sleep. We tried it last night and it worked pretty well. Attic Man will try to get him down in the carseat between 7 and 8 (after nursing) which will give the Snapper some time to settle down and transition to bedtime. By the next feeding he should be settled enough to give a couple of nice, low-key night nursings. Last night I got two three-hour stretches of sleep and I feel like a million (OK, maybe a hundred) bucks.

The ped has suggested ending feeding solely on demand now that my milk supply is established. This means I can start waking him during the day if it looks like he’s going for a marathon 4 1/2 hour nap that would be better taken at night. I’m also done comfort nursing. I know some people don’t mind it but it just wears me out. In addition, while I realize he’s way too young to make the association, I’d rather he learn to derive comfort from holding and affection rather than eating. I struggle with the food=comfort thing, and I’d rather he not. I will nurse him every hour if that’s what he needs, but not ten minutes after the last feeding is over. That’s just insane.

I’m learning to be OK with some fussy crying as he tries to settle as long as it doesn’t escalate into serious wailing. He can’t get himself to sleep yet but there’s no sense in picking him up every time he grunts.

Most of all, though, I am bolstered by the “this will end” comments. If it’s only a matter of a few weeks we can get through it, all three of us.

Here’s an interesting thought: I can’t shake the feeling that the Snapper was about a week early. He just seems like an immature baby. My slow, irregular labor, his problems feeding at the beginning, his need to be held constantly–maybe this sounds like temperament but to me it feels like he maybe should have been in the womb just a little longer. I don’t know.

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HELP!

OK.  So it’s not colic, but it’s driving me insane.  The child does not want to settle at night, especially in the bassinet or any other flat surface where he is alone (or, in his mind, abandoned!).  He nurses and nurses and nurses for hours, then cries and cries and cries–unless held or nursing–until a) he actually falls asleep in the bassinet (rare); b) we give in and put him in the car seat; or c) exhausted, he falls asleep on my chest, and I enter a light, fitful sleep until he wakes for the next feeding.  I fully anticipated many night feedings.  Oh, what a blessing it would be if it were only that!  Simply being awakened every 3 hours and going back to sleep!

We have tried:

Prewarming the bassinet; putting him down fully asleep, partially asleep, fully awake; fully/partially swaddling, not swaddling; using a blanket and light sleeper, using no blanket and a warm sleeper; pacifier; belly rubs; putting him down head/feet/butt/stomach first; singing; pleading (“please, please, please go to sleep!  please stop crying!” etc.); crying ourselves; and on and on.

At his doctor’s visit we were encouraged to just keep trying.  We have implemented every single suggestion to no avail, with one exception: the AmbyBaby Hammock, which even on e-bay is like buying a new crib.

So if you’ve tried something–provided it’s SIDS safe–that has worked, PLEASE let me know.  We’ll try anything.

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Still Alive

Attic Man says that even though I don’t feel like blogging I should just to let y’all know that we’re not dead.  Thank God for that.  The reason I’m not blogging is that I’m trying to avoid journaling too much about the everyday stuff; I’d much rather write when I have something to make of said stuff.  And at the moment it’s ALL in the details: nursing is going well, is exhausting; colic between 10 and 2 every night, without fail; a gunky left eye; dogs doing well under martial law; between our three dependents, levels of cuteness that should be illegal; the sling is the absolute best piece of baby equipment we own; help has come from everywhere and is still coming; must do some schoolwork before end of year, looking grim.

Weirdness: I don’t feel like a new mother, didn’t even in the hospital less than 24 hours after his birth.  The feeling is more like, “this is the boy I’ve been the mother of my whole life” rather than, “now I’m a mother.”

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Working Hard

Just a quick note to say that the Snapper’s weight gain is back on target and he’s now having regular (that is to say, disgusting) diapers.  I never thought I’d be so thrilled to see mustardy poop.  I’m sure I’m not done saying “good job!” after a poop, either.  I have a feeling that will take us through many stages.

We’re still working on the Snapper’s latch.  Turns out he is tongue-tied, so it is hard for him to get his tongue forward.  We’re working with a nipple shield part of the time.  It’s coming along but we still have many frustrating nursing sessions.  When we asked my in-laws for parenting advice many moons ago, they said simply, “it’s exhausting, it’s relentless, and you can’t change you mind.”  They’re right.  Until we get this latch down it’s round the clock hard work just for him to eat.  But we’re on the up swing–my milk is definitely in.  The lactation consultants have been amazing and they’re going to see us through every step.

I have all sorts of things to say about nursing and his birth but I can’t barely speak a coherent sentence, nevermind write one!

My brother and his wife come for an afternoon visit today (yay! my brother will feel like he’s looking in the mirror when he sees his nephew) and tonight my mother-in-law flies in from PA for a week.  On Friday he’ll meet an aunt from DC and a cousin.  It’s going to be so much fun sharing him.

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Pictures?

Of course.

Several days before his birthday

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Squirming in the saddle all wet and warm
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The duo
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Big man and little man
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Practicing the stink-eye (known in Pittsburgh as the maloik)
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Priming the Pump

We’re feeling a little tense and worried over here at Chez Boomerific. The Snapper had a bit of trouble with his latch in the first 24 hours of his life, and as a result he’s lost too much weight for our and the doctor’s comfort. My milk has also not come in, though things are feeling heavier today so we might be on the verge of a turnover. He has been nursing much, much better but we’re still not getting enough wet diapers and he’s a very dry little boy. Not good.

The good news is that we are working with the lactation team from our hospital and they are taking it very seriously. At our home visit today we found out about the weight loss and got a plan to get things going. Essentially, we’re going to supplement with an ounce of formula after every regular feeding until we can get him hydrated and gaining weight. I’m also going to pump after each feeding while Attic Man is on bottle duty (he’s out getting Pur nipples right now) so as much of the supplementation as possible can be colostrum/milk. I’m hoping the extra stimulation will also help my milk come in so we can get out of this whole fiasco without too much formula.

I read in one place that postpartum blood loss can affect lactation, especially as hemoglobin levels dip. I had pretty significant clots and blood loss because of the length of the labor and especially the pushing stage, which may account for the current crisis.

The plan is to park myself on the couch and become a milk machine for my little boy until we can get this worked out. Attic Man is going to bring me food, take care of the dogs and house, and be in charge of the bottle stuff. My job is to make milk. I’m just going to sit there and eat, drink, pump, nurse, sleep, pray, and rest.

The lovely little boy is cooing so I’m going to go.

Thanks again for your congratulations! We’re going to print them out for his baby book.

And yes, yes, we did name him after Mark Twain, and also this Southern gentleman who sadly passed away this year, the Snapper’s great uncle.

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