Monday, March 11, 2013

Two Months Old: it really is a baby!

Two-month-old babies are fun because that’s when they become less leech-like and more humanoid. As I’ve told numerous people, it can be hard at first when your newborn has two settings: 1) inexplicably pissed off and 2) neutral.  Possibly three settings, if you count pooping. So when they starting smiling you’re like OH THANK GOD. Theo started smiling around Valentine’s Day, appropriately enough.

Here’s what I liked in month two:

1. Grass drying rack: Perfect for storing the nine billion bottles and bottle accessories you will have. And I breastfeed! I don't know what formula feeding moms do, lease a new house? Anyways, this thing is adorable, works well, and I can cram all of our bottle paraphernalia on it. Also you can buy little twigs and flowers to expand the storage. I die.

2. Piyo Piyo nail scissors: So nobody tells you that your newborn will have Wolverine-like claws and that one of your motherly duties will be giving the world’s tiniest, most terrifying manicures. I bought these scissors because they were cute but turns out they work way better than baby nail clippers. I tried the baby nail scissors but one time and was like NOPE, GOING TO CHOP OFF A FINGER. Get these instead.

3.     Boppy nursing pillow: I prefer this to the regular Boppy or My Brest Friend. It wraps around the body and has a flat, firm surface like the My Brest Friend but is cushion-y on the bottom. Most importantly, THE ENTIRE THING CAN BE WASHED. I really like the My Brest Friend but putting on the bizarrely shaped covers takes forever and is really tedious. Also, they named it MY BREST FRIEND, ugh. Pro tip: ditch the strap that comes attached to the boppy, it’s useless.

4.     Snugabunny swing: Oh swing, how I love you. Sometimes this is the only thing that will calm him down. He’s really good about sleeping in the cosleeper now but in early days, he preferred the swing. Just the other night he was fussing up a storm and fell asleep immediately when I desperately stuffed him in the swing. Also, now that he’s older he is pretty hypnotized by the mobile.

5.     Chux pads: I think I’ve mentioned that babies poop a lot. And pee a lot. And spit up a lot. I am intimately familiar with chux pads as a nurse, since that’s what all the hospitals use to protect surfaces from bodily fluids. One of my more brilliant ideas was to buy chux pads to use on the changing table. They make disposable “changing pads” but they are essentially just overpriced chux. These saved us so many clean ups, especially in the first couple of months when you have a poop machine masquerading as a baby.  Just roll ‘em up and throw them away when they get dirty. Pro tip: also good for new postpartum moms, where everywhere you go looks like a murder scene. I will spare you the details. Chux can be found in most drug stores, in the incontinence aisle. Parenting is so glamorous. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

6 Weeks Old -- Picture time!

Joe's friend Mikaela offered to snap some pictures of Theo as a wee baby (6 weeks). Unfortunately he was feeling very attached to his pacifier that day.

Monday, February 11, 2013

One month favorites

 As per usual, I'm going to pretend that I am not in fact months behind blogging. Here were my thoughts on baby essentials in the first month:

1. Rock and play sleeper:  I received this at my baby shower from Joe’s stepmom. I’m glad I did, as I balked at the price and didn’t even register for it. Not because I couldn’t afford it but because I am fundamentally a cheap person. It took me like a month to buy a bottle of Tabasco sauce to keep at work because every time I saw it at the grocery store I was like, “Pfft, $5? I don’t really need it.” And then I would go to work and be like I WOULD KILL FOR HOT SAUCE.

Anyway, the first month my baby was a perpetually sleeping slug and this was great because it’s like a super portable bassinet. Theo sleeps great in it and I hear it is especially goods for babies with reflux. I still think it’s overpriced but it’s been incredibly useful. 

2.     WoombieSo swaddling is difficult to master but Theo seems calmer and sleeps better swaddled. Joe is reasonably good at it now but it was much easier for us to use cheater-swaddling methods like the Halo swaddle sack and this, the Woombie. Otherwise known as “the banana suit”, “the glow worm” and “the baby straight jacket”. I prefer the woombie because it’s stupid easy. You just shove your baby in it and zip it up. It has two zippers on it so you can zip it up from the bottom in order to change diapers without taking them out of it completely. Critical for middle of the night diaper changes, when you are holding your breath and trying so very hard to keep your sleeping baby asleep. GENIUS.

3.     Cloth diapersI think these would make pretty terrible cloth diapers but they are fantastic burp cloths. They’re bigger, more durable and more absorbent any other burp clothes I’ve used. They’re not super cute but when your baby projectile vomits over his car seat, that is not your primary concern.

4.     Baby gowns:  It should be illegal to make any newborn clothes that have to be pulled over the head. Your baby hates it, you hate it, and you’re just going to have to change their outfit anyway. Also, you don't have the energy to put on a fancy-pants "real" outfit. Not going to lie, Theo has been in pajamas 99% of his life thus far. I especially like these gowns by Kicky Pants, they are super soft and easy to take on and off. Again, critical since your newborn will poop approximately every 72 seconds. And they’re cute so I don’t feel bad for putting him in them for the millionth time.

5. Lanolin: If you’re breastfeeding, get a tube of lanolin. I’ve had a fairly easy time          breastfeeding but the first couple of weeks are rough. Slather this on for the first couple of weeks and try to forget the fact that your enormous boobs are coated in sheep oil. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

One Month Old: Adventures in Nursing

Theo is now a month old, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? He’s starting to outgrow his newborn clothes, which makes me very sad. I had to stuff him into that onesie like a small sausage. Obviously he is not lacking in food. His three chins speak for themselves.

So! One-month update! I must say, Joe and I totally prepared for the worst in having a newborn. You hear all these terrible stories about how you have baby and then suddenly you’re up all night trying to unsuccessfully soothe a small banshee and then it all ends when you murder your significant other in the morning. Or something.

Which isn’t to say that it has been easy but Joe and I are adjusting pretty well. Theo and I have this breastfeeding thing down and I have fondly nicknamed him “The Hungry Barracuda” for the speed and voracity of his nursing.

Man, future teenaged son, I am really sorry about all this.

We did have a couple rough nights before my milk came where Theo was like WTF MOM, I’M FREAKIN’ HUNGRY.  That was probably my toughest night so far. At one point during the night I gave him a pacifier, even though the lactation consultant at my midwife’s office suggested that we wait to introduce one until breastfeeding was well established, which it clearly was not. However, it helped sooth Theo and my hormones were still at the point were I would burst into tears whenever I looked at him so I didn’t hesitate to keep popping that sucker in. Joe woke up sometime during this, noticed the pacifier, and sleepily said, “Should he have that? I thought we were going to wait to give him a pacifier.” And I was running on a lot less sleep than he was and I shot him a look that I hoped communicated something along the lines of, OH YEAH? I WILL MURDER YOUR FACE. Because that are the kind of things your brain says at 3 am with a fussy newborn.

Theo had lost more weight at his first check up than the pediatrician wanted so we met with a lactation consultant, who suggested I use a supplemental nursing system until my milk came in. The supplemental nursing system (SNS) works like this: you have a little syringe that you fill with formula, which drips down a tiny little tube. You breastfeed your baby normally and while they are attempting to nurse, you sneak the tube into their mouth so that even if they’re not getting much or any breast milk, they are still getting some nutrition from the formula. Also this way, you keep up the breastfeeding habit and avoid giving a bottle.

Pretty clever idea, but ultimately easier said than done. Luckily we only had to do the SNS for an evening and one night before my milk came in. We did much better during the day than we did overnight, where sneakily inserting a tiny clear tube into a nursing newborn’s mouth-- while sleep deprived-- felt like a mission best suited for James Bond. A few times we succeeded only in dripping formula all over his face. But overall we did manage to give him enough supplemental formula to keep him happy and the next morning I woke up looking like a fembot so all was good from there.

What’s that? You don’t remember what a fembot is because you had better things to do than watch Austin Powers? Whatever, fancy pants. This is a fembot:

Theo is a pretty good sleeper and usually goes right back to sleep after eating in the middle of the night so I don’t feel too sleep deprived usually. The biggest sign of sleep deprivation happened the other day when I was in the middle of drinking my morning tea and realized it was sweeter than usual. Upon further investigation, (as in, looking in the mug… my detective skills are unparalleled) I realized that I had forgotten to put a tea bag in. So I was essentially drinking hot sugared milk-water. Which is kind of delicious, actually.

Wish me luck in month two! He slept 6 hours last night, which was ahhhh-mazing. I’m hoping this is a trend. Please don’t smite me, parenting gods. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Rest of the Pregnancy Journey: Theo has arrived!

So I’m not pregnant anymore, which is weird because that means I HAVE A BABY. LIKE, AN ITTY BITTY HUMAN. AND THEN THEY TOLD ME TO TAKE IT HOME.

Let’s just run through the last few weeks of my pregnancy, shall we?

37 Weeks Pregnant 

At 37 weeks pregnant my friends and family threw me an awesome robot themed baby shower where I ate a lot of waffles and received a lot of awesome presents.  It was Christmas/New Years around this time and my sister was in town as well so I never got around to taking a belly shot. Here’s a picture of me at my shower though.

And here is a festive picture of my sister and me making flipper hands in front of the Christmas tree. Just… don’t ask.

38 Weeks Pregnant

I started feeling kind of off around this time: getting randomly nauseated again for no apparent reason, etc. I cleaned and organized a couple things, which is highly unusual for me. I was hoping I would go into labor before my due date of January 15 and had a sense that I would, though that intuition was based on absolutely nothing except for maybe the fact that I was tired of being pregnant. I was fully prepared to go past my due date though, since that’s pretty common with first time moms.

Here’s the last belly shot I took: 38 weeks pregnant. I was 39 weeks pregnant for about a day so I didn’t exactly get around to taking that picture because I was busy having a baby.

You should probably stop reading this now if terms like “mucus plug” and “cervical ripening” make you queasy. As I said when I lost my mucus plug, (see?  It’s beginning already) pregnancy is full of all sorts of new, exciting, and disgusting bodily fluids.

39 Weeks Pregnant -- Birth Story

On Tuesday, January 8, I went in for a routine 39-week midwife appointment. My midwife that day offered to check my cervix for the first time and I accepted, halfway hoping she would be like, “Oh look, you’re crowning and in no apparent pain at all!” And I would be all stoic, like, “Oh? You don’t say. Quite. Let’s have some tea and then have a baby, shall we?”

I don’t know why I’m British in that fantasy.

Anyway instead, I was 1-2 cm dilated and a smidge effaced. We thought I probably wouldn’t go into labor immediately but probably wouldn’t be overdue either. Acceptable options, I felt. However, before we left the midwife joked that all her patients she checked the week before all had their babies the following weekend so maybe it wouldn’t be so long after all.  Har har!

So, I blame the midwife with magic labor-inducing hands for what happened next. I woke up shortly after 3 am that morning to pee and as I attempted to hurl myself out of bed, I felt a small gush of fluid. I froze. Either my water had just broken or I had peed myself. Neither were very appealing options at the time. I decided to ignore the contractions that immediately started because I was definitely not in labor, right? RIGHT?

I couldn’t fall back asleep.

I got up and started timing the contractions, which were something like 5-8 minutes apart at the time and lasted about a minute. Around 4 am, I decided to wake Joe. I called the midwives and the soothing Australian midwife was on call, which was very, you know, soothing. I filled her in and she listened to me have contractions, which I could no longer talk through. She thought I was indeed in labor and told me to take a shower and call her back when my contractions were a little more regular for a little longer.

I took a shower while Joe frantically bolted around the house gathering all of our things. My contractions were getting stronger and suddenly I couldn’t remember why I wanted to have a natural birth. I started repeating my upbeat mantra of the morning, “I don’t know if I can do this!” Joe called the midwife back to let her know that we were heading over to the birthing center. I entered delusional birthing land around this time and became very preoccupied with brushing my hair while Joe paced around me, confused by the ease with which I was able to acknowledge the need to leave without actually moving at all. Joe finally convinced me we had to go and I reluctantly got in the car, though not before throwing up. Being in delusional birthing land, I wasn’t all that bothered by it. Nor was I surprised, as I knew many women throw up during labor. Since my stomach hates me anyway (see: an impressive eight months of morning sickness) I assumed I would be one of them. Tragically, I was very, very right about this.

Soothing Australian midwife met us at the birthing center and checked me again, where I was now 3-4 cm dilated and 75% effaced. I was having baby today, WHAT? And then I threw up again.

My sense of time is pretty much completely destroyed at this point but I do know I spent a lot of time laboring in the shower, which felt excellent. Or at least more excellent than not being in shower, since it didn’t stop me from telling Joe and the midwife, “I don’t know if I can do this!” about every 3 seconds. Soothing Australian midwife kept telling me (soothingly, naturally) that I was ALREADY doing it. Yes, I thought, but it SUCKS SO MUCH.

Baby then moved in such a position that caused me to have back labor instead, which was harder to deal with somehow. Suddenly I would trade anything to have my crappy regular contractions back. The midwife coached me through several different positions to help reposition the baby and eventually something worked and my crappy regular contractions returned instead. Yay?

By this time it must have been a more reasonable hour in the morning (Joe interjects: it was 8:00 AM) because another midwife came to take over.  She continued to coach me through some different positions to labor in and I returned to the shower for a fair bit. She checked me a couple more times and while I was making good progress, my bag of waters was still somewhat intact and preventing the baby from coming down as quickly as he could. She asked if she could break my water completely and though I was nervous that things would get more intense, more importantly I was like HAVE THE BABY QUICKER? YES PLEASE DO IT NOW THANKS.

Somewhere in there I threw up a couple more times. Thanks for the encouragement, body. Luckily someone had left behind a lemon-lime flavored Gatorade at the birthing center because the red Gatorade I had brought along was less than appealing after I threw up it up multiple times.

I felt the urge to push shortly after she broke my water (Joe interjects: it was 11:30 AM) and got in the birthing pool for awhile. And then things got a little complicated. Baby was descending slightly cockeyed (asynclitic), with his head leaning towards his shoulder. This made pushing really hard for me. I ended up pushing for around 4.5 hours and pretty much exhausted the midwives' bag of birthing tricks, I think. Which makes it sounds like they were going to pull my baby out of a top hat, but you get my drift. 

Ideally, I wanted to give birth in the birthing pool but the lack of gravity was actually making things harder. I was coached through every strange position imaginable including one called “the duck walk” which is so ridiculous that when it was demonstrated in our birthing class, I turned to Joe and said, “We are so not doing that.” Well, guess who duck walked naked through the birthing center while silently plotting how to kill the midwife who suggested this? 

Eventually all the ridiculousness paid off and at 3:52 pm on January 9th, Theodore Isaac finally entered the world. All 7 lbs, 19 inches of cone-headed baby was immediately placed on my chest and left to chill there for a couple hours until they did his newborn examination, which he passed with flying colors. I knew he would be gifted.

You will not be seeing the other pictures of me immediately after giving birth because I look like a train wreck. A happy, sleepy train wreck.

And yes, jokes aside, I’m really glad I did it naturally. Honestly it was hardest for me in early labor and then my body must have really kicked up the endorphin production because it didn’t get much harder to handle from there. Eventually I stopped saying, “I don’t think I can do this” because, as the midwives said, I WAS doing it. You surrender to your body and it just knows what to do, which is pretty incredible. Which isn’t to say I didn’t have anything to do with it either, because it was hard work, damnit, and I want my credit too. Obviously pushing for hours was not exactly how I envisioned things going but it felt so much better than the contractions. I can’t imagine having an epidural and trying to push like I did. If I were in the hospital under the same circumstances, I can easily see myself ending up with a caesarean.  I’m proud of myself and proud of my body.  

My little niblet’s head is rounding out nicely and he breastfeeds like a champ. He also excels at peeing on everything. Like I said, he's gifted. And we love him.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

36 weeks pregnant: Merry Christmas, baby

Oh how I love the Christmas season. The tree, the decorations, browsing the holiday section of Target for hours while my Jewish husband quietly weeps in boredom. This year has been especially good because I got to decorate our new house for the first time. And I'm pregnant so when Joe asks if we really need to get stockings to hang I can say YES, which translates to YES and also shall I remind you that I'm busy creating your tiny human heir? And into the cart the stockings go.

Luckily Joe likes plants-- we've had a wide variety of potted plants all named "Planty" over the years-- so he's enjoyed having a live(ish) tree in our living room this month. Joe also inexplicably likes choosing lightbulbs (cue me weeping quietly from boredom while Joe wanders the lightbulb aisle of Lowe's) so he was able to help pick out the tree lights that best minimized the chances of me setting the house on fire.

I even tried to make the tree a little more Hannukah friendly by decking it out in blue, white and silver. Perhaps next year we'll strap a menorah to the top. Too much?

Pregnancy continues to putter along, no big changes there. After squishing around my belly recently, one of the midwives commented that although the baby is indeed lodged way up in my rib cage, he has plenty of room in there. And I was like really? Because sometimes I feel like I'm going to cough up a baby foot.

In good news, my morning sickness finally eased up sometime last month, though I've been afraid to mention it in case the pregnancy gods say, "Oh right, forgot about that! Here, puke a little more." So just keep that on the down low, okay?

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

35 weeks pregnant: The Rib Cage Inn

My favorite pregnancy encounter happened around this time, where a stranger touched my belly and then proceeded to stare at me awkwardly and silently for several seconds. I starred back at her, bewildered. Finally she said, "I'm going to ask you a question." and I thought how nice, because I'm going to punch you in the face.
Her: Are you pregnant?
Me: Um, yes.
Her: I thought so but I couldn't tell if you were just heavy.

Excuse me, what? How many heavy people are tiny except for their WATERMELON SIZED BELLY? I'm either pregnant or have some sort of deadly medical condition. But wait! It gets better!

Her: So how far along are you?
Me: About 35 weeks now. Almost 36.
Her: So... about 6 months pregnant?
Me: ....

Yes, because six times four CLEARLY equals 35. Basic math skills for the win!

This trumped my former favorite pregnancy moment, when an old lady (who had previously seen me and scolded me for not having gained enough weight, TEETH GNASH) approvingly told me that I was getting "nice and fat". Just what every pregnant lady dreams of hearing!

Baby continues his comfortable stay in The Rib Cage Inn. He has pretty much been curled up in my right side the entire pregnancy and must be crushing some sort of crucial nerve connected to my right leg, as that leg frequently cramps and turns to jelly when I'm trying to exert myself too much, like say, moving in any sort of way. Joe and I were trying to book it back to the car recently when it was freezing out and I had to slow way down and hobble along instead because my leg was giving out. I'm sure I looked like a pregnant polio victim.

On the upside, traveling was marginally nicer than usual over Thanksgiving because everybody takes pity on limping pregnant ladies. Except for the TSA agents who continue to preform the most awkward full body pat downs in the history of life. "Is there anywhere sore on your body that I should know about?" (Blank stare while I gesture to my entire pregnant body) "Right, okay. I'm going to be touching your inner thighs now..." Yes, TSA agent, because everyone knows that pregnant ladies always hide their explosives in their inner thighs, magically concealed by maternity leggings. Just wait until you see where I have hidden the unicorn.